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Of Chutzpah, Kickstarter, and Keeping a Low Profile

Of Chutzpah, Kickstarter, and Keeping a Low Profile

When I was growing up, my mother always implied that my sister and I should keep a low profile. We were supposed to excel in school, sure, but not to stand out because otherwise “they” would find us, even though we grew up in America, even though “they” found everyone they wanted to find in Vienna — i.e., anyone who was even part Jewish, no matter how low a profile the Jews kept. I lived most of my life that way. It was a subtle message, but one that I internalized.

Kicking it up for Kickstarter

This doesn’t help when you are conducting a Kickstarter campaign for a travel memoir, Getting Naked for Money, and want the highest profile you can find.

The whole “low profile” ethos came to mind because I’ve been going extremely far outside my comfort zone in asking people for money, and it didn’t go unnoticed by my childhood BFF, Sharon. She reminded me that I couldn’t bear to return clothing when I was a teenager because I was intimidated by the saleswomen in department stores.

I’d forgotten that, but I’m sure she was right. I regarded everyone — even salespeople — as authority figures. That’s one advantage of getting older: Not giving so much of a damn what people think, a goal I achieved even before I started this campaign.

Channeling My Mother

FBB6-Rosenbaum-Family,-Summer-1938And a funny thing happened as I started working on the book after a five-year hiatus from it: I discovered just how much the stories of my mother and her family enriched the story of my own life. I had never thought of my mother as a brave woman when I was growing up — she was more timorous than the “American” mothers of my friends, her fear-based strictness the bane of my existence when I was a teenager — but of course she did the bravest thing a human could have done: Took a solo journey from Vienna to America, leaving her family behind, with no support network awaiting her, not knowing whether she would ever see them again.

She never did.

It occurred to me this time that picking up and moving from New York City to Tucson on my own, knowing no one and having no job, might have been a subconscious replication of my mother’s solo journey. Of course, hers was not voluntary, and my parents had already died by the time I left New York — in fact, it was my mother’s death that spurred my decision. And of course I was fleeing from an office job, not the Nazis. Still, I’d always thought I was just being impulsive. In fact, I might have been channeling my mother’s bravery.

A few excerpts

My book is not about Freud or Vienna but it’s definitely written from the perspective of a Jewish woman. Here’s a link to How I Came to Love Food Writing: Gaul Millau and My Veal Parmigiana Epiphany.

Veal Parmigiana

And here I write about another Jewish no-no: My obsession with Egypt. Check out:  Careening Around Cairo.

My Kickstarter Campaign

Here’s the video. Click the “K’ in the upper left side to get to the campaign itself. It ends at midnight June 16 and it’s all or nothing: If I don’t get completely funded I get bupkis. You have nothing to lose, however. Your credit card isn’t charged if I don’t succeed (see Backing a Kickstarter Project 101).

So what would my mother think of all this? She once predicted I would grow up to be a comedy writer — or a librarian. I’ve kind of done both. I think my mother might be appalled at how I’m putting myself out there — not to mention by the book’s title — but also proud.

So this chutzpah’s for you, Rita Jarolim, the bravest woman I know.

A New Journey

A New Journey

Dear Freud’s Butcherites Friends of Freud’s Butcher, As you may have noticed — at least I hope so — I haven’t been around much lately. The short version of the reason: I’m not a very good multitasker. For many years, I’ve had a travel memoir on my back burner. And I finally decided to finish itContinue Reading »

Of Genealogies and Possibilities: A New Year’s Musing

Of Genealogies and Possibilities: A New Year’s Musing

Happy 2015. It’s that time of year when all the possibilities seem to open up. January 1 is an arbitrary date, of course, but who doesn’t want to believe in fresh starts, in learning from our experiences, even if those experiences sometimes seem arbitrary too? I ended last year on a sad note, with the accidental death of aContinue Reading »

In Memoriam, Jean Phillips, 1953-2014

In Memoriam, Jean Phillips, 1953-2014

This page is for those who knew and loved Jean to post pictures and remembrances, long or short. Feel free to post text remembrances in the comments section here; if you want to have your comments in the body of the post and send pictures,  email me at info@ediejarolim.com, which is the best place for me to get attachments.Continue Reading »

If Freud Celebrated Sukkot

If Freud Celebrated Sukkot

Jews around the world recently celebrated Sukkot, a joyous holiday that follows five days after the very solemn Yom Kippur; it has its roots as a harvest/agricultural festival. I won’t attempt to explain it in detail here; if you want to read all about it, including a discussion of how to pronounce it, here’s a linkContinue Reading »

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Sigmund Freud, Including His Eyeglass Prescription

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Sigmund Freud, Including His Eyeglass Prescription

I’d be hard pressed to guess how many pages have been devoted to the life and times of Sigmund Freud. Hundreds of thousands? Millions? I’ve contributed more than a hundred here alone. But there are still a few things about the father of psychoanalysis that most people don’t know, 75 years after his death, details about hisContinue Reading »

And the Memoir Contest Winner Is…

And the Memoir Contest Winner Is…

First of all, thanks to all of you who participated in the win-a-great-memoir contest. Short and long, the family stories posted in the comments were great. I urge you to read all the them if you didn’t when you posted your own story or if you’re just checking in now. And the winner, chosen by Random.org,Continue Reading »

Contest: Tell Us About Your Family’s Journey, Win a Great Memoir

Contest: Tell Us About Your Family’s Journey, Win a Great Memoir

Besides changing their names, one of the greatest banes of family historians is that ancestors move around–and aren’t always considerate enough to leave accurate records of their new addresses. They move for a variety reasons–some to strike out and start a better life, others, like many of my relatives, to flee imminent danger. I’m often amazed at howContinue Reading »

Funny Freud Friday: Toying Around With History

Funny Freud Friday: Toying Around With History

Yes, it’s been a long time since I posted in the Funny Freud Friday category–or at all, come to think of it–but the timing was right. As a freelance writer, my budget doesn’t include the many Freud tchotkes I covet, so you can imagine how excited I was to find that I could use myContinue Reading »

Karl Lueger vs Sigmund Freud: A Disturbing Contrast in Vienna’s Legacies

Karl Lueger vs Sigmund Freud: A Disturbing Contrast in Vienna’s Legacies

For most of my week in Vienna, my experience of the city was so positive as to be a bit surreal.  I remembered Vienna from the early 1970s — the only time I’d visited before — as being gloomy and dour. I also imagined that, given what I’d learned over the last few years about my family’s history, I would beContinue Reading »