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.

12 Responses to Of Chutzpah, Kickstarter, and Keeping a Low Profile

  1. Sharon says:

    I became testy while reading this… Not a good thing while getting a manicure…
    I loved your Mom ( she was so smart and watched Jeopardy!) I love you too… My friend forever…. !
    Sharon

  2. Karin Peres says:

    This article reminded me of my mother Edith Holzfurtner nee Langnickel.

  3. My father told me I didn’t need to ‘advertise’ that I was Jewish since my name and appearance would allow me to ‘pass.’ He was able to attend college and medical school but knew that at certain universities there were quotas for Jews. I wonder if that is still in place, or returning now, in unspoken ways, in some corporations and universities, as criticism of Israel intensifies.
    Diane J. Schmidt recently posted..Conversations with a student about black and white thinkingMy Profile

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Yes, I remember that University of San Diego at California had a hard time in the early 1960s — if they wanted to hire Jewish faculty — and they did in some cases, e.g., Jonas Salk — they had to buy up land because La Jolla wouldn’t rent to Jews. You’re doing a great job getting awareness of BDS out to the public.

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