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Archive for September, 2011

Authors Pavilion, Ojai Day

I’ll be signing “Becoming Alice” in the Authors Pavilion on Ojai Day, Saturday, Oct.15th between 10 AM and 5 PM. Hope to see you there.

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Self-Image

Sometimes I wonder if there is a connection between self-image and reality. When I reflect back to my childhood, there was a very strong connection between my self-image and the child that I was in reality. I thought I was not like other children and I wasn’t. I was this scared, funny-looking European kid going to school with a lot of happy American kids. I wrote about that in my memoir, Becoming Alice. Imagine how aweful these poor kids have it who suffer from anorexia when what they see in the mirror, a perfectly normal child, is percieved as a fat kid.

As time went on, my self-image and the person I was in real life became closer. I became an American adult. And the feelings of inferiority and lack of self-confidence went away. I was pretty much the person that I thought I was. It would be up to somebody else to tell me otherwise.

But now a chunk of years have gone by and I think that misconnect between self-image and reality is creeping up again. I still think of myself as a pretty average, normal, American adult. But now I often am reminded that I fall into another category. This incident made me become aware of that fact: I am sitting around at my athletic club having coffee with a group of girls/women (why is it that the older you get, the more likely it is that older women are called girls?) talking about this and that, nothing of great significance. I did notice, however, that most of these ladies with whom I play tennis are much younger than I am. I looked at one of them and was reminded that she wrote me a very nice note telling me how much she enjoyed reading Becoming Alice and that she figured I must be her mother’s age. Okay. And then the cute young thing sitting next to me remarked that she thinks it wonderful that I still play tennis … and she hopes she will be able to do the same thing when she is older.

There it is. There is that word older that doesn’t fit with my self-image. I don’t know what to do. What behaviors should I undertake to fit into that category of old. There is a glitch between my self-image and what other people think of me. I know what I must do. I think I shall just ignore them and keep my self-image as an average American adult.

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I’ve just seen pictures of starving people in Somalia on TV. A large number of them were children, very young children, even babies. There weren’t just a small number who maybe didn’t have food because of a severe drought. There were dozens and dozens of them. Actually there were hundrds of them. The last count was 750,000 children and their parents who walked for miles to detention camps which might give them some nurishment and medical help. Most of them weren’t expected to live. Why had this happened? One reason is that the aid that is being sent to them is being hijacked by radical Islamists. My mind just isn’t able to wrap itself around all this. Are we once again looking at still another holocaust? Or, is this genocide?

Being a holocaust survivor, I went to the dictionary to find out. My Random House Dictionary says that genocide is: the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national or racial group. A holocaust is: a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire. Therefore, the situation in Somalia is genocide because Africans are systematically dying from starvation controlled by others. The situation of extermination of Jews and others in WWII is called “The Holocaust” because of the millions that were incinerated in the ovens,therfore by fire, in Auswitz and other extermination camps. But how about those that were kept as slave laborers who were starved to death? Wasn’t that genocide?

Holocaust or Genocide? What difference does it make what we call it? To me it still proves that mankind has not moved one inch beyond its barbaric tendencies and I wonder if it ever will. I hate to be so negative on the subject, but I just can’t bear to see “the systemic extermination of a national or racial group” yet another time, be it called genocide or holocaust.

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