Posts Tagged ‘Becoming Alice’

I’ve got a lot of years under my belt and in all that time I’ve learned a little something about a lot of things. I like gardens and plants and flowers, so I’ve learned which ones like sun and which prefer shade. I know which like a lot of water and which don’t like much at all. I’ve learned which ones look good with which others and which ones look better all by themselves. That’s one area where I know a little something, but I’m not really an expert.

I’m married and have raised three kids, so over the years I’ve done a lot of cooking. I know how to make things taste good. And to keep the boredon out of the whole process, I’ve tried to get creative with lots of dishes. So, now I’ve overheard others say, “Oh Alice . . . well, she’s a very good cook.” I’m glad to know that, but I also know that Martha Stewart doesn’t need to worry.

I’ve lived in several different homes and always liked to decorate them myself. I liked doing that, because I needed to only please my husband and myself in terms of its aesthetics. I don’t really know why others compliment the finished products. I always thought they were being polite. I think I know a little something, but I don’t think I’m an expert interior decorator.

And now a new one has popped up in my life. I have gotten two emails from other authors who have recently published books. They contacted me for advice on how to market their works. Well, yes, I have spent a few years marketing Becoming Alice and am happy to say I’ve had a fair amount of success in doing so. Of course my book never made it onto any Best Seller list and I am still being bombarded by others, like myself, who are now trying to sell me their expertise. None of their books have made the Best Sellerlist either.

So, I’d like to say that I obviously know a whole lot more about marketing a book than the newly published authors do, but I would never want to sell my knowledge to anyone. You see, I am not an expert at this undertaking either … otherwise I might have made it onto one of those coveted Best Seller lists.

I must admit however that I am mighty proud of what I know about gardening, gourmet cooking, decorating, perhaps playing tennis, and the relatively large number of books Becoming Alice has sold. At least I know a little something.


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I have been busy writing my book, so much so that I haven’t had a chance to post a blog. Until today. My book is not a sequel to my memoir, Becoming Alice. Rather it is what now is called creative nonfiction. I won’t belabor the point by going into a lengthy definition of that category, but instead I’ll tell you it is about a young woman who basically wants to get married. What woman doesn’t?

In the process of dating and the man and woman in my story have a lot of yin and yang between them. I thought you might like to know what that means. I went to my dictionary and here it is: “Yin and Yang (Chinese philosophy) are two principles, one negative, dark, and feminine (Yin) and one positive, bright, and masculine (Yang), whose interaction influences the destinies of creatures and things.”

I object! I have never heard yin-yang used in such a way. I have always thought of it as two forces that pull in different directions, perhaps like the positive and negative in electicity or the currect Republicans and Democrats in Congress. I just had to get that one in there. I personally used it in the back and forth dance couples often do when they first get to know one another. Or, what married couples often do for the rest of their lives.

Being a woman I STRONGLY OBJECT to the negative force being identified as feminine. And who says the positive force is always masculine.

I’ve got to do something to protest. I can throw my dictionaly away. Obviously it is way out of date. Or, I could give up on Chinese philosophy on which I have often relied. My favorite sayings are “He who hesitates is lost.” and “Patience is a virtue.” Perhaps it was Confucious who said that.

In any case I am right about people not always seeing things the same way. That is just part of the human condition, call it yin and yang or whatever you like.

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My dog sitter moved out of town and I panicked. Visions of being trapped into caring for my seven-year-old Golden Retriever around the clock 24/7 indefinately made me feel anxious, despite the unconditional love he emits to which I am addicted. I needed to get a dog sitter right away, having already committed to a weekend away in August and another overnight in September. In trying to get a referral, I found out that none of my friends own a dog. It reminded me of that saying I heard some time ago: “Happiness is when your youngest daughter gets married and your dog dies.”

Well, I don’t feel that way about either my daughters or my dog. I needed a dog sitter.! I got some cards from the desk of my veterinarian who did not know the caliber of their work. And then I got a referral from a neighbor who has cats. Still no dog referral. However my neighbor said she knew of someone who did this kind of work and perhaps I might like to call her.

“Yes! Yes!” I shouted. Ten minutes later my neighbor called back and in an apologetic voice told me the referral was for a lady who was not really very sophisticated, that she had a sort of limited background and now made a living cleaning houses … and taking care of pets. “However, she is kind, loyal, honest, and straigh-forward,” my neighbor said.

In my book, those are the most important qualities. I intervied this lady. She entered with a shy smile, wearing a simple house dress, and looked like a fish out of water. During our interview, she showed me that she liked my dog, who didn’t leave her side. I liked her, too and asked her for references. She whips out her iPhone for their telephone numbers. I don’t even have an iPhone. I like her and tell her I’ll call her … after I check her references.

Before leaving she says, “Oh, by the way, I borrowed your book, Becoming Alice, from a friend and liked it very much.

After I regained control of my jaw, which had dropped a considerable amount in surprise, I said, “I’m so glad.”

This compliment from a person who is not supposed to be sophisticated and who I am almost positive doesn’t know a thing about Jews, has just read a book about a child in the holocaust, a book that she borrowed and probably couldn’t afford to buy. I am honored!

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In Becoming Alice you found out that Ilse became Alice in the 20th Century, not only in name, but also as an American person. Fast forward just a bit. Well no, fast forward a long way in years all the way into the 21st Century. That same Alice who was such a fish out of water and struggled to fit into the American landscape, is now trying to catch up to the technological demands of the 21st Century.

Yesterday I spend most of the morning trying to replace an ink cartridge in my printer. I’ve done those replacements before. No big deal, I thought. The trouble arose out of the fact that I purchased a new printer that not only prints, but is a fax machine, telephone, and has internet access capabilities. I haven’t checked whether it also will brush my teeth in the morning. I only wanted a printer. Period. Nothing else. There is no such animal on the market.

Never mind, I’ll just use the printer and send off those first ten pages of my new work to someone whose judgement I trust and who would give me an honest critique. I purchased a double cartridge, not wanting to be bothered so often. God, but they are expensive. I digested the price. Writing is really important to me and proceeded to install it.

I lifted the top from the printer and the ink cartridge carrier came into full view. Piece of cake, I thought. I removed the old one and installed the new one. The printer/fax/telephone/computer told me it didn’t recognize any of the red, blue, yellow, and black cartidges. I hadn’t even touched the color inks.

I’m not without any technological knowledge altogether, so I turned the printer/fax/telephone/computer off and unplugged it from the socket. Replugged it, turned it on, and the same message came up. I went to the handbook. There is no information about “how to replace an ink cartidge.”

Long story short: It took me two and a half more hours to notice that in installing the new black cartridge the other three colors popped out of their place by 1/16th of an inch. I needed to reinstall all four colors to make the @#$%&* work. Sigh!

Being a writer in the 21st Century is not for sissies!

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A talk about Becoming Alice, A Memoir, by the author will take place at The Gables on Friday, July 8, at 1:45 PM. For more information call (805)765-7456

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Just as I was thinking that Becoming Alice was slowly making its way into oblivion, I received an email from an unknown sender. I am always hesitant to open emails from parties that I don’t know. I learned that early on when many of them were strictly advertisements and come-ons for products I had no interest in. Others were sexual. Give me a break! So, naturally I either delete those emails or report them as scam. Even then I don’t think AOL does anything to keep them from coming.

Back to the latest email I received from an unknown sender. I don’t know why but for some reason I opened it and it was adressed to me by name. It was from a woman who bought Becoming Alice from me at the Los Aangeles Times Book Festival a couple of years ago. She wondered if I remembered her. She was the lady who had with her a handicapped son in a wheelchair. Of course, I did not remember her. I talked to a zillion people that day. She stated that the reason she emailed me was that she was moved by my account of the old butcher in my story who was forced to sell his store to my parents in order to stay home and help his wife care for their mentally retarded son.

She wanted to know more about why he made that decision and not any other kind, such as institutionalization. She wondered what responsibility society has in caring for such handicapped people. She wondered if she should listen to what her friends were advising her to do. And she wondered how his situation finally turned out.

I could not answer that question but I was able to share with her my own experience with couples who have had to deal with this problem, each making a different decision for themselves. My husband had a severely retarded brother who was cared for by their parents until his mother was ninety-two, at which time she herself needed elder care. Another couple gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby and placed him directly from the hospital into an institution. Each of them made different decisions for themselves which they thought were right. My advice to her was to do whatever she thought was right for her.

In the end it is she who will have to be responsible for that decision, not society or her friends. Her last email to me was to thank me for my advice; she said it made her feel better about her decision to keep her son at home.

I never expected Becoming Alice to be useful to someone in this particular way, but I couldn’t have been more pleased.

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My mom had a saying which she used often, especially when she was stressed about not having enough time to two jobs that were of equal importance: “One can’t dance at two weddings on the same afternoon of the same day.”

I sometimes feel like that. My dad told us another story which applies to me as well. He, as a doctor, had a nurse of whom he was very fond. He said she did everything he told her to do efficiently and in a timely manner. But if he made the mistake of telling her to do two things, she became so confused that she didn’t do any one of them correctly.

Right now I fell exactly like his nurse. I spend my time being pulled in two different directions in my literary life, one is to promote my memoir, Becoming Alice and the other is to continue writing my next work which is a fictional story, based on true events.

The bottom line is that I can’t find enough time for me to spend to do either one of them justice, especially the writing aspect. Once I get going on a project, I like to keep going. I don’t like being pulled back and forth. I know I must make a decision soon or I’ll drive myself crazy. I know exactly how dad’s nurse must have felt. I don’t want to get to the point where I won’t be able to do either one of those jobs as well as I think I could.

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