The ProsenPeople

10 Tips to Cope with the Great Manhattan Shrink Exodus of 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Rachel Shukert blogged about Mad Men, Lenny Bruce style and her status as a Zionist secret agent. Her new memoir, Everything Is Going To Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour, is now available.

Hello crazy people! It’s the dog days of summer. The heat level alone in your apartment would be enough to induce panic, if the strange rash on your shin that won’t go away wasn’t already worrying you and all your friends had mysteriously disappeared to their “beach houses” and not invited you, making your feel paranoid and exacerbating your attachment disorder. And do you know where your therapist is?

No!! She’s disappeared like the children of Hamelin, and you have no idea where she might be, apart from that strange guilty murmur of something that sounded like “Manhasset” when you were clinging to her hand at your last session.

How can they do this to us? It’s not like they’re people, exactly. Why should they get a break from you? You don’t get a break from you! And what the hell are you supposed to do for the next three weeks?

Well, you’re in luck, because I’m here with my Top Ten Tips to Cope with Great Manhattan Shrink Exodus of 2010. And I’m not even going to bill you.

1. Take 12-hour showers. In these over-stimulated times, the humble shower stall is the closest thing we have to an isolation tank. There’s a reason they are used to calm unruly prison inmates. Nobody can bother you in the shower, unless they are there to murder you, a la Psycho. But that doesn’t happen very often.

2. Call your mother. Is your maternal figure of the “What, you forgot you had a mother” variety? Make her eat those words. She’ll always take your calls, and she has to listen to whatever narishkeit you’ve got to dish out — it’s part of the non-verbal contract she signed when she allowed herself to be inseminated with you. Don’t have a mother? Cultivate relationships with your father/literary agent/spouse/cat, and failing any of those–

3. Call my mother. Outside of New York City, therapists stick around through the month of August. My mother, Dr. Aveva Shukert Ph.D, of Omaha, Nebraska, stands ready to take your calls and your insurance information.

4. Retail Therapy. It even has the word “therapy” built in. Sure, the pleasure is short lived and you sometimes throw up when you see your credit card statement lurking in the mailbox and maybe even leave it there for a few days before you can bring yourself to open it, but a few hours in the soothing womb of Bergdorf Goodman does the mind and the soul good. (When I go to Bergdorf’s, I like to pretend it’s my house, and all the other people there are my servants. My shrink and I have not yet discussed this.)

5. Track down your shrink and his family. Show up at their vacation house with your goldfishhanging around your neck in a Mason jar of water and refuse to leave until you have driven your shrink crazy and you become the shrink.

6. Drink. Heavily. And reconvene with a whole new set of issues!

7. Find a therapy “buddy.” Got another friend in desperate straits and needing their 50 minutes on the couch? Take turns playing “shrink and patient” and put all the therapy language you’ve expensively acquired over the past 15 years to good use. It’s sort of like playing “school,” except with pharmaceuticals and abandonment issues (so it’s more like “college.”)

8. Go on vacation your own damn self. It’s shocking, and it may seem impossible. But you can do it. Baby steps.

9. Convert to Christianity. I’ve heard they don’t need therapy unless really bad things happen to them. Maybe it’s a rumor, but it may be worth a shot.

10. No matter what anybody says, don’t publish your new book in August when your shrink is away. That is just truly insane.

BONUS TIP: Make use of storefront psychics and palm readers.  Yes, they are probably charlatans.  But they also tell you a lot of things you already know about yourself, and even with the pricey combo package of healing crystals, zodiac charts, and having your wallet stolen, they still probably cost less than one session on Park Avenue.

Rachel Shukert has been blogging for MyJewishLearning and the Jewish Book Council. Read her new memoir, Everything Is Going To Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour.

Rachel Shukert, Zionist Secret Agent

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | Permalink

On Monday, Rachel Shukert blogged on Mad Men, Lenny Bruce style. Below is her satirical short fiction response to some particularly egregious comments she received after an excerpt from her book was published on Salon.com.

Last week, a certain high-traffic website posted an excerpt from my new book, Everything Is Going To Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour. I won’t go into all the details here, but suffice it to say it had to do with my experience in Vienna and all its attendant Nazi ghosts, literal and figurative.

The anonymous posters in the comments thread were outraged. Some accused me of being an undercover Zionist agent. Others suggested that the Powers that Be (TPTB in Internet speak) had commissioned and planned the release of my book in a transparent attempt to drum up sympathy for the Jews just when the world was beginning to get wise to their inherent evil. One went so far as to deem my book–a mildly amusing travelogue about getting drunk and doing stupid things–as instrumental in conning the American public into invading Iran. Several commenters, to be fair, simply said my piece was the worst and least believable thing they had ever read. Clearly, I was a liar who had made the whole story up. What about the beautiful city of Vienna would possibly make anyone think of Nazis?

Well, my fellow Jews (and any Gentiles who may have found themselves on this blog), I guess the jig is up. After much soul-searching, I have decided to come clean, here to the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning, about the motivation and purpose of my book.

****************************************

About two years ago, I was flossing my teeth and watching Season 4 Top Chef on DVR when the phone rang. It was Chuck Schumer, then acting President of the Elders of Zion, before leadership passed over to Diane von Furstenberg last spring. (In case you didn’t know, the E of Z presidency passes over in turn to leading Jews from every field, the way leadership of the E.U. passes from country to country. Judd Apatow is next on the docket.)

“Rachel, it’s Chuck,” said the distinguished gentleman from New York. “We’ve got a job for you.”

“Oh no,” I said. “You still haven’t paid me for the work I did personally evicting those 400 Palestinian orphans from their homes in order to make way for Wolf Blitzer’s sodomitical pleasure palace.”

“You never invoiced us,” said Schumer.

“I never invoiced you before,” I countered.

“Blankfein’s getting really strict about that stuff now,” said Schumer. “The major economic recession we’ve been orchestrating in order to consolidate our own power and wealth at the expense of the American worker is about to come to fruition, and we’ll be under scrutiny from all sides. But let me talk to him. If nothing else, we’ll get you some nice stock options from Goldman Sachs. You’ll be very happy.”

“I better be,” I said, “Or I just may go to the Internet forums.”

“There’s no need for that kind of talk, young lady,” snapped Schumer. “Besides, what else are you going to do? I saw your mother at the Zionist Cabal/Casino Night at the JCC in Cherry Hill the other night, and she told me you didn’t have a job right now.”

My mother. Of course she’d been talking to Schumer. It was all make sense. I sighed. “What do you want me to do?”

Schumer favored me with a smug chuckle. “I thought you’d never ask.”

“Well, I’m asking.”

He chuckled again. “So you are. So you are. Well, here it is, in a nutshell. Like I said, we’ve got big plans for the next few years. The recession is coming, and believe me, it’s going to be a doozy. We’ve set up a system that will methodically drain the wealth out of the entire world and into the Elders’ coffers for years to come. Those Real Americans aren’t going to know what hit them. But obviously, this might come with a backlash that could make other parts of our program more difficult; our Transjordanian expansion, for example, or our planned invasion of Iran.”

“I don’t understand the Iran thing,” I said. “Why do we want to do that again?”

Schumer sighed impatiently. “Honestly, Rachel,” he said, “Sometimes I don’t think you even read our newsletters. We’re telling everyone it has to do with Israel’s security. But really, it has to do with oil, and mostly with the fact that we are a malignant race bent on spreading evil and destruction wherever we go.”

“Oh, right,” I said. On the TV, Padma Lakshmi was solemnly intoning the failings of the dishes of Spike and Dale.

“Are you watching Top Chef?” Schumer said angrily. “Stephanie’s going to win the whole thing. Put it on mute.” I obeyed. “Now,” Schumer continued, satisfied, “once this all happens, we’re going to have to drum up some fresh sympathy. Remind people of all the horrible things that have happened to us–if deservedly–over the years. We want you to write a book.”

“Why me? Why not Roth?”

“Roth’s a loose cannon. You never know when he’s going to get all guilty and heavy-handed and start saying everything’s all our fault. Besides, Roth’s getting up there. He’s not going to be around forever, no matter how many swims he takes in that farshtinkener lake of his.”

“Ask his successor then,” I said. “Ask Shteyngart.”
“We thought of Shetyngart,” Schumer said thoughtfully. “We love Shteyngart, and he sure as hell owes us one. But don’t forget, Shteyngart’s a former Soviet. He sticks out. He can’t operate from the inside out, like a third-generation American like you.”

“Fourth,” I said proudly.

“Third,” Schumer insisted, “And frankly, that’s generous. Also, no offense to you or Shteyngart, but we’re looking for someone a little easier on the eyes. 2010, when your book would be released, is going to be the year of the Young Female Memoirist. We’ve got a few lined up already–KlausnerGould–but they don’t have your paranoia, your persecution complex. You’re the only woman for the job.”

I sighed again, the sigh of eternity. “What am I supposed to write about?”

“Well,” said Schumer. “Your mother tells me you spent quite a bit of time in Europe. Why don’t you write about that? Talk about Vienna. The ghosts of the past, all that jazz. Play up the anti-Semitism angle; not too much, but enough to let everyone know: WE HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN AND WE’RE STILL PISSED OFF.”

“But Chuck,” I said, with utmost sincerity, “I literally did not think about the Holocaust once while I was in Vienna. What could have possibly made me think of that? Certainly not the posters of Jorg Haider everywhere, or hearing people say terrible things about the Turks, or the fact that right before I went there I had been staying with my aunt who fled that beautiful and tolerant city as a 5-year-old in 1938? I mean, honestly, I had so many better things to focus on, like Mozart and Schiele and really fancy cake. It never even occurred to me to remember I was in a country which had managed to kill over 90% of its Jewish population comfortably within living memory.”

“So make something up,” said Schumer. “Like Anne Frank did. We got mileage out of that for forty years, and let me tell you something, she did pretty well out of it too. I’m going down to see her at her compound in Boca next week.”

“Give her my best.”

“You’re not going to regret this,” said Schumer. “But remember: we’re only getting you a book deal because you’re a 20-something girl, not because you’re a good writer or have anything to say. So don’t go getting fat and ugly on us, or we’ll find some other self-obsessed, urban, overprivileged Jewish slut to do our nefarious bidding, you understand?”

“Yes,” I said, “although by the time the book comes out, I won’t be a 20-something anymore.”

“I didn’t hear that,” said Chuck Schumer. “Now get writing.”

So that’s what I did. I concocted a wild and totally false story about how being in Vienna reminded me, even in passing, of certain aspects of World War II. I invented a relationship with an older man whose father may or may not have been a member of the Nazi party, if not the Gestapo, which everyone knows is impossible because someone born in 1957 as the youngest child of a large family couldn’t possibly have had a male parent born in say, 1917 or so. (Not that I ever claim this is the case in the book, only that it crossed my paranoid, persecution-complected, plotting Jewish mind.)

I also invented a positively ludicrous story about seeing a yellow Star of David in the flea market, which is impossible because a) such a thing never existed, b) could never have turned up in such a place and c) if it did, it must have been a fake or a film prop that I would have immediately recognized as such, and that any subsequent mental anguish suffered on my part was simply part of a written campaign to rationalize the inexcusable actions of the thuggish Zionist entity and fan the flames for our upcoming War on the Universe.

And I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you snooping anonymous Internet commenters.

Rachel Shukert‘s second memoir, Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour, is now available. Check back on Friday to read her final post for the Visiting Scribe.

Joan Holloway’s Tushy is Jewish

Monday, August 09, 2010 | Permalink

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoir Everything Is Going To Be Great. She will be blogging all this week for the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning‘s Visiting Scribe.

Hello! My name is Rachel Shukert. You may remember me from summer camp, where I faked a recurring nut allergy in order to spend most of my time watching Days of Our Lives in the air-conditioned infirmary, but I’m also the author of Everything Is Going To Be Great, my brand-new memoir of the two mostly disastrous years I spent after college living in Europe and disappointing my parents.

This is my very first post for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning blog, and it would probably be a good idea to talk about my book and why I wrote it and what I’m doing for it and why you should buy it. I’ll do that later. Right now, like every other person in New York City, I only really want to talk about Mad Men. But I’m going to do it in the style of a leading comic light contemporary to its early 60’s milieu. For those of you who don’t watch the show, perhaps this will serve as a valuable primer.

For those of you who watch the show but don’t know Lenny Bruce, mazel tov on your high school graduation and look him up. For those of you who are familiar with neither Mad Men nor Lenny Bruce, I don’t know what to say to you. I guess check back tomorrow when I promise to write about my book and/or my feelings.

Here we go!

Dig: I’m Jewish, Don Draper’s Jewish, Pete Campbell is Jewish, Roger Sterling is goyish.

Betty Draper is very goyish. Trudy Campbell, Jewish. Matthew Weiner’s characterization of Betty Draper as an emotionally withholding shiksa goddess trophy wife for a man trying to subsume their his true identity behind a fake name and crumbling façade of masculinity? Very, very Jewish.

Gin is goyish. Rye is goyish, even if the Bronfmans distribute it. Hangovers are Jewish, as is marijuana. Creative is Jewish, Account Services is goyish. Plaid pants are goyish, but the plaid wallpaper in the Drapers’ kitchen is mysteriously Jewish.

Everyone at the old Sterling Cooper is goyish, especially Ken Cosgrove, who’s so goyish he’s practically a swastika. The new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is also goyish, but it’s trying to be Jewish. It’s like a giant conversion class. The buyout by the British was goyish but the episode where the guy got his foot run over by the giant lawn mower was the most Jewish thing to happen on television since Seinfeld went off the air.

Joan Holloway’s tushy is Jewish, very Jewish. Her air of unruffled competence is goyish. Adultery is goyish, but all of Don’s mistresses, with the possible exception of the dippy schoolteacher have been Jewish. Betty’s friend Francine may be casually anti-Semitic, but she is very, very Jewish. Remember what she said about all the Jews she saw on her vacation to Ft. Lauderdale? Switch things up a little and it could have been your Aunt Doris talking about the trip the B’nai Brith Senior Group took to Branson, MO last summer. “We were outnumbered. It was uncomfortable.”

Rachel Shukert’s new book Everything Is Going To Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour is now available. Come back all week to read more.

Rachel Shukert and Melissa Broder = Awesome

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Today I had the honor of being listed by Jewcy.com as a “Big Jewcy” (thanks, Jewcy…I’m blushing!!) along with authors Rachel Shukert and Melissa Broder (go read their amazing books!). The list has some pretty interesting folks…check it out here.

Lucky for us, by the end of July, we’ll have had both of these fine authors as a part of the JBC/MJL Author Blog series. Melissa wrote some fabulous posts in January (read the posts here) and Rachel will be blogging for us in July.

Oh, and, did I mention you should read their books (Melissa=When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother, Rachel=Everything is Going to be Great and Have you No Shame)?

Rachel, Melissa, and I took some time during lunch last week to shmooze it up at Jewcy HQ and have a little chat with editor Jason Diamond…check out the video here.

And, join us at the Jewcy party this Thursday night in NYC @ Bowery Electric. Tickets are only $10 and will be used to support Jewcy.com..a fine cause if I do say so myself. Find more details here.