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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Graphic Therapy - Notes from the Gap Years

Artist Emily Steinberg tells us about her life in the online autobiographical graphic memoir Graphic Therapy - Notes from the Gap Years. The memoir is divided into "sessions" and thus, far only the first 3 sessions have been uploaded.

Her mini-bio at the Smith site reads "Emily is 39, single, underemployed, and can’t decide if she’s a dilettante or a genius. We’re pretty sure it’s the latter. Her fearlessly blunt diary of her “gap years” exposes a unique worldview on art, commitment, Nazis, mice, copy-machine salesmen, Judaism, SUVs, and psychoanalysis. Plus, it has funny pictures."

The story should be read from start to finish, but for those just interested in the "Jewish" passages, I'll provide links and quotes below :

I mean, according to the normal plan, the nice Jewish girl plan, I was supposed to be married to a mensch, living in the burbs, and schlepping my children all over creation in my oversize SUV, a cumbersome but stylish vehicle which resembles a living room more than a mode of transport.

When I was a little girl in the late 60's, early 70's, I used to think to myself, I have two strikes against me : I'm female and I'm Jewish, but at least I'm not black. It seemed to me that life options for girl's were limited to wife, mother, grandma, and maybe secretary or nurse, if you were really lucky. So I figured it was bad that I was a girl.

And it was super bad that I was Jewish. At the tender age of seven or eight, they started showing us horrendous films about the Holocaust in Hebrew School.

Images of naked women and children, in grainy black and white, gunned down in a pit. Images of naked men, being forced to lie down and be whipped by fully dressed S.S. officers.

Mom and Dad told me they wanted to have a lot of children to off set the loss of the Jews in the Holocaust. That's pretty heavy information for a kid. Just a tad more intense than Fun With Dick & Jane. No wonder Jewish kids are so neurotic. So, I realized it was really bad to be Jewish.

Mom and Dad were liberal Jews, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. The shtetl relocated to Ocean Parkway.

My body has become a monlith, sort of like Stonehenge.


It's all because of my fucking DNA. These are my great, great grandparents, serious shtetl stock. Big people with big bones. In my family, if you didn't eat often and with gusto, something was wrong with you.

Over the summer, I visited Heinie at the Haupterfuehrerberger farm in Oregon. Feeling like a Hasid, in black robes and a fur-trimmed hat, my side locks swinging in the breeze, this East Coast Jew flew West to hang with a passel of ex-pat Krauts on the new Sudetenland.

I was like, huh? So, there I was, the quintessential Jew, drinking wine and eating swine at a table presided over by a diminutive, wizened former Nazi party member.

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