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The teen book I should write

June 23, 2008 at 9:11 am

When I dubbed this site “Kim Weiss Talks Books and Beyond” I guess I really didn’t realize how fast the “beyond” would take center stage.

It isn’t my intention to become an armchair philosopher but today I just can’t help but remark on an encounter I had with my seventeen year old niece, Emma. (And, if you need to locate the “books” part in this post,  stretch  and you might find good material for your literary masterpiece for teens – or maybe I will)

As a teen, I was smart. Maybe even a bit precocious. (Never humble)

I had the mixed blessing of being a teen during the wondrous and tumultuous late sixties/early seventies.

Besides being born with an oversized rebellious spirit, the absence of family structure due to unexpected circumstances (i.e. the death of my father) found me freer than most kids my age to exercise an unbridled approach to life.

Frankly, I’m lucky to be alive.

Like most teens, I knew everything and the climate around me both in my household and in the culture reinforced my independence. In fact, I had difficulty differentiating between my peers and those in authority. For some reason, I always felt equal to everybody, no matter their age or position.

Parents of my friends didn’t like this so much. Never mind teachers.

I was outspoken to a fault. Not that anyone who knows me know would guess that…. However, somewhere along the line I was taught to respect my elders. That lesson was not apparent in my teenage behavior.

I’ve provided a little background here to set up Saturday night’s scenario with my niece.

Emma and I, for the second time in two years, came to an impasse about the issue of cross-generation communication. Specifically, what were the boundaries for adult to teen and teen to adult conversation?.

She spoke up during a heated conversation I was having with her mother and my reptile brain interpreted this interruption as disrespect. How dare this seventeen year old chime in like this? Wasn’t she part of that age group who were only meant to be seen?

I bristled. She recoiled.

We were back where we were last visit. And, the repercussions of that encounter took months to heal. Apparently, it didn’t take.

This former hippie, anti-establishment, cool aunt (or, so I thought) actually lashed out as if I had never been a teenager. As if I’d never spoken up to adults numerous times for better or worse.

I can hide behind the fact that, other than self-help books for teens that I promote, and the intermittent encounters I’ve had with teens over the years, my experience with teenagers is very limted. This definitely is no excuse for my behavior.

The larger message that Emma was sending me was that treating anyone as if they were a demographic statistic is just plain wrong. When it comes to being associated with groups, I, of all people despise that more than anyone.

Ironic. Isn’t it?

It’s so clear to me that the programming that we get early in life is very difficult to permanently delete from our hard drives. Slews of psychotherapists thrive on this. (Sorry, Pam) Not that therapists aren’t valuable, we just need, as we’re evolving, to take responsibility for how our programming is expressed.

What is that old saying, something having to do with loving thy neighbor….it’s a good one. Sorry Emma.

(for the parents out there and teachers who endure the teenage years close up, I salute you. Sure, you may read this post and say “duh” but maybe there is something to this intergenerational conflict resolution stuff. Anyone want to recommend a good book?)

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A tiny vent, a little music, and my first guest blogger

June 19, 2008 at 8:44 pm

It’s been a stressful week. Good things topped with high anxiety.

Fortunately, today my work week ends and a long weekend with niece Emma and her mom, Jill Weiss (the savior of Schenley High) rolls in. We’ll be beaching it in between the summer showers and dining with Midge, Emma’s grandma. Our mom.

I noticed something profound the last couple of days. It has to do with entitlement, a word that’s been hurled at me a time or two, and until now, I didn’t really get it.

When we feel that we are so deserving of what we want that we no longer consider the feelings of others we are in trouble. We overlook the repercussions of our behavior and excuse ourselves because we feel entitled.

If I am entitled, then you are entitled and the collective “we” is entitled. We are all special, but not so special that we can trample over each other on the paths toward our own greatness. No “big picture” entitles us to overlook the small things along the way that affect the well-being of our fellow humans.

Corny as it sounds, things would go a lot more smoothly if we all stepped down from our respective pedestals. Hey, I enjoy it up there as much as anyone. Maybe more.  Just ask around. Just not my mother (aka Midge). She helped build mine.

No degree of success is worth the casualty of another’s feelings. It just isn’t.  We must be mindful in all our endeavors. Ok, first, it’s down from my pedestal, then my soapbox.

There’s someone out there who taught me about entitlement. You know who you are. Thanks. I got it. And in the doing so I send out an apology to the ones who were at the wrong end of mine. Sorry.

The music part: the-staple-singers-mr-big-stuff

AND NOW… FOR SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT!!!!!

Ivy Larson, a delightful author with whom I had the pleasure of working with shares one of her yummy recipes.  With her husband, Dr. Andrew Larson, Ivy wrote the books, The Gold Coast Cure and Fitter, Firmer, Faster. Thanks Ivy!

Slow Cooker Mexican Style Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers


Serves: 4

For whatever reason, stuffed peppers always look so impressive, festive and fun. These exquisite looking jumbo stuffed jewels are also a great way for tempeh to hide out in a medley of south of the border flavors, interesting textures and bright colors. One stuffed pepper is pretty much a meal by itself, but you could always add a side salad or some vegetable based soup for a more substantial meal.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 package (8 ounces) tempeh, crumbled

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon paprika

2 pinches cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon cumin

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 1/2 cups good quality all-natural prepared marinara sauce (such as Rao’s Homemade brand “Marinara”)

1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles (available in ethnic section of your supermarket)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 can (14.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

4 red bell peppers, tops removed and seeded

1/2 cup organic low-fat shredded cheddar cheese

  1. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic and onions and sauté until onions are just tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the crumbled tempeh and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Season onions and tempeh with salt to taste. Mix in the paprika, cayenne pepper and frozen corn kernels.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the marinara sauce and green chiles. Pour the marinara-green chile mixture into the skillet with the tempeh; mix well to combine. Stir in the cilantro and black beans.
  3. Stuff the peppers with the tempeh mixture. Arrange the peppers in a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook the peppers on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours. Remove the lid and top the peppers with the shredded cheese, replace the cover, and cook on high for 15 to 20 additional minutes. Allow peppers to cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve warm.

Ivy Larson

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Enough already…

June 18, 2008 at 7:08 pm


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All the glamour of big time media

June 18, 2008 at 6:43 am

It’s Tuesday night. Author Hopkins, has been selected for the second time to appear on the Today Show. Oh joy.  

If it happens.

The first date was promised in May. An opportunity arose for author Hopkins to partake in a segment that had nearly nothing to do with his book.  If this was the only chance to put him on, we’d take it.

Not to worry. There’d be a date for Hopkins in June.

We encouraged our bookseller friends to have plenty of his books in stock. After all, it is the Today Show. 

Then June was too crowded to fit him in. Too many makeover segments. Without the makeover guy. Hopkins is left in limbo. I’m yelling in the hallway. Then pretending that a date was just pending. I felt awful

Enter publicist number two. She calls to tell us that the Today Show is on again. Oh joy.

This time it’s one week away. We must provide five models. Ok, three will do, but they must be of a certain age and need some making over. Hopkins would have to deliver a segment with new hair, new clothes, new makeup. And, the women better be brand new, too, by next Tuesday at 11:30 am.

Ok. There’s a scramble to find women in Manhattan or nearby. We locate two volunteers. They’re ecstatic.

Then we decide that the women who will accompany Hopkins will be from his Minneapolis. Women from the book –  good idea. We will fly and house all three of them in a midtown hotel. An additional person must come as well. It’ll cost thousands of dollars. Minneapolis meets Manhattan. The NY women are bummed.

The show pays for nothing. 

The women are plucked from their lives but they’re game. Hopkins is still in book touring mode so he’s ok. I’m still in the “I’ll believe it when it happens” frame of mine. Something like seeing the check cashed.

Hopkins and his book will have six minutes. 

We rationalize our expense by comparing our air time to the cost of  national tv advertising. Superbowl ads. We bank on, literally, that this “beauty on a budget” segment will catapult the book onto the bestseller lists. It must. It has no choice.

So, if you happen to read this in time, Tivo the Today show next Tuesday and run out and buy a book for yourself and for two (or more) of your best friends. They will thank you. I promise. And, they will become more beautiful. Another promise.

And, if you live next door to Oprah, do share. She loves makeover shows. Hopkins has even been a guest stylist twice. It’s time to have him back.

Impressed?

See the glamour behind the scenes? This is how it works in the big time.

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And then…

June 16, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Need I say more?

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