Jane play offered for #togetherforabortion events

The play, about the legendary underground Chicago abortion service, is available free of charge for activist events, such as this one that took place in Santa Barbara, CA. A quote from director Annika Speer:

“I directed Jane as a fundraiser event for the Santa Barbara Planned Parenthood and Pro-Choice Coalition’s Roe v Wade anniversary event. There were numerous merits to incorporating activist theatre into the event: It was an excellent way to get university students involved. By connecting the university to the event we were able to cross collaborate with the Feminist Studies Department and the Theater and Dance Department. Kamen’s multiple versions of the script as well as her “Student Organizing Guide” makes the play accessible to non-theatre practitioners. A major strength of this play is its activist potential! ”

The play, Jane: Abortion and the Underground, offers at least 9 diverse and substantial roles for women and could not be more timely. Based on original interviews, it tells the story of the legendary pre-Roe underground abortion service, Jane, which was known as “the best kept secret” inChicago form 1969-1973. It offers inspiration about the power of women organizing, but also warns about the harsh realities of illegal abortion, even in the most ideal DIY circumstances.

The play, which debuted in 1999 and has been excerpted in several “best of” stage scene and monologue books, had about 20 readings and productions, mainly in fringe feminist theaters and at universities, during the George W Bush years. Now, with abortion access under renewed threat under the reign of Orange Hitler, I’m trying to launch this play again.

For more info on play, see my Jane page or the listing on the National New Play Network. Email paulakamen@gmail.com for details or for a script.

All In My Head tenth anniversary marked on Migraine Again!

I’m thrilled to have parts of the book excerpted regularly in the amazing and informative website, migraineagain.com. All are about things I learned the hard way, the only way I learn anything. This first excerpt is about food anxieties related to migraine meds. Read about the website founder — another Paula’s story — and her wisdom about managing chronic migraine here. The website is a great resource. I recently bought two futuristic ice packs, the Migraine Hat and the IceKap, recommended there. Ice is definitely my drug of choice.

Jane play now with National New Play Network

For more info on the play, its production and publication history and, a new testimonial about activist potential, go to the NPX website

Also feel free to email me at paulakamen[at]gmail.com about more info or obtaining a sample copy.

The play, based on original interviews with women who ran and used this legendary underground abortion service, is available as a full-length play and then in shorter student-adapted versions. It is available for no charge to theaters and student groups planning pro-choice fundraisers, especially for #togetherourabortion and #shoutyourabortion events. And especially for January events marking Roe v. Wade in the US and the Morgentaler decision in Canada.

“Jane” play featured in special “Roe v Wade” issue of feminist journal

Annika Spear, who was a co-director with the 2011 production of the play at the University of California Santa Barbara, writes in the new issue of Frontiers how the play shakes theatrical conventions by actually dramatizing an abortion on the stage, and by tweaking the “documentary play” format. A goal now for 2014 is to finally get this play published, after dozens of staged readings and productions, often by student groups who groove on the many roles for young women and the resonance of this story of underground abortion today.

Tribute to my late father from the Society for Consumer Psychologists

He was a pioneer in joining the fields of psychology and business, as mentioned on their website. Some of his colleagues from Amoco also commented about his contributions on his page from Chicago Jewish Funerals.

My father’s official name was Dr.Joseph M Kamen (with the M standing for “middle initial”). He changed the name in the 1950s from Joe Kamenetzsky. I’m not even sure if that was the spelling, but I know it was a long name with lots of consonants. He died January 30, 2014, very suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. This March 26 would have been his 85th birthday.

Since then, I’ve been trying to get his achievements recognized. One of the most notable is that he was very likely the inventor of the post-baccalaureate degree while a professor at Indiana University NW in Gary, Indiana in the 1970s.  But I’m having trouble documenting this because he pushed it through on the down low without approval of the mother ship in Bloomington, in fear that the official process would cause it to die, or delay it for years. So he never tooted his own horn publicly about it. The degree was mainly meant for women who had perfectly fine liberal arts college degrees, such as in psychology or sociology, but who needed to get a job quickly in a practical field to support their families. This degree in accounting fulfilled that purpose at a low cost to the student, and just 36 hours of required class. According to Dr. Sid Feldman, my dad’s dean at the time, who supported the program, these graduates had a very good record of getting certified as CPAs. The program was so successful that other Indiana University campuses introduced the degree,and then it spread to possibly hundreds of universities nationwide. That program is still going strong.

He also pulled an impressive prank on an Ivy League business journal in the 1980s or 1990s of a fake article, titled something like, “The Metaphysics of Pricing.” to satirize excessive lingo in business. It was replete with charts and statistics, and utterly bogus.  I know the journal was furious afterward and blacklisted him from publishing with them ever again. This was mentioned in an essay about him in the journal Teaching Business Ethics in 1997, by the late R Rosenberg then of the Technion in Haifa, Israel. i But I’ve been unable to find the journal. The odds are that the journal redacted any reference to it in its electronic listings, but the original is out there somewhere in paper. If anyone has a lead for me, I much appreciate it.

My satire on why I love the Alinea baby

Published January 15, 2014 in Crain’s.

Why I love the Alinea Baby
by Paula Kamen

When I take my four and five-year old boys to restaurants, I have come to expect some friction with other diners. Such as when my sons gleefully try to top each other with “funny” behavior, playing tether ball with the overhead low-hanging faux-Tiffany light fixture, or licking the tops of the salt and pepper shakers. In response, I have been lectured, seen elderly women literally shaking their heads at me, or even worse, been stared at in horror for indeterminate periods of time by reserved WASPy families with impeccably well-mannered children, all clutching the sides of their seats in horror.
But we’ve never been in such bad form that a world-famous chef has shamed me on Twitter, and made me the subject of public ridicule across continents.
That is why I have loved this week’s Alinea baby story
and see why it hit such a nerve, with parents and child-free diners alike. I couldn’t get enough of it.  My glee is because it basically it makes my public managing of my kids look competent in comparison.
In that same vein of personal validation, the story inspired a new campaign I am now unveiling here, to lower the bar to other parents on acceptable restaurant behavior.
Since I had kids, my complaint as a diner is not the bad behavior of other children, but the lack of it around me. I’m tired of being in a restaurant where my boys are the only ones having tantrums. In reality, nothing feels more validating than seeing a stranger’s kid shift the focus from us — and flip himself on the floor, kicking and screaming, because the server didn’t put the spaghetti sauce on the side.
But, unfortunately, most parents I have encountered are very aware of other diners’ feelings and offer apologies at the slightest child whimper.  This is why, also this week, a Huffington Post story
about a mom’s gratitude to a fellow passenger during an airplane trip, went viral.  She writes that instead of scowling at her autistic daughter in the next seat as expected, this man actually engaged with her. As a result, desperate parents, hungry for any crumb of validation, have almost lionized this man, elevating him with their Facebook likes to the status of Mother Theresa washing the feet of lepers on a dunghill.
It’s not that I agree with the parents who took their 8-month-year old baby to Alinea, reducing this tony foodie temple to a garden-variety Chuck E Cheese. I agree with Chef Grant Achatz’s tweeted comparison of his restaurant to a theater.   If a restaurant passes what I call “the tweezers test,” meaning that someone is using tweezers to arrange each individual pea shoot on top of the fish cheeks at precisely the right angle, all kids under 12 are automatically banned. I am taking my campaign to more earthly everyday restaurants, the kind which costs less than four figures to feed four people.
I know some readers are probably thinking: wouldn’t it be easier if I just managed my kids better?  Before I had kids, I had thought that parents with kids misbehaving in public were entitled and self absorbed, just flippantly allowing their kids to run amuck with no regard for anyone else. But now I see that controlling their every move, especially after a whole day with them at home spent constantly policing, is more difficult than one would think. This is even with taking every precaution possible.  Now my family’s main requirement for picking a restaurant is where we are likely to enrage to the fewest people. I typically request that we be seated far away from others, even in an empty party room if possible.  We go to dinner when restaurants are the least crowded, at early-bird hours so extreme that they would embarrass even the most flinty senior citizen. But no matter how well we plan, because of a series of other demands –  like my husband’s or my work going late on a day when there’s slim pickings in the larder –it’s inevitable that once in a while, we land at 7 PM in a crowded pizza place.
So I implore other parents: take those kids out as often as you would like and let them loose. Eighty-six the time outs. Make those kids both seen and heard. Then, at least for me, every public dining experience will become a real Happy Meal.

Sick lit panel at Northwestern 10-15-13

Or more specifically: “The Chronic Question: Writing about Illness.” Moderated by chronicbabe Jenni Prokopy, and featuring Paula Kamen, Sandi Wisenberg, and Laurie Edwards.

6:00-7:15 pm
Annie May Swift, 1920 Campus Drive- 1st floor auditorium
Evanston, IL

For more info, see Center for Writing Arts website

This event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. No reservations are needed; it’s on a first-come-first-seated basis. Q&A and book signing too follow. Co-sponsored by the Department of Performance Studies

All in My Head riding on substantive coattails of author Laurie Edwards

Laurie Edwards, health blogger and author of the fantastically researched new book, In the Kingdom of the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America, has given some nice shout outs to my work in All in My Head — both in her book and on the PR trail.

She mentioned my book’s analysis of the women’s health movement of the 1960s and its blind spot for chronic pain while being grilled in a “Fresh Air” interview on NPR (while, dare I say, keeping her cool better than Woody Allen when Gross needled him about Soon Yi).

Also last week, in a story on Laurie’s book in USA Today, I was interviewed about my term, “the Tired Girls,”  to describe women living a secret double-life of pain or fatigue.The writer, Kim Painter, cites from Laurie’s book:

The Tired Girl stands for so much that society disdains: weakness, exhaustion, dependence, unreliability, and the inability to get better.

I also posted a Ms. blog interview with Laurie about her focus on women and chronic illness, and a longer, later version for Shewrites.com.