Diana Brement JTNews Columnist
1 A confluence of events brought Susan Szafir to electronically publish “Bohemia: An Essay,” a brief memoir of part of her father’s life.
“I was getting my certificate in non-fiction from the University of Washington,” she says, and needed a final assignment topic.
“I had always known my father’s [childhood] stories,” Susan says, “and I’d found them fascinating.” Her dad, Daniel Offer (born Thomas Hirsch) is an internationally recognized psychiatrist and expert on adolescence. His family fled to Palestine in 1936 and his parents brought their unconventional, Bohemian lifestyle to Jerusalem. What young Daniel learned about that life is the crux of Susan’s work.
Susan’s writing group encouraged her to submit the piece to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association annual contest.
“To my surprise, it was a finalist,” she says, and then, “to my even greater surprise, it won.”
With a husband who works for Amazon’s Kindle division, it’s no surprise that he “kept pestering me and pestering me” to put it online. Finally she accepted the challenge, “to experience what was involved.”
Electronic publishing proved fairly easy and an ideal format for the essay. She did it mostly herself using CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing program.
Susan is also the author of Dialysis without Fear: A Guide to Living Well on Dialysis for Patients and Their Families, co-written with her dad and her mom Marjorie. Daniel has been on dialysis for over 17 years. (Susan’s family and her parents all live on Mercer Island.)
Originally from Chicago, Susan, her husband and two kids moved to the Seattle area from Austin about three years ago. She has an MBA from Duke and had worked at Dell computers in marketing. But “I decided I was interested in writing more” when the dialysis book came out in 2007.
Growing up in a Reform congregation in Chicago, she worked for the Chicago Jewish Federation for a while after college.
“I grew up in a very Zionist leaning household,” she recalls, and still has family living in Israel.
She recently started a part-time freelance job, juggling that with family life while “percolating” some other creative projects.
“I have a lot to bring to the table,” in the business world, she says, but “I have so much more fun with the literary writing.”
You can find her essay on Amazon.
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Artist Janet Miller (Photo by Mary Locken)
Be sure to see Janet Miller’s encaustic paintings hanging at Mioposto Caffé in Seattle’s Mt. Baker neighborhood until the end of December. They are created using beeswax, often colored with pigments.
“Beeswax is amazing because you can do so much with it,” says Janet. “You can use it as adhesive for collage, you can carve into it and make it a sculptural process.” Plus, it “has a lovely honey-like smell.”
The Seattle native and Garfield High graduate, who became Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth Am, lives on Seattle’s Capitol Hill in a “car-free household” with her partner. She maintains a studio downtown, although she recently had to move — along with all the building’s occupants — out of the historic 619 Western Avenue building in Pioneer Square. The building was deemed too unstable to withstand construction of the waterfront tunnel that will be built nearby (although it will now be retrofitted).
Janet, 31, attended Antioch University for a year after high school before setting off on a few years of travel, studying Spanish and teaching self-defense at a Seattle organization called Home Safe (recently closed). She spent “quite a bit of time in Mexico and Guatemala,” where she helped rural farmers with land rights issues and attended classes at the Escuela de la Montaña social justice program in Guatemala.
Through those self-defense classes she learned she loved teaching, and recently completed her B.A. at Antioch in Seattle, with teaching endorsements in language arts and visual art. She’s is now a part-time language arts teacher at the Seattle Girls School, and teaches art classes privately.
“I always have loved to draw and paint and do art since I was a little kid,” says Janet. She began studying with local artist Karen Kosoglad at age 9.
“When I met her, all I wanted to do was draw cartoons. She encouraged me to go beyond that,” Janet says. “I really credit everything I know about painting, print making, collage and book making” to her.
You can view and buy Janet’s work, sign up to get info on classes, and read more about her at www.planetjanetart.com.