Advice for the mature or befuddled...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crowdfunding a Challenge For My Senior Set

"Please let me write you a check," Leah said. This was the third such plea I received from friends who got my email soliciting funds for my Kickstarter campaign. I'm using that crowdfunding platform to pay for the publishing and marketing of my upcoming memoir, "Green Nails, And Other Acts of Rebellion: Life After Loss."

"No, it doesn't work that way," I said to Leah. "First of all, I can't deposit your check in my bank and then contribute to my own campaign. Second, all donations on Kickstarter must go through Amazon with a credit card."

"I want to help," said Harriet, another of the group of refuseniks, "but I'm not going to put my personal information on the Internet."

"But if you're not part of the campaign," I said, "you won't get my updates. You won't know what's going on day-to-day."

"So, you'll call and tell me. What's the big deal?"

I tried a different tack. "You win prizes on Kickstarter. If you donate a certain amount, you get the new book as a reward. And, at different levels..."

"Who needs a prize?" she interrupted. "I'll send you a check for the Kick thing, and I'll still buy the damn book, in a bookstore, like a normal person. "

I dug in, patient as a parent trying to explain the birds-and-bees: "You see, Kickstarter works sort of like a matching grant. If I don't reach my campaign's funding goal, all of the money already in the pot disappears. I won't get anything."

"Listen, if you're such a smarty to write the book and do this crowd thing, you can figure out how to get my money in the pot."

Still pushing, I said: "How about we go on Skype and I'll walk you through the process? You use that to talk to your grandchildren, right? Or, I'll come over and we'll tackle the donation together."

"I'm sending a check," she said.

"Okay; just send the check." I felt guilty for the tussle, and for acting like a spoiled teen gifted a Ford for graduation rather than a Lexus. 

While my younger friends on Facebook had no problem viewing my Kickstarter announcement, clicking the link, and boosting my bottom line, members of my own age group (I'm 75) are balking. This creates a dilemma because my peers are my target audience.

My memoir is based is on my blogs, The Rookie Caregiver and The Rookie Widow. Through honest, humorous, and wry essays, I give readers a view of what everyday life is like when caring for a loved one with an incurable illness. In my case, my husband Tommy's affliction was a little-known dementia called Frontotemporal degeneration that eventually robbed him of speech.

When Tommy died November 2, 2012, my posts switched to the experiences of widowhood and my efforts - still honest and humorous - to forge a new life.

These universal themes - supporting a loved one with dementia, and demonstrating resilience  - should be appealing to those in my cohort. Surely they want to guarantee that my memoir sees life as a paperback and eBook.

But alas, some aspects of technology -- particularly crowdfunding -- appear to have sailed over the grey-haired heads of my contemporaries, and instead find them wedded to pen and checkbook.

I'll stop kvetching and bullying, and just be grateful for their support and generosity, and figure out a way to, um, launder their money into Kickstarter. (Let's keep it between ourselves. Okay?)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy Birthday To Min, Who Today Has Decided She Is 65

Today is my mother Min Shapiro’s birthday. If she were celebrating at an earthly venue, she’d be 102. But since Mom is in her heavenly high rise, with ocean views on all sides, she has elected to be 65.

“Any age?” I asked as we Face Time-ed on our iPads. (I have the 2. She has 3. They get them first up there.) “If you get to choose any age, why 65? Why not some time in your 20’s when you were a hot chick?”

Mother frowned; I had erred for I knew she had always considered herself a glamour girl. A Dorothy Lamour look-alike I had written in my memoir.

“I didn’t mean that, Mom,” I said quickly. “You were gorgeous your whole life, and, um, afterlife. I’m just wondering what was so special about that age.”

With that, she held a photo up to the screen. “Remember?” she asked. “The 40th birthday party I threw for you? I was so proud I could pay for it myself. You were skinny then. Your hair was long. A beauty.”

“So you loved 65 because I looked good?” I asked. Another familiar theme: Mom concerned that pudginess could thwart chances at my happiness. I changed the subject. “What about you, Mom? Other than the party, was that a good year for you?”

“Well, your father had been dead -- by the way, he says ‘hello’ -- for 20 years so I was free of worrying about his health and when he would drop dead and make me a widow. And to be honest, widowhood wasn’t so bad. I should have stuck to it rather than...”

“Oh yes, your awful second marriage.”

“That’s been deleted from my file,” she said. “Like it never happened.”

“Boy, you’ve got it good up there,” I said. “You get to choose your age, erase bad experiences, not so bad. Of course, there’s the part about missing us down here on earth, and not being in on the good things that happen here.”

“What are you talking?” she asked. “I’ve got a ringside seat. Nothing gets by me. I’ve seen every show my granddaughters put on. And, you can tell them for me, I’d prefer a little more decent language. I see my great grandchildren. In fact, I keep an eye on them when your girls turn their backs. If I see something important, I give Faith and Jill a knock in the head that makes them turn around.”

“Wow, thanks, Mom! So, I don’t have to worry about them every minute of the day?”

“I’ve got you covered,” she said. She laughed; the iPad shook. It was great to see her happy.

“So, listen Mom, I called to wish you a Happy Birthday -- 65, 102, whatever...”

“Shush,” she said. “102, never. That’s for very, very, old people.”

“Oh yes, I remember your telling me you would never want to grow old. Couldn’t stand seeing people in walkers, shrinking, wrinkles. You said it wasn’t for you. And when you did, um, die at 68, you had none of those infirmities. You went out gorgeous as ever.”

I continued. “Before I hang up, I need to know what you’d like as a present. It’ll be virtual, but I want it to be something you’d enjoy.”

“Hmm, I’m thinking,” she said. She closed her eyes, put her manicured fingernail to her red lips, and continued with “hmm.”

“I’ve got it,” she said. “An Apple gift card. Steve gave me a tip that the iPhone6 is coming out soon, and I can use it for that.”

“Steve? Jobs? You’re friends with him?” I asked.

“I’ve still got the looks,” she said. She was offended again. But then she waved a hand to dismiss my question. “Steve’s impressed I know the lingo.”

“OK, Mom, no problem. In a few minutes look in your iCloud, and the gift card will be there,” I said. “Happy Birthday! Love you!”

“Love you, too!” she said. Then our screens went dark.