OPTIMAL DISTANCE, A Divided Life: Part One

OPTIMAL DISTANCE, A Divided Life: Part One

by Joan Carol Lieberman

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780998769011
Publisher: Camperdown Elm Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 08/17/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 696,783
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Joan Carol Lieberman has been a management consultant and speech writer for forty years working with lawyers, doctors, and women in professional leadership positions. At age seventy-five she continues to consult and write for long-time clients.
Born a Gentile in Utah, she spent her childhood in two small Mormon towns, Delta and Logan. Her father was a federal research entomologist, distantly related to Simon Bamberger, Utah's only Jewish governor. Her mother, whose ancestors were among the first Mormon pioneers to arrive in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, tragically developed paranoid schizophrenia shortly after the author's birth. Schizophrenia is a devastating and incurable biological mental illness that effects one out of every one hundred people. The title of OPTIMAL DISTANCE comes from the author's need to keep a safe distance away from her mother whose mental illness triggered episodic murderous impulses toward the author.
The roots of Joan Carol Lieberman's unusual two-part autobiography can be found in a pink diary she received on her fifth birthday, a gift that converted her into a devout diarist. As an only and often lonely child, she found comfort in telling an imaginary listener her concerns and worries.
Her father's research assignments meant she started high school in Bozeman, Montana and graduated in Bakersfield, California. After studies at the University of California in Berkeley, she traveled to Europe and worked as a medical volunteer in Africa. When the author returned to America, another attempt was made on her life and the author committed her mother to a Tucson hospital where she was finally treated with the first anti-psychotic drug, Thorazine.
Soon after returning to Berkeley to finish her studies, the author became pregnant with her first child, a daughter. Her life for the next five years mirrored the social upheaval of the 1960's. In 1966 she left Berkeley for Northern Idaho, where she went to finish her thesis. In 1968, she accepted her first professional managerial position in Boulder, Colorado as director of the county-wide Head Start program. In 1971 the Ford Foundation sought her assistance in establishing the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) in Boulder. She met and fell in love with Bob Pelcyger, one of the founding NARF attorneys; following their marriage in 1975, he adopted her daughter.
Her mother died on the morning of the author's fortieth birthday. The next year she and Bob had a son. The author was still nursing him when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. While facing death with a young child , she continued to work, started a school for her son, and provided hands-on-help to other mothers with breast cancer. Her now twenty-eight-year survival is both remarkable and inspiring, but not without extraordinary costs, both physically and financially.
As a finalist for the Bakeless Literary Prize, Joan Carol Lieberman was invited to attend the 1999 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference as a Bakeless Scholar. It was there that she began to write her autobiography, an effort that continued on and off for the next eighteen years. After forty-two years of marriage, Joan Carol Lieberman and Bob Pelcyger made a bucket list for what they each wanted from the other before their death. Bob wanted his wife to finish both Part One and Part Two of OPTIMAL DISTANCE, A Divided Life,which she did in his honor on her seventy-fifth birthday.

Table of Contents

Dedicated to the Believers, the Unbelievers, and Those In Between xi

Preface to Part One: About Optimal Distance xiii

Book I: CHILDHOOD 1

Inheritances of a Full-Blooded Gentile 3

A Female Prisoner of Two Wars 13

Second Choice Survivor 17

The Bear Goes to Topaz 23

The Untouchable Sable Coat 29

Ben’s Birthday Couch 33

Afton’s Broom 39

My Mormon Safe Havens 43

The Great Fried Egg War of 1949 47

Baptized a Mormon in Sinful Apostasy 55

My Father’s Feline Dream House 61

The Bear Who Loved Cherry Chocolates 67

My Mother’s Dream House 71

Branded for Life: My Atomic Tattoo 75

Never Worry About Where Your Money Has Gone 79

The Rewards and Risks of Giving 85

Bras and Cars 93

Love and Betrayal 103

Dreaming of Being Mrs. J.C. Penny 109

A Female Twin 115

Speaking Truth to Power 119

The Over-Achievement Defense 127

An Agent of the Turkish Police 133

“The Perverse Mother” 137

A Mother for My Mother 141

Changing the Distance 145

The University of California at Berkeley 151

Europe and Africa 155

Never Wanting to Go Home Again 159

Practicing Medicine in Ouagadougou 165

My Mother’s First Commitment 173

Thanksgiving in Berkeley’s Tilden Park 179

“She Has a Turkey in the Oven” 181

Making and Breaking Vows 183

My Mother Saves Her Progeny 187

Book II: MOTHERHOOD 195

The Love of My Life 197

Excommunication and the Ayn Rand Man 205

When the Body Remembers 213

Vietnam War Bride 217

Mistletoe and Modern Day Polygamy 221

The Accident 227

Starting Over 237

Cross-Species Relationships 241

Twin Falls 251

The Company That Came 257

The Gold Star Girl 265

Coming Together, Coming Apart 273

The High Price of Help 287

Mad Manx Leads Me to True Love 295

Henry Kissinger and “The Refrigerator Mother” 303

Work and Distance 311

My Beloved Daughter 315

Death—the Ultimate Distance 321

Acknowledgements 335

Glossary of Individuals and Animals 337

Credits for Photographs and Illustrations 347

Endnotes 349

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