Little Panic: Dispatches from an Anxious with Life Amanda Stern
April 9, 2021
Hosted by Diane Dewey
The world never made any sense to Amanda Stern--how could she trust time to keep flowing, the sun to rise, gravity to hold her feet to the ground, or even her own body to work the way it was supposed to? Deep down, she knows that there's something horribly wrong with her, some defect that her siblings and friends don't have to cope with. Growing up in the 1970s and 80s in New York, Amanda experiences the magic and madness of life through the filter of unrelenting panic. Plagued with fear that her friends and family will be taken from her if she's not watching-that her mother will die, or forget she has children and just move away-Amanda treats every parting as her last. Shuttled between a barefoot bohemian life with her mother in Greenwich Village, and a sanitized, stricter world of affluence uptown with her father, Amanda has little she can depend on. And when Etan Patz disappears down the block from their MacDougal Street home, she can't help but believe that all her worst fears are about to come true. Tenderly delivered and expertly structured, Amanda Stern's memoir is a document of the transformation of New York City and a deep, personal, and comedic account of the trials and errors of seeing life through a very unusual lens. Amanda currently produces and hosts the popular podcast BOOKABLE. She spent her 20s working in film–for Ang Lee, Terry Gilliam, and Gregg Araki, but primarily for Ted Hope and James Schamus at the famed (and not forgotten) Good Machine, where she worked closely with Hal Hartley. After that she became an accidental comic, co-hosting the Lorne Michaels series, “This is Not a Test“ with host Marc Maron at “Catch A Rising Star.” She was the on-air host of a cable network owned by Lorne Michaels, the name of which is so mortifying she can’t even bring herself to tell me, the fake person pretending to write “her” bio. Later, in the music world, she worked for David Byrne, curating a narrative section of The Talking Heads Box Set, “Once In A Lifetime.” Stern hosts, talks, moderates, and curates for those who pay her. Some of these people and places are the National Book Awards ceremony, “5 Under 35;” the BBC; Soundcheck; the MacDowell Colony; Brooklyn Public Library’s Gala with Paul Auster, and at Powerhouse Arena. She’s also led storytelling workshops for Moleskine, Cirque du Soleil, and Proctor & Gamble. She’s published thirteen books, nine for children (the Frankly, Frannie, series for Penguin under the name, A.J. Stern), two for young adults (You’re So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah and its sequel, under the name, Fiona Rosenbloom), and one novel of literary fiction, The Long Haul, under her real name. Her most recent book is a memoir called Little Panic, which came out on June 19, 2018, from Grand Central. She’s held several fellowships at both The MacDowell Colony (once as the Philip Morris Company Fellow) and at Yaddo. In 2012 she was a NYFA fiction fellow, and she was a Barnes and Noble Discover Pick in 2018.
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At Dropping In we’ll explore diverse stories about identity. By listening to others talk about their own path, ours becomes less fearful. Where are we now and how do we meet the challenges? Dropping In is a place of discovery. We might believe that our life experiences are uniquely our own. Yet there’s a community of people that are here to bear witness, to relate to, link arms with and support us. They join us on Dropping In, tackling subjects like breaking into your dream business, cultural differences, child abuse, mental illness, shamanism, gender search, religious shunning, and fitting in as a marginalized outsider. These can feel like lonesome tasks. How do others find their power? Listening to their personal truths validates our own. Drop into the conversation to find the common threads, your uniqueness and our shared experience as humans.
My most pressing question has always been about identity: Who am I? Growing up near Philadelphia with my adoptive family, my genetic identity was hidden. Then, my Swiss biological father, Otto, contacted me when I was age forty-seven in 2002. I’d been told by my adoptive parents that my biological parents were dead, supposedly to protect me. Meeting Otto upended my life. Through him, I met my German biological mother’s family to discover that her story too, had been changed; that she’d not wanted to surrender me and she’d searched for me all her life. Finding my truth was essential.
Based on my experience I am excited to talk to people about their own search for identity. My education includes a BA from Villanova University, a certificate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University. I’ve worked for The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The SoHo Partnership and the National Academy of Design and have studied writing through New York University’s Continuing Education program. As an entrepreneur, I founded my art appraisal business, The Realization of Art in 2006. My non-fiction writing has been published in Shared Space, a monograph, and in Artes online magazine. Writing workshops worldwide have given me the chance to learn and hone my craft. My first book, “Fixing the Fates,” was awarded the National Non-Fiction Author’s Association Silver Medal and the Living Now Award.