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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Random Thoughts On A Dreary Monday Morning

Okay, so it's dreary. No sun. Good possibility of rain. BUT, I don't have to wear a coat or a jacket to venture outside. My garden, though fading, is still in bloom with pink Turtle Heads quietly showing themselves for the first time this season. The rain, if it falls, will take care of watering those new flowers, and I won't have to lug the 75-foot hose from one end of the yard to the other.

As my dad used to say, "If I had your problems, I'd be taking golf lessons." (He did play golf and he did take lessons.)

He was right then and, if he were alive, he'd be right now. It may be dreary but, hey, it could be a hell of a lot worse.

Let's Be Honest: I'm Conflicted

I tell everyone and myself that women should age as they choose--either naturally or with help from those physicians who are trained to cut us up and put us back together again. A Humpty Dumpty affair. Or to be current: a cut and paste job.

But if I'm straight up, I react to women who have or are scheduled to have plastic surgery with conflicting emotions: jealousy, disappointment, confusion, self-doubt. For example, a 60-something woman I know mentioned that she dealt with her allergic reaction to pain medication when she had a facelift.

"A facelift?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "A long time ago."

I looked at her wrinkle-free skin and wished that my face looked as fresh, unspoiled. But then the questions: She had a facelift when she was younger? How young? I mean, here I am at age 74 and, in what I feel are my "weak" moments, imagining what I'd look like if I were to go under the knife.

But my desire, often tested, is to age gracefully without the help of an outsider. It's the way I felt when I was preparing to give birth. I was determined to go Lamaze all the way, breathe, focus, and refuse an epidural. I didn't want to "freeze" the sensation below my waist but to accept it, feel it, and use it to assure a safe delivery. I wear that experience as a badge of honor and, all these years later (46 to be exact), still feel a sense of accomplishment.

My mother never had a facelift or eye lift or any other plastic or cosmetic surgery. I remember looking at her across the room when she must have been in her late 80s. Wearing only a splash of red lipstick and no other makeup, she glowed. Her wisdom eclipsed the vestiges of age. I want to follow her lead.

I Hate the Most Recent Books in my Book Club

For weeks, I've been rehearsing what I will say at book club next week. For the second time in a row, I have found reading, let alone finishing a book, a challenge. An excruciating challenge. Last time around, I decided not to finish the book. To hell with it.

But I'm a dutiful student, and the idea of not completing an assignment felt like I'd failed a test because I didn't read the material. One of my recurring nightmares.

I couldn't possibly pull the same thing again. So, every day, I forced myself to hold my nose and read. I mean, this was torture. How many bad similes can one reader stand?

"My dreams awakened inside."

"The birds in my mind moved to my chest, fluttering there in anticipation." (The birds in MY mind moved to my stomach, roiling there on the verge of nausea.)

"Desire flamed below my stomach." (Ah, and just where might that be? Her knee caps? Her flat feet?)

I could go on, but . . .

Why the author's editor didn't slash her manuscript until it, too, was unreadable is beyond me. I should look her up to see if she's still employed.

Add to the sophomoric prose a list of characters I cared nothing about and a theme (Is there a God?) that hasn't titillated my interest in some time, my joy in having downloaded the book instead of buying it burst into millions of little shining lights. (Hey, anyone can write slop.)

It is with some trepidation that I await next week's book club. I suspect that my reasoned criticisms in the past and my upcoming plaints will mark me as the naysayer, the Scrooge of the bunch. It's my suspicion that most of the women just loved the book and are planning on reading it again. Soon.

If you know of a serious, ongoing book club in my neck of the woods, I may be in the market.


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