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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

Thanks (Well, Okay)

It goes without saying that I am thankful on this Thanksgiving Day 2020 that all of my family and friends are healthy. They have listened to the experts, followed the science, and shown that facts win the day every time. Still, this is a stressful time that has required all of us to dig deep inside for ways to meet our restricted lives and our heightened emotions. As the author of a book about teen suicide, I worry about all the young people who are feeling anxious, depressed, even suicidal. And, yep, I worry about all the adults who are struggling, too.

Over the months, I've blogged about some of my friends' solutions to their more secluded, solitary lives. One friend who has wanted to get back to making art has, after years of procrastination, taken a metalsmithing and woodworking class and plans to continue on. The metal flower she made for her garden is whimsical and a harbinger of even better things to come.

Another friend has become a Zoom guru and hosts a wide variety of "meetings" from discussions about artists like Frida Kalo, music performed by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and get-togethers with friends and relatives around the world. She says she had a list a mile long of projects to do during the Pandemic but has barely scratched the surface, if at all.

Now that our annual stay in warm, sunny Mexico has been canceled, I knew that if I didn't come up with a plan and get invested in something really important, I'd wither like my friend's flower in the winter, if it were real. So, I did my research and found a writer and writing coach from the Writers School of New York. I needed to reconsider all those unfinished or unedited personal essays that have sat on my desktop in the Personal Essays folder--some for years. I needed a valued constructive critic to tell me what was working and what was not. Bottom line: I needed a kick in the butt.

And, yes, that's what I got. My first project is a piece I started maybe two years ago after a therapist asked me to think about my womb experience. Say, what? How the hell did I know about the nine months I spent percolating before making my grand entrance. Nothing. But the idea intrigued me, so I sat down one day and tried to imagine what it was like to have gone from a fertilized egg to a nine-month-year-old fetus.

My mother got pregnant toward the end of 1944 in the midst of World War II. She had been on the road with my father who was training to be a pilot in the army air corps. My parents couldn't live together (military rules for non-commissioned personnel), so my mother would rent a room in a local boarding house, settle in as best she could, and see my father for one whole hour on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the base with all the other couples and then for a chunk of the weekends. When my father was shipped off to a new base for more advanced training in Texas or Colorado or New Mexico, my mother picked up and moved as well.

So, I had to imagine what it was like for me as a developing fetus while my parents' lives were unsettled, filled with questions about the unknown and the war that was raging all over the world. And I'm still imagining.

So, that's what I'm doing to keep sane during this Pandemic, a nightmare we all hope will be tamped down once there is a vaccine.

I'm reminded of the traditional saying at the end of the Passover Seder observed by Jews worldwide: "Next year in Jerusalem." Let's all hope for "Next year around the table with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving."


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Nov 27, 2020

My comment below was meant to go with "A Time Bubble," but I forgot to mention that I wrote it on Friday... which for me is the only day there is anymore.


Nov 27, 2020

It is definitely very interesting to experience what this strange time has done to our sense of time. I guess we are not alone. There was recently an article in the NYTimes about this very issue. For us, every day seems to be Friday. Every time we turn around it is Friday. We were laughing about it for a while, but now it just feels weird.

The longer this goes on the less I am accomplishing, too. All those projects you describe like cleaning cabinets, etc, fall by the wayside while I try to get in touch with my priorities. Should I really make one more piece of art? Or, should I just try to prepare for what future…

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