LIFE AS PARENTHESIS

I feel I am in the middle of a parenthesis. Part of it, I’m sure, is that I feel an emptiness inside me where Dr Katherine Brandt used to reside. ( she was the character I played in “33 Variations). Part of it is that I have had a sinus infection ever since the play ended and so I feel under the weather. A big part of it is what is happening in the world– in Japan and the Middle East– especially Libya right now. Part of me is trying to go about my life as though I wasn’t sick and things were normal, yet I am glued to the TV, relentlessly seeing the relentless images from both parts of the world. I marvel at the Japanese people I see interviewed — they seem almost noble in the way they face their catastrophe..I feel too out of it to properly describe what I mean, but the words generous, philosophical, brave, polite are what come to mind. Is it because they are an island people? Is it because of the horrors they and their forebears have gone through ( Hiroshima…) already? Is it cultural? Or am I imagining it? I am so scared for them– for all of us– if the situation at the nuclear plants continues or worsens.

I think “China Syndrome” should be shown again on TV because it would help people understand what Is going on…as it did during the Three Mile Island event. I know that a lot of very smart, good people think nuclear energy should be ” part of the mix” in America’s energy future. For me, the one positive thing about all this is that it might get those decision makers to change their minds. There are simply too many things– earthquakes, cyclones, tornadoes, terrorists, human error, etc– that could turn a nuclear power plant into a catastrophe. And no one yet has figured out how to dispose of the toxic, unforgiving waste. I am so sorry that the Japanese people, they who have already suffered so from the atomic bomb, are having to bear this burden. I pray it brings everyone to their senses.

I am in the car driving to the Albuquerque airport to go back to L. A. I’ve been at my ranch for 5 days. Carole, my assistant, is driving. I hardly went outside while I was there– highly unusual for me but I didn’t feel well enough. I did, however, have to rehearse the choreography for the next two exercise DVDs I will shoot in 2 weeks. They’re going to be really good.

Richard’s in NY with the musical he is part of that opens on Broadway April 24th…” Baby It’s You“. I am glad he’s there. When I am not well I like being alone although, when he is with me, he makes a perfect Jewish mother– taking care of me, bringing me stuff to make me well. I’m not as good at care taking. Every night I have dreamed that Tulea is lost and I can’t find her.

In spite of being sick, I got a lot done at the ranch (when i wasn’t watching TV) including reading through the completed copy edited manuscript of my book. Whew! I really like this book. It has everything I would want to know about preparing for and going through the Third Act…if I say so myself. It makes me laugh in parts and in parts it makes me cry.

Maybe that’s why I feel between parenthesis– so many things have ended and I don’t feel emotionally prepared to put closure on this phase– and, globally speaking– I’m scared what closure might look like.

Enough already. Babbling! Tomorrow is another day. Xxxnxxxx

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34 Comments
  1. Hello Jane,

    Your thoughts and feelings are embraced by many of us in this troubling day. I went through this in the 60s and 70s although this is even more troubling. So many battles on so many fronts. The world and the choices we as nations and individuals make compounded by the enormous voice of nature – earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, to say the least. I’m anxious to follow your blog. Your voice has always been one I’ve appreciated and listen to. Thank you, -Al

  2. Hi Jane,

    First, I hope you are feeling better! I am a sinus sufferer, as well and I know that general “feeling funky” kind of feeling. What helped me tremendously was watching my diet when I had infections. Very little dairy, lots of spicy food and soup.

    I found your post refreshing, honest and very well versed. When I watch the news, I am almost paralyzed watching what is going on in Japan. And yes, I agree. There is something very stoic about many of the people that are interviews. I have so much admiration for their culture and hope and pray that the healing can begin.

    I love the fact that you post from the heart – hones and uncensored. It’s refreshing.

    Loved your appearance on Oprah and you continue to inspire many. I am on the cusp of my 43rd birthday and I feel my lift shifting into something more real, simple with more depth. I saw that in you.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    All the best,

    Patti Phelan Clapp

  3. I think you have put a very common, general feeling into words. I will be quoting you this week as my life currently being in parenthesis. The state of the world (understatement) is completely overwhelming right now even if you aren’t someone who usually tunes in and for those of us who do….I don’t need to elaborate.

    I do not have any great insight to add here, I just think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head and those of us with personal life transitions, who feed our souls with creative endeavors and set a high bar for ourselves as women, mothers and citizens of the world, this is a challenging time.

    Thank you for your honesty, your drive and for reminding all of us to be just the best “me” we can be.

    Adding China Syndrome to the instant queue on Netflix to watch tonight after the kiddies are snug in their beds.

    Let’s hope tomorrow’s news is filled with welcome and happy surprises.

  4. Hi wonderful woman. You sound sad. Like you’re in a transition. Sad isn’t always bad. Perhaps your heart is feeling what’s happening out there.

    Times like this, when there is so much upheaval and tragedy in the news that has us glued to our TV sets we can feel so disempowered.

    I can see people suffering but can’t really help. I can speak about it but probably am not heard. I keep asking why do they build these dangerous things in built-up areas? Why build them at all? ‘They’ didn’t ask me? Don’t think ‘they’ ever asked any of the mothers of the world.

    I feel sad for all the Japanese people who’ve already had to deal with an atomic bomb, and also the hatred and vilification that followed for decades. The Japanese are an honourable and beautiful people.

    Now reports say that 100,000+ of their children are homeless. And there is no mention of the radiation sickness many of them will suffer.

    I’m glad you said re-reading your manuscript made you happy.

    Am thinking of your words, and I agree, they should re-play The China Syndrome.

    It might make people speak up at a very timely moment before we all go back to sleep, to our safe lives, turn our ears and eyes away, and happily forget this catastophic period.

    I heard an old radio internet archive recording this morning of John & Yoko saying something like “when there is pain and suffering in the world we can’t ignore it. It is all our pain.” I think perhaps somehow (some of us) tune into, or pick up on, this. Don’t know, but it seems like it.

    Kind thoughts,

    Gaye Crispin

  5. I think what you have described is what most the world is feeling right now.

    Not the “Dr Katherine Brandt” part, I think she will always be a part of you, because you brought her to life, you made her real, she exists now.

    The part I think the world is feeling is fear, compassion, depression, helplessness and mortality. For over a decade, we have faced disasters/events that we could never imagine happening and we have faced each one with fortitude, but this time we face the big fear, Nuclear Meltdown. After all the death, destruction, personal sicknesses, political turmoil, it has worn us down, left us shaky.
    We are all on edge.

    We get up each day and keep going, because what else can we do. If you have a moment, read a very short somethng I wrote for my blog. Rise for the Scattered Day http://t.co/765ecCR

    Warmest regards,

    Dona

  6. I really enjoy your blog. Your observations appear to be honest and insightful. I have found in my own life the parentheses close themselves and a new phase starts before we realize it.
    We that live our lives with open eyes and wonderment are so busy living we can only take a moment and look back only to realize we are on our way through a new journey before we realize the last one has concluded.
    I can say the things that have occurred recently in Japan and the Middle East are but another incident that I was not consulted on. I find the Japanese spirit refreshing and something we should all learn from, but sadly only those who don’t need the lesson will be observers.
    The new war in the Middle East is so sad. I can only say people should learn from history so as not to repeat it, but again those that need these lessons are not listening I’m afraid.
    I hope you continue to travel through life with open eyes and wonderment. I again want to let you know how much I enjoy this blog.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Reese Mitchell

    • Reese, someone said, ” life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

  7. The world events taking place are overwhelming. My heart breaks every time I turn on the television, yet like you, I can’t seem to take my eyes off of it. I want to reach out and help the people both in Japan and Libya, though I don’t feel my hand is big enough. My head continues to spin with the National news as well. I am in the midst of Union busting battles and trying to hold up my head high as a teacher, which right now is not a highly regarded profession.
    When you wrote about the bee you saved from the pool a couple of blogs ago, I realized that I need to stand up for what I believe in, fight the battles I need to fight, but not allow these things to bring me down. Instead I should allow these acts to help energize me to do good, take the time to see the beauty of the world, and continue doing what I know is right. Thank you for always sharing inspirational messages that lift me to another level.

  8. I keep thinking of the China Syndrome, too… Everything that happens is very stressful and I think we are witnesses of some major changes worldwide…
    Take care and get well soon! Regards from Athens, Greece!

  9. Jane,
    I believe that with the age of 24/7 information and news, we have all become one global community. As compassionate people, when one of us falls the rest of us feel pain.
    The suffering and pain that the Japanese people are going through touches us all.
    It is what we do with that empathy that shows our true character. Action and donations are what Japan needs.
    I am so impressed with the Japanese culture and their response to this tragedy.
    Please continue to speak out about life changing events that affect our global brothers and sisters.

  10. Jane, I was deeply impressed with your comment. Acctually it made me cry. I lived in Columbus OH for 16 years, and now I live in Tokyo. I have never talked about Hiroshima with my American friend since I thought it was a kind of taboo, As a Japanese I am grateful for your sympathy for Japan.

  11. Jane, your comments have put in words how I feel. My heart goes out to all those suffering!
    I would be interested in your thoughts on our involvement now with Libya. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings on these important topics.

    • Pat, I agree that the No Fly Zone is the right decision. Wish it had begun sooner

  12. I was just talking to my wife last week about how reserved the Japanese people are, and how they exhibit such a sublime sense of calm. They are so task oriented, diligent, selfless in their devotion to community, humble to the natural wrath of the Earth, determined yet again to overcome this and carry on. They hardly have the time for irrationality, emotional outbursts, wasting time… Two more people were pulled out of the rubble today. It’s been ten days. That shows an incredible determination to survive. Watching them deal with this tragedy on our TVs here, I hope Americans and people all over the world can take a lesson on how to be, or at least act, noble. So, no, it’s not just your imagination.

  13. You probably already know, but gargling with very warm sea salt water several times a day speeds up the recovery a lot, as it is antiseptic and beneficial 🙂

  14. A beautiful piece.

    Here all over Germany from 6p.m to 6.30 p.m. tonight there will be a vigil for Japan together with a protest against nuclear power. Germany has 19 reactors and despite Angela Merkel telling us a few weeks ago that everything was fine with all of them, since Fukushima happened, 7 of them have been temporarily closed down for three months – for checks. Our close neighbour, France, has 56 nuclear power plants with one new one being built at the moment. 56!!!

    I wish too that The China Syndrome would be shown again. I haven’t seen it in years. Saw the trailer last week on Youtube and so wished to see it again. A stark reminder to everyone.

    I’m in Tokyo often. My thoughts are with the Japanese, a resilient people. What hurts is when I see them cry publicly. They are not ones to show emotions publicly and so they must really be in pain when they finally do.

    Take care and get well soon.
    Jason

  15. Certainly nuclear power isn´t clean energy. Its clean from carbon emissions only.Here in Brasil we have 2 power plants and we are building the third one. What a mistake for the future generations that will have to cope with that. We have lots of wind and sunshine almost during the entire year. Why not to develop solar power plants, wind energy plants or even ocean waves energy machines that converts it to electricity. all the best

    • Indeed, the China Sindrome film it is a good example for people to remember all about the dangers that are involved with Nuclear power. People make mistakes and like you said Mother Nature has its power as well. When it leaks, contaminates water, air and soil. I watched that film many times, long ago, because of Jane Fonda working together with Jack Lemon and Michael Douglas. Loved it !
      Best regards

  16. It great that you mentioned The China Syndrome. I got a DVD of it for my 16th birthday and when I first saw it, it was so harrowing and very relevant. I think it’s one of those movies that are timeless and of which you can also learn. It becomes another layer, another meaning and interpretation by these new, horrible events in the world. Sad, but true.

    BTW, it’s off-topic but I’m interested: how was working with Jack Lemmon? (just imagine my joy when my favorite actress and actor play in the same movie :D)

  17. Once you get well and recover from the play experience, I have a suggestion for your next project. It does relate to current world events…

    I’d love to see you do a short series of interview shows for a cable channel where you interview some people who THINK and who care about what is going on in the world. I’ve followed your blog for a while and you know so many interesting people, it would be great if you could bring their ideas to a wider audience.

    You’d be a good interviewer and I think with the cable format, you wouldn’t have the burden of producing a daily show, just whatever number seems right to you.

    Please give it a thought.

  18. I love reading your blog but have recently noticed the “font” is too small for me to read without using a magnifying glass. Any chance it could be made larger? Please…

  19. Jane…I so appreciate what you write here. I am 68 and started a new “retirement adventure” last summer, moving to Philadelphia, where I’ve never lived. Alone. Well…with my cat!
    I am now building a website and learning how to do that from the ground up. I was already pretty daring but the example you set is important to me.
    So a deep thank you… Meredith

  20. Thanks Jane. Have actually met Vanessa and she is a doll. I’ll do my best to help out.
    Going out to plant my tomatoes.
    Back yard to table this summer!
    Take care and enjoy your extraordinary life.

    Tricia

  21. Do take care, Jane…Everyone is in parenthesis I think.

  22. Well Jane, hope your recovering and feeling up to the life of living.
    Human reason is a dark figure seated over clear waters and nested on white Porcelain, in great hopes of completing lifes last supper. This is some writing today ,thinking on the worlds news. I did read and send a twitter link , with a nuclear engineer saying that “a Meltdown was just a Hollywood word and that it had no real meaning” strange people and a strange land. I did ask, bye e-mail for CAA to forward over to you. Two reduxs of scenes ,I was thinking on in my script.
    I also found a good healthy Cream Puffs recipe Mocha Cream Puffs made with – yogurt, low-fat vanilla not bad.

    with love and care,

  23. It universal to have a quiet spell after a big project or production. That’s the perfect way to put it, the space between the parenthesis. Many times I feel that way…treading water, not moving anywhere. I don’t like it one bit, but guess it’s just as much of life as the busy, challenging moments. Rest up and feel better soon.

  24. Jane,

    Thanks for your profound thoughts about what is occurring in our world right now. It is sad, but we must be determined to get through it into better days.

    I can relate to you again with your current malady. I’ve had two sinus infections in the last 3 months. Am currently on antibiotics. I hope you are doing that! There’s also a procedure called sinuplasty for chronic infections, and I’m considering it as an option.

    Sorry to get so technical, but my heart goes out to you and all that you are going through. You’re tough, though, and will come out on the other end stronger than ever!

    My love as always,

  25. I attended ‘A breakfast with Jane Fonda’ on the Gold Coast, Australia, in 2007 (I think!) and hearing you speak ~ then reading ‘My Life, So Far’ absolutely changed my life. I found solace in so much that you said. It felt like you were speaking directly to me.

    I am really looking forward to your new book…

    • Thank you Danni. That makes me very happy. I remember that luncheon well. Xx

  26. I am so comforted to know you and so many others feel the same about the problems on our beautiful planet. I have been an admirer of yours since 1984, when I was widowed and came home from work to exercise with your video. I too lived in Atlanta. We are the same age and you have been a sorce of encouragement to me to be the best I can be. I loved your book also. I hope you feel better very soon. It takes more recoup time at 73! Thanks for all you do for humanity. Carol

  27. Thank you for your kind words for the people of Japan. I live in Tokyo, experienced that big quake nearly two weeks ago (I have lived here 22 years and never felt anything like it, even in Tokyo, which was relatively far from the epicentre).

    We plod on here. I got up at 5:30 to have a shower before the planned black out that was due at 6:20, but never occurred. A big aftershock at 8:55 (that really put me in the mood for work!). We have many aftershocks everyday, and they are making us all jumpy.

    The news yesterday was that Tokyo tap water is mildly contaminated, so young children cannot drink it. There is a bit of a run on bottled water, so we are beginning to hunt the stuff down for our friends with young children.

    Still, we are much luckier than the poor souls up north.

    Anyway, thank you again, for remembering us here. And, I would also like to say that I joined this site as I found it really charming, and it brightened my day in a not particularly happy time here.

    Thank you.

    Nick

    • Nick, I am moved to know that I have a reader in Japan…it’s like having a ground- level perspective. Keep talking! Xx

  28. Thank you so much for writing me a message.

    Superficially everything in Tokyo seems normal, but only superficially. Of course, there are the obvious differences – empty shelves in supermarkets and convenience shops (though there is food in restaurants, though some foods are in short supply, so it is not like we are starving or anything), and at night Tokyo seems quieter and darker as people and companies try to conserve energy. The other thing, though, is the tension in the air and in people’s faces. This of course is partly the worries about the plants at Fukushima and the seemingly never-ending bad news, which at one point last week was building up to a such huge crescendo on the BBC and CNN, that I had to stop watching, but the more immediate cause of stress is the never-ending aftershocks. We have had so many that it is like we are all just sitting there waiting for the next one.

    Of course with all this bad news, to break the tension, what I believe they call gallows humor has been kicking in: jokes about glowing in the dark, that sort of thing.

    Speaking as a foreigner here, another source of tension for foreigners is confusion about loyalties and guilt. Many foreigners left during the great panic last week. I also panicked and took refuge with Tecchan, an old and much-loved friend who lives in Abashiri, a small town in the far north of Hokkaido and not affected by this at all. I felt so guilty about leaving that I came back. There seems to be a trickle of foreigners coming back, though many have still not returned, having left for their home countries, neighboring countries to Japan, or places like Osaka (I have heard Osaka is packed with foreigners). I think guilt is probably something uppermost in many of these foreigners’ minds at the moment. It certainly has been with me: Should I stay, should I go? Do I observe embassy instructions or stick it out with the people I have worked with, laughed with, fought with, cried with? For a few days last week I’m ashamed to say my courage deserted me, and I ran.

    It is good to be back.

    Anyway, good news: A parcel arrived today from Tecchan containing 24 bottles of water and a big bag of rice, for friends of mine with children. I don’t know what I would do without him.

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