Lockdown Lemonade #37 by James Kahn

Learning to Love Lemons

My first grandchild was born February 28, 2020, and my wife and I were booking plane tickets to go to Chicago to meet him. I’d scheduled myself off work for an entire month, but by the time we started making travel plans, the pandemic hit. We went into lockdown March 4.

I thought the spread of the virus might put our trip off for as long as a month – could it possibly go on as long as two? Should I take another month off work? I’d been talking about retirement for a couple years anyway, maybe I should take this as a sign that it was time. But we all know what happened next.

As it became more clear the quarantine was going to go on many months – could it actually go on for a year? – adjustments had to be made. Financial, emotional, creative, logistic. And I’m an older guy with comorbid conditions, so I had to really lock down.

Depression, boredom, resentment, anger, anxiety, disbelief, hair on fire, foggy brain… but then I realized at some point I could turn this into something I’d always dreamed about. A writer’s retreat. No social obligations, no work obligations, fortunately not a lot of financial worry (ahh, bless you, Social Security). My wife, Jill, is an artist, and we came to the conclusion together.

Once I reframed the situation, I got much more relaxed. I rewrote an old novel, I wrote a new graphic novel, wrote a kids’ book, produced an animated video, did some music videos, and wrote nine sea shanties with contemporary themes.

I continued to have anxious days. I ate too much, stopped exercising. Missed hugging and touching people. Zoomed a lot, but it wasn’t the same, of course.

But focusing on the things I could do was all about shifting my POV. Which is something I hope I can hang onto, even as we stumble back into normal life. Whatever that is.

Oh, and we met my grandson, Nico, last month, after his first birthday.

~James Kahn

Emergency Room doctor James Kahn wrote sci-fi novels and movie novelizations, including Return of the Jedi, Goonies and Poltergeist, before becoming a television writer-producer on Melrose Place and Star Trek: Voyager, among others. Lately he’s been focused on his music, releasing a number of Americana CDs – most recently Matamoros, the companion to his latest novel of the same name, an award-winning historical fiction adventure romance. 

Lockdown Lemonade is FAR-West’s response to the dramatic and drastic shifts of 2020’s global health and economic crises. For many, this cultural reckoning and political upheaval spurred a period of personal reflection and the discovery of coping mechanisms some of us didn’t even know we had. Lockdown Lemonade is a look at the bright side. With this collection of flash creative nonfiction, brief personal essays, recollections, and musings from members of our community, we hope to shine a light on the best things that can and have come out of the most challenging of times. This column will continue on a weekly basis and postings will be released at 10 AM Pacific every Monday, so watch for them! For guidelines and submission details, please contact Julie Zipperer at julieZ@far-west.org or Marlynn Block at marlynn@far-west.org. Submissions will be posted based on approval from the Lockdown Lemonade Committee.
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