Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Q and A with Author Jeanne Simonoff Part II
Saturday, 30 July 2011 10:13

5. I‘ve heard people say that your book is important for our times… Could you elaborate on that?

One Sunday morning this spring, there was a program on early childhood loss. It stated that it is something a person never recovers from. And the numbers are rising because of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Children are calling each other names and causing physical and emotional harm in the name of differences and diversity instead of letting those diversities become something to enrich each other. My book can teach children to bear witness to the inequalities that they experience with racism and bigotry by helping each other understand loss, whether it be the death of a parent or the death of their identity because they are different. Workshops will be structured to help children learn to tell their own stories of loss and inequality and learn from each other’s experiences.

6. How has this book saved you?

By writing the memoir, l learned that I did, in fact learn how to save myself. It has brought up to a conscious level that I did find ways to cope, ways to get away from the enemy, run faster, stand up and defend myself. I learned to be myself and be in the world, a world that is cruel and unjust, but a world in which a young child can survive and live to tell the story.

7. How did you remember all those details from 50 years ago?

Mind categorizes and files itself away. A word, a phrase, a sound, a smell can release a long held memory. The sound of a fountain pen-- (I write with an old fashioned pen which I fill with ink, the old fashioned away, on unlined white journal/sketchbook paper), releases memory from bondage and frees it onto the page, one grain, one word at a time. It’s a magical process that I never would have believed existed if I hadn’t experienced it for myself. It’s a practice Natalie Goldberg calls writing practice and like any other practice, the more I did it, the better I got at bringing my childhood experiences forward.

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