Lessons in Catalonia (aka Barcelona)

My Dear Friends and Family,

Do you remember back in September when I wrote that I was trying to learn my smother-mother lessons…?

“… I have three daughters.  My oldest daughter and her husband and their 16-year old daughter decided to move to Barcelona for a year…”

Don’t tell anyone, but I flew to Barcelona anyway….

This is what I did learn.

10 LESSONS IN CATALONIA (aka Barcelona)

1.  Eat Tapas 

2. Walk

3.  Eat Tapas 

4. Shop

5. Eat Tapas

6. View the artists from Picasso to Miro to Gaudi to Mercedes Pasquale

7. Eat Tapas

8. Pay for Tapas

Cash Machine

9. Important vocabulary: Hola, Gràcia, Mucho Gràcia, Te Quiero

10. Eat last tapas before leaving

Traveling to foreign cultures is a balm for the spirit.

No twitter. No tweet. HEAVEN!!

Travel offers perspective. Try this one for size…

Every country carries it’s own political baggage. At different times in history, some of that baggage is heavier that at other times. For me, the week away lightened my overloaded brainball.

I recommend trying it… and the tapas!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S A little smother-mother goes a long way… like, over 3000 miles.

Not Again!

When the stock market takes a 600 point dive and there is no depression and there is no war… and there is also NO REASON… EXCEPT????

Time to get out the old movie from 1997, Wag the DogSimply put it is about a President just prior to election time becoming embroiled in a sex scandal.  The brilliant spin doctor of the administration and a major Hollywood producer collaborate to create and promote a war against Albania.  This will take the heat off the Scandal and the oversexed President will be elected.

It is a brilliant movYou think I'm lying_Why would I do that_ie and ridiculously relevant.

From the door of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Turkey, which the Crown Prince’s assistants walk through with their body saw in full view, to the Campaign of Bombs on Broadway, to accusing Democrats of doing-in Democrats.  

They’re coming at us along with every other trickster.  Wait a minute! Two weeks before the mid-term election???

This is very familiar.  Did this happen before?  Wait, let me think!  Two weeks before the election 2016, the guy from the FBI… forgot his name. Didn’t he do something similar concerning Hillary Clinton which the next day he took back… something like that.

If you remember what it was, would you remind me?

Could it be happening again?

If you believe you cannot fool all the people all of the time, please, have a good laugh, and then go out and VOTE!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

I DID MORE THINKING ON MY BLAH BLAH BLOG ABOUT BODY LANGUAGE

Typically when I write a blog post I receive responses about what I have written. This time there were very few responses. Perhaps my friends didn’t agree with my take… not necessarily about the body language. You’d have to be blind not to see all the frozen Stepford bodies behind the man and how all the women, Including his wife, sat immobile, staring into space, not even looking or connecting with the man.

My last blog post, The Body Talks, was also about anger… women’s anger. And how slapping back doesn’t always work and isn’t always satisfying.

I think it was the lack of reaction to what I said about anger that has caused me to write this addendum.

This past week, I read an article in the New Yorker magazine, October 15th issue, The Perils and Possibilities of Anger (After centuries of censure, women reconsider the political power of female rage.) By 

The article concerns a slew of new books that challenge the notion that rage is a danger to self and to society. How propitious is that?

As I am reading the article, I think that Casey (I choose to think we could be on a first name basis) is refuting my argument that anger and rage can be detrimental to the personal and the political .

But I read on and now I am going to quote from her article:

The New Yorker Oct 15, 2018

Illustration by Golden Cosmos

“…Traister writes that she does not wish “simply to cheer” anger, and acknowledges that rage that fuels insurrections “has the power to burn them up.” But her case for ire is undermined by a rampaging elephant in the room: anger knows no political persuasion. For every Maxine Waters, there’s a Michele Bachmann; for every Gloria Steinem, a Phyllis Schlafly.

“All of the books do, however, acknowledge a fact that undercuts their attempts to valorize women’s anger: one of the angriest demographics in America before the 2016 Presidential election was white women, and the majority of them voted for Donald Trump.”

“That the words “President” and “Trump” came together anywhere outside of a Mad Lib is itself perhaps the most straightforward argument against anger as a political virtue.”

“…many people were so furious about immigration, the economy, the election of a black President, the potential for a female one, Black Lives Matter, the War on Christmas, and any number of other real and phantasmagorical issues that they voted for Trump. Was there ever a better example of blind rage?”

“That blindness is one of the oldest objections to anger.”

“The civil-rights marchers and the Freedom Riders were the ones with calm clarity…, while their white neighbors were the ones who looked and sounded like the Furies.”

“Repressed emotions are dangerous, but, as countless medical studies have shown, sustained anger is both physically and emotionally destructive.

“Women have every reason to be livid right now, and our anger should not be mocked, censored, or punished. But that does not mean it must be celebrated…”

“…What you build is infinitely more important than what you tear down.”

“Anger is an avaricious emotion; it takes more credit than it deserves. Attempts to make it into a political virtue too often attribute to anger victories that rightfully belong to courage, patience, intelligence, persistence or love…”

“What is powerful isn’t so much women’s anger as their collective action. That is what has changed most radically since this past election, hopefully not in a burst of rebellion but in a revolution of lasting consequence.”

My dear friends, if I was able to write all this instead of quoting my new best friend, Casey, I might have made my position on anger clearer… I am just grateful Casey read the books and wrote the book reports quoted from. And I wanted to share it with my friends. I have displayed enough anger and rage in my lifetime to make for physical and emotional and mental discomfort.

Imagine, at my age (85…thank goodness I shall stop counting after this birthday) coming to understand that there is another way to be in and of the world and I want all of you to join me.

Together is better….right??? Of course, right!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

 

 

 

The Body Talks

Those of us who struggle to be accepted, acknowledged and heard (and, personally, I think that is a forever struggle) are hanging low since the Saturday vote on Kavanaugh.

How could someone who cannot control his words and his emotions be judge of anything?

Shake my head, wring my hands, breathe deeply…

I am too aware how easy it is to shower vitriol and venom on opposing ideas and thoughts.

As a kid, when I felt crossed or abused (and being one of eight I felt that often) if I was able to, meaning if I was not being physically held down by one of my sistren or brethren, I would bellow, scream, smack and, yes, even bite.

In my so many years on this planet, one thing I have learned is that there was and is no satisfaction in slapping back. Not when I was a kid and not now.

So how do I calm the savage beast in my heart and mind? And it came to me.

I stopped looking at Kavanaugh and focused on his wife and the women he carefully appointed to be his chorus of acolytes. My dear friends, I couldn’t believe it. They sat there like the Stepford wives they were being asked to portray. Their bodies didn’t move. Their faces didn’t change expression. It was very scary.

And then I watched Mrs. Kavanaugh and I felt so very sad. Her expression, or lack thereof, was worth a thousand words.

Immobile! Tragic! Unreal! A prisoner!

Oh, my friends, however sad I am about what happened last week-end, for this moment, I am free and my women friends and the women in my family, are free….no one has asked me to sit as testimony to the lies and stumbles of a questionable life.

Please, look at these women, and tell me you are glad you do not belong to their club. My face and my body connect to my heart and my mind and my thoughts. Believe me, there are plenty of times I would love to control my body and my face to hide my thoughts. For good or for ill, not a possibility. What you see is what you get.

Someone smarter than me once said: “You can hide some thoughts from your body and face some of the time… but you cannot hide all of your thoughts from your body and your face all the time.

See for yourself. CHECK IT OUT:

Kavanaugh Hearing

 

 

COME TRAVEL WITH ME…

ACROSS THE POND AND INTO THE WOODS OF THE GERS AND THE CITIES OF LONDON AND DUBLIN…

baggage

Alright already, so what is this 85 year old woman, who on too many occasions still thinks she is 55, trying to prove???

For indeed, mid-journey, as I packed and unpacked on yet another leg of the trip, and stretched my back hoping to remove the cricks and creaks from my spine, ordered yet another wake-up call and taxi to the airport, that question was a constant.

I dared not look in the mirror for the answer. I was sure to discover I had morphed into a female facsimile of The Ancient Mariner.

How did what was supposed to be two weeks and a couple days turn into almost a month? Well, I am glad you asked. I’d like to know how that happened, too.

FriendsThe first invitation came from my good friends in the Gers (an area between Bordeaux and Toulouse), an area of ducks, foi gras, armanac, truffles, and brilliant wines.

The original plan was for me to stay 2 weeks and then go onto London to see some other friends and then home. It would have been 2 weeks and 3 days in London. Doable!

The plot thickens. I have three daughters. My oldest daughter and her husband and 16-year-old daughter decided to move to Barcelona for a year. They were going to be in Barcelona when I was in London. I thought how wonderful. I shall fly from London to Barcelona and help them shop and move in and do all the mother things I am trained to do. “Here! Let me do that for you.” “You really don’t want to do that, do you.?” “I think this is a better idea, don’t you?”

Seven

Well, thank goodness I have another daughter who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. She called me after she learned I was going to fly to Barcelona. It went something like this…

“Mom, what planet are you on. You do not want to do this. She is just getting to Barcelona and she doesn’t need you to show her the way… YOUR WAY! She needs to make her own way. This is not about love mother, this is about her choices not yours.”

My reply: “Well, she didn’t say anything.”

Other daughter: “Did you give her a chance to?”

All right already. I got it. I called and told her I wasn’t going to Barcelona. Her sigh was heard around the world. There was only one problem. I had already changed my flight to fly to Barcelona and then home from Barcelona. My agent informed me to change it back again would cost me another ticket plus she couldn’t get me out of London except for another week in London, unless…unless…

Yes???? Unless what. If I flew from Dublin she could save me some money…

Dublin???   I’ve never been to Dublin. I always wanted to go to Dublin… see the Abbey Theatre… pretend to be Irish for a couple of days.

Dublin shamrock

Yes! Let’s go to Dublin    

So a two-week trip suddenly got to be 3 weeks and a couple of days.

Now, I finally healed a fractured third lumbar of my spine. I knew extending my trip would give me some bumps. I thought if I was careful, I could do it. So I went for it.

I flew to Paris and then from Paris to Toulouse and my adorable friend Mary picked me up. My friends have a beautiful house but wherever I travel if I can I make it a policy to stay at a hotel… I live alone and over the oh, so many years, I have, what shall I say,… developed, alone habits and eccentricities. Just very personal preferences nothing illegal… although these days, that might be hard to prove.

So I had previously stayed in the Hotel Guilhon in this medieval walled village of  Lectoure.Thierry et Marc

Thierry and Marc, the owners and dear friends from a previous stay, who greeted and treated me like their long lost Brooklyn relative. Oh, yes, born and bred in Brooklyn, and even in the Gers they heard of the place.

Their hotel is a 17th century ancient that has been brilliantly restored… only 5 rooms but each room is a decorator slice of heaven.

Hotel Past  hotel-suite.jpg

They serve a lovely continental breakfast with fresh fruits and croissants and brioches, boiled eggs if chosen… and for special guests from Brooklyn, Thierry would make dinner. Simple, elegant French cooking at its best. And last year I was introduced to the beautiful, inside and out, person, Pascale, who drove me everywhere and introduced me to second hand and antique shopping. Nothing like being in a place that goes back a few thousand years to discover the culture of the place you are visiting. And since Pascale had her own shop she really knew what she was talking about. Pascale, Thierry, Marc and moi… The Four Musketeers! Or, as I called them my very special French Mafia!

French Mafia

So what could be wrong?? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Except in the middle of the second week, my aching back got a little more aching… too long away from the body workers that guard my spine.

Grid your loins… that’s easy for you to say! However, at the appointed time, I flew to London… and of course, the new way for me is the wheelchair. Oh, my friends, I shall never understand anyone who can choose a wheelchair not choosing one. Afraid to admit how the apparatus ages you…. not on your life… literally as well as figuratively. Think of what you would look like after rolling your luggage through a terminal that makes a football stadium look like a puddle. No! Thank you. Give me my wheelchair and let the vanities be damned.

London was great… back to the Royal Automobile Club around the corner from Buckingham Palace. (I was terribly sorry to miss tea with the Queen, but I only had 4 days) The club is convenient and the concierges Geoffrey and Martin, extraordinary helpers, especially my Irish friend Martin with his beautiful brogue who outlined my entire program for Dublin.

But while in London, it was the meeting up with friends… you know the kind of friends I am talking about, the friends that belong to a very special club… THE WE’RE STILL HERE CLUB!

As I look through my little phone book…the crossing out of names is on every page. Of course, I don’t need a reminder of my mortality… truly at this age it circles my head like a flea or fly or on certain days a buzzing mosquito or bee. Shoo it away, my friends, just shoo those suckers away!!!!

There was a very special event with one of my friends. Sculptor extraordinaire, Helaine Blumenfeld, had a special exhibit at the Ely Cathedral, outside Cambridge …oh, the joy of ongoing creative excellence that Helaine gifts to the world! For me her work is a constant reminder of how to pursue the artistic passion of our gifs. Bravo, Helaine!

And then, it is off to Dublin. I don’t know anyone in the city… I know some of its history and its poetry and plays and novels… and that could be said to give me a sense of its people and it gives my journey an excitement for the new and unexplored of all the places I have thus far been to.

When I go to a city I have not been to before, my plan is to find a driver and car to acquaint me with the particulars of the city. I checked into my lovely hotel and requested said driver and car. And then made a quick addition to my request.

I have a hearing problem… I have great what I call “vanity hearing aids” You cannot see them… but I know about accents… and I know about the Irish accent having tried it in a couple of O’Casey plays. It’s difficult and understanding it is more difficult. So I requested someone who doesn’t have a thick brogue.

The next morning I came down to the desk and explained I was waiting for a driver to pick me up.

Tony

“He’s here.” And up came Tony…with his lovely Irish lilt… totally understandable, “Sally! I’m Tony. Welcome to Dublin.” He plunks my cheeks with a kiss on each and I knew I would have a wonderful time with Tony in Dublin!

And I did.

There are so many wonderful aspects to Dublin and of the Irish.

James Joyce Slept Here

James Joyce Slept Here!

Having traveled a bit, I want to say that the Irish are communicators. With or without a pint in their hand they want to talk. They want to know who you are. Where you come from. Who you voted for… Oh, yes, big topic was our political situation. (TRUE EVERYWHERE I WENT!!)

For me, their political situation was a big topic. They were one of two countries that stayed neutral during World War II. That for me, considering they made nice with the Nazis, was something I wanted to know about. And a very simplistic answer was that’s how much they disliked the British. And if you know the history, even a little bit, it could explain it, but does it justify it? The jury is still out on that.

As the days dwindled down to a precious few, I was ready to go home.

Pope's Arrival

(Even the Pope’s arrival in Dublin didn’t delay my departure. I tried to explain to him that next time he should have his secretary check with my secretary.)

HOME… and the extra special benefit of flying from Dublin is that it is one of the few places that has American custom agents in Dublin so that when you check through customs in Dublin you are finished. Arrival at JFK meant just getting into my wheelchair and being rolled to a waiting car to take me home.

I DID IT!

Sooo, even with the gathering fatigue and aching joints and back, was it worth it???

You betcha! SJ Surprise

New faces, old faces, new countries, old countries… wonderful.

My friends, no matter what we say or do the years keep climbing… and our mission if we choose to accept it, is to learn to accommodate, adapt, and yes, slow down.

It is difficult for me because somehow I equate slow down with death.

There, I said it.

The question somewhere inside not hidden too far away from my consciousness, WHAT IF…???

After a bad bout of the flu, a fractured spine, fear of flying became fear of dying. Little did I know how important planning and traveling was going to be to my ongoing life. And that’s the thing isn’t it? Until it isn’t … it is ongoing.

SJ in pool

Listen loud and clear… all you control freaks (even those who don’t think they are control freaks)… your due date is out of your control. And this is a good thing.

I still have some shelf life left. Hooray!

SJ Dance

Try this to test for your own ability to plot and plan… put your right hand onto the inside wrist of your left hand. Can you feel it? You can??? Brilliant!

BON VOYAGE.

Love, Sally-Jane

 

Sally-Jane’s Reading of The Mission of Jane at The Mount

sj-wharton-on-wed-2.jpg
Sally-Jane returns for her annual reading of Edith Wharton’s, “The Mission of Jane”

The Mount on Wednesday July 18 at 5pm

One of many praises for her performance reading…

“You managed to create both vocally and with the most subtle physical gestures create 4 very distinct and knowable characters… WOW to me that’s acting of the first order!”

FROM THE MOUNT:
Enjoy summer afternoons on The Mount’s view-rich Terrace while listening to professional actors read short stories written by Wharton and her contemporaries. Gardens are open for strolling. Wine and other light refreshments are available for purchase.

The readings begin at 5 pm on the Terrace.
$10 tickets/free for members of The Mount – available HERE.

How’s this for a suggestion? LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING

Look for the Silver Lining was one of my mother’s favorite songs so we know this is an ancient tune. Praise the internet for shortening research time.  Look for the Silver Lining, written in 1919 (the year my mother married) by Jerome Kern and Buddy DeSylva for the Broadway show SALLY.

I was not a child until at the very least, 1938. I remember my mother telling me how she went to see Sally in the 1920’s, falling in love with the star of that show, Marilyn Miller and the Silver Lining song she sang.

sally-poster

As I write this now, I ponder, was that the reason I was named Sally? Then why did my mother add the hyphen and the Jane?  Since she is the only one knows the answer, I shall add it to my ever-growing mountain of unanswered questions.  Am’t I supposed to get smarter as I get older?  I used to think so.  I think whatever intelligence I thought I had has definitely reversed direction and is heading towards oblivion.  And I have to tell you, on certain days  I am mightily relieved… oblivion is so much nicer than the news.

But I digress (my favorite pastime and present-time, too)!

Here are my suggestions… I chose the song, Look For the Silver Lining because of two recent movies I was privileged to see, both documentaries.

Now for those of you who don’t know me – give me good trash! As a  friend of mine once said, “Oh, Sally-Jane, she can be had by the commercials.” That was before I became addicted to streaming. And now I don’t know from commercials… so I save myself for the trash.  That is, until seeing these two documentary films.

RBG.jpgRBG, the title of the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg, our Supreme Court Justice, who like Atlas single-handedly holds the world safe to keep it from spinning out of orbit. Well, that’s what it feels like for me, my friends.  In future history books, she will be known as The Great Dissenter.  And I feel, every dissenting opinion she writes will, when we straighten up this mess, be turned into laws that will help not hinder the people. It is also the very candid and real journey of a woman climbing a female sand mountain.  I would like to think it’s not as high a mountain as it used to be. But the verdict isn’t in yet, I fear.

The second documentary is, Moving Stories about The Battery Dance Company in New York City.

Moving StoriesThis is not just another dance company looking for funds. (Tell me any cultural organization you know that isn’t having difficulty getting funding for their programs.  Museums, orchestras, non-profit theatres they are all in trouble). This dance company has a very unusual program.  As someone put it quite succinctly, ”this documentary titled, Moving Stories, shows dance as soft power supporting people that political and social failures have hurt.”

The film profiles the Dancing to Connect program of Battery Dance Company. Six empathetic and inspirational dancers from the company each travel to 6 different locations around the world – New Delhi, Bucharest (Roma children), Busam (where traumatized children escaped North Korea), and defectors from China mix with South Korean teens to create motion through their emotions, and a young Iraq hip-hop dancer, given lessons through Skype moves towards his destiny.

Moving Stories is about far more than how Dancing to Connect teaches stigmatized, abused, frightened children to dance.  It is about how the children learn to unlock their hesitation and dance together. Together…. oh, what a lovely word!

Just so we are clear. I have not given up my good trash viewing.  However, what I have done, for myself, and hopefully, for those who are interested is to signal for all who are depressed by a world gone mad – a light at the end of the tunnel.  Otherwise known as hope (and I don’t care what you say this is not a dirty word… another lovely word… how’s this – “Together hope”?)  Hey guys, who knows maybe the world has always been mad.  Yet another question for my growing mountain of unanswered questions.

Maybe that is why the song popped into my head.  Sure the lyrics are cornball and cliché, but isn’t it written somewhere, it’s only a cliché because it is true.  Well, if it isn’t written somewhere, it is now.

Here are the cornball cliché lyrics:

Look for the silver lining
Whenever a cloud appears in the blue
Remember, somewhere the sun is shining
And so the right thing to do is make it shine for you
A heart full of joy and gladness
Will always banish sadness and strife
So always look for the silver lining
And try to find the sunny side of life
One more suggestion… Won’t you join me as we sing together in hope?

Love ~ Sally-Jane