It’s Not My Fault

I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!

Doing nothing has become a national disease.

Edmund Burke said it best, and we are witnessing it with our every breath:  The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Oh, yeah and women, too! I don’t consider working out, in, and on your digital devices “doing”.

Of course, I write this as I type away on my computer for the Blah, Blah Blog… and if that isn’t part of the digital media merry-go-round, I don’t know what is.  I used to be perfect.  I am not anymore. Mia Culpa.

I am up to my neck in excuses. I am sorry my friends, they just don’t work anymore.

Climate change does not excuse me from taking out the garbage.  Fear of testing positive does not excuse me from paying rent.  Continuous political upheaval does not excuse me from brushing my teeth.

I am not saying it isn’t tempting to blame the powers that be.  It’s just that eventually, unless I am comfortable with my thumb stuck in my mouth or living in a state of permanent delusion (so tempting) or enjoy treading water getting nowhere, blame ultimately doesn’t work.  Dare I list a few cliches? Cliches, for me, are usually based on a truth… Life isn’t fair. There is no free lunch. The piper must be paid.

The rant about excuses was inspired by a friend’s recent travel experience.  An experience that is becoming more and more unexceptional, unfortunately.  She was part of two perfect storms.  The first was out of anyone’s control; the weather. A southern storm traveling north meets a northern storm traveling south and they give birth to many little storms along the east coast, which creates the monster of yet another airline breakdown.  In the airline industry, it is now the rule to give you a ride you will never forget; hopefully, in time for you to make your next flight.  The other perfect storm is a sad example of the ongoing decline of our humanity:  Corporate policy and greed vs. Employee policy and apathy.

This storm appears to be out of our control as well.  Please go back to Burke’s admonition.  It has been said, a corporation is an entity. It is not people. I beg to disagree.  A corporation is an entity made up of PEOPLE.  And these people take very good care of their boards and investors.  Not so much their paying public and not at all their employees.   I don’t think you need to look further than corporate entities and more specifically, to the airline industry to discover why people are quitting jobs.  If corporations are careless and irresponsible about their paying public and their employees, employees owe their employers no loyalty.  If employees feel no loyalty then the inhumane treatment my friend received by underpaid and overworked airline workers appears justified.  Right???  No!  Not right!!!

I know.  It’s confusing and difficult.  How to maintain your humanity in the time of crises?  Especially if you feel taken for granted.  Here it comes guys.  That is our job.  It is easy to do the right thing when all is going according to plan.  When my world goes awry, that is when I am called upon against the pressures around me, to respond empathically. Like you know what I mean, caring.   I don’t have to do it well. I just have to remind myself there but for the grace of God go I.

There have always been those who would divide and exclude rather than add and include.  That’s another perfect storm. The television series, Succession vs. the movie, The Tender BarSuccession is a hit series about people in a corporate environment and their inhumanity. The Tender Bar, on the other hand, is a small movie about average people living average lives and always aware of their humanity.

Personally, I don’t care if you squeeze your toothpaste tube from the bottom or from the top, we all belong to the human race.  And if on occasion you can lift your head away from your devices, remove your earbuds, and see and hear the person in front of you, it’s just possible you might recognize a piece of yourself in the other.

Talk about miracles!!!

I really love each and every one of you. How could I not if you take the time to read this Blog.  So I offer you a discounted opportunity. I want to remind us all of our humanity. Even if you weren’t at the Sermon, you know the one that was on The Mount (no, silly, not Edith Wharton’s home). 

DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU

It is soooo simple. Which is why it is soooo difficult.

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Definition of Editor: A person who aids in the contents of text. 

In my case, this is a profound understatement about my friend and editor, Lynnette Najimy.

For too many years, I have had the gift of Lynnette’s talents to successfully edit and publish my Blog without acknowledging her enormous contribution.

It was her idea to begin with.  And because it required new mechanized skills, I fought her tooth and nail.  She calmed all my fears and slowly awakened machine abilities I didn’t know I had.  I still manage to make many mechanical errors and she constantly amazes me by pulling the magic bunny out of her hat many times.

However, her real gift is how she handles, an ego loaded, over the top, over sensitive, temperamental artiste.  We know there is constructive criticism somewhere, but how come it’s never around when you need it to prime the pump of creativity.  Not true with Lynnette. Working with her, I don’t even realize when she has moved me away from falling off the cliff.  The cliff could be anything from writing garbled nonsense to throwing the baby out with the bathwater (a metaphor for losing the point of a story).  Without skinning my very thin hide, she opens my eyes and my heart to what I have chosen to write about.  Am I lucky or am I lucky?  I am. 

Thank You to my dear friend and editor. 
With love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.P.S. Always remember, no matter what the crisis, keep laughing!!

Did You Make A Resolution?

Did anyone you know make a resolution?

What is a New Years’ Resolution?

Is it a wish?

Is it a prayer?

Is it a confession?

Is it none of the above?

Is it all of the above?

Maybe resolutions are out of fashion because they open you to judgement and criticism?  

What am I talking about, you ask? Look guys… sit back and relax and let me try to explain not only to you, but to myself how my circuitous mind works.

I find it interesting that in conversations today, most particularly after you’ve opened yourself to how you think and feel with someone, their response to you can be something really hurtful and on occasion, downright cruel. This usually is followed by a coward’s cover-up of, “nothing personal”.
Oh yeah, right!!!

As the world divides (and the divisions are growing like viruses in a petri dish), there are fewer and fewer conversations without the “nothing personal” caveat.  This caveat allows us humans to judge, criticize, and obliterate the others.  

Definition of The Others:  They don’t look like you.  The don’t think like you.  They don’t talk like you.  You get the idea.  

This makes me aware of the loss of our moral muscles.  Muscles I took for granted would always be there.  Like everything else worth holding onto, if you don’t practice, if you don’t use those muscles, you lose those muscles.  I never thought I would witness such a profound and growing loss.  And it’s not just here… it is worldwide. When 9/11 happened, there was a moment, literally just a moment, where the world came together in shock, pain… a global sense of the outrage, the grief, the loss. That moment, unfortunately, was squandered and I believe we continue our downward spiral culminating in the current divisive incivility.

In this environment, it is difficult to make any resolutions.

And yet, I believe these once a year resolutions, particularly in times of stress, sturm and drang, have a special purpose.  They take us out of ourselves into a world of others.  Think about it.  Isn’t it a kind of ritual (only after the family geshtangananga, of course), when you sit down at a Thanksgiving table to go around and have each person give their thanks for whatever?  Well, New Years’ Eve or New Years Day is the time to look over the year and resolve ways and habits to give you not a face lift but a life lift.  Right?

Phew!  We finally got to where I wanted to go from the beginning. Like I said before a circuitous route.

MY RESOLUTIONS:  

As an 88 year old woman living in the Pandemic of Covid, circa year two going into year three, I am on my knees in gratitude for my vaccinations and booster, my masks, provision of clean water for drinking and washing, good food, shelter, clothing.  I resolve to not take any of this for granted.  I further resolve to hold any whining about any inconvenience in my life to an in-my-closet-stifled-silent-scream.

The Scream
Edvard Munch

I resolve to contribute to certified organizations that bring health, cleanliness, food, and shelter to peoples in need.  (The link above is not a recommendation, simply a list.)

And most importantly, I resolve to take myself out of myself.  It can really get so boring in there. Let me tell you… nothing leads to depression more than boredom.  Depression is not a good thing for anyone.  For the elderly it is a disaster.  You hear me?  A disaster.  So stop already. 

 I can just hear you, guys…. ”Oh, sure.  That’s easy for you to say.”

A lot you know.  

Nothing is easy for anyone who once was able to do or be or say anything and now cannot, whether due to age or money or health or any change.  Even though it is the only constant, humans don’t do change very well. It takes us forever to figure out the obvious.  Dare I write the words Climate Change… oops, I just did.  

You already know that laughing lowers blood pressure and raises spirits.  Here is something else you can try.  And remember you don’t have to sing or dance.  Just look as this guy.  He can’t do either and they love HIM…

 Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

The Human Touch

I thought my last Blog, Pandemic Induced Moods vs. The Big Laugh was going to be my last of the 2021… a Season’s Giving and Greetings to my intrepid Blah, Blah, Blog followers.  And then I read the CNN interview of emergency room nurse Audrey Wendt from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In an ever growing world of disassociated and disappearing humanity, however sad the subject of the interview was, for me this nurse showed that even in an ocean of despair, there were signs of land.  Ms. Wendt gave light to the darkness in the sorely missing person to person connection.  

Oh, my friends, the hug and the squeeze is going, going, almost gone.  The kiss?  Fuggetaboutit!  I understand the necessity for it.  I do.  However, I believe there is a visceral connection between the going, going, gone, and the lack of caring and concern for others that is going along with it.

As we fade out of 2021 and take baby steps into 2022, I am attaching this interview for you.

Read it,  please!  I ask you to take this interview to heart, literally and figuratively.  

As you, take it all to heart, a question occurs to me.  If I can’t ask my almost best new friends,  than who can it ask?  Ready?  

Where has Spirit gone?

Not a specific to any particular religious belief kind of spirit.  Although, if that works for you, that is great.  I am writing and thinking about the Spirit that moves the Universe.  

Believe me, my adorable ones, you are all original, wonderful, and brilliantly creative… BUT… this morning you did not bring up the Sun, nor will you set it this evening.  Come on!  Admit it!  We are surrounded by people who believe the Universe wouldn’t move without them.  I know.  I used to be one of them.  

I think the more distance I create between myself and the mysteries and movement of the Universe, the more distance I create between me and you.

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S.
Norton Owen, Director of Preservation at Jacob’s Pillow, has put together a video playlist, “Spirituals”. The collection is inspiring and challenging.  Inspiring because of the enormous talent of all.  Challenging because it proves that the Universe, Creation and Spirit are ONE.

RIGHT? OF COURSE, RIGHT!!!!

P.P.S. I’m still an Opinionated OP-ED writer…. Change a Habit, Save a Lake

P.P.P.S.

Pandemic Induced Holiday Moods vs. A Good Laugh

My Dear Friends and Family,

The season of holiday anxieties is upon us for a second pandemic year.

And if you tell me you have no stress then I will come over to your house and show you the gnomes and elves that live in your garden.

Added pandemical stress to normal seasonal stress is to be expected.  Here’s just a sampling of reasons why:

  • To fly or not to fly.
  • How do I love to party?  Let me count how many are coming.
  • Proof of vaccination… no interpreting the truth.
  • Recent test results… not by Trumpian guidelines.

The list could go on and on. Of course, the pandemic adds stress to holiday stress.  We can agree on that… right?!

I have been thinking of what to give to my dear family and friends who have stayed with me since forever reading my Blah, Blah Blogs (or not as the case may be).

I thought about sending each of you an apple to keep you healthy and wise with a card that begs you not to believe everything you read… excepting what I write, of course.

And then it came to me.  When I am so anxious that I can’t even thread a needle.  After I get a bigger needle, I go to my back up life saver… THE LAUGH.

Sometimes I watch outrageous movies, but mostly clips from sketches of an old LIVE television series called YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, starring, Sid Ceasar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Nanette Fabray. Ceasar’s writers were the crème de la crème of comedy:  Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, Woody Allen.

And then it came to me.  My gift to you… THE BIG LAUGH.

If these sketches don’t punch the air out of your balloon of anxiety, nothing will.  After all, my friends, anxiety is and remains the middle name for all comedy.  Every great comedian is part fool and part neurotic.

Comedy, aka anxiety, sits forever on the other side of tragedy.  And that is why it will always be the cure for what ails you.

So I am sending all of you lots of love and LAUGHS.  

Santa is not known for his HO! HO! HO! for nothing.  They don’t call this the season to be jolly for nothing.

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S.  For further funny bone tickling try to get the documentary, Hail Sid Ceasar! The Golden Age of Comedy.  Just the best.

P.P.S. I’m sneaking this in because it still tickles my funny bone.

P.P.P.S. There are many more Sid Caesar sketches on YouTube. Help Yourself.

He’s Still Here

I have a profound affinity for Stephen Sondheim.  I always thought it was because of his brilliant musicals.  However, I watched an interview he did many years ago.  He was trying to explain about being neurotic .  It was so simple for him.  

“I like neurotic people.”  

That’s it!  He likes me.  I love him.

He went further explaining that most people, including himself,  were neurotic concerning their problems, professional, personal.  When he writes from that sensibility he is going to touch someone.  And isn’t that why we go to the theatre; to be transformed, transported, in some way, touched.

Stephen Sondheim may have passed away, November 25th, but as in the name of the song he wrote for Follies, I’m Still Here… he will always be here.

Stephen Sondheim in 1990
Credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

His death was and still is a shock to me.

My inner monologue upon hearing about his demise:

INNER ME:

I can’t believe it.

What’d you expect?  He was 91.

I’m 88… 91 is only 3 years away… too close… much too close.

This is not about you.  I know.  I know.  I can’t help it.  When I consider Sondheim is no longer with us, and some of the jerks who still are, makes me crazy…life really isn’t fair, is it???

DUH!!!

To make this news totally personal (when have I ever not made everything totally personal), I’d like to share my experience performing Sondheim.

No dates.  It was a long time ago.

I played Mama Rose many times in Summer Theatres and local Washington, D.C. theatre productions of Gypsy.  Sondheim wrote the lyrics.  Julie Styne the music.  It is a musically and lyrically brilliant score.  In the climax of the second act (or as Broadway Babies are wont to call it, the 11 o’clock spot), Mama Rose has a nervous breakdown.  Sondheim broke the sound barrier.  It was Broadway’s first operatic aria.  The music, but mostly the lyrics are compelling, complex and incisive.  It can be said for any performer playing Mama Rose, it’s all in the writing.  It’s extra if you have a performer like Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Patti Lupone singing it.  However, because it is all in the words, it is actor-proof material.  No matter how many times I played that role, and I did play it many times, I don’t think I ever plumbed the depths of what Sondheim wrote.

I had a similar experience when I played Joanne in Company (Elaine Stritch’s signature role).  The score for Company was brilliant, but, oh sooooo challenging!  I could read music but I would never call myself a musician.  Singing a Sondheim score is like singing Bach’s Goldberg Variations.  Company is a brilliant and musically challenging ensemble theatre piece.  No matter what grade of musician you are, performing that score challenged every actor beyond what they thought they were capable of.  My song, Here’s To The Ladies Who Lunch was and remained a challenge until I saw Patti Lupone sing it at Lincoln Center’s Stephen Sondheim 80th Birthday Celebration:

Lupone took that song to where it was meant to go… to the moon.  Even if I can’t perform it now, I am so grateful to have watched someone who got to the meat and heart of what Sondheim wrote.  Another mystery solved.

My last example of performing Sondheim was a song he wrote for Yvonne De Carlo (remember Yvonne… exotic technicolor movie star of the 50’s?) in Follies, titled I’m Still Here.  

I simply had to wait until I felt seasoned enough to fill the shoes of life experiences to give the nuances the lyrics demanded.  I did a credible job with it.  However, in that same Sondheim 80th Birthday celebration, Elaine Stritch literally knocks it out of the park:

Finally, I’d like to recommend a documentary produced and directed in 2013 by Sondheim’s friend and collaborator, James Lapine, and friend and former drama critic, Frank Rich, Six by Sondheim.

What makes a creative artist a genius?  I don’t know. (laminate that statement…I don’t say it often enough)

I do know one such genius just passed this past Friday.  As I watched the above documentary, two important and essential traits of Sondheim’s writing and ultimately who Sondheim is were made eminently clear.

Ambiguity, which for me translates to exhibit the zits and warts without judgement, and love.

If you study his lyrics which you can easily do by reading FINISHING THE HAT… the book he wrote of his collected lyrics with attendant remarks (aka delicious showbiz gossip), it is all there.

In the documentary he says, unequivocally, write from love.

Nobody says it is easy.  No one says it is without pain.  No one says it is without disappointment or grief.  Considering his childhood was profoundly bereft of love, Stephen Sondheim is proof that along the way, as he opened himself to the universe, the universe did provide.

Love ~ Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. If you want to look, I recommend this stunning making-of film, Company “Original Cast Album” Documentary. It’s an intense look at theatre and the art of Stephen Sondheim.

                                 

                

New Tricks

Among other things, this is the name of a British Television series available on Amazon Prime. If nothing else, just view the first episode because it’s so apropos. It is also the last part of an adage I have recently adapted to a new circumstance in my old life.  

 Do you think it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks?

All right, already, what in the Sam Hill (this is a euphemism for swearing because I didn’t feel like writing ‘hell’…sue me) is that woman trying to tell us???

It’s always great when you ask the right question.  

Recently, two dear friends, submitted samples of my writing (these very Blogs you receive) to the Editor and Publisher of The Berkshire Eagle, suggesting I might write a monthly Column for the Op-ed page of the newspaper.  I was grateful and, at the same time, a little unsure about my “style” of writing conforming to a newspaper. Who knows? Maybe it was just my way of preparing myself for rejection.  Remember, I spent my life auditioning. Maybe I still am. I think my percentages ran to about 50/50 of getting the part to “You’re very special”, words that always indicated you didn’t get it. “Next…”  All to say I wasn’t expecting a call from the publisher.  

But he did call and offered me an Op-ed column.  I accepted.  Immediately, I went to work writing.  The subject had been on my mind for about as long the Berkshire County Cottage and Division Street Bridges had been closed, which they were for many years, causing great inconvenience to the community and some  economic hardships to affected businesses. I spent the last two years gossiping about it to friends, neighbors and whoever would listen, like the women in Meredith Wilson’s musical Music Man.

Related news: A new iteration of Music Man arrives on Broadway mid-December, starring Hugh Jackmam. Y’All fuggetaboutit! He’s mine!

This opportunity gave me permission to share my thoughts with the community in which I live. It brings a very different color and responsibility to writing. The Blog and the Column are very personal. And that is where the similarity begins and ends.

I began the Blah, Blah, Blog as a very personal and almost intimate look into my absurd take on a long life (soooo grateful). Readers chose to sign up to see what the crazy lady was going to write about next or unsubscribe.

Subscribers or purchasers of a Newspaper have a completely different set of expectations. Yes, the Op-ed page is a page for people’s opinions. Not judgements, which most of you know is my favorite form of opinion.  I think newspaper readers (the few that are left) represent a wider variety of thought and opinion than blog readers. As I wrote the op-ed piece, I realized I was very self conscious. I write the Blog from absurd insights inside my brain, and over the years (since 2014) each of you has chosen to subscribe to peek inside that overworked mechanism.

A column goes out to a wider and more diverse audience. That alone creates a different writing environment.  It became a challenge. Life threw down a gauntlet. Was I up to it?

Well, what in the Sam Mountain do you think? (higher form of swear words.) As I wrote and researched the subject, I became more and more comfortable and actually enjoyed this new challenge. The gauntlet was in my hand and it fit like a glove.  (I can’t believe I wrote that…)

Here is my answer to the original question I posed.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Have a look and let me know: Sally-Jane Heit: Bridges to democracy

Right???

Of course, right!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S.

What Is Past Is Prologue

My Dear Friends and Family,

Your first quiz, for a free pass and tour of the National Archive Building:

What Federal Building in Washington, D.C. has that statement inscribed on it?

You are just too smart for me. You are right!

Northeast corner of the National Archives  Building in Washington, D.C.

Sooo…. What has any of this to do with anything? You always know the right question to ask. 

The news of the world at the present time gives me very little pleasure.  I really do try to limit the news media of the day, but somehow it creeps in, not on little cat paws, but earthquaking Shrek-sized feet.  I have lost my Pollyanna credentials, but still keep an optimist’s eye, even if it is a little cockeyed, on what I read and experience.  I don’t know about you but for me it is getting harder and harder to join Candide (by my dear friend Voltaire’s character) in his famous exclamation,

“This is the best of all possible worlds.”  

Really???  I don’t think so!!! Maybe instead he should exclaim along with the rest of us as we struggle with the ways of the world,

“Wha’ happened?”

How many times can I quote Voltaire again?  “History doesn’t repeat itself.  People do.”

If something still bites me, I shall of course put my Five Hundred Dollars in.  It used to be two cents but with inflation…

So I am going to go back into my memories to write about them.  Not to worry family and friends, no names.  And the only fool you will find in my stories? C’est moi.

Here’s a sample…

Even if I need fingers and toes to count, I think I can figure it out.  I just turned 88, right?  So if this wedding took place when I was 8, then that was 80 years ago.  Get out!  80 years ago… Yikes… we are talking 1941.  On October 19, 1941 my eldest sister got married. 

I was there and I loved every minute of it.  Against parental sturm and drang, the lovers persevered.  Like every World War II movie you ever saw.  The parents said wait until the war was over.  Unequivocally, my sister said, NO!  (You must have heard that word from her a million times)  Well, having missed out on my eldest brother’s wedding because they had eloped (which they were never forgiven for), Nana surrendered and told Pop to surrender too.  (That’s the kind of marriage they had)  Here comes the juicy stuff.

It was to be a home wedding… 

~ SJ Heit October 19, 2021

Stories like that one give me a sense of peace and continuity. As I begin to write some memories, there are many thoughts that crowd into an already overcrowded mindball.  I think the most important thought for me is this…

When does my memory meet with a perspective that will allow me to remember the memory and at the same time, give it enough air to be able to see it in a perspective of whatever smarts I have gleaned over these many years? 

Not many, I can assure you.  

My favorite Three Little Words have always been, I LOVE YOU. Abused, misused, and ultimately, on good days with great humility, expanded to include the judged, and found wanting persons who brought grief to my person;  a real achievement for this Master of Judgement.  Today those 3 words are neck and neck with these 3 words, I DON’T KNOW (for every control freak I have ever known, including yours truly, this is yet another miracle).

The Heit Family on the Atlantic City Boardwalk Circa 1938

There will be some memories that I shall want to share with you and some I shall not.  Not because of shame or guilt. Come on guys, we have all lived with those emotions forever, so as not helpful as they are, they are very familiar.  And in this case, familiarity really does breed contempt.  Most importantly, hopefully, there is a way to acknowledge their presence and yet fold them into my life.  

Oi vey, who asked me to do this?  No one, that’s who.

Not true.  I am asking me to do this.  

Today, this is the phrase I trot out for all important occasions and decisions, IF NOT NOW, WHEN???!!!

Right??  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

Who Was Here First?

It’s official.  I just celebrated my 88th Birthday.

No applause.  No gifts.  Unless, of course it’s a ticket on the William Shatner and Jeff Bozos… oops, I mean Bezos, moon rocket… NOT.  Whatever days I have left I am not willing to risk it all being over while I’m in company with an actor (believe me having been one I know just how boring they can be) and a gazillionaire who like Nero before him spent his money playing with rockets while his country burned.  The jury is back.  I am wholeheartedly judgmental.  

Back to my special day.  I was gifted with a novel, Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue, a beautiful and talented Cameroon immigrant.  I began to read it.  Not at the party.  I waited until everyone was gone.  

I was talking to a friend about how good the book was.  It occurred to me that the  immigrant story is a forever story.  Whether it was then or now… forever.  And then a light bulb went on in my headball.  I am telling you my friends, it is crazy, absolutely crazy, this crazy mess and mix up of who is the immigrant and who is not.  Get it clear, my friends.  Except for the Indigenous folk and their descendants, we are all immigrants.

WHO WAS HERE FIRST?

I guarantee unless you are an Indigenous American or have American Indigenous blood in you…. it wasn’t you. This includes each and every descendant of the Jamestown Colony of Virginia and the Mayflower, AKA the Plymouth Colony, or the New York City Dutch Colonials. And let us not forget the Spaniards of Florida,  the West and Southwest, the British of the Northwest.  And by the 1800’s the ongoing stampede from Europe, the Germans, the Irish, the Greeks, the Italians, the Swedes, the Danes, the Norwegians (I Remember Mama), and oh so many other countries, as well as from every shtetl in Eastern Europe and Russia.   

I’m exploring this theme because it has brought to mind the many memoirs I have read of the more recent immigrants from Africa, Viet Nam, India, Korea, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan along with the many Latin American countries… the Islands, Central and South America.  I’m not sure about the flood (literally and figuratively) of Inuit and other Northern Eskimo tribes.  But once the Poles complete their meltdown I assure you they will be rowing their way to our shores.

OK, here is your first test. What is the difference between the immigrants of the founding countries of this yet to be United States of America and the immigrants of the last 50 years of these United States of America?

You are too smart! You are right! COLOR!

CAVEAT:  I do not count the African Black population of the 17th and 18th Century that arrived by the boatloads.  Traveling in storage, not steerage…storage!  Kidnapped, enslaved and in chains doesn’t count as travel to the new world. Journey to and in Hell is more accurate.  And as a matter of real fact, they actually weren’t counted as human at all, anyway.  That came later. What am I saying?  It’s not here yet.  Hopefully, soon.   

Here’s my question…  Would we be so up in arms about immigrants if they looked and thought and sounded like white Americans.  Wouldn’t it be great to take all the naysayers back to their roots to listen to their family accents, their family old country traditions, their difficulties in assimilation. 

Aha!  Assimilation!  Most of the white immigrants managed to assimilate… some more successfully than others.  The possibility of assimilation through work and education particularly in this country was always a possibility.  Only if you were white, of course.  

Isn’t that what this is all about?  The majority of the immigrants over the last 50 to 100 years are people of color.  Pretty hard to assimilate when ones color is the first thing you notice about a person.  

No matter what race theory you subscribe to, consciously or unconsciously, there is no getting away from being a different color.

It’s not easy being green is it?

Anyway, I find myself amused when I realize how upset everyone is about the immigrant situation. Often my amusement turns to anger when someone wants to put up a wall or chase immigrants down a river on a big horse with a big whip. That’s when I want to give them a big shake, shouting, “Hey Jerkball,  you are not an Indigenous American. Therefore, you’re an immigrant, too!  I promise you… someone in your family came here from someplace else.  Give someone else the same break your ancestors had when they arrived.  If by chance they didn’t get that break, well let me be the first one to tell you LIFE IS NOT FAIR.  And yet, even today with The Troubles (lots of the Irish immigrant in this country can definitely relate) this is a great and unique country.  There is still plenty of land.  And there is always someone willing to climb a ladder.  Got it! Get it. Good! “

However, it won’t work.  Today, no one listens to anyone. Unless you are parroting what they say.  Then, you are not really listening.  You are a parrot.  Nice feathers… no sense.

Here’s the kicker.  Anger is not helpful to my blood pressure and man, it really saps my energy.  So I am just going to do what I can for others.  Keep love on the front burner. Call it like I see it.  Have some more birthdays so I can keep Blah, Blah, Blogging.  

Right??? Of course, right!!!!

 Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Here are lists for books and memoirs on Immigration.
https://www.businessinsider.com/best-immigrant-memoirs-books
https://www.lirs.org/books-about-immigration

And some Films.
Golden Door
America America
Amistad
PBS Trail of Tears trailer

And finally, I leave you with this…

WHY ARE YOU SO MAD AT ME????

My Dear Friends and Family,

This is the way I feel today when I read about Covid and the political scene.  I have written a little playlet featuring two of my favorite Ted Lasso characters.  See if you can guess who is who.

“I don’t get it!”

“Grrrrrr..”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Grrrr…”

“Did I hurt your feelings?”

“Grrrr…”

“Please!  I really want to know.”

“Grrr…you asked me to put on my mask.  Grrr…you asked me if I was vaccinated.  Grrr…you are from Venus.  I am from Mars. Grrr…”

“Ok!  I get that but can’t we still be friends or at least friendly acquaintances.”

“Grrr… NO!”

And my friends, dats da trut!  Gone are the days when you could have friends that agreed to disagree.  Today you either agree or, like on a plane someone slaps you and ties you up.

What happened? Here’s my theory. The world is living through the perfect storm. The combination of P&P – politics and pandemic – an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, cyclone beyond the beyond scale of human endurance.

Also, we have been watching and personally witnessing climate change that is the devil’s advocate in this perfect storm.  

How much can a human being bear?  Every day there are more and more incidents indicating not much more.  For me, it’s like watching the thermometer rise on a roiling/boiling cauldron about to explode.  Daily, civility takes a back seat to violent eruptions. The other day I drove by a full sized banner on the front of a house that read … first a Mea Culpa: I have abundantly used four letter curse words because they are a release for me of tensions, stress and anger… but I am very careful to use it on and for myself not others, so please excuse what I am going to print out to prove a point… this is what was on the house sized banner,     

FUCK YOU BIDEN AND FUCK YOU WHO VOTED FOR HIM

Wha????????

This was on a house in Western Massachusetts illustrating how this virus of vitriolic hate, anger and  maniacal behavior is spreading.  

I do not want to be discouraged or lose hope. I want to understand what is happening. Here goes!

The human condition is always in survival mode.… aka fight or flight. I also understand that this perfect storm of pandemic and politics has kindled the fire of fight. The level of anger that brings out a banner of cursing HATE is covering an incredible amount of fear. If I scratch whatever I am angry about I find the fear.

Nina Simone says and sings it far better than I could…

O.K.?  What then…??? Here’s the tricky part! Patience, faith – and here it comes guys – LOVE in equal measure must be applied to the wound. Easier said than done. I had it all wrong. I thought as long as my fear protected my anger, I could function. In humble gratitude, slowly over the last twenty or thirty years (believe me, we humans are really intellectually and emotionally challenged. Translation: slow to change). However, as I aged, love melted the anger that melted the fear that lived in the house that Sally-Jane built.

Like I said it is not easy… simple, but not easy. The speed of the internet, social media, transportation, make it harder. This is when I yearn for the good old days. Imagine trying to read a newspaper or get to your Twitter or Facebook or Instagram accounts from your Roman litter as you commute to work.  

Whatever stories that are hanging fire would have to wait until you got to your office or home. By that time, you might have actually calmed down. Maybe even talked to your litter bearers, asking and sharing thoughts. In other words, no knee jerk reactions that you would find too difficult to apologize for or ask forgiveness for. The human condition has almost no genetic structure for apologies or forgiveness. It’s still evolving. From your mouth to God’s ears. Which reminds me there was this guy a couple of thousand years ago who spoke about turning the other cheek and other outrageous ideas, but it’s obvious the way the world is going no one remembers him.

So I am asking… no pleading with you, next time you want to punch someone out verbally or physically

STOP…THINK…and remember… 

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself and the guy next to you who hasn’t been vaccinated. 

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love,  Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. There is one brilliant documentary that must be seen… MUST! And you will be tested on this.

I promise you if you watch PBS 4-Parts of Ken Burns Documentary – Mohammed Ali you will see before your very eyes the evolution of a human spirit and soul into what he announced he was, at the beginning of his career and still is and will remain,  

THE GREATEST

This documentary is the perfect antidote to the rickety raggedy human condition of today…

Thoughts That Lead To Memories…

These days as my mind travels between masks, mandates, and misinformation, I attempt to find subject matter and viewer material that takes me away from the news you almost can’t get away from.  My newest distraction device is my Kindle. I shall come right out and say it. I don’t like it. I don’t think I shall ever like it.  It will never replace the beauty of the real book., As the years roll by and my ability to hold a book like Robert Caro’s The Power Broker wanes, I needed to make a change. After reading that 1,336 page book, I was forced into physical therapy for various overused body parts. It was definitely worth it, but I thought there has to be a better way. There is. The Kindle.

When I need to get away from the prevalent pontifications (enough already, all you politicians, Harry and Meghan, any Kardashian), I have found two methods. The Kindle offers easy purchase and reading of alternate favorites.  Historical novels…  The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers explores the history of an African-American family in the South from the time before the American civil war and slavery, through the Civil Rights Movement to the present… brilliant.  Abir Mukherjee’s historically fascinating mystery series, Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries about a former Scotland Yard Detective in Calcutta circa 1921 The British in India make the anti-bellum southern plantation owners look almost kind. I said almost. And non-fiction history, The Forever Wars by Dexter Filkins about the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s ongoing battle with Islamic Fundamentalism after September 11, 2001.

Yeah, yeah, eclectic selections for an eclectic mind ball.  But we all know that.

Now let’s throw in my evening television streaming.  Slim pickings until recently.  It got so bad I had to make do with reruns of Poirot, Miss Marple and Schitt’s Creek. This was no hardship. They are funny and lovely and still interesting even though I know “who done it”.   And then as September 11th, 2021 began to appear on the horizon, the streaming fare became more bountiful.  And it is interesting how without any prior planning what I was reading dovetailed with what I was watching.  

The first was the Netflix movie, Worth.  The movie follows Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) who was appointed as the Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.  In the months and years that followed the event, he led a team in allocating a price of the lives lost for the victims’ surviving families. Was there ever supposed to be a time when for whatever reason one could put a dollar value on a human life. Back in olden days, like yesterday, a peasant’s life had no value. Actually, peasants never had any value. They were expendable. I don’t know about your heritage but I do know about mine and that’s precisely why my ancestors without language or means traveled to an unknown world in steerage (with the animals which is why they called it steer-age) from various parts of Eastern Europe and Russia because those crazy Americans prior to their Revolution had this crazy idea that all men are created equal. Insurance companies were very unhappy with Thomas Jefferson as were his slaves. Jefferson was a brilliant man with limited vision. I can’t say he was alone. There has always been an over abundance of stinking thinking peoples.

My two historical novels, one about the American South and one about the British in India, where no matter what your achievement or class you were expendable, was a prologue to Worth.

Along comes Spike Lee and his documentary, NYC Epicenters: 9/11 → 2021 ½. I tried. I really tried to watch the whole thing. I stopped in the first hour of the first part of the series.  After he made his views and opinions quite clear by the way he presented his interviewees I became bored.  And then I read a review in The New Yorker by their new television critic Doreen St. Felix about the last two hours of the documentary.  I decided to give it another try. And she was right. It begins with a glorious, technicolor, paean to New York City.  Right out of a movie.  And it is right out of a movie… On The Town with Gene Kelley, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munchin, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  I knew I was being set up but I didn’t care.  Seeing the city in all its 1950 glory was worth it.  

I want to give myself a medal because I hung in until the end. I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t tear myself away as the tragedy began to unfold. I think one of the reasons I felt so paralyzed was because it brought back my own memories of that day.  I was in my mid-town apartment in NYC. I lived on the 8th floor. It was my neighbor’s birthday and with other 8th floor folk we were about to knock on his door with a candled cupcake to sing Happy Birthday.  Before we even knocked, he opened his door and told us to go home and turn on our television sets, “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” I remember saying what one of the interviewees in the documentary said, “I can’t believe it. A new pilot lost his way and accidentally flew into the building”

Before I moved to mid-town, I lived for years across from The World Trade Center in Battery Park City. I was in and out of that building every day. The bar at Windows on the World restaurant was where I took friends and guests (sometimes they were actually the same) to give them the full breadth of the city. It was exciting. It was exhilarating. No other view like it.  They were WOWED. So was I.

For the first time, since 9/11/2001, I viewed the footage of what went on in my old neighborhood. I literally froze in my seat. I remember what I did after the second plane hit the second building. I had one daughter who lived off Central Park West on 92nd street. She had a one-year old baby.  

Irrationally, as they were at the opposite end of the city from where the horrors were happening, I needed to assure myself they were all right. I walked (there were no subways or any transportation) from 54th and 6th avenue to 92nd Street, passing the ash covered zombie ghosts walking up from Ground Zero. A terrifying and wrenching sight, completely incomprehensible.

When I arrived at their apartment, I kissed and hugged my children. I never wanted to let them go. It was incomplete. I needed to check my other two daughters and their children. They lived in Northampton, Massachusetts. I had a small house in Great Barrington. My NYC daughter tried to convince me Northampton had no reported terrorist incidents. I was not convinced. They had already announced there would be no trains out of the city from any of the terminals. I walked over to Pennsylvania Station.  The last Amtrak train from NYC to Albany, stopping at Hudson, New York was going to leave. No tickets were available. With every amount of emotion I could muster, I asked the Conductor if he would let me stand to Hudson. I said I didn’t need to sit. He never replied. He just turned away from me calling, “All aboard.” I took that as a sign and just slipped onto the train and stood for the two hours to Hudson where I had called a friend who was coming to Hudson to pick me up. I got my squeeze and a kiss.

I never did make sense of what happened. I did know the initial support of the world against the villains was a gift that was squandered. A missed opportunity where a human tragedy could have brought the world together was traded for WAR.  

And as a gift to yourself, if you haven’t seen the movie, watch Wag The Dog by David Mamet with Robert de niro and Dustin Hoffman. DO IT NOW.  

The non-fiction book The Forever Wars by Dexter Felkins is the continuation of 9/11.  Felkins is in Afghanistan in the early 2000’s interviewing an Afghan and asking him what he thought about 9/11.  His reply gave new meaning to the word perspective.  He responded that his world, for as long as he could remember, was always a version of 9/11.  The Afghan people have been at war willingly or not FOREVER.  From the War Lords to the British, back to the War Lords, to the Russians, back to the War Lords, to the Taliban, to the Americans, back to the Taliban.  I get the feeling it’s time for the War Lords to regroup and give it another go.  And the beat goes on…

I shall conclude with my favorite Voltaire quote (he’s a very dear and very close friend)

HISTORY DOESN’T REPEAT ITSELF.  PEOPLE DO.

It is always the simple idea that is the most difficult to enact. 

Will human beings ever realize how much we need each other?
To exist… we really need each other.

Right?  Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️