Perspective

Some days it pays to be old. Today, the day after Roe vs. Wade was overturned, is one of those. In my small world, young friends and relatives are numb with the shock of it. No matter that it was expected.  No matter three Justices on the Supreme Court lied about their position on the Amendment. Although, I have a sense, if we read carefully what they said, these particular Justices, in splendid legalese, evaded sharing the essence of their true thoughts. How many times have cases hung on the wordage of lawyers in their evasion of truth? I lost count.

I want my shocked friends and relations to take a deep breath. Please! Try this perspective on for size. It took over two hundred years to pass any Civil Right legislation; we failed to pass an Equal Rights Amendment; we only recently passed the Emmett Till anti-lynching law. All to say, even as we use pronouns and surgical procedures to challenge gender fluidity, human progress is slow and recalcitrant.  

A few days before the RvW decision, a friend expressed her feeling that misogyny was on the rise. I thought about that. And here is my response. It is not on the rise because it has never actually gone away. From time immemorial we are and always have been the Second Sex; not because there are two sexes so there is one that is a male and one that is a female. The Second Sex, in my thinking, has always meant the lesser. At least, in the animal kingdom, femaledom is not thought of as less or weaker. The animal female is about form and function. Until the male animal develops teets and a uterus, there is no argument. Oh, sure there are fights over a female when mating. However, that particular characteristic belongs to the male animal and human. The female has better things to do with her time than strut, spread her feathers, and punch someone out for staring. Don’t yell at me for making certain generalizations. I have a point to make. And I always allow for exceptions except when I don’t want to ….

OK, misogyny and Roe vs. Wade. The overturn is the ultimate sign it is more overt than ever before. I think we can look at the laws that have chained women to the purpose that men have enacted to keep them “safe” and “secure”. And do not leave out the women who have ably assisted such men in their drive to help keep women in their place. There have always been women who operate in a world within the hidden power of their sex, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically. They are the ones with secrets. If you find a hard nosed male misogynist, I would almost bet the farm that behind that male is a woman who uses her female power to manipulate the male. In the past, women’s power came from manipulating her husband and sons. I am sad to say this has not changed. Phyllis Schlafly, all her predecessors and her future sister, Amy Coney Barrett, understood there was a power loss in equality. But succor the male ego and animus and your queendom is assured and HE would never know what hit him.

How do we fight this dreaded return to women baiting and hating? Here is where perspective raises its all important head. In my life it has always been two steps forward, one step back. I was the 1950’s wife, the 1960’s mother, and onward through the decades of, first I get it then I don’t. The yin/yang of life had me crossing my ankles to keep my skirt from rising to dancing to the devil’s music, (Oh My I love Rock and Roll…I still do) and embarrassing my children. Assassinations. The Watergate Hearings. Viet Nam. 

My children ask questions. I don’t have answers. What happened? My parents always had answers. As my children struggle to make sense of their world, I struggle to make sense of mine. We agree. We don’t agree. We grow apart. We come together. Being in this family is a moveable feast. Life just moves from one beat to another. What is more important than agreeing or disagreeing is to LOVE one another. 

So this animosity against women, this attempt to chain us to laws that inhibit our freedom and our choices will ultimately fail because we shall birth children that will know better because we know better. That is how I woke up today… and you????

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. I though of another solution to the Supreme Court. Since it is determined to be out of touch with the real world, I think we should stop appealing to them to make important judicial decisions. Instead, we should convert the Supreme Cours to a Traffic Court.

The Conservative majority would make perfect Traffic Court Justices. Our roads would be safer and our tax coffers would be ful.

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

ADDENDUM:

As a human being, it is natural to try to avoid pain. In certain situations, this isn’t the best course of action, as made apparent by the following comment on this post, and my response:

Thanks for this, Mumsie.

While ultimately perspective must always be the landing spot, I suggest you move too quickly past the actual moment at hand. There has to be space to rage and cry. All of that is its own fuel for better breathing – and action. So yes to the ultimate analysis – but while you speak of the time it takes to make change, we must also account for the millions of lives that will be harmed RIGHT NOW by this decision. We can’t breeze past that no matter how much perspective we have. It is devastating for so many directly, and freedom is lost for us all. Gotta make space to rail about all that. Not so fast wise one! 

Xoxo, Pammy


My Dear Daughter,

You are so right.it is an egregious omission. Thank you for setting me aright. 

In my rush to soothe and calm waters I have removed the howl of pain from the sting of outrageous fortune. Something I unfortunately have a tendency to do in my own life. The howl and outrage are necessary like the Māori Warriors preparation for battle

As you have written, It gives birth to the action necessary to curb old white men and men and women of color who are old and white from the damage they do as they lose their power. 

Love, Mum

To Be Right or Not To Be…

My Dear Friends,

As a child, it was my understanding that if I wasn’t right, I wasn’t going to survive.  Those were the rules.  At home, in school, at the playground, I had to have the right answers and agree with the powers that be, parents, teachers, bullies… or else.

As an adult and a citizen of the United States of America,  I realized I didn’t have to or want to agree with everything or everyone.  I found places and people where I felt safe enough to agree to disagree.  What a blessing.

Over the last few years, I feel like I am regressing.  Once again, my survival is based on choosing the RIGHT people and the RIGHT answers.  And let me tell you, if I am going to regress, I’m going all the way and have me a temper tantrum. 

I have noted the movie musical 1776 before.  During the Second Continental Congress of the not yet born United States, representatives of the original 13 Colonies gathered in Philadelphia to issue a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.  Oh, my dear friends, you want to hear what disagreement and differences of opinions and varied interests both personal and communal sound like? Tune into this movie. From June 7, 1776 to July 4, 1776, the delegates from each State, alternately stamped their feet, threatened, cajoled, shouted, cursed, voted over and over, searching for the consensus necessary to pass the Declaration.  

As violently as they disagreed, no one pulled out a musket or brandished a sword or brought in a mob, to silence the debate.  

I must admit the Original Sin of this Declaration Convention was the inability of the Congress to remove forever the stain of slavery, which is and always will be a plague on this nation regardless of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.  Discussion of which requires a far more in depth exploration of race relations in this country than these words intend.

What is it about having to be right that really screws up a person’s personhood?  Do we all bring forward from childhood the fear that if we are not right, if we don’t belong to the right group, if we don’t equate righteousness with God, like Mel Brooks’ 2,000 Year Old Man, the Angel From Death will fly in our window and no necklace of garlic is gonna save any of us.

How do I make sense of our human frailties gone awry? When last we met, I shared the story of Ms. and Mr. Robin and the nest they built in the eaves of my porch. I have been diligently observing their progress. Ever ready with my vocal cords and scarf to shoo predators away from my rent-free tenants.  I watched as the mama moved from egg laying, to egg sitting, and papa stood guard taking on all alien enemies… including me.  I even stopped going through my front door.  I didn’t want to be responsible for an anxious mama.  We all know anxious mothers make anxious children.   

Every time Mama flies out for a little R&R, I take a quick peek, and then one day, blue eggs begin to appear.  While Mama sits on the eggs, Papa and me do the expectant parent parade. 

At last!  The babies hatch!  

Hallelujah!!! 

A few scattered feathers pulsing away as life takes hold.  I am transported.  The program of searching for food and feeding the babies begins. It is beyond anyone’s imagination how these parents work in tandem and harmony.  The mama sits to keep them warm, as the papa flies off in search of food.  The papa stands guard while Mama does her food turn. All happens without any discussion about who did what when and whose turn it is.  

A thought occurs to me.  I am not sure about the mating game for Robins, probably less complicated without the internet.  Pregnancy and delivery… lets not even discuss it.  I get it.  Humans are more complicated than birds.  Really?  Are they?  Well, goodness knows, sometimes I get the feeling that this is really our job.  Making life more complicated.  It’s not as if birds, e.g. animals, don’t have rules.  Their rules for survival are as defined and important as ours. However, animal rules are instinctual.  As humans evolve, our animal instincts take a back seat to society rules. 

Whoa!  Did I just say a mouthful?   Do I mean depending on who imparts the rules for my survival is how I will behave and think and be???

The question is not to be right or not to be. The more important question is, who am I really listening to inside my head? Me…? Or those voices that do not belong to me.

From all my observations, a robin is a robin is a robin. Furthermore, they don’t need to be right to fly. They only need to be free. 

What about it, my friends… Does that apply to us human animals as well???

What do you think ???

Love, Sally-Jane

Berkshire Spring – Wishful Thinking

My Dear Friends and Family –

I have returned from the South to the North just in time for Winter…. Let me explain…

We who live in the Berkshires, live in the hope that every Spring will begin on the calendar day of March 20th.  From then until sometime in June, it is a constant disappointment akin to finding out that there is no Santa. 

Every year along with snow or ice or unseasonable temperatures, Spring arrives. During the months of March, April, and most of May, an occasional balmy day arrives and you can hear the Berkshire sigh of, “at last”.  However, at last does not last.  For as long as I have been living here, this scenario hasn’t changed.  I do my best every time a friend or acquaintance complains about the lack of Spring weather to repeat what I know to be the truth.  Spring doesn’t come to the Berkshires until a few days before summer.  I feel like Cassandra, the former Trojan priestess of Apollo of Greek mythology, cursed to tell the truth and never to be believed.

I marvel at the loss of Berkshirites’ memory and at the same time I understand it.  In my psychobabble analysis, Winter in the Berkshires has its own special magic, up to a point.  After that point, we want it to be over.  I love a climate of seasonal changes and I find the transition from Summer to Fall easy because I welcome the movement of hot, humid days to cooler, dryer ones.  The colors of the leaves as they change from green to the rainbow hues of Autumn is inspiring.  The holiday season eases Autumn into Winter; festivities and good cheer for all.  And then comes January, with ice and sleet or snow and temperatures that dip to single digits and minuses. Then more of the same for February.  For me, all the other seasons blend from one to the other in a timely fashion.  Not Winter.  Winter hangs on like Carrie in the Stephen King movie; as soon as you think she’s gone, she gives us another minus degree day or snow storm in May… “she’s baaaack”.  She just won’t behave like any of the other seasons.

There is something mystical and mysterious about the journey from Winter to Spring.  It has to do with my theory of the sighting of land.

Sighting of Land Theory:  There have been times in life when I have found myself confused and lost amidst situations, decisions, choices, peoples of all stripes and colors.  It’s as if I am lost at sea.  Suddenly there appears a speck on the horizon.  My brainball receives it as a signal of hope.  I think, “not to worry, SJ.  There is a sign of land ahead.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”   

Well, I think Winter to Spring has its own signs of land.  The groundhog starts the ball rolling followed by the budding and blossoming of trees and grass in that glorious iridescent green that almost hurts the eyes, dandelions, daffodils… all signal the Spring awakening.

As I write, outside my window, two beautiful robins have built their nest into the eaves of my porch.  Piece by piece of dry grass and sticks, I watch as they build their palace.  Now Ms. Robin sits on her eggs.  Mr. Robin keeps watch on the roof over the nest.  We all wait for the ultimate message of the arrival of Spring… new life.  

It’s almost the middle of May.  Once again I put on my winter jacket and hat to go out.  I think, “the calendar is just another human invention.  There exists a more accurate device signaling spring arrival… Mother Nature.”  

We just celebrated Mothers’ Day.  I hope you didn’t omit a thank you and acknowledgement of our debt to this powerful, wily woman and Mother to us all. Like errant children we can’t compensate our Mother for the damage we have already caused, but we can try to make amends by being aware of all she provides for a life of ongoing riches.   And when she kicks up a fuss with a hurricane, tornado, flood, fire, drought, remember we assisted in their creation.  

I am reminded of an advertisement many years ago about how you can’t tell a particular brand of margarine from real butter:

“YOU CAN’T FOOL MOTHER NATURE”

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

The Business of Living is the Best Defense Against Death – Just ask my 101 year old brother

My 101 year old brother sent me this photo of his latest achievement, the completion of this model of the airplane Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris in 1927.  

I am bowled over in awe, which doesn’t come often for me. For one thing, he doesn’t look like any 101 year old person I know.  True, I don’t know many 101 year old people. I don’t think there are many 101 year old people and certainly fewer who work on and complete a detailed model airplane, which requires dexterity, concentration, and abilities that many younger folk might  be stymied by.

I emailed the photo to family and friends. I received in return an email from a nephew with a copy of a 2001 Flying Models Magazine with a feature on my brother. 

My brother turned 80 in 2000 There was a celebration in Los Angeles.  He had moved to California from New York many years prior. Personally, I think that saved his creative life. After all, without the impeding judgment of nearby family  life can be more free and easy, right? 

 A little backstory, I was the seventh in a family of eight.  It was actually two families. Let me explain. My oldest brother, miracle man here, was born in 1920.  After him in fairly quick succession came four more children. The first five of what I call the “older part” of the family.  Then came a couple of birthing break years due to miscarriages and other problems.  As the depression started to heat up, out pops three more… The “younger part” of the family.  I was born in 1933.  Older brother in 1920, so there was enough of a gap that in no way did we have any real contact.  By the time I was in elementary school, he was eloping and going off to war.  He won’t talk about any of his time in Europe during World War II other than to say he was in the Battle of the Bulge.  A battle I have read about and understand why he won’t talk about it.  My only real contact with him after he returned from the war was after we began our Heit Family get togethers. And that was cursory at best with a quick peck and an even quicker “how are you?”, which really should have been, “who are you?”.  

I had no idea who my oldest brother was and visa versa. Each of us had what I call a family myth. His was his genius in designing model airplanes.  At 17 he sold the first of many of his designs.  Since that had nothing to do with my wanting to be Shirley Temple … who cared?

We arrive now to the year 2,000 and an invitation to attend his 80th birthday party in Los Angeles. For your perspective, I was 67 years old. 

By this time, I had already lost one brother from the older part of the family. I didn’t know who he was either. I knew my three sisters a little more because somehow I think we bonded purely along male/female battle lines… four girls, four boys. It was us against them and it made for a little closer harmony. Not necessarily more intimate, but more in the spirit of camaraderie. Probably because girls, even with rampant sibling rivalry, tend to be closer in relationships.  

All to say, I was going to try and find out who he was before attending the celebration. It’s the decent thing to do, right? Even then, I devoured mystery books and detective novels. So, now was the time to put what tools I acquired into practice. I began by buying every airplane model magazine I could find. I discovered the model airplane industry is alive and well. He sold his first design in 1937 or 1938. There was no way to research magazines of that era because microfilming and digital articles didn’t exist. What to do? Light bulb! I looked in the classified ads in the back of the magazine. In a section titled Antique Models was a list of individuals who sold kits of older model airplanes. I started calling around and asking if anyone knew of a Raymond Heit model airplane kit. The nays had it. At last, one man I called responded in what I heard as excited abandonment. He yelled, ”Ray?? Ray Heit??? I said, “Yes”. He said, “That is so interesting! I flew his Bayridge Mike in a competition last weekend and I won!” 

Initially, it was Greek to me but he finally translated. Bayridge Mike is my brother’s first design and this man won a recent competition with his model of that design. 

His name was Jim Alaback and he was out of his mind with joy when I told him Ray Heit was still alive. I explained I was Raymond Heit’s sister. I wanted to give him a gift of some of his old model plane kits for his 80th birthday. He put me in touch with a man in Oregon who sells antique kits. I thanked him and called the Oregonian. He had two of my brother’s designs from the late 1930’s and sent them to me. He, too, was glad to know Ray Heit was still alive and kicking. He had recently competed with his own model of Bayridge Mike and won. 

Jim Alaback called me back. Among other things, he was a stringer for Flying Models Magazine. He lived in San Diego and now that he knew Raymond was in California as well, he wondered if he could get in touch with Raymond to interview him for the magazine. 

Start the drum roll now. Hey, we all know I am a performer and at 67 I was still tripping the boards. Lest we forget all my siblings were present, minus one. In the family, I was known disparagingly as “the actress”. I was not about to let this opportunity go, to show my siblings that I was more than “just an actress”. And I didn’t. 

Most importantly, my oldest brother, who typically maintains “cool” as his permanent temperature, was singularly not cool. I was moved by personal revelations about a brother I did not know. The cherry on the cake was a planned interview with Alaback for the magazine.

And that is the one with the article my nephew recently sent to me.

Following the party, there was a meeting of minds and sensitivities of brother #1 with sister #7. A deepening of the connection which has everything to do with family and nothing to do with family. We had discovered each other and to this day maintain a growing and affectionate relationship. He has a passion that won’t quit. I believe it is that passion that gives his life the best defense against death.

Sending me a photo of himself at 101, 21 years after his 80th party, stirred the memory pot. As to that, I am of two different minds… so what else is new? Too much memory mucking around is not good, for it takes me out of the present where I need to be to keep my anxious tendencies tampered down. And yet, how important it is to keep those memories alive, both the yin and yang. They add texture and depth to a life lived. 

The Original Heits c.1938 in Atlantic City
The Seven Heits at Raymond’s 80th Birthday Party in 2000

Blending memories and realities is key to keeping my balance. For me, this photo has elements of the past, the present and the future. This my friends is Golden. Pure Gold.

Right??? Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Feminine Fraudsters

My Dear Readers,

In the 1980’s, in an attempt to take advantage of the exploding feminist movement, Virginia Slims cigarettes created an advertising slogan, You’ve come a long way, baby. Do you remember it?

If you are a streamer, like I am, you must have noticed the many movies and television series are now featuring a growing number of women who have lost their way… aka… Feminine Fraudsters. For all psychiatrists and therapists these women offer a study of a modern day feminine pathological, psychotic liar, exhibiting criminal behavior in technicolor. 

I say modern day because the behavior itself is not new. However, I think the dark side of females of the past has been tied to their powerlessness in a patriarchal society. Exceptions to this rule exist of course, but for the most part, power for women came through faking it. 

All right already so what’s my point?

Women are equal now, right? They don’t need to do dastardly deeds to succeed, right? They can partner on par with their male partners in business and at home. The patriarchy is no more. What planet do you live on?

When I first noticed how many popular major shows were about these fraudulent females, I began an inner dialogue with each of them: “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you realize in the past the only power women had was in their sex, literally and figuratively? Our choices were not only limited, they didn’t exist. Why did you dishonor the hard earned gift of choice and equality from the women who came before you?”

I answered my own question. Because equality does not exist. I grant you every now and then, like Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s elevation (we hope) to the Supreme Court and Kamala Harris’s Vice Presidency, equal rights appear confirmed. Do not be fooled. The Equal Rights Amendment sits on a shelf in a closet somewhere, unpassed. The anti-lynching law was just passed over two hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Blacks, women, all minorities… damn… we go two steps forward and one back and call that progress? I suppose that is the way progress proceeds. 

There is a constant battle between our his or her or they or them animal vs. human nature. In the animal kingdom, except for some rare species, the male is all powerful. Oh, sure, don’t touch the young of any female animal if you value your life. That’s a different mechanism. In everyday life, all hail the male. Today in the human kingdom, with very few exceptions, the male still holds the reins of power. Alas, today there is an illusion that females have an equal share of that power. We have been gaslighted. 

My friends, before I get into why I think women have been had, I want to get into distinguishing the Alpha Male from other men. I think the human side of the Alpha Male’s brain is undeveloped so they operate solely on their dominant animal aggressive behavior… eating and swallowing up men, women, and children as they go. Stream just one episode of the very successful television series Succession for a brilliant illustration. These men make no pretense about female subjugation. How do I square the modern day opportunities in education, careers, life choices, with ongoing female subjugation? It’s insidious. It’s where the gaslighting comes in. The power hungry alphas have learned to talk the talk about sharing power with women. Unfortunately, women buy the talk. But those of us that have gone over that bridge time and time again know he or she has to walk the walk. Words are good. Action is better.

All the protagonists of the Feminine Fraudsters hit that glass ceiling that most women know still exists. Discovering the ceiling was still there, they circumvented the straight and legal path to achieve what they thought had been promised to them. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Yes, we have come a long way, baby. But we still have miles to go before we sleep… miles to go.

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Here is a list of a few of the Feminine Fraudster shows for your edification:
I Care a Lot
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Inventing Anna
The Drop Out 

RANDOM THOUGHTS WHILE WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO STOP THIS WAR

Once again, the helplessness I feel from the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, invades my being.  As I go through the motions of my day, thoughts and frustrations of what is happening in and around Ukraine, are never far from my consciousness and always in my subconscious.  Really, my friends, how could it not be?  As a history buff, World War III is a button away and  again we have a dictator who is a look-and-psycho-a-like of the last dictator who took the world to the brink of annihilation.  Grrrrrrr.

I shall, of course, do what I can to help.  But before I whirl myself into butter, in looking for a distraction, I found one. 

If you have the time, follow me. I went from thinking about NATO to Harry S Truman, our 33rd President.  I remembered David McCullogh wrote a biography of Truman.  I began reading.  It’s a minutely researched book which means it’s got a lot of pages which means it’s very heavy.  I don’t know about you but over 500 pages I have to put it on my Kindle.  I miss the feel of the book in my hands, but my arms are very grateful.  So I am enjoying the story of this man who began his political career as part of a major political boss gang (think Tammany Hall  in NYC, Curly in Boston, Kelley and Daly in Chicago).  In Missouri it was The Pendergasts. Truman’s rise from local Judge to U.S. Senator was very interesting because he was this peculiar mix of “good ‘ole boy” and “honest harry”.  So how did this guy get to be the Vice Presidential choice on the ticket in 1944 along with Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s bid for an  unprecedented 4th term. 

McCullogh’s description of Truman’s Vice Presidential selection reminded me of Robert Caro’s book, The Passage of Power, and his description of LBJ’s selection as Vice President for JFK’s presidential election campaign of 1960.  FDR, JFK, LBJ… enough already!!!

Have you fallen asleep yet?

We all know I have a weird sense of humor among other things. For me, Truman’s  and LBJ’s selection as the Vice Presidential candidate has all the makings of a Marx Brothers/Frank Capra movie. 

Come on guys, admit it, Capra and Marx… it would be amazing.

Picture this:  It’s July, 1944, in like before air conditioning-can’t-breathe-hot-Chicago.  The political bosses were gathered in the 7th floor Blackstone Hotel room of a Roosevelt politico Robert Hannegan, later to become Post Master General of the United States… have you noticed how that particular political  appointment always  goes to the person who has never bought a stamp, no less mailed a letter.  The bosses, stripped down to shirt sleeves, puffing away at their cigars, guzzling bourbon and other libations (the women were probably waiting on another floor). Each boss was lying through so many teeth it’s a wonder they had any left.  I don’t know how they managed it but each one had  their own letter or a note or the back of an envelope or a laundry receipt, that was signed by FDR stating Truman was his choice. Time was short so no one checked if the signature was forged.  But, since they were each a boss , no one was challenged.  Some of the lesser-in-the-know bosses had to be reminded who Truman was. FYI,  Pendergast  was probably the only boss who wasn’t in the room, as he was getting ready to go to jail for Income Tax Evasion [years before Al Capone did too].  Since each one had the only legitimate signed note from FDR, they unanimously agreed. 

The climax of the film is back at the Convention Hall as Wallace supporters stir the frenzied crowd to renominate their candidate. Senator Claude Pepper from Florida understood if he didn’t get up to the Platform to nominate Wallace at this very moment his nomination would not make it into the next day.  It was now or never. 

Here is a real cinematic moment. From the back of the convention hall he races through the crazy crowds… like a quarterback with the winning touchdown in his hands.  He arrives huffing and puffing to the platform.  A friendly face opens the gate to the steps to the platform.  The Chairman of the convention spots Pepper.   Slams down the gavel.  Declares the business of the convention over for that day.  The next day the New York Boss Edward Flynn throws New York’s votes to Truman.  As the roll is called, delegates sense the change of direction, aka patronage and appointments. Wallace is defeated by the landslide for Truman.

Harry Truman’s vice presidential anointment came out of the ether because the Democratic  political bosses of the era thought Henry Wallace, FDR’s current Vice President, would lose the South for Roosevelt.  Wallace was an intellectual… what was he doing in politics?  He was a real liberal.  He and Mrs. Roosevelt were champions of the “Negro Race”.  No question.  He’d lose the South.  Same scenario with Kennedy and LBJ.  In both campaigns The South held the winning election card.  If you were a liberal, you needed a southerner on your ticket.  I’m not sure much has changed.  

You couldn’t make up this stuff. And here is the best part.  We lucked out because it turned out Honest Harry was the salt of the earth kind of an American who understood the values of what a democracy is.  After the horrors of World War II, in 1949, along with other member countries he founded NATO without which… well, actually, I don’t want to think about without which… ever. 

Did Harry S Truman have zits and warts?  You bet!  Show me someone who is without, and I’ll show you someone who has a letter from the  White House signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt choosing Truman as his running mate.

Right???  Of course, right!!!

STOP THIS WAR!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Dialogue With Myself: How Monsters Are Made

Myself:  How did this happen again?

Me:  What?

Myself:  Where did this monster come from?

Me:  Who?

Myself: Putin! And if you quote Voltaire again to me, I shall silence you forever.

Me:  No Voltaire! It is simply the human condition to follow the leader.  

Myself:  What’s that supposed to mean?

Me:  From birth we are taken care of and even as we struggle for our independence at various stages of our life, there is a kind of comfort remembering and/or returning to when someone else was in charge of our life; making decisions, providing food, shelter, safety and for a few special supporters and defenders, oligarchilian privileges.  

Myself:  That’s a generalization!

Me:  After reading about Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Hussein, Amin and now Putin, I am beginning to think the exceptions are losing ground and I am not sure why.  Part of me thinks if it is not immediate, not in my vicinity it is ignorable. I can speak my soap box speech trippingly on my tongue about the outrageous fortunes of Ukrainians and any other peoples and land grab in the sight of Putin and his gang and still make my dinner reservations.  In other words, a television war a la Viet Nam, et al.

Myself:  You know I never realized you are a cynic and a defeatist.  

Me:  I am not. I am just trying to understand how in full sight we got us another monster.

Myself:  Well, it’s not my fault. I didn’t vote for him.

Me:  I know but people like you and me did vote for him.  How??  Why??  And didn’t we do the same thing only a little over 4 years ago.

Myself:  I knew it.  You just can’t stay away from 2016.

Me:  You’re right!  I can’t.  I want to know how we find ourselves again behind this eight ball of human error.  But it is different this time.  Hitler rose from the ashes of World War I along with a worldwide economic depression.  Hitler not only promised the German people bread and autobahns (highways) but also a return to their former glory.  As the German people struggled to survive they grabbed Hitler’s lifeboat.  

Myself:  You want to tell me what the hell this has to do with Putin?

Me:  I am trying to figure that out myself, Self.

Myself:  Well, hurry it up.  I am not getting any younger.

Me:  OK.  Try this on for size.  Putin came to power as the Soviet Union dissolved.  

Myself:  Girl, you are really reaching on this one.

Me:  Wait!  The Soviet Union consisted of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia… and more.  Almost overnight this powerful Union was reduced to Russia alone.  

Myself:  Yeah, so???

Me:  I think as Putin came to power, he vowed to himself and his fellow cronies that he would return the U.S.S.R. to its former glory.  Hitler lookalike???

Myself:  Why would you think that?

Me:  Because Putin suffers from a Napoleon Complex.

Myself:  Is this another one of your arm-chair psychoanalysis?

Me:  Short men tend to compensate for their lack of height through domineering behavior and aggression.  Provoking conflict and invading countries makes him feel taller.  If you don’t believe me, ask Angela Merkle.

“I understand why he has to do this — to prove he’s a man,” Merkel said. “He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.”

Like I said…Napoleon Complex.

Combine Putin’s complex with the U.S.S.R. breakup, countries that provided Russia with political and economic advantages and you have the perfect storm to create the perfect monster. He may be short, but on a big white horse with his shirt off or his big black dog by his feet, invading the Crimea, Ukraine; the Soviet Union will be restored, Putin its Emperor aka WORLD CHAMPION BULLY.

Myself:  Even for you, that’s a stretch.

Me:  Maybe.  But if the shoe fits…

**A PAUSE IN THE DIALOGUE WHILE ME AND MYSELF INDULGE IN A HARD THINK…**

Myself:  I am not sure I agree with your reasoning behind Putin and his power grabs. I am sure he is a monster. What puzzles me most, after what the world has been through in just the twentieth century alone, how did he rise to power?  And then I remember the quote from Edmund Burke 

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. 

Edmund Burke

And this one from Primo Levi.  Primo was an Italian chemist, partisan, writer and Jewish Holocaust survivor.

Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous.  More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.

Primo Levi

Me:  It’s a sad realization.

Myself:  It’s depressing.

Me:  I have a crazy idea.

Myself:  Another one?

Me:  Do you remember Charlie Chaplin’s movie, The Dictator?

Myself:  Seriously, has anyone ever examined your headball for loose screws.

Me:  Let me show you something.

Myself:  I take it back.  Brilliant. 

Me:  So what I think is if we come together maybe… no guarantees… we can stop these monsters before they get started.  Right???

Myself:  We always do much better together.  Of course, right!!!

Love ~ Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. This a really depressing time for many of us, coming out of the pandemic (if we actually are) and a war that no one thought was possible… I struggle to find the hope. And then, my daughter recommended I watch “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”… for which Jessica Chastain just won the SAG Award for Best Actress. Watch Tammy Faye to find hope? Are you nuts?! But I always listen to my daughters (when it suits me, of course). Do you yourself a favor my friends, DON’T MISS IT.

I Forgot To Remember

All right, already. I get it. You age. You lose inches. I was 5’7”. Now I am 5’5”. Does this mean there is a corresponding loss of gray matter in my brain?

Please relax and follow my thoughts as best you can.

My lovely Doctor takes very good care of me. He will not allow me to read any of my test results. He understands the high level of anxiety I operate under, aka neurotic lady, and knows any test results sent to me will be read as a death sentence. Therefore, he promises he will interpret my test results and call me.  Like I said… a good guy.

A few days ago, he changed the routine of my blood pressure pills. Tell me if this is too much information. A few days ago, I watched some television, got into bed, read, and after an hour or so, fell asleep.  🎶Hitchcockian spooky chord🎶

I awoke with a start. It was 11:30 P.M. Shoot me! I go to bed early.  🎶another spooky chord🎶 

First silently, then aloud:

Me:  Did I take my evening pills? 🎶the most chillingest spooky chord🎶

And then began the evening from Hell. As I age, the levels of stress don’t just creep up on me anymore.  They jump, leap and pole vault into world breaking Olympic records of anxiety.

I think passing a certain age, for me 85, for people of my heightened sensibilities, (nicer sounding than “nutcase”), closing my eyes brings about many nights of Hell.

It’s not that complicated.

If I close my eyes tonight, will I open my eyes tomorrow?

I wish I could say this is a new phenomenon for me. But I have always had a little of the Angel of Death from Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks’ Two Thousand Year Old Man in me. I imagine I sleep wearing a bejeweled necklace of peeled garlic. As Mel Brooks would tell it, “Vel, the Angel from death, flies in. Takes one whiff from my necklace. Feh!  Flies right back out again.  And I am good for another night.”

The night when I couldn’t remember if I took my pills I went through my  DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES scenario.  However, a new subtext was added to my already high anxiety.  First the inches? Now the memory? 

My whole life, as an actress and writer, is predicated on MEMORY.  And I was good at it. I never had any difficulties. There was the usual opening night nervous actor’s nightmare of standing on stage, mouth open, no words coming out… panic personified. But this wasn’t a nightmare. This was real. I thought about all those times I listened to friends complain about memory lapses. I always had what I thought were words of logical comfort.  

Me:  Stop! You are not losing it. Remember, the brain can only absorb so much information.  As it absorbs new information, it has to release old information to make room for the new.  Right? You don’t know what information the brain released. Right?  So of course you can’t remember. Because the brain released that information. It isn’t there anymore.  Right? You can’t possibly remember what you don’t know. Right? Feel better???

Somehow that convoluted rationale doesn’t work anymore. What a surprise! This new stage of my life is giving me a real run for my money. What I mean is on certain days of the week, when a new twinge twinges or a I can’t remember if I took my pills, it frightens me. Then I remember what one of my many therapists said to me. Don’t laugh. Every stage of life required an ”at-that-stage-of-life” therapy.

Me:  I’m afraid.

Fear of death Therapist:  Can you talk about it?

Me:  I don’t have enough money.  You don’t have enough time.

Fear of death Therapist:  You do know that fear and excitement have exactly the same physical characteristics.  Heart pounds, pulse quickens, breath is short.  Choose excitement!

Me:  Excuse me…???

Fear of death Therapist:  You can choose fear.  You can choose excitement.  CHOOSE EXCITEMENT!!!

I forgot she said that. Not because I had a brain blip. But because fear clogged my brain arteries. As long as I can do it, it is my job to unclog those arteries. Let in the light. I guess It’s time to get out the shovel, dig deeper into awareness and acceptance… one more time. No matter how much I try to hold back the dawn, I continue to change. A euphemism for the aging process. I know I have no idea how many more changes are left for me. I also know if someone tells me one more time the only constant is change, we are done, finished, kaput.

Just to keep you in the loop, I forgot to take my pills that night. Spoiler alert! I am still here, a sadder but wiser girl.

This particular change is difficult for me. I am loathe to surrender my memory advantage. In an argument or discussion, it has always been my get-out-of-jail card. It is difficult to be judgmental and opinionated if you don’t have the facts as I see them, right???  

Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Take a look at how Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold in the film, Gigi handle their memory lapses.  All to say, be kind to others and mostly to yourself.

Will You Be My Valentine?

In 1929, Cole Porter asked a musical question, “What is this thing called Love?“.

I think I could guarantee he was far from the first and definitely not the last to ask that question.  A question that in my book is impossible to answer and always rhetorical. 

This is our 3rd Valentine’s Day in the time of Covid and its accompanying sagas of vaccinations, variants and variables.  It makes that question more relevant and difficult than ever before.

When I was in elementary school it was easy.   I went to the five and dime store (‘member those) bought sheets of valentines with small white envelopes.  Covering all my bases, hedging my bets, whatever you want to call it, I left a Valentine on everyone’s desk, including the goody two-shoers and snitches.  In my dreams, everyone loved me.  NOT!

No matter how I counted, I never got more than 10 or 12 cards out of a class of 25.  The Florida recount for Gore vs. Bush was chicken feed. My life, my breath hung on that count.  

Back then, I knew what love was.  It was those crazy little pieces of colored paper in small white envelopes.  It sounds crazy.  It is crazy.  However, I believe the lack of love, the need of it, the any and the all of it, makes the world go ‘round or stops it dead.

Loves begins in the womb.

Alice Miller, a German psychologist, 1923-2010, wrote many brilliant books:  The Drama of the Gifted Child, For Your Own Good, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, among others. All of her books take on the challenge of nature vs. nurture. Her major premise is the damage, some intentional, most unintentional, that is done by parents and families.  Many villains of the world, past and present, were in many cases born with inherited characteristics predetermining them to a life of crime and violence: nature. However, most were created by families: nurture. Miller makes a fascinating case about Adolph Hitler and the abusive violence of his father and its lasting effect on his developing personality.  More often, parental unconsciousness knows not what it does when it holds a child accountable to adult standards.  

Think about it.  It has to be very confusing to a child… so small… next to an adult… so big… smacking him or her saying, “I am doing this for your own good” and clinching that confusing message with an “I LOVE YOU”.  From that point on, the child’s idea of love is askew.  

Love is pain.  Love is punishment.  

In the romantic world of the adult, breaking hearts is a rite of passage. In a child’s world, love that is pain and punishment is tragic and can follow you everywhere if you let it.

This is all too familiar to me.  I realize I have made a career from my childhood love experiences.  Much that I have written or performed has its roots in this confusion.

Child rearing has run the gamut from spare the rod, spoil the child, to unparalleled permissiveness.  All in the name of love.

However, recent movies shine a light on changing attitudes. 

Belfast, The Tender Bar and C’mon, C’mon, each in its own way, continue the struggle to define a no less complex but much kinder version of love in the time of childhood.  This is good.

The conundrum for me is how do I take my childhood experiences and make it lovingly compatible with the so called adult I call me.  ‘Tis a puzzlement!

I will continue to explore Mr. Porter’s question, what is this thing called love.

Though I realize love is not about definitions.  It’s not about rules and regulations.  It is not about achievement, approval or accommodation.  Real love has no requirements. 

It is unconditional.

For an opinionated, over-righteous, ancient personality (no names), is this maybe asking too much???

Can I just go back to counting Valentines, please?

Intellectually I know that love is not about loving another person.

How can I love another person if I don’t love me, zits, warts, et al?

Simple answer.  I can’t.

Like a dream it came to me.

At least 100 years ago (some days it just feels like that), I was rehearsing with my friend, musical director/composer, Robert Bendorf (another unknown genius).  Once again I was in a confusion of love – the pain and punishment kind.  What a surprise! 

Poor Bob.  I remember whining to him about the same ‘ole, same ‘ole. 

“So tell me, Bob, what should I do?  He says he loves me.  I say I love him.  And then we do and say the most unloving things to each other.  It’s crazy.  In or out of a relationship why can’t we just love one another.  Love just is.  Isn’t it?”

He came back the next day with the gift of this song. I wish I could say it was Valentine’s Day.  It wasn’t.

But it is my Valentine to you.
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

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!!