I feel compelled to send this to my near and dear. I am going to do something I rarely do – allow you to determine for yourselves what you think and feel about the two articles I am sending. The first by Courtney Ariel titled: For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies
May 7th: Dress in Hazmat suit, gloves, mask. Carry wipes and survival portion of peanut butter cookies….
Arrive Fort Lauderdale Airport. Wheelchair Server in mask waits while I wipe down the wheelchair. He explains why the airport looks abandoned… “It went from 180 flights a day to 6.”
Arrive at gate my usual 90 minutes before flight. Most of my fellow passengers sit patiently. I know I look like a cartoon. Not a giggle, not a murmur, just head and eyes turned away from each other. It felt as if by looking they would be exposed to the virus. Not a lot of sound. Oh, so serious… or should I say, terrified.
Airline glitch: We were there in plenty of time to be loaded onto the plane 2 or 3 at a time. They waited until 15 minutes before flight time and loaded everyone the usual way with all standing belly to belly in the aisle. The plane was 2/3rd full. The middle seat was empty but if you were in an aisle seat you were inches apart from someone across the aisle and exposed to the line of passengers as they went down the aisle to their seat.
Albany arrival was smooth and as I was picked up by a masked man in a van who closely resembled a good friend, I diligently threw away my hazmat suit, gloves, wiped the handles on the door and settled myself for the anticipated beautiful ride through the Berkshire mountains to my home.
Quarantined from May 7th – May 21st. Grateful for the help and thoughtfulness of friends and family as I made the adjustment from South to North. I was afforded a glimpse of the winter I thought I had missed – snow, sleet, rain, cold temperatures greeted me throughout my quarantine. It was just fine with me. By the end of my isolation, I had survived the transition and as a reward, the weather changed and a much awaited warm spring had arrived. I have so much to be grateful for… first and foremost, the pulse is pulsing. This is good. Everything else is a plus… food, shelter, family, friends (although at this age there is a growing list of absenteeism from the list). So this sense of disquiet that I find growing inside of me…. where is it coming from??
Let me try to explain it to me and pass it on to you.
It is not news to anyone today. We are being challenged.
There are those of us who are being physically challenged with the arrival of this virus. All speed to healing and return to health. And then there are those of us who are economically challenged. This may be the time to look at what we were doing and rethink and re-tool, remembering as we go… we are not human doings, we are human beings. Please, I am not being glib. I remember so many times in this very long life of mine I thought it was all over only to discover if I just moved a little to the left or to the right (and I am not speaking politically) I would get out of my own way and be able to see a different picture of my life and how I was living it. For me, it opened up the world of possibilities.
However, how do I see those possibilities if I am afraid? I think the biggest challenge all of us face is the emotional challenge… and that is the basis of my disquiet. And what is that emotional challenge? I am glad you asked…
Every time I have heard in a documentary or film or theatre or book, FDR’s assertion, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”, my head shakes like a bobble head in the car window. He was right. I know he was right. So if he was so right why am I still afraid? I am doing everything I am supposed to do. It doesn’t seem to help. I can’t tell you how many times I know I have caught the virus. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have any symptoms, I know I have it. On one level, it simply proves I am a member of the human race because I know I am not alone. I have plenty of friends and family that are sure they too either go to sleep with the virus or wake up with the virus.
What does this mean? Well, for me, it means I have to take greater pains to guard against a fear that not only consumes me but paralyzes me. As I get older, I recognize more and more the lack of control I have over life as I live it. There are actually not days, but minutes that I can surrender the illusioned control and live from that one moment to the next. And those are the GOOD days. Because the actual truth is that actually no one has any control over any of this life as we live it.
It has only taken 86 years (a drop in Methuselah’s bucket) but this is how fear operates in my life. It is mostly hidden and it has many disguises. For me, the top three disguises are shame, guilt, and most of all, anger. Every time I feel shame or guilt or anger, and I take the time to do a little self examination about where these feelings are coming from, up pops… you got it…fear! I’m telling you guys. I’m a regular scaredy cat and most of the time I don’t know it. The mask that covers my fear is the best on the market.
And herein is the beginning of my disquiet. As I have come out of quarantine and joined the rest of the world around me, I am confronted not only by my fear, but almost everyone I come into contact with as well. And I don’t care what you mask it with…. impatience, annoyance, or the most reliable, anger… it is fear. My belief is if I can’t get a handle on my fear I am going to spread it. It is far more dangerously contagious than the virus. For me, the negativity and the hopelessness of fear are far more isolating than any quarantine.
I think one of the many ramifications of fear today is this growing pervasive attitude of selfishness. I read about it a lot and I see it when I walk around the lake.
“I don’t have to wear a mask.”
“I don’t have to self-distance.”
“The sign at the beach reads closed until further notice… not for me.”
In this pandemic, where so much is unknown as well as the lack of consensual leadership, the attempt to convince the human condition that we are all in this together is almost impossible.
I have known for a long time that there is little and mostly no control in life. I remember that maybe every other day, for maybe a minute or so. And when I do, I realize even though I want to desperately, I cannot really judge someone’s selfish behavior. I cannot sit them down and explain that their selfishness comes from the basic fear we are all experiencing and “we are all in this together”… they would do what the lady with the dog in the Ramble of Central Park in New York City did and call the police to have me arrested for harassment.
So I must find my way, recognize that the life as I knew it has changed and when the dust settles (testing, vaccines, no curves at all) it is going to be not only different, but better.
Right??? Of course, right!!!!
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
OK Everybody, back to your smiley face…
P.S. Below is a link to a Documentary by Showtime about the live (yes, I said LIVE) television Show of Shows with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris that ran for an hour and a half every Saturday Night from 1950-1954. (Preceded by Sid Caesar’s Admiral Broadway Reviewfrom January – June 1949 and followed by Caesar’s Hour from 1954- 1957.)
Yes, I was alive but I was very busy between school and performing and it was unthinkable to spend a Saturday night watching TV with my parents so I never got to watch it. It was de regeur watching for my family. Of course back then I knew about the comedians of the cast but as the years past I knew more about the writers from that show, Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, Woody Allen to name just a few.. funny men making funny words for funny people. Well, I found this Documentary on YouTube ( I loooovvvveeeee YouTube) I laughed so hard.
Lucky for me the bathroom was nearby. For some this is will be a new happening, for others a stirred memory and for a few others it might just be “Sid? What was his last name again?”
This is my gift to you, my wonderful friends and family, for being a patient and considerate and conscientious pandemic person. This is far from over but who doesn’t need a reward for Good Behavior. Have a laugh on me…
The woman in the closet video is definitely a reminder that you are not alone. And if, during this pandemic crisis, you haven’t experienced some paranoia, then please check your pulse because you probably don’t have one.
I don’t know about you guys, but my anxiety level is an up and down affair, and lately mostly up. The more tuned in I am to the current events of the day with news briefings, emails from political organizations that accurately highlight the criminal ineptitude of the current Senate and administration, the more increased my blood pressure. However, as I prepare to pack and fly north, I recognize even more how the pressure is rising.
And I am totally serious. (Photos of flight day to be shared later.) But with every item secured, the pressure went up a notch.
I thought to myself: “Self! You are making yourself sick.”
What to do???
And in a flash it came to me. Stop thinking of yourself. If I thought the quarantine was a challenge to my mental health, just try focusing only on yourself. STIFLING! BORING! CRUEL AND INHUMAN!
The operative word is inhuman. I understand survival is numero uno. However, I have come to realize without caring for friend, neighbor, family, we revert to the animal. And all you animal activists, I recognize the many animals that can make the human seem more selfish than most in the animal kingdom, so please don’t yell at me. I’m just saying that I think we have a more developed brain – not to be more selfish and “what about me?”, but to think of OTHERS. What a concept… think of others.
Well, I’m here to tell you that as my pressure was hitting a high point I remembered a friend of mine was going through a very rough time. It hadn’t anything to do with the virus. It was a very private misery. I literally stopped thinking about myself and thought about what she was going through. I wrote to her of my feelings for what she was going through. I didn’t even know it at the time… but, something lifted. Yes, and the pressure dropped. I got it.
The next time I begin to take myself too seriously I shall get out from under my own microscope. Unfortunately, these days, I cannot go ‘round with a real care package and hug. It’s the virtual picnic hamper, the virtual hug, the virtual everything. But don’t forget the real phone call… human vocal chords can work wonders.
For me, after thinking of others the next best way to distract me from me is to watch good funny movies.
Of late because I am old, I have focused on, for some, unheard of gems. And I only realized recently there was a master hand behind many of them. He is my very personal (though he doesn’t know it) 2,000 years older than me friend, Mel Brooks. These are movies that he didn’t necessarily write or perform in, but it’s his absurd sometimes not so funny and always irreverent humor rooting around in the mix of the movie.
The In Laws movie, circa 1979 with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin.
The In Laws movie, circa 2003 with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks
Ishtar, circa 1980’s. A major flop in the 1980’s and now it is a cult movie written and directed by Elaine May (and occasionally, Buck Henry) with Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Charles Grodin. Fantastically prescient about the coming trouble in the middle east and oh, so funny.Makes Wag The Dog look like a sitcom.
Bowfinger, circa 1999 starring Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy (when he was funny)
Waiting For Guffman, circa 1997, directed by Christopher Guest and written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy with Catherine O’Hara in the cast (previous to Schitt’s Creek fame)
And last and probably least…
So Fine, circa 1981, starring Ryan O’Neal and if you don’t blink Sally-Jane Heit as a brunette in a scene in Bergdorf Goodman; written by Andrew Bergman of the 1979 In Laws and other comedies.
And just so you don’t think I’m too old to appreciate the new…
After Life streaming on Netflix written by and starring Ricky Gervais. He has definitely got his finger on the pulse of the human condition and he is VERY funny!
Like they always say: What goes around comes around. Or, is it what comes around goes around? Either way have a laugh on me and always…
Have you been enjoying some of the most extraordinary watching on your computers, your television, your i- pads, your smart phones? The outpouring from every cultural corner of the world has been extraordinary.
Whether you choose to avail yourself of these privileges afforded you during this crises or not, if you are able, and it doesn’t have to be a large sum, but you have a debt that must be paid.
It is clear. The world will never be the same. There is a permanent change to all that were used to. Much adjusting and adapting must be done. Hopefully, most of it will be for the better.
However, we must guard against those things that without our help will disappear and leave our lives the emptier and shallower, and in my thinking, more meaningless. Of course, I am talking about those institutions we take for granted will always be there. Without support, they will not.
Here are some suggestions:
The local hospital, the library, the live theatre, dance and music organizations, the museums, public radio and television, all of those you have, in the past subscribed to. These represent our cultural history. It wasn’t so long ago we all went to see and hear a play, a recital, a dance, an opera, a lecture critical or not, something that challenged our minds and sensitivities. Now we turn to all our electronic accoutrement and in the convenience of our homes and with the kind generosity of these very same institutions reap the continued benefit of that challenge.
They need your help to sustain that challenge for the future or they will be gone. If we all do it, it doesn’t have to be much. All those political ads that ask for $5 or $10…they are counting on the multiples of giving people to make the difference. Be a multiple people person, and send to the group or groups of your choice what you can to help keep them alive.
And most importantly, send to your local shelter and food bank and community organizations that are helping people who have been displaced and discounted by this virus to get back onto their feet again. Never far from my thoughts, ever: “There but for the Grace of God…” I know you can finish the sentence.
Love – Sally-Jane
AMERICA: Oh my god! Coronavirus! What should we do?
CALIFORNIA: Shut down your state.
AMERICA: Wait… what? Why?
CALIFORNIA: Because 40 million people live here and we did it early, and it’s working.
NEW YORK: Welcome aboard.
OHIO: Whoa… whoa… let’s not be hasty now. The president said that this whole coronavirus thing is a democratic hoax.
CALIFORNIA: He also said that windmills cause cancer. Shut down your state.
TEXAS: But the president said that we only have 15 cases and soon it’ll be zero.
CALIFORNIA: The president can’t count to fifteen. Nor even spell it. Shut down your state.
NEW JERSEY: Us too?
CALIFORNIA: Yes, you guys too. Just like when Christie shut down the bridge, but it’s your whole state.
FLORIDA: But what about all these kids here on spring break?? They spend a lot of money here!
CALIFORNIA: Those kids invented the tide pod challenge. Shut down your state.
LOUISIANA: But wait let’s have Mardi Gras first. It entertains people.
CALIFORNIA: It also kills them. Shut it down.
GEORGIA: Ok well how about we keep the state open for all of our mega churches? Maybe we can all pray really hard until the coronavirus just goes away!
CALIFORNIA: Which is working like a charm for mass shootings. Jesus told us to tell you to shut down your state.
OKLAHOMA: What about the tigers?
CALIFORNIA: What about a dentist. Shut it down.
WYOMING: Hold up, maybe we should go county by county like the president said.
CALIFORNIA: Stop acting like there are counties in Wyoming. There are no counties in Wyoming. Wyoming is a county. Shut it down.
PENNSYLVANIA: But big coal.
CALIFORNIA: But big death. Shut it.
WEST VIRGINIA: But we were the last state to get coronavirus!
CALIFORNIA: And don’t make us explain to you why that was. Shut it down.
NORTH CAROLINA: But the republican national convention is coming here!
How does the Muppet song go? IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN… Well, it’s not easy being in quarantine.
We can do it with a little from our friends.
I love to perform. And my most favorite part of my performances was when the audience laughed. To make someone laugh is just thrilling. Laugh and the world laughs with you is SO true.
I have a very vivid imagination. You have no idea. Well, actually some of you do. Don’t tell. So when I pass the humor sent to me onto you, I imagine even in quarantine, you are laughing with me and for just that moment or moments I’m not in isolation. I’m not hand-washing, sanitizing, I am making a joyful noise.
So here comes the fourth edition.
And after the laughs… I have included an addendum of another event that happened in 1964. It has a familiar ring of truth and I wanted to share along with the laughs, what to me is a very important insight.
I must admit that during that first dark, cold night, as I began to understand the tremendous scope of the problems that would be facing us in the months and years to come, I toyed with the idea of sending the children out on a plane to stay with you until everything settled down.
I realized that the schools might not be able to resume for an indefinite period of time. It looked for a few hours as if the damage had been so extensive to all utilities and streets that even a semblance of normal life could not be resumed for weeks or months.
But this was just a fleeting thought in a weary mind. I would have been ashamed of myself had it not been for the next thought that came so swiftly: We must be together… That night I saw strain, heavy hearts, and fear in people separated from their loved ones by the sudden disaster… As long as we are together, we are confident of the future…
That Good Friday night I knew that we had survived miraculously. And for this reason, there must be a purpose to our lives. Apparently the children must sense this, too. For they have remained calm. They have been fully aware of the emergency, but they have not feared. We are proud that they are such dependable, responsible youngsters. I would not undermine their confidence in the future — in themselves — by sending them away for safety.
What is safety, anyway? How can you predict where or when tragedy will occur? You can only learn to live with it and make the best of it when it happens. These children have learned this — and they are all the better for it. They were in the midst of devastation. And they feel that they are a part of the tremendous task ahead in rebuilding this land we love… The children are not afraid. Their father and I are not afraid. Please, don’t you fear for us.
Laugh Lines or worry lines? This is not a difficult choice for me.
However, Guys, I am telling you, the “what if” scenarios about the virus are wreaking havoc in my un and subconscious mind. For me in the midst of any stress the antidote has always been humor.
And I have tried to make that available. I use my cell phone to go to Youtube and find the comedians from my generations that make me laugh. You can ask me later who my favorite oldies are. Netflix, Amazon, and Home Box Office display the young comics in their one man/woman shows. Yes, of course, there is the generational issue of what is funny to me and what is funny to a millennial being very different. It’s not that I don’t appreciate some of the humor of the present comic set.
And I am a pretty far out there lady as to spouting my own four letter words. But for me, in comedy, back up the colorful language with some clever situational and character and cross generation descriptions. Early Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Dick Gregory, Chris Rock, Robin Williams and today, Wanda Sykes… fantastic!!
All to say, I know where to go when I want a laugh from my favorite olden funny people – YouTube! However there was a bit of a problem. My stress level is always on the rise at night after I’ve gone to bed. I am awakened by yet another “what if” Titanic-sinking-scenario. So I grab my cell phone go to YouTube to play my funny people. So what’s my problem?
Lying in bed, even with good pillowing, watching that small screen for any length of time, gives me a backache and a neckache and a handache. Handache?? Of course! I recently put an ad on Craig’s list and in the classifieds for a nighttime cell phone holder. No one has applied.
And then, TA-DA! A miracle happened. I was notified that YouTube would be the electronic venue for the National Theatre of London’s brilliant and generous gift to the world of 5 of their past productions for a week at a clip. The first to be One Man, Two Guvnors with James Corden. A production I saw in London 7 years ago. Sooo funny. I needed to see it. I had to see it. Just what the world ordered up, right? OMG! Could I do it? Could I sit in front of my computer for two and a half hours ORRRRRRRRR…. could I find a way to put YouTube on my television?? I only use my television to stream movies and favorite present day tv shows (yes, I am a Schitt’s Creek die hard). I asked myself, “Self!“ I said, “Is it possible that I can install the YouTube App on my television to see this London production?” (Ghostly spirituals begin…)
I couldn’t believe it! (Mahalia Jackson sings) I, of the most electronically challenged, actually thought to ask that question? What was happening? This virus, this quarantine, this sanitizing and washing must have stimulated a part of my brain that hasn’t seen light for all of my 86 years.
It worked! I did it! And I laughed and a light was seen that lifted me from the darkness. (Begin the Mormon Tabernacle Choir music) AMEN!! Next time I awake with heart pounding and visions of disasters, I can get up, go to my comfortable chair, even stop and make a cup of tea and watch my oldies and goodies.
For what it’s worth, I pass it onto you. And if any of you want to say to me, “What’s wrong with you. I’ve been doing this for years.” DON’T !
Stay Well. Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. I thank everyone who contributes to my laugh lines by sending these.
And finally, something for the spirit and the soul: