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 ❤️

The Making of a Millennial

You know how I love to tell a story.  So, sit back and relax.

My driver’s license is about to expire, just in time to get the new real identity card that everyone will need to have by 2023. I needed several different forms of identification.  I was going through my files to locate them when I came across a letter you wrote to your teacher when you were 11 years old… 

It was a letter explaining in exquisite literary detail exactly who you are, and amazingly, still are.  I marveled at your self knowledge and awareness… and you were only 11!  I realized you have always known the essential you… always.  It is a sad but real truth that at 11, who is going to listen to you, no less, believe you, I ask you… WHO?  No one, that’s who.  And rather than confront the powers that be, and that includes me, I am ashamed to say, (confrontation is truly alien to you) you chose to hide behind your books and for lack of better words your attitude, sometimes explosive, sometimes silent.

I feel like you should print this letter you wrote onto a sandwich board and when the next therapist, parent, sibling, friend or grandparent exclaims who you are and what you need, please walk onto the runway of your life wearing your board of definition and ask them politely to read your Declaration of Independence.  

I totally relate.  I always knew who I was and what I wanted but as in every generation, fighting society and family rules and society and family ethnics and ethics is a losing battle for an 11 year old.  “You’re a kid.  What do you know?”  Grrrrrrrr.

Well, you’re not 11 anymore, and I believe, now is your time TO BE.

I know it is very difficult to take any action no matter what the age or the direction.  Fear is a deadly paralyzer and the longer we wait the harder it is to move.  Late blooming is a universal perennial pattern of life.  It took me years to catch up to me.  I used to be much younger.  You should see my 8×10 glossy.

I  was the only one who held me back.  I listened to everyone tell me who I was and what I needed to do.  I was always a good actress, so what I did was act as if because I believed even though I knew I was moving in the wrong direction, I needed their support and approval. I blame no one but myself.  And I don’t even blame myself anymore.  Believe me, blame never repaired a flat tire.  Early on, unconsciously, I knew I did not have the courage to do the salmon thing.  You know swimming upstream against the current.  Of course, now I’m so old I don’t really have the energy to do that upstream stuff anymore.  That’s O.K.!  Along the way, life has had a strange way of giving me what I need when I needed it.  Sometimes it appeared a little early, when I didn’t know what to do, and sometimes a little late, when I knew what to do but didn’t.  Life’s a bitch.

A life disclaimer: Sometimes no matter how well you know yourself, your limited experiences (unfortunately mostly suffered by the young) prevents you from understanding what is important to you.  Our values are informed by our experiences… and ‘dats ‘da trut!  It took a long time to figure out what was important in my life.  Early traumatic beginnings fostered a need for control that almost spoiled the game of life in all its bountiful relationships, human and natural.  The day I realized my true life size… just a speck in the universe… meaning I did not need to raise the sun every day… oi vey so very heavy… my L5 healed, my chiropractor lost his job, and I found peace.  Not consistently, but enough of the time to give me the joyful along with the painful noise of life.

I can’t erase the fear for you and I don’t care how many cannabis stores there are in this country, I cannot create a no-risk-courage-gummy to help with decisions.  But I can assure you; you cannot make a mistake.  Every actor, artist, inventor, athlete, in fact, every creative person worth his or her or their  salt values the so-called “wrong turn” in their life, as a right turn into their enlightenment.

Try calling mistakes by its real name:  EXPERIENCE!  Wowie!  Zowie!

Of course, from my DNA and heritage, I want to remove the obstacles in your path and do it all for you.  This action, were it possible, would limit your experience and your growth.  Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t live near each other.  I can pretend I would never do such a thing.

Here’s the best thing my miraculous millennials and I will never know whether you do or you don’t…

TAKE WHAT YOU WANT AND LEAVE THE REST

If you decide to take nothing, that works for me too.  You can do what computers allow us to do… DELETE. Then call me and say, “What email?!”

That’s good for me!  Was it good for you??

❤️ Love, Sally-Jane

Press Plaque Buildup

My Dear Friends ~

If I don’t measure the amount of media in my daily diet, I will suffer from Press Plaque Buildup.

The main symptom of this disease is cynicism.  Sometimes I don’t even know I have fallen into this state.  I am so involved in staying involved and current, I don’t see my hope and positivity  slip and slide right out of my brain ball into the flotsam on the jetsam (the lost and local river of my mind).

I am pulled back from the precipice by art or music or nature or my favorite online newsletter BRAINPICKINGS.  Replace the word NEWS with ART…which it is for me an ARTLETTER for the mind.

Recently, my level of press plaque buildup has hit a new high.  What with Afghanastan , vaccinate vs. unvaccinate, mask or unmask, airline passengers assaulting attendants, to Boost or not to Boost,  Red States vs. Blue states, why was Ted Lasso Christmas Show shown in August, my brain was spinning from positive to negative from hopeful to hopeless.

TA-DA!!!!  Like the midweek pick up it purports to be there is this wonderful article on and about Leonard Bernstein and so much of what I thought and what he did and how he navigated his creative and difficult world brought back into the light and the hope.

If any of what I’ve written resonates with you, my dear friends and family, I wish you a speedy recovery from the crazy world we live in, which by the way has always been crazy…take a look at any era… lions chasing Jews/Christians in an arena (personally I prefer to watch the Jets chase the Marlins), Whites chasing anyone of any color, Christians chasing Muslims in the Holy Land, Southerners chasing Northerners followed by Northerners chasing Southerners….endless. 

To help that recovery, please read and I promise you will be converted from a Cynic, which we all now is nothing but a disappointed idealist, to your true, beautiful hopeful self.

Right??  Of course, right!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

IF DIVORCE IS THE ONLY ANSWER, WHAT IS THE QUESTION???

Can we tawk???

OK, before we do, you have to read this article a friend recently sent me. It’s this Op-Ed piece originally from the Los Angeles Times.

Please click here to read it.  I’ll wait for you…

Stirring?? Isn’t it?? I have been reading and rereading it since I received it and I still don’t know what I think?

Not true! I do know. Here are some of my thoughts. 

Personally, I find it as humorous as the author meant it to be. However, almost as soon as I start laughing, I start crying about the utter tragedy of the whole idea. I’d love to say this is a new idea brought on by the political polarizations of the past president and his administration of four years culminating in the 2020 Presidential election, but that would not be the truth. Though I am no historian, I do know these differences were there from the very beginning.  As the representatives of the original 13 states gathered in Philadelphia from 1774-1781 every difference written about in this Divorce, American Style article, was as pronounced then as it is now. This time frame included the 1776 meeting, where the delegates read George III of Great Britain the riot act in the form of the Declaration of Independence which doubled as our Declaration of War against England.  

I would love to have been a fly on the wall (definitely a fly more better than a mosquito, don’cha think?) as they tried to hammer out their differences. And here is my own personal conclusion. They never did. You could say it was a pile up of differences; food, hobbies, language, culture, education and don’t forget the heat. Yeah, maybe, a little of this, a little of that. I say nay! It was always all about slavery aka race. The success of the economic and political life of the South was based on  the continued use and import of slaves kidnapped from Africa. And please spread the blame, from fellow Africans seeking to make a buck and settle their own political squabbles, to profits for the seafaring industry of the North. Ultimately, the largest consumers in the slave trade was the South which, at that time included Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.  Maryland was borderline abusers/users. The Northern States were not absolved from abusing/using slaves. Simply put my friends, their numbers didn’t compare with the South.

I’m going on and on about slavery like it was the only issue because in my mind it is the only issue. Oh, sure, you have taxes, roads and many other state issues but none as huge, ugly and ever present as the story of slavery in this country.

Recently I read an article in the New Yorker about the Brits having their awareness jostled as they come to the realization of how many of the fabulous country houses in their National Trust Register were built on the backs of slaves from British plantations in the West Indies and Jamaica. Don’t even think about returning to Downton Abbey or Upstairs to the Downstairs. Or, is it the other way around? 

Back to the article. I agree with much of what Mr. Vandevelder asked for in the divorce… I don’t feel that strongly about Las Vegas or Disneyland… aren’t they the same thing??

There have been so many attempts to leave each other over the years. One that cost the lives of 618,222  Americans. A number that up until the Vietnam War surpassed all other wars combined.  No matter what they say about war, death is not a contest.  But for your edification: North: 360,222. South: 258,000. North or South, War or Peace, Death SUCKS!!!

Here’s my conclusion and I am beyond ready to listen to all arguments, discussions, pro… con… sitting on a fence… or straddling. If you can’t honor the Constitution of the United States and all its laws and amendments, if you can’t allow someone to have a different opinion from your opinion, if the only way you can respect or accept a person of any color, religion or nationality is to enslave, cage or kill them, then this dream is done.  

However, you should kow that I am always up for a last chance miracle.

The rise of the power of the internet, social and news media, promotes confusion, fear and anger to a pitch were we seem to have lost our abilities to listen or even hear each other.  If we can’t understand or communicate, we might as well throw our humanity to the lions. And let me tell you something about lions. They are not dumb. Throw a person without his or her or their humanity to the lions they will take one sniff and ⚡️SHAZAM⚡️ … VEGETARIANS!!]

So???  What’s it to be???  Hope with a soupcon of peace and reconciliation and the return of when our humanity was delicious or…

THE END

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Oh, by the way this article was written in 2012. I am of the belief that the only constant in life is change… or is it?

Where Does It Hurt? Don’t Ask!

My Dear Friends…

Let’s start with the gratitude.

Each morning that I open my eyes I am grateful. I mean really grateful. I mean not taking it for granted grateful.  I mean at my age that eye opening event is not a given. Yeah, yeah, I know… at any age.  But let’s get real.  At almost 88, for me that ranks as almost historic. I have a brother totally compos mentis and active who recently celebrated 101 years who would call me a child. If only. No, that is not true.  I can’t believe I am going to write this.  But there really is no other age or time I want to be in other than the one I am in now.  With what is going on how is that even possible?

Well, let me tell you what supersedes all… LIFE… however challening and difficult… LIFE!

So back to my daily awakening. I open my eyes and I am grateful. I roll out of bed… yes, that’s what I said, I roll out of bed to the bathroom. I am so much more aware of the waddle I purposely use and the care I take all in the prevention of the real villain of getting up there in age… THE FALL.  Too many of my friends and relations have gone the way of all flesh because of a fall. So yes, I do not mind walking and moving like an aging elephant if it prevents my falling (I admit, at my age I am happily the elephant in the room, always.)  

Where was I?  Oh, yes! I return to roll back onto and into bed and am the happier for that initial journey. And that is when I take my first snooze… maybe 5 minutes.  And then it begins.

I open and close my eyes many times. When I close my eyes, I try to go for another little snooze.

Foot or Head note: This process usually begins around 6:00A.M.

True, it’s early, but I finish reading around 10:00P.M. the night before only because that is when  the eyes seem to close all by themselves.

So… 6 A.M. begins the eyes-opening-awake-eyes-closing-snooze time. I think this is an old habit.  From my school days through and to my work days, I always struggled for that extra sleep time. Then, I needed it. I had show business hours. I went through the motions looking like I was awake (not!) until around 11 A.M. However, now as I have no set schedule except that which I create with the help of friends, family, and my various enterprises, I am beginning to realize after about half an hour, why I am putting off getting up and out of bed.

Waking my body up after a night of slumber is no easy task.

Who knew?  Not me.

I heard from others how getting older takes its toll on the body. Not me. I plied my body with exercise and movement. But even with practice, the body reaches a point of no return. Again, I thought, not me.

I feel like Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (great movie by the way). Her character never cried uncle in defeat.  

Forced by decisions she made, finally she cried UNCLE!  I find myself forced by simple body arithmetic, crying UNCLE!

Sue me!  My body has a different agenda than my head.

It is like the photo of myself I look at and the mirror I look into.They are both parts of the same person. And yet, they each tell a different story.  

It is not good for my morale to remember hopping out of bed to get ready for the day.
The word hopping is not in my vocabulary unless it applies to Peter Rabbit.

It is not good for my morale to remember shouting to a friend, “I just got out of bed.  I’ll be ready in 10 minutes.” Ten minutes would just be the getting out of bed part.

It is not good for my morale to go without breakfast which I regularly did.
I need the food to process pills.

Ask me if I am depressed?
I am not. Wistful, sometimes, but not depressed.

I repeat what I wrote before: There is no other age or time I want to be in other than the one I am in now.
What?  Am I crazy?  Well, of course…

Yeah, yeah, I am a late bloomer. So was Grandma Moses.

And I haven’t even mentioned the STATE of STATE affairs. The rending of our Founding Fathers dreams of a nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.  It’s almost as though I want to say to each of the politicians that electronically spout the lies of racism, the election, the pandemic, the vaccinations, the climate… ”Hey, guys, I know how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning.  Don’t!”  Imagine having a break from all their nasty insanity… now that’s something I might try to hop out of bed for.

By all manner of ways and means, I should be depressed but a phrase keeps rolling around in my brainball:  The Best of All Possible Worlds.

Voltaire, a writer extraordinaire of the 17th Century, wrote a novella Candide.  It is a satirical take on those of us who choose to remain optimists as the tsunamis of life appear on the horizon ready to sweep us out into the roiling sea. Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein did the lyrics and the music of this very successful musical adaptation. 

Oh, by the way we have a present day CandideTed Lasso. Maybe that’s why the show is so successful and why everyone loves him so much. He is the cockeyed optimist. He lives in the best of all possible worlds. He believes. Maybe we love him because we are on cynical overload and want to believe, too.

Summing it up my friends, it is definitely harder to get out of bed in the morning.  All my body parts have to be aligned for it to happen with a minimum of discomfort.  

I fear the news, personal and otherwise, is not going to get much better for at least the near future.  However, As the Pilgrims and other early seafarers after months and sometimes years at sea, in survivor relief, shouted, “Signs of Land”!!.  

And I believe there are happenings that warrant encouragement:

* Brittany Spears’s father is out! 
* Prince Harry and Prince William reconcile. 
* In an extraordinary bipartisan agreement Cuomo, DeSantis, Abbot, Cruz ,Hawley, and Greene, before establishing their new law firm, have formed their own anger management Foundation.
* Trump has joined an Ashram in the Catskills.
* Melania has left with her mother for Monte Carlo. 

But for the most encouraging sign of all follow these instructions:

Take the fingers of your right hand, place them on the inner wrist of your left hand, if you feel the beat all good things will follow.

Right?  Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

My Dear Friends…

I often ask myself why certain life stories inspire my Blah, Blah Blogging?

Self:  Why did Buddy Guy in the recent American Masters series on PBS inspire you to write about him?

More Self:  I can always depend on you to ask the right question at the right time.

Even More Self:  Who are you talking to? 

Back to the first Self:  Don’t ask. Just go with the flow.

There are so many reasons I tuned into the story of Buddy Guy:

  1.  I love the Blues. I have a vision of myself from forever as a singer of the Blues. Sitting atop a piano, looking strangely like a bad imitation of Julie London, plaintively crying a river of blues. My audience suitably sobbing (free tissue packs included in the price of admission.) Scratch a comedienne and you’ll find a tragedienne.
  2. I knew the name Buddy Guy.  I didn’t really know who he is.
  3. American Masters always find really interesting people to profile.
  4. Their documentaries are gloriously, artistically interesting and informative.

Buddy Guy is a blues guitar player in the style of his heroes and mentors, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters. Familiar names but little known to me.  Buddy was born 83 years ago in a small town in Louisiana. From the beginning he never thought of himself as special. And as I listened to him describe his life in this small town, where his family were share croppers and as a child, he picked cotton. Before I even heard him play, I felt I was being osmotically drawn to him right through all the electronic apparatus between him and me. As I watched and listened to him learn to play, at first with only two strings before he had enough money to buy a real guitar, I thought… ”What is it about this man that touches me so deeply? First, his humility… what can I say, is humbling. At a time when everyone is “look at me-ing” all over the place, he put his focus where it belonged… on discovering, exploring, and practicing his gift.

He needed to breathe.
He needed to play.
One was inextricably linked to the other.
I related. Even when I didn’t want to, that is how I lived.

BREATHE IN… 1,2,3

WORK… and a-1 and a-2 and a-3

In the first moments of this profile, I watched as he listened to the greats of his time, first in Baton Rouge then after moving on to Chicago.  All he ever wanted to do was try to play like they did.  He never thought he’d ever become a professional musician. He just wanted to play his guitar.  Chicago was a mecca for the Blues. He could and did watch. He could and did listen. For him it was simple. He needed to breathe. He needed to play. This was all very familiar to me. I was hooked.

Throughout the documentary, various personalities, guitar players (of all ages), managers, agents, tell Buddy’s story.  And then we have the Brits. I find it interesting that most Americans of the 50’s and 60’s and even into the 70’s (my ignorance astounds me, but then it always has) didn’t know about Buddy or Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, or John Lee Hooker, but Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones knew. Eric Clapton knew. Stevie Ray Vaughn knew, and when Buddy went to London as a tourist…. the Brits pounced on him and made him play with them and it was the breakthrough he needed because it was when the Stones toured the States that they demanded and got these great unknown (Ha! Ha!) guitar players included in their tours. 

An amazing piece of Black History. Of course there are so many unknown amazing pieces of Black History to shake up the shame I share with whoever is willing to share it with me.  

Another piece of my ignorance follows the various interviews of one, John Mayer. I had only heard of him as the escort of various People Magazine movie and television stars.  (Please don’t give me grief. People magazine is my go to the beauty salon, doctor offices, necessary reading material. I call ahead to be assured the establishments carry the latest issues.) So who knew from John Mayer? Turns out these movie stars knew a good thing after all.  He was truly erudite, intelligent and bonkers over Buddy. And I understand he can play guitar as well as other things, too.

Buddy Guy’s life story stirred my thinking about the creative process.

As I view some of the artists today, I am saddened. It’s not as if I do not see the talent, the gift. In my thinking however, the gift really is only one small part of an artist’s process. Without discipline, without working the gift, it can only go so far. In fact, I would say, without the kind of practicing that Buddy Guy did, his glorious gift would never have developed the way it did. Practice doesn’t guarantee success, but without it the shelf life of the artist’s gift is a short one.  

Right???  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. So THAT is how you get to Carnegie Hall…

P.P.S. More enticement to watch documentary…

Congress: Has it always been this way??

My Dear Friends and Family,

“So what is she talking about, now?”

So glad you asked. And if you thought you’d get a direct answer…fuggetaboutit!

Most know I am the 7th of 8 siblings. Of the 8 only 4 remain. The three youngest (oh, to be called youngest at 90, 88, 85) and the oldest brother of the whole clan… 101 years young with all his marbles intact.  Periodically, we check in with each other. 

A sample check in:

Sally-Jane:  Hi, Raymond, how are you?

Raymond:  Still here.

Sally-Jane:  This is a good thing.

Raymond:  It’ll do until something better comes along.

Sally-Jane:  That’s why you are still here. There is nothing better.

Raymond:  I’ll take your word for it.

Sally-Jane:  So what are you reading?

Raymond: For Liberty and Glory by James R. Gaines.  It’s about Washington, Lafayette and their Revolutions.  I am really enjoying it.

Sally-Jane:  Oh, yes, I read about it. I’d like to read it.

Raymond:  Well, I’ll send it to you when I finish it. 

Sally-Jane:  Great!

Raymond:  On second thought you better get your own copy.  At the rate I read, maybe you’ll get it before I die, maybe you won’t. 

I got my own copy. Reading it provoked the above question, “Congress. Has it always been thus?”

The Continental Congress in July of 1776, adopted the Declaration of Independence proclaiming the former colonies of Great Britain to be independent sovereign states, declaring war on Great Britain . 

There were no political parties at the 1776 Congress. There were just 13 SOVEREIGN STATES… maybe like 13 political parties.  How were  the representatives of Massachusetts going to agree with representatives of New York, no less with representatives of South Carolina; issues of culture, geography, climate, to put self interest before common interest.  All issues combined to make their individual State legislatures vastly more important than any central government.  

Indeed, the first several Congresses after the Second Continental Congress, which was the Congress of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War were all Unicameral, That is, no political parties… just sovereign states, each one pulling in their own direction to fulfill their duties as representatives of their States.  Most representatives of the original 13 states wanted a weak Central Government allowing them to deal directly with their own local issues as they saw fit. There were only a few who thought a strong Central Government would be much better for the nascent nation; better for issues of economics and foreign intervention. There is strength in numbers. Even I, who needs all my fingers and toes to count, know that 13 against 1 or 2 has a better chance of succeeding. Let’s face it, if all 13 didn’t agree to sign the Declaration of Independence which was a declaration of war against Great Britain, we would all be having tea with milk, fish and chips in an old newspaper, and singing God Save The Queen instead of God Bless America. I realize for some this would not be a bad thing.  I am totally aware how this country is bonkers over British Royalty.  Diana is more celebrated today than she was over twenty years ago. For that matter so is Victoria, Elizabeth I, and dare I even mention the Royal Soap Opera for all time, Downton Abbey.  But I digress…so what else is new?

OK back to Congress. The divide in the United States that I find so disturbing today had its beginning in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 1787. The Constitution was a plan developed for a stronger federal government with three branches – executive, legislative and judicial – along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would have too much power.

From that moment, this country has always been divided between States Righters and Federalists.  A really interesting not so side fact is that prior to Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency, all Senators were appointed by the Governors and Legislatures of the individual states. Under Wilson’s term in 1913, the 17th Amendment to the Constitution changed the words, “chosen by the legislatures thereof” to “elected by the people, thereof”.  Make of that what you will. Personally, I think it was supposed to open the Senatorial selections away from State Politics (aka legislature) to the State’s population. However, if the state’s population is as divided as the legislature… what’s the difference?

I’m sorry, my dear friends. I get carried away by the history involved in birthing this country and in doing so lose my way.  Get to the point, already, for goodness sake. 

In reading this book about the struggle George Washington had in winning the  American Revolution, I see that the albatross around his neck was the Second Continental Congress. They signed the Declaration of Independence, which was a very brave and courageous thing to do, and then ignored most of the requests and pleas and beggings of George Washington to fortify and supply the Army that was fighting for Independence. This Congress did everything in its power to focus on their own and their state’s individual needs and ignore the battles for Liberty and Freedom that were going on all around them. (brilliantly depicted in the movie 1776)

OK here’s the question for you to answer… is it in the nature of the beast (aka Congress and humans)  wherein self and local issues will always outweigh the common good and as the world turns, is it harder for the individual of good purpose to make a difference, no less get elected?  And the biggest question of all, HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY?  Whatcha think?   

Hey guys, before you think… I have an important recommendation for you.  For the most wonderful and powerful depiction of this Second Continental Congress please see the movie musical 1776. It is brilliant and written with historic accuracy.  I promise you. You will love it.

As a matter of fact, it is in that movie the seeds of my question about the ultimate fate of Congress is first planted.  

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️