Author Archives: Sally-Jane Heit

Addendum to Waiting for Godot…

My Dear Friends,

I come from a Jewish Christian Science mother… figuratively not literally.  As one of 8, in the depression era of the 1930’s-1940’s, there wasn’t a lot of money for doctor visits. So if you awoke with any health complaint, it was usually ignored.  I think this is called the grit-your-teeth-school of  grin and bear it.  You had to be brought home in a stretcher for medical attention.  From that environment, I learned to ignore the signals of any health problem.

With the first “incident”, my body finally had enough of the mind control I was exerting over my symptoms. This brought me to my knees and the emergency room. 

And now we come to the point of this addendum.  There has been a cloud over my head for several months.  Like waking up with a hangover…oh, yes, I remember that well. A very simple blood test, a very good doctor, and suddenly there is an answer. 

AN ANSWER.

Not definitive but hopefully it will lead to the definitive, and herein is the core of what I want to impart to you.  I threw off  my mental hangover.   And let me be the first to tell you that the sun is always there right behind the dark clouds. I said to a friend this morning after learning what might be the central cause that knowing what is going on in my body is 50 per cent of getting better.  She replied. 50?? Oh, no, not 50 per cent, 85 per cent!!!

RIGHT ???  OF COURSE, SHE’S RIGHT!!!

Love Again, Sally-Jane

Waiting for Godot… Again

Samuel Beckett’s existential play, Waiting For Godot is my favorite play. Two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for the arrival of someone named Godot who never arrives. I have always seen this play as a metaphor for life/death/God. Recently, that metaphor became a reality.

Alright already, what the hell am I talking about?

Twenty Questions!!!  Fugetaboutit!! How about three? What is joined at the hip with LIFE? What is not animal, vegetable or mineral?  What has many different shapes and names and, according to Mel Brooks, does not like garlic?

You got it! DEATH!

Come on guys, it’s almost Halloween. So many of its forms are present in and around houses, so many movies have him/her as the main character (Darth Vader was not named after Mickey Mouse) and what do you think the Gothic look is all about.

Death. Of course, death.

Is my focus on death coming from a general malaise and melancholia? We all know there is plenty of reasons for these feeling at this time in the world and most particularly in the United States and most, most particularly in Washington, D.C.. 

RIGHT ???  OF COURSE, SHE’S RIGHT!!!

But, no! It is not!! Where is it coming from??  Thank you for asking.

Recently, I had a health scare… or as the medical world calls it, “an incident”. It happened only a week ago.  I am bored telling what happened so if you want details you’ll have to call the Emergency Room of the hospital, my primary physician, my cardiologist/nurse practitioner, my children local friends and the butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker… oi vey, the list goes on.

Suffice it to say, I survived. No, not suffice it…. I am over the top happy to report, I’M STILL HERE!!

I know you are wondering, and if you’re not, you should be… So, if I’m still here what’s with this DEATH THING? I think there are medical records that have reports of people scaring themselves to DEATH.

After “the incident” and from Sunday through the following week, almost every day, I waited around for DEATH to arrive.

I tried to pretend I wasn’t waiting.  But just like you can’t fool Mother Nature (an old television commercial), I can no longer fool myself. Maybe for a few minutes I could, or even an hour, but eventually, my fear coupled with a large dose of  neurotic anxiety, got the better of me. And I do mean better because I allowed the scare I had to hang out in my consciousness.  In the past, I would attempt to hide what I was really feeling.  I wanted to be BRAVE. Here was the actress, again, playing, yet, another role. Not that sometimes acting “as if” can’t work miracles because it can and it does.   It is just that there is a time and place for everything. I needed to find out what happened. If I was acting as if nothing happened, I would be actually hurting myself. Been there. Done that.

The Emergency Room staff and tests were wonderful.  I was dismissed with their seal of approval.  As my Physician Assistant said to me, “ Right now, you are the healthiest person in the ER.”

And then he added those ever magic words…FOR A WOMAN YOUR AGE.

Wait a minute! I wrote a show with that title… a funny show about perceptions of a society about us elders. 

I have long recognized myself as the older, and I mean older older, woman.  No more wolf whistles for me.  No more leaping across the dance floor or dance class. No more 2-hour one woman shows (truly the hardest to accept).  What is my problem?  All those limitations and more to come as time goes by, they are actually getting in the way of my health care and allowing my neurotic tendencies to have a field day. 

I accept that there is a segment of society that discounts the older generation.  We are THE IRRELEVANTS.  Actually, some of my nearest and dearest are included in that group of discounters. It’s ok. I know what I know about myself. I love a challenge. I want to continue to explore. I still love to travel; not able to go to all the places I want to go but there is enough for me to see and please my gypsy spirit. I love asking questions. I love reading and learning anew.  I love living alone but I am not a hermit.

If everything is so good,  why was I waiting for DEATH?

Because “ the incident” occurred in my 86th year and some, not all, thank goodness, of the medical profession that I encountered were discounters of my generation.  No one says it like it is… no one actually said to me, “Oh, come on, you’re 86, what do you expect?”  However, I am not an 86 year old you can readily fool. As an actor, I am a student of human behavior. I have to be to do what I do. 

So, remember…

There was an easily discernible for me eye rolling and hidden yawns that set my alarm to ringing. Hey medical profession, I want some answers!  I want some explanations.  Attention must be paid. I know answers may not be readily accessible and information limited, but do not…do you hear me…DO NOT BLOW ME OFF. 

I waited for DEATH because initially I felt I was not being heard. It made me feel helpless and hopeless. Frankly, it felt a little like being in my childhood home.  

So what to do when this happens. Become proactive. What does that mean?

I became my own best friend and medical advisor. I found medical professionals that talked to me. I mean really talked me and answered my questions and actually advised me.  I am on the trail of the cause for my “incident”.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me… I am still waiting for DEATH. I think it is appropriate at this stage of my life.

Actually, I think it is appropriate at every stage of my life. DEATH is ginormous… gigantic… bigger than sliced bread… BUT, it has a sister, brother, whatever that for me is more bigger and definitely better.

LIFE, LIFE, LIFE!

Right?  Of course, Right!!!!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

I Am Not the Enemy

FORWARD

I am not the enemy. What I have been, I am embarrassed to admit, was a people pleaser.

BACKWARD

My starved for love childhood made me the psychobabble poster child for people pleasing. If I pleased you, you’d love me. It never worked. Over the years, I finally realized that and grew into my over the top personality that probably covered some of the early people pleasing and, at the same time, allowed me to worry less about not making someone angry with me.  All this too much information is because I am introducing a subject that I know is controversial and will definitely make some people, mostly women, upset and relegate me to the irrelevant. That would bring me to the unthinkable thought that my life experiences have no value.  I do not believe that. But just remember, this is my opinion and you do not have to agree with me.  Of course, you would feel better if you did.  However, I have made it into my eighth decade and people pleasing isn’t as important to me as my next breath.  

Not sure why but at this stage of my life I see patterns that I didn’t see in my forties or fifties.  At that time, I was taking each event in my world, no less the world around me, one event at a time.  Each event filled my vision and thoughts with answers and opinions that were, of course, the right answers and opinions.

I think in my 60’s and 70’s I became less sure.  I was still right most of the time but I really began hearing what someone else was thinking, opining, and thank goodness I was becoming less sure of my answers.

The fickle finger of fate was swinging indiscriminately all over the place.  This friend left, that relative passed on, and one after the other, my herd thinned.  Now fear reared its ugly head.  Was I next?  

I am getting to the subject.  Don’t push me.  I’m very nervous.

Women have always been The Second Sex .  Of course, there were many extraordinary exceptions.  (one of my favorites is Mary Wollstonecraft)  We were beaten, raped, manipulated, basically a silent voteless, thought-less-of peoples for centuries.  Frankly, much of that still goes on around the world and not just third world countries, but if you follow various modern day movements, it happens as well in our so called civilized Western Civilization.  

My personal second sex journey is and has been all over the place.  Having been abused as a child, I understood, very early, my femaleness had a market value.  I could use it to attract as the animals do. And oh, did I mention, I am an animal, too?  I realized if I was going to use my female animal sonar I would just have to be careful… and lucky.  

I followed the path of the 1950’s female diligently.  Marriage, housewife, children, except for a profound difference.  While in the womb, I was already singing, dancing and doing one-baby-girl shows.  I had to forgive my mother my childhood because I gave her one hell of a bumpy ride during pregnancy.

I had a career.  In my generation, having the passion that I had for my career was unusual and I needed and used my feminine sexual persona to further that career. All to say, I grew up in a world of the female as the sexual object of the all-powerful male.

Me, Tarzan!  You, Jane!

I reveled in this era of my female animal power. I was a flirt.  A “manizer”.

Hey Tarzan, yes, I’m Jane!  Got a light???

If I did this today, a man could report me for sexual harassment. Actually, if I did this today, I would probably be hospitalized for delusional fantasies.

My sexual prowess has dimmed. That’s the polite description of my physiognomy, which has been replaced by knee replacements and other parts.

All right already, I’m getting to it.

If a man was out of order, TOUGH!  You’re on your own.

There was no recourse.  So I did the best I could in an imperfect world. As an adult in show business, I gave off what they called mixed signals. In return,  I was flirted with and propositioned by womanizers, but never molested or attacked.  In my generation, it was accepted as one of the ways to relate to men. 

I’m sure young girls and women are startled by this confession.  However,  I think many older women would agree it was de rigueur, the norm in male/female relationships.  I was fortunate in that in all my years of “flirting”, I never met a predator.  Was I just lucky? They must have been out there, but without proof or facts what could we do.  And even if you had proof or facts, if these were men of power and importance,  who would listen to you?  All we had was word of mouth. We shared who the womanizers were.  So when you went for an audition you knew and went prepared.  I don’t remember hearing from any female friends that they were molested or attacked. 

Of course, back then, we carried what most victims carry to aid the predator… embarrassment and shame.  In certain ways, I was naïve and innocent but on some level I remembered there was a market value on the feminine mystique.  I remembered it from my childhood.  I was determined not to fall victim to my own embarrassment and shame again.  I would beat them at their own game.  A giggle, a wink, a wiggle, a blink… and out the door on a trot.

ONWARD

Today the female doesn’t need word of mouth.  Today we have social media.  Today we have #ME TOO! And herein lays the heart of my conundrum…

On the one side of the scale is the womanizer.  On the other side is the predator.  Some people may think they are the same.  I do not.  I call the womanizer a human who has an imbalance of animal in his humanity. The predator is pure ANIMAL… only the Mr. Hyde of  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Please understand, Scientific American has not asked for an interview to discuss my categorizations.  

In my view, they are not the same.  If they were then I, as a “manizer”, would need to be outed and arrested.  How do I tell the authorities, “Sir/Madam, my flirting was what some of us did as a learned technique to survive”.  It’s like the name of the movie, The Way Things Were.  One of the patterns that is consistent in my long life is the ongoing repetition of life; of clothing styles, of fads, of weather, of life cycles, Broadway shows…  

Look at what you did… now I am off point and I don’t know if I’ll ever get back.  Let me try.

If, as I believe, there is a difference between a womanizer and a predator, then I do not think we, as women having been dealt with unfairly by men as well as certain women, should use a broad brush to make all men villains. The case of Al Franken comes to mind.  I think we do not need to shoot first and then ask questions.  I think we need to stop the predator any way we can.  

We are women.  Please let us do it differently than men do.  Because no matter what you think… WE ARE DIFFERENT!

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

Am I Out of Touch, Out to Lunch, or Just Plain Out of IT??

I have children and grandchildren so I spend some of my time working hard on being “with it”.

I haven’t gone as far as wearing short skirts and dresses (not with my knees, please), or styling my hair a la early Barbie (if I had a Ken, I might think differently), or buying 5 inch stilettos (I’m Chair of the CLSW… The Committee for Licensing Stilettos as a Weapon).

Here is my rationale for my commitment to electronical living…

I love my children and grandchildren and I want to be able to communicate with them. Somewhere in that rationale is a glimmer of truth, but only a glimmer.

I am your basic garden variety guilt-ridden judgmental person.

So of course, THIS HAPPENING IS NOT MY FAULT.

Here is the backstory… I was dragged kicking and screaming into electronic living.

One of my sons-in-law took time away from work to educate me and hook up my first computer. A friend bought my first iPad to help me navigate that new phenomena. An ordinary cell phone was not enough, I had to become an iPhone owner.

Like I said… Not My Fault.

Slowly, but ever so surely, I have been co-opted by the tech and social media industry.

Don’t you believe it.

I went willingly to the gallows.

Without having to resort to short skirts, long hair, stilettos, I was a with it mother and grandmother.

I was plugged in! (Sorry!)

Over the last two years, I added texting to my growing bag of tricks. I was so with it, I frightened myself.

Then, like a character in a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode (if you haven’t heard of him…that is really what the internet is for… research), I began to see and hear things that no one else was seeing or hearing.

Very recently, I hosted an immediate family picnic by the lake. So great! So lovely! Good Food! Good drink! Good people! Good texting!

Did I say texting???

Yes, I did.

You see I am old enough to remember family picnics when we ate, we drank, we talked, we played and then we went home.

At this gathering, everyone… and I mean everyone, including me at some point eventually hauled out the cell phone and started texting.

I had developed one rule over the years and that was no cell phones at the dinner table. Everyone agreed, charitable to me out of family title and respect. But this was a picnic… buffet and chairs all over the lawn… so I watched and I timed. If I thought I was frightened before, that was nothing to what I was feeling then.

And this was just one instance of what I have come to believe is a really serious communication problem.

We all think that texting is communicating!

Really???

How can that be?

How can a one-sided text be likened to a dialogue between two people?

There was a time when if there was a misunderstanding I took the time (not the trouble… the time) to connect with the person involved and work it out. Of course I am older, and truly my friends, at this stage of my life, no matter how clever the machine, I cannot afford to lose any more friends and family than I have already lost… so if there are problems, I want to work it out.

Texts don’t do it!

Sorry!

They never will.

Does that mean I want more in a relationship than a text will give me?

You bet I do!

So, what to do??

NOTHING!

I cannot change the world. I can change me. I don’t want to misunderstand or be misunderstood. I prefer to hear your voice. I want to discuss, challenge, interest, invite, share… but I do not like sharing my thoughts with a machine.

‘Tis a puzzlement… how to be in this world but not of it. I have a dear friend who shares my conundrum… Recently, she sent me this article from The Week, reprinted from an op-ed in the New York Times.

THE LAND WHERE THE INTERNET ENDS By Pagan Kennedy

It is a gift. Isn’t it nice to know we are not alone? I would like to offer this gift to any who would receive it in the spirit in which it is sent.

Right?? Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

GIRLS, GUYS AND GUNS

O.K. so I don’t read the news. I don’t listen to the news. Except for periodicals and books, I am beholden to the kindness of friends and strangers for current events.

I think even the stratosphere reverberated with these last mass murders and I heard and felt the earth move.

The Universe spoke: ENOUGH! ENOUGH!

Without moral leadership, what is to be done???

Do I fall back on the “keeping of my sanity” rationale that this is all part of the human condition?

IMG_2189

I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion. Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer.

After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers.

~ Original Author Unknown

Or do I take this seriously and send it out to my friends and family and pray we can get a groundswell going to press for legislation to prevent the next mass murder.

I opt for the groundswell (whatever that is), right? Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

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“I Bit Off More Than I Could Chew…”

Is what I said to my friend when I arrived back in the United States after 3 weeks of European travel.

The trip begins…

His response:  That’s it!  That’s the t-shirt!

My response to his response:  What are you talking about?

You say the same thing every time you return from a big trip.  Maybe if you wear a t-shirt with those words on it, just maybe, you will plan your trip differently.

But my friends, will I?

Last year from France to London to Ireland, I was able to do my version of travel hop from country to county.  The fatigue didn’t hit until after I arrived back in the States. To be expected, right?  Hopping can take a lot out of you.

This year, I added Barcelona to the mix. This year I hit both France and London during their heat wave. This year I am a year older.

I really do not want to admit that last sentence has any bearing on my life. A song immediately comes to mind, WHAT KIND OF FOOL AM I?

After hitting my mid-80’s, everything has a bearing on my life. I wrote about it before.  I preached to friends and relatives.  I anointed myself the High Priestess of Accepting Limitations. I announced I wasn’t able to dance the night away, or do my one woman shows as I used to.  Oh, I was the paragon of accepting ones limitations. Really??? Who was I kidding?

When I look in the mirror, I still see me as I was 20 years ago.  I do not recognize the face staring back at me.

No, my eyes are not failing me.  This is how powerful my need is for me to slow the clock; to not acknowledge the ongoing diminution of my energies.  Also, I would be less than honest with myself if I didn’t share with you my Angel of Death obsession.And this is where I give you a little peek into Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s Two Thousand Year Old Man creation.  Carl Reiner is interviewing Mel Brooks who is the Two Thousand Year Old Man.

Carl:  “So tell us what is your secret.  How did you live for two thousand years?”

Two Thousand Year Old Man:  “Vell, I’ll tell you.  Every night I go to sleep I wear a lot of garlic.”

Carl:  “Garlic?”

Two Thousand Year Old Man:  “For sure a lot of garlic.  So when the Angel from Death flies into my room he flies over my bed, smells the garlic…”phew, it stinks”,  and he flies right out of the window.  That’s my secret.  Never go to sleep without a lot of garlic.  Woiks every time.”

Well, my friends, that’s my secret… a lot of garlic.  Just kidding! 

However, I now recognize that my travel arrangements this year were planned in one of my favorite states, the state of DENIAL.

What was I thinking?  I’ll tell you what.  I thought I had enough days in each country to recover my energy.  I forgot about packing and unpacking and all the travel in between from one place to another; by air, train, car.  Each place, going through security and every country in the world, except maybe deep in the desert or the jungle or maybe an ice floe in the Arctic, is difficult.  I thank goodness for the wheelchair except when they forget you.  By the time I arrived at my last stop, London, I was done, fried, finito!  Not to forget that London was in the middle of its own heat wave.  And make no mistake, one’s age is very telling in the heat. 

I gave up the Underground (their subway) years ago…too many stairs.  Taxiing was my choice. However, London has the same traffic problem that all major cities have, and the heavy toll that cars have to pay to come into the city makes no difference.  They pay the toll.  I sat in enough taxis that didn’t move before I was forced to walk.

I had to limit my excursions to places I could walk to and also to walking with people who didn’t mind walking slowly.  And I mean slowly.  I discovered if I started out the day before I had to be somewhere, I could walk to my destinations of the theatre, the restaurants, the galleries.

And that is when I had my epiphany.  STOP COMPLAINING!  Getting older is definitely better than the alternative (ask the Two Thousand Year Old Man… I love garlic) 

If I could I would get down on my knees in gratitude that I was able to see my family (in Barcelona), my family in Ireland, and my friends in France and London.  As in the song of the same name, I’M STILL HERE! 

Adapt!  Isn’t that what the species is supposed to do.

I remember looking at the Tar Pits in Los Angeles and thinking, oh, those poor dinosaurs.  If only they could have adapted to the changes that were happening around them, we wouldn’t need a Jurassic Park movie.  We would have our very own zoo of prehistorics.

I do feel like the neanderthal of my clan, but that is all right. I may be shrinking, but I am adapting as I go. 

Right?  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

On the Waterloo Bridge crossing the Thames

 

Learning How To Kiss the Blarney Stone

Once upon a time 5,000 years ago in a spot called New Grange in Ireland about 2 hours north of Dublin a bunch of cavemen and women met atop this very hill.  They joined hands and other parts and decided to develop a place where they could hold events. They don’t know for sure but mainly it was for various rites and rituals.  You know a wedding one day, next day a funeral .  A Celtic rental hall.

There were caves with drawings on the stone walls. Very primitive but very beautiful. We went there today. Kind of like Ireland’s Stonehenge.

As I squeezed myself into this narrow low ceilinged cave and the guide turned the lights off to show the path of sunlight… where and how the sun of the various solstices shone. A baby held by one of the tourists erupted into hysterical 😭 crying. Inwardly, I joined her and wondered why someone wasn’t holding me and assuring me that I would make it out of this cave alive.

I did make it out, by the way and I am sooo glad I went. Let’s put it this way…

It gave me no ease to hear I was under 5 tons of dirt and rock and nothing had ever moved…. YET!!!!  

Where’s the local Pub when you need one? Can you tell I’ve been touched with a bit of the blarney?  It’s catching and it’s wonderful.

Love ❤️ Sally-Jane