Category Archives: aging

NOTES ON THE 2020 LANDING OF THE ABOMINABLE SNOWWOMAN

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…    

FEAR! 

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 Review from 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…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V7W5xcXUhA

Finally, an explanation of the Coronavirus and why it is so different…. this is an important read.

Dear Friends,

This was sent to me by a friend and for those who still don’t understand the exponential characteristic of this virus (believe me, it has taken me a long time to “get” it… a Ms. Stubborn-Know-It-All… that’s me) it is a simple and clear explanation of why we should shut down until the curve turns the other way.  Please self distance and stay safe.

Feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu? Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps. Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand… It has to do with RNA sequencing…. i.e. genetics.


Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”. The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system. This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year… you get immunity two ways… through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.


Novel viruses, come from animals…. the WHO tracks novel viruses in animals (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu). But once one of these animal viruses mutates and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem. Why? 

Because we have no natural or acquired immunity. The RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so we can’t fight it off.


Now…. sometimes the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human. For years its only transmission is from an infected animal to a human before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human… once that happens..we have a new contagion phase. And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, thats what decides how contagious, or how deadly, it’s gonna be..


H1N1 was deadly…. but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu. It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.

Fast forward.


Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long… but one day, at an animal market in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people. At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human. Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”.

This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity) took off like a rocket. And this was because humans have no known immunity… doctors have no known medicines for it. And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus changed itself in such a way that it causes great damage to human lungs.

That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza…. this one is slippery AF. And it’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L…. which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.

We really have no tools in our shed, with this. History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.


Factoid: Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed… (honestly… I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation…

And let me end by saying…. right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery… if it mutates again (and it will) who is to say, what it will do next.


Be smart folks… acting like you’re unafraid is so not sexy right now.

#flattenthecurve. Stay home folks… and share this to those that just are not catching on.

Source: Kymberli Dawn, Nurse in Oakland California

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Self-distancing is the most helpful and unselfish thing we can do.  Anyone who is offended by this necessary safety measure not only doesn’t get it… but worse than that THEY CAN’T COUNT.

Toilet Paper??? Really???

Bob Moran | Telegraph

My Dear Friends,

If you have a computer you have already received many emails concerning the whys and wherefores and how-tos of the coronavirus.

I’ve put together my own list with my own introductions to my nearest and dearest. I am sure there will be much duplication.

I think of these emails as the trajectory, the progression, if you will, of my own very late awareness of the virus. And what it means to me and my loved  ones and even not to just my loved ones but to all humans everywhere. Yes, even those politicians and leaders who refused to lead us into global awareness as to what was happening.  I do not wish anyone ILL. However, it is important to see how the world is leaderless… Oh, yes, there are health workers, and disease agencies that are tirelessly working to correct the politicians-of-every-nation’s inability to gather globally to stem the tide of this virulent virus.

Borders closed. Countries in lockdown. I ask myself. Is that what had to happen before attention was paid?

I do not think you have to be brilliant. I am not. It is now the middle of March and I don’t know all the facts (I truly don’t think anyone ever will) but the Chinese Government began talking about the Corona Virus in the beginning of January. The first reports I ignored. After all, no leader anywhere, except China was saying anything. From my perspective, China is very far away. I keep forgetting. We are all globally connected. In today’s world, Wuhan is next door to Brooklyn.

In this forwarded mélange of advice, take what you want and leave the rest.


1. Important New Dispatch:Dr. Jordan Shlain Reporting From the Front Lines

This article, makes a lot of sense to me…

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE:

https://tincture.io/dispatch-3-dr-shlain-reporting-from-the-front-lines-a86bca27847b


2. Coronavirus: Deserted Italian street rings out with song as people lean out of windows to sing together during lockdown

Cry if you must…but don’t just stand there…isolate! 

Watch the Video


3. Not Another Recipe…

To my nearest and dearest – Yes, another recipe for continued good health. And if you do nothing else do like it says and keep lubricated. (Take your mind out of the gutter) and drink water. That’ll teach that virulent virus to bugger off.

And always remember. Love will keep us together as long as you don’t touch me…


4. 👆🏼That Widely Circulated List of COVID-19 Tips Is a Hoax

Ok. That does it! No more advice! There’s too much hysteria and panic which looks for answers that just aren’t there. Hey, guys, there’s no magic bullet! Use you common sense until a leader comes along that can lead us out of the wilderness or through the parting of the Red Sea.

Remember when we had leaders who told the truth and in dire circumstances such as we are experiencing now could be there to support, encourage and help? I wish one and all good health as we try to chart a course to safety. 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: https://www.lamag.com/article/coronavirus-hoax-stanford


5. Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now

So, I lied! Here’s one more from me to youse. It’s because it kind of explains where I am in thought.

I’m already limited by age and its attendant physical limitations and now I’m being asked to be limited voluntarily in terms of social engagement. I think it requires a major life rethink for me (change my behavior) and if you will help me, I am sure I can do it.

Using numbers paralyzes me. Statistical charts don’t really make a lot of sense to me. But with this article I finally understood what it is that I can do.

READ FULL ARTICLE WITH CHARTS HERE: https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca


MY CONCLUSION:

Now that you are on information overload let me wish you well on your life journey.

I think if we are careful we can survive and most importantly I think there are some very profound life lessons to learn.

There’s been a great deal said about the human condition. Not all of it very positive.  

The worst is the tale of toilet paper. Toilet paper? Really! I never thought toilet paper would be the arbiter of what makes for a civilized society. Who knew?????

I do not want to be thought of as a bleeding heart sentimental fool (all of which admittedly I am), but what an opportunity this presents for us to go beyond the base (toilet paper, really?) human condition into an atmosphere of service and caring and, yes, love.

Of course, I could be writing this because I am vulnerable and if they decide to take us elder vulnerables and put us on ice floes that take us out to sea never to return (of course, because of global warming – which of course “does not exist” – there are no more ice floes).  

Here is where I harken back to inspired leadership.

Two Presidents and their speechifying come to mind. Historically flawed, like all of us, they understood the need and the desire to help their citizens aspire to a higher code of conduct. 

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Ask not what your country can do for you.  But what you can do for your country.”

~ John F. Kennedy

Right???? Of course, right!   

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Without humor, with or without the virus… we’re dead!

A Movie You Must See and a Question You Can’t Ask

My dear friends,

Pedro Almodovar has a new movie:  Pain and Glory.

DO NOT MISS IT.  I repeat. DO NOT MISS IT.

If you find yourself whirling in the what feels like an endless cycle of your existentialness (don’t look it up it’s my word).

If your aging process is moving too fast, giving you physical grief so much so that you have lost count on the doctor visits. 

If your HIGH ANXIETY  wakes you in the middle of the night so your only recourse is to pop a pill or call a friend that you haven’t called before to senior-sit with you as you try to calm down.

And if you avoid any questions about what you are working on or if you baldly lie about your latest project, you need this movie.

My whole olden being is engaged in finding that which will engage my creative juices.  You know what I mean… something that will make use of my still active and engaged mental equipment however saddled with a more rapidly aging body.

Of late, I have been exposed to what I would call coincidental “bashert” (the wonderful Yiddish word for destiny).  The most recent examples being Almodovar’s new movie, wherein a famous director of past great movies is hobbled by aging health issues and loss of his muse.  Welcome to The Club!

Another is an article in The New Yorker by John McPhee, Tabula Rusa in which he is writing what I call “mini memories”, one of which includes a story about a luncheon with Thornton Wilder. 

At this luncheon, a very brash and slightly callow youth of a writer (McPhee) dares to ask Wilder who is 66 at the time (an age that McPhee thought geriatric) what he is presently working on. Politely, Wilder tells him he is cataloguing the plays of Lope de Vega.  McPhee thought and then asked Wilder, “Why would anyone want to do that?” The silence at the table was deafening. In fury, Wilder exclaimed. “Young man, do not ever question the purpose of scholarship.”  My translation:  Do not ever ask an artist what he is working on .

McPhee who is 88 now knows that those plays were serving to extend Thornton Wilder’s life.  It was a project meant not to end.

I was led to that article and to the Almodovar movie because it is exactly what I needed to read and see.

I need my own Lope de Vega and my own muse restored. I think I’ll stop with the excuses and all the other blocks I put in my path towards my next creative move. The major hurdle I face is finding like minded younger and older artists who know what I am talking about and finding a way to support each other in our quests. I think when you are younger by the nature of your youthful strength you go it alone. I believe the artists journey is singular and lonely.

Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self

 I do not think my discovering that older artists and their quest for relevancy (because really isn’t that what it’s all about…I’M STILL HERE!) is accidental.

Like I said before, I am experiencing coincidental beshart (love that word)…

If any of this makes any sense to you, I’d love to hear from you… if not, have another cup of tea and a fabulous day.

And don’t forget to see Pain and Glory….

Right?  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ♥️

P.S.

Recently, I received a book from Amazon that I did not order: The Flight From Truth by Jean-Francois Revel

No note as to who it was from… I love surprises… but I want to thank whoever did the deed.

And that is not possible… curiosity killed the cat… If it is one of youse who did it… take pity and tell me.

Puleeeze… ❤️

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

“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

 

DIGITAL AGE? SCHMIGITAL AGE!

My Dear Friends,

After a recent conversation with a loved nephew, my busy brain began ruminating. That happens on its own. Ideas hit my headball, and I am once again in rumination.

Our tête-à-tête moved as it does from family to our favorite subjects… social and political issues.

He was describing his research into how propaganda and mind persuasion for the American public existed way before digital inventions. Before computers and cell phones there were newspapers, radio, movies, handbills, and pamphlets to dispense political and social points of view. Points of view that would influence voters and prepare the way for legislation, always towards goals of one political party or another.

malicious-botIn other words, my friends, even before the bots, people could be and were HAD.

This blog is not about right or wrong nor is it about good or evil. It is about how easy it is for the human psyche to be manipulated.

Not so long ago a television series called Mad Men illustrated the birth of advertising as we have come to know it. Mostly men… and a lone female, understood how to use the many powerful tools of persuasion, aka propaganda. Yes, it showed us how they manipulated consumers.

vintage celebrity christmas ads (4)How many times have you said, “I just bought this gizmo. I absolutely didn’t need it. Last night, in the commercial break, my favorite movie star was using it in her home and I just knew I had to have it. So I bought it. I don’t need it. Like I said, I have absolutely no idea why I bought it”?

We know why I bought it! “Gadzooks, someone got into my head! I wuz robbed!”

You would think after years of living with a mother who had a Ph.D. in manipulation and mind control, I would know better. You would think!

And all of this took place, as I said, before computers, cells, iPads. Yes, the radio was a powerful tool but it could only get into homes that had radios. But as radios and then televisions became more affordable there was a seismic shift in the abilities to persuade and influence the public.

Speaking in digitalese, let us fast forward….

first computer

In 1976, the first commercial computer was born.

In 1976, I was… [I am pausing here because those of you who know me know I need to take off my shoes so I can use my toes along with my fingers to count.]

I’m back! In 1976, I was 43 years old (Ah, yes, I remember it well!)

Mother of three living and performing in D.C.. You know Washington! Even if it was only smoke signals, it was the spin capital of the world.

To me, computers were part of the old chapter series in the movies of my youth. Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. [Please tell me someone else remembers them!]

I did not get into the digital thingies, computers, cell phones, Ipads… and because of my schedule, I never had the time to watch television. If I wasn’t doing household chores and child activities, I was at rehearsal. Not complaining, just the facts.

In 1997, I was 64 years old. My last daughter finally married (she was and still is very picky) and her husband, my new son-in-law, a very brilliant IT man, convinced me I could learn to use a computer. [I wasn’t kidding… he had to be brilliant!]

computer problem

He actually did teach me. Of course, it helped that he worked a few blocks from where I was living in Manhattan. When the hysterical emergency calls went out [and they did fast and furiously] he would walk over and bring what I surely thought was a dead thingy back to life.

At 64, I had 64 years of living without digital anything. The life I tasted, sipped, swilled, was dimensional, real, pure uninterrupted life sans machinery.

When I wanted to write to someone, I sat down took out a piece of stationary with my name engraved at the top. I sifted through my thoughts slow enough to really think about what I was thinking and what it is I wanted to share. Yeah, I know what would my Blah, Blah, Blog be without this machinery. As Yul Brynner used to say nightly in The King and I, “… It’s a puzzlement.”

The biggest change for me is in my personal relationships. I made time to get together. It was and still is important to be in each others company. Don’t tell me about Skype… it’ll never replace the hug, the kiss, the touch of one to another.

Today that time is taken up with texts. If I send an email, I have to text the person to check their email for something that carries more portent than a text message can handle. And no one uses a phone anymore.

In pure defiance, I got myself a landline in Florida because I wanted to be connected to the land and not cyberspace. Big joke! Because the only way you get a landline today is through the Wi-Fi of your cable company.

phones

They gotcha!!!!

The biggest change in this digital age belongs to the number of interlopers we let into our lives. As I said before, I can be had. And today, with all the available electronic equipment and all of it pointed in my direction, at least it feels that way, to buy, to read what they want me to read, to join, to contribute, to do survey after survey, I feel abused.

On a daily level, I am bombarded by organizations like Cambridge Analytica. Oh, yes, it is now out of business. What do you know? They got caught. However, there are thousands of similar corporations slithering in and around your computer continuing the dirty business of messing with our heads.

abe.png

It is amazing but when you hearken back to Nixon and his “dirty tricks”. He was such a beginner! In Trump’s White House, he never would have been caught!

I OBJECT!!!!

At this stage of my life, I do not want to share whatever time is left of my life with what I call The Distractors. It is hard enough to focus when there are forces whose only reason for being is to manipulate me away from being me.

It’s what I told my Generation-X nephew…

I am so grateful I had 64 years without the accouterments of this modern society. I know something they don’t know. Life was definitely not easier, but somehow I think it built up my resistance to the viruses of these manipulator machines.

Not to worry! I am not going to cancel my Wi-Fi.

I won’t de-chip my cell phone.

I will charge my iPad battery.

And push comes to shove, if they come after me, I can always call on my protectors… Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon!

Right? Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Thanks to Lynnette for collecting the photos and illustrations.

COME TRAVEL WITH ME…

ACROSS THE POND AND INTO THE WOODS OF THE GERS AND THE CITIES OF LONDON AND DUBLIN…

baggage

Alright already, so what is this 85 year old woman, who on too many occasions still thinks she is 55, trying to prove???

For indeed, mid-journey, as I packed and unpacked on yet another leg of the trip, and stretched my back hoping to remove the cricks and creaks from my spine, ordered yet another wake-up call and taxi to the airport, that question was a constant.

I dared not look in the mirror for the answer. I was sure to discover I had morphed into a female facsimile of The Ancient Mariner.

How did what was supposed to be two weeks and a couple days turn into almost a month? Well, I am glad you asked. I’d like to know how that happened, too.

FriendsThe first invitation came from my good friends in the Gers (an area between Bordeaux and Toulouse), an area of ducks, foi gras, armanac, truffles, and brilliant wines.

The original plan was for me to stay 2 weeks and then go onto London to see some other friends and then home. It would have been 2 weeks and 3 days in London. Doable!

The plot thickens. I have three daughters. My oldest daughter and her husband and 16-year-old daughter decided to move to Barcelona for a year. They were going to be in Barcelona when I was in London. I thought how wonderful. I shall fly from London to Barcelona and help them shop and move in and do all the mother things I am trained to do. “Here! Let me do that for you.” “You really don’t want to do that, do you.?” “I think this is a better idea, don’t you?”

Seven

Well, thank goodness I have another daughter who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. She called me after she learned I was going to fly to Barcelona. It went something like this…

“Mom, what planet are you on. You do not want to do this. She is just getting to Barcelona and she doesn’t need you to show her the way… YOUR WAY! She needs to make her own way. This is not about love mother, this is about her choices not yours.”

My reply: “Well, she didn’t say anything.”

Other daughter: “Did you give her a chance to?”

All right already. I got it. I called and told her I wasn’t going to Barcelona. Her sigh was heard around the world. There was only one problem. I had already changed my flight to fly to Barcelona and then home from Barcelona. My agent informed me to change it back again would cost me another ticket plus she couldn’t get me out of London except for another week in London, unless…unless…

Yes???? Unless what. If I flew from Dublin she could save me some money…

Dublin???   I’ve never been to Dublin. I always wanted to go to Dublin… see the Abbey Theatre… pretend to be Irish for a couple of days.

Dublin shamrock

Yes! Let’s go to Dublin    

So a two-week trip suddenly got to be 3 weeks and a couple of days.

Now, I finally healed a fractured third lumbar of my spine. I knew extending my trip would give me some bumps. I thought if I was careful, I could do it. So I went for it.

I flew to Paris and then from Paris to Toulouse and my adorable friend Mary picked me up. My friends have a beautiful house but wherever I travel if I can I make it a policy to stay at a hotel… I live alone and over the oh, so many years, I have, what shall I say,… developed, alone habits and eccentricities. Just very personal preferences nothing illegal… although these days, that might be hard to prove.

So I had previously stayed in the Hotel Guilhon in this medieval walled village of  Lectoure.Thierry et Marc

Thierry and Marc, the owners and dear friends from a previous stay, who greeted and treated me like their long lost Brooklyn relative. Oh, yes, born and bred in Brooklyn, and even in the Gers they heard of the place.

Their hotel is a 17th century ancient that has been brilliantly restored… only 5 rooms but each room is a decorator slice of heaven.

Hotel Past  hotel-suite.jpg

They serve a lovely continental breakfast with fresh fruits and croissants and brioches, boiled eggs if chosen… and for special guests from Brooklyn, Thierry would make dinner. Simple, elegant French cooking at its best. And last year I was introduced to the beautiful, inside and out, person, Pascale, who drove me everywhere and introduced me to second hand and antique shopping. Nothing like being in a place that goes back a few thousand years to discover the culture of the place you are visiting. And since Pascale had her own shop she really knew what she was talking about. Pascale, Thierry, Marc and moi… The Four Musketeers! Or, as I called them my very special French Mafia!

French Mafia

So what could be wrong?? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Except in the middle of the second week, my aching back got a little more aching… too long away from the body workers that guard my spine.

Grid your loins… that’s easy for you to say! However, at the appointed time, I flew to London… and of course, the new way for me is the wheelchair. Oh, my friends, I shall never understand anyone who can choose a wheelchair not choosing one. Afraid to admit how the apparatus ages you…. not on your life… literally as well as figuratively. Think of what you would look like after rolling your luggage through a terminal that makes a football stadium look like a puddle. No! Thank you. Give me my wheelchair and let the vanities be damned.

London was great… back to the Royal Automobile Club around the corner from Buckingham Palace. (I was terribly sorry to miss tea with the Queen, but I only had 4 days) The club is convenient and the concierges Geoffrey and Martin, extraordinary helpers, especially my Irish friend Martin with his beautiful brogue who outlined my entire program for Dublin.

But while in London, it was the meeting up with friends… you know the kind of friends I am talking about, the friends that belong to a very special club… THE WE’RE STILL HERE CLUB!

As I look through my little phone book…the crossing out of names is on every page. Of course, I don’t need a reminder of my mortality… truly at this age it circles my head like a flea or fly or on certain days a buzzing mosquito or bee. Shoo it away, my friends, just shoo those suckers away!!!!

There was a very special event with one of my friends. Sculptor extraordinaire, Helaine Blumenfeld, had a special exhibit at the Ely Cathedral, outside Cambridge …oh, the joy of ongoing creative excellence that Helaine gifts to the world! For me her work is a constant reminder of how to pursue the artistic passion of our gifs. Bravo, Helaine!

And then, it is off to Dublin. I don’t know anyone in the city… I know some of its history and its poetry and plays and novels… and that could be said to give me a sense of its people and it gives my journey an excitement for the new and unexplored of all the places I have thus far been to.

When I go to a city I have not been to before, my plan is to find a driver and car to acquaint me with the particulars of the city. I checked into my lovely hotel and requested said driver and car. And then made a quick addition to my request.

I have a hearing problem… I have great what I call “vanity hearing aids” You cannot see them… but I know about accents… and I know about the Irish accent having tried it in a couple of O’Casey plays. It’s difficult and understanding it is more difficult. So I requested someone who doesn’t have a thick brogue.

The next morning I came down to the desk and explained I was waiting for a driver to pick me up.

Tony

“He’s here.” And up came Tony…with his lovely Irish lilt… totally understandable, “Sally! I’m Tony. Welcome to Dublin.” He plunks my cheeks with a kiss on each and I knew I would have a wonderful time with Tony in Dublin!

And I did.

There are so many wonderful aspects to Dublin and of the Irish.

James Joyce Slept Here

James Joyce Slept Here!

Having traveled a bit, I want to say that the Irish are communicators. With or without a pint in their hand they want to talk. They want to know who you are. Where you come from. Who you voted for… Oh, yes, big topic was our political situation. (TRUE EVERYWHERE I WENT!!)

For me, their political situation was a big topic. They were one of two countries that stayed neutral during World War II. That for me, considering they made nice with the Nazis, was something I wanted to know about. And a very simplistic answer was that’s how much they disliked the British. And if you know the history, even a little bit, it could explain it, but does it justify it? The jury is still out on that.

As the days dwindled down to a precious few, I was ready to go home.

Pope's Arrival

(Even the Pope’s arrival in Dublin didn’t delay my departure. I tried to explain to him that next time he should have his secretary check with my secretary.)

HOME… and the extra special benefit of flying from Dublin is that it is one of the few places that has American custom agents in Dublin so that when you check through customs in Dublin you are finished. Arrival at JFK meant just getting into my wheelchair and being rolled to a waiting car to take me home.

I DID IT!

Sooo, even with the gathering fatigue and aching joints and back, was it worth it???

You betcha! SJ Surprise

New faces, old faces, new countries, old countries… wonderful.

My friends, no matter what we say or do the years keep climbing… and our mission if we choose to accept it, is to learn to accommodate, adapt, and yes, slow down.

It is difficult for me because somehow I equate slow down with death.

There, I said it.

The question somewhere inside not hidden too far away from my consciousness, WHAT IF…???

After a bad bout of the flu, a fractured spine, fear of flying became fear of dying. Little did I know how important planning and traveling was going to be to my ongoing life. And that’s the thing isn’t it? Until it isn’t … it is ongoing.

SJ in pool

Listen loud and clear… all you control freaks (even those who don’t think they are control freaks)… your due date is out of your control. And this is a good thing.

I still have some shelf life left. Hooray!

SJ Dance

Try this to test for your own ability to plot and plan… put your right hand onto the inside wrist of your left hand. Can you feel it? You can??? Brilliant!

BON VOYAGE.

Love, Sally-Jane