It’s Not My Fault

I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!

Doing nothing has become a national disease.

Edmund Burke said it best, and we are witnessing it with our every breath:  The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Oh, yeah and women, too! I don’t consider working out, in, and on your digital devices “doing”.

Of course, I write this as I type away on my computer for the Blah, Blah Blog… and if that isn’t part of the digital media merry-go-round, I don’t know what is.  I used to be perfect.  I am not anymore. Mia Culpa.

I am up to my neck in excuses. I am sorry my friends, they just don’t work anymore.

Climate change does not excuse me from taking out the garbage.  Fear of testing positive does not excuse me from paying rent.  Continuous political upheaval does not excuse me from brushing my teeth.

I am not saying it isn’t tempting to blame the powers that be.  It’s just that eventually, unless I am comfortable with my thumb stuck in my mouth or living in a state of permanent delusion (so tempting) or enjoy treading water getting nowhere, blame ultimately doesn’t work.  Dare I list a few cliches? Cliches, for me, are usually based on a truth… Life isn’t fair. There is no free lunch. The piper must be paid.

The rant about excuses was inspired by a friend’s recent travel experience.  An experience that is becoming more and more unexceptional, unfortunately.  She was part of two perfect storms.  The first was out of anyone’s control; the weather. A southern storm traveling north meets a northern storm traveling south and they give birth to many little storms along the east coast, which creates the monster of yet another airline breakdown.  In the airline industry, it is now the rule to give you a ride you will never forget; hopefully, in time for you to make your next flight.  The other perfect storm is a sad example of the ongoing decline of our humanity:  Corporate policy and greed vs. Employee policy and apathy.

This storm appears to be out of our control as well.  Please go back to Burke’s admonition.  It has been said, a corporation is an entity. It is not people. I beg to disagree.  A corporation is an entity made up of PEOPLE.  And these people take very good care of their boards and investors.  Not so much their paying public and not at all their employees.   I don’t think you need to look further than corporate entities and more specifically, to the airline industry to discover why people are quitting jobs.  If corporations are careless and irresponsible about their paying public and their employees, employees owe their employers no loyalty.  If employees feel no loyalty then the inhumane treatment my friend received by underpaid and overworked airline workers appears justified.  Right???  No!  Not right!!!

I know.  It’s confusing and difficult.  How to maintain your humanity in the time of crises?  Especially if you feel taken for granted.  Here it comes guys.  That is our job.  It is easy to do the right thing when all is going according to plan.  When my world goes awry, that is when I am called upon against the pressures around me, to respond empathically. Like you know what I mean, caring.   I don’t have to do it well. I just have to remind myself there but for the grace of God go I.

There have always been those who would divide and exclude rather than add and include.  That’s another perfect storm. The television series, Succession vs. the movie, The Tender BarSuccession is a hit series about people in a corporate environment and their inhumanity. The Tender Bar, on the other hand, is a small movie about average people living average lives and always aware of their humanity.

Personally, I don’t care if you squeeze your toothpaste tube from the bottom or from the top, we all belong to the human race.  And if on occasion you can lift your head away from your devices, remove your earbuds, and see and hear the person in front of you, it’s just possible you might recognize a piece of yourself in the other.

Talk about miracles!!!

I really love each and every one of you. How could I not if you take the time to read this Blog.  So I offer you a discounted opportunity. I want to remind us all of our humanity. Even if you weren’t at the Sermon, you know the one that was on The Mount (no, silly, not Edith Wharton’s home). 

DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU

It is soooo simple. Which is why it is soooo difficult.

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Definition of Editor: A person who aids in the contents of text. 

In my case, this is a profound understatement about my friend and editor, Lynnette Najimy.

For too many years, I have had the gift of Lynnette’s talents to successfully edit and publish my Blog without acknowledging her enormous contribution.

It was her idea to begin with.  And because it required new mechanized skills, I fought her tooth and nail.  She calmed all my fears and slowly awakened machine abilities I didn’t know I had.  I still manage to make many mechanical errors and she constantly amazes me by pulling the magic bunny out of her hat many times.

However, her real gift is how she handles, an ego loaded, over the top, over sensitive, temperamental artiste.  We know there is constructive criticism somewhere, but how come it’s never around when you need it to prime the pump of creativity.  Not true with Lynnette. Working with her, I don’t even realize when she has moved me away from falling off the cliff.  The cliff could be anything from writing garbled nonsense to throwing the baby out with the bathwater (a metaphor for losing the point of a story).  Without skinning my very thin hide, she opens my eyes and my heart to what I have chosen to write about.  Am I lucky or am I lucky?  I am. 

Thank You to my dear friend and editor. 
With love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.P.S. Always remember, no matter what the crisis, keep laughing!!

Pandemic Induced Holiday Moods vs. A Good Laugh

My Dear Friends and Family,

The season of holiday anxieties is upon us for a second pandemic year.

And if you tell me you have no stress then I will come over to your house and show you the gnomes and elves that live in your garden.

Added pandemical stress to normal seasonal stress is to be expected.  Here’s just a sampling of reasons why:

  • To fly or not to fly.
  • How do I love to party?  Let me count how many are coming.
  • Proof of vaccination… no interpreting the truth.
  • Recent test results… not by Trumpian guidelines.

The list could go on and on. Of course, the pandemic adds stress to holiday stress.  We can agree on that… right?!

I have been thinking of what to give to my dear family and friends who have stayed with me since forever reading my Blah, Blah Blogs (or not as the case may be).

I thought about sending each of you an apple to keep you healthy and wise with a card that begs you not to believe everything you read… excepting what I write, of course.

And then it came to me.  When I am so anxious that I can’t even thread a needle.  After I get a bigger needle, I go to my back up life saver… THE LAUGH.

Sometimes I watch outrageous movies, but mostly clips from sketches of an old LIVE television series called YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, starring, Sid Ceasar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Nanette Fabray. Ceasar’s writers were the crème de la crème of comedy:  Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Neil Simon, Woody Allen.

And then it came to me.  My gift to you… THE BIG LAUGH.

If these sketches don’t punch the air out of your balloon of anxiety, nothing will.  After all, my friends, anxiety is and remains the middle name for all comedy.  Every great comedian is part fool and part neurotic.

Comedy, aka anxiety, sits forever on the other side of tragedy.  And that is why it will always be the cure for what ails you.

So I am sending all of you lots of love and LAUGHS.  

Santa is not known for his HO! HO! HO! for nothing.  They don’t call this the season to be jolly for nothing.

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S.  For further funny bone tickling try to get the documentary, Hail Sid Ceasar! The Golden Age of Comedy.  Just the best.

P.P.S. I’m sneaking this in because it still tickles my funny bone.

P.P.P.S. There are many more Sid Caesar sketches on YouTube. Help Yourself.

New Tricks

Among other things, this is the name of a British Television series available on Amazon Prime. If nothing else, just view the first episode because it’s so apropos. It is also the last part of an adage I have recently adapted to a new circumstance in my old life.  

 Do you think it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks?

All right, already, what in the Sam Hill (this is a euphemism for swearing because I didn’t feel like writing ‘hell’…sue me) is that woman trying to tell us???

It’s always great when you ask the right question.  

Recently, two dear friends, submitted samples of my writing (these very Blogs you receive) to the Editor and Publisher of The Berkshire Eagle, suggesting I might write a monthly Column for the Op-ed page of the newspaper.  I was grateful and, at the same time, a little unsure about my “style” of writing conforming to a newspaper. Who knows? Maybe it was just my way of preparing myself for rejection.  Remember, I spent my life auditioning. Maybe I still am. I think my percentages ran to about 50/50 of getting the part to “You’re very special”, words that always indicated you didn’t get it. “Next…”  All to say I wasn’t expecting a call from the publisher.  

But he did call and offered me an Op-ed column.  I accepted.  Immediately, I went to work writing.  The subject had been on my mind for about as long the Berkshire County Cottage and Division Street Bridges had been closed, which they were for many years, causing great inconvenience to the community and some  economic hardships to affected businesses. I spent the last two years gossiping about it to friends, neighbors and whoever would listen, like the women in Meredith Wilson’s musical Music Man.

Related news: A new iteration of Music Man arrives on Broadway mid-December, starring Hugh Jackmam. Y’All fuggetaboutit! He’s mine!

This opportunity gave me permission to share my thoughts with the community in which I live. It brings a very different color and responsibility to writing. The Blog and the Column are very personal. And that is where the similarity begins and ends.

I began the Blah, Blah, Blog as a very personal and almost intimate look into my absurd take on a long life (soooo grateful). Readers chose to sign up to see what the crazy lady was going to write about next or unsubscribe.

Subscribers or purchasers of a Newspaper have a completely different set of expectations. Yes, the Op-ed page is a page for people’s opinions. Not judgements, which most of you know is my favorite form of opinion.  I think newspaper readers (the few that are left) represent a wider variety of thought and opinion than blog readers. As I wrote the op-ed piece, I realized I was very self conscious. I write the Blog from absurd insights inside my brain, and over the years (since 2014) each of you has chosen to subscribe to peek inside that overworked mechanism.

A column goes out to a wider and more diverse audience. That alone creates a different writing environment.  It became a challenge. Life threw down a gauntlet. Was I up to it?

Well, what in the Sam Mountain do you think? (higher form of swear words.) As I wrote and researched the subject, I became more and more comfortable and actually enjoyed this new challenge. The gauntlet was in my hand and it fit like a glove.  (I can’t believe I wrote that…)

Here is my answer to the original question I posed.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Have a look and let me know: Sally-Jane Heit: Bridges to democracy

Right???

Of course, right!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S.

Gratified and Satisfied…

My Dear Friends,

We have all heard it a million times… writing is such a lonely craft. No matter how writers try to distract themselves from themselves, eventually they must succumb and begin the lonely climb from sub to conscious thought, from pen to paper or fingers to computer. Yes, I am describing my own journey. And then the thoughts are dispersed to the person or in this case, the “list” of those brave souls that signed on to accept and read my blog. All to say, I thankfully, always get some response to what I write.

So that even if I write in the wilderness, eventually after sending the blog out, someone or someones rescue me from my solitude and brings me into their thoughts and responses and I am profoundly gratified and satisfied.

Hey, let us not forget my friends… I began my game of life as a performer. My passion was in putting myself before an audience and hoping I gave them pleasure or challenge or both. That give and take audience response was my initial lifeline from dysfunctional family life to dysfunctional married life. My ever growing, developing, nurturing, constantly challenging, and most loving relationship with my daughters was and always will be my raison d’être, but performing was definitely my second choice.

So writing in the wilderness is very difficult for me. And without response… OI VEY! … you’ve got to be kidding… a killer… an absolutely killer. I’ve been told to not be bothered by the lack of response… blog readers don’t usually respond. Well, in this last Blog about the Netflix movie, I Care A Lot…. I specifically asked for a response… and I got it.

I’m going to try and figure out how to rework my blog so I can keep this “audience” response going. In the meantime, I want to share some of the responses I received.

From Jim:
In my reading lately I’ve come across the concept referred to as the attention economy. Mostly in reference to social media like Facebook, Twitter,  etc. it is the idea that our attention is finite and of value and we should pay attention to how we ‘spend’ it.

These dark, ironic ‘humor’ movies and shows make me feel like I’ve not only wasted my time but been ripped off in terms of my attention. And since everything is tracked these days I am starting to be much more circumspect in how I allocate my attention. 

Here is the original article which introduced the phrase attention economy into my brain… I Talked to the Cassandra from the Internet Age (NY Times)

From Donna:
I saw the trailer for “I Care A Lot”. Half way through the trailer, it ’sceeved’ me out and I moved on. What a horrible plot!!!… The world is frightening enough these days without adding to it.

From Pamela:
I was afraid of that. I saw the blurb and could feel the ickiness. Glad you STOPPED WATCHING!!! Your senses are too precious to fill with such a vile version of humanity!

From Paula:
In CA almost impossible to have someone declared incapacitated in the courts.  Court also sends out its own independent investigator.  Anyway wanted you to know this so that you can sleep again…

FYI, I never watch movies like this anymore (even in the past I rarely watched) – no matter what the reviews.  Too much ugliness in the world already. I need an escape.

From Vel:
Just read your blog and SO glad I decided to pass on that film! But here’s a bit of news that gives that swindling racket a ‘Hooray for you, Girl’ upbeat twist: At 93, She Waged War on JPMorgan—and Her Own Grandsons

From Dianne:
I read your blog.  That movie sounds horrible.  Glad you switched over to reliable Agatha. 

From Lana:
Ugh. I watched that movie last night. I wanted to quit part way through it — I actually found it very uncomfortable and a little bit horrifying. I also wanted to see if it had a satisfying end (yes, sort of). But I went to bed with a flutter in my throat, kind of wishing I hadn’t watched it. But it made me wonder if, during the Trump era, producers made more movies like that — characters derelict of conscience or humanity

In reading up on the backstory of the movie, I see an article in The New Yorker was part inspiration: 
The Takeover
The whole thing scared the be-jesus out of me. 

From Ron: 
This came from reading your blog …

Now if you have any responses to these responses… write on MacDuff!  

While there have been shows where some audience members left before I did, (I’ve been in a few “turkeys” in my time), but as Laurence Olivier said, “If you haven’t had any bad reviews, you can’t call yourself an actor”.  

You see this is the kind of digression that counts as a distraction when I am trying to write. All I meant to say is… if you want to respond to any of the responses my machines are always open.   

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

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.

Repetition is the Human Condition

Maria Popova’s blog, Brain Pickings, continues to open my world to the many artists who commit themselves to the fight to preserve freedom and other precious awarenesses. We forget, but she reminds us in her article, “Rachel Carson’s Brave and Prescient 1953 Letter Against the Government’s Assault on Science and Nature that new administrations have previously attempted to destroy the free world for their own agendas and profit.  I am reminded of the Voltaire quote that I use in my show,

quote-history-never-repeats-itself-man-always-does-voltaire-39-24-40

To understand that we have a commitment, too and that we can and will make a difference is very important right now.  We don’t have much in the way of assurance.  We need to know that what we are going through is extreme, but also that we have overcome things like this before and will do so again.  It’s just that we live in a tech world that has taken us speedily and in shorthand to another dimension.  Too fast. Too quickly.  Too across the board.

I know it is against the modern ethos of society, but it really makes a difference when you can stop and think and think and pause and sometimes just STOP.  Not give up, but realign our thoughts to make the difference we all want to make to correct what appears to be an apocalyptic trajectory.

Love (the greatest power of all) – Sally-Jane

Welcome to My Blah, Blah, Blog!

I will admit there are days when I feel BLAH! But I have never felt BLOG! I am learning that you don’t feel a blog. I think you think and then write a blog.

Here is what I propose. Let’s you and I come up with a better word to describe expressing our thoughts and creative ideas. My blog is open and ready to receive the “new word” for Sally-Jane Heit bloggers. See what I mean? It sounds like we have a disease.

While I wait to hear from you, let’s “tawk”!

So you want to write a memoir. Let me be the first to tell you that you do not need an interesting story. You need an interesting way to write your story. If you want to write THE great American novel, FUGGETABOUTIT!

Here’s a quote to get your juices flowing, an excerpt from Anna Quindlen‘s commencement address at Mount Holyoke College in 1999,

 “…every story has already been told. Once you’ve read Anna Karenina, Bleak House, The Sound and the Fury, To Kill a Mockingbirdand A Wrinkle in Time,you understand that there is really no reason to ever write another novel. Except that each writer brings to the table, if she will let herself, something that no one else in the history of time has ever had.”

Please let me know what you think that something is… It really is the first step in recognizing you have the will and the drive to make a memoir. What is it??