Category Archives: Family

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

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

 

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 

Growing Up In My Backyard

Remember this…?

 I recently wrote a Blah, Blah, Blog accompanied by a photo of a trio of newly hatched Robins.  Three huddled, featherless babies lay in their beautiful nest nursery in a cedar bush in my backyard; hovered over by Mr. and Mrs. Robin in vigilant watch-bird mode for worms, insects, and loudmouth and dangerous Blue Jays and Crows along with other predators.

My friends, forget about your alarm and security company, Mr. and Mrs. Robin exceeded all expectations.  Any would-be predators didn’t stand a chance.  The parents proved their worth in birdseed.  They took over my backyard as the Dangerous Drones of Cedar Bush.

It is now Day 11 of  the baby Robins’ birth.  TA-DA!!!!!

All decked out in their beautiful feathered coats.  They sit in their Royal Nest Nursery.  Mouths always opened ready for the feed. ( I spend a lot of time checking them out… and when I say open all the time… I mean open all the time.)  For the last 11 days Mama and Poppa have fed and protected them. 

Today, for the first time, I have noticed a change.  I can go right up to the nest and no parental dive bombing. 

I have come to a brutal conclusion.  My baby birds’ childhood is almost over.  In  too short a time, if they want their beaks filled, they are going to have to leave the nest and fill it themselves.   

LEAVE THE NEST????  OMG!  They’re still babies.  What do they know about life?  What do they know about men? (one of them must be a female)  

As long as I did what they wanted me to do, my parents fed and protected me at the beginning, and as I remember would have done so forever.   

OOOPS!!! On second thought…

Hey, my adorable use-to-be-babies, shut your beaks and test your wings.  You can always come back for a visit.  The cedar bush ain’t going away.  This is your chance to be you.  Take it! 

In my backyard, I do not allow any FEAR OF FLYING.  (sorry, I just couldn’t resist)

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.

Lessons in Catalonia (aka Barcelona)

My Dear Friends and Family,

Do you remember back in September when I wrote that I was trying to learn my smother-mother lessons…?

“… I have three daughters.  My oldest daughter and her husband and their 16-year old daughter decided to move to Barcelona for a year…”

Don’t tell anyone, but I flew to Barcelona anyway….

This is what I did learn.

10 LESSONS IN CATALONIA (aka Barcelona)

1.  Eat Tapas 

2. Walk

3.  Eat Tapas 

4. Shop

5. Eat Tapas

6. View the artists from Picasso to Miro to Gaudi to Mercedes Pasquale

7. Eat Tapas

8. Pay for Tapas

Cash Machine

9. Important vocabulary: Hola, Gràcia, Mucho Gràcia, Te Quiero

10. Eat last tapas before leaving

Traveling to foreign cultures is a balm for the spirit.

No twitter. No tweet. HEAVEN!!

Travel offers perspective. Try this one for size…

Every country carries it’s own political baggage. At different times in history, some of that baggage is heavier that at other times. For me, the week away lightened my overloaded brainball.

I recommend trying it… and the tapas!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S A little smother-mother goes a long way… like, over 3000 miles.