I don’t know about you but even before the pandemic and certainly before the election, I began to worry about what was happening to cause the ever-widening gap between citizens in the United States.
How had the words of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our very laws been made to look like yesterday’s mashed potatoes. How had “reasonable men and women” become frightened enough and desperate enough to lose their good old American Horse Sense and verbally and physically hurt their fellow humans who had another opinion. I had always known that the Civil War was still an open Southern wound, slow, if ever, to heal. In my opinion, the way the South voted as first a Dixiecrat bloc and presently a Republican bloc, proved that to me. However, there are so many good people of good intent working to heal those wounds, I had hopes.
Daily my hopes are being pounded into dust. I didn’t understand. Usually, after an election, there is elation for one group, dejection for another. Eventually, as a nation, we pull up our socks and hoping for the best, pull together for the good of all. After my own disappointment in 2016, I really did hope for the best and was willing to give one and all the benefit of the doubt. A doubt, unfortunately that over the years expanded exponentially. I digress.
How did we forget that the American Way is to come together? Furthermore, life isn’t just about me, right? It’s about me in concert, cooperation, and coordination with my family, my friends, all my relationships… which includes my citizenship. Even if elected officials negate their responsibilities, that doesn’t absolve me of my duties as an American citizen.
Little did I know that working against all that good old American way of thinking were some of my social media choices. I have written before about the use of propaganda in this digital age. How did I get snookered into the very action I was wailing about?
I had written about Cambridge Analytica and how they invaded through algorithms people’s privacy …. and forgot that one of the major contributors to their success and ultimately their downfall was Facebook.
Yesterday, a good friend asked if I had seen a recent Netflix Documentary, The Social Dilemma. I hadn’t.
STOP. WATCH IT. THEN DELETE.
I saw it last night.
If they can’t find you, they can’t influence you. And if you think you can withstand their influence, make an appointment with your therapist. Denial and Delusion is not the name of a law firm, it is what I am guilty of. How can I continue to wonder why this growing rash of violence, separation, discord evolved from air? It didn’t.
Corporate greed from a new corporate breed: PROFIT OVER PEOPLE
Until these social media corporations have the same regulations as telephone, radio, and television companies have, you can personally take action. And it is an action that is totally in your hands… literally in your hands.
LOVE, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. Whatever Holidays you are celebrating I wish you love and joy. Herein are my gifts to you all:
P.P.S. I got some interesting responses to my latest Blah, Blah, Blog… Here are 2 of them:
1.This isn’t the first time Heather Cox Richardson and I have explored similar topics. Hers from an educated historian perspective me from the seat of my opinionated pants:
In Houston, Texas, today, police arrested a former police department captain for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in a misguided attempt to foil a massive voter fraud scheme. Sixty-three-year-old Mark Anthony Aguirre claimed to be part of a citizens’ group investigating voter fraud. Believing his victim was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck, Aguirre rammed the truck with his SUV and held the driver first at gunpoint and then with his knee in the man’s back until police came. Upon inspection, it turned out the truck was full of air conditioning parts. The district attorney, Kim Ogg, said “His alleged investigation was backward from the start—first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened…. [W]e are lucky no one was killed.” And the reason for this crazy man’s head bent full of these crazy ideas is Greed. Greed by big corporate players like Facebook and greed by right wing hucksters like Doug Jones who draws attention to his website by gorging out conspiracy theories in order to keep his audience outraged which makes them keep coming back for more and let’s him sell them more and thus pull in huge amounts of moneyAs they say in all of the detective stories: If you want to catch the criminal follow the money.
Very recently I had a very challenging and ultimately satisfying experience.
I think most of you received an email about my reading the Edith Wharton short story The Mission of Jane at The Mount (Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, Massachusetts)
This was going to be the fifth year of my reading this story. I had convinced the powers that be that the story was so rich and funny that a yearly reading would plumb the depths of pathos and humor of Wharton’s writing. Thankfully, they agreed.
Enter the villain virus.
It was a challenge for Susan Wissler, Executive Director of The Mount.
There is nothing Susan likes better than a challenge. She took a failing Mount out of bankruptcy and the cultural world marveled at her leadership bringing The Mount into solvency and success.
She accepted the Villian Virus challenge. The latest of which were the live readings of Edith Wharton’s and other short stories. Of course it had to be outdoors and the number of audience limited and distances set. She decided to use the forecourt of The Mount – a beautiful area originally established for carriages and cars to dispense passengers before their entering the mansion. It was perfect.
Wednesday, August 19th arrived with sun, then clouds, then rain and not until 4 pm before a 5:30 reading was there a go-ahead. Leaving this reader slightly frazzled. Hey, guys, those in the know know… it don’t take much for that to happen. Sensitive or neurotic or a little of both. Take your pick.
The build-up to performance was intense. I rehearsed. I tried to forget my age. (fat chance) I love performing. I love the story. I love The Mount.
“Be gone, Virus! You are not welcome here!”
The reading was SOLD OUT. The reading was limited to and audience of 45. I didn’t care. I love saying I played to a sold out house. Sue me!
I looked out over the audience. Two people seated way over left, 3 people seated way over right, 4 people here and there, another double, another triple, and so on spread apart from each other (as required by law) all through the forecourt. There was no audience seating. There were disparate chairs placed all over the space. So that I could not read to one group as I did before but individual groupings which made it difficult for the audience to relate to each other, no less to the reader.
It is something I never thought about before, but when a member of an audience comes into a performance space, he or she may start out individually but as the performance continues the audience slowly but surely becomes unified, sometimes for you and sometimes against you.
I would venture a guess that, seated together as they all are, that unity makes it possible for the actor or actors to create the necessary bond to create a satisfactory relationship. A catharthis, right? (look it up) I am grateful that the story was an hour long because it took me at least thirty minutes to bring this disparate audience into a unified one.
And then there is the wearing of masks. This was a reading in daylight. I looked out at a sea of faces masked to their eyeballs. At the beginning I couldn’t see their smiles or hear their laughter (some advantage… I couldn’t see them yawn, either.) As the story progressed and as the audience came together, the laughter escaped the masks and finally I could sense there was enjoyment.
There was a nice prolonged applause at the end of the story. And, my friends, I have to tell you I think in part it was for me and the story, but I also think it was because the event at The Mount gave 45 people the opportunity to come out from their isolation, from their quarantine and for that they were grateful. Me, too.
I want to thank Susan Wissler and The Mount for the opportunity for me to blow my horn and also for creating engaging, inclusive programs for all.
I was so grateful to be able to provide release and relief in the time of this pandemic. And I look forward (ain’t that a nice word for this time in all our lives!) to more creative and satisfying experiences.
Right? Of course, right!!!!
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. Our next opportunity for a creative and satisfying experience is coming up!!
Every time I think I have a handle on how to handle the world I and fellow beings presently inhabit, I lose the handle. Why can’t I keep a steady hand on the wheel of my life? I know the rules of safety. I try my best to follow them… Social distancing, masking, hand washing, sanitizing, travel limits.
I am kidding you and myself because, of course I know why I can’t keep it steady. I am not in control.
I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. I know the feeling well because I have been there many times before.
I think I am being vigilant. But then, I watch others out of my control, threaten themselves and others with their choices. It then becomes my responsibility to set limits and put out the no vacancy sign. It is so alien to the nature of this here beast.
My door has always been open. In the world today that is not an option. I can make some adjustments. And for this I am so very grateful that I am able to set up for a meal in the garden or the porch with safe spacing, masks and whatever else is necessary for the safety of all.
I did not know the depth and the extent of the migration of Black Americans from the South to the North and to the West from 1915 – 1970. For me, Ms. Wilkerson’s narrative is the foretelling of the ongoing struggle for Black equality we are experiencing at this time. She has chosen three protagonists from three different locations in three different decades of the migration. Their detailed journey from the white racism of the South that followed them to the white racism of the North and West is shocking and a necessary and important tool in understanding how racism, subtle and not so subtle works.
At the end of the book Ms. Wilkerson writes some notes about her methodology in putting this brilliant study together. She quotes from a 672 page report by a white-led Commission on the Chicago Riots of 1919 wherein the commission admonishes all.
THIS MUST CHANGE!
It is important for our white citizens always to remember that the Negroes alone of all our immigrants came to America against their will by the special compelling invitation of the whites; that the institution of slavery wast introduced, expanded and maintained by the United States by the white people and for their own benefit; and they likewise created the conditions that followed emancipation.
Our Negro problem, therefore, is not of the Negro’s making. No group in our population is less responsible for its existence. But every group is responsible for its continuance… Both races need to understand that their rights and duties are mutual and equal and their interests in the common good are identical… There is no help or healing in appraising past responsibilities or in present apportioning of praise or blame. The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present; an understanding of the facts of the problem — a magnanimous understanding by both races — is the first step toward a solution.
Excerpt, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, page 543
The report came out in 1922. Last time I checked my calendar it was 2020.
THOUGHT 3: IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE OBIT, EAT BREAKFAST
There is no way that I am going to leave you without a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart. Even though my go-to cheerleader, Carl Reiner, left for quieter climes.
I am sure Carl and Snoopy were in complete agreement.
Here is a documentary he narrated when he was only 94:
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. Happy July 4th. It’s way past time to put our money (and our votes) where our mouths are…
Have you been enjoying some of the most extraordinary watching on your computers, your television, your i- pads, your smart phones? The outpouring from every cultural corner of the world has been extraordinary.
Whether you choose to avail yourself of these privileges afforded you during this crises or not, if you are able, and it doesn’t have to be a large sum, but you have a debt that must be paid.
It is clear. The world will never be the same. There is a permanent change to all that were used to. Much adjusting and adapting must be done. Hopefully, most of it will be for the better.
However, we must guard against those things that without our help will disappear and leave our lives the emptier and shallower, and in my thinking, more meaningless. Of course, I am talking about those institutions we take for granted will always be there. Without support, they will not.
Here are some suggestions:
The local hospital, the library, the live theatre, dance and music organizations, the museums, public radio and television, all of those you have, in the past subscribed to. These represent our cultural history. It wasn’t so long ago we all went to see and hear a play, a recital, a dance, an opera, a lecture critical or not, something that challenged our minds and sensitivities. Now we turn to all our electronic accoutrement and in the convenience of our homes and with the kind generosity of these very same institutions reap the continued benefit of that challenge.
They need your help to sustain that challenge for the future or they will be gone. If we all do it, it doesn’t have to be much. All those political ads that ask for $5 or $10…they are counting on the multiples of giving people to make the difference. Be a multiple people person, and send to the group or groups of your choice what you can to help keep them alive.
And most importantly, send to your local shelter and food bank and community organizations that are helping people who have been displaced and discounted by this virus to get back onto their feet again. Never far from my thoughts, ever: “There but for the Grace of God…” I know you can finish the sentence.
Love – Sally-Jane
AMERICA: Oh my god! Coronavirus! What should we do?
CALIFORNIA: Shut down your state.
AMERICA: Wait… what? Why?
CALIFORNIA: Because 40 million people live here and we did it early, and it’s working.
NEW YORK: Welcome aboard.
OHIO: Whoa… whoa… let’s not be hasty now. The president said that this whole coronavirus thing is a democratic hoax.
CALIFORNIA: He also said that windmills cause cancer. Shut down your state.
TEXAS: But the president said that we only have 15 cases and soon it’ll be zero.
CALIFORNIA: The president can’t count to fifteen. Nor even spell it. Shut down your state.
NEW JERSEY: Us too?
CALIFORNIA: Yes, you guys too. Just like when Christie shut down the bridge, but it’s your whole state.
FLORIDA: But what about all these kids here on spring break?? They spend a lot of money here!
CALIFORNIA: Those kids invented the tide pod challenge. Shut down your state.
LOUISIANA: But wait let’s have Mardi Gras first. It entertains people.
CALIFORNIA: It also kills them. Shut it down.
GEORGIA: Ok well how about we keep the state open for all of our mega churches? Maybe we can all pray really hard until the coronavirus just goes away!
CALIFORNIA: Which is working like a charm for mass shootings. Jesus told us to tell you to shut down your state.
OKLAHOMA: What about the tigers?
CALIFORNIA: What about a dentist. Shut it down.
WYOMING: Hold up, maybe we should go county by county like the president said.
CALIFORNIA: Stop acting like there are counties in Wyoming. There are no counties in Wyoming. Wyoming is a county. Shut it down.
PENNSYLVANIA: But big coal.
CALIFORNIA: But big death. Shut it.
WEST VIRGINIA: But we were the last state to get coronavirus!
CALIFORNIA: And don’t make us explain to you why that was. Shut it down.
NORTH CAROLINA: But the republican national convention is coming here!
Listen, my friends I had to force myself to go and see it. Even after my daughter Lori made a special call to convince me to go. I put her recommendation into the back seat of my mind. I loved the recent Mr. Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor. What more was the movie going to show me? Nothing I did not already know. Right?
I was soooo wrong. It has nothing and everything to do with Mr. Rogers. And even though reviews have been very positive, from my point of view, none of the reviews touched on why today, more than at any other time in this world, everyone needs to see this movie.
Let me try to write how I experienced as I watched the movie unfold. From the opening, before the credits, a “lego-set “of a residential area of a nameless city (although if you know Pittsburgh, you recognize the three bridges that cross two rivers or is it three… I forget) and suddenly Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers walks into the set and begins to do the Mr. Rogers opening.
But, it is different from the one he usually does in his show as he introduces a picture board of different characters… most of whom you know from his show and one who you did not know, the writer who under duress and in anger has been assigned to do a profile on Mr. Rogers. From that very first moment, I was captured, captivated, you name it. I was had. The mystery, and it is a mystery of a plot unraveled.
A little background: I am in Florida. It was a rainy day. Perfect afternoon for the movies. And perhaps a dozen others thought the same thing. And from that very same beginning moment, this small audience breathed as one. I mean it. We all inhaled at the same time. We exhaled at the same time. No one moved a muscle… no popcorn munching. No slurping. No candy wrappers. We were all suspended in the one hour and 59 minutes of this movie.
Now I am not going into any more detail about the movie. You want to know how this story unfolds. Go to your movie house. I know it is playing there now.
By the end of the film, as the credits rolled, this small audience in a darkened theatre released their breath and applauded as if they were in a live show.
Why? They were moved. The cathartic emotional release of all was palpable. We had all, together, been part of an experience where anger and bile were transformed into love and forgiveness; released into the stratosphere by the catalyst of a vulnerable and fallible human named Fred Rogers.
What are you doing still sitting reading this? Get up. Get out. Get transformed.
Is what I said to my friend when I arrived back in the
United States after 3 weeks of European travel.
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.”
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.
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.
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)
So sayeth Frank Loesser, master songwriter and very early prognosticator of climate change…
In response to the fact of those words, those in the
Northeastern part of the country in downturned grimace, would reply, “Duh!! You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to
know that. I’m still wearing my long
johns. My boots haven’t left my feet. My rain hat hasn’t left my head.”
We are all looking somewhere over the rainbow for a warm,
dry, light at the end of the tunnel.
I am hopefully going to supply that for you.
Yesterday, as the rains continued to come, and the cold
continued to chill my bones, I
forced myself to walk around the
garden. Pretending the rain had stopped,
I sat down on a nearby bench. The bench
was in front of a large cedar bush. As I
sat down, I was attacked by a robin… well, not exactly attacked, but rather
aggressively buzzed around. Scared me
silly. Why was this bird attacking me?
This photo will explain the why….
With or without my will and my way, this photo of new life
hiding in the bushes, if I do not get in its way, this beauty of Spring birth
and life itself goes on. It happened in the cold and the rain. It happened with climate changers, yay and
Mrs. Robin didn’t ask to inhabit the bush in my garden. She didn’t sign a lease. She just moved in.
So, in truth, I had absolutely nothing to do with this event.
For being a platinum card control freak this was a great relief. I don’t have to feed them. I don’t have to babysit.
I can sit in my garden, away from the cedar bush of course, in the rain or shine, cold or warm, and know in some immutable way, life goes on… and it happened when I wasn’t even looking!
In profound surprise, humility, and love…. Sally-Jane