To Be Right or Not To Be…

My Dear Friends,

As a child, it was my understanding that if I wasn’t right, I wasn’t going to survive.  Those were the rules.  At home, in school, at the playground, I had to have the right answers and agree with the powers that be, parents, teachers, bullies… or else.

As an adult and a citizen of the United States of America,  I realized I didn’t have to or want to agree with everything or everyone.  I found places and people where I felt safe enough to agree to disagree.  What a blessing.

Over the last few years, I feel like I am regressing.  Once again, my survival is based on choosing the RIGHT people and the RIGHT answers.  And let me tell you, if I am going to regress, I’m going all the way and have me a temper tantrum. 

I have noted the movie musical 1776 before.  During the Second Continental Congress of the not yet born United States, representatives of the original 13 Colonies gathered in Philadelphia to issue a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.  Oh, my dear friends, you want to hear what disagreement and differences of opinions and varied interests both personal and communal sound like? Tune into this movie. From June 7, 1776 to July 4, 1776, the delegates from each State, alternately stamped their feet, threatened, cajoled, shouted, cursed, voted over and over, searching for the consensus necessary to pass the Declaration.  

As violently as they disagreed, no one pulled out a musket or brandished a sword or brought in a mob, to silence the debate.  

I must admit the Original Sin of this Declaration Convention was the inability of the Congress to remove forever the stain of slavery, which is and always will be a plague on this nation regardless of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.  Discussion of which requires a far more in depth exploration of race relations in this country than these words intend.

What is it about having to be right that really screws up a person’s personhood?  Do we all bring forward from childhood the fear that if we are not right, if we don’t belong to the right group, if we don’t equate righteousness with God, like Mel Brooks’ 2,000 Year Old Man, the Angel From Death will fly in our window and no necklace of garlic is gonna save any of us.

How do I make sense of our human frailties gone awry? When last we met, I shared the story of Ms. and Mr. Robin and the nest they built in the eaves of my porch. I have been diligently observing their progress. Ever ready with my vocal cords and scarf to shoo predators away from my rent-free tenants.  I watched as the mama moved from egg laying, to egg sitting, and papa stood guard taking on all alien enemies… including me.  I even stopped going through my front door.  I didn’t want to be responsible for an anxious mama.  We all know anxious mothers make anxious children.   

Every time Mama flies out for a little R&R, I take a quick peek, and then one day, blue eggs begin to appear.  While Mama sits on the eggs, Papa and me do the expectant parent parade. 

At last!  The babies hatch!  

Hallelujah!!! 

A few scattered feathers pulsing away as life takes hold.  I am transported.  The program of searching for food and feeding the babies begins. It is beyond anyone’s imagination how these parents work in tandem and harmony.  The mama sits to keep them warm, as the papa flies off in search of food.  The papa stands guard while Mama does her food turn. All happens without any discussion about who did what when and whose turn it is.  

A thought occurs to me.  I am not sure about the mating game for Robins, probably less complicated without the internet.  Pregnancy and delivery… lets not even discuss it.  I get it.  Humans are more complicated than birds.  Really?  Are they?  Well, goodness knows, sometimes I get the feeling that this is really our job.  Making life more complicated.  It’s not as if birds, e.g. animals, don’t have rules.  Their rules for survival are as defined and important as ours. However, animal rules are instinctual.  As humans evolve, our animal instincts take a back seat to society rules. 

Whoa!  Did I just say a mouthful?   Do I mean depending on who imparts the rules for my survival is how I will behave and think and be???

The question is not to be right or not to be. The more important question is, who am I really listening to inside my head? Me…? Or those voices that do not belong to me.

From all my observations, a robin is a robin is a robin. Furthermore, they don’t need to be right to fly. They only need to be free. 

What about it, my friends… Does that apply to us human animals as well???

What do you think ???

Love, Sally-Jane

Berkshire Spring – Wishful Thinking

My Dear Friends and Family –

I have returned from the South to the North just in time for Winter…. Let me explain…

We who live in the Berkshires, live in the hope that every Spring will begin on the calendar day of March 20th.  From then until sometime in June, it is a constant disappointment akin to finding out that there is no Santa. 

Every year along with snow or ice or unseasonable temperatures, Spring arrives. During the months of March, April, and most of May, an occasional balmy day arrives and you can hear the Berkshire sigh of, “at last”.  However, at last does not last.  For as long as I have been living here, this scenario hasn’t changed.  I do my best every time a friend or acquaintance complains about the lack of Spring weather to repeat what I know to be the truth.  Spring doesn’t come to the Berkshires until a few days before summer.  I feel like Cassandra, the former Trojan priestess of Apollo of Greek mythology, cursed to tell the truth and never to be believed.

I marvel at the loss of Berkshirites’ memory and at the same time I understand it.  In my psychobabble analysis, Winter in the Berkshires has its own special magic, up to a point.  After that point, we want it to be over.  I love a climate of seasonal changes and I find the transition from Summer to Fall easy because I welcome the movement of hot, humid days to cooler, dryer ones.  The colors of the leaves as they change from green to the rainbow hues of Autumn is inspiring.  The holiday season eases Autumn into Winter; festivities and good cheer for all.  And then comes January, with ice and sleet or snow and temperatures that dip to single digits and minuses. Then more of the same for February.  For me, all the other seasons blend from one to the other in a timely fashion.  Not Winter.  Winter hangs on like Carrie in the Stephen King movie; as soon as you think she’s gone, she gives us another minus degree day or snow storm in May… “she’s baaaack”.  She just won’t behave like any of the other seasons.

There is something mystical and mysterious about the journey from Winter to Spring.  It has to do with my theory of the sighting of land.

Sighting of Land Theory:  There have been times in life when I have found myself confused and lost amidst situations, decisions, choices, peoples of all stripes and colors.  It’s as if I am lost at sea.  Suddenly there appears a speck on the horizon.  My brainball receives it as a signal of hope.  I think, “not to worry, SJ.  There is a sign of land ahead.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.”   

Well, I think Winter to Spring has its own signs of land.  The groundhog starts the ball rolling followed by the budding and blossoming of trees and grass in that glorious iridescent green that almost hurts the eyes, dandelions, daffodils… all signal the Spring awakening.

As I write, outside my window, two beautiful robins have built their nest into the eaves of my porch.  Piece by piece of dry grass and sticks, I watch as they build their palace.  Now Ms. Robin sits on her eggs.  Mr. Robin keeps watch on the roof over the nest.  We all wait for the ultimate message of the arrival of Spring… new life.  

It’s almost the middle of May.  Once again I put on my winter jacket and hat to go out.  I think, “the calendar is just another human invention.  There exists a more accurate device signaling spring arrival… Mother Nature.”  

We just celebrated Mothers’ Day.  I hope you didn’t omit a thank you and acknowledgement of our debt to this powerful, wily woman and Mother to us all. Like errant children we can’t compensate our Mother for the damage we have already caused, but we can try to make amends by being aware of all she provides for a life of ongoing riches.   And when she kicks up a fuss with a hurricane, tornado, flood, fire, drought, remember we assisted in their creation.  

I am reminded of an advertisement many years ago about how you can’t tell a particular brand of margarine from real butter:

“YOU CAN’T FOOL MOTHER NATURE”

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

The Business of Living is the Best Defense Against Death – Just ask my 101 year old brother

My 101 year old brother sent me this photo of his latest achievement, the completion of this model of the airplane Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris in 1927.  

I am bowled over in awe, which doesn’t come often for me. For one thing, he doesn’t look like any 101 year old person I know.  True, I don’t know many 101 year old people. I don’t think there are many 101 year old people and certainly fewer who work on and complete a detailed model airplane, which requires dexterity, concentration, and abilities that many younger folk might  be stymied by.

I emailed the photo to family and friends. I received in return an email from a nephew with a copy of a 2001 Flying Models Magazine with a feature on my brother. 

My brother turned 80 in 2000 There was a celebration in Los Angeles.  He had moved to California from New York many years prior. Personally, I think that saved his creative life. After all, without the impeding judgment of nearby family  life can be more free and easy, right? 

 A little backstory, I was the seventh in a family of eight.  It was actually two families. Let me explain. My oldest brother, miracle man here, was born in 1920.  After him in fairly quick succession came four more children. The first five of what I call the “older part” of the family.  Then came a couple of birthing break years due to miscarriages and other problems.  As the depression started to heat up, out pops three more… The “younger part” of the family.  I was born in 1933.  Older brother in 1920, so there was enough of a gap that in no way did we have any real contact.  By the time I was in elementary school, he was eloping and going off to war.  He won’t talk about any of his time in Europe during World War II other than to say he was in the Battle of the Bulge.  A battle I have read about and understand why he won’t talk about it.  My only real contact with him after he returned from the war was after we began our Heit Family get togethers. And that was cursory at best with a quick peck and an even quicker “how are you?”, which really should have been, “who are you?”.  

I had no idea who my oldest brother was and visa versa. Each of us had what I call a family myth. His was his genius in designing model airplanes.  At 17 he sold the first of many of his designs.  Since that had nothing to do with my wanting to be Shirley Temple … who cared?

We arrive now to the year 2,000 and an invitation to attend his 80th birthday party in Los Angeles. For your perspective, I was 67 years old. 

By this time, I had already lost one brother from the older part of the family. I didn’t know who he was either. I knew my three sisters a little more because somehow I think we bonded purely along male/female battle lines… four girls, four boys. It was us against them and it made for a little closer harmony. Not necessarily more intimate, but more in the spirit of camaraderie. Probably because girls, even with rampant sibling rivalry, tend to be closer in relationships.  

All to say, I was going to try and find out who he was before attending the celebration. It’s the decent thing to do, right? Even then, I devoured mystery books and detective novels. So, now was the time to put what tools I acquired into practice. I began by buying every airplane model magazine I could find. I discovered the model airplane industry is alive and well. He sold his first design in 1937 or 1938. There was no way to research magazines of that era because microfilming and digital articles didn’t exist. What to do? Light bulb! I looked in the classified ads in the back of the magazine. In a section titled Antique Models was a list of individuals who sold kits of older model airplanes. I started calling around and asking if anyone knew of a Raymond Heit model airplane kit. The nays had it. At last, one man I called responded in what I heard as excited abandonment. He yelled, ”Ray?? Ray Heit??? I said, “Yes”. He said, “That is so interesting! I flew his Bayridge Mike in a competition last weekend and I won!” 

Initially, it was Greek to me but he finally translated. Bayridge Mike is my brother’s first design and this man won a recent competition with his model of that design. 

His name was Jim Alaback and he was out of his mind with joy when I told him Ray Heit was still alive. I explained I was Raymond Heit’s sister. I wanted to give him a gift of some of his old model plane kits for his 80th birthday. He put me in touch with a man in Oregon who sells antique kits. I thanked him and called the Oregonian. He had two of my brother’s designs from the late 1930’s and sent them to me. He, too, was glad to know Ray Heit was still alive and kicking. He had recently competed with his own model of Bayridge Mike and won. 

Jim Alaback called me back. Among other things, he was a stringer for Flying Models Magazine. He lived in San Diego and now that he knew Raymond was in California as well, he wondered if he could get in touch with Raymond to interview him for the magazine. 

Start the drum roll now. Hey, we all know I am a performer and at 67 I was still tripping the boards. Lest we forget all my siblings were present, minus one. In the family, I was known disparagingly as “the actress”. I was not about to let this opportunity go, to show my siblings that I was more than “just an actress”. And I didn’t. 

Most importantly, my oldest brother, who typically maintains “cool” as his permanent temperature, was singularly not cool. I was moved by personal revelations about a brother I did not know. The cherry on the cake was a planned interview with Alaback for the magazine.

And that is the one with the article my nephew recently sent to me.

Following the party, there was a meeting of minds and sensitivities of brother #1 with sister #7. A deepening of the connection which has everything to do with family and nothing to do with family. We had discovered each other and to this day maintain a growing and affectionate relationship. He has a passion that won’t quit. I believe it is that passion that gives his life the best defense against death.

Sending me a photo of himself at 101, 21 years after his 80th party, stirred the memory pot. As to that, I am of two different minds… so what else is new? Too much memory mucking around is not good, for it takes me out of the present where I need to be to keep my anxious tendencies tampered down. And yet, how important it is to keep those memories alive, both the yin and yang. They add texture and depth to a life lived. 

The Original Heits c.1938 in Atlantic City
The Seven Heits at Raymond’s 80th Birthday Party in 2000

Blending memories and realities is key to keeping my balance. For me, this photo has elements of the past, the present and the future. This my friends is Golden. Pure Gold.

Right??? Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Did You Make A Resolution?

Did anyone you know make a resolution?

What is a New Years’ Resolution?

Is it a wish?

Is it a prayer?

Is it a confession?

Is it none of the above?

Is it all of the above?

Maybe resolutions are out of fashion because they open you to judgement and criticism?  

What am I talking about, you ask? Look guys… sit back and relax and let me try to explain not only to you, but to myself how my circuitous mind works.

I find it interesting that in conversations today, most particularly after you’ve opened yourself to how you think and feel with someone, their response to you can be something really hurtful and on occasion, downright cruel. This usually is followed by a coward’s cover-up of, “nothing personal”.
Oh yeah, right!!!

As the world divides (and the divisions are growing like viruses in a petri dish), there are fewer and fewer conversations without the “nothing personal” caveat.  This caveat allows us humans to judge, criticize, and obliterate the others.  

Definition of The Others:  They don’t look like you.  The don’t think like you.  They don’t talk like you.  You get the idea.  

This makes me aware of the loss of our moral muscles.  Muscles I took for granted would always be there.  Like everything else worth holding onto, if you don’t practice, if you don’t use those muscles, you lose those muscles.  I never thought I would witness such a profound and growing loss.  And it’s not just here… it is worldwide. When 9/11 happened, there was a moment, literally just a moment, where the world came together in shock, pain… a global sense of the outrage, the grief, the loss. That moment, unfortunately, was squandered and I believe we continue our downward spiral culminating in the current divisive incivility.

In this environment, it is difficult to make any resolutions.

And yet, I believe these once a year resolutions, particularly in times of stress, sturm and drang, have a special purpose.  They take us out of ourselves into a world of others.  Think about it.  Isn’t it a kind of ritual (only after the family geshtangananga, of course), when you sit down at a Thanksgiving table to go around and have each person give their thanks for whatever?  Well, New Years’ Eve or New Years Day is the time to look over the year and resolve ways and habits to give you not a face lift but a life lift.  Right?

Phew!  We finally got to where I wanted to go from the beginning. Like I said before a circuitous route.

MY RESOLUTIONS:  

As an 88 year old woman living in the Pandemic of Covid, circa year two going into year three, I am on my knees in gratitude for my vaccinations and booster, my masks, provision of clean water for drinking and washing, good food, shelter, clothing.  I resolve to not take any of this for granted.  I further resolve to hold any whining about any inconvenience in my life to an in-my-closet-stifled-silent-scream.

The Scream
Edvard Munch

I resolve to contribute to certified organizations that bring health, cleanliness, food, and shelter to peoples in need.  (The link above is not a recommendation, simply a list.)

And most importantly, I resolve to take myself out of myself.  It can really get so boring in there. Let me tell you… nothing leads to depression more than boredom.  Depression is not a good thing for anyone.  For the elderly it is a disaster.  You hear me?  A disaster.  So stop already. 

 I can just hear you, guys…. ”Oh, sure.  That’s easy for you to say.”

A lot you know.  

Nothing is easy for anyone who once was able to do or be or say anything and now cannot, whether due to age or money or health or any change.  Even though it is the only constant, humans don’t do change very well. It takes us forever to figure out the obvious.  Dare I write the words Climate Change… oops, I just did.  

You already know that laughing lowers blood pressure and raises spirits.  Here is something else you can try.  And remember you don’t have to sing or dance.  Just look as this guy.  He can’t do either and they love HIM…

 Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

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.

Where Does It Hurt? Don’t Ask!

My Dear Friends…

Let’s start with the gratitude.

Each morning that I open my eyes I am grateful. I mean really grateful. I mean not taking it for granted grateful.  I mean at my age that eye opening event is not a given. Yeah, yeah, I know… at any age.  But let’s get real.  At almost 88, for me that ranks as almost historic. I have a brother totally compos mentis and active who recently celebrated 101 years who would call me a child. If only. No, that is not true.  I can’t believe I am going to write this.  But there really is no other age or time I want to be in other than the one I am in now.  With what is going on how is that even possible?

Well, let me tell you what supersedes all… LIFE… however challening and difficult… LIFE!

So back to my daily awakening. I open my eyes and I am grateful. I roll out of bed… yes, that’s what I said, I roll out of bed to the bathroom. I am so much more aware of the waddle I purposely use and the care I take all in the prevention of the real villain of getting up there in age… THE FALL.  Too many of my friends and relations have gone the way of all flesh because of a fall. So yes, I do not mind walking and moving like an aging elephant if it prevents my falling (I admit, at my age I am happily the elephant in the room, always.)  

Where was I?  Oh, yes! I return to roll back onto and into bed and am the happier for that initial journey. And that is when I take my first snooze… maybe 5 minutes.  And then it begins.

I open and close my eyes many times. When I close my eyes, I try to go for another little snooze.

Foot or Head note: This process usually begins around 6:00A.M.

True, it’s early, but I finish reading around 10:00P.M. the night before only because that is when  the eyes seem to close all by themselves.

So… 6 A.M. begins the eyes-opening-awake-eyes-closing-snooze time. I think this is an old habit.  From my school days through and to my work days, I always struggled for that extra sleep time. Then, I needed it. I had show business hours. I went through the motions looking like I was awake (not!) until around 11 A.M. However, now as I have no set schedule except that which I create with the help of friends, family, and my various enterprises, I am beginning to realize after about half an hour, why I am putting off getting up and out of bed.

Waking my body up after a night of slumber is no easy task.

Who knew?  Not me.

I heard from others how getting older takes its toll on the body. Not me. I plied my body with exercise and movement. But even with practice, the body reaches a point of no return. Again, I thought, not me.

I feel like Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (great movie by the way). Her character never cried uncle in defeat.  

Forced by decisions she made, finally she cried UNCLE!  I find myself forced by simple body arithmetic, crying UNCLE!

Sue me!  My body has a different agenda than my head.

It is like the photo of myself I look at and the mirror I look into.They are both parts of the same person. And yet, they each tell a different story.  

It is not good for my morale to remember hopping out of bed to get ready for the day.
The word hopping is not in my vocabulary unless it applies to Peter Rabbit.

It is not good for my morale to remember shouting to a friend, “I just got out of bed.  I’ll be ready in 10 minutes.” Ten minutes would just be the getting out of bed part.

It is not good for my morale to go without breakfast which I regularly did.
I need the food to process pills.

Ask me if I am depressed?
I am not. Wistful, sometimes, but not depressed.

I repeat what I wrote before: There is no other age or time I want to be in other than the one I am in now.
What?  Am I crazy?  Well, of course…

Yeah, yeah, I am a late bloomer. So was Grandma Moses.

And I haven’t even mentioned the STATE of STATE affairs. The rending of our Founding Fathers dreams of a nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.  It’s almost as though I want to say to each of the politicians that electronically spout the lies of racism, the election, the pandemic, the vaccinations, the climate… ”Hey, guys, I know how hard it is to get out of bed in the morning.  Don’t!”  Imagine having a break from all their nasty insanity… now that’s something I might try to hop out of bed for.

By all manner of ways and means, I should be depressed but a phrase keeps rolling around in my brainball:  The Best of All Possible Worlds.

Voltaire, a writer extraordinaire of the 17th Century, wrote a novella Candide.  It is a satirical take on those of us who choose to remain optimists as the tsunamis of life appear on the horizon ready to sweep us out into the roiling sea. Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein did the lyrics and the music of this very successful musical adaptation. 

Oh, by the way we have a present day CandideTed Lasso. Maybe that’s why the show is so successful and why everyone loves him so much. He is the cockeyed optimist. He lives in the best of all possible worlds. He believes. Maybe we love him because we are on cynical overload and want to believe, too.

Summing it up my friends, it is definitely harder to get out of bed in the morning.  All my body parts have to be aligned for it to happen with a minimum of discomfort.  

I fear the news, personal and otherwise, is not going to get much better for at least the near future.  However, As the Pilgrims and other early seafarers after months and sometimes years at sea, in survivor relief, shouted, “Signs of Land”!!.  

And I believe there are happenings that warrant encouragement:

* Brittany Spears’s father is out! 
* Prince Harry and Prince William reconcile. 
* In an extraordinary bipartisan agreement Cuomo, DeSantis, Abbot, Cruz ,Hawley, and Greene, before establishing their new law firm, have formed their own anger management Foundation.
* Trump has joined an Ashram in the Catskills.
* Melania has left with her mother for Monte Carlo. 

But for the most encouraging sign of all follow these instructions:

Take the fingers of your right hand, place them on the inner wrist of your left hand, if you feel the beat all good things will follow.

Right?  Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Words, Words, Words

My Dear Friends and Family,

This past week one of my daughters sent me this video of Jon Batiste performing “FREEDOM” on the Colbert Show. (I have included it below.)

As I watched, I felt I was transported to a Gospel Church moment. Batiste, who has long been Steven Colbert’s band leader is Black and Beautiful and moves like a dream. The song was a totally infectious experience and I think I played and danced to it several times. My daughter was right when she said it was a joyous happening to be shared.  And so I thought of all of you, my dear friends and family.

As I got ready to send it out, I started thinking about the name of the song and Batiste’s definition of the word, Freedom.  Being Black and Beautiful, he wrote the song from his perspective of the word. I get that. I understand that.  I applaud that.  

However,  I might sing and dance to his song Freedom from an entirely different perspective.  Along with oh, so many of my fellow beings, I could shout and dance out my freedom from a year of Covid Pandemic isolation.  

And as I continued my thought line, the lyrics of another song crept into my consciousness…

Words, words, words

I’m so sick of words

First from him now from you

Is that all you blighters can do

If you think Freedom is one thing, and I think it’s another, how do we communicate? In truth, it’s like we are all speaking a foreign language in an attempt to find a path to understanding. I thought about confusion in communications around three very important words…

What I wanted most in my life was to be KNOWN. If you know me, you’ll love me. Now, don’t yell on me. I was young and I was desperate. One important slice of this equation was missing. If I didn’t know me, how was anyone else supposed to know me?  When I was a student and fiancée, I defined Freedom as escape. The only way for me to be free was to escape home and family. Unfortunately, early in my life, my courage was limited to making a fool of myself on stage. In the 1950’s the approved way to leave home was to get married. Marriage equaled Freedom.  Twenty-seven years later Freedom equaled Divorce. Go figure!!!

At different stages of my life, Freedom meant something else.Today, I’m not sure if my mortality has increased my vision, but I am open to most everyone’s interpretation of Freedom. Except, of course, if their freedom takes away my freedom. This is a no-no.

I think it is inherent, dare I say it, on a cellular level most of us want to be known. It takes a great deal of courage to be known. I have a sneaking suspicion that fear wipes out that courage. This makes me believe you cannot be known without being FREE.  

TRUTH

First I shall tell you, growing up in my family my ability to survive was based on how well I could lie. From the womb, I was an actress, so pretending (that’s the polite word for lie), was very easy for me.

I shall admit, I had a lot of help from the adult community. How many times were you told, don’t tell mama, don’t tell poppa, if that’s your sister on the phone, tell her I’m not here… and on and on the requests go.  I’m not accusing anyone. Goodness knows it’s an accepted social practice… the little white lie.  But as a child, it’s difficult to discriminate the social lie from, “I did not lose  Mother’s engagement ring that she was saving to pawn because she needed money to pay into her Christmas Savings Account for your presents so you don’t get any this year.”  

I think about storm troopers throwing open the door and shouting out, ”Are you Jewish?”  What would you do?  I for one do not know. Of course, I’d like to think I would proudly stand up and do the honorable thing, but isn’t that the question? What is honorable? To survive or not to survive. Furthermore, in the scheme of life, he or she who casts the first stone could break a window and then what???  I do not feel the need to lie anymore. This is a good thing. And frankly, I don’t have a lot of patience with those that continue to lie. Nothing really is that important.  As long as I follow the Golden Rule… Do Unto Others as you would have Others Do Unto you… I don’t think I have to.  In someone’s wisdom (I wish I knew who)… THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.  BUT FIRST IT REALLY PISSES YOU OFF.

LOVE

OK  now we have come to the sticky part.  Oi Vey!  For this I am going to be moided (Brooklynese for murder). For me, there is no universal definition for the word love.

How could there be? Our life experiences forbid it.  However, when has that ever stopped me from having all the answers? I’m still making it up.The difference today is I know I’m making it up.

 All right, we need to separate Romantic Love from Universal Love. 

I have been in romantic love at least a billion different times, with all God’s critters.  Mostly male of every stripe and color. Only about 10 of the billion knew I was in love.  And of the ten, I married only one. Once was more than enough. Now, everyone has their own romantic love stories to tell and if I felt like it, I would tell you mine.  But I don’t. So I won’t. You can always do what I do and make it up. A kind of coupling of your truth with romantic love.   All to say that romantic love is brilliant and necessary for population growth and hormones. (It’s dropping by the way… population growth, that is… not hormones!!! Any theories???)  

Universal Love. For me it will always  belong to the world of Spirit. It is in that world I find myself more and more comfortable and more and more the need to inhabit. Yeah, sure, of course, to some extent  this feeling is age related. However, I have to acknowledge this world of Spirit has always been with me. I was among the many who had experienced early childhood trauma. Too young to know about God or religions, but always knowing somehow during this time, I was cared for.  In many of my darkest times, it is and was always there. It comes in the form of humor, wonder, and yes, mostly LOVE.  I have found my place in the Universe and I am loved not just by my friends and family. I can look at a sunrise and even knowing I had nothing to do with bringing it up (such a relief to have that off my plate!), be in love with the wonder of it all. I and those who can experience sunrise, sunset, and all the wonders of the Universe, know we are loved. How come it took me so long to get it? I don’t know.

Which reminds me… I want to share a new “AHA!!” with you. Just yesterday my 3 favorite words were, “I Love You”.  Today, with MY PHD in Judgement intact,  my 3 Most Favorite Words are,

 I DON’T KNOW.

And that’s my definition of Freedom, Truth, and Love.

Right?  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane❤️

A BOX OF MEMORIES ARRIVES…

What occurred that precipitated the arrival?

I am so glad you asked.

The weekend before, the family celebrated the Bat Mitzvah of my daughter.

Please, do not panic. I am not Abraham’s wife, Sarah from the Bible.  

I am the 87 year old mother of a 57 year old daughter who made a decision to join her husband and three children in her quest for her official place in the Jewish Community.  She has studied and worked for the last two years towards this ceremony and the family gathered. The first post-pandemic gathering at an outdoor Synagogue service with Zoom accessibility for friends and family across the time zones of the world.  

It was a heart and soul event that was an antidote of good will, good cheer, intellectual and spiritual edification, and a beautiful outpouring of love, displacing, at least for a moment, the Covid/Pandemic scenario. Proving that with vaccinations and careful preparations life as some of us have known it continues.

The weekend brought my family together. My immediate family consists of 3 daughters, Dianne, Lori, Pamela. After the event Dianne and her family, who have been in Barcelona for the past 2 years, drove me back to my home in Great Barrington to visit. From the age of 13 she has always had a keen culinary interest (Lori, as well. Pammy inherited my reticence in the kitchen).  One evening gifted me with a great and very complicated dinner.  She shopped for all her ingredients.  I think she used every pot and utensil my kitchen possessed.  There was no room for me in the kitchen.  It was overloaded with all the food she bought and the equipment and my daughter. I was excited and I might add, a little curious.  Since Humpty Dumpty was nowhere to be found, who was going to put the kitchen back together again?  We’ll get to that later.  Best not to disturb the creative genius at work.

A triumph. The dinner was brilliant. So delicious. Each dish in itself was tasty and unique. It didn’t matter that all together they didn’t quite go together.  She has a very natural culinary talent.

In an instant, my memory was jostled back to a Christmas years ago when she was 13 and her sisters 11 and 9.  They had asked what I wanted for Christmas.  I asked them if they would each prepare their own dinner for the family.  Her sisters prepared age appropriate menus… hot dogs and beans, hamburgers and chips.  However, at 13, Dianne decided to challenge Julia Child to a food duel in my kitchen. The same result. Even if nothing went with anything, each dish, in itself was excellent.  

Back to the present… As she put the kitchen back in order, I reminded her of that long ago Christmas gift. She remembered. We laughed.  She left the next day to travel to visit friends and family and her storage unit in Baltimore.  She was in a cleaning out mode before heading back to Barcelona.  

A day or so later, she called and said she found the Christmas gift menu of when she was 13.  I couldn’t believe it.  Serendipity, synchronicity …

Here is her menu. 

Like I said.  Everything had great taste…then and now.

There are so many questions that have occurred to me from this memory box.

Why did I ask my children to learn to use the kitchen at 13, 11 and 9?

At the time we were living in Washington, D.C. Somewhere deep in my subconscious… I wanted to return to New York City, pound the pavements of Broadway to become a STARRRRR.   I had to wait until the children were at an age where they would be able to care for themselves and to understand why I needed to go.  To assuage the guilt for even thinking about  such a “bad mommy” idea, I thought of it as just a practical application of life… kind of an at-home home economics course .  Oh, my dears, I don’t know about you, but my ability to block my subconscious tends toward genius.

The other part of this memory that brings an appropriate question to mind is why is a Jewish family celebrating Christmas.  It actually comes from my family tradition.  I am one of 7 brothers and sisters.  We all went to Sunday School.  The 4 boys all had a Bar Mitzvah.  The 4 girls Confirmed.  We were Reform Jews and back then, girls did not have a Bat Mitzvah (that’s how old I am!).  Most importantly we did celebrate all the Jewish Holidays which included Hanukah, but my mother loved Christmas.  She loved the spirit of joy and peace.  She loved the music. And most of all she loved SHOPPING.  Even through the depression, she opened a Christmas Savings Account to put money away every week to buy all of us presents.  And my father who had always wanted to be an actor played his starring role of the year, Santa Claus. 

I will say that his costume was a bit bizarre.  He had a great Santa mask with beard and a gorgeous Mandarin Silk Robe as his suit.  Please don’t ask me.  I have no idea where this combination came from.  It occurs to me that perhaps as a Jew this was his “not going all the way” in the Christian mode.  It was, to say the least, memorable.  I continued this tradition.  Unfortunately, my former husband had no theatrical ambitions so we did it without a Santa.  I wonder… was our Christmas celebrations of the past an unlit spark in my daughter who was just Bat Mitzvahed?

So many questions and any answer I might have just brings up another question.

That’s life, right guys?? I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am happy to live with another question.

Right????  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. I don’t remember looking this good.

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 ❤️

THE ART OF GIVING AND RECEIVING

My Dear Friends and Family,  

Wow!  Is this Holiday season different from any Holiday season you’ve ever had, or what???  Everything is so… so… so…

VIRTUAL.

I love giving presents almost as much as I love receiving them. I was confounded and I whined, “How am I going to send a gift to one and all of my  Blah Blah Blog’s friends and family.”

Sometimes I can’t see the forest from the trees or is it the trees from the forest. Well, it is one of those things.  And I really cant tolerate listening to me whine.

So I said to myself, “Self!  Stop whining about missing the real and live and get on the virtual band wagon!”

Along with some wonderful contributions from friends, I have searched ‘Da Web’ and come up with a Holiday Package of Fun and Cheer and Song and Dance.

Please feel free to share your own favorites.

With Love ~ ❤️ Sally-Jane

😂 GIFT #1 FOR ALL US SILLY CRITTERS 🤪

🦛 GIFT #2 FOR THOSE WHO HAVE EVERYTHING 🎄

GIFT #3 FOR THE IMAGINATION SEEKERS 😲

🤫 GIFT #4 FOR THE SILENT MAJORITY 🤣

🥳 GIFT #5:  FOR THE WANNABE STAND-UPS 🤩

🎼 GIFT #6:  FOR THE CHILD IN ALL OF US 🎄

🥧 GIFT #7: A RETRO GIFT FOR ALL THE HOLIDAY BAKERS 🍪

🩰 GIFT #8: FOR THE HOLIDAY TRADITIONALISTS 🌠

GIFT #9: FOR ONE AND ALL 🎶

🙏🏽 AND OF COURSE… 🙏🏼

HAPPY HOLIDAYS ❤️ WITH MY LOVE ~ SALLY-JANE