I Forgot To Remember

All right, already. I get it. You age. You lose inches. I was 5’7”. Now I am 5’5”. Does this mean there is a corresponding loss of gray matter in my brain?

Please relax and follow my thoughts as best you can.

My lovely Doctor takes very good care of me. He will not allow me to read any of my test results. He understands the high level of anxiety I operate under, aka neurotic lady, and knows any test results sent to me will be read as a death sentence. Therefore, he promises he will interpret my test results and call me.  Like I said… a good guy.

A few days ago, he changed the routine of my blood pressure pills. Tell me if this is too much information. A few days ago, I watched some television, got into bed, read, and after an hour or so, fell asleep.  🎶Hitchcockian spooky chord🎶

I awoke with a start. It was 11:30 P.M. Shoot me! I go to bed early.  🎶another spooky chord🎶 

First silently, then aloud:

Me:  Did I take my evening pills? 🎶the most chillingest spooky chord🎶

And then began the evening from Hell. As I age, the levels of stress don’t just creep up on me anymore.  They jump, leap and pole vault into world breaking Olympic records of anxiety.

I think passing a certain age, for me 85, for people of my heightened sensibilities, (nicer sounding than “nutcase”), closing my eyes brings about many nights of Hell.

It’s not that complicated.

If I close my eyes tonight, will I open my eyes tomorrow?

I wish I could say this is a new phenomenon for me. But I have always had a little of the Angel of Death from Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks’ Two Thousand Year Old Man in me. I imagine I sleep wearing a bejeweled necklace of peeled garlic. As Mel Brooks would tell it, “Vel, the Angel from death, flies in. Takes one whiff from my necklace. Feh!  Flies right back out again.  And I am good for another night.”

The night when I couldn’t remember if I took my pills I went through my  DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES scenario.  However, a new subtext was added to my already high anxiety.  First the inches? Now the memory? 

My whole life, as an actress and writer, is predicated on MEMORY.  And I was good at it. I never had any difficulties. There was the usual opening night nervous actor’s nightmare of standing on stage, mouth open, no words coming out… panic personified. But this wasn’t a nightmare. This was real. I thought about all those times I listened to friends complain about memory lapses. I always had what I thought were words of logical comfort.  

Me:  Stop! You are not losing it. Remember, the brain can only absorb so much information.  As it absorbs new information, it has to release old information to make room for the new.  Right? You don’t know what information the brain released. Right?  So of course you can’t remember. Because the brain released that information. It isn’t there anymore.  Right? You can’t possibly remember what you don’t know. Right? Feel better???

Somehow that convoluted rationale doesn’t work anymore. What a surprise! This new stage of my life is giving me a real run for my money. What I mean is on certain days of the week, when a new twinge twinges or a I can’t remember if I took my pills, it frightens me. Then I remember what one of my many therapists said to me. Don’t laugh. Every stage of life required an ”at-that-stage-of-life” therapy.

Me:  I’m afraid.

Fear of death Therapist:  Can you talk about it?

Me:  I don’t have enough money.  You don’t have enough time.

Fear of death Therapist:  You do know that fear and excitement have exactly the same physical characteristics.  Heart pounds, pulse quickens, breath is short.  Choose excitement!

Me:  Excuse me…???

Fear of death Therapist:  You can choose fear.  You can choose excitement.  CHOOSE EXCITEMENT!!!

I forgot she said that. Not because I had a brain blip. But because fear clogged my brain arteries. As long as I can do it, it is my job to unclog those arteries. Let in the light. I guess It’s time to get out the shovel, dig deeper into awareness and acceptance… one more time. No matter how much I try to hold back the dawn, I continue to change. A euphemism for the aging process. I know I have no idea how many more changes are left for me. I also know if someone tells me one more time the only constant is change, we are done, finished, kaput.

Just to keep you in the loop, I forgot to take my pills that night. Spoiler alert! I am still here, a sadder but wiser girl.

This particular change is difficult for me. I am loathe to surrender my memory advantage. In an argument or discussion, it has always been my get-out-of-jail card. It is difficult to be judgmental and opinionated if you don’t have the facts as I see them, right???  

Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Take a look at how Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold in the film, Gigi handle their memory lapses.  All to say, be kind to others and mostly to yourself.

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 ❤️

The Human Touch

I thought my last Blog, Pandemic Induced Moods vs. The Big Laugh was going to be my last of the 2021… a Season’s Giving and Greetings to my intrepid Blah, Blah, Blog followers.  And then I read the CNN interview of emergency room nurse Audrey Wendt from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In an ever growing world of disassociated and disappearing humanity, however sad the subject of the interview was, for me this nurse showed that even in an ocean of despair, there were signs of land.  Ms. Wendt gave light to the darkness in the sorely missing person to person connection.  

Oh, my friends, the hug and the squeeze is going, going, almost gone.  The kiss?  Fuggetaboutit!  I understand the necessity for it.  I do.  However, I believe there is a visceral connection between the going, going, gone, and the lack of caring and concern for others that is going along with it.

As we fade out of 2021 and take baby steps into 2022, I am attaching this interview for you.

Read it,  please!  I ask you to take this interview to heart, literally and figuratively.  

As you, take it all to heart, a question occurs to me.  If I can’t ask my almost best new friends,  than who can it ask?  Ready?  

Where has Spirit gone?

Not a specific to any particular religious belief kind of spirit.  Although, if that works for you, that is great.  I am writing and thinking about the Spirit that moves the Universe.  

Believe me, my adorable ones, you are all original, wonderful, and brilliantly creative… BUT… this morning you did not bring up the Sun, nor will you set it this evening.  Come on!  Admit it!  We are surrounded by people who believe the Universe wouldn’t move without them.  I know.  I used to be one of them.  

I think the more distance I create between myself and the mysteries and movement of the Universe, the more distance I create between me and you.

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S.
Norton Owen, Director of Preservation at Jacob’s Pillow, has put together a video playlist, “Spirituals”. The collection is inspiring and challenging.  Inspiring because of the enormous talent of all.  Challenging because it proves that the Universe, Creation and Spirit are ONE.

RIGHT? OF COURSE, RIGHT!!!!

P.P.S. I’m still an Opinionated OP-ED writer…. Change a Habit, Save a Lake

P.P.P.S.

Pandemic Induced Holiday Moods vs. A Good Laugh

My Dear Friends and Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

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

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

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

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 ❤️

I THINK I CAUGHT A SYNDROME

My Dear Friends,

I have been a Covid hostage from March of 2020 until February of 2021, which is when I got my first vaccination shot.  That is enough time for what’s called the Stockholm Syndrome to take root and build within my psyche the necessary combination of fear and helplessness.  If that isn’t a diagnosis of the Stockholm Syndrome then I’m a monkey’s uncle.  Although, as we struggle with new gender definitions, I believe I would be a monkey’s aunt or monkey’s They????  Sorry, can’t go there because I am too ill informed.  

Ok so I acknowledge I am a victim of Covid Stockholm Syndrome.  And thankfully, I do not feel alone.  Please let me know if this resonates with you.

Since I have returned north (Brrrrrrr!!!), I have been talking to friends and family about their winter in a cold Covid climate and the advent of the vaccinations and the promise of a different Spring and Summer from last year.  I feel like I am a human who has been in hibernation. And as the vaccinations proceed very slowly, one foot in front of the other, sniffing and searching as I go, testing the waters as I move from my cave into the light.  

In a sense, the exit from my cave and my acceptance of the vaccine is a very personal leap of faith. Every time I have ever made one of those leaps of faith, I have found the juice of life is more profound and though the leaps can be challenging and frightening, ultimately for me they make my life more satisfying.

Yeah???  So what’s my point??? 

Well, I have discovered quite a few friends that are satisfied with the Covid status quo of the past. Translation: No vaccine. I have spent much of my life opting for FREE CHOICE… religion, race, sex, education… your life, you choose.  Well, of course there is a caveat… what’s the matter with you?  You think life is fair or free?  Not!  Only for babies! And then, as sadly we know, in many cases not even for babies.  

All right already, I’m getting to it. Here is my point. There is a cost to life. We are periodically asked to make a leap of faith.  And for me, getting the vaccine is a leap of faith.  There is so much we don’t know.  We don’t know way more than we do know… forever.  However, if I want to come out of my cave, not wear a mask, travel to see friends, relatives, or the Aurora Borealis, give or get a hug from someone outside my POD (OMG it sounds like a remake of The Body Snatchers), then I need to get my shot.

So what has this got to do with the Stockholm Syndrome? 

All of us have been kidnapped by Covid, that’s what!!! 

I think it’s time we recognize that fear and helplessness narrows the world and limits life’s opportunities and the wonderful joyful noise that goes with it.

Right???  Of course Right!!!

Love ~ Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S.

I am not throwin’ away my shot

I am not throwin’ away my shot

Hey yo, I’m just like my country

I’m young, scrappy and hungry

And I’m not throwin’ away my shot

My Shot, from Hamilton

What Has La Brea Tar Pits To Do With Herd Immunity?

My Dear Friends –                  

I have had some interesting discussions with friends and acquaintances who have refused vaccinations. Now we all know how ridiculously judgmental I can be… not all the time, but enough of the time to make these discussions, in polite terms, volatile. The reasons against Covid-19 vaccination run the gambit from “not enough time” to “prove the efficacy of the drug” to “political chicanery” from all parties, including current and former Presidents as well as everyone in the House and the Senate, ad infinitum.  

Now, I shall acknowledge the use and abuse of both parties to politicize the vaccinations.  Science has always had difficulties with the powers that be. Religion and science have made nice over the centuries. They are still suspicious of each other but my take, at least in the United States, is that slowly, very slowly, religion has begun to take its proper place in the pantheon of life as a support system for individuals… part of the four freedoms… freedom of worship.  My belief is that this freedom will allow Science and Religion to co-inhabit the world. Imagine that!!

Over the past pandemic year in isolation I have been keeping good company with myself. Herein lies a recent conversation I’ve had with me:

What is behind the rejection of vaccination?  FEAR!!

Duh!!!  So tell us something we don’t know????

OK, I’ll try.

I’m stumped.

Go to Google.

Again?

Yes, again!

Oh, this is good… it’s almost as though Google knew what I was thinking.

That’s what they are paid for.   

Listen to this quote from Bertrand Russell.

Who?

British Philosopher (1872-1970)

Right!

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity towards those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”

Yeah, soooooo….

So this Covid Pandemic has frightened all of us… some to death, some to illness, some to lockdown, some to boredom, some to anger, most to confusion and paralysis.

Wow!  Puts me in mind of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles.

Excuse me?

The Tar Pits outside of Hancock Park. Over many centuries, the tar pits preserved the bones of trapped animals.  

Excuse me?

Here’s the story!  Back thousands of years ago there was an approaching climate change.  Over the centuries there were many climate changes. You know like another Ice Age or heat wave or drought… there weren’t too many deniers of climate change back then because there weren’t that many humans and there were no political parties. However, most of the animals and the few humans had very sharpened animal instincts. The largest of which was survival. Survival and fear go hand in hand. So picture the dinosaurs chomping away on trees and grass (yes most of them were vegetarians) and as the weather changed, their survival/fear instinct was aroused.  Now they loved L.A. but those who followed their instincts left Hancock Park and moved north to where they found safety for many millenniums along with evolutionary changes.  

Today you can see the remnants of those who ignored their survival/fear instincts and became trapped in the ooze of the La Brea Tar Pits.  

What has that got to do with anything?

Sometimes talking to myself is so difficult. Do I have to spell everything out for you?

Please…

It’s called species adaptation. Species that adapt to changes survive. Species that don’t… don’t!

Yeah?  So what?

Don’t you see. We have two herds. We have the Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the VHI.  We have the No Vaccine Herd Immunizers or the NVHI.  Both herds fear Covid.  However, once the scientists and the FDA approved the vaccines, the VHI team lined up, pushed ahead and did whatever to get their shot. They moved. They adapted.  Yes, into the unknown but for them the known was death and illness and no hugs.

The NVHI are waiting and thinking. Not adapting. Still chomping on leaves and grass.

La Brea Tar Pits… now do you get it?

Not to worry. I am donating my brain to Science.

All, to say my dear ones, I’m not telling you what to do, God Forbid, when have I ever done that?  

If you want to survive to fear again…

Pick the right Herd!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. A lesson in LIFE for Pro and Anti vaxxers… please stream the very brilliant and moving PBS American Masters biography of Oliver Sacks.  

As Auntie Mame so eloquently said: “ Life is a banquet. And most poor suckers are starving to death.”

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 ❤️

Weird and Wonderful

Very recently I had a very challenging and ultimately satisfying experience.

2017

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!!

Welcome to the Freedom Cafe!

Dear Friends & Family ,

If by chance last week’s video demonstration of the purpose for wearing a mask wasn’t convincing enough, I offer this alternative perspective that supports our well-defended “freedom to choose”.

Written by Libby Jones on Twitter. Submitted by Kathony Jerauld to The Ledger News in California.

Welcome to the Freedom Cafe!

We trust you to make your own choices if you want to wear a face mask. And, in the same spirit of individual liberty, we allow our staff to make their own choices about the safety procedures they prefer to follow as they prepare and serve your food.

We encourage employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom, but understand that some people may be allergic to certain soaps or may simply prefer not to wash their hands. It is not our place to tell them what to do.

We understand that you may be used to chicken that has been cooked to 165 degrees. We do have to respect that some of our cooks may have seen a meme or a YouTube video saying that 100 degrees is sufficient, and we do not want to encroach on their beliefs.

Some of our cooks may prefer to use the same utensils for multiple ingredients, including ingredients some customers are allergic to. That is a cook’s right to do so.

Some servers may wish to touch your food as they serve it. There is no reason that a healthy person with clean hands can’t touch your food. We will take their word for it that they are healthy and clean.

Water temperature and detergent are highly personal choices, and we allow our dishwashing team to decide how they’d prefer to wash the silverware you will put in your mouth.

Some of you may get sick, but almost everyone survives food poisoning. We think you’ll agree that it’s a small price to pay for the sweet freedom of no one ever being told what to do – and especially not for the silly reason of keeping strangers healthy.

Libby Jones

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. My experience of this pandemic is that it is wreaking havoc with our emotions and psyche and ultimately physically.  People are saying and doing things that in ordinary times they would never say or do.

A friend sent me this Mark Twain quote and it went straight to my Heart, Mind and Soul and I feel better. If it’s relevant for you, I hope it helps. If isn’t relevant give yourself a reality check, pronto.