Will You Be My Valentine?

In 1929, Cole Porter asked a musical question, “What is this thing called Love?“.

I think I could guarantee he was far from the first and definitely not the last to ask that question.  A question that in my book is impossible to answer and always rhetorical. 

This is our 3rd Valentine’s Day in the time of Covid and its accompanying sagas of vaccinations, variants and variables.  It makes that question more relevant and difficult than ever before.

When I was in elementary school it was easy.   I went to the five and dime store (‘member those) bought sheets of valentines with small white envelopes.  Covering all my bases, hedging my bets, whatever you want to call it, I left a Valentine on everyone’s desk, including the goody two-shoers and snitches.  In my dreams, everyone loved me.  NOT!

No matter how I counted, I never got more than 10 or 12 cards out of a class of 25.  The Florida recount for Gore vs. Bush was chicken feed. My life, my breath hung on that count.  

Back then, I knew what love was.  It was those crazy little pieces of colored paper in small white envelopes.  It sounds crazy.  It is crazy.  However, I believe the lack of love, the need of it, the any and the all of it, makes the world go ‘round or stops it dead.

Loves begins in the womb.

Alice Miller, a German psychologist, 1923-2010, wrote many brilliant books:  The Drama of the Gifted Child, For Your Own Good, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, among others. All of her books take on the challenge of nature vs. nurture. Her major premise is the damage, some intentional, most unintentional, that is done by parents and families.  Many villains of the world, past and present, were in many cases born with inherited characteristics predetermining them to a life of crime and violence: nature. However, most were created by families: nurture. Miller makes a fascinating case about Adolph Hitler and the abusive violence of his father and its lasting effect on his developing personality.  More often, parental unconsciousness knows not what it does when it holds a child accountable to adult standards.  

Think about it.  It has to be very confusing to a child… so small… next to an adult… so big… smacking him or her saying, “I am doing this for your own good” and clinching that confusing message with an “I LOVE YOU”.  From that point on, the child’s idea of love is askew.  

Love is pain.  Love is punishment.  

In the romantic world of the adult, breaking hearts is a rite of passage. In a child’s world, love that is pain and punishment is tragic and can follow you everywhere if you let it.

This is all too familiar to me.  I realize I have made a career from my childhood love experiences.  Much that I have written or performed has its roots in this confusion.

Child rearing has run the gamut from spare the rod, spoil the child, to unparalleled permissiveness.  All in the name of love.

However, recent movies shine a light on changing attitudes. 

Belfast, The Tender Bar and C’mon, C’mon, each in its own way, continue the struggle to define a no less complex but much kinder version of love in the time of childhood.  This is good.

The conundrum for me is how do I take my childhood experiences and make it lovingly compatible with the so called adult I call me.  ‘Tis a puzzlement!

I will continue to explore Mr. Porter’s question, what is this thing called love.

Though I realize love is not about definitions.  It’s not about rules and regulations.  It is not about achievement, approval or accommodation.  Real love has no requirements. 

It is unconditional.

For an opinionated, over-righteous, ancient personality (no names), is this maybe asking too much???

Can I just go back to counting Valentines, please?

Intellectually I know that love is not about loving another person.

How can I love another person if I don’t love me, zits, warts, et al?

Simple answer.  I can’t.

Like a dream it came to me.

At least 100 years ago (some days it just feels like that), I was rehearsing with my friend, musical director/composer, Robert Bendorf (another unknown genius).  Once again I was in a confusion of love – the pain and punishment kind.  What a surprise! 

Poor Bob.  I remember whining to him about the same ‘ole, same ‘ole. 

“So tell me, Bob, what should I do?  He says he loves me.  I say I love him.  And then we do and say the most unloving things to each other.  It’s crazy.  In or out of a relationship why can’t we just love one another.  Love just is.  Isn’t it?”

He came back the next day with the gift of this song. I wish I could say it was Valentine’s Day.  It wasn’t.

But it is my Valentine to you.
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

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.

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

HUMAN WILDFIRES SET BY KNOWN ARSONISTS

How is that for a headline???

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.          

DELETE

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. 

2. What do you think about THIS…?  Facebook Doomsday Machine 

Live Opera at the Movies v. Live Opera at the MET

My Friends,

Ok, here I go again having to swear off never saying never. I have always shouted loud enough for all to hear (didn’t need a microphone) that going to the live performances of the opera at a movie house just didn’t cut it. But here I am in sunny Florida (Sorry my Northern friends) and missing several desperate-to-see operas. 

Well I get an announcement that Philip Glass’s opera, Akhnaten is coming to a local movie house Live in HD from the MET. Well I shortened my snobby nose, swallowed my boastful pride and bought a ticket. It was to begin at 1 pm and finish at 4:45 pm.

I alerted my friend Diana who dropped me off to be on call as I was pretty sure it would have to be brilliant to keep me in my seat all that time. Guess what? It kept me glued to my seat except for intermission bathroom breaks. 

My dear friends it was and is brilliant! I’m not sure it fits being labeled an 
opera. It belongs to a new category of music and song and story and dance and juggling. 

It is classical. It is history. It is dramatic. The music is as otherworldly as Glass usually is, but it is completely in sync with this era of an Egyptian ruler who created a new religion. A monotheistic one that worshipped The Sun God. Versailles came after the pyramids right?? Of course right!!

I had a perfectly gorgeous New York Cultural afternoon. The camera even gave me shots of NYC and the interior of the opera house. Of course, as I sat in my shorts and t-shirt I was not unaware of the winter clothing of the audience. They had my full sympathy. I am grateful to have been able to see an opera on my wish list. 

However… that being said…
For me it will never replace the live experience. I am not overly thrilled with all the interviews they use to fill the intermissions. It breaks mood. 
But Lynn (you are right) and all, I was and am grateful I was able to see it. And look forward to seeing Wozzek in January. 

If anyone wants to come to Florida to go to the opera Live at the Met at the movies, let me know and I’ll get an extra ticket. Sorry no popcorn 🍿But how about a soupçon of caviar? I drink it all day!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

Post Script…

My dear friends, I greet you this year at this time of the year and ask you to spread the joy.  We could either focus on the negatives as the media, social and otherwise appear to do, or take this opportunity to go to the Spa of Life to share the elixir of peace and goodwill to one and all.

I don’t care what you think or what you believe as long as it is in and with LOVE it will help in healing the world.

I have this funny feeling that this is the American Year of Denial.

Think about it…

If we deny the troublemakers and naysayers and fearful their usual space in our heads, I predict we are going to have a great holiday.

Right???  Of course, right!!! 

Sally-Jane’s Winter Wonderland

My Dear Friends,

Last weekend we got our first snow of the season in the Berkshires. I was not happy.  I did not want the first, second or any snow of the season. I was having a family party. Relatives were coming from near and mostly far to attend.

As the snow blew in, I did what I am accustomed to doing… I tried to control the storm. I held my hands up to the sky and tried to force Mother Nature to take her bounty back. She had the last laugh as she dumped five more inches on the town.

IMG_0719Karen and Bill, who had arrived before the storm began, and my friend Cindy watched as I tried to control the uncontrollable. Waving my hands and I shouted to the wind, “BAH!  HUMBUG!” (which is also the name of an exterminating service on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills)

When my tirade had no effect, I took a pause and looked around me.

IMG_0708Here I was in a winter wonderland –  the yard was decorated – a Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer (his red nose winking and blinking, her direct from the beauty salon with curly shining hair ); Poinsettias, holly, a boxwood tree, greens, winterberry sprouting from places throughout the yard and on the porch. When the snow hit the lights, they sparkled like diamonds.

Suddenly I realized how blessed I am. The real joy was being with dear friends who also
happen to be relatives.  Like the air going out of a balloon my ego settled.  Yet again, it was not going to be “my will be done”.  I’m telling you guys it was only when I let go that  I was able to see the real beauty and feel the gratitude.   All of us booted, gloved, donned hats and ran out to play in the falling snow.

I was an octogenarian kid.  If you don’t believe me, watch this…

Santa Sally and her merry elves,Karen, Bill, and Cindy in a Winter Wonderland 

I was wondering…  if I can “let go” of what I can’t control, like the storm, like what children or grandchildren or friends or relatives wear or don’t wear and what utensils they use while eating (hopefully they will use something) and what color hair and body piercings and political or nonpolitical affiliations… I am not saying I can…  but IF I can… I think I might have a Happier New Year.

Wanna try??????

Love ~ Sally Jane

Ghosts of Christmas Past…

Hello my dear friends…a holiday update!

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On Sunday, December 3rd, at Storrowton Village in Springfield, Massachusetts, I shall perform a holiday reading from Charles Dickens’, The Christmas Carol as part of their annual Yuletide Festivities. I have chosen to read the chapter, The Ghost of Christmas Past.

Did someone just ask why I chose this chapter? Thank you. I was hoping someone would.

This is not to say I have anything against the present. I don’t. The present is filled with wonders. Sitting at my computer composing this missile…absolutely marvelous.

The wonder that I can put thought to page makes the present brilliant. In the present I am clothed, fed and sheltered. Fantastic!

So why not choose The Ghost of Christmas Present? Well, honey-bun, because I would have to wait until Christmas. But most of all because at this stage of my life, thoughts about Christmas from my past waft in and out of my present and I remember.

What a sentence. I remember.

Oh, yes, how great is that. In the present, I put one foot in front of another. In the past, I sit back and I remember. And this is what I remember…

A very long, long, time ago, I grew up in Boro Park, Brooklyn. It was a very mixed neighborhood. There were Christmas lights on one house and next door there were Chanukah candles.

I was raised in the Jewish faith. My family celebrated Christmas and Chanukah. Do not ask me why. I do not know. When I was younger, I thought everyone celebrated everything. Why not? I wanted to be on whatever line there was that was giving out the presents. Wouldn’t you?

Family Christmas

And then, one year, I received a rude awakening. I think I was in 6th or 7th grade. Before the holiday school break, the class Christmas tree was raffled off. I won! I was so excited.

I remember pulling the tree behind me from school all the way to my house. I ran up the stairs. Yelling for my mother to come and see what I had won. I dragged the tree into the living room. I should have known something was wrong. My mother was sitting in a chair. My mother never sat down in any chair. I was the seventh of eight and believe me when I tell you I never saw my mother sitting down…including meal times.

But there she was sitting in a chair in the living room. Our Rabbi sat in another chair.

That was the year I discovered Jews don’t have Christmas trees. To save face, my mother asked me to throw the tree into the garbage. Heartbroken, I did as she asked. The Rabbi left.

My mother went out to the garbage and rescued the tree. Brought it back into the house and into the living room. I was loaded down with many of the mixed messages parents impart to their children. This was one mixed message that did not add to my growing list of neurotic complexes.

Along with so many of my memories of Christmas past, this one is favorite. It is right next to the vision I have of Christmas mornings…

On the staircase, all eight of us lined up one behind the other, according to age, the youngest first waiting for Santa to call us onto his lap to take us to our nest of gifts.

Kimono Blue
Santa Claus, aka my father, 6 foot 2 inches tall (how did he make it down the chimney!?) dressed with a Santa mask that had seen better days, and a gorgeous blue silk embroidered Chinese kimono… did I say CHINESE kimono?… I did say CHINESE kimono. That was his Santa Suit.

Did I believe this 6-foot 2-inch kimonoed vision was Santa Claus? You bet I did! Like I said before if he was the keeper of my presents, I was a believer.

In the present and the approaching season to be jolly, I want to tell you that the world of possibilities still exists for me. Though, a 6-foot 2-inch kimonoed Santa might strain my credulity. But what is a belief about if it is not about being tested?

I believe. Now, where are my presents?

Love, Sally-Jane

YULETIDE AT STORROWTON – Sunday, December 3 at 2:30pm

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