Who Was Here First?

It’s official.  I just celebrated my 88th Birthday.

No applause.  No gifts.  Unless, of course it’s a ticket on the William Shatner and Jeff Bozos… oops, I mean Bezos, moon rocket… NOT.  Whatever days I have left I am not willing to risk it all being over while I’m in company with an actor (believe me having been one I know just how boring they can be) and a gazillionaire who like Nero before him spent his money playing with rockets while his country burned.  The jury is back.  I am wholeheartedly judgmental.  

Back to my special day.  I was gifted with a novel, Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue, a beautiful and talented Cameroon immigrant.  I began to read it.  Not at the party.  I waited until everyone was gone.  

I was talking to a friend about how good the book was.  It occurred to me that the  immigrant story is a forever story.  Whether it was then or now… forever.  And then a light bulb went on in my headball.  I am telling you my friends, it is crazy, absolutely crazy, this crazy mess and mix up of who is the immigrant and who is not.  Get it clear, my friends.  Except for the Indigenous folk and their descendants, we are all immigrants.

WHO WAS HERE FIRST?

I guarantee unless you are an Indigenous American or have American Indigenous blood in you…. it wasn’t you. This includes each and every descendant of the Jamestown Colony of Virginia and the Mayflower, AKA the Plymouth Colony, or the New York City Dutch Colonials. And let us not forget the Spaniards of Florida,  the West and Southwest, the British of the Northwest.  And by the 1800’s the ongoing stampede from Europe, the Germans, the Irish, the Greeks, the Italians, the Swedes, the Danes, the Norwegians (I Remember Mama), and oh so many other countries, as well as from every shtetl in Eastern Europe and Russia.   

I’m exploring this theme because it has brought to mind the many memoirs I have read of the more recent immigrants from Africa, Viet Nam, India, Korea, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan along with the many Latin American countries… the Islands, Central and South America.  I’m not sure about the flood (literally and figuratively) of Inuit and other Northern Eskimo tribes.  But once the Poles complete their meltdown I assure you they will be rowing their way to our shores.

OK, here is your first test. What is the difference between the immigrants of the founding countries of this yet to be United States of America and the immigrants of the last 50 years of these United States of America?

You are too smart! You are right! COLOR!

CAVEAT:  I do not count the African Black population of the 17th and 18th Century that arrived by the boatloads.  Traveling in storage, not steerage…storage!  Kidnapped, enslaved and in chains doesn’t count as travel to the new world. Journey to and in Hell is more accurate.  And as a matter of real fact, they actually weren’t counted as human at all, anyway.  That came later. What am I saying?  It’s not here yet.  Hopefully, soon.   

Here’s my question…  Would we be so up in arms about immigrants if they looked and thought and sounded like white Americans.  Wouldn’t it be great to take all the naysayers back to their roots to listen to their family accents, their family old country traditions, their difficulties in assimilation. 

Aha!  Assimilation!  Most of the white immigrants managed to assimilate… some more successfully than others.  The possibility of assimilation through work and education particularly in this country was always a possibility.  Only if you were white, of course.  

Isn’t that what this is all about?  The majority of the immigrants over the last 50 to 100 years are people of color.  Pretty hard to assimilate when ones color is the first thing you notice about a person.  

No matter what race theory you subscribe to, consciously or unconsciously, there is no getting away from being a different color.

It’s not easy being green is it?

Anyway, I find myself amused when I realize how upset everyone is about the immigrant situation. Often my amusement turns to anger when someone wants to put up a wall or chase immigrants down a river on a big horse with a big whip. That’s when I want to give them a big shake, shouting, “Hey Jerkball,  you are not an Indigenous American. Therefore, you’re an immigrant, too!  I promise you… someone in your family came here from someplace else.  Give someone else the same break your ancestors had when they arrived.  If by chance they didn’t get that break, well let me be the first one to tell you LIFE IS NOT FAIR.  And yet, even today with The Troubles (lots of the Irish immigrant in this country can definitely relate) this is a great and unique country.  There is still plenty of land.  And there is always someone willing to climb a ladder.  Got it! Get it. Good! “

However, it won’t work.  Today, no one listens to anyone. Unless you are parroting what they say.  Then, you are not really listening.  You are a parrot.  Nice feathers… no sense.

Here’s the kicker.  Anger is not helpful to my blood pressure and man, it really saps my energy.  So I am just going to do what I can for others.  Keep love on the front burner. Call it like I see it.  Have some more birthdays so I can keep Blah, Blah, Blogging.  

Right??? Of course, right!!!!

 Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

Here are lists for books and memoirs on Immigration.
https://www.businessinsider.com/best-immigrant-memoirs-books
https://www.lirs.org/books-about-immigration

And some Films.
Golden Door
America America
Amistad
PBS Trail of Tears trailer

And finally, I leave you with this…

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 ❤️

Writing the Pain

What do you do with a painful memory?

There is no way to get around a memoir bringing up the pain and shame and humiliation of our lives. It is so boring to say “no pain, no gain”.  Have you gone through labor?  Have you ever have a tooth pulled to make room for a new tooth breaking through the gums?  It hurts! It really hurts!!  Is it worth it?  Your call.  You either like the baby or new tooth, or you don’t…

IMG_0857This part for me is embracing the fear and the pain and opening the door to discover what is behind it.  What about you?

 

Love ~ SJ

A Thought…

I read this book.  I read a lot of books.  This one really got to me.  Anyone heard of the repetitive syndrome in relationships?  Apparently, however we were raised… good, bad, or indifferent, we want to recreate those beginnings with every relationship we have.  Sometimes to snuggle back into fond childhood memories, but mostly, it is to make those bad and indifferent beginnings better. Get it?

How many times have you said, “I am never going to be like my mother… father…”?  Isn’t it amazing how that voice creeps in when you least expect it?  I wrote a series of vignettes about a woman named Harriet Ferment.  Two disclaimers:  First, I am the mother of three daughters.  They didn’t make it to my show.  I gave them the wrong time and date.  And two, any resemblance between myself and Harriet is coincidentally, accidentally spot on.  To give you a sense of where Harriet came from, let me share some of her mother’s bon mots.

When she took Harriet to camp, she inspected the bunk bathroom and exclaimed to Harriet and the counselor how to use the seat so she wouldn’t get diseased or pregnant.

Harriet, cleanliness, like Godliness is in the eye of the holder.

On preparing Harriet for marriage…

Harriet, no man will marry spoiled fruit.

On how much she loved her…

Harriet, a mother to a daughter is like a camel to his hump.  

On the privilege of having a daughter…

Harriet, a mother’s blessing, like her curse is forever.

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