Category Archives: Memoir Writing

TESTING IS NOT ONLY FOR THE VIRUS

My Dear Friends and Family,

In life and circumstances you make and lose friends just like in marriages and other kinds of relationships we lose partners because one or the other changed… grew in different directions… moved apart… (I’ve even heard of divorced partners who were better friends after the marriage ended than before…no comment!)  But testing a friendship just didn’t seem necessary because in friendship as in life there is an almost natural flow or evolution of the personalities involved as they navigate life.

The pandemic has changed all that. Who we are and the decisions we make in and around Covid 19 has created havoc with relationships ie, friendships.

In the past, I liked it when my friends agreed with me.  However, you didn’t have to.  I would say, “Hey, honey, let’s just agree to disagree.” And believe me, as Ms. Judgemental , this always made me feel super virtuous.  

Not so today. If you think the virus is not real, or masks or safe distancing is a joke,  you are not going to take the necessary steps for safety and healthy living.  Right away we have a problem. I was going to write I have a problem. But the pronoun we is the appropriate one.  

How can we be with each other, or even talk to each other, if we don’t agree on the basic steps for survival. It feels like being a Jew in Germany 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933… it’s time to leave… the handwriting is on the wall…. How long do you have to wait until you know for sure, if you stay, you are not going to survive? I recognize that hindsight creates 20/20 vision but I think it is through hindsight we can maybe get just a glimmer of foresight.   

I have finally earned enough years on this planet to understand how basically we are all the same, but how in detail we are all so different. I want to be able to say with a full and open heart, “I respect your decision”.  On a most bizarre level I do. Which, for me, means I love you but dare I say it… KEEP YOUR DISTANCE.

At a time when age itself seems to limit the number of  my friendships, I really resent this pandemic for adding another painful reality to an already complicated existence.  

I’m not alone in my thinking…. Friends Are Breaking Up Over Social Distancing (The Atlantic)

And another tree (aka friendship), falls in the forest….

I know this much. I am nothing without my friends and I am sad when I lose one by the appearance of that hooded figure with the scythe or by changes in our life values and circumstances or for reasons even a nitpicker like me does not understand. And as the years pass each loss becomes more difficult and harder to absorb into my life.  

All to say to the friends that I have, “Play nice. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Sanitize as you go. Safe distance or no ice cream and cookies!!”

Right???  Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. This is exactly how I feel:

P.P.S. Here are Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers telling it like it is.

P.P.P.S. Happy Birthday to a loving friend who knows how to play nice.

The Pandemic Pause

My Dear Friends,

Of late, a lethargy of sorts has infused my being. I, who explore and investigate the minutiae of my life… ”Why does that damn house mosquito keep attacking the same spot on my neck?”…

These kinds of psychological and philosophical meandering alert me to an important change in my life.  Initially that change was so gradual I didn’t notice it. But now as I begin my day I am noticing there is, for lack of a better word, a hesitation, a pause before deciding what I should do next. As I was writing a text of apology to a friend, all was revealed…

 I am curious enough to ask, is anyone else experiencing life in the waiting lane?

Sorry it has taken this long to respond to your text. And if you think I can find a good enough reason for the delay other then pandemic pause which is another name for mind and time wandering please think again. I am finally actually living my favorite play. Waiting For Godot. I have always loved that play because these two characters meet to spend the whole of the play waiting. And I find that is what I’m doing on a daily basis. WAITING….

Please don’t ask me for what. My understanding in the play is that they are waiting for God or death or both in various philosophical as well as physical situations. I think I love the play so much because I think on some level that’s my take on life. Not as a nihilist, but rather… ain’t that where life leads us all anyway?

Look what at what I just did. I simply wanted to apologize and say hello and the above kind of mind-wandering is the definition of my pandemic pause

Right? Of Course, right!!

❤️ Love ~ Sally-Jane 

P.S. Well! There are some of us who know what to do with our time… 

My Weekend Update: A Laugh A Day Keeps the Doctor Away

My Dear Family and Friends,

As we all wait, some patiently most not so, (I’m in the latter category) for science to discover the vaccine that will rid us of this very dangerous and contagious virus and for our quarantines to begin to show a down turn of the spread,  I have found myself sinking under the avalanche of virus related electronic transmissions.  And as if these statistics and charts are not enough to affect me, friends are sending me the very sad stories that come with this trail of sickness and death. 

I have always been what my nearest and dearest say lovingly, overemotional.  It is the trademark of the neurotic.  I cry at supermarket openings.   

It’s not just the virus that is contagious.  It is the mood and spirit of us humans that is very catching.

And yesterday, in response to my being glued to my electronic  instruments of torture, my blood pressure spiked.  Ahhhh, I get it.  I was stressing myself out. 

Cease and Desist!!

There are things I can’t fix, like finding toilet paper!  Toilet paper????

But I can fix my own mounting stress and if you will allow me, if any of this resonates with you, help you with yours.

Over the past weeks, friends and family have been sending me humorous cartoons, videos, and the like.

When I need to, and I find I need to more often as the quarantine continues, I go to one or two of my videos or cartoons and there is an immediate relief and release of my tension.


I have not yet decided where to spend Easter, whether in the bedroom or in the living room…”

I have put together my antidote for stress.  A compendium (I just love that word) of what makes me laugh.   

Join me in SHAKING THE BLUES AWAY…

Love ~ Sally-Jane





The Cuomo Brothers
https://twitter.com/thunderrmuffinn/status/1242273378893025282



Italian Mayors losing it as people violating #Covid19 quarantine.
https://twitter.com/protectheflames/status/1241696164782669824


And don’t every forget… music doth soothe the savage beast…

THIS IS THE WORST CONGRESS EVER!!! (NOT BY A LONG SHOT!)

As the impeachment moves into the Senate this is what I am hearing more and more. Now if you will all sing along with me to a song written by Burt Bachrach made famous by Dionne Warwick… ready?

🎵WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE, SWEET LOVE…🎵

..and some perspective for goodness sake, and some history wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Not that this Congress would win any medals in the “for the good of the country and its people which I have taken an oath to serve” department. They have been singularly obstructive and divisive and wholly partisan.  

However, this is not the first time and since Congress is made up of human beings (although I think on an individual basis that is debatable), it will not be the last time that we have a self-serving partisan Senate. 

I am hoping that what I am about to share with you will give you the hope we need to carry on and remember, “This too shall pass.”

Let me take you back to 1776, the first Continental Congress, the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Only 13 colonies. Each colony a kingdom unto itself. Divided geographically and culturally, coming together only in common cause to separate from their Mother Country, England.

The Declaration of Independence, written and approved by the delegates, aka Congressmen, was their Declaration of War against England.  A war because of the selfish, partisanship, and venality of its members would have surely been lost and the United States today would still belong to England.  And don’t think for a minute that today the English think we would be far better if we had not separated. It’s a very love/hate relationship… sibling rivalry. But that is another subject.  

Back to Congress almost losing the Revolutionary war. Our history lessons gave us the Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, Nathan Hale, The Founding Fathers, etc. But did you know that each of the colonies, to the point of almost losing the war, played the same unpatriotic game of  partisan politics. 

Did you know that George Washington had to play along with these political games and placate this Congress to try and pay his soldiers, organize his staff and select his generals to fight a war against the largest most highly trained military machine of its day?  That his position as General of The Revolutionary Army was not at all assured? Each of the New England colonies had a favorite son they wanted nominated to take over for General Washington. He had a rag tag army not getting paid and he did not have this Congress’s full support.  The new United States of America stood on the brink of doom if the Congress had had their way.

If you want to know how the Revolution was saved from this self serving obstreperous Continental Congress then you must go to the library or your favorite book store and read Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, Valiant Ambition.

As the absurdity of, dare I call it… The Impeachment Process continues – and really what it should be called is the… You Scratch My Back and I’ll Scratch Yours Tango (a little lower please), reading this book offers a perspective we desperately need.   

The Union that brought forth this nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, was saved.

Let us hope it not too late for this expanded Union today.

Right?  Of Course, right!! 

American Health Care, aka KAFKA KARE

My Friends,

Everyone knows, it is de rigueur not to get sick between Christmas and New Year. Now tell me something I don’t know. As someone who lives alone even with help,  eventually they go home and as luck would have it, take vacation days right after Christmas through New Years Eve.

I really tried to be brave. We all know I come from a long line of mother martyrs. I was all right.  Nothing is wrong with me.  I even start singing…

The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar…

By the time New Years Eve rolled around, I was finished with Tiny Tim and James Stewart and Edmund Gwen and Margaret O’Brien (and just to throw in a name to struggle to identify) Guy Lombardo. For the first time I understood the full meaning of BAH HUMBUG!

A few days before Christmas, I had returned to Florida from a brief and fabulous family holiday in New York. I was wiped out. I thought a few days of feet up would fill the bill. It didn’t. I was only more tired. After Christmas, I was no better and even more fatigued.

I called my Florida Doctor which I discovered is as much an oxymoron as Florida Health Kare. She was unavailable until January 2 and I was referred to the Urgent Care Center and so began my Kafkaesque journey, which I have written as a play…

Kafka Kare

A Play by: Dr. Mother Martyr Heit

Scene 1

Urgent Care Center Waiting Room, Florida. New Year’s Eve. The last day of the year every person who doesn’t have health insurance in Ft. Lauderdale is waiting in the waiting room.

While at home trying to figure out what she was dying from, Mother Martyr Heit had spend days assuring her daughters by phone that all she needed was to rest. After all hadn’t they just enjoyed a brief and fabulous family holiday in New York? OK, maybe rest and a blood test.

Dr. Mother Martyr Heit (DrMMH):

Excuse me, how long will I have to wait?

Receptionist:

About 3 hours, give or take.

Scene 2

Urgent Care Center Waiting Room, Florida. New Year’s Eve – 6 hours later.

Receptionist:

            Ms. Heit?

Scene 3

Urgent Care Center Exam Room.

Nurse:

            First, I’m going to take your blood pressure.

Dr. Mother Martyr Heit (DrMMH):

Of course, look all I really want is a blood test.  The menu outside says I can have one for $120.

Nurse:

            I have to take your blood pressure again.

DrMMH:

            Sure. And then can I get a blood test?

Nurse

            I have to call the Doctor. Your blood pressure is 200 over 110.

DrMMH

            That is high!  All the more reason to give me a blood test, right???

Nurse leaves.

Scene 4

Urgent Care Center Exam Room, Florida.

Doctor Enters and introduces himself.

Doctor:

I am going to take your blood pressure!

DrMMH:

OK.  But I think if you give me a blood test we shall discover what is going on!  Don’t you?

Doctor:

 It’s very high! 

DrMMH:

 So everyone says!  How about the blood test?

Doctor:

 Oh, I can’t do that!

DrMMH:

 What???  Why not??

Doctor:

Well, you already have a doctor!  And we have to wait for her to give the order to give you any medication or tests!

DrMMH:

My doctor will not be back until January 2nd !  It’s December 31st!  Is it all right with you if I walk out with that number on my blood pressure???

Doctor:

Our policy is if you have a doctor she has to order the tests for you!

DrMMH:

So, let me understand this!  I have blood pressure that could cause a heart    attack or stroke and you are not going to do anything to help me.

Doctor:

Madam, you can insult me all you want but that is this urgent care’s policy.

DrMMH:

Doctor, let me tell you, if I was insulting you, you would know it! I am simply and absolutely incredulous that you call your policy “health care”!

Doctor:

You can go to the Emergency Room at the hospital.

DrMMH:

I’m not sure I have another 6 hours to wait! This is just too Kafkaesque!!

Doctor:

 Oh, is that the name of your Dr.?

Dr. Mother Martyr Heit calls Uber. Goes home. Takes a valium.  Her blood pressure comes down.  She goes to sleep, hibernating until her doctor returns Jan. 2.

The End

The end of the play but not the end of Kafka Kare in Florida.

When my doctor returned I called with my blood pressure reading and she told me to come in.  She gave me a very inclusive blood test and urine test.  A major infection, some antibiotics and on the road to recovery.

“The sadder but wiser girl am I.”

I have already told this story a few times. No one raises an eyebrow. 

“What’s your problem, SJ?  You’re in Florida”

Last time I looked Florida was part of the U.S.A.  What happened to make the US Healthcare System the star of the third world?

Dr. Kafkaesque is alive and well in the United States.

Love, Sally-Jane

Addendum to Waiting for Godot…

My Dear Friends,

I come from a Jewish Christian Science mother… figuratively not literally.  As one of 8, in the depression era of the 1930’s-1940’s, there wasn’t a lot of money for doctor visits. So if you awoke with any health complaint, it was usually ignored.  I think this is called the grit-your-teeth-school of  grin and bear it.  You had to be brought home in a stretcher for medical attention.  From that environment, I learned to ignore the signals of any health problem.

With the first “incident”, my body finally had enough of the mind control I was exerting over my symptoms. This brought me to my knees and the emergency room. 

And now we come to the point of this addendum.  There has been a cloud over my head for several months.  Like waking up with a hangover…oh, yes, I remember that well. A very simple blood test, a very good doctor, and suddenly there is an answer. 

AN ANSWER.

Not definitive but hopefully it will lead to the definitive, and herein is the core of what I want to impart to you.  I threw off  my mental hangover.   And let me be the first to tell you that the sun is always there right behind the dark clouds. I said to a friend this morning after learning what might be the central cause that knowing what is going on in my body is 50 per cent of getting better.  She replied. 50?? Oh, no, not 50 per cent, 85 per cent!!!

RIGHT ???  OF COURSE, SHE’S RIGHT!!!

Love Again, Sally-Jane

Lifting A Leg…

Hold it! Stop right there!

Before I forget (great name for a show), Happy New Year, to everyone!

IMG_7934As this New Year was approaching, I was still involved in setting up my rental home in Fort Lauderdale. It is a veritable passion for me. Wherever I alight, like the dog lifting its leg to possess its space, I need to create whatever place I inhabit and make it very personally mine. (If the owner of my house in Florida is listening in, not to worry, the dog lifting leg is just a metaphor).

IMG_7948

Metal Sculptures by Rainer Lagemann

New Year is the time for resolution and reflection. As I continued to set up the house in the South, I began to wonder. Why was I doing this? I don’t own anything anymore. In truth, I‘m not sure we really own anything anyway. But that’s another Blah, Blah, Blog. I rent… North and South.

Yet, I happily spend my time and money, (albeit, I love consignment shops and, like the old New Yorker I used to be, shopping the discards left on the streets. Only New York City has great discards. I attribute this fact to the great flux and variety of the population.)

So where does this drive, this passion, to make my home my home come from? Where else? My immigrant DNA!

My mother was born in New York City. Her father and mother did steerage escaping from the pogroms of Kiev in the Ukraine.

My father was born somewhere in the vast geography of the Austrian-Hungary Empire. His birthdate indicates the Empire was still alive… not very well… but alive. He liked to say he was from Vienna.

I have a sneaky feeling Vienna was where he arranged for his steerage passage. I believe he actually came from somewhere else. I remember traveling to what was then Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Tito had recently died so the political clock of the area was ticking). On my first night, we went to a Gypsy cabaret. I listened to the familiar violin music my father used to play at home. I knew my father’s origins were close by. I could feel it in the music. All right, all right, in the wine, too.

So though I am an American, I am definitely a patchwork. Every American, and I mean every American, other than Native Americans is from somewhere else. Scratch any generation right down to the Mayflower, and you will discover your own patchwork.

Here is a corroboration memory…

Many years ago, (It’s amazing how every memory I have today, has to be prefaced with “many years ago”) in a summer stock production, I played Golde in Fiddler On The Roof. I loved every minute of it.

But mostly, I loved the last 15 minutes of the musical. Jerome Robbins had directed and choreographed the original Broadway show. He came from immigrant parents so he knew whereof he was speaking.

As the town-folk of Anatevka are forced from their village because of the ongoing Saturday Night Pogrom Parties, carrying with them all their earthly belongings, they head for the unknown new world… aka AMERICA. Robbins created a moving circle of life. And as Tevya and Golde, their family and the whole village move around that life circle, which represents their journey from home to no home, they sing their farewells to the village and their life as they had known it. Never to return.

As the villagers circled, Tevya and I had lines to speak. It was opening night. Always a night of high emotions, pressure.

I don’t know how it happened. All I do know is that one minute I was onstage with my fellow actors and the next moment, I was transported. It was me. It wasn’t me. But I was somewhere in the Ukraine being ordered away from my grandfather’s village. I have no recollection of time or space.

I only know as we sang and moved I was no longer Golde. It took the actor playing Tevye to bring me back. He had to speak his lines and mine. He gave me a gentle elbow. I awoke. I was back onstage.

But I know what I felt. I felt the agony, the pull, the pain of being forcibly removed. I felt the confusion, the dread, the unrelenting fear of the unknown. Oh sure, I am an overly emotional, anxiety-ridden artist. You know the type. I cry at Supermarket Openings.

Whatever it was that happened, happened. I believe it has informed my whole life. When I think of where my DNA ended up, I am one happy camper. I recognize, however, others have not been so fortunate.

SJ-Family-Wall.jpg

My wall of family

The issue of who is in and who is out is not a new question. Every ethnic group has had its day of being declared persona non grata. From the Irish, to the Chinese, to the Jew, to the Muslim, to the Latino, ad infinitum. Over the last two hundred years, this country has had its periodic political upheavals regarding that question.

I can’t understand people thinking that any immigrant has an easy time of it. No language, no money, loss of home and possessions, torn from their roots. No matter how basic those roots are, it is a profound culture shock and life threatening. But we still do it… whether it’s the Mayflower or steerage on a freighter… we will walk hundreds of miles, live in refugee camps of unspeakable horrors, get into leaking rubber boats… the pull to be free is strong.

What is it the lady in the harbor says, “… give me your tired, your poor… yearning to be free.”

Alas and a lack, can you believe it? We are back at it again. Only this time, some people want to build a wall. I am one of the confused. Is the wall meant to keep THEM out or US in? Doesn’t anyone remember what a mess the wall made in Berlin?

berlin wall 132911

So now you get why I am so obsessed with creating my home wherever I am. It’s that old immigrant DNA of mine, yearning to be a free me.

IMG_7985

 

In this New Year of 2019, I salute everyone’s immigrant ancestors and in a move of solidarity, I lift my leg.

 

Love, Sally-Jane

 

I DID MORE THINKING ON MY BLAH BLAH BLOG ABOUT BODY LANGUAGE

Typically when I write a blog post I receive responses about what I have written. This time there were very few responses. Perhaps my friends didn’t agree with my take… not necessarily about the body language. You’d have to be blind not to see all the frozen Stepford bodies behind the man and how all the women, Including his wife, sat immobile, staring into space, not even looking or connecting with the man.

My last blog post, The Body Talks, was also about anger… women’s anger. And how slapping back doesn’t always work and isn’t always satisfying.

I think it was the lack of reaction to what I said about anger that has caused me to write this addendum.

This past week, I read an article in the New Yorker magazine, October 15th issue, The Perils and Possibilities of Anger (After centuries of censure, women reconsider the political power of female rage.) By 

The article concerns a slew of new books that challenge the notion that rage is a danger to self and to society. How propitious is that?

As I am reading the article, I think that Casey (I choose to think we could be on a first name basis) is refuting my argument that anger and rage can be detrimental to the personal and the political .

But I read on and now I am going to quote from her article:

The New Yorker Oct 15, 2018

Illustration by Golden Cosmos

“…Traister writes that she does not wish “simply to cheer” anger, and acknowledges that rage that fuels insurrections “has the power to burn them up.” But her case for ire is undermined by a rampaging elephant in the room: anger knows no political persuasion. For every Maxine Waters, there’s a Michele Bachmann; for every Gloria Steinem, a Phyllis Schlafly.

“All of the books do, however, acknowledge a fact that undercuts their attempts to valorize women’s anger: one of the angriest demographics in America before the 2016 Presidential election was white women, and the majority of them voted for Donald Trump.”

“That the words “President” and “Trump” came together anywhere outside of a Mad Lib is itself perhaps the most straightforward argument against anger as a political virtue.”

“…many people were so furious about immigration, the economy, the election of a black President, the potential for a female one, Black Lives Matter, the War on Christmas, and any number of other real and phantasmagorical issues that they voted for Trump. Was there ever a better example of blind rage?”

“That blindness is one of the oldest objections to anger.”

“The civil-rights marchers and the Freedom Riders were the ones with calm clarity…, while their white neighbors were the ones who looked and sounded like the Furies.”

“Repressed emotions are dangerous, but, as countless medical studies have shown, sustained anger is both physically and emotionally destructive.

“Women have every reason to be livid right now, and our anger should not be mocked, censored, or punished. But that does not mean it must be celebrated…”

“…What you build is infinitely more important than what you tear down.”

“Anger is an avaricious emotion; it takes more credit than it deserves. Attempts to make it into a political virtue too often attribute to anger victories that rightfully belong to courage, patience, intelligence, persistence or love…”

“What is powerful isn’t so much women’s anger as their collective action. That is what has changed most radically since this past election, hopefully not in a burst of rebellion but in a revolution of lasting consequence.”

My dear friends, if I was able to write all this instead of quoting my new best friend, Casey, I might have made my position on anger clearer… I am just grateful Casey read the books and wrote the book reports quoted from. And I wanted to share it with my friends. I have displayed enough anger and rage in my lifetime to make for physical and emotional and mental discomfort.

Imagine, at my age (85…thank goodness I shall stop counting after this birthday) coming to understand that there is another way to be in and of the world and I want all of you to join me.

Together is better….right??? Of course, right!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

 

 

 

The Body Talks

Those of us who struggle to be accepted, acknowledged and heard (and, personally, I think that is a forever struggle) are hanging low since the Saturday vote on Kavanaugh.

How could someone who cannot control his words and his emotions be judge of anything?

Shake my head, wring my hands, breathe deeply…

I am too aware how easy it is to shower vitriol and venom on opposing ideas and thoughts.

As a kid, when I felt crossed or abused (and being one of eight I felt that often) if I was able to, meaning if I was not being physically held down by one of my sistren or brethren, I would bellow, scream, smack and, yes, even bite.

In my so many years on this planet, one thing I have learned is that there was and is no satisfaction in slapping back. Not when I was a kid and not now.

So how do I calm the savage beast in my heart and mind? And it came to me.

I stopped looking at Kavanaugh and focused on his wife and the women he carefully appointed to be his chorus of acolytes. My dear friends, I couldn’t believe it. They sat there like the Stepford wives they were being asked to portray. Their bodies didn’t move. Their faces didn’t change expression. It was very scary.

And then I watched Mrs. Kavanaugh and I felt so very sad. Her expression, or lack thereof, was worth a thousand words.

Immobile! Tragic! Unreal! A prisoner!

Oh, my friends, however sad I am about what happened last week-end, for this moment, I am free and my women friends and the women in my family, are free….no one has asked me to sit as testimony to the lies and stumbles of a questionable life.

Please, look at these women, and tell me you are glad you do not belong to their club. My face and my body connect to my heart and my mind and my thoughts. Believe me, there are plenty of times I would love to control my body and my face to hide my thoughts. For good or for ill, not a possibility. What you see is what you get.

Someone smarter than me once said: “You can hide some thoughts from your body and face some of the time… but you cannot hide all of your thoughts from your body and your face all the time.

See for yourself. CHECK IT OUT:

Kavanaugh Hearing

 

 

Sally-Jane’s Reading of The Mission of Jane at The Mount

sj-wharton-on-wed-2.jpg
Sally-Jane returns for her annual reading of Edith Wharton’s, “The Mission of Jane”

The Mount on Wednesday July 18 at 5pm

One of many praises for her performance reading…

“You managed to create both vocally and with the most subtle physical gestures create 4 very distinct and knowable characters… WOW to me that’s acting of the first order!”

FROM THE MOUNT:
Enjoy summer afternoons on The Mount’s view-rich Terrace while listening to professional actors read short stories written by Wharton and her contemporaries. Gardens are open for strolling. Wine and other light refreshments are available for purchase.

The readings begin at 5 pm on the Terrace.
$10 tickets/free for members of The Mount – available HERE.