No ZOMBIES, please!

OK…I  need help.  And I am not ashamed to ask for it.

HEEEELLLLLPPPP!

Since last November, I have been trying to put a hopeful grass roots spin on events, attempting to find my way through the disappointments, disapprovals, and just plain disbeliefs that have occurred daily since the election.

I thought I was succeeding. And then came what I now call Black Thursday.

Let’s start with the little things

  • A water delivery that wasn’t delivered.
  • An express mail package that expressly said no signature required that needed to have a signature before it could be delivered.
  • A pre-arranged appointment to buy and align four new tires and the tires were delivered to the wrong garage.
  • A print-out from my computer of my bills and purchased tickets that was ordered from a copy and print shop that could not be found.

All minor, right?  All one right after the other, right?  That’s when minor begins to feel major. And then we come to the biggie…

I  am a supporter of the arts…in many different ways.  But for years I have my favorites and for years I receive my yearly phone call and chat from the development person of one of my favorites updating me with what is going on and concluding with my donation.

On Black Thursday, when I answered the call, someone from the development office… dare I say first day on the job… any job, anywhere, ever… said “Hello!”  Reading from a badly written script, proceeded to remind me it was time to renew my membership.

Having never been approached for money for an artistic endeavor as if it was a renewal to a fitness center membership, I balked.

I did the Lily Tomlin thing and asked to speak to her supervisor.

The supervisor was smart enough to read from a different script. Not better, just different.  One that is probably titled: READ THIS AFTER THEY ASK TO SPEAK TO THE SUPERVISOR.

We all receive these phone calls where placating the irate customer is reduced to repetitions. There is no response to what you are saying.  They cannot and do not deviate from the script. That would actually involve listening to what you are saying and thinking about what you are saying and then responding to what you are saying.

Not happening!

So after a restless night, I have come to a sad conclusion.  My Black Thursday is a symptom of the times we are living in. Of course, you can put it down to the ongoing electronic communication take over that is wiping out personal… whether on the telephone or in person… interaction. That is certainly a factor. But I am going further.

I think the country and the people in this country are suffering.  I don’t care who you voted for or didn’t vote for…we are all suffering from Battered Voters Syndrome.

We are being bombarded by the vitriol of all sides and people are doing the one thing they cannot do… they mustn’t do!  They are turning off.

And so we get a Black Thursday or a Muddy Monday or whatever dooms-like day where it just gets to be too much.  We begin to disconnect and no one hears anyone, even those of us on the same side like my development person.

zombietech

No ZOMBIES, please.

Even if we don’t agree, stay with me, hear me and  I shall listen to you, I promise. I need my people fix! We are nothing without each other.

Wanna meet for coffee??????

Love, Sally-Jane

Love Is…

I want to say I’m surprised.

I want to blame every Trump supporter for making this country the laughing-stock of the world and for the damage it has done to our civil liberties.

I want to tell everyone it was because Hillary is a woman.

I want to pretend yesterday was a dream and today we are going to have the real vote.

I  CAN’T.

For me all, some, none of the above really resonate.  I don’t know how you spent the last few months but I spent mine in terror.  Can what is happening be really happening. Voltaire said it: History doesn’t repeat itself, people do.

Will we be going the route of Germany after World War I?

If this election has proven anything to me that situation is a crapshoot.  How could one day I write in my blog to be guided by the best of who we are and the next day begin calling people names, blaming them for what they know not what they did,  lowering  my self respect, dignity.

Oh, God knows I want to do that. But I want to be part of a different world, as well.                I am no angel. Ask anyone who knows me. that position is filled by people who have an understanding and perspective I lack.  But if anything this election has brought home to me it is the possibility of doing things differently.

If I didn’t like the outcome, I can try to understand how and why it happened. Oh yes, there was the usual political skullduggery (Timing is everything, Mr. FBI).  Oops!  Look at me, I am already slipping back to my 3 year old.

forward2Honestly my friends, it’s in my hands, brain, and lips not to go back.  And I guess this long diatribe is all about going forward.  Not for or against, but with each other, hopefully proving that we the peoples don’t have to repeat mistakes.  We the peoples can change.  Recall Voltaire, my almost new best friend, and tell him that’s the way we used to be… not anymore.

And always remember…  LOVE IS! 

~ Sally-Jane

WRINKLES AND WISDOM

I thought my wrinkles would have protected me from the “I-cannot-control-voters-in-this-election-blues”. They haven’t.  I am being worn down by the media and all the other negativity from all of us (yes, I am including myself) surrounding this campaign.

Yesterday, buying into what the media and millennials and Trumpers are selling: The Apocalypse, I watched, precariously, as my blood pressure rose.

Over many wrinkly years, I have disagreed with many choices this country has made concerning elections, laws, policies, people.

What happened?  It used to be ok to agree to disagree.

In my small, diverse circle, I don’t remember anyone threatening someone or calling them names because they didn’t vote their way.  It’s not as if former Presidential candidates didn’t give their opposition verbal shellackings.  They did.  But in the history I have read and the campaigns I participated in, I don’t recall such blatant disrespect.  Now we have a candidate who has promoted the yelling and screaming and vicious put downs so out of character for a Presidential race.  Of course, it was not out of character for any of his reality shows.  I understand his audiences loved the screaming.  Loved his put downs.  Loved him saying: “You’re Fired!”

The world I live in is not a reality TV show. Although, my fear leads me to think it is becoming one.  If we forget civility and respect in self and others, now, how do we expect to expand our humanity. Here it is , guys!  The human condition as outlined by wrinkly and occasionally wise, Sally-Jane.

We are basically, animal (with a little vegetable and mineral thrown in for the pot).  As the brain grew over the centuries civilization has risen from the basics to include emotions.  There are so many emotions… negative and positive. Something our human brain provides for us regarding these emotions is CHOICE.

As we approach the end of the most brutal and negative election process I have ever had the misfortune to witness, I want to remember I have a choice.  I choose my self-respect, my dignity, and my honor along with those of my fellow Americans, however which way they voted.  There is no winning for losing any of these characteristics.

In conclusion, have you noticed when anger, rage, shame and guilt enter,  humor exits?Let’s have a big laugh together.  And here is a good one… I think this this video is really funny.  It makes me think that wrinklies and millennials are not that far apart.

Love ~ SJ

HOLY SH*T (You've Got To Vote)

 

 

 

We have a champion! Her name is Michelle Obama!

My dear friends,

Hooray!  Women have a champion of their own sex!  Her name is Michelle Obama!

She is advocating for all of us – free from the fear, the anger, the violence we have been subjected to these last few months.

Please listen to this and you will discover how we can move away from the Trump traveling Roman circus reality show of lions, Christians, gladiators, dancing girls all in one arena to a better world of civility, respect, dignity, generosity and kindness.  She gives us all hope we can do it differently.

Come on my friends find yourself in her words. I promise if you listen, you will.

Love, Sally-Jane

BY YOUR PUPILS YOU’LL BE TAUGHT


Berkshire Music School


It is amazing what can happen if you say, YES!  And I did…

Tracy Wilson, head of The Berkshire Music School called last Friday to ask if I would critique a class of students that were studying to be Cabaret Artists.

Having spent many years in and out of Cabarets…with or without smoke (oh, yes, if they weren’t blowing smoke in your face you were not in a cabaret), or waiters taking and delivering orders and of course, as you are building up to the final crescendo of a very dramatic song,  a drunk yells out, “Sing Melancholy Baby”!

And yet, with all of that, some of my best experiences have been in the Cabaret.  The experimenting  with new material, learning how to think fast on your feet as a lyric goes missing from your brain, there is NO SAFE HOUSE to hide behind.   And most of all because there is an incredible intimacy with the audience…even if you make the connection with just one person, it is a connection you can feel because it is the most intimate venue.

For all those reasons and most of all because Tracy asked me.  What she has done in Berkshire County with all ages of peoples with musical talent at all levels is nothing short of breathtaking.  So yes, I said “yes”.

I showed up at the Berkshire School of Music last Saturday to a Cabaret class taught by Sherri James Buxton with Bob Sheperd as Musical Director.  I was introduced to all.  No one had any real cabaret performing experience.  The age of the youngest was 65, maybe 70 and the oldest was 92.  92!!!!

I had complained about getting out of bed that morning.  Get a grip, SJ.  And if you haven’t heard “My Way” sung by a 92 year old man, you’ve not heard it.  And let me tell you, from that moment to right now, I put my over-the-top sense of judgment (ask my children they’ll tell how well developed my judgmental self is) in the garbage.  I replaced judgment with gratitude:

  • to Tracy for asking me
  • to Sherri and Bob for just being who they are
  • to the four students who performed for a total stranger as if that’s what they did all the time.

I am an ordinary human who feels I have an inordinate right to complain particularly when life doesn’t go my way.  I watched and listened to four people push the envelope of life until it blossomed like the rose you wish you had planted and nurtured.  And yes, they all won the prize.

Each one in their own way went for the dream.  Oh, yes, this was something they wanted to do for a long time.  Life is what happens while you’re making plans, right?  Of course, right!

Many of us go along with coulda, woulda, shoulda.  None of that was apparent in the room as they sang with heart with soul with LIFE.

In my show I ask the audience to check their pulse.  I remind them if they feel it, (and believe me if they don’t they probably didn’t buy a ticket)  GET UP, GET OUT, LAUGH UNTIL YOUR SIDES HURT, BUT MOST OF ALL LOVE!

Oh, my friends there was so much love in that room that morning.

I floated out and am still airborne.  More and more I do not recognize the world around me. But on that morning in Berkshire Music school , students of a certain age were following their dreams and, for me, for just that moment in time I remembered, like the t-shirt says, LIFE IS GOOD.

To you, Tracy, Sherri, Bob… THANK YOU.

Love, SJ

In the world of agree/disagree…

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sabine vollmer von falken photography 

We don’t really know each other.  In the world of agree/disagree, can the human condition evolve into, “it’s ok if we don’t think the same”.  But first, you have to put the gun down.

Are you a terrorist without a permit?
When was the last time you had your eyes checked?

Once you have answered these questions let’s TALK!
Not yell!  Not scream!  Not finger wag!  Not shove!  Not push!  TALK!

Ok I hear you.  You don’t want to talk.  You just want to think what you think and be with like-minded folk who think the same as you.  So you can sit, stand, eat, sing dance, love, pray uniformly together.

I have to admit.  I want to do the same thing.  It is so much easier.  My grey matter is so over-taxed. Besides, why do I want to consider someone else’s opinion when I am always right. All right, not always, but most of the time.

And let me tell you something else.  Every time someone tries to change my mind and I change it I always regret it.  When I change my mind, I have to change everything else. The new thought brings another new thought and another and another and soon I am rethinking everything.  When this happens, I have to adapt, adjust, make room for these new ideas.  It’s a lot of work.  If I stay with all like-minded folk, I just have to go along.  So much easier.
So why am I writing this if I just want to go along?  Well, I am getting nervous.  Truth be told I am terrified.  I confess, I have always been a coward.

This probably comes from being next to the youngest in a large family.  The youngest will always be the cutest.  The next to the youngest is dispensable.  And by being dispensable, I became the go-to sibling for my older siblings venting their frustrations.  Our family had an over abundance of frustrations.

And this is why violence, of any kind, terrifies me.  My daughters caught on early in their evolution knowing I would never touch a hair on their heads no matter what they did.
I substituted bellowing.  It was a good warm-up for my vocal chords.

Look if you want to stamp your feet and yell, be my guest.  Unfortunately, that is not what is happening today.  If you disagree or choose to think your own thoughts about politics, religion, divorce, sexual agendas…the list goes on ad infinitum…the like minders feel it their duty to make you the next to the youngest in the human family and vent their frustrations onto your all too human body.

So I cannot go along with the like-minders, much as I would like to because, as I said, it is so much easier.  They, increasingly, remind me of a family that is so frustrated, they always look for the “kid” to vent.

And while I am at it, where is the gratitude for being alive, food on the table, shelter, clothing when half of the world doesn’t know what that means.  I remember a British person reading half a sentence from our Declaration of Independence, “…..life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Hey like-minders, it doesn’t say Americans are guaranteed happiness.  It reads pursuit of happiness.  If my pursuit includes disagreeing with your pursuit, so be it.  In this country, friends, there is room for all.

And, please, remember, as Jack said to the beanstalk:  GROW UP!

Sally-Jane-Whats-Her-Name

NYPostIf I could tell you the stories of how I had to sell myself and my work, “Sally-Jane- What’s-Her-Name” would probably be waitressing today.  If you don’t make it big and you are passionate about your work, it comes with the territory of getting it out there any which way you can.

I do not relish my bad reviews. Depending on who wrote them, after attempting to remove the salt from my wounds, I take them and look for any value they may offer. No one can be harder on ourselves than we are on ourselves and those whose words I can value are few and far between.

That said, in order to sell myself I have taken those bad reviews and by hook and crook pieced together a somewhat satisfying one, particularly if it is a paper or piece of  media that has some clout.  Then, I get on my sneakers (my heels are in my bag) and pound the pavements trying to get those mysterious people that can help move me from one level to the next and from one project to another.  I have the dubious honor of being both writer, producer, director and actor – oi vey! – what was I thinking?

I find myself going up one mountain only  to find another mountain and so on and so on and so on ad infinitum.  This is what I have had to do because I love to write, to sing, to act.  My former husband said to me once, “Aren’t you ever going to be satisfied .”  I thought long and hard about that one and replied, “No!”  And “No!” is a complete sentence.  No explanations necessary if you know what the no means to you. I may moan and groan about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but I wouldn’t change the journey

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.

Image

Excuses, excuses…

You have a story. You want to write it. You are the only one who can do it. So, what are you waiting for? Before we go any further, let’s get the excuses out of the way. Oh, my friends, if would only be as creative as some of our excuses your memoir would have been completed yesterday.

I used to call my excuses writer’s block. Does that resonate with you? Time, money, family… Think about all the artists with all those conditions that didn’t stop painting, writing, experimenting. We keep good company.

I don’t know about you but I put so many rules in my own way I wonder sometimes how I can get of bed in the morning. Give up the rules! They are inhibiting.

Maybe because I’m a stream-of-consciousness thinker and writer, one thought bumps into another causing it to circle around a thought that then bumps into a completely different thought taking me in an entirely different direction. Chaos. But, according to some scientists, the world was created out of chaos.

As a female of a certain age, my life was bookended by rules that came down from Mt. Sinai… those ten commandments became a million “Thou Shalt Nots”. There are many parts of the world where obeying the rules is the only way to survive. We are fortunate. Though, I am not sure for how much longer we will be able to create in freedom… unless the NSA, CIA, and FBI have you in there sights. Then, all bets are off.

So, tell me what are some of your excuses? And what are you going to to about them? Tell me…