Am I Out of Touch, Out to Lunch, or Just Plain Out of IT??

I have children and grandchildren so I spend some of my time working hard on being “with it”.

I haven’t gone as far as wearing short skirts and dresses (not with my knees, please), or styling my hair a la early Barbie (if I had a Ken, I might think differently), or buying 5 inch stilettos (I’m Chair of the CLSW… The Committee for Licensing Stilettos as a Weapon).

Here is my rationale for my commitment to electronical living…

I love my children and grandchildren and I want to be able to communicate with them. Somewhere in that rationale is a glimmer of truth, but only a glimmer.

I am your basic garden variety guilt-ridden judgmental person.

So of course, THIS HAPPENING IS NOT MY FAULT.

Here is the backstory… I was dragged kicking and screaming into electronic living.

One of my sons-in-law took time away from work to educate me and hook up my first computer. A friend bought my first iPad to help me navigate that new phenomena. An ordinary cell phone was not enough, I had to become an iPhone owner.

Like I said… Not My Fault.

Slowly, but ever so surely, I have been co-opted by the tech and social media industry.

Don’t you believe it.

I went willingly to the gallows.

Without having to resort to short skirts, long hair, stilettos, I was a with it mother and grandmother.

I was plugged in! (Sorry!)

Over the last two years, I added texting to my growing bag of tricks. I was so with it, I frightened myself.

Then, like a character in a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode (if you haven’t heard of him…that is really what the internet is for… research), I began to see and hear things that no one else was seeing or hearing.

Very recently, I hosted an immediate family picnic by the lake. So great! So lovely! Good Food! Good drink! Good people! Good texting!

Did I say texting???

Yes, I did.

You see I am old enough to remember family picnics when we ate, we drank, we talked, we played and then we went home.

At this gathering, everyone… and I mean everyone, including me at some point eventually hauled out the cell phone and started texting.

I had developed one rule over the years and that was no cell phones at the dinner table. Everyone agreed, charitable to me out of family title and respect. But this was a picnic… buffet and chairs all over the lawn… so I watched and I timed. If I thought I was frightened before, that was nothing to what I was feeling then.

And this was just one instance of what I have come to believe is a really serious communication problem.

We all think that texting is communicating!

Really???

How can that be?

How can a one-sided text be likened to a dialogue between two people?

There was a time when if there was a misunderstanding I took the time (not the trouble… the time) to connect with the person involved and work it out. Of course I am older, and truly my friends, at this stage of my life, no matter how clever the machine, I cannot afford to lose any more friends and family than I have already lost… so if there are problems, I want to work it out.

Texts don’t do it!

Sorry!

They never will.

Does that mean I want more in a relationship than a text will give me?

You bet I do!

So, what to do??

NOTHING!

I cannot change the world. I can change me. I don’t want to misunderstand or be misunderstood. I prefer to hear your voice. I want to discuss, challenge, interest, invite, share… but I do not like sharing my thoughts with a machine.

‘Tis a puzzlement… how to be in this world but not of it. I have a dear friend who shares my conundrum… Recently, she sent me this article from The Week, reprinted from an op-ed in the New York Times.

THE LAND WHERE THE INTERNET ENDS By Pagan Kennedy

It is a gift. Isn’t it nice to know we are not alone? I would like to offer this gift to any who would receive it in the spirit in which it is sent.

Right?? Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane

Does Loving the Film, ‘Green Book’ Make Me a Racist?

My Dear Friends,

I have a new friend. He is nice. He is black. I am white. I didn’t mean to but I offended him.

Here is the backstory…

In December 2018, I saw the film, Green Book. I flipped. I loved it. No, I mean I really loved it. I was in the local movie art house and there was hardly anyone else watching with me. I would say maybe 10 people at most. I laughed. I cried. I thought Viggo Moretensen and Mahershala Ali were beyond brilliant. I ached for each of them in the many cathartic moments of the film. I was enraged at the America that made it necessary to publish a horror like Green Book.

I was beyond the stratosphere at the music. Don Shirley’s classical music background blending with a jazz originality to create a sound that kept my head, my hands, my feet, and my heart moving constantly every time he played. (Just so you have all the information… the pianist, Kris Bowers, composed the movie score and played the piano parts and he too is brilliant.)

I’m glad the theatre was empty. The way I was swinging with the music, I may have been asked to leave.

And when it was over, I stood up as in those rare standing ovation moments at the theatre. I say rare because for me to stand means to know you have witnessed a genius rarity not likely to happen again. I yelled, “BRAVO!” I applauded. I was ignored as the very few fellow audience members left, walking rapidly, perhaps nervous that some cuckoo was on furlow for a matinee.

I practically danced up the aisle. As I left the theatre, the ticket taker was standing at the door. She is black. I stopped. I took her hand. She withdrew it. Undaunted, I gushed my enthusiasm for the film. I asked if she had seen the movie. She looked hard at me. She said in a very clear voice. “No! I don’t watch rubbish.”

I guess that should have been my first clue. But, I ignored it. I couldn’t wait to get home and call my near and dear ones. If they ever wanted to see or speak to me again they needed to pass the test of seeing this movie.

Fast forward to the next day after the Academy Award ceremony…

Don’t hit me.  I didn’t watch.  I never watch.  They always leave out the one movie I thought was really great or the actor or the writer…and basically, I am not sure about awarding best anything to any artist.  The competition is within  the artist.  Don’t tell me someone is better than someone else.  I don’t believe you can compare apples and oranges.  However, God forbid the money men and women don’t make their money back on their product.  And for them, it isn’t about art.  It is about “product”.

All to say, if they called my name for an Oscar, I’d probably be there.

My new friend and I were talking about the Oscars.  Those who know me know.  Those who don’t know me are pretty sure.  I have an opinion on everything.  Ask my daughters.

I had read Spike Lee was angered by Green Book’s big win. I opined that it might be sour grapes.  I had seen his film, BlacKkKlansman and thought it was great. The perfect example of trying to compare apples and oranges.  

My friend said he enjoyed Green Book, but he was also in agreement with Spike Lee. For him, the Academy was doing its usual thing. Rewarding the white man as he rescued the black man. Another movie to make the whites feel good.

I don’t often keep my own counsel. I continued on and on about how Green Book detailed the possibility of a bigot changing his tune. And isn’t that what is needed in a world gone mad with so much hate and bile. A world growing more and more into “them and us”.  Separating humans of ever color from each other.

As I pontificated, I assured him, I knew what he was feeling.

There came a very pregnant pause. A close to delivery pregnant pause. The pause was so awkward it actually shut my faucet mouth.

After some time, we broke the pause with banal conversation. Not going near the subject, we talked awhile and then said goodbye.

After we parted, I recalled what I had been saying. What was it that brought about the pause that did not refresh? As I did, I realized my new friend had been trying to tell me something without telling me something. No matter we are both minorities. I am Jewish and a woman. But I am white. He is black. I cannot and will never know what it feels like to be black.

Later that same day, I wrote an apology. I wrote that of course I could never know how he feels. I have had some of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune thrown my way, but against being born black in this world, past or present, not comparable.

He acknowledged my apology. We have not continued the discussion. Hopefully someday we will. Slow and steady as the friendship deepens, anything is possible.

“The Blind Are Also Color Blind”
Photo taken at Foundation for the Junior Blind Summer Camp, Los Angeles,CA by Doug Wilson.

I don’t know. I do know there are those who want to see a better world.  Me, for one.  And for me, a better world would be one where we all wake up one morning and find we are color blind.  If that were true, then Green Book and BlacKkKlansman and all movies about race would be Fairy Tales. A collection of very Grimm Fairy Tales.

Is it possible?

As long as we are still breathing the world of possibilities will always exist? Right?

Of course, Right!

Love, Sally-Jane


P.S. It seems no matter where I turn, going to the movies, reading a book, I am surrounded by with racism, bigotry, and the inherent anger, resentment and frustration.

In a recent biography of Frederick Douglass, David W. Blight writes of an event which occurred in Washington, D.C. on the 11th anniversary of the end of the Civil War as well as the 11th year anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  At the unveiling of a monument honoring Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, with President Ulysses S. Grant and all of official Washington present, Frederick Douglass spoke:

It must be admitted, truth compels me to admit, even here in the presence of the monument we have erected to his memory, Abraham Lincoln was not, in the fullest sense of the word, either our man or our model. In his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man…

He was willing to pursue, recapture, and send back the fugitive slave to his master, and to suppress a slave rising for liberty, though his guilty master were already in arms against the Government. The race to which we belong were not the special objects of his consideration… My white fellow-citizens… you are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children; children by adoption, children by forces of circumstances and necessity.

Excerpt from oration delivered by Frederick Douglas at the Unveiling of The Freedmen’s Monument in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., April 14 1876

That speech was given in 1876. It is 2019. Have things changed? Externally, yes.

However, haven’t I been reading how the Executive Branch, the Congress, our Supreme Court are colluding and searching for ways to limit and deconstruct the civil rights legislation LBJ pushed through after JFK’s assassination.

Isn’t this what happened to the promises of Reconstruction after the Civil War?

I think this is the time to bring out my favorite Voltaire quote (a very dear, very old, very close friend of mine),

“History doesn’t repeat itself.  People do.”

The Birth of a Nation – 1915

DIGITAL AGE? SCHMIGITAL AGE!

My Dear Friends,

After a recent conversation with a loved nephew, my busy brain began ruminating. That happens on its own. Ideas hit my headball, and I am once again in rumination.

Our tête-à-tête moved as it does from family to our favorite subjects… social and political issues.

He was describing his research into how propaganda and mind persuasion for the American public existed way before digital inventions. Before computers and cell phones there were newspapers, radio, movies, handbills, and pamphlets to dispense political and social points of view. Points of view that would influence voters and prepare the way for legislation, always towards goals of one political party or another.

malicious-botIn other words, my friends, even before the bots, people could be and were HAD.

This blog is not about right or wrong nor is it about good or evil. It is about how easy it is for the human psyche to be manipulated.

Not so long ago a television series called Mad Men illustrated the birth of advertising as we have come to know it. Mostly men… and a lone female, understood how to use the many powerful tools of persuasion, aka propaganda. Yes, it showed us how they manipulated consumers.

vintage celebrity christmas ads (4)How many times have you said, “I just bought this gizmo. I absolutely didn’t need it. Last night, in the commercial break, my favorite movie star was using it in her home and I just knew I had to have it. So I bought it. I don’t need it. Like I said, I have absolutely no idea why I bought it”?

We know why I bought it! “Gadzooks, someone got into my head! I wuz robbed!”

You would think after years of living with a mother who had a Ph.D. in manipulation and mind control, I would know better. You would think!

And all of this took place, as I said, before computers, cells, iPads. Yes, the radio was a powerful tool but it could only get into homes that had radios. But as radios and then televisions became more affordable there was a seismic shift in the abilities to persuade and influence the public.

Speaking in digitalese, let us fast forward….

first computer

In 1976, the first commercial computer was born.

In 1976, I was… [I am pausing here because those of you who know me know I need to take off my shoes so I can use my toes along with my fingers to count.]

I’m back! In 1976, I was 43 years old (Ah, yes, I remember it well!)

Mother of three living and performing in D.C.. You know Washington! Even if it was only smoke signals, it was the spin capital of the world.

To me, computers were part of the old chapter series in the movies of my youth. Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. [Please tell me someone else remembers them!]

I did not get into the digital thingies, computers, cell phones, Ipads… and because of my schedule, I never had the time to watch television. If I wasn’t doing household chores and child activities, I was at rehearsal. Not complaining, just the facts.

In 1997, I was 64 years old. My last daughter finally married (she was and still is very picky) and her husband, my new son-in-law, a very brilliant IT man, convinced me I could learn to use a computer. [I wasn’t kidding… he had to be brilliant!]

computer problem

He actually did teach me. Of course, it helped that he worked a few blocks from where I was living in Manhattan. When the hysterical emergency calls went out [and they did fast and furiously] he would walk over and bring what I surely thought was a dead thingy back to life.

At 64, I had 64 years of living without digital anything. The life I tasted, sipped, swilled, was dimensional, real, pure uninterrupted life sans machinery.

When I wanted to write to someone, I sat down took out a piece of stationary with my name engraved at the top. I sifted through my thoughts slow enough to really think about what I was thinking and what it is I wanted to share. Yeah, I know what would my Blah, Blah, Blog be without this machinery. As Yul Brynner used to say nightly in The King and I, “… It’s a puzzlement.”

The biggest change for me is in my personal relationships. I made time to get together. It was and still is important to be in each others company. Don’t tell me about Skype… it’ll never replace the hug, the kiss, the touch of one to another.

Today that time is taken up with texts. If I send an email, I have to text the person to check their email for something that carries more portent than a text message can handle. And no one uses a phone anymore.

In pure defiance, I got myself a landline in Florida because I wanted to be connected to the land and not cyberspace. Big joke! Because the only way you get a landline today is through the Wi-Fi of your cable company.

phones

They gotcha!!!!

The biggest change in this digital age belongs to the number of interlopers we let into our lives. As I said before, I can be had. And today, with all the available electronic equipment and all of it pointed in my direction, at least it feels that way, to buy, to read what they want me to read, to join, to contribute, to do survey after survey, I feel abused.

On a daily level, I am bombarded by organizations like Cambridge Analytica. Oh, yes, it is now out of business. What do you know? They got caught. However, there are thousands of similar corporations slithering in and around your computer continuing the dirty business of messing with our heads.

abe.png

It is amazing but when you hearken back to Nixon and his “dirty tricks”. He was such a beginner! In Trump’s White House, he never would have been caught!

I OBJECT!!!!

At this stage of my life, I do not want to share whatever time is left of my life with what I call The Distractors. It is hard enough to focus when there are forces whose only reason for being is to manipulate me away from being me.

It’s what I told my Generation-X nephew…

I am so grateful I had 64 years without the accouterments of this modern society. I know something they don’t know. Life was definitely not easier, but somehow I think it built up my resistance to the viruses of these manipulator machines.

Not to worry! I am not going to cancel my Wi-Fi.

I won’t de-chip my cell phone.

I will charge my iPad battery.

And push comes to shove, if they come after me, I can always call on my protectors… Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon!

Right? Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. Thanks to Lynnette for collecting the photos and illustrations.

Ghosts of Christmas Past…

Hello my dear friends…a holiday update!

yuletide(2)

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

Storrowton Header

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

FINDING MY FAMILY ROOTS (grass not hair)

Yes!  I am still recovering.  No!  I am not giving up.

How do I become part of a  grass  roots movement to help effect a positive change?  ‘Tis a conundrum!  Or I should say it was a conundrum.

Two days ago I attended a circle conversation with Annie Leibovitz and Gloria Steinem and a hundred other women, including my own daughter.  Below you will read the takeaway from each of us.

MOTHER’S TAKE:

What is a circle conversation?  Exactly what it sounds like.

People, and in this case, people being mostly women, sat in a circle, in the Women’s Building in NYC, formerly Bayview Correctional Prison for Women.  Gloria Steinem and the NoVo Foundation in collaboration with the Goren Group are establishing this building as a place for women’s rights groups, a performance space, space for service providers for all and the community, workshops to help change and charge your batteries.  The purpose is to create a world free from violence, poverty and injustice.

Is this just another pie in the sky scheme?   I don’t think so.

As we sat in this circle, surrounded by Annie Leibovitz’s  brilliant new Pop-Up Show, WOMEN:  NEW PORTRAITS, all I could think was, what a match –  the venue, the portraits, Annie, Gloria, over one hundred women of every ethnicity and color and class, including some graduates of the prison.

And what were we all seeking?  Solace, yes! But answers, too.  I am never far away from, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it”.

Indefatigable Gloria stood for over two hours taking questions and telling so clearly what this circle conversation was for.

She repeated it enough that I think I may have gotten it!  She had no answers for anyone.  How’s that for a new thought.  Instead, she asked us to stop looking up.  Good suggestion.  Because if you look up in NYC, sure as shooting’ someone will run over you (car, bus, bike).  I think what she meant is, the answer isn’t up or out, it’s inside.

If I give it time and consideration, I will know what it is I have to do to make life better.  Remember, in a plane, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if you are going to help anyone.

She invited us to be part of the problem, but also part of the solution.

Oops, did I forget to tell you what the circle was all about?  She reminded us the circle goes back to our roots… in the cave, in the tent, in a circle, to share our stories… to connect.

My friends, my time with Annie (OMG what a show!) and Gloria and my new best one hundred friends, that’s what I came back with… that is my grass roots.  Being with each other… not texting, not emailing, not calling, but finding the time the place (The Women’s Building is just one example) to meet with each other.  To agree and disagree, yes, but to connect personally.  Shake a hand, a little kiss, a big hug, an arm around my shoulder.  We all need it.  And if you don’t, then come together anyway… someone is bound to cook something good.

Two fabulous women called on all fabulous women (and never forget we are all fabulous!) to do a little world cleaning.  Honestly, if we do it together, it won’t take that long.  Promise!!!

If only I had let her get a word in, it would have been perfect!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

Annie Leibovitz’s “Women: New Portraits” exhibit is showing from November 18 – December 11, 2016, at the Former Bayview Correctional Facility, 550 West 20th Street (between 10th and West Streets), Saturday – Wednesday 10 am – 7 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 8 pm. It is open to the public free of charge, courtesy of the exhibit’s sponsor UBS.

DAUGHTER’S TAKE:

On art and hope and endurance  ~ By Pamela Schwartz

I had the privilege of attending photographer Annie Leibovitz’s opening of her photo exhibit in New York City titled “Women: New Portraits.”  The exhibit is in the prison gymnasium of the former Bayview Correctional Facility, a women’s prison until just 4 years ago, which is now on its way to becoming a Women’s Building of New York City. We shared the space with former inmates who attended as guests. Immediately inspiring.

And there was more: Annie partnered with Gloria Steinem in this 10 city, 3 continent tour, and the opening events include a “talking circle,” or opportunity to have a free-wheeling conversation. This one, occurring just a week after the election, kept returning to the question of where to from here.

The discussion was good. The words from the former inmates were powerful. But what inspires me to write are Gloria’s closing words. I want everyone to hear them.

So I paraphrase liberally:

This difficult moment is actually a reflection of our progress.  Gloria used to be one of 12 women screaming from the back of the room. Now Hillary will win the popular vote by close to 2 million votes. For women (and people of color and LGBTQ), possibilities are now immeasurably (and measurably) greater. That is a whole lot of progress.

She continued: Trump’s candidacy and now near presidency has given permission to a small but terrifying portion of our population who are haters of immigrants, people of color, gays and lesbians, women, people with disabilities, all who are defined as “other” from those who hate. This scares us a lot.  To help manage the fear, Gloria offered an analogy:

In a domestic abuse situation, the most dangerous time is when the victim is at the threshold of leaving the abuser. The abuser senses the loss of control and lashes out in a desperate attempt to regain it.  For the haters in our midst, we as a nation are leaving them. Our country’s color and cultures have changed and will keep changing. There is fear and resistance in response, which also makes for real danger. We must be extremely vigilant and protective as the change continues.

And to complete the analogy with vigilance in tow: next up is newfound freedom. And safety.

I love that vision for the hope it contains, the endurance it inspires.

Let us cultivate leaders who represent our multi-cultural and multi-gender reality – our freedom embodied – and couple that with the populist message that resonated for millions of Bernie Sanders’ (and Trump) supporters.

Perhaps then we can reach the vast number of voters who seek the change they deserve in a nation they can rightfully call their own.

We are on our way. It is scary and deeply promising all at the same time.

Both of these truths require the same thing: action. And that action is happening every day, everywhere, by millions.

As Gloria also said, protest matters.  As we show up, determined to protect each other and the ideals on which this country was founded, we can actually afford to feel hopeful and optimistic. We are on the path to greater freedom.

Thank you, Annie Leibovitz, for bringing us the visceral power of women.

Thank you, Gloria Steinem, for providing us the living history that strengthens all of our faith and resolve to make the change that lies ahead.

Annie Leibovitz’s “Women: New Portraits” exhibit is showing from November 18 – December 11, 2016, at the Former Bayview Correctional Facility, 550 West 20th Street (between 10th and West Streets), Saturday – Wednesday 10 am – 7 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 8 pm. It is open to the public free of charge, courtesy of the exhibit’s sponsor UBS.

This article will be published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on December 7, 2016.

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

The Road Less Traveled: aka Life Without a GPS

running_girl_sketch_by_toddnauck-d1hr62d

How old do you have to be before you are too old to run away?  Well, don’t ask me.  I was born with the urge to run away and I have a feeling I shall die wanting to run.  It’s in my DNA.

I think it might have something to do with my immigrant grandparentage. “The Cossacks are coming!  Everyone out of the shtetl.”  That’s another Blah Blah Blog.

With this election there has been a lot of talk,”If so and so is elected I am leaving the country”.  I sympathize.  Interesting though, wherever I run I take me with me.

My first adult run away was in 1996.  I was 63.  I was divorced.  That had happened years before.  As divorces go, it was not acrimonious.  We were married 27 years.  The “use by” date on the marriage had expired.  I am not being glib.  There was pain, disillusion, disappointment and most of all a surprising deep love.  I think most of us have learned, usually the hard way, that love is not all.

Then, I had a very intense love affair with a man for 13 years and in 1991, after a long illness in which I was his caretaker, he passed away.  Why didn’t we ever marry?  I could try to give you an answer but since I make it up as I go along my answer would depend on which day you asked the question.  Relationships… can’t live with them, can’t live without them. The last year of his life was important as I was confronted with something that most of us do our best to avoid…Death!

And my most important urge to run came in 1996, when the last of my three daughters married.  I think it is only human as long as the child is not married you are still the “Mommy”.  You have some place to go, something to do, and mostly something to say.  Empty nest? Shmempty-nest!  That too is another blog.

The divorce, the death, the last one married – it was time to run away.  With the help of friends, I rented a house for the month of August in Gascony (Southwest France) and a flat in London for September.  Did I want to be an American in France or an American in England?  Wherever I went, it was clear, I was always going to be an American.  I ask too many questions.  I am too direct.  I am emotional.  I explain how I feel.  Years of therapy can do wonders in some places and make you a pariah in others.

I loved my time in France and on August 31st as I was flying from Toulouse to London, Princess Diana’s car crashed and all in the car died.  I arrived in London as Princess Diana’s death rivaled coronations, weddings, and Edward’s giving up the throne for the woman he loved.

As an American, I watched as a country we think of as quiet and reserved, erupted into an emotional frenzy.  I began to keep a diary.

It is now 20 years later,  I am still divorced, without male accoutrement, all daughters still married with children.  And, TADA!! I’M STILL HERE!

In a recent move, I found the diary.  Moving has to be good for something.  I read it.  Don’t ask me how… yet… but the Princess Diana tragedy was strangely linked with my own journey.  I am still trying to puzzle out just what that connection was and is.

So what has this Blah-Blah to do with the title:  The Road Less Traveled aka Life Without A GPS?  Well, my dears, I am going to take the time to edit and write this story and what form it will take, I know not.  The road is unfamiliar and unknown.  I want to give it my full focus and attention.  This means I am going to step away from performing my shows, dare I say, “for now”.

I have been performing since I was in the womb.  My mother was exhausted after delivering.  It difficult for me to say this, but my performance at Edith Wharton’s The Mount in Lenox on May 12th is my final East Coast appearance.   (There’s a Santa Fe show in early September).

Sketch crowd (2)

Please, no weeping and tearing of clothes.  As a Diva, I have the privilege of doing as many farewell performances as custom allows.

And I shall always be available for special weddings, funerals, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

In the mean time, I am waiting to hear from Donald Trump about doing a show for his final rant before he leaves the political arena….FOREVER…please!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S.  CD’s and DVD’s of past shows are available at a discount rate.  They are sold out on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Women Against Women?

Rilke QuoteFor someone who has not created any legislation concerning anything particularly economic financial issues, Bernie Sanders is “talking… and only talking”… about what he’d like to see happen.  He has been in the congress many years and has never proposed anything in terms of how he sees a more equal America.  We have all heard the “if elected President” proposals of the candidates.  He has had many chances in his years in congress to show some of that grit.  Nada.  What was the big line in Jerry McGuire?  “Show me the money.”  And by money, I mean, “Bernie, show me actions you’ve taken that tells me you know what you are talking about?”  I think he means well.  I hope he does.  But I want someone who really does know what SHE is talking about.  And yes even if she has to make the political compromises that everyone has to make (Bernie and his gun control) she really does have the domestic and international experience necessary in this globalized planet we live in now to make more considered and knowledgeable choices.  She did a pretty fantastic job as Secretary of State.  And she did it as a woman in a man’s world.  You bet she had to make compromises.  What woman doesn’t?  But in the political arena it’s not only a man’s world, it’s a women who forget they are women’s world. And I for one know she is NOT one of them.  I understand so well why the ERA was defeated by women. We are and always have been our own worst enemy. Maybe it has something to do with our being second class citizens for so long.

Her armor comes to her honestly because from the get-go of her years in the White House  to the present day she is still being battered.  And when I see it is women doing the battering, it  drives me crazy.  Because she stayed with the man she loves?  And make no mistake honey, with all his zits and warts.  She does love him.

Rilke wrote the passage below as part of a series of letters in a book called, Letters to a Young Poet and this particular letter was written in 1904.

In this one, he expresses the hopes I have for men and women in the future.  It is very relevant to this election for me because if we ever needed a female in the White House it is now…and we have one who is qualified…not just qualified, but really qualified.

The girl and the woman in their own new unfolding will only temporarily be imitators of male incivilities, of men’s ways, and repeaters of men’s careers.  After the insecurity of this transition has passed, it will be shown that women, through their wealth of (often ridiculous) disguises and many changes, have continued their quest only in order to purify their own beings of the distorting influences of the other sex.  The woman, within whom life dwells in a more direct, fruitful, and trusting way, must, after all, have become basically more mature, more human than the man.  For he is easily pulled down by the weight of the lack of physical fruitfulness, pulled down under the surface of life; he professes to love that which he arrogantly and rashly underrates.

The simple humanity of woman, brought about through pain and abasement, shall then come to light when the convention of her ultra-feminism will have been stripped off, transforming her status in the world.  The men, who today cannot yet feel it coming, shall be surprised and defeated by it.   

…It shall not bring to mind complement or limitation – only life and being:  the feminine human being.

…It shall thoroughly change the love experience… between man and woman.  …it shall resemble that love… which will be comprised of two lonelinesses protecting one another, setting limits, and acknowledging one another.

When I read this some 30 years ago, I went looking for just such a complement to my own being.  Many men paid lip service to what I was I was seeking but not one of them really understood because they were too busy being “the male”.   As well, I was too busy being “the female” that was expected.

All to say this struggle is ongoing.  My own such experience is mirrored in the title of my show, Everything Old is New Again.  The Sermon is ended… on The Mount.

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S. You don’t have to agree with me, even though I am right.  I will love you anyway.