Bye Bye Blah, Blah, Blog…

My Dear Friends and Family,
In another week I shall celebrate my 89th birthday. 

Who’s going to win the Golden Ticket? The person that is the first to say, “You know, you don’t look it!,” wins. Believe me, there are days I not only look it but feel it, too. Yeah, like mortgage rates the numbers keep going up. 

On and off over the years, I threatened myself that one day I would write a memoir.

As long as I was still performing, I didn’t take me seriously. When I slowed and eventually stopped performing, I searched to find a replacement for my overflowing creative juices. Writing these blogs fulfilled that outlet. I think that is when the idea of a memoir moved slowly from my subconscious to my conscious. 

As this birthday nears, I came to the realization of if not now, when?! So many stories always bubbling up inside me and I am just not the kind of person (ask anyone who knows me) that can keep anything under cover for long. If I want to write this book, and I do, I need to limit and focus my energies.

All to say, this is my final Blah, Blah, Blog… for now.

It is with sadness that I tell you this. And just to keep you close to me I shall conclude with an excerpt, in its infancy, from the memoir.

As it progresses I will periodically share a story as it makes its way into the book. I do not want to lose touch.

Here is a piece from A Piece of Eight. Please don’t hold me to that title. We know all too well that the only constant in life is change.

Right??? Of course, right!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

A piece from A Piece of Eight...

 I was born in 1933. The roost I was born into was ruled by a 5-foot strong, willful, super mom who for her own reasons raised her children in the belief she knew everything and about everyone. I was most puzzled how she knew about people she had never met. However, my survival instinct was very strong and I knew enough never to challenge her. The division of labor in my household was distinct and written in stone.  My mother was judge and jury, anointed by divine proclamation. My father, a la sentorian oration, laid down my mothers rules and regulations. He was majestical. He was a 6-foot handsome man possessed of a resounding, basso voice. These pronouncements engendered just enough quaking fear to keep the family, well, at least the girls, on the straight and narrow. From a very early age, I knew boy children, aka Princes, were the preferred sex in my household down to their extra portions at the dinner table.   

Whatever talents my four brothers possessed were enthusiastically supported. Piano lessons, violin lessons, chemistry laboratory, model airplane workshop. Before the depression, no expense was spared.  After the depression, the family made do with second hand clothes, tools and tutus.  

I grew up in two families. The first five, by age, Raymond, Allyn, Marilyn, Elliot, Lucille were born before the depression.  The last three, by age, David, Sally-Jane, Arlene were born after.  The depression took a big bite out of the family budget.  Yet, even then, my parents sacrificed to provide the best teachers and classes for their eight talented children.  

When I was very young, my three sisters and I were also encouraged to explore our talents as well… until… drum roll… MENSTRUATION.

If life is about anything, it is about timing.

After the death of a gazillion patients, Joseph Lister sanitized surgery.

After the death of a gazillion patients, Arthur Fleming discovered penicillin.

After a gazillion unwanted pregnancies, Margaret Sanger promoted birth control.

My mother, expert in all things, informed her girl children that Sanger and her methods were nothing but ‘’dirty smutty dirt smut.”   Her law would be all the birth control her daughters would ever need. Her words terrified me. She was the reincarnation of all the movie monsters that frightened me to death; Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man. Was this the beginning of my neurotic, anxiety ridden life. Just think about it. I loved my mother, or so I dutifully thought. And here she was swearing she would be the death of me.  At the very least, her words confused me.

Like a cobra, my mother hissed at me. All right already, so I was never in the same room with a cobra. Sue me!

My mother preached the horrors and evils of sex. I have to tell you, after those lectures, I never would have married if I thought there was any other way to escape.  It doesn’t take much to remember her words: 

“If any of you do IT, I will know.  If you do IT before you are lawfully wed as a virgin, or, God forbid, you get pregnant before you are lawfully wed as a virgin…”

(At this she lifts her eyes to heaven like Charlton Heston on the Mount receiving the Commandments, without the beard nor in a clean white sheet)

“… I swear on my dead mother’s grave to which I will force you to go with me next time I go to the cemetery, I will send you to that Island in the middle of the East River where they keep the insane and diseased city poor.”

All that glorious preaching fell on deaf ears. I didn’t know what IT was. I didn’t know any of my body parts. Where they were. What they did.  After my mother’s curse, I didn’t understand what got a girl pregnant.  Could I get pregnant from a hug?  What about playing Post Office or Spin the Bottle? Safe to say, my thoughts and feelings about sex were deeply affected. Ask any of the men in my life. That might be difficult.  At my age most of them are dead. Being an actress of some ability, along with scores of other women, I was able to fake it.  Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm in When Harry Met Sally was good.  Mine was better.”

TO BE CONTINUED…  

New Tricks

Among other things, this is the name of a British Television series available on Amazon Prime. If nothing else, just view the first episode because it’s so apropos. It is also the last part of an adage I have recently adapted to a new circumstance in my old life.  

 Do you think it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks?

All right, already, what in the Sam Hill (this is a euphemism for swearing because I didn’t feel like writing ‘hell’…sue me) is that woman trying to tell us???

It’s always great when you ask the right question.  

Recently, two dear friends, submitted samples of my writing (these very Blogs you receive) to the Editor and Publisher of The Berkshire Eagle, suggesting I might write a monthly Column for the Op-ed page of the newspaper.  I was grateful and, at the same time, a little unsure about my “style” of writing conforming to a newspaper. Who knows? Maybe it was just my way of preparing myself for rejection.  Remember, I spent my life auditioning. Maybe I still am. I think my percentages ran to about 50/50 of getting the part to “You’re very special”, words that always indicated you didn’t get it. “Next…”  All to say I wasn’t expecting a call from the publisher.  

But he did call and offered me an Op-ed column.  I accepted.  Immediately, I went to work writing.  The subject had been on my mind for about as long the Berkshire County Cottage and Division Street Bridges had been closed, which they were for many years, causing great inconvenience to the community and some  economic hardships to affected businesses. I spent the last two years gossiping about it to friends, neighbors and whoever would listen, like the women in Meredith Wilson’s musical Music Man.

Related news: A new iteration of Music Man arrives on Broadway mid-December, starring Hugh Jackmam. Y’All fuggetaboutit! He’s mine!

This opportunity gave me permission to share my thoughts with the community in which I live. It brings a very different color and responsibility to writing. The Blog and the Column are very personal. And that is where the similarity begins and ends.

I began the Blah, Blah, Blog as a very personal and almost intimate look into my absurd take on a long life (soooo grateful). Readers chose to sign up to see what the crazy lady was going to write about next or unsubscribe.

Subscribers or purchasers of a Newspaper have a completely different set of expectations. Yes, the Op-ed page is a page for people’s opinions. Not judgements, which most of you know is my favorite form of opinion.  I think newspaper readers (the few that are left) represent a wider variety of thought and opinion than blog readers. As I wrote the op-ed piece, I realized I was very self conscious. I write the Blog from absurd insights inside my brain, and over the years (since 2014) each of you has chosen to subscribe to peek inside that overworked mechanism.

A column goes out to a wider and more diverse audience. That alone creates a different writing environment.  It became a challenge. Life threw down a gauntlet. Was I up to it?

Well, what in the Sam Mountain do you think? (higher form of swear words.) As I wrote and researched the subject, I became more and more comfortable and actually enjoyed this new challenge. The gauntlet was in my hand and it fit like a glove.  (I can’t believe I wrote that…)

Here is my answer to the original question I posed.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Have a look and let me know: Sally-Jane Heit: Bridges to democracy

Right???

Of course, right!

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S.

Gratified and Satisfied…

My Dear Friends,

We have all heard it a million times… writing is such a lonely craft. No matter how writers try to distract themselves from themselves, eventually they must succumb and begin the lonely climb from sub to conscious thought, from pen to paper or fingers to computer. Yes, I am describing my own journey. And then the thoughts are dispersed to the person or in this case, the “list” of those brave souls that signed on to accept and read my blog. All to say, I thankfully, always get some response to what I write.

So that even if I write in the wilderness, eventually after sending the blog out, someone or someones rescue me from my solitude and brings me into their thoughts and responses and I am profoundly gratified and satisfied.

Hey, let us not forget my friends… I began my game of life as a performer. My passion was in putting myself before an audience and hoping I gave them pleasure or challenge or both. That give and take audience response was my initial lifeline from dysfunctional family life to dysfunctional married life. My ever growing, developing, nurturing, constantly challenging, and most loving relationship with my daughters was and always will be my raison d’être, but performing was definitely my second choice.

So writing in the wilderness is very difficult for me. And without response… OI VEY! … you’ve got to be kidding… a killer… an absolutely killer. I’ve been told to not be bothered by the lack of response… blog readers don’t usually respond. Well, in this last Blog about the Netflix movie, I Care A Lot…. I specifically asked for a response… and I got it.

I’m going to try and figure out how to rework my blog so I can keep this “audience” response going. In the meantime, I want to share some of the responses I received.

From Jim:
In my reading lately I’ve come across the concept referred to as the attention economy. Mostly in reference to social media like Facebook, Twitter,  etc. it is the idea that our attention is finite and of value and we should pay attention to how we ‘spend’ it.

These dark, ironic ‘humor’ movies and shows make me feel like I’ve not only wasted my time but been ripped off in terms of my attention. And since everything is tracked these days I am starting to be much more circumspect in how I allocate my attention. 

Here is the original article which introduced the phrase attention economy into my brain… I Talked to the Cassandra from the Internet Age (NY Times)

From Donna:
I saw the trailer for “I Care A Lot”. Half way through the trailer, it ’sceeved’ me out and I moved on. What a horrible plot!!!… The world is frightening enough these days without adding to it.

From Pamela:
I was afraid of that. I saw the blurb and could feel the ickiness. Glad you STOPPED WATCHING!!! Your senses are too precious to fill with such a vile version of humanity!

From Paula:
In CA almost impossible to have someone declared incapacitated in the courts.  Court also sends out its own independent investigator.  Anyway wanted you to know this so that you can sleep again…

FYI, I never watch movies like this anymore (even in the past I rarely watched) – no matter what the reviews.  Too much ugliness in the world already. I need an escape.

From Vel:
Just read your blog and SO glad I decided to pass on that film! But here’s a bit of news that gives that swindling racket a ‘Hooray for you, Girl’ upbeat twist: At 93, She Waged War on JPMorgan—and Her Own Grandsons

From Dianne:
I read your blog.  That movie sounds horrible.  Glad you switched over to reliable Agatha. 

From Lana:
Ugh. I watched that movie last night. I wanted to quit part way through it — I actually found it very uncomfortable and a little bit horrifying. I also wanted to see if it had a satisfying end (yes, sort of). But I went to bed with a flutter in my throat, kind of wishing I hadn’t watched it. But it made me wonder if, during the Trump era, producers made more movies like that — characters derelict of conscience or humanity

In reading up on the backstory of the movie, I see an article in The New Yorker was part inspiration: 
The Takeover
The whole thing scared the be-jesus out of me. 

From Ron: 
This came from reading your blog …

Now if you have any responses to these responses… write on MacDuff!  

While there have been shows where some audience members left before I did, (I’ve been in a few “turkeys” in my time), but as Laurence Olivier said, “If you haven’t had any bad reviews, you can’t call yourself an actor”.  

You see this is the kind of digression that counts as a distraction when I am trying to write. All I meant to say is… if you want to respond to any of the responses my machines are always open.   

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

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