The Joke Is On Us

20140305-152544.jpgHere at the shore I have high-security, Internet and television all in one big blob of a bill every month. Since I don’t watch that much television and I read a lot, I cut down on just the basic cable channels coming into the house.

Last night reluctant to expose myself to all-day-bad news that is on television, I decided to flip the channels to see what else was on. I came across the E! channel at the beginning of a Kardashian series of vacation shows in Thailand. Well, I have been to Thailand a couple of times and I enjoyed it, so I thought I would stay on the Kardashian’s for a while to see what they’re going to show in Thailand.

OMG! What on earth did this family to do to make themselves rich and so famous-unbelievable!
A lot of brainpower going on here? The entire series seemed to be based around Kim’s doing selfie’s naked, half naked, ridiculously posed, or otherwise, for her soon-to-be husband Kanye West.

And the ridiculous, un-empathetic conversations that were going on by the mother and daughters about her son who doesn’t go anywhere and stays in the house because he’s so severely depressed. Poor Rob! Too bad this kid was born into that family! I know enough about mental illness it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand unless he gets help, the right help, he may wind up killing himself. I can imagine the intimidation and stress and living with that house full of narcissistic Kardashian women must be so ‘cuckoos nest.’ Only the older sister Chloe seem to even care or have empathy for his suffering.

In essence I have never watched a group of such self-interested, narcissistic people in my entire life. It was a disgusting display of everything that could go wrong in this country with morals and attitude and greed for celebrity.

And what is most of all frightening to me is that people watch this stuff on a regular basis. The public has made them celebrities. And it all began with the sex tape that Kim did that went viral.

Folks, if I was depressed yesterday about all of the bad news in the world, after watching this show, I have really hit the bottom. And it’s not about the kind of people who act like this, taking from society and never giving, or perform unabashedly like this for money and celebrity exposure, but it’s about the people who are supporting this type of entertainment, if you can even qualify it as that.

And to add insult to injury the fact that Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue and powerhouse in the fashion industry, would put this narcissistic nobody of the Kardashian’s on her front cover is almost inexcusable. Anna has made Vogue no longer a fashion magazine but a celebrity cover magazine.

As my daughter, Brett, said to me this morning over the phone, ” I loved life the way it used to be.”
Amen, Brett. Amen.

Copyright Sandra Hart All rights reserved.

True Grit

If one lives long enough, change happens. That’s just the way life is. And each time I blog I wonder if I have anything else to say. But I write about my life, so if I really want to be honest, I also have to include the grit. It goes like this.

I find myself waking up in the morning a little bit depressed these days. How about you? Unless you live in a vacuum you must feel something. I have always considered myself a positive person always looking at the glass half full instead of half empty. Could be I’m getting older and recognizing that. Sure. Could be I am a realist. Maybe. Could be that I am inherently a sponge and can’t help myself to change. True. The honest to goodness fact is that I can’t take what is going on in the world anymore.

CNN, just give me some good news already! No more pictures of drunken Ukrainians and dead bodies, people running for their lives and starving children, missing airplanes. For heavens sake, my daughter is a flight attendant! Such an overload of bad news these days beyond my ‘glass half full’ ability.

I get it. The world is an unhappy place. The news is frightening. Everything seems to be falling apart out there. Missiles are flying and people are dying in flames in the Mideast, despots are coming out of the ground like weeds, gaining strength over their peoples and creating fear and conflict, choking the death out of goodness.

Just how much can an old woman take. I don’t ever remember the world being in such wide turmoil, do you? I don’t ever remember the United States being so weak in the minds of even our allies. God help us!

Right now, here at home, we have major economic problems that are affecting the younger generation, especially. Problems at our border. We don’t seem to have a strong American guidance, “rally around the flag” identity anymore. When did this happen? Where is Clint Eastwood when we need him! Or Roosevelt and his big stick!

Honestly, I don’t ever remember the world being in such wide turmoil. I don’t ever remember the United States being so weak in the minds of even our allies.

Am I tempted to turn into an ostrich? I wonder. The first thing I do in the morning to break the silence in my head is to turn on my favorite jazz station, then shuffle along to my Keurig that is waiting for me to pour that first cup of hot wake-up coffee to drink on the deck with a big fat ‘death to my arteries’ Napoleon to ease my anxiety. Privileged. Maybe. Worked for it. Dear God, yes. Take it for granted. Not! I vote, volunteer, work for charities, help others. But obviously it is not enough to clear my head.

It’s just that I want what we all want; my children and their children to have the same benefits my generation had – freedom of open doors as result of hard work. Pathways to a good life. Peace and prosperity.

I want my daughters and granddaughters to have the freedoms and opportunities equal to men. Respect as human beings. Choices of dress, beliefs, careers of their own respected and allowed.

Please. Wake up America before we are forced to sleep with the enemy!

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Barbizon Babes

Congratulations to Nina Guzman on her well-written and researched article “Where The Girls Are” in this month’s issue of BUST Magazine. Nina found me through my blog piece I wrote on my Barbizon Years several months ago. She asked me if she could interview me about my life at the Barbizon for her article. (https://twitter.com/sandrashart/status/448230928112828417)
Well, I thought I knew all about living at the women’s hotel, but Nina’s article showed me there was so much more to the history of this landmark than I realized. Thanks again Nina for asking me to share my memories of life “Where The Girls Are”.

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No Chance Meeting

100_1691I never knew Japan could be so hilly along the coast. My legs were killing me. We had been walking around for hours looking for the beautiful Sorakuen Gardens, our final stop before heading back to the port in Kobe. We were lost. Frustrated. Tired. Then my husband and I started blaming one another which ‘left’ and ‘right’ we should or should not have taken. Finally, giving up the blame game, and desperate for directions, we knew our only hope was to find someone who hopefully might speak a little English. Enough to get directions anyway.

As we were about to try to find our way back to the ship, we suddenly saw in the distance across the narrow street a man scurrying along at a fast pace dressed in familiar garments that suggested he might just be a rabbi. Arthur and I looked at one another with the same desperate thought. We turned and literally ran after him, cameras flopping against our chests, “Dear God, please let him speak English!”

Well, that was the beginning of the most interesting adventure in Kobe. Much better than a stroll through another garden we had seen many of on our many world tours.

Rabbi Shmuel Vishedsky, turned out to speak English, was in his late twenties and from Israel, and upon hearing our plight invited us to visit his temple. Anything to get off my feet, I thought.

He walked us up the hill to Ohel Shelomoh, his temple.

Getting lost turned out to be an interesting day filled with history. We learned from Shmuel about his life in Kobe, Kobe itself, his temple and the early migration of the Jewish settlement there and the earthquake in 1995 that almost destroyed it all.

Even though we had been to Kobe before, we had no clue Kobe has a very rich Jewish history. We would have never known about any of this had we not met him. The city was and continues to be one of Japan’s major ports, and a turning point in Kobe’s history took place when its port opened its doors for trade with the West in 1868. We were told Jewish traders most likely ventured into Kobe for trade purposes during this time, settling in Kobe. The Rabbi showed us with pride the beautiful carved chairs donated by the Jewish traders more than a century ago. Most are now empty during services.

The first Jews arrived in Kobe around the turn of the 20th century. Up until World War II, Jews flocked to the port city from Poland, Russia, Germany, and the Middle East due to its wealth and trading opportunities and the temples flourished.

As was often the case in Jewish history, Jews were predominantly involved in mercantile businesses because of limitations imposed upon them by their home countries, and working in trade allowed them to prosper without settling down.

By 1941, there were two separate synagogues in Kobe, one for the Ashkenazim and another for the Sephardim. During World War II, the Sephardic synagogue burnt down as the result of an American air raid, and the Ashkenazim shared their space with the Sephardic community. It is this synagogue that serves to small community of 17 to 20 Jews who are comprised of those working in Japan teaching English and a small group of permanent residents.

The Rabbi showed us where there were still minor cracks in the walls, and evidence where the earthquake of 1995 did other major structural damage to the building. But, with reverence, he also showed where the tablets showing the commandments above the Ark were not touched by the quake as though saved by the Hand of God.

I thought, in a way, knowing his thirst for biblical knowledge makes him happy, but because of his dedicated religious beliefs what an isolated life he and his wife and young child had here in Kobe. We stayed around for a while because Shmuel was so anxious for us to meet his wife and child who had been out for the day.

Unfortunately, time would not allow that, so we had to say goodbye to our interesting host without meeting his family. He seemed disappointed that we couldn’t stay, but so pleased at our chance encounter in the streets of his adopted city.

We were like a voice from home I think, and it turned out he was just as delighted to see us English speaking Americans as we him. And I do believe in this life there are no chance encounters. Each has its meaning and purpose.

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Copyright 2014 Sandra Hart. All rights reserved.

REAR VIEW MIRROR

Organizing things the past few months at the house, finding memorabilia, going through old photographs that bring up past images and a past life, it seems I’m looking in the rearview mirror more and more these days.

For those of us who are living our lives well over 50, the reality, painful to even think about, is that the bulk of our life is probably behind us. Gone is our youth, the flawless, glowing skin, tight body mass, and unbridled energy juggling our family and our young kids lives.

How easy to slip back into those warm fuzzy memories of what used to be and for a moment escape what really is…at this time-NOW….forgetting how exciting or important this leg of our journey can be.

My flight attendant daughter is now 50 and she complains that with her creative aspirations, she is not where she hoped to be at 50, as though it is all over for her.

And once more, I have to go over the chronology of my life and career. Moving forward was all that I pursued with never even a thought of age as a handicap. Maybe that is why it never mattered. She is no exception. No different than I. It still is possible for new and exciting chapters to be written for and by her. That goes for you, too.

As I recently posted on Facebook, in my 20’s and 30’s I worked in television while raising a family, my 40’s I entered the corporate world to support my family, in my 50’s I started all over as an actress in film, television and theater and in my 60’s became a published author, a mental health advocate and blogger.

Don’t get me wrong. I am no Pollyanna. Life has not all be roses for me. Like most of you, I have had my struggles, disappointments and heartaches. But something inside of me gave me the strength to always get up and have faith that another door would open, another chapter would be written. Without fail, it always happened that when I was the most down, I was lifted the highest into a better place in my life. Always.

As long as there is a new day I plan to make the most of every hour gifted to me. We build our own fences. We control our limitations. Set yourself free and see just how high you can fly!

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Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

FAST FORWARD

“One is the loneliest number that you will ever do.” John Farnham

Several years ago I wrote a piece on “one is the loneliest number,” adding various reasons why that didn’t necessarily have to be true:

So many songs including the one with the famous line in the above title ‘one’ means heart ache, single, lonely, by myself and all of the other negative images they want us to conjure up about poor little ‘one’.

Isn’t ‘one’ the primary, the very first number in our numeric system? Without ‘one’ there would be no starting and with all of the other infinite numbers trailing behind it certainly is not lonely.

For me being by myself gives me the opportunity to do as I please. So when you are alone and feeling sorry for yourself embrace your ‘oneness’.

Always remember tomorrow is another day and a chance to be number ‘one’ again, head of the pack and at the top of the heap. If you learn to love yourself, you will be your own best company.”*

Fast forward to the present. Right now, I am waiting in the orthopedics office, alone, filled with a room full of injured people to varying degrees of injury and loneliness. Old, young, broken arms and legs, wheelchairs. Surveying the large waiting room, I am feeling quite vulnerable, witnessing how a trip, slip or other catastrophe can change one’s life. The human body is an amazing machine. But a human machine that is quite fragile and vulnerable to all sorts of damage.

My husband is in the city, my children are spread throughout the south and Midwest and here I am, ‘one’ and not so cocky about my ‘oneness.’

Right now, I am realizing that all of the prior feelings I had about the number 1, changes as I get older and more aware of how important 2 or more can be.

On my way home today, a quick stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for número uno, and then calls to my husband and children to tell them that they are ‘one’ in my life, head of the pack and top of the heap!

* Excerpts from Read Between My Lines: What Was I Thinking. Sandra Hart Copyright.

Copyright 2014 Sandra Hart

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GONE FISHIN’ – DO NOT DISTURB

I think my ‘smarts’ flew out the window sometime after I was 50. I keep doing stupid stunts that I used to do without a problem. Like climbing a grassy knoll in the pouring down rain to retrieve my blind dog, then missing the cement tire stop in the parking lot. I flew about 15 feet in the air slid on the asphalt and tore my rotator cuff. Luckily my sweet little dog was fine. Being blind probably saved her life. She couldn’t see what was coming and didn’t stiffen her joints.

Then a few years later, idiot that I appear to have become, I was trying to reach something in the kitchen from the top shelf close to the ceiling. Instead of being a normal person and getting the stepladder, I used a plastic chair that I was planning on taking outside to put on the deck. Well, the chair leg collapsed into a heat grate pinning my leg as it slipped down through the arm bracing it so that I couldn’t bend my leg and I wound up fracturing my tibia.

Amazing that for 50+ years I’ve been going along in my life, not realizing I was kind of stupid, never even much experienced anything more than bouts of poison ivy rash or bee stings.

But, this time, I really think I am done. No more stupid. I may be getting smart too late, but I am going to try. No lifting, moving pots and furniture like a 20 year old. I am going to try to act my age from now on. I say this, I write this, wearing a back brace with two severe lumbar compressions from being ‘stupid is, stupid does’.

I have great bones, younger that I am, I have been told, but maybe my brain hasn’t gotten the message that young bones don’t make you smart or young again.

So this Fourth of July, I will not be the hostess with the ‘mostess’ and everyone will be on their own. Don’t even ask me to move a chair for you!
I have retired from being younger than I am!

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