This morning, I listened to a recording of Frank Sinatra singing All the Way. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it. I was immediately flooded with the romantic memories of listening to this song as I drove in a car with my boyfriend on a balmy, moonlit Miami night. At that time, I felt adventurous, a deliciously just a bit out of control been but it was within understood boundaries that were rarely crossed. My sexual life was a balancing act of exercising self-determination while hearing my mother’s stark irritating, but unforgettable warnings, in my head
The title of the song, All the Way, was also a euphemism for avoiding the starker implications of sexual intimacy so long warned about to “nice girls.” Only among close friends at college, would we talk skittishly about going all the way with a boyfriend. Usually a long term boyfriend. Remember this was before the pill liberated young people from the concerns of an unwanted pregnancy. Sexual liberation for women was just a few short years away but it might as well have been a century away because the double standard and the risks involved in going all the way were intense and required a devil may care attitude that few of us could sustain without ingesting large amounts of alcohol. Continue reading “All the Way”
My own awareness of racism in America and within myself awakened very slowly. I still harbour some shame about that unconsciousness and unconcern that existed within me. Current times bring that personal history all to the fore and require not only national re-examination but personal soul searching as well.
The city I grew up in had a very small population of poor black factory and domestic workers. As I remember, I never encountered students or teachers of other races all through my public education. The only black person I knew was a middle-aged woman named Ella Mae who had moved to Mass. from Ga. She cleaned my parent’s house once a week and cooked legendarily good sweet potatoes for us at Thanksgiving. I never asked her about her life.
My parents referred to blacks as many first generation American Jews did at that time as “schvartzes.” I knew it was a vaguely derogatory term but never questioned it until years later. It is the only German or Yiddish word for black, but there is no doubt in my mind that what might have begun as a language issue for new immigrants to America, continued long past its expiration date. Continue reading “Unconscious White Girl”
I was feeling close to retirement last year. I got bogged down with some of the less-than-sexy-details of working within a non-profit organization. Occasionally, it has its challenges. I also got overly involved in thinking about my age. My wise adult children refused to consider it. “You’re not retiring!” one daughter angrily insisted. “What, are you sick? No! (answering her own question) What are you talking about?”
I’d been shaken strongly enough to realize the importance of keeping on. Softening, I said, “We’ll see.” I soon decided my daughters were right. Hallelujah.
It’s interesting to note how we internalize expectations surrounding ageing. Some things I had not anticipated, so never thought about (bursitis?dry eye?); while others regarding the “right” age to retire, were culturally imprinted, thought about frequently and not derived from a real need.
People occasionally tell me how much they admire the fact that I’m still working. The truth is, it’s not like I’m descending into a coal mine every day or laying bricks. Mostly, I sit calmly working at my computer. No physical challenges there, except to get away from it periodically. Psychologically, I still experience the same rush I always have when being in the presence of great dance. It’s a high. Why turn my back on that? I also am the grateful recipient of gratitude from the dancers for providing them with an opportunity to do what they love and have trained for all their lives. Having the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life is a powerful stimulant.
I’m making stimulating new relationships each year because of my involvement. I’m forced to socialize more than I might do otherwise. I know I’m better off because of it.
I could go on. Let it suffice to say that I love the work I do. I’m always thrilled when another DANCEworks season begins as it did this week. The dancers arrive. Their excitement and enthusiasm are contagious. The Lobero Theater stage is lit and occupied daily by dancers and choreographers. My people. My life.
I’m privileged to be able to participate and watch them at work experiencing the sweat, toil and joy of creation and thankful that I’m still working.