in memoriam

Day 3267: What no one ever says

Today’s title is inspired by many things, including today’s Daily Bitch Calendar.

I may be the only one who says how that is an example of a cognitive distortion, because chances are that SOMEBODY has said that. At this point in my life, it’s hard to believe that no one has ever said anything, which is my way of saying that there might be nothing new under the sun in terms of what people communicate.

Stephen Sondheim, however, said things in his lyrics that people seldom say, like these lines from “The Ladies Who Lunch”:

So here’s to the girls on the go,

Everybody tries.

Look into their eyes

And you’ll see what they know:

Everybody dies.

When I first heard those lines in the 1970’s, I thought, “Stephen Sondheim is saying what no one ever says: ‘Everybody dies.'” And while other people have said it, nobody said it like Sondheim, who died the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m thinking about that line — “Everybody dies” — today because Michael Nesmith passed away yesterday.

No one (including me) ever says that “Everybody Dies” is a good title for this kind of blog, so I didn’t use it today. However, as we get older, “Everybody Dies” rings truer with each loss of somebody we loved.

And I did love Mike Nesmith and the Monkees.

Do you see what no one ever says in my other images for today?

I might assume that no one ever says “Let’s celebrate National Noodle Ring Day,” but I’m probably wrong.

Whether or not someone else says it, this is one of my vivid memories of the Monkees TV show, which seemed to include words that no one ever said before.

This next video includes what Mike and Davy said during their screen tests (which no one ever said during a tryout for a major TV show before).

No one ever says, I hope, that I don’t try to share relevant videos in my blog posts. Here’s another one:

Finally, no one ever says that I end these posts without expressing gratitude for those I appreciate, including YOU.

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 3253: Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim, musical genius and creator of tunes, words, and musicals that have sustained me for decades, died yesterday.

I just took this photo of these books that are always near me:

Those books — “Finishing the Hat” and “Look, I Made a Hat” — contain his lyrics for all his musical numbers and descriptions of his creative process. I love his creations so much that two years ago, my request to Michael for a birthday present was that he just find the blue book, which was packed away in boxes after our last move.

Stephen Sondheim’s music moves me like no others’. I’m sure there are hundreds of blog posts here that feature his music.

Stephen Sondheim’s music has always spoken to me, even when I didn’t know it was him. One of the first songs I chose to sing in front of an audience was “Do I Hear a Waltz” when I was a little kid. Years later, I found out that he had written the lyrics for that. When I was 13 and struggling to physically and emotionally survive heart issues, I was completely captured by a TV production of “Evening Primrose,” which sent me to John Collier‘s incredible short stories. Years later, I found out that Stephen Sondheim had written the lyrics and music for that. When I was dealing with heart problems in 2016, I chose to share this beautiful song from “Evening Primrose” in this blog.

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Before A Little Night Music opened on Broadway in 1973, it came through Boston and I saw it with my beloved late parents, who took me to many, many musicals. I was completely enchanted by all the music, including this:

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Today’s Daily Bitch Calendar mentions clowns!

Honestly, everything is going to evoke Sondheim for me right now.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was part of The Vocal Minority for a local production of Company. Sitting on stage with the musicians, I hit all those high notes and, to this day, the score feels like it’s a part of my mind, body, and soul. Eleven days ago, I saw the latest version of Company on Broadway with my son Aaron, (who appeared, when he was in high school, in a local production of Assassins in the role of John Wilkes Booth).

My cherished, late friend Michelle loved “Being Alive” from that musical, and her partner, Joe, recounted at her memorial how Michelle insisted he listen to that song the night they met. Joe played “Being Alive” for us as we gathered in 2018 to grieve her loss.

Stephen Sondheim, who is no longer being alive on this earthly plane, has helped so many of us in being alive.

One of my most memorable experiences in the theater was seeing the original production of Sweeney Todd on Broadway in 1977. I can still feel the startling whistle blast and see the stage in my mind, as the chorus sang the opening — “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd.”

A few years later, in the early 1980’s, I tried out for a local production of Sweeney Todd, hoping to be in the chorus to sing this amazing music. For days and days after I auditioned, I waited painfully to hear back from the production. I did not get the call and rehearsals began, as I grieved the chance to participate. The day after the first rehearsal, I got a call from the show’s producer. She said, “Ann, why weren’t you at rehearsal last night?” I said, not adjusting to this new information, “I wasn’t there because I didn’t get in.” She said, “What? Nobody called you? Oh no! You’re in!” I was ecstatic, and that was a peak experience of my life, learning and singing that profoundly gorgeous music for months.

Sondheim seemed to focus on and create works that have deeper meanings for me. In the 1980’s, I became obsessed with the Italian film Passione D’Amore. A few years later, Sondheim created the musical Passion based on that film, which includes this incredible song:

One of the reasons I cry and grieve today is that, at the time of his death, Stephen Sondheim was working on a new musical that is based on two films of Luis Buñuel, one of my favorite film directors. I wanted to see and hear that musical, but I also have faith that Sondheim has left us enough.

I could go on and on with more memories about how important Stephen Sondheim’s music has been to me. Instead, I’ll just share images from yesterday, captured before and after I heard the news of his passing.

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Here is “No One is Alone” — the profound Sondheim words and music I shared last night on Twitter:

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No one is alone. To Stephen Sondheim, to all who have interpreted and been moved by his artistry, and — of course! — to you, for sharing this with me, here and now, thank you so much!

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 2819: A Nation Reveals Itself

A few hours before it was revealed that my nation’s Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, this revealed itself to me:

A nation reveals itself by its

  • leaders,
  • priorities,
  • values,
  • humanity,
  • awareness,
  • respect and protection for all,
  • focus on the future,
  • engagement in the world, and
  • justice.

Because of how our nation has been revealing itself, I and those I love were immeasurably grief-stricken and devastated by the loss of Justice Ginsburg.

Senate leader Republican Mitch McConnell, who blocked President Obama from choosing a Supreme Court Justice many months before the 2016 Presidential election because “the people should decide,” has already revealed his plans to rush the process of replacing RBG with somebody diametrically opposed to her judicial values, scant weeks before the election.

A nation reveals itself by the hypocrisy, partisanship, greed, and injustice of its leaders.

A blog reveals itself by its words and images.

A blogger reveals herself by taking a picture of a plastic pig, because I am so sick of the greedy pigs running and ruining my nation.

In this televised tribute to her last night, RBG reveals that she was taught by her mother never to respond in anger.

I have much to learn from her.

I now look for hope and justice to be revealed, somehow, in the days ahead.

Feel free to reveal yourself in a comment, below.

Gratitude reveals itself here every day, so undying thanks to the amazingly courageous Ruth Bader Ginsburg and to all who witness what I reveal here, including you.

Categories: 2020 U.S. Presidential election, in memoriam, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 2761: Stuck

When I was in Social Work Graduate School in the 1990’s, I read an article that suggested that all  mental health diagnoses be replaced with one: “Stuck.”  That has stuck with me, over the years.

Today, I feel stuck in grief, because yesterday we euthanized our amazing cat Oscar, who was stuck in advanced and debilitating cancer.

This was yesterday’s Daily Bitch Calendar:

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Now you’re stuck with that and with all these other recent photos:

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When you’re stuck, sometimes it helps to say “f*ck this shit” and sometimes it helps to cry.

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Yesterday, I stuck those tissues on the table near where we were saying goodbye to Oscar, who was stuck on his favorite blanket on the sofa.

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The Lap of Love  founder and vet, Dr. Sally,  asked us yesterday if Oscar was spending a lot of time stuck in the bathroom.  Oscar had been stuck on the bathroom mat for hours yesterday while we waited for Dr. Sally to arrive at 5 PM.

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Dr. Sally said that cats often get stuck in the bathroom at the end, perhaps because they are dehydrated and want to hear the sound of running water.

I’ll always be stuck with Dr. Sally’s kind demeanor, which I could read through the mask  stuck on her face because of the coronavirus pandemic (which we’re all stuck with for the time being).

Here’s some of information about herself that Dr. Sally has stuck onto the Lap of Love website:

Despite being so enamored with animals as a child, I was not able to get my first dog until I was 13 year old, but on that very special birthday, I was handed a tiny, black puppy…and I immediately burst into tears of joy! Rocko and I had many adventures together throughout my young adult life, and being his pet parent taught me more than I could have imagined about responsibility, friendship, and, above all, unconditional love. We spent many years walking our neighborhood together, and with every mile, he listened to me talk through my hopes and dreams, my concerns, and my fears. I know that everyone says this about their dog, but he was the best…a piece of my past, and a piece of my spirit…always.

I’m glad that Dr. Sally is stuck with Rocko as a piece of her spirit. Of course, Oscar will always be a piece of ours.

Here’s a video from six years ago of Oscar and I stuck in another bathroom for over eight minutes as I tried to sing along to a favorite Pat Metheny tune:

I didn’t successfully stick all the high notes there but I’m glad to be stuck with that memory of Oscar who, as usual, stuck by my side for the whole thing.

I’m looking forward to being stuck with whatever comments you choose to leave, below.

Thanks to all who have stuck it out to the end of this “Stuck” post. I’m very grateful to be stuck, here and now, with you.

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Categories: in memoriam, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Day 2739: No longer

I am no longer President of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, so I am no longer worrying about acting Presidential (although “acting Presidential” no longer has the same meaning it used to).

Carl Reiner is no longer on this earth.

This sentence, at the end of the Wikepedia entry about Carl Reiner, is no longer than 20 words:

Reiner died at his home on June 29, 2020, aged 98, in the company of his family.

This episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, which Carl Reiner wrote, produced, and created, is no longer than 25 minutes:

This 2000-Year-Old Man Routine, co-created by the no-longer-with-us Carl Reiner and the-still-with-us-as-of-this-writing Mel Brooks, is no longer than four minutes:

I am no longer able to say that I never saw that before. It’s been no longer than 55 years that I’ve known Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks as comic geniuses.

Mel Brooks, who describes himself on Twitter as “Writer, Director, Actor, Producer and Failed Dairy Farmer” and who no longer can have dinner every night  with his old friend and co-writer Carl Reiner, posted this no-longer-than-280-character tribute yesterday:

Carl was a giant, unmatched in his contributions to entertainment. He created comedy gems like The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Jerk, and Where’s Poppa? I met him in 1950 when he joined Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, and we’ve been best friends ever since. I loved him. When we were doing The 2000 Year Old Man together there was no better straight man in the world. So whether he wrote or performed or was just your best friend — nobody could do it better.  He’ll be greatly missed. A tired cliché in times like this, but in Carl Reiner’s case it’s absolutely true. He will be greatly missed.

It took me no longer than a few seconds to find this great photo of Carl Reiner, Annie Reiner, and Mel Brooks that was taken no longer than two days away from Mel Brooks’s 94th birthday and Carl Reiner’s death day:

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I hope it is no longer debatable in this country that black lives matter.

I am no longer worried about other people’s incorrect assumptions or my inadvertent miscommunications, like Mel Brooks’s birthday and Carl Reiner’s death day being the same day (which they aren’t — they are one day apart).

This post is no longer focusing on words as I share my images from yesterday:

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I am no longer expecting comments but I will welcome any you choose to make.

It takes no longer than one word to express heart-felt gratitude.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 2734: Farewell for now

The amazing blogger beth made this hopeful, beautiful, helpful, and caring comment about my post from yesterday:

… hope that the memorial for your friend was beautiful and helped all of you who cared for her to say farewell for now.

That hope was realized, as I hope  you can see in these photos from yesterday:

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Those Ruth Bader Ginsberg socks were worn by Lisa, one of my co-workers. Until we were saying farewell for now to Eleanor, Lisa and I didn’t know we were connected by our love for her.

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That’s my old friend Andy, who I’ve known almost as long as I’ve known Eleanor.  We were reunited yesterday as we said farewell for now to her.

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I was so happy to finally meet Eleanor’s children, Gabe and Rosa, after hearing so many wonderful things about them.  As we said farewell for now to their mother, I could  see Eleanor’s beautiful legacy in them.

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Eleanor’s husband Ira and I spoke about how difficult it was to say farewell for now to Eleanor because she was soooo cool. We love her so much that we have trouble believing she’s gone from this world. We also know that she lives on in many, many loving hearts.

When I say farewell for now to somebody I love, everything reminds me of them.

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I love you, Eleanor.

Here‘s Farewell … For Now by Georges Delerue:

 

Thanks to all who are helping me say farewell for now to my long-time and beloved friend Eleanor, including YOU.

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Categories: in memoriam, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 2730: Staring at the Sun

Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death is a book I’ve stared at many times.

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Yesterday, when I was staring at my son in the midday sun …

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… I got the very sad, unexpected, and darkening news that my long-time friend Eleanor had passed away.

Eleanor, who was described in an online memorial as “sunshine, determination, kindness, humor, a keen mind and a really great friend” brought the sun into my life for over 45 years.  Here’s a portion of her obituary:

Eleanor was a caring and giving person, made up of pure love and light, and left nothing but warmth and care with everyone who knew her. She had a contagious smile and strong will. She was the sun on a dark day, the cool breeze on a hot day. The twinkle in her eyes could warm the darkest, most inner part of anyone’s soul. We now have another angel on our side to help us fight for peace, which is what she always wanted. May her spirit continue to guide us through this life, and always remind us to live and lead with our heart. There will be a private ceremony. To make donations in Eleanor’s honor please consider Project Bread, http://www.projectbread.org/, the Kestrel Land Trust https://www.kestreltrust.org/, or the Equal Justice Institute https://eji.org/.

Eleanor last commented on this blog on Mother’s Day:

Eleanor
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ANN!
And this mother thanks you for all your posts over the years – what I look forward to each day to amuse me, inspire me, make me ponder, and just enjoy.
Peace and love to you

Eleanor was a caring and loving friend who gave me advice, cards, tickets to wonderful events,  rides to appointments when I was dealing with health issues,  and — during rain and shine —  her fabulous company (described here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, and here,). We talked about cats, haircuts, food, work, politics, children, husbands, other people, social justice, the present, the past, the future, love, and everything else under the sun.

Whenever I asked her if I could put her picture in my blog, she’d say, “Some day.  Not yet.” I can picture the sunshine of her kind, curious, and loving face, right now.

Eleanor gave me these avocado socks …

… and I believe that the last time I saw her we had avocado toast, dining under the sun at a cafe near the shore.  There was such synchronicity and connection between us, we often finished each other’s sentences.

I took many photos yesterday, staring at the sun and the new reality that my long-time friend Eleanor had passed on.

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That last photo of a couple staring at the sun makes me think about Eleanor’s husband, Ira, who sent me the email yesterday about her passing.  May her memory be a comfort to him, her two children, and all who loved her.

As always, I’m staring at gratitude for all I have, here and now.

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Day 2623: We really don’t know how we affect other people

Two thousand, five hundred, and five days ago (but who’s counting?), I wrote another blog post with the same title as this one.

We really don’t know how we affect other people.

Rhys — the welcoming, perceptive, kind, aware, attentive, versatile, soulful, generous,  and lovable server at Junior’s restaurant in New York City — really didn’t know how he affected me until I published yesterday’s blog post (and today’s!).

I really didn’t know how I affected Rhys until he showed me his instagram account yesterday and asked to get some pictures with me yesterday.

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I really don’t know how I affect other people by sharing thoughts and images here, including these:

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I’ve encountered so many people during my experience at this year’s American Group Psychotherapy Association conference. They really don’t know how they affected me, which was profoundly.

Perhaps McCoy Tyner, the incredible jazz pianist who died yesterday, didn’t really know how he affected other people.  Here‘s one of the most affecting pieces of music I’ve ever heard (performed live in Berlin in 1990):

Here‘s the recording of “Fly with the Wind” which has affected me for decades:

Here‘s another incredible piece from the same album:

We really don’t know how we affect other people unless we tell each other. I want to tell you how I grateful I am for all of you, every day.

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Categories: group therapy, in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 2605: Feet First

Yesterday, when I was walking down the street with my feet first, I heard “Feet First” from the album Street Dreams by the late, great keyboardist Lyle Mays.

My first thought was “Tomorrow’s blog is going to include ‘Feet First’ and photos with feet!”

The first photo I took was of my own feet on the street.

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And as I walked through the day with my feet first, I realized, again, how much it helps to take life one step at a time.

Here are the other feet I captured yesterday:

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Now it’s time for me to step through another day, feet first.

Thanks to Lyle Mays, artists,  cats, and all who help me step through life feet first, including YOU!

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Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 2601: Please be considerate

Please be considerate and tell me which of these photos you like best and why.

Please be considerate and join me in paying homage, again, to one of my favorite musicians , the late great Lyle Mays.

Please be considerate and accept this short and simple post, because I am in the middle of considering so many obligations right now.

Please be considerate of how grateful I am for all who consider my blog worth visiting, including YOU.

Categories: in memoriam, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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