Monday’s Blog; No Exit??

After recent article’s reference to the surrealist, philosopher Jean Paul Sartre a memory was re-awakened from my acting days way back in undergraduate school at the Suny/Buffalo. Interest in Sartre’s work was part of popular culture in those days. although, I am not sure that popular culture was, as yet, even a category. This occurred two decades before his death in 1980.  

Our reader’s theatre group mounted a reading of his play NO EXIT.  I played Estelle, one of four characters condemned to hell, confined to a drawing room “from hell” and as they try to accept, indeed, in hell.  It is likened to being confined forever with your worst enemies.  The four of us sat on stools, the stage bare.  I wore a long blond wig and we all wore black clothing. Only our heads and scripts were lit as we performed.  The auditorium was full of students, professors, family members and theatre fans. A late spring snow storm had raged for two days before the performance. My parents drove to Buffalo from Rochester to catch the gig. They did arrive safely, but the going was not easy along the Thruway and they were distressed but happy and relieved to be there.

The play was first performed in 1944 in Paris. Our reader’s performance was held in the auditorium housed in the Campus Student Union.  We jump-start to the final lines of the play, presented in a dramatic short and quick series of alternate lines. My line affirmed the reluctant acceptance of fate with two lines to follow by other characters, meant to dramatically nurture the audience’s quiet anticipation, hesitating for a few moments before offering the expected applause. 

The audience was indeed hushed. As I uttered my final lines–“dead?” and “Forever, My God, how funny! Forever.”  the dead silence tremored with a loud piercing ring of the fire alarm followed by the directive to disregard the alarm set off by false information.

We, the players somehow kept our cool and did not panic. Instinctively, we repeated the last few lines of the play and were greeted with enthusiastic applause. We took our bows and collapsed in each others arms after lights went black for a few moments.

Audience members soon joined us to extend their kudos for the performance as well as our clear headed reactions, not to run off stage in tears or sit dumbfounded on our reader’s theatre stools after the spoiler disturbance at the exact wrong moment.  Our director was elated at our reading and by our reaction to the disruption as well, pledging that heads would roll after the unfortunate noise.  How our memories live on, often to be tweaked and relived at moments that we can not anticipate. 

Monday’s Blog; MLK Leaders are made

Martin Luther King Jr. has long been one of my heroes, hefty on courage, leadership, determination and laden with great quantities of Chutzpah. How familiar we are with his achievements, daring and dedication to a great cause, facts I do not need to reiterate today, on the day devoted to celebrating his life. It will be all over the media and in many people’s hearts and minds. 

I also celebrate his wife Coretta Scott King’s impact on our lives. I note her grace, her courage and her support in her husband’s great work as well as her own achievements and contributions to the world. How often she must have watched the media footage or been next to him as he began to make an impact on the divided country, How she must have worried and fretted at his well-being while he pursued his dreams, shattered on that terrible day, April 4, 1968 on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He accomplished so much and lived to seek freedom and equality for millions and then died at the young age of 39.

How does a leader of MKL’s caliber get to such heights. It does not come quickly.  It is not innate at birth but grows from a seed of need and want. It comes with hard work, introspection, fear, anxiety and that deep-felt determination. I refer to an interview with Dr. King that has stuck in my mind for many years covering the early years of his crusade. 

When questioned about his style and approach, he said that it evolved with time, with daring and small steps feeling his way ahead, inventing his approach as he worked.  During difficult encounters he often felt fearful and unsure of how to start climbing this mountain but his will and determination served to fashion the sound and light of his growing campaign reaching towards recognition and equality for the downtrodden.   He followed his heart. He spoke his mind. He grew into a cherished leader with a dramatic, haunting style that won millions of hearts and united blacks and whites building toward equality in this land. 

I think of this poignant testimonial often when hearing leaders and shakers speak on their causes and know that they were not born with the words and actions we hear and see but grew through their courage and determination towards change. Upbringing and background still cannot be discounted in building the foundations of our lives.
In his early years, in 1949, distraught at the news of the death of his grandmother Jennie at the age of 12 he tried to kill himself by jumping out of a window, additionally distraught because he defied his parents wishes as he joined parade of protest and then learned of her death. In his early years he questioned  religion and religious worship.  But in his junior college year, King took a Bible class, renewing his faith and entered a career path in the ministry. 

With time, Martin Luther King Jr.’s rhetoric became fresh, dramatic, notable and skillful. In his first speech, King declared, “We have no alternative but to protest, adopting Mahatma Gandhi’s style of non violence. What a legacy is left in his name. 

In parting, I direct you to a wonderful story heard on NPR’s story core that says reams about Dr. King’s manner. In the mid-1960s, a young white man named Tom Houck left high school seeking to join the civil rights movement. After meeting Martin Luther King Jr. at an event, Houck decided to volunteer for King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference…a fascinating account.

…Follow this story by listening or reading the text. It is found at

Source of historical referneces and quotes;
Happy MLK day to all. Ann Carol 

Monday’s Blog ;My Paper Bible

Is there some irony in the fact that before writing this Monday’s entry, I did a Google search to see if I had company in feeling the way I do? Indeed, the irony is in the fact that I used an electronic search about my problem of letting go of something non electronic. The search confirms that I do have plenty of company–those of us who can’t let go of our paper calendars, even though electronic calendars are neater and cleaner and always appear on demand. No more “where did my calendar go?” (usually found buried under the pile of books and mail) and frantically digging under the piles to make an entry in my calendar before forgetting the details.

Let go? I can’t do it. I have many of the electronic toys popular in today’s world.  The electronic calendars appear on each of the devices that I use, but my paper calendar remains on my desk.   A smaller calendar travels in my purse. The paper calendar is my non religious Bible–(terminology still up for review, perhaps it is worship in some form) as in keeping up with daily events is probably a religion of a kind. It certainly takes a significant part of my daily routine, energy and concentration.

I do not remember living without a calendar, from middle school forward. Letting go of the last year’s calendar is also difficult for me. Recently I pledged to keep only the past year and reducing the clutter in my drawer. Of course I can refer to many prior year calendars on the electronic version as well, but–letting go…not easy for me.  Most recently, my paper format of choice is a spiral bound weekly calendar with ample space in which to write and beautiful images of artifacts from the collection of the Jewish Museum in New York City.

Thinking back, I remember my parents maintaining a wall calendar with notes crammed into the small space and my dad carrying a pocket calendar recording his RPO rehearsal and performance schedule, his violin teacher schedule and so much more. The historical development of the concept of calendar is brilliant and long, leading to the advent of personal calendars as we know them–a few results from my Google search;
When did the calendar begin?
    from the 7th to the 12th century started on 25 December, from the 12th century until 1751 started on 25 March, from 1752 started on 1 January. It is sometimes claimed that having the year start on 1 January was part of the Gregorian calendar reform.
    The value of the calendar shines, just today I had 4 meetings to keep straight, notes and reminders of significant interest, as special as reminders that today marks the start for two of our precious grandsons starting their college careers in separate locations. The calendar is indeed a diary, a journal, a book of memories, indeed a valuable tool. Note, today is unusual, I try at my stage of life to stay uncommitted and under scheduled. 
    Ancient Scroll style calendar and a Mayan version

Next on my plan for today is to open my paper-back book and indulge in a favorite pass time, reading. I have chosen to occasionally pick up a paper based book and give my Kindle and Tablet a bit of a rest. I hope your Monday was fulfilling and memorable.

Monday’s Blog; Joshua Trees reach for the sky

Joshua Trees are foolers. They are called trees but are seated in the Yucca family. They stand as if praying, reverent and stable, pointing to the sky. The shapes are artful, never repeated, can be small and humble or huge with 15-20 branches supported on a strong trunk. Our last visit to Joshua Tree National Park was in 2002 with our son, daughter in law and grandson, age 2. Our memories stayed strong and true in our minds.

This trip there were 3 of our 5 grandsons along to guide us through the park through their eyes and energy. At first glance, the park looks healthy and hardy. With a closer look, the drought of the past several years shows the wear and tear on the growth of this unique region.  Blossoms and leaves on the Joshuas seem dry and weary. Yet they still stand tall and strong. What a joy to return to this park and enjoy yet another national treasure. How fortunate we are in this country to enjoy such a strong Park service. We must all do our best to keep it strong and healthy and to introduce sites like Joshua Tree to our young and growing citizens.

Cholla Cactus or the Jumping tree
Do not touch these plants, they will grab you