Tara's Thoughts

Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

One of my goals for this blog is to offer a platform for authors whose work I admire.  I know a lot of wonderful writers and poets.  When a new work is available I make it my mission to feature their work or point to it so you can take a look at it.

This charming little story was sent to me by Carole Field, MFT, published author and playwright.  You can find her books, “Dating Down And Those of Us Who Do It” and “New York Guns, Kansas Nuns, Birth Control!” on Amazon.  I have known Carole for many years. We talk about everything. She is an educated listener and a deep thinker. I can always count on her to give me a unique, well-considered perspective on any issue.

Knowing her as I do I can absolutely accept that she wrote this story in one session while sitting in the parking lot of the Food 4 Less!  “The Smell of Make-Up” struck me as engaging, lovely, funny, and touching. Here she captures a moment in time that takes a bit of nostalgia, a bit of fantasy, and our current planetary restrictions and ties them all up together into a little bit of hope.  Seems like a gem of a holiday gift.

THE SMELL OF STAGE MAKE-UP   by Carole H. Field

I am never really vexed by the randomness of thoughts. I’m aware our synapses aren’t linear. Ultimately, we just make them work.  But this particular, glaring, non-sequitur was so unhitched, I had to go home and scribble it on paper.

So- there I sat in the parking lot of  Food  4  Less on Van Owen Blvd. Not the most religious of experiences. And I watched the masked and gloved, largely Mexican, families cajoling and joyously poking each other towards their/our essential pilgrimage.

And so, what else do I think of when I’m in a grocery store parking lot on a scorching, Sunday morning during a pandemic? None other than-  how much I missed the smell of stage make-up. Naturally.

Yes- the smell. Not the pretty colors or what it did to these deep-set eyes, but the smell. That first blast when you unscrewed the lid and it hit you, without permission.

              “How do you do, Sugar? We’re in this together “, it would say.

I  would light up like a twin finding his counterpart, or, even, a virgin birth.

The make-up from Macy’s or Bloomies or the cheap drugstore on W.  53rd  never had that certain smell, nor, the voice, avuncularly calling me  Sugar.

That darling little man on E. 41st s who never looked up from reading Backstage or Show Business but could accurately advise you from some third eye.

              “Watcha up to?” he would ask.

              “Yay- I am going out with ‘No, No, Nanette’ next week, “ I would respectfully reply.

              “Mazel tov,” he would say. “Get the Max Factor #5. You’re part light olive, part pink. Anything else will drown you out. We got new lip brushes from Berlin. They’re on sale. “

And, I’d leave there, smiling, with my new stash, still never seeing the color of his eyes.

And in the subway, I’d steal a bench, peruse the area to begin my new relationship with no interruption, and uncap one of my new potions.

 And, there it’d be again. The waft, the greeting, the historical ambrosia left by every actress before me and every actress henceforth, hoofing, in “No, No Nanette”. And it would say,

              “Hi, Sugar. We’re in this together.”

 Whether it was the Belasco, or a black box on Melrose, or Temple Israel‘s backstage in Detroit, the smell of stage make-up had the same voice.

I pulled myself inside the grocery store. No doubt everyone in there was thinking the same as me. Understandably, I hobbled over to the lonely make-up stand. There, far from commanding,  smiled the Revlon and the Maybelline. They were trying. But I pretended, for just one second, that I was surrounded by the smell of  Max Factor and Ben Nye and….And, that the word pandemic was only something cobbled together on a Scrabble board.  And, that the lights were as radiant as ever on the Great White Way. And, the only masks anyone was wearing were for effect, for something theatrical, under the silly magicians, cheesy sleight of hand. Undoubtedly.

              “Sugar,” said the voice from Max Factor #5.  “Hey- you got it goin’ on. This pandemic thing is temporary. They all are. Go with your inner resources. Go for the love, Carole. Because whether you’re basking in the smell of odorous, legendary, rouge, or of the inhibitions produced by your mask, it’s all about the love. Did you ever believe it was about anything else? “ he laughed.

I cautiously moved away from the make-up stand and filled my basket with food. I now had to look at Food 4 Less with different eyes. Yow- who knew that roast chicken and mascara had so very much in common?              

Oh…..what was it I said about random thoughts?

The electric fan sits on the floor by the window. It protects me from the heat and humidity that plagues modern society.  In my youth I lived in world where my goals were achievable and my task list was short enough to complete by the end of the week. Here in Los Angeles it was almost always pleasantly warm and dry.  And I didn’t have to Another hot,oppressive dayfight the weather to make space in my brain to tackle daily goals and dreams. I don’t remember having so much to fight for and certainly not so much to fight through.

Now I feel the encroaching world press in on me in ways I never expected. And on top of all the daily challenges, the aches, the tasks piling up around me, the demands of a world grown altogether too connected to handle in any rational fashion, I have to fight through the physical discomfort of an environment grown so hot and sticky that it produces another, previously unexplored, struggle:  distraction. Distraction of a physical nature that Just. Should. Not. Be. There.

But there it is.  It frightens me to think I may have grown so old that my body can no longer survive in its environment. And it frightens me to think that we may have so deeply destroyed our environment that we, as a species, may not survive the very effects we have loaded on our planet and our own backs.

But, I have never been one to sit in my fears for very long. No pouting, pity-party for me!  So, kick up the level on the fan.  Take a drink of cold water. Take a deep breath.  Focus on what’s next.  Focus.  Ignore the ache that sits at the back of my brain that screams at me, “You could lose this time.”  Just put one foot in front of the other for as long as you possibly can and – focus. Say a prayer of gratitude for the cool air coming at me from the fan by the window enveloping me like a Cone of Silence.  (Yeah, you have to be “of a certain age” to understand that reference!)

Just keep fighting to move forward. Enjoy the cool air and ….. Focus.

Jacob Sitser, 91, passed away on Saturday, January 28, 2018  in the city he grew to love, Siesta Key, FL where he spent the latter part of his life enjoying the view of the beach from his 5th floor sunroom balcony and the company of the love of his life, Helena Pimenta Sitser.

Jacob, known to friends and family as Jack, was born in 1927, an only child, to Yetti Richter Sitser and Mauricio Sitser in Saõ Paulo, Brasil.

A professional musician from an early age, Jack mastered both the viola and violin.  At the age of 21 he was granted a scholarship to study music in the United States of America.  After graduating from music school Jack chose to stay in the US and became an American citizen. He married Dorothy Perlberg (divorced in 1973) and served four years in the US Airforce as a member of the Airforce band – an experience that provided him lots of amusing anecdotes about musicians being led by an Airforce Major who knew nothing about music!

During this time he became a father to Sheryl, Tara & Gerald.

Always concerned about being a good provider for his family, Jack made his career in the banking industry.  An amusing turn of events that happened when he saw a job listing in the newspaper for a “teller”.  His minimal English language skills led him to believe the job was for someone who could tell stories.  But take the job he did and he moved quickly up the ladder to become bank Vice President of major banking institutions including Union Bank, Lloyd’s Bank and Banco Do Brasil, eventually, taking the position of Bank President for Banco Real.

Jack never gave up his love of music and stayed connected throughout his life to a worldwide network of chamber musicians with whom he played regularly.

Jack’s favorite music partner was his wife of 43 years, Helena Pimenta Sitser, an accomplished cellist and pianist.

Jack is survived by his beloved wife, Helena, his children, Sheryl Sister, Tara Sitser Brickman and Gerald Sitser, his step-children whom he adored, Maria Lucia Machado Martin (married to Tom Martin) and Eduardo Machado (Married to Maria Beatrice Hadler Machado), his seven grandchildren Phillip, Marcos, Ricardo, Fabio, Mariana, Guilherme and Artur, plus more spouses and great-grandchildren than can be listed here. All of whom were treasured by Jack and brought great joy into his life.

Jacob Sitser was a man of grace and compassion, a support system to many, and a wonderful family man.  He will be missed.

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SOME ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS FROM MY BROTHER, GERALD SITSER:

Among nearly a century of accumulated photos of my father, the one I cherish most is a portrait from his college days, joy and contentment on his face, his beloved violin in hand. Throughout his life, music was his refuge — from a turbulent world, the stress of work, the bittersweet onset of age. Most importantly, it was a passionate bond between himself and those he loved.

I’ve always maintained an impossibly ideal image of my father. But I’ve also seen how others admired and respected him: This thoughtful and generous man who was always available to offer a comforting shoulder, to share a few wise words, to calm any rough waters, and to bring a smile to every face in the room.

Dad was rightfully proud but never vain. He was a bastion of civility in a world that’s forgotten politeness. He was a patient teacher whose greatest lessons were to think for yourself, to remember that your actions have consequences, and that the world owes you nothing that you haven’t earned for yourself. He gave of himself freely with no thought of personal reward, knowing all the while that there is no greater reward than knowing you’ve made a difference. He understood the value of a moment of sorrow, but only for a moment and no more; for he also understood the need to shrug off your troubles, pick yourself up, and move on.

I can only try to emulate my father, but perhaps that’s enough. If there’s any part of his legacy I can pretend to claim, let it be his quiet strength and unwavering sense of dignity. There was only one of him. The world was lucky to have that; and his family, the luckiest of all.

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ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS FROM MY SISTER, SHERYL SITSER:

My father had a magic touch with people as a result of being generous, caring, empathetic, wise, funny, and fair-minded. Almost everyone who knew him wished that he could be their father and we were the lucky ones who could claim him as their own.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

When I was a child it seemed that few of my friends had fathers who were as compassionate, wise and loving as my father. As each went through some minor crisis (they didn’t get the party invitation they had hoped for, their mother wouldn’t let them wear make-up, typical teen-aged angst,) they obviously wanted a grown-up to talk to and didn’t feel their parents would be responsive or sympathetic enough. I offered to “lend” them my father who was not only the world’s greatest listener, but also gave the best advice. He always knew exactly what to say to cheer them up let them know that things would get better and my friends were always amazed and grateful that they had the opportunity to talk to this wonderful man.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

In the 70’s when my father was the president of Bank of America at downtown Los Angeles, he chose two proteges he would train to take over management positions. He recieved a suprising amount of resistance from the other bank executives because one of those trainees was a woman.  He was told that Bank of America had never had a female executive before and that woman weren’t competent enough for management. My father perservered and was eventually able to promote them both. This, and many other stories, show why my father was my hero.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

My friend Marsha was acknowledged by everyone who knew her to be a beautiful girl but because she was overweight, society was extremely cruel to her. One day she was sitting in church talking to friend when a man approached them. He told them he was an artist and wanted their permission to draw their likenesses for possible use in a Christian magazine. Marsha was extremely flattered as she had been lead to believe no one would ever be interested in a picture of her. Several months later she received a copy of the magazine with a beautiful drawing of the two girls. She called her father who didn’t seem to think it was very important or significant. She was crushed to think her father didn’t care.

Since my father knew Marsha pretty well, I told her to call him. As expected, my father was excited for her and told he was not only proud of her but was not at all surprised that someone would recognize her beauty and want to use her image.  In a matter of minutes, my father cheered her up and helped repair the damage done by a cruel, unfeeling parent.

These are examples of why Jack Sitser definitely qualified to be named “Father of the Century”.

***************************

 

 

 

I published this post six years ago.  It has gotten only more relevant as time passes.  As we reach this year’s Thanksgiving celebration I give thanks for those in public service who actually understand that their jobs exist to serve the public.

George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950)  was a playwright, journalist, public speaker and champion of the working class.  He wrote more than 60 plays in his lifetime and was the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the same name).

Many of us may be surprised to learn that he was also a co-founder of the London School of Economics.  No slouch he.

In stark contrast to the attitudes of so many of our currently elected officials, here is his statement about public service:

“This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”


Tara Sitser - Leadership Member of Al Gore's Climate Reality Project

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