This is on my mind at this beginning of December. I want to take my time when writing this piece because it is important to me. I begin by saying I am sorry for my choices. But sorry is not enough. No one ever knows the best way to be a parent. I did not. And my parents did not. And now, I am reaping what I sewed. It makes sense. Now what do I mean? I can only tell you what happened to me. I think. My memory comes and goes. But I think I had my version of a miracle happen this Thanksgiving. This is what happened. This may take a while. Grab a coffee.
One of the benefits of a pandemic and being cooped inside is self-reflection. I have had a lot of time to think. So, I have tried to see what I could have done to avoid these brain strokes. I don’t like them. And I get better. Then, I take four steps back. So, let me fill you in on my thoughts of late. Why do I keep returning to new beginnings over and over? Is there something I am doing to cause this? Hmmmmmm. Now I am not asking you to agree with my reasoning. But this is what I think is happening.
When I was a little girl, Mother would say to me A LOT because I was so headstrong, “You’ll be sorry when I am gone.” “NO, I WON’T!!!!!!” “I gave up my life for your children!” “WHY???? NO ONE ASKED YOU TO DO THAT. I WILL NEVER TO THAT!!!!” And I didn’t. If you have read my Journals, you know that I had several careers and marriages with a modicum of success. I would do anything with anyone and go anywhere not to stay home with my children. I was in a lot of plays with rehearsals and went to college classes a lot. And we all suffered in a lot of ways because of my actions and choices.
Now, today, I do not have a good relationship with my adult children or my grandchildren. They are all good people with lives of their own. Often, I would try to be a friend to each of them and try to get them to cooperate. That did not work. I have apologized and said I am sorry, but sorry is not enough. I don’t know what would have worked. A mother’s love, time, and attention. Now, nothing will ever be enough. I cannot undo any of it. Regret and what could have been are useless and a total waste of time. I can’t go back and change any decision I ever made. I can learn from it but not change it. Try to embrace the right thing right where I am that unlocks the future. When I am centered and focused on the joy and beauty of my life, life unfolds effortlessly. And now, in my 80’s, on some level, I believe that I began to punish myself by having brain strokes over and over and over. And, this Thanksgiving, behold the miracle, I decided to stop doing that. Can I do it? I am going to try. By the way, the miracle was also my realization that I could be doing my own self-sabotage. And I have realized that feelings are not facts, and the fact remains that I love and miss my children – all three of them, and I love their father with all of his faults . And that love is bigger than the lives.
My goal was NOT to be like my mother. My children’s goal is NOT to be like their mother. Oops. My heart goes out for all the parents who hurt as a result of choices made. Goals reached. Missions accomplished.
This is the REVISED unpublished new Preface to JOURNAL OF JANET TALLULAH. I doubt I will ever update that book.
This is based on an intensive daily journal that I wrote when I got to Los Angeles, California in July 1968. I arrived from Gainesville, Georgia, after having a lot of problems getting out of town. I was a junior college professor. Actually, I was the Chairman of the Division of Humanities. That was a PhD position and I needed to get my PhD. I was accepted in the Theatre History doctorate program at UCLA in Los Angeles. But there were other considerations that propelled me to travel cross-country. In my heart, I wanted to be a professional actress in film and television. AND I was married to a guy I didn’t like but was sexually attracted to and had gotten pregnant, gotten married for my family’s reputation, and had three small children by the time I was 27. Oops.
The problem was – I thought the grass was greener somewhere else even though Daddy kept telling me that it was not! In disgust, I decided he did not know because he was trapped. That was why he drank so much. No wonder! I would drink, too, if I were married to Mother. But he had ‘made his bed; he must lie in it.:” Oh, for goodness sakes, life was not a bunch of clichés. Life was to be lived! And, I must leave Gainesville before I, too, got trapped because “it was the early bird who got the worm”, and I was “already late to the party”. Life was passing me by.
It was not until I was in my early 30’s that a psychiatrist helped me realize that I did not have to accept things the way they were. Yes, I had made my bed. I DID NOT have to lie in it. What????? What a concept!! Well, I definitely did not like the way things were. I then chose to do something else. Move. Where? New York City? Broadway? No. Not with three little kids. California? Hollywood? Hmmmm. Maybe. There was grass there. Plus, an ocean. My friend in theatre, Jimmie Ralston, had moved there. Hmmmm.
How would I get outta’ Dodge? I knew. I would try to get accepted into UCLA Graduate School – get my PhD in drama. And, at the same time, try to break into the film business without telling anyone. That would work. I wouldn’t tell them I planned to stay if I made it happen. I could take a year’s leave of absence from my job. I needed my PhD, anyway. I’d come back if I didn’t like it.
At that point, I started taking steps – writing letters, sending applications, doing research – to move to Los Angeles. I applied for and got accepted into the PhD program at UCLA. I applied for and almost got a Fellowship to the program. I also subscribed to the Los Angeles Times, having it mailed to my office address, in order to become familiar with the City. Needless to say, life became chaotic. Events became unpredictable and unfathomable while I was making life-altering choices that would affect the lives of those around me for years to come. Now, later in life, I painfully regret some of the choices I made. But, at the time, I forged ahead making changes right and left, believing I knew what I was doing. I was convinced that I could not grow into the person I wanted to be by staying where I was. I was destined for bigger things. Thus, I must position myself where opportunities could arise.
Who is to say that I was wrong? Maybe I was right!! I am glad I had the courage to take risks. I am proud of my children. It is all a matter of “perception” – how I perceived things then, and how I perceive things now – and how other people perceived and perceive things. The same set of facts is different for each one of us. And each of us can believe what he/she wants to believe. Most interpretations are on the surface and misconstrued, anyway – accumulated from bits and pieces of information and observations that lead to right or wrong conclusions that are hardly ever the same. It wasn’t until I went to law school in my late 50’s that I began to learn the difference between perception and facts. What happened. As an actress, I acted SUBTEXT. As an attorney, I needed FACTS.
That said… I am not focusing on facts in this Journal – well, sort of. This Journal is filled with my perceptions, my obsessions, my goals, my fears, my thoughts, my loves, and my hates – in my search for the “real ME’. I went through a LOT of changes. It is especially hard to relive all I went through during the years 1969 through 1971, because I was young, vulnerable, naïve, and very Southern. I have chosen those years because my entire family went through a “crash course” in living. I was not ready for what came at me. Neither was my husband Darrell. Or the kids. As a result, we all “grew by leaps and bounds.
1969 was the year of Woodstock, of the Beatles breakup, of the start of the draft lottery for the Vietnam War, of the trial of the Chicago Seven, or of the horror of the Manson Family murders in California. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; the Internet was born; the first artificial heart transplant was performed; the personal computer revolution began, and the world’s largest airplane – Boeing 747-100 – took flight.
In 1970, Paul McCartney announced the Beatles had disbanded, and the Apollo 13 mission to the moon had been abandoned. 100,000 people demonstrated in Washington D.C. against the Vietnam War. A fire at a nightclub near Grenoble in Russia trapped night clubbers leaving 142 – mostly teenagers – dead. California became the first state to adopt a “No Fault” divorce law.
1971 saw China admitted to the United Nations and NASDAQ debut. The Sylmar earthquake hit the San Fernando Valley, and Walt Disney World opened in Florida. The N.Y. Times began publishing sections of the Pentagon Papers starting on June 13, showing the U.S. Government had been lying to the American people.
I was oblivious to most of that. I had just arrived in Los Angeles, California, from Gainesville, Georgia!!! I was making changes! Big changes! How? Well, in 1969, I began writing in a journal to help me “think”. And, this is what I wrote (sorta). Actually, I began writing in a journal at that point in time and have continued writing in my journal ever since. I enjoy writing. The wonder of it is that I have “published” some of it – the beginning years.
In 1971, I wrote in my journal: “I will write a book. My [working] book title will be ‘This Woman’s Search’. The gist of it will be – OK, here is the story. This is what I did and what has worked for me. I’LL TELL YOU. All you have to do is listen and see if you can use any of it. Hopefully something will hit you, and you will be motivated to do it, to begin it [write in a journal]. I could also call my Book “A Search in Progress”.” “Janet Tallulah” is somewhat of an edited transcription of my first journals – the time when I made major changes in my life journey that still remain. My search is still progressing. I am now in my 80s.
First, I want to build a foundation [“attorney-speak” for giving my readers some background]. I was born at home on Cleveland Road in Gainesville, Georgia, with Dr. Davis in attendance. It was a Tuesday, March 30, 1937. Mother and Daddy named me Janet Tallulah Jewell. Daddy’s mother was named Mary Tallulah Dickson Jewell-Loudermilk, so I was named after her. I grew up in Gainesville. My father was in the chicken business, and my mother was a housewife: Jesse and Anna Lou Jewell. I had two older sisters – Barbara and Patricia. We moved to Green Street Circle when I was four, and that remained our family home until Mother died in 2002. I loved school from Day One. As a result, I got good grades. I was a leader from the git-go. I participated in school activities, extra-curricular activities, and First Baptist Church activities. I loved Wade Lindorme from the time I first saw him when he moved to Gainesville from Atlanta. He was a year older than I was. We remained a couple throughout grammar school and high school, dating until I went to the University of Wisconsin to college in the fall of 1957.
Things changed once I left Gainesville to go to college. I chose the University of Wisconsin because I wanted to experience something different. But I was not prepared for what happened. The somewhat sheltered existence that I had lived for most of my life began to disintegrate. Everything was different. I tried to be the leader that I had been in high school, but that was not to be. I made a lot of wrong choices. I was miserable. I missed the comfort of the familiar, and most especially, I missed Wade. I had dreams and goals, but I did not have the muscles and/or savvy to handle the myriad of changes that came at me.
In my second year of college, I met Darrell William MacIntyre. He was a Phi Gam from Madison, Wisconsin, and very good looking. He was considered a “real catch”. I was very attracted to him. I was a Kappa Alpha Theta. We dated all that year, eventually getting “pinned”. That is when a fraternity guy gives a girl his fraternity pin. It is like being engaged – college style. And, by the end of my sophomore year, I discovered that I was pregnant. So, after deciding that I did not want to get an abortion AND facing the fact that I had “ruined” my family’s good name in Gainesville, I made to decision to marry Darrell, knowing that decisions come with consequences. My life had changed forever! I cannot say that we were ever in love. We had a strong physical attraction to each other that continued for many years until he died in 1986.
All of that is a long story that I will save for another book – maybe, but I married Darrell William MacIntyre on August 17, 1957, and became Janet Jewell MacIntyre or Janet MacIntyre. Many people called me “Jan”. Still do. I think it was a Wisconsin thing- shortening names. In the fall of 1957, we moved to Madison to live until Darrell had to report to duty [as a Second Lieutenant] to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, in January 1958. He was stationed in Special Services at Fort Sam for two years. And that is where our daughter Tracy Lee was born – on February 23, 1958. She was a beautiful little girl. I was so happy. So was Darrell.
After Darrell got out of the service, we both enrolled in the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, to continue our college education. Darrell was accepted into law school, and I was accepted into a Bachelor of Arts program with a major in drama, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. That is where our son Craig Dickson was born – on April 5, 1961. After college, Darrell and I, with our small family, moved back to Gainesville, where Darrell began practicing law and I began teaching speech and drama at Brenau College.
In 1964, while teaching at Brenau, I got pregnant again, so I resigned from teaching at Brenau. I stayed out a year, giving birth to our son Blake William – on December 11, 1964. During the spring of 1965, I was hired to serve as Chairman of the Division of Humanities at a junior college, Gainesville Junior College (“GJC”) that was opening in Gainesville as part of the State University System. It was a PhD position, and I got the position on the condition that I would obtain my PhD at some point in the near future. I was the only woman in the State of Georgia to hold such a position.
So, in 1968, after discovering that UCLA had a PhD program in Theatre History, I took a year’s leave of absence from GJC to move with my family to Los Angeles to work on my PhD. I applied for a Fellowship and it looked promising. Darrell got a job as a prosecuting attorney with the U.S. Justice Department in the Criminal Division. And we rented a home in the Huntington area of Pacific Palisades, California. I did not get the Fellowship, missing it by one person. Darrell had difficulty passing the California Bar Exam. And, the children were unhappy and missed Mother and their friends in Gainesville. Life was not good. The truth be known, I did not want to go back to Georgia. Georgia itself was/is beautiful. But I had grown to hate much about my life in Gainesville. I wanted more. I LOVED California. I wanted to give my children more and better. So, I begged all of them to be patient so that I could establish residency and still get my PhD. Meanwhile, I began exploring the possibility of a career as a professional actress in film and television. Gregory Peck offered to help me. He helped me get into The Actors Studio where I started training with Lee Strasberg and his “method acting” right away.
That is enough background. This book begins in 1969. I am 32; Darrell is 35. Tracy is 11. Craig is 8. Blake is 5. All of us were young and vulnerable. AND, naïve. Darrell and I separated for a short period of time, and I had an affair during that time with Norman Russell, a good-looking, smooth-talking con-guy, who got me to loan him a lot of money. Just in time, Darrell returned and kept me from giving Norman a LOT of money. He threatened Norman with a gun, telling Norman to stay away from me. After that, we moved from Pacific Palisades to Brentwood, renting a home on North Bundy. Meanwhile, while I was “establishing residency in California” to get lower tuition at UCLA, I got an agent, Harold Swoverland. I got professional headshots taken by Max Factor’s son. I was happy.
Now, a word about “The Journal”. I began writing in a journal in 1969. A friend of mine, John Prince, told me about a weekend retreat in San Jacinto, California, that was conducted by a man named Ira Progoff. I discovered that Ira Progoff was an American psychologist who had studied under Carl Jung. That didn’t mean a lot to me, but I didn’t care. I was unhappy and trying to change my life, confused as hell. I discovered that Ira was best known for his development of the Intensive Journal Method. His main interest was in depth psychology and particularly the humanistic adaptation of Jungian ideas to the lives of ordinary people like me. He founded Dialogue House in New York City to help promote this method. So, I started attending his weekend retreats in 1969, with John Prince.
The first weekend was a confused mess. I didn’t understand much of what I was hearing. First of all, Ira said the main idea of journal-writing was to provide a total program for the inner life to discover what is taking place inside of a person. Well, I did not know that I had an “inner life”, much less need to discover what was taking place inside of me. Ira said that The Journal was the hub of a wheel – a person must use it not only in privacy but also in a group because a group and group contact opens one up. In a workshop, each person was like a well in a circle of wells. If that person went down into his own well, there was a great benefit in hearing himself say something he wanted to say. The Journal was structured to prevent the self from going in a circle.
In the Journal, one wants to dialog with all the important things in his life. The aim is to get seriously involved with the dialogue. Plus, one wants to keep enough daily entries for a week to give a sense of what is happening and do dreams and dream extensions. It is important to get started without waiting in order to get started. There is a process that works within the depth of a person – it must be given the opportunity to work for that person. Basic dialog is the dialog that works between one and one’s inner self that will keep one in the “eye of the hurricane.” Forgive me for not explaining everything to you. I am still learning myself. And, as I said before, I am now in my 80s.
I did not write this, but I like it. I dedicate it to my children and my grandchildren even though they are alive and missing from my life. I am the one who moved away. But, this began years ago.
— You Don’t Just Lose Someone Once —
You lose them over and over,
sometimes many times a day.
When the loss, momentarily forgotten,
and attacks you from behind.
Fresh waves of grief as the realisation hits home,
they are gone.
You don’t just lose someone once,
you lose them every time you open your eyes to a new dawn,
and as you awaken,
so does your memory,
so does the jolting bolt of lightning that rips into your heart,
they are gone.
Losing someone is a journey,
not a one-off.
There is no end to the loss,
there is only a learned skill on how to stay afloat,
when it washes over.
Be kind to those who are sailing this stormy sea,
they have a journey ahead of them,
and a daily shock to the system each time they realise,
they are gone,
You don’t just lose someone once,
you lose them every day,
for a lifetime.
Just know that you can be sorry, but sorry doesn’t do it. I am also sorry you had to sit though all of this but maybe it will help someone to find that delicate balance in loving children and having careers and good health and ……… The point of all this is still me-centered. Oops. I want to stop trying to punish myself by being the headstrong girl that I have been all my life. The times are very different now.