Friday, April 10, 2009

THE MOGLIES

Mornings when you don't want to get up ... school days ... no matter how old or wise you are, you'll never forget the dread, the knot in your stomach because of the test for which you don't feel prepared.

When was it -- was it when I was working on "Dream Dances"? It was an ambitious full-length ballet, featuring each of my eight dancers in his/her dream.

The state unemployment bureau informed me by mail that I owed them money. One of the dancers had applied for unemployment insurance. I phoned the bureau. Was told I had to pay into the fund, and prove that I had disability insurance.

Huh? What's that?

Mrs. Moglia, a clear-speaking, humorless, not friendly head of the department had said, "It's the law. You need a policy. Basic coverage is - - - - - -"

Did she say 1000, or 10,000, or what? I don't remember the amount, just the awful feeling in my stomach. The amount was a flock of blue birds in the sky, flying over my head. In Manhattan I'd seen gray wrens and pigeons. I'd never seen a blue bird.

All too well, I remember the days when we had no money -- nothing for salaries, dancers rehearsing without pay. Home was a 9 x 12 room in the back of the rehearsal space. We had to tiptoe through it to get to the bathroom. When I wasn't rehearsing, I rented out the space for $1.25 an hour. The Sunday Times had asked for a picture of my dance group. Pictures could be picked up with a check for $50. I didn't have $50. Rent was due, other bills were pending. We needed groceries. We'd been eating rice, chuck steak and apples, a dish I'd invented.

Mrs. M. said, "I've sent you a Proof of Insurance form. You need to file it within ten days."

I remember the tenth day. The phone ringing. I didn't want to get up. I wanted to lay in bed, snuggled in, safe, in my house of sheets, blanket, and JC's arms.

I don't remember how the problems were solved. I just remember Moglia -- that authoritative voice -- the feeling in my stomach. Even now, when too many things to do pile up, I get the Moglies.
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