Saturday, May 2, 2009


Woke with worry thoughts flickering around. They've been flickering on and off since some wee hour of the morning -- I didn't look at the clock but knew from the pale light creeping around the edge of the window shade, that another day was beginning.

... things I should have done, but haven't done ...
... a letter I needed to write ...
... phone call I should have made yesterday ...
... a pain, just a twinge, an iota of discomfort that I want to ignore ...
... have been ignoring ... shouldn't be ignoring ...

Is it a muscle? Old injury? Cancer?

What unknown trouble could be besetting me? Which doomful decay that someone mentioned, has attached itself to a twig of memory, to a small vulnerable spot that I've put out of my mind ...?

I tell myself: "Think about it later."

Say, "Oh, c'mon, forget it."

Say "Give yourself permission! You did a blog about permission. Put it on the calendar, think about it next month."

Scold myself: "You're ruining the day! You've got fun things to do. Turn it around. Use will power. Catch a day half way."

And obey. Didn't I do a blog about my obey syndrome?

We go for a walk. The sunshine is nice. The warm weather is pleasant.

We buy a hub – 2 USB ports will now be 5. JC can plug in his YAMAHA – hasn't been able to use it since we upgraded our internet stuff.

We asked Ivan, our contractor, to look at the building's facade. Hurray! The painting of the building that's been worrying me for weeks, is now scheduled.

I'm done with the wrong side, heading to the right side! Banishing flickering fears, turning on a bright light in my brain.

... but ... still ... the note on my calendar ... that little pain ...

Stop! click File, click Open.
Write about it!

Friday, May 1, 2009


Back in the days when we counted every penny and ate apples, chuck steak and rice, I started using canned peaches and discovered that chicken was cheaper -- very tasty when I added vinegar and a little Sweet & Lo.

JC bought me a cookbook, but measuring and following directions -- oh dear! It was like tap dancing as far as I was concerned -- too many steps, more intricate than "shuffle, hop, ball,change," and everything had to be done exactly as prescribed.

I decided to make Hungarian stuffed cabbage. I saw my mother make it and knew the routine. Buy a large cabbage, gently remove the leaves, carve off the spine of each leaf, boil them briefly. Gently lay them out on a clean tabletop. Mix ground hamburger, egg, salt pepper and garlic powder, white rice (steamed in oil and water) and half a can of tomato soup, roll a small handful of meat into each cabbage leaf. Add another can of tomato soup, cover and cook for couple of hours.

In HEART CITY, Installment D, page 57 -- heroine Hally makes it when she's trying not to think about infidelity. But I have fun making it, dancing around the kitchen, making the sauce thicker with tomato paste, tangier than Mom's, ultra sweet and sour.

In my hold-onto-every-penny days, I realized I could do Chinese, Hawaiian, depending on what vegetables, what pan was available. We had a large 20 inch square electric fryer with a heat control dial, that enabled me to use it as if it were a wok.

Got nervy, bold. Without a second thought, using a second large pan, I made dinners for 8, 10 or 12 friends, with them sitting on the floor, plates, utensils purchased at 14th street Salvation Army store; jam jars and paper cups were what we used for water or the wine our friends usually brought.

Got bolder -- what I liked was unexpected guests. When JC's family came to New York for a Baptist convention, spur of the moment I concocted a meal for 22 Southern Baptists, Em style Chinese/Hawaiian, added pineapple, cashews, and tangerine segments to the meat and vegetables, plus vinegar, soy and sweetener, on top of a mountain of rice. Dessert: I piled the Southern Baptists into my Ford Truck Station Wagon, and took them on a tour of Harlem, pointing out beggars, drug sellers, prostitutes, and ramshackle dwellings -- am proud of that -- shocking, surprising them with the other side of the city.

My cooking has developed. I can cook almost anything just by tasting, and noting the colors -- French, Latin, Far East Indian, American Indian. John likes to make rye bread in the Cuisinart he bought us for Christmas, and every so often good old southern fried chicken, in between my latest experiments with scallops, calamari, melon, walnuts, and saffron rice.

What is this cooking talent? Sometimes dinner's so delicious that my guys say you ought to open a restaurant.

No, I don't want to open a restaurant. My cooking is like my blogging, a little of this, a little of that -- a feeling spur of the moment -- off I go, traveling where I feel like going, making a feast. Word feasts and food feasts come from the same thing -- big curiosity and a lot of nerve.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Mrs. AR asks:
Would you read my book and tell me if there's a future for it?

I've had four husbands, not legal marriages, but men I've lived with. Each one is a love story. Should I send it to agents or publishers? I started writing my book three years ago and worked very hard to describe how we met, moving in together, me taking care of him, and why we broke up. I think lots of other women would benefit from reading my story.

Em says:
I'm not the right person to help you get it published. Get a list of agents, and try it -- write a letter to ten names. Then, try publishers. Try ten names. Work on a paragraph that tells what the book is about.

Clue: In reading your e-mail, what caught my attention was -- why does Mrs. AR think other women would benefit from reading her story? Is it a pattern -- four semi husbands, love, living together, breaking up? Is this pattern something you advocate, or do you think it's something others should avoid? Include this, perhaps, in your letter to agents, and publishers.

If you get replies, even if they're rejections, try more names. Keep trying. Don't let the rejections bog you down. Discouragement is part of the process.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


She's a fresh-faced new face, who talks straight for an hour every night.

I could Google Rachel M and find out age, personal gossipy things maybe, but I don't want to. I like getting to know her on a nightly basis. I'm not sure about her captions, (her holy mackerel stuff), her musicalized categories -- but she's a joy to hear, as well as see. I'll bet if they begin to get tiresome, she'll change them, not get stuck in the rut of her own creation.

Quietly herself, laughingly herself, amazingly knowledgeable without hitting us over the head with her educated brilliance, she is her own creation. Strong, smart, woman-girl of today, of right now, speaking on the subjects every day, that concern us every day.

When her show comes on, I don't deliberately tune her in -- we keep looking for diversions. Not sitcoms -- the sound of canned, dubbed-in laughter, the talented actors acting in the TV style that telegraphs a beat ahead, when to laugh, or shudder or be moved -- it's unacceptable to us, since we know it, we've heard it, been there too often in our various professional capacities.

The fact is, since the presidential campaign began more than two years ago, and the news channels became our newspapers (keeping score, tallying wins, losses, bloopers, troubles, inconsistencies), we may drift away briefly, occasionally for an old movie, but very rarely.

We're not back to normal.

Dems, Repubs have turned us into political thermometers. We glance at the trivial trivality shows ... oh, maybe peep at the lady who does autopsies, spend five minutes, maybe with prison inmates, then back we go to the White House, Congress, Senate, liberals, conservatives scrapping, picking on each other's commentary.

I think our president has done this to us. Given us hope -- we're back to almost believing in man's innate goodness. Quietly, secretly crossing our fingers, praying he'll survive and go on and on fixing things.

And we've got Rachel, the fresh-faced, sharp, seemingly fearless young female commentator, not by any means unwaveringly applauding the liberating liberal things, but her good mind, observing.

Yes, at the kitchen table we're hooked on news these days.

That two character play is out. JD (with auditions coming up) is fixing a storage shelf for Shareen, downstairs in Shareen Vintage NY. JC is talking with the playwright, telling him clearly, constructively, why the project is out. Going, doing -- that's JC on his way in a few minutes to theater to perform at the Music Box. I'm blogging, checking e-mail for queries that need to be answered, then into the studio for the end of the day.

My barre and the booming music of Vaughn Williams that's my nightly thing -- not a prayer, but an affirming ritual that brings me joy.

... oops , used that word twice in this post ...

Well why not? Rachel and barre both make me feel good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Got to postpone Rache and talk about her tomorrow, and put my Wednesday Advice on Thursday ......

The busy bee commentators with their fly catchers swooping back and forth in the air, sooner or later catch a trend, a tale, a scandal. And a "maybe" and an "if" become a "when" and "why."

Whomp! The new t h i n g is caught. We're caught. A small story becomes a large one. A crime instantly gets people locking their windows, their doors. One look at a "maybe" murderer and he's guilty.

Look around! Be careful where you walk! For goodness sake, don't use Craig's List, in between measuring, percentagizing, grading our president, which is ... isn't really necessary but considering what we were overlooking for quite awhile, 100 days! Wow!

Is it, isn't it slightly deflating our swelling mounting concerns about torture, who did it, why, was it for a purpose other than getting us into a war?

Of course we're busy today with the flu epidemic of a long-ago war looming, ready to change all our plans for a night out, for socializing, going to school, or taking a vacation. Gathering numbers, numbers mounting, numbers being compared to other almost-but-not-quite epidemics.

(Remembering, of course, that masks can be bought at the drugstore, along with medication -- the supplies are OK -- where's the phone number of the doctor we'll call if ... symptoms abc or xyz appear.)

Of course we're not really worried, just wary.


Well ...

We can handle it ... We're grown ups. I'm definitely a grownup. It's okay, it doesn't really hang us up, as long as we hang it on the clothes line -- it's spring -- it'll mostly dry, mostly evaporate in the sunshine!

Monday, April 27, 2009


Last night we saw that movie where Doris Day sings Que Sera, Sera.

We'd seen it before. How many times? Her son's been kidnapped and she thinks he's in the embassy building where she sings for the ambassador and distinguished guests.

I'm not sure what the song title actually is -- is it Cera, Sirra? I'll hum it for JD who knows French. I studied French at Berlitz because I was supposed to go to Paris, to stage a scene for Maria Callas in a film. Learning to speak French as well as read it was fascinating, boring, and a big challenge. Though the film was canceled, what I'd learned inspired me. I wrote a "Cyrano " for JC which was (and still is) a favorite marvelous project that got extraordinary reviews, raves for us both throughout the U.S.

Anyhow, we were watching the movie, at the kitchen table, planning to discuss a new play possibility for JC, but Doris Day totally captivated us, diverted us.

Doris' bell-like singing voice, every word clear, the shape of her face, her neat movie star's body, her utterly convincing acting -- has she been praised, lauded, credited for that? Or remembered for her typicality, her perfect American Wife-Mother-Girlfriend looks?

I can't help wondering how she's doing now? Would my rave notice touch her, delight her, lift her out of any end of life fears and doldrums she may be having?

Am sending her telepathically a stream of affirmation, to ripple and pour over and around her -- what a gift Doris Day has given us with her talent.

Like Rachel M but I can't write about her now ... real life, and that new play is summoning me. Que Sera ... JD told me "sera" is a form of the word, "to Be." He pronounced it -- oh my-- it delighted his mother's heart, to hear him say it so beautifully.

Actually it's a two character play, a possibility for JD as well as JC.

Mm ......

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Did you ever sing this one?