Saturday, September 12, 2009


I knew yesterday was September 11, the day New York -- America changed. I can't salute it, or even mourn it when I know what I have to do, what we have to do, is go ON. Live on with hope, not fear.

Yes, all that has been said, and adding my voice doesn't mean a great deal, BUT ... we as a nation losing the unifying force of what it means to be an American ... that scares me.

We've had enough with Birthers, town hall meeting shouters, and Joe Wilson calling the President a liar. And the Tea Party people partying!

I don't give advice to our president and his cabinet and advisors, who've helped shape his Health care plan, about what details --if any -- have to be re-thought, or re-shaped. I can't because I don't know enough.

I do know enough to feel and to say WE NEED TO SUPPORT OBAMA. He needs to get the sixty votes and go ON.

Friday, September 11, 2009


In Time Magazine there's a three page article -- "Why Michelle's Hair Matters. For African American women, hair commands great interest and carries a lot of cultural baggage ... the choice every black woman makes to alter their hair's natural texture has been attributed to everything from a history of oppression and assimilation to media influenced notions of beautiful and personal aesthetics ..."

The article lists some hair-straightening tools -- "Chemicals, hot comb, round brush and dryer" and the big deal it would be, if Michell wore her hair "natural." And mentions the poll taken by, where "56% of the respondents say the US is not ready for a first lady with kinky hair."

Chris Rock (at the Sundance Festival 2009) introducing the premiere of his film Good Hair is quoted-- "Their hair costs more than anything they wear," and Rock quotes another comic who said -- "If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”

Researching Michelle's current hairdo, I read the blog in -- "Her hair is done, every day by stylist Johnny Wright -- not doing it isn't a option -- she'd look too ethnic." A follower wrote -- "I wonder if she'll ever let it be un-straightened, less straighted, or allow it to lie flat, be "natural" or "out?"

What does Em think about all this?

I never paid much attention to Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama's various hairdos. Her grace is what I see. Of course I notice what she's wearing, but my opinion has been -- not an opinion, a determination, a powerful instinct to support her husband, and everything to do with him.

Her clothes are often praised by fashion people doesn't excite me. But I'm petite, and wear clothes that DON'T attract attention. If I'm looked at, I want to be looked at because of me. In my dancer days, when I went to openings and opening night parties with my husband, I wore unusual, fantastical clothes, and unique, lavish-looking, antique jewelry as well.

Women's style nowadays, a lot of it "vintage," doesn't seem to have a "NOW" look. Kids have it -- girls are wearing flashy things to attract attention; boys are still in droopy, over- sized things that echo what their current idols are wearing.

Michelle's hair looks right -- straightened or ironed or processed -- she presents herself simply, elegantly, tastefully. Though I find myself studying female reporters who usually wear too much makeup, I don't study Michelle that way. If she were wearing excessive liner, lipstick, sculpting rouge, or fake lashes, I'd notice and be bothered.

No, we have a first lady who is a first lady --IS herself when she meets the Queen of England, is herself whenever she's functioning as First Lady and photographs are taken.

I don't often 100% nod, smile, or bow to anyone, but I do to Michelle Obama. I love the fact that she is our first lady. NO other first ladies have been a first lady to me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I saw a tiny little kid in a group of pre-schoolers greeting his uncle, giving him a hi-five. Of course, I've seen that before -- kids greeting each other, teenagers hi-fiving, and women, girls, business-men as well as school boys.

It's become a commonplace "Hello," normal, natural, typical, like "Hey dude. Hey man!"

I have to admit, I've never GIVEN or GOTTEN a hi-five.

I'm uncomfortable, taking on the slang, or the style of the sports heroes who've been hi-fiving for years. Is it race prejudice that makes me uneasy with people who love borrowing from the blacks, and call each "Bro?"

I know "cool" is an acceptable form of praise. And "hang out," and phrases like happy-camper, bottom-line are constantly, used, over used, by just about everyone except me.

Am I square, a kook -- because I avoid saying "cool" unless I'm talking about the weather?

I tell myself that my big thing about the way people talk is from writing dialogue for different projects that take place in different eras. I look up words that don't sound right in the mouth of a lady born in the 1870's, or a woman from Harlem in the thirties -- or a school kid in the seventies. What they say and how they say it derives from what was happening when they were growing up.

Okay. I'm sensitive. Blame it on my writing. I worry about the new, younger generation -- the kids who text. Texting mixed in with rap slang sounds like a foreign language.

Will the little ones who hi-five and watch cartoons all day, every day, become the next generation of writers -- develop further the style that's already in movies, TV, and ads? The creative soul behind them seems as if it sprung from a reality show version of the end of the world.

Confession: Most of the latest hit movies make me wish for a translation line at the bottom of the picture.

I want to stay current without losing what I am. Maybe what's not okay is growing older, and no longer being able to identify with what's in vogue (wrong word), what's hot and chill out about it.

All right, hi-fives are okay. What's not okay is speech that I don't understand. Muttered, slurred, endless strings of vile words, that is passing on to the kiddies an American way of talking that isn't English, that's often bad, really lousy grammar, and sloppy jabber that's isn't communicating anything, but limited intelligence.

So click this. It kind of cheered me up, about talking black.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


It was time to change from being a California driver to being a driver in New York.

The red tape ladies who answer the phone at the California Department of Motor Vehicles are real people, cordial, California sunshine friendly. Even sympathetic when you're, adjusting to bad news -- "I'm sorry, ma'am -- I'm afraid you can't renew by mail. Next time you come to L.A., give us a call, and we'll set up an appointment for you."

The red tape guys who answer the phone at the New York DMV are brusque, bored, unfriendly. They talk fast -- list what ID you'll need. "Go to the DMV at Herald Square, 9 a.m til 9 pm, first come first served."

I downloaded (from a huge, confusing list) the 44-1 application; wearing glasses on top of my contact lenses, filled it out in pencil before re-doing it, carefully, in ink.

Using my best brain, (the noggin of Em who can comprehend and conquer computer software instruction books), I assembled the required proofs plus 4 extra proofs, just in case.

At the entrance to the DMV office, below a sign saying "Applications,"there were two lines at 9:15 a.m.-- (36 people) waiting for the man at the desk.

Just beyond him was a line behind ropes, like a bank on pay day. Just about everyone was clutching 44-1 application. The sign overhead " Driver Licenses."

I stood. I picked out a man in a yellow T, who was approximately 55 bodies ahead of me, with about 80 bodies ahead of him and the desk where people got their photos taken. For two endless minutes nobody moved. (135 people, 2 minutes per person means 3 hours, I was thinking, when we moved again, and started moving a little every minute or so.

Trying not think about my aching back, checking my watch -- mentally reviewing my Thomas Tallis Dance, counting how many people dropped out, watching yellow T till he disappeared, two hours and seventeen minutes later, I was 5 bodies away from having my picture taken.

I dug for my hand mirror, didn't take it out -- I was too tired to do anything but smooth my hair with my hands.

After I handed the picture guy my papers, he scolded me. I mean scolded -- "You didn't sign this? What are you doing in this line?" (I tried to explain that I'd been told not to sign legal papers without an official seeing me sign.) "No, no! he snarled, and shoved a pen at me. While I signed he ruffled through my proofs. "No no, this isn't proof. No no, this is no good. No no, we can't accept a copy of a bill -- it's gotta be an original. No no, this envelope isn't proof. (It was an un-opened envelope with my name and address.) No no ... none of this stuff!"

I managed to say, "You mean, I have to get more proofs and stand in this line again?"

"Gotta have proof, lady -- you don't have proof, like a credit card?"

I handed it to him. Trembling (the card doesn't have my address on it), I watched him slide it through a charge machine. He started shoving my papers into a transparent plastic sock. He made a brush off gesture, and pointed -- "Go on, get back there!"

Glory be -- he was going to take my picture! I backed against the wall, stood on the mark on the floor, a light flashed. He handed me the plastic sock. "Sit over there, lady. Wait for your number to be called."

There were 5 wooden pews where people who'd been in line and the yellow T shirt guy were sitting. Looking up, they were watching the large electrified bulletin board that was flashing red numbers.

I'd stood in front of the picture guy for 12 minutes. It was great to be sitting while I waited 47 minutes for my number.

I had plenty of time to figure out that applicants had to proceed to the huge desk (it was fifty feet long), behind which stood an official person, with your number flashing above his desk.
I was aching, nervous, too tired to be angry or think about finding a rest-room. My number was flashing at the desk of a Latino woman who was sitting in a wheelchair. I put my papers down on the desk and pushed them forward. .

"No! Stay back!" She ordered me, not friendly, not smiling.

Frozen in front of her, I watched her take each paper from the plastic sock, and check it. She used a magnifier. She studied both sides of each paper. (Birth certificate, eye exam, application 44-1, a note stapled to it from the picture guy, my credit card, the top page of our 2005 tax return that I'd brought along "just in case."

Six items. With bated breath, I stood there watching, waiting for ten endless minutes for her life or death decree.

She had trouble sliding my credit card into her machine. (What's she checking? Oh my God, she's using it, charging me -- for what?)

She hit the machine. A paper typed out. She pushed a page and a pen toward me and pointed to a line. I signed. She handed me the typed paper.


"Oh thank you, thanks, thanks a lot," I gushed.

She nodded, and a teeny, tiny smile appeared on her mouth.

206 minutes of agony -- 3 ¾ hours -- if we were shooting a movie, you'd have noticed my hair turning grey, my face aging not 3 years.-- 30 years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Two minutes in the morning, two minutes at night -- that's "shiny pearly whites" time for Em.

My morning toothbrush, a Philips Sonicare, sits in a charger with a bright green light. Once I press it's green button, it signals me every thirty-seconds. During each interval, I do a "think" that sets the mood for the first few hours of my morning. Sometimes I'm just sleepily thinking, oh, dear another day, or remembering what the dentist suggested last time I was there.

This morning, I found myself recalling yesterday -- bright-eyed, helpful "Joey," at the Footlocker store, ordering the classic Reeboks that no stores are carrying anymore, getting my sneakers delivered to my home.

When I gave him my address, why did I say -"it's our building." Was I bragging, implying we're rich? Sure, we're rich compared to Joey, but not rich like the guys on a Fortune Magazine list. Did I want Joey to think I was "somebody?"

I got off that "think" track quickly. It reminded me of how I was feeling last November -- before I had my Website and published my novels on line. I felt like a "nobody." I don't want to dwell on why and how I got to that place, when the place where I'm at now is fun, and much better.

My two-minutes were up. I galloped down the stairs to my office, and blogger's world.

And my inner timer -- an eager feeling -- checking my email, checking my blue galaxy painting that I use for a bulletin board. The IDEAS page signals me, tells me what to attack -- the subject and one word notes that focus me on what I was thinking, when I put down the idea.

After doing all the things you do to get your computer going, get your fingers on the keyboard, I play the piano on the keys -- usually allegro, until I get another signal -- the look-around, the "mmm" that tells me, get another cup of coffee. Or a snack.

I pay attention to the signals: Sleepy means my mind is wandering, tells me, "take a break." A restlessness, a sudden impulse to phone someone, is a signal -- it says STOP -- "Em, you're unclear --you're writing rambling sentences."

That's my signal, to go looking on the internet, for a picture to decorate what I'm writing about.

Click and you'll hear the silly song that I found.

Toothbrushing in the evening is a different routine, a different brush -- an Oral B with a beautiful blue light on its charger.

The Oral B has no intervals -- it just beeps when the two-minutes are up. So I'm on my own, doing a "think" on the news we've been listening to, drifting into a review of my day, what I wrote, what I'm going to be working on tomorrow, quite often grabbing a pencil, writing down a new idea. But sometimes, when I'm tired, the two minutes seems endless, boring -- I even turn it off before the beep.

I'm not selling toothbrushes, but the Oral B's up and down pulsations are around 20,000 per minute. And three years ago it cost $55. We bought my Sonicare around the same time for $109. (It sells now for $135.) It delivers 31,000 brushing strokes per minute -- that's a lot of brushing.

Which is better? Lower numbers, lower cost, with freedom to roam in your mind, anywhere for two minutes, versus two minutes of controlled intervals of thinking?

I like the beautiful blue light Oral B better, but the four intervals on the green for go Sonicare feels like it takes less time. I like signals. I listen and look and hear them, find them -- throughout my day as a writer. Like punctuation, signals keeps me more gainfully, creatively, happily employed.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I'm yelling. I'm cursing, I'm hooting -- like kids in unruly audiences hoot when they don't approve of the host, the guy who's front and center behind the microphone.

Stop. Shut up. Cut the crap! We don't need your EAGER STUPID headlines!

You are not running the country!

You are not wiser, smarter. You are an employee -- paid for taking the time to get the training that you got in some announcer/journalism/public-speaking school.

It's sickening -- (yes it makes me sick) to see the sincerely concerned look on your face as you pretend, with acting skills, to express your personal opinion about --oh my --I can't believe it, but I'm hearing it and seeing it -- the possible dangers of the President of the United States talking to young people.

And it's the "school speech," a speech about studying, working hard at educating yourself, that hasn't been made yet -- that's going to be made, that how many other presidents have made?

You are feeding the horrible, ugly, political tactic, the plan that the anti-Obama gang has successfully launched -- encouraging floundering, worried, poorly educated people to unite and get their friends and relatives to join in and protest any and every move our President makes.

You are supporting them; you are helping them. The only way I can help, that we who elected him can help, is to turn YOU off.

I'm yelling stop, shut up, cut the crap, turning myself into a member of the unruly audience, trying to drown you out -- and in drowning you out, reducing myself, embarrassing myself because I'm beginning to sound like you.

Please, stop. At least change the tone -- get rid of the sanctimony. Try a smile, shake your head, shrug ... add a touch of humor and amazement that there's such a tempest, such a ridiculous to-do being made over the President talking to our children.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


"SIDEFF" Pronounce it in a whisper.

Send a telegram to God above -- "Please protect us poor humans from this mounting, invisible, deadly, pandemic panic of SIDEFF.

Did our forefathers have echoing in their heads what's echoing in our heads?

. . . diarrhea, nausea, headache, rheumatic pain, aching elbows, knees, ankles, fingers, muscle weakness, swelling anywhere, stomach pains, heartburn, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, dizziness, weight gain, incontinence, constipation, asthma, sleeplessness, depression . . .

We know the words, the elements, the dire possibilities, we hear it, see it, it's sung, chanted after every medicine's major, absolutely essential importance is explained, touted, laid onto us like water and sunshine -- YOU NEED IT! GET YOUR DOCTOR TO PRESCRIBE IT FOR YOU!

Ah, those exquisitely produced, shot, edited commercials, those perfect seconds of sensible, logical proof, that YOUR alertness, YOUR awareness, YOUR sensitivity, YOUR knowledgeable recognition of SIDEFF, will maybe save your life, add years in which vigilant, educated worrying will be a natural part of your life.

Yes, this is a warning from Dr. Em:
SIDEFF is a contagious disease. There's no cure on the horizon. We've all got it. We're certain our elders know about it. We're teaching it to our children, so that they'll pass it on to their children -- yikes -- the poor dears will be dealing with the side effects of SIDEFF.