Saturday, October 17, 2009


It's not that I am a cheapskate.

I'm not stinting, or depriving myself.

I just don't want to keep losing them, buying them, losing, buying ...

Did my mother hoard them? No. Did my sisters? No. And I'm not hoarding them, I just keep them in a 2 X 2 plastic container (it used to contain thumbtacks), and every time I use a couple of bobbies, I put them back in their little plastic house. (See my post "Saving Rubber Bands & Bobbies, 4/4)

I use two in my hair -- one on each side, more or less behind each ear so that longer, lose hairs will stay neatly in my pulled back hairdo (my hair's pulled back into a bun or a ponytail).

I take the bobbies out when I wash or comb my hair. And routinely, use the same two pins again, not new ones.

Please, don't think that I'm neglecting what's new --no way! I'm listening, watching, observing, learning, and trying to use the latest developments in office equipment, entertainment, and household appliances -- even though I'm definitely a grownup who can already do what I need to do in every area of my life. Hey -- I am staying in touch with the times, even if I'm not "in tune" with the times.

Some of the TUNES (the new things) are ridiculous -- dissonant, unpleasant, irritatingly noisy, sloppily produced, faddish, time-wasting, silly -- blown up big deals that'll fizzle, shrink down, die out and disappear.

Take cell phones, for instance -- everyone has one or wants one -- it's so IN that not having one somewhere on your person is embarrassing. It's marvelous -- it's progress -- it's worldwide communication, but ... well ...

Sometimes I look at things and feel like an alien who just landed from outer space. lt's strange to see humans moseying around, talking into a cupped hand (clutching a cell), or someone addressing the air (using a hidden headphone probably).

Eye contact? Seems like it's thing of the past. Rarely do I see people looking around, enjoying the sights. It's as if just plain walking, going for a walk, is out of date.

I remember when wrist watches had tiny electronic adding machines on them, bells and whistles for jogging, measuring your heartbeat, up and down timers, 3 to 5 alarms with different sounds. People back then were mostly eyeballing their wrists, wrist watchers deeply involved with checking, winding, setting their beloved wristwatches.

We've got IPods, IPhones, Blackberries -- we've got "Apps" that do everything except eat, and use the restroom -- games, browsing, email, media, investments, gossip, sports, social networking maps, medical advice-- messaging -- there's even a new device that "enables phonetic text input in a text disambiguation environment and outputs the text in an improved window!" Wow, all that and heaven too!

HiDeho! I'm out there bravely asking questions (embarrassing myself sometimes, when I'm not sure what I'm talking about), but I'm asking away, osmosing, soaking in what's new like a sponge that's already wet.

Maybe one of these days I'll give myself a squeeze.

Anyhow, I'm using, reusing my bobbie pins -- their little plastic house is still chock-full. (I lost a bobbie, found three when I went on a hunt to find the one I'd lost .)

Using what I've got, not misplacing bobbies or losing or throwing things out, keeps me perking -- like dancing.

NOT losing the know-how, knowledge, talent, abilities that I've developed and honed -- using myself more and more, AND MORE -- that's what I do.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Dancers called him "Mr. B." He was probably the most important name in ballet of the 20th century.

I was nervous, excited, all fluttery inside, when Todd Bolender, the choreographer, said he was bringing George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, fund raiser co-founder of the NYC Ballet, to my studio to see "At the Still Point."

My studio, in those days, was on the top floor, separated from our living quarters by blue plastic shower-curtains. The floor, which I'd labored over with sandpaper and beeswax, to tamp down the splinters in the wood, was carefully checked for slippery spots.

I was in point shoes (pink toe shoes), and slipping was dangerous, especially when you're used to dancing in plain old ballet slippers.

Wow, toe shoes -- that was brave of me -- I did it for Todd with whom I was in love (the way dancers fall in love with the man who tells you what to do, praises you, criticizes you, directs you). And of course, that was part of what upset my husband at the time, my partner Mark Ryder.

Mark, who bent over backwards to show off his masculinity, to display the rough, tough, muscular guy aspects of himself, did not like Todd who was homosexual and talked a lot about his roommate. At our first meeting with Todd, his roommate served us espresso in exquisite demitasse cups, with tiny spoons, lemon peel on the saucer, and dainty napkins.

In our rehearsals with Todd, on the breaks, my husband stormed off through the blue plastic curtains to our shabby, undecorated living quarters -- bed, a mattress on a board on bricks -- bookcases, boards on bricks -- dining table, chairs, lamps, all discards Mark scrounged from the street.

Mm ... Writing about those days ... My eyes don't feel with tears, but tears are somewhere in and around my brain and heart -- tears for the strong, arrogant, confident, young selves of ourselves in those days.

We'd toured, we'd been successful as a team, but irritation -- basic conflicts -- were developing. (My mind keeps searching for a way to clarify what was going on behind the work scene in the studio -- to explain why and how Todd and Todd's world became the beginning of the end of my first marriage.)

Anyway, there George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein were, seated on the bench next to Todd.

I don't remember any social preliminaries. I just danced. I was deep into the feeling of the piece. Lonely girl, other girls with partners ... Girl painfully alone, haunted by her longing to join in with the others as they waltz off stage, enjoying themselves ... Manly handsome man appears ... Girl and man discover each other in a tender, adagio duet ... Other couples return and man connects with them, gradually becoming part of their celebration, leaving the girl, once again, lonely, alone.

I'd written the libretto and picked the Debussy music. Todd transformed it into a ballet that's in the repertoire of quite a few ballet companies. As "Still Point," it's performed with just three of the movements.

As I said, I just danced. Todd's choreography did it -- transported me into the moment by moment feelings, the progression of the dance and the unfolding drama. The steps didn't scare me, not even the turns รก la seconde that Todd used (a man's series of turns with an extended leg that ballet audiences often applaud). I just danced, and Balanchine and Kirstein were touched by it.

Well, the repercussions of that performance continued for a very very long time. We were invited to perform as guest artists with the New York City Ballet, after they mounted the Still Point. Tanaquil LeClerc and Melissa Hayden came to studio, and again, we performed it for them. I worked with Tanaquil and Melissa, and taught them my role.

It was exciting, more than a exciting ...

It was as if a beam of sunshine was on me, following me around. As a little girl, I'd often imagined that my life was movie, and a spotlight was on me -- the eye of the camera was watching and a film was recording the moment by moment events of my life.

I'll bet if I went to my QuickFinder search file, and searched the word "ballet" -- wow -- how many, many times have I written about my childhood dreams, my deep and current, intense connection to dancing.

This story ... it's what makes me ME -- Em the dancer, Em the writer.

I didn't dance as a guest artist with the New Ciry Ballet, but I almost did.

Continued tomorrow ...

Or a couple of tomorrows from tomorrow -- sometime later when I can write about all this freshly.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Do unto others...

If it ain't broke... (See my post 10/14)

Say thank you! ( See my post 5/15.)

Answer the phone with pep and cheer, even if you're feeling lousy.

Do one post a day.

Don't worry about your worries.

Take the moment as it comes.

Your bones tell you more than the Doc or blood tests.

onserve water.

Conserve electricity.

Keep away from mirrors.

The past is passed.

Grab now!

If you start a post about an event --
and try three times -- and it's not happening -- drop it.

Don't use big/fancy words if a small word will say it.

When you're tired and don't want to take a barre, do it for 10 minutes -- if you're still tired -- stop.

Pay attention to impulses: HUNGRY -- eat; SLEEPY -- nap;
PEEVED -- find out why; BORED -- change the channel.
Don't know what to say -- say nothing.
Don't know what to write -- don't write.
Don't know what to do -- do nothing.

Do what Mark Twain said: "When in doubt, tell the truth."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


How many times do I have to learn what I already know? If the thing is operating, doing its job, leave it alone.

Don't study it. Don't look it up in a "How-To" book. No checking, no researching, don't even peer at the thing. Or wonder about it, or be amazed by it -- it is what it is.

Don't fix it!

My brain holds on to miscellaneous facts -- computer timing, boot speed, error messages, beeps, odd shut downs, stalled loading, too many windows opened, a light flickering, a light not flickering.

And trivia -- things techies said a year ago, two or ten years ago, experiences with remote access, turn on switches, turn off switches, upgrading, downgrading, temp files that shouldn't be there, or should be and aren't.

I can, after a computer crash or serious trouble, remember all the steps taken in remedying the trouble. It's my dancer's brain -- I somehow photograph and retain processes.

And, after the major troubles, I reconstruct what I did or didn't do that might have created the event.

Uh oh! Here comes the FAULT, the FLAW in Em's brain.

CURIOSITY. For instance, the day I wondered "What is system restore?" I remember when I first noticed that folder in one of my earlier versions of windows -- boink -- I deleted it.

Furthermore, when the folder I'm working in does not appear at the top of the list of what's in my C drive, I re-name the folder -- move it, change the name of files, move them, eliminate them -- yep -- blithely I've gone into CONFIG, EXE and INI files, and evolved different ways of organizing and ridding my computer of un-necessary temp files, and those irritating Perflib files.

What a shining clean house I would have, if I cared for my home the way I care for a computer!

Are you laughing at me? Feeling sorry for me? Do you do similar things with your favorite tools?

Playing with the operating system, customizing it --especially customizing word-processing software is ... well, it's interesting, sort of relaxing if you're careful, and don't make a boo-boo ...

Woe is me ... How many times have I learned, if it' ain't broke, don't fix it. And proceeded to fix it, and broke it...

Dr Em says it's a good thing you're so busy writing these days, that you don't have time, end of the evening, for tidying, re-organizing, checking, fixing your computy-wooty .

Do I really call my computer that? Well ... sometimes ...

Anyhow, being a blogger commentator, I've got blog lists, notes on ideas, a backup blog named "Teecherme" that I scrupulously keep up-to-date -- and QuickFinder search files so I can keep track of what I've said, or written about before, and ...

Gee, I love work and the work of my work gets me working better, faster, more creatively -- hey, "'My cup runneth over!"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


And no photo I want to use. It's "Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink ..." Two boxes of reviews, huge box of old brochures, older brochures, broadsides, flyers, and a fat pile of newspaper clippings.

Oh my goodness -- what a mess -- dust, debris, cobwebs. Working on a post, I went on a hunt for a photograph I know I have, because it was used on the cover of "Encore, The Private and Professional Triumph of Emily Frankel" -- the book that was written about me.

You'd think that book would delight me. It doesn't. I helped the author obscure real names, and fudge, with my creative help, some facts that I didn't want publicized.

The fudges bother me. Also the author's take on my vision of dancing -- he didn't understand that I didn't want to dance like a soft, gentle, breeze -- I explained how I wanted to fly, leap, glide like the winged creature in the book my oldest sister read to me --"The SnipSnops And The Woo-Woo Bird," but he kept using the word "zephyr."

Well, the hunt for the original copy of that picture took a couple of hours, and the services of JC, my favorite, superb janitor-handyman, on our 8 foot ladder locating some moderately impressive pictures I'd forgotten I had -- but not the photo I was looking for.

Golly gee -- I thought I knew how to take a great photo. Like a model, I use my best features -- my left leg for high extensions -- my graceful arms, hands, head, great hair. Like an actress, I create and project a mood . I even bring an assistant to the shoot, to check on everything, especially my feet, my turnout.

Yuck! In the pictures we found, I didn't like my smile, my facial expressions, my over-use of wide eyes, and I HATED MY DANCING. Some of the action shots were passable, but the posed stuff (shot on a roll of grey paper, ceiling to floor), on which I tried to "dance" with dancer energy in my body) -- double-yuck!

Okay, I fully understand and forgive myself for the reasons for why I looked boring, fake, often with terrible feet -- feet not pointing enough, not sufficiently turned out. Okay, getting a dozen good pictures out of a hundred or so shots takes hours and hours, even for a ballerina -- but oh dear ... what I saw on my hunt ...

Em wanted to tell the girl in the pictures -- "Pursue another profession, dear."

Okay, there are a few good pictures. I've used a few of them in my blog. But this dialogue is a warning to you : Those pals of yours with their cell phone and digital cameras, who say "You look great, just freeze for a second!"-- BEWARE -- at least tug on your outfit, smooth your hair, lick your lips.

The click freezes the view of that second, but why "You look great" is composed of many seconds -- the seconds before the click -- the picture is more often than not, not great, not "fantastic, magnificent, excellent, terrific, cool , good" but -- awful.

"Em --" (I'm talking out loud to myself), "Ballerina, turnout, feet -- it's fogging your view of what you did as a dancer. Forget about the pictures. DANCE is what you did well -- "Woo-Woo bird" dancing, and you still manage to do fairly well.

The photo you used for that post (Oct 7th), is perfect -- it tells tell the story of what you did and do. And now you can convey in words, how this utilizes you, all of you, past and present, and all your knowledge and experience, and gives you pleasure.

Enough already!

Yes ...

Okay ...

But the white box overhead on my right -- that shelf -- the one that's 15 feet overhead ... When JC gets home, if he carries in the 10 foot ladder ... just a quick look -- it's a really beautiful photo.

Monday, October 12, 2009


It's a bit chilly. In my warm purple T shirt, I look out the window early in the morning.

When you look out your window what do you see?, trees... your neighbor's early morning parked cars?

There are very few cars on the street below. I can see two, but there are probably a few more nearer the corner (my home is in the middle of the block).

The cars belong to the wealthy people who live in condominiums (million dollar renovated lofts in a half-dozen 10 storey commercial business buildings that have been converted into residential spaces). It's a trend that started about fifteen years ago.

I know about this because I was the first person who lived in a loft on this street (back in the days when it was illegal). Did I set an example that encouraged others? Perhaps, but probably it's because spacious apartments in New York were difficult to find (almost impossible these days), and people looking at the fifty-foot frontage of business buildings, started wondering what it would like to live there (same as I did, when I decided I needed a dance studio). Of course the rich guys and their lawyers have made the condos on my street legal.

Anyhow, the street is landmarked as the "Ladies Mile," which means you can't change the exterior color or design without a permit that's expensive, extremely difficult to obtain). We're on the fringe of the "Chelsea" section known for its fashionable restaurants and shops, smack dab in an M1-M3 zone. (That means NO PARKING. 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. If you get on ticket on my street, it's $70.)

Down on the street, I noticed ... golly, I didn't know what they were ... tall, solitary looking sort of shadowy figures -- head, squarish body, just standing there.

Are they the new parking meters? I'd passed a couple of them on the way to the corner mailbox. Chuckled because there are three parking lots in this block. The lot nearest our building charges $20 an hour for midday parking, $32 to park your car there from 9 to 6... The meters charged 25 cents for 6 minutes, or $2.50 for all day.

If you wanted to visit, have a cup of coffee, and see my paintings or my studio, you could park at a meter, if you can find a spot. During the day, the curb is lined the delivery trucks, school busses (eleven of them, 8 a.m till 3 p.m.), chauffeuring kids to the school that's four doors down from mine, and the nearest parking lot has its daily overflow of cars double-parked in the street.

Those solitary tall shapes ... In the grey morning they looked like men, guards watching over the empty streets, each far apart from the other lonely, silent, night-and-day watchmen -- seeing everything that goes on, passersby strolling, employees hurrying to work, rushing out for lunch. Do workers eat out anymore? ...sandwich $7, salad or fruit in a container-to-go costs $8, coffee $1.50 at the least expensive spot ... clerk, secretary, saleslady probably can't afford to eat out...

Wait, hold on now, is this a money report -- on how much the prices of things have changed, and keep going up? Mmm ... It's not just money ...

It the way of life -- what brings people peace and pleasure -- what they do -- that's what I'm seeing...

When you look out your window has your view changed like mine...

Those guys below, the watchmen -- do they see what I see, and wonder where the street will be, what it will look like in ten or twenty years... what they will be guarding?

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Why do I make up words? I rarely drink water. Even when it's purified with a Brita filter, I don't really like the taste of water.

And eight glasses of water day? That's too much for me. Hey, I'm a coffee drinker, three or four cups, plus dink ... a glassful when I'm thirsty!

How come? All those years of dance classes ... awful lavatories, in studio classrooms, standing in line waiting your turn, everybody knowing you need to pee ... As a young dancer I learned to drink less, and NOT to drink before class.

The fact is, I don't perspire a lot when I'm exercising, except in the middle of the summer when it's 80 degrees or more in my studio. Then I get hot enough -- perspire enough to work on split stretches, and drink another glass or two of dink.

"Dink" isn't baby talk. It's a shortcut. I'm not going to say "pass the bottle of Crystal Light, please," every time I want a refill. Dink is the Crystal Light we drink rather than water -- it's a low-calorie powder one buys in packets from which you can make a glassful, or tinfoil cups (we buy the cups) from which you make a half-gallon of your favorite flavor.

Mine is lemonade. I've tried the others ... the pink lemonade's good. the orange, raspberry, tea, cherry -- no thanks -- the flavor stays with you, like candy. Therefore, "ours" is lemonade.

Sure, we'd love "diet" Sprite, 7-up , Coke, (especially Fresca) but toting those economy-sized big bottles up and down the stairs -- that's a no-no, in if you live on the top floor in New York City.
I have two sturdy, plastic, gallon-sized containers , and we keep both on the top shelf of the fridge -- the fresh jug of dink in the rear, the current one toward the front.

"Dink" is a word, as well as a tradition in my family. It's the beverage that my guys request. Not because they're catering to me, they say "Pass the dink, or "I want some more dink" -- it tastes good, it's refreshing like water, clears the palate -- doesn't distract from what we're eating.

Don't worry, if you're coming to dinner -- we'll offer you water, wine, or dink . (You might end up loving it.)

Hey, hey --the family that dinks together, stays together.