Saturday, October 24, 2009


My friend said, "Ooo, I had a senior moment! "

I laughed appropriately, but I didn't feel like laughing. This friend was twenty years younger than I. We were having a mile-a-minute conversation about books, trends, publishers -- name dropping names, and numbers -- how much so-and-so was paid for such-and-such a book.

I wanted to get out of her office, get back to my house, my place, my world where I don't deal with "senior" anything.

When I lose a name, I say -- whatshername -- and just breeze on. When I was talking to another friend (quite some time ago but I remember the conversation), I couldn't remember the name of the tiny machine you carry if you're an accountant -- "calculator."

That was the day I started a file called "Verbee," and began putting down words and names I forgot.

I've had trouble remembered Robin Williams' name, Anthony Hopkins' and actor Len Cariou. "Paparazzi" comes and goes ... Also: "boeuf bourguignon. poinsettia, c'mon, dilemma, George Wallace, Lee Strasberg," etcetera.

I'm not going to type out all the words on the Verbee list -- like "paraplegic" (typing it just now, I had to check the spelling twice).

And spelling -- I lose the ability to choose between lose (loose), choose (chose). My blog coach Fran has to proofread each blog I write, because I often misspell words, even common ordinary ones.

And computer processes. -- two months ago I could open the "Neo Office" program on our Mac computer -- we used it for the sound effects last year, when we did a staged reading of "Shattering Panes." Yesterday ... duh ... I forgot how to open, retrieve and use Neo Office.

Okay -- but on THIS computer, my pal, my friend whom I meet with every day and use as my writing tool -- I certainly haven't forgotten any processes. I can do anything and everything I need to do, and MORE.

So, are my lapses -- spelling, names, words -- memory lapses? Or are they OVERLOAD?

Reality: Our new stove has burners that turn on differently. And our new window frames keep us warmer so I've been re-programming our thermostat daily. Also, the computer situation is s crazy -- two new ones plus the three computers I'm using -- I'm running back-and-forth, doing this-and-that on five different operating systems. Plus I'm writing seven blog stories each week -- each with a different subject, different research.

Golly, all that, plus the barrage of new things surrounding me -- got a bunch of new cleaning supplies, two floors with different sweepers and dust-busters, and let's not forget our cell phone applications, the digital camera pictures I download/upload on the computer, and the very latest news, the nonstop ads -- all the stuff I'm being sold, or told is different, is better, while I'm simultaneously warned that it's dangerous,"beware," "do not use."

Dr. Em says: "Forgetting is not something you ought to be regretting."

I'm thinking that NOT REMEMBERING, is my brain, my body, maintaining its equilibrium.

Friday, October 23, 2009


7:15 a.m.
I' m clock watching, waiting on eastern standard time, for techies on pacific time, mountain time, and central time to open their doors. I've brought in my 6-foot ladder so I can tidy the shelf above my computer. (It's got my "good luck" goodies on it. When your computer's sick, you need prayers, good luck, and clear-speaking techies to tell you what to do.)

Yes -- the problem could be the printer. It could be the keyboard. The worst thing, the problem I'm dreading -- oh dear -- if it's Word Perfect, the word processing application I use for writing my blog, that's a time-eating disaster.

I'm going to dust my shelf ...

Wowie! Whoopee! I almost fell off the ladder! Bunched up behind my Indian Dancing Doll,
I found this --

a paper bracelet --
fortune cookie fortunes -- a bunch of them taped together -- some blown up big, others normal, tiny print --
great fortunes on it.

I don't remember when I got the fortune cookie, but I remember I wanted to kiss the paper -- I was working on a revision of "Woman of the Century," (see The Readery, it's the book about Cordelia titled "Somebody.") I was going slightly nuts over my agent's notes -- "It's too long, Em -- cut some of the history!"

We had a copier. I made three, large-size copies of the HARD WORK fortune and scotch-taped them to my monitor.

10:45 a.m.
The techie (Carol) on the west coast, taking remote control of my computer, worked with me for two-and-a-half hours -- ran tests, uninstalled, re-installed, went to and downloaded new drivers. It's not the printer. Carol, like a good friend, stayed on line while I tested two other keyboards.

11:30 a.m.
It's not the keyboard. Now I'm in a cue of twenty callers, waiting for, hoping for, praying for some simple solution from a Word Perfect techie. Some of them are grumpy, unfriendly, and too quickly want to re-install the whole application.

I hope you know that I don't believe in fortune tellers, or what the cookie fortunes say-- but gee, that one's worth framing.

I did. I got a "hot" nibble on that book. I remember it was Christmas and everyone toasted me with eggnog. Cordelia almost got published, but ... well, by the time the weather got warm and lovely, I had another version of Cordelia's story underway, and a producer optioned "Karen of Troy" for a TV movie. (That novel's also on The Readery.)

I was gaining discipline, and a tough, mean eye on my writing, learning how to cut, and the danger in falling in love with a secondary character, or a pretty phrase.

When you get a prediction like that, you tape it to your monitor.

1:12 p.m.
The Word Perfect techie, Hans, who had helped me in August, is grumpy but patient, and he has strong, clear speech. He tested -- he tried this and that, (things I'd tried on my own before calling for help) -- he warned me that I might have to re-install the entire application. My heart sank, as I reached for my list of processes that have to be customized ...

2:20 p.m.
"Ah ha ," Hans said. "You don't have to re-install! Just make a new template!"

4:00 p.m.
Well, here I am. It took one-hour-and- twenty minutes to do a new template. The problem -- it seems to be solved.

I'm smiling -- I've check everything --computer's back to normal -- I'm admiring my hand with the fortune cookie bracelet -- the paper's dusty, the scotch-taped fortune cookie fortunes are fragile, bent, slightly torn.

Thank goodness I enlarged, my favorite --
Peering down at my bracelet, lifting my hand so I can read those good
words once more, I take the bracelet off.

4:35 p.m. (Cup of fresh hot coffee's sitting next to me,)
I've skimmed the fortunes -- special recognition ... gain something ... huge personal gains ... receive high prize ... pleasant news. I've slipped the bracelet over the Indian Dancing Doll. Now I'm finishing this post.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


What's new on my schedule?

A walk first thing in the morning -- a stand straight, stand tall, head-high, stroll around my studio.

With JC.

We laugh, take hands and stroll (separately, if he gets up later than I do). But when he comes downstairs to his office, we take our promenade together.

Back in June I wrote "S S S"( a blog on 6/13, about sitting, standing straight). I was taking a good hard look at myself. After eight hours at my computer (sometimes more), I couldn't help noticing that I was slumping. Even after the hour that I devote to my barre/dance/exercise, my posture wasn't great. My chin wasn't high, my neck was tilted forward -- I looked tired.

Awareness of this galvanized me. . When I check (I don't like to check myself in the mirror too often) I do look better.


I want an even taller, straighter, head high posture. I want that posture automatic, something I don't have to think about.

JC loves my quirky routines. Right now, he's in an actor's limbo -- offers on the table, scripts to read, possibilities but nothing definite. It's a little demoralizing -- each day he has to figure out what to focus on. As for "Em," having decided that Em is a columnist (see "Candy Jar," 9/23), not just a blogger among tweeters and bloggers, I'm doing okay as a writer.

Since we don't work to make money (never have) -- he works, I work to grow, learn, taste, experience something new -- we both need to tend to "morale."

The promenade helps. It's not an important exercise. It doesn't stretch our legs, or get even a small sweat going.

The path we travel is easy -- 15 feet down the inside hall to the entrance doors, , 30 feet from the doors to the other end of the studio where the big loudspeaker sits.

Then, holding hands, we square the corner -- it's just 25 feet from speaker to the skinny mirror. As we're approach it, we see the slender couple in the mirror and admire ourselves. We look ... well ... nice, handsome, sprightly, youngish, not at all thickset, mature.

We proceed 30 feet along the mirrored wall to the audience seats. After we square the corner, it's just 18 feet back to the hall.

He goes to his office, I go to mine.

Our promenade sets a mood -- exterior and interior, and somehow, once we get that tall, confident, head high feeling, we're able to sustain it -- almost throughout the day.

If I start to sag, or he does -- he'll call to me, or I'll call to him across the hall, and we do another walk-around.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The news about Liz and heart surgery sends me back to our "Private Lives" days, and how her private life intersected with our private life.

The very first novel I wrote, "Ribet Affair," was about Elizabeth and Richard, and a wacky boy who's infuriated by the intense media coverage of their romance and extravagant lifestyle, planning to bomb the theater which Elizabeth visits every night while Richard's performing there.

JC was one of Richard's favorite buddies in Toronto, where here was playing Laertes in Burton's "Hamlet" that was directed by John Gielgud. When I showed up, I was immediately part of the fun and games -- cocktail parties, dining, drinking and carousing with the famous lovers. They were besieged by paparazzi, followed by hoards of fans.

Being part of Richard's inner circle from his "Camelot" days, I'd sat with Sybil and chatted with her, during some of the rehearsals. Her situation with her husband pained me.

During "Camelot," Richard was having an affair with one of the chorus girls -- a beautiful girl whom I vaguely knew. When I phoned JC from Michigan (I was on tour with my dance company), she'd answered our phone -- the bedroom extension -- in a sleepy voice, sounding like she just woke up.

It was a shock.

What did it mean? Did it mean she was sleeping in our bed with JC? Or was she on a sleep-over with Burton?

Richard and JC were a dangerous pair.

The carousing and craziness of their partying continued after "Camelot," in Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles with me on the outskirts -- I was on another one-night-stand tour, wondering, worrying, agonizing about JC, knowing about Richard's affairs with other girls, wondering about Sybil, and my situation -- not sure what was real.

Not sure what was real ... It's a state of mind that happens when you love your husband, and you're not sure if he's playing around. (See my post 'Edwards Infidelity 5/26).

I remember Richard and Liz on their wedding day -- her coronet of daisies, her too tight, too shiny, too bright, yellow dress, the champagne, the exhausting non-stop celebrating in the Prince Edward Hotel in Toronto. And more, many more get-togethers. (See my post: "Elizabeth Taylor Socks Syndrome" 6/11.)

The Burtons fought and re-united, their other lovers were headlines. After their divorce, their re-marriage and a second divorce, JC signed a contract to play a featured role in "Private Lives," the Noel Coward play which Elizabeth and Richard revived for themselves.

After many weeks in Toronto and Boston (the cities where "Camelot" began), and 138 performances at the Lunt Fontanne Theatre in NY, "'Private Lives" closed.

The gift from Elizabeth was delivered by a messenger . It was a large fancily wrapped box. Presents are given by cast members to each other on opening night, but this present arrived months after "Private Lives" was over and done with.

It hadn't been a happy show -- bad reviews (but sold-out houses) -- new director, new costumes, new black curly wig for Liz (she'd been wearing red-brown hair that didn't suit her). And re-staged scenes, which upset Richard . He was ailing. Doctors said drinking was killing him, but he was drinking more than ever, sleeping with two actresses that I knew.

Liz performances were up and down, as was her weight, and her love life -- she was going steady with the producer, and sporting a gorgeous engagement ring from her fiancee, a wealthy Mexican lawyer. When she missed three performances, Richard refused to perform with her understudy, and out of the blue married his secretary, Sally.

(You couldn't help wondering if Richard Burton married Sally Hayes to annoy Elizabeth Taylor.)

The story behind their facades, and what happened with Sybil, was loud and in my mind when we opened Elizabeth's gift.

It was heavy. A pink satiny-cardboard box inside the fancily wrapped larger one.

And inside the pink one, beneath cotton, wrapped in a white silk cloth -- Elizabeth's face in a heart-shaped, silver, heavy, solid silver 11" by 9" frame.

There was a note, scrawled by Elizabeth, thanking JC, with love and kisses.

A gift for our mantelpiece? For JC's desk? For a table in our living room, loaded with pictures of family, friends, and celebrities?

We didn't have a table (still don't), but the gift is unique -- engraved -- silver -- heart-shaped -- that exquisitely beautiful face -- who in the world would have thought of sending a picture of herself except Elizabeth Taylor.

I hope, sincerely hope, that she's okay and the surgery will work for her.

It's a gee whiz time, whenever I think of Elizabeth Taylor. . A time when I am deeply aware of what it meant for us to be in her world, on the outskirts -- yet in it -- fascinated, intrigued, distracted, pulled in wrong directions, but holding on to "US.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


My new stove makes me mad.

The stove is huge, gleaming black enamel.

I'm not happy -- touch a knob, turn on its light --turn on a burner -- and there's a finger print that SHOWS. Heating a kettle of water for our morning coffee takes twice as long. I'm sure the gas bill will DOUBLE. The bottom drawer WHICH SEEMS to be a place for pot covers has no handle -- great spacious drawer -- I can't get it open!

I cooked a Chinese dinner on it with my extra-large frying pan. The food turned out fine but cleaning the stove afterward -- tiny splatters, a chunk of meat that flew out of the pan -- it was rub a dub-dub time.

Okay, splatter and bits of food come off my new stove with a wet sponge, but if I don't polish and rub with a soft clean rag, or a couple of paper towels, it looks like a reverse negative of DNA -- it's PROOF that I'm a sloppy cook.

Yes, yes -- I know that about new stuff -- expensive or inexpensive things -- clothes, shoes, cars, computers, even socks -- it takes takes time to get adjusted them. o. The stove will be fine, I'll probably end up loving the stove, and aren't bills for everything heading up?

I guess I'm irritated, DEPRESSED because a thousand-dollar stove ought to be WONDERFUL right away -- and here I am complaining about it like a spoiled rich lady whose husband buys her, lets her buy anything she wants, when families are going hungry, and times are not good, and the news ...


War, Nobel Prize, health care, unemployment, credit cards ... The list goes on and on and we're constantly asked for OUR opinion, getting opinions every day from new authorities who aren't necessarily authorities, who are making a mountain out of -- it's right! it's wrong! it's disaster! it's the solution! -- on and on.

What I hear and see makes me feel small, helpless, fearful -- like a child needing a parent to lead the way, say what to do.

I'm counting on the Presidemt -- so very, VERY glad that we elected him, put him where he is, to do what has to be done. We're LUCKY to have the guy in the White House forging ahead, leading the way.

And goodness gracious -- I' M LUCKY to have my new stove to fuss about!

Monday, October 19, 2009


I wanted to see the Vigeland sculptures. They're in Oslo.

(It's an un-typical Em dream -- I've been around the world, and seen the places that seemed magical to me ... though I wanted to see, but never saw the Sphinx, and Russia.)

I was in the middle of producing, directing, choreographing, keeping alive my "FOUR CHOREOGRAPHERS" project.

One of the kids had powered the floor (see my post "Skidding," 9/1). I was still suffering over my slipping and sliding, lousy performance. And bugged by the weekend performances, the reservations, the rehearsals, my what-am-I-going-to-do-next thoughts made me want to end the project and say "Bye-bye" to everyone involved.

Except maybe Julie M -- lighting gal, janitor, do-everything young dancer who was trying to make it as a choreographer -- she reminded me of me. She bloomed with positive energy. She inspired busy me, got me to go with her to the museum to see Rodin's "Gates of Hell" sculpture.

Julie looked at things -- the real world, not just the dance world, like every other dancer I knew. And more than anything, she wanted to ge
t her master's degree so that she could teach kindergarten kids. Julie M was definitely un-typical.

A sailor guy, JC's pal who was in love with me, always came to dinner with gifts -- "Joy" perfume, an Indian dance doll that still sits on my shelf, and two travel books from Norway. Travel books bore me, but skimming through them --wow -- I saw pictures of incredible men and women -- naked, sculpture-people who seemed alive -- many, many, unbelievably many people of all ages, sizes, types with whom the park in Oslo is filled.

Vigeland created a world. The only thing I'd ever seen that enthralled me like those pictures was what I'd seen at the museum. With Julie.

I was restless. I didn't want to create more "ballets" or dance plays, or any pure or un-pure multi-media, barrier-breaking choreography. I'd tried to do that many times, but never really managed to break into the echelons of the "innovative," important guys in my field.

Martha Graham, "prima" innovative choreographer in modern dance, had a powerful artistic relationship with sculptor Isamu Nogochi. Other famous dancers had artistic, arty gurus in their corners. Not I -- I've never been arty or very interested in amplifying paintings, Shakespeare, or other playwrights, and poets.

(Okay, classical music inspires me, but my source, my passion to create and make some sort of statement comes from me wanting to talk with, communicate with, connect with plain ordinary people -- talk about what I see, feel, and seek.)

I need to make this clear -- what interests me is love, fear, pain, curiosity, amusement, joy, wonderment --the whole kit and caboodle of one's internal and external life.

It sounds pretentious. I used to like to be pretentious and sound educated, (use big words). I used to like to find untouched new subjects, and create shocking, unusual, evil characters.

Not anymore. I went into writing, certain that I could write -- and wrote. And boy oh boy, man oh man, yay team, goody goody -- I've learned to write better. Being kind of a natural born liar, (growing up with brilliant sisters, trying to out-do them, and impress an intellectual, wise daddy), I lied, fabricated, invented accomplishments, talents, knowledge -- you name it.

As I got skinnier physically (I've got to do a post about starving oneself, the joy and sorrow of those ups and downs), I also got skinnier, skived down as a writer. I learned that ugly characters, shocking stuff gets tiresome, unless there's more to it than ugliness. PLOT -- the story -- the GO from here to there IS IT.

So what the hell was I thinking when I got hung up on Vigeland? His people are heavy, square, slumped, breasts sag, all the men have peckers (hanging small ones
and unimportant balls), and most of the poses the people of all ages are in, are sexual.

The greatest, most amazing sculpture he created for the center of the park is a huge phallus of people intertwined, intermingled, body on body -- men, women, children and babies.

Why did I want to see the sculpture park? . Well ... I am not sure why ...

It's like me loving big books, long stories (not short stories). Vigeland created a whole world. And I have been impelled, as a writer, to create a whole world for "Cordelia" (my book"Somebody," on The Readery) -- the whole century, all the things that filled it, and how her life intermingled with everything that was happening. I'm not sure I had to write it, but that's what I wrote and re wrote for years.

Right here, right now, I need one of my usual expletives -- a wow, gee, golly, holy moley, jeeps, ooo, yow, or maybe a mmm.

I don't want to travel. I've traveled. I don't really want to see the sights that I should have seen (if I hadn't been so busy setting up a stage and teaching a stage crew my cues) ...

Okay ,that's a fib -- no, it's a lie -- I saw it all in pictures and didn't, still don't, feel impelled to see the real things.

How much can one do, see, feel, seek in one life?

But the sculpture park, the world that Vigeland created in Oslo Norway, is still in my mind -- those bodies, men, women, children, babies -- it's something I want to see ...

And if you gave me a ticket, and said "go," I'd say no. I'm too busy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I had a dream ... can't figure out ... it affected me at work on my blog today ..

In the dream, I was in an empty space. We were figuring out where to put things. We put a desk, with a lamp and a blotter, in a corner -- on an inefficient diagonal, catty-cornered to the gleaming wood of my dance studio floor.

Donald Trump, (yes "The Donald") was there ordering us to sit down for our talk. I was trying to tell him that we didn't have any chairs -- just three stools -- a small low one, a high one, and an old stage prop stool that was covered with a pale orange rug-cover.

Why was Trump there? Why were there no chairs -- no proper place to sit except on the three stools, one of which was too low, the other awkwardly high?

What does this dream mean?

Aha! It's dawning on me -- Trump -- was he there to fire people? Or was the dream about the trump that tops the other guy's cards? Was The Donald a symbolical "Fran," my blog coach? Were JC and I supposed to sit down for a conference with Fran?

Mm hm, thinks Freud Frankel, you and JC discuss your ideas, and when he thinks an idea is too far-out, Fran usually trumps his objection.

Whoa -- JC is in Los Angeles right now, shooting a scene as Grandpa in ABC's sitcom,"The Middle." Fran lives in Massachusetts. I'm here by myself in New York City ...

And in the dream, those stools -- was the tall one for the tallest person? That's JC, but maybe Fran ought to have it -- shouldn't the Trump get the tallest stool? The stage prop with the orange rug -- ick -- was that me?

Ho ho ... Freud is telling Em that this dream means -- YOU ARE THE BOSS. ACT LIKE THE BOSS.

(Neither of them are here, and here I am today, zooming ahead on a bunch of ideas, feeling sort of inspired but not finishing anything ... because I need an opinion? Do I need approval?)

I hope you who are reading this won't t mind being the consulting psychoanalyst today, listening to Em babbling, psychoanalyzing things. Actually, it turned into a very productive fun day.

I took a four o'clock break, though I rarely take a four o'clock break, and ate the corn on cob I've been saving for watching a movie tonight. (Before JC left for LA, he bought me six corn on cobs -- he knows I love to nibble on a corn when we're watching TV.) I nibbled on the corn, one kernel at a time, having a good time watching "Judge Judy" scold her litigants.

Back downstairs at work -- pop, pop, pop -- three of the ideas came clear as they popped into my head like popcorn, and are now scribbled legibly on my list of posts.

I started my barre thinking "What a day!" -- stopped after ten minutes. I wasn't in the mood to take my whole barre. My muscles enjoy a occasional night off and this post ... well, it's done, isn't it?

It's dinnertime and maybe there'll be a earlier movie ...

Six corns is what my loving, thoughtful, dear shopper bought for me -- he'll be back tomorrow night ...

Mm ... The last corn on the cob is waiting ...