Saturday, June 26, 2010


My husband and I hear the news, three or four times during a day, see the news -- oil spill, clumps on more beaches and wetlands, missing child, celebrity mishap, weather disaster, events from all over the world ...

It's delivered to us by familiar reporters. Between commercials, nice-looking, youngish people we've seen before, give us their view of what's going on.

Actually, I don't have a relationship with the person who is conveying the latest new threat or troublesome issue -- I just take in what's being said -- be it about politics, human suffering, or who won the big game -- and wait for a revelation on yesterday's headlines.

Right now, I think it would help if we had an older-wiser, experienced anchor on the nightly news, discussing the oil spill, BP, and Iran, Israel and Gaza -- someone we know we can trust, like Dan Rather.

Friday, June 25, 2010


I read an article in Newsweek around Mother's Day, about "bad mothers" -- mothers in France who farmed out their offspring to nurses so they could have social lives and sex with their husbands. And Doris Lessing, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, who left her husband in South Africa, and went to London to pursue her writing career ...

"Bad Mother" Doris Lessing left her two toddlers with Daddy, saying, "Nothing is more boring for an intelligent woman than to spend endless amounts of time with small children. I felt I wasn't the best person to bring them up. I would have ended up an alcoholic or a frustrated intellectual like my mother."

"Yay Doris!" I hooted to myself, thinking about my mom, how she spent her life cleaning, caring for the house, slaving over us kids and my father. I'd made up my mind early on to never get hooked on motherhood-wife chores like Mom.

I was convinced Mom was doing what she learned from her mother, and Grandma learned from hers -- a hundred hand-me-down chores, that encourage hovering, excessive cleaning, and "being a stay-at-home mom."

Everyone said that parenthood would end my career, and my romantic rapport with my husband -- they said "When you're a parent you're no longer free to do what you want to do."

Okay, I heard the warnings; I didn't want to be like Mom, but I don't buy into other people's ideas about what's bad or good. We made a baby -- a son -- lovely, adorable, funny, and bright. Yes, life was not the same -- there were new routines, more cleaning, tidying, domestic things to take care of, worry about, learn how to handle, and enjoy.

Even so, I was able to perform in Europe, the Far East, and "Down Under" in Australia, dance as a soloist with symphony orchestras -- expand my dance company, continue building my career as a choreographer-director. And be there, be a watchful, adoring mother for our son, and continue to be a romantically loving wife.

If we hadn't had money (from JC's earnings as an actor-singer), it would have been more difficult -- we couldn't have had "Vonnie" -- a cheerful, reliable baby sitter/housekeeper at our beck and call for six years, and then, whenever we needed her.

Both of us, even to this day, feel guilty -- JC because our son loved tennis and wanted to play in the Junior Tennis tournaments and JC had no time to escort him there, and I, because I didn't attending PTA meetings and said YES when our eight-year-old son had a chance to understudy a part in one of JC's shows.

But when we're together (he's married, living in L.A.), the four of us hug, and sing what we sang whenever one of us came home from a trip -- "We're a family! We're a family!" And we really are.

Advice: You can have your cake -- career and family too. Listen to your inner voice. When there's a will, there's a way to do what you want to do.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


The Gary Coleman headlines, and our intense concern over an ex wife selling deathbed pictures ...

There's a fever that comes over us when someone famous dies unexpectedly, like Princess Diana, like Michael Jackson ... the extraordinary things they did ...

Poor Gary, he couldn't ever get back to the summit of his life, where he was a precocious, young guy, brilliantly wisecracking on the TV show, "Different Strokes." The shocking news, the details, get me remembering so many things ... I'm intensely aware that he is nowhere, and here I am, alive and kicking!

I'm thinking that mourning can be a way of celebrating your life. The sorrow you feel for the dead celebrity -- Coleman, or the Kennedys, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe -- it's a way of mourning the people who are gone from your own life.

I was in Oregon, getting ready to teach a morning master class, before setting up the stage with the stage crew, for the evening performance.

I was called to the phone. My sister in Pennsylvania told me that our brother had drowned.

I can't remember what I said or did. I do remember standing on the balcony outside an Oregon college gym, looking down at the green, green cluster of trees, bushes, and grass. I said my brother's name -- "David." Then I said, "David is gone ..." It didn't seem real. Saying it over and over made it realer.

It took two weeks to get back to the East coast. Between phone calls, discussions with my sister, mother, friends of my brother, funeral home staff, and the police, I learned what happened -- David was celebrating the end of April, the end the semester at Antioch College in Ohio, canoeing on Indian Lake with a friend. The canoe tipped over. The cold water killed them. My eighteen-year-old brother David's body wasn't found for days.

I felt as if his death changed me, I wasn't sure how, but performing each night (I was on a one-night stand tour), I danced fuller, using my sorrow, my sense of loss. I was twenty-four. I hadn't experienced death as something that happened to me and my family.

Using your feelings is what actors learn to do. That's how most actors create emotion -- the tears, rage, sorrow, anguish -- whatever the play's script requires. My brother death, and my father's death three months later ... The tears I shed were mostly me, crying for me, as I was learning some of life's lessons.

My mother's utter devastation was grief. Mother never really recovered. Though she's been dead for seven years, I still, to this day, feel her devastation. It's heavy -- the two men in our family dying within a few months of each other -- that's not a memory to revisit.

Mourning the dead, today, I miss Richard Burton because my husband and I looked forward to being with him whenever he was in town. I miss Jean Simons (we chatted between takes while she and JC were shooting the film, "All the Way Home"), and Charleton Heston, Paul Newman ... I remember moments in favorite movies. Celebrating them, I go on with the being busy -- the joy of being very busy, alive.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


What about the C-WORD, the F-BOMB and the N-WORD? Okay, I've heard the F and the N wordsbleeped, but gee, the C-WORD ... Are things getting worse, or am I saying what everyone says as they get older, wiser, and wonder what's happening to common sense, manners, and morality?

There are laws that regulate foul language on TV between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. But clearly it's difficult to regulate, and fines obviously don't stop it from happening.

The FCC regulates cussing and goes after words relating to sex and excrement, but we have commercials during those prime-time hours that suggest to viewers what they can do about erectile dysfunction, and discomfort going to the bathroom. And female hygiene ... blood, smell, itch, contraception, lubrication, et-cetera.

Thirteen-year-old Kayla Manson said "C'nt" twice on NBC's "Today Show," and anchor Meredith Viera had to apologize for it. Also, the show was not shown in certain parts of the country -- it was removed from the feeds for the Central, Mountain, and Pacific areas.

Kayla is accused of helping her boyfriend, Wayne Treacy, who threatened to kill Kayla's best friend Josie Ratley, and when Kayla was telling Viera about the text messages Wayne and Josie sent each other, Kayla explained, articulating the consonants and vowel, how they'd each called the other a "C'nt."

Mmm. That 's not a wonderfully important or significant crime, or a wonderful young girl to be interviewing.

What's more interesting to me is NBC's removing the feeds, also that Viera apologized to her audiences in the next show. Also, that the "Huffington Post" report on this event referred to the C-Word Jane Fonda used two years ago on "Today," when she was describing the hit play, "Vagina Monologues."

Hoo ha -- what an inconsistent administrative policy something-or-other is involved here! It demonstrates NBC's moral concern and parental way of protecting the virgin ears of children (who have undoubtedly heard these words by the time they're eight years old, and IF they can read -- seen them in various restrooms).

(Gee, are any adults with virgin ears in Central, Pacific, and Mountain areas? Even if you don't have a TV set, it's kind of hard to have "virgin" ears these days.)

Anyhow, I am thinking that our FCC, that allows feeds into all our ears about penis and bowel movement problems, is a waste of time, and tax money,

Are you concerned with keeping the C-Word, N- Word, and F-Bomb out of your ears?

It seems to me that the term -- "N-Word" has become a synonym in the minds of Tea Partiers, who claim Obama is illegally our President for various reasons, but actually it's because he's an "N" -- (i.e. "nigger," "negro," or "darkie.") And the F-Bomb is becoming as natural as "please" and "thank you." As for the C-Word -- gee, it's better than pussy, snatch, slit, twat, or muff.

The fact is, N-Word and F-Bomb are practical, useful terms that are in everyday use. I think they're relatively polite. Do you use them? Or do you say the real words?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Is the person with whom you are now in love, the person you are going to be with in a few years ... five ... ten ... twenty...?

Marriage statistics are not hopeful: 50 % of marriages end in divorce. College-educated older guys -- 81% -- stay married. Younger guys, who marry before age 26 -- just 65 % stay married. And only 49% of high school. graduates who marry before 26, stay hitched.

The same numbers apply in a same sex relationship -- college-educated are more likely to stay married, younger is riskier.

So statistics tell you not to count on being with the same partner, for the next twenty years.

Okay, maybe you want to be married legally because you want to have a family. If you have a little one, two parents are important, and better for the child than one. You're thinking of financial security, two breadwinners is better. Will being married affect yearly taxes? Not necessarily. Won't it be easier to enroll the child in schools? Possibly. What about visits in hospitals, and getting medical coverage? It might be a little easier, but it might not make any difference.

But if a child isn't on the way, and you're living together ... well, the problems of staying together for more than a few years are going to be the same.

After a few years, you and your partner change. Your lovemaking may become less passionate. Maybe you're attracted to others, and one of you, or both of you need affairs. And a lot of things have to mesh -- housekeeping chores, favorite foods, possessions; attitudes toward money, relatives, religion; feelings about fun, recreations, vacations; and work -- goals, dreams, career, things each of you wants to achieve.

What united you and made you compatible, sometimes, gradually separates you. All this is part of living together (married or not). Your limbs, brain, and organs are not fused. One-ness -- lone-ness is real. Sharing yourself -- bending, cleaving to another lone person varies from day to day.

Infidelity is a big deal. Illness can be a big deal. Personal tragedy, accidents, happenstance -- any of this can break apart a loving twosome. Yes, it can destroy a family, but family -- your mother, your father, their offspring -- your siblings -- they remain your family no matter what happens.

A former housemate, former lover ... well, they can disappear, re-marry, or become an "ex" and just a memory.

I think, if you make the person you are living with your family -- it's a word, but the word helps -- like a hug sometimes helps.

In the tough times, the troubled times, the times when my husband and I have NOT been in rapport, we nevertheless, remained each other's family. He is my Brother, Sister, Mother, Father. If one of us fell in love with someone else, (that more or less happened), if we separated (that's more or less happened), we are still the family of each other. "True to each other in good times or bad, in sickness and in health ... for better, for worse, richer or poorer ... until death ...

Think on it. Make the person you love your family. The word means your partner is in your life forever.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Sum - mer - time ...
And - the - liv - ing - is - ea - sy ...

It's the first day of summer, and I'm longing for the days when my husband and I took off down the road -- no specific place in mind, just adventuring, heading out of the city.

We had a blue Plymouth I'd bought for $100. It was a spare car we parked on a deserted street in the borough of Queens -- parking in New York was seriously expensive back then (now it's outrageously more so). In New Jersey, spur of the moment, we turned onto a state route -- no other cars, just apple trees, laden with fruit, hanging over a fence -- green Grannies, ripe, unblemished, and oh, what a taste!

On a green apple hunt -- that's where I'd like to be, I find myself thinking, as I'm changing channels on the TV, seeing ads for a Jaguar, Mercedes, B M W, a great deal on a Land-Rover, on Toyota's latest, "please trust us" Camry -- what about an Infiniti QX, or a Corvette?

What's in a name... a rose, by any other ... I'm seeing panoramic shots of open roads, shiny cars speeding along, hugging the curves, flying along as if time had stopped.

Ah sweet life back in the seventies ...

When - fish were jump - ing, - the - cot - ton - was - high...
...Yer - Mam - ma's - rich ... Dad - dy's - good - look - ing...
...So - hush - lil - bab - y, - do - n't - you - cry...

TV's blaring "Great mileage, bargain price, warranty covers practically everything."

One - of - these - morn - ings - you'll - wake - up - sing - ing...
...Spread - your -wings - and - take - to - the - skies...

Well, even if it's 2010 and the ads are lies, we can keep hoping and praying that the old days will come back, but gee ... I don't think so.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I am a Willie Nelson fan. I don't buy his records, or collect DVDs, but I've seen him, heard him many times and every time I hear him, I love Willie Nelson ...

His voice -- I love the twang in his voice, and his pure tones -- nothing added (no accent, color, or vibration). I love that every word, each syllable is clear, and his guitar -- the pick, his fingers, his strumming hand -- the way he plays it makes it part of him. The worn, understanding, knowing look of him -- humor, sadness, joy -- it's in his eyes, mouth, and bearing. Everything about him speaks to me.

He's seventy-seven. He's had four wives, and he has seven children. He never cut his hair. It got very long. Finally he braided it. And last month, May 26th, he cut it off. He said it was getting to be too much trouble.

Willie Nelson's been in my life as country music, rock, country rock, outlaw country, alternative country; a singer-songwriter, musician, producer, actor, an activist on protecting horses, legalizing marijuana, and world peace. I've loved him in movies -- cameos, important roles, bit parts -- he's always himself, but the part he's playing fits the story.

Never have I been disappointed. Never have I thought -- Willie Nelson's getting old -- he's not as good as he was last time I heard him.

The songs he's sung, his albums -- the titles tell his story. What an artist creates often tells the story of his life better than a biography with dates and details. Willie writes about love, time passing, waiting, hoping, longing, enjoying what's around him.

Early on he wrote: "Family Bible," "Night Life," "Funny How Time Slips Away," "Hello Walls."

During one of his divorces he sang -- "Bloody Mary Morning." Later, we heard "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," "Good Hearted Woman," "Remember Me," "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time."

Then, he remarried and sang, "I Love You a Thousand Ways," "Something to Brag About."

He got a bill from the government for $16.7 million in back taxes. "On the Road Again" "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," and his album, "Buy My Memories," paid off everything he owed.

I cheered when he was honored as an artist at the Kennedy Center in 1998. It tickled me when Ben & Jerry's released their new flavor, "Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream." I laughed and enjoyed his song-- "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other." He sang it after "Brokeback Mountain" (the gay-cowboy themed movie with Heath Ledger), became a hit. Willie said, "The song's been in the closet for 20 years."

Recently I've enjoyed, "Maria (Shut Up and Kiss Me)," "Beer for My Horses," "Always on My Mind," "Lost Highway."

If you've heard him, seen him recently, you know why I'm paying tribute to him. He's mellower -- that pure tone hits your ears just right -- he's singing better than ever with truth in his eyes.

Yes, I was shocked when he cut off his braids. Short hair makes him look ... well ... more worn, older, like a guy who loves booze.

With or without the braids, I love Willie Nelson.
He doesn't drink liquor -- just beer. I hope he isn't drinking too much beer.