Saturday, November 20, 2010


I knew from the pale light creeping around the edge of the window shade, that another day was beginning. A bunch of worry thoughts were flickering around. They'd been flickering on and off since some wee hour of the morning.

... slippery floor ought to be mopped ...
... burnt out hallway florescent that needed to be replaced ...
... that letter I needed to write ...
... phone call I should have made yesterday ...
... a pain, just a twinge -- an iota of discomfort I felt yesterday ...

Is it a muscle? An old injury? What unknown trouble could be besetting me? Some weird polyp? Cancer? Which doomful decay that's been mentioned on television, has attached itself to a twig of memory about a painful spot that's bothered me, that I've put out of my mind?

I whisper inwardly Oh c'mon, forget it.

I'm still thinking about the twinge as I sit down to write a post for my blog. I don't write a word. I am thinking a million little thoughts while thinking Oh boy, this is going to be a lousy, bad, unproductive day.

I tell myself sternly -- think about all this stuff later!

I reach for my calendar. I lift it off its hook; obediently murmuring think about it later, and put the calendar on my desk; grab a pencil, and in the box with next Monday's date, I write "weird pain," and put a question mark next to it.

And sort of mischievously, scrawl "write letter" in tomorrow's box, print "phone call" on the day after tomorrow -- one-by-one I relegate florescent bulb, mop floor to other dates, disposing of the nagging, distracting little worry thoughts.

Is the distracted, worried feeling gone? Maybe ... maybe not ...

I go for a walk. Outside is cold and nasty, It's not a day to mail a letter or shop. Just doing something that I wouldn't ordinarily be doing, I mosey into the hall, walk upstairs, walk around and turn off some lights, and in the kitchen, take out coffee things.

I make myself a fresh cup -- my own. homemade "Starbucks." Instead of one scoop of Colombian Roast, I use three, and pour water into the filter gradually so the taste will be stronger.

It's delicious smelling ...
I sit and sip, dawdling a little. Am I okay? Well ... maybe I'll catch the day half way.

I'm at the computer, writing this. Yep -- if you're having a bad day, you have to find a way to give yourself a command --
like Stop! Go!
Catch the Day Half Way!


Friday, November 19, 2010


My friend who has a son the same age as my son, sent me this.




Thursday, November 18, 2010


It's a daily talk show, part of ABC's "Daytime."

Whoopi Goldberg moderates the discussions. The panel consists of Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd and, part-time, Barbara Walters, one of the show's executive producers.

I like "The View." I love Whoopee -- the woman, the actress, the author -- if you want to know specifically why I like her, click 'Whoopee For Whoopee Goldberg."

I pay attention to the queenly, authoritative Barbara Walters, and find myself nodding when she expresses her opinion. I don't love Elizabeth Hasselbeck -- her need to be famous shows too much but she's sharp and aware of what's going on in the world. Joy Behar is fun, down-to-earth, and always worth listening to. I think Sherri Shepherd is extra scenery the show doesn't need but she doesn't intrude or distract.

The combination of the "girls" works. I feel as if I'm part of the conversation -- not focused on them but involved with what they're discussing.

Alas, every day on television, there are promos, quick previews of one of the "Real Housewives" shows. There's a rash of them.

The "Real Housewives" of Orange Country, New Jersey, Beverly Hills, D.C., New York, and Atlanta, and a show called "Talk" are loaded with advertisements of things that women buy. But I find the problems that concern the "Housewives" cast members ... well ... the drama of the day is like a revved up, soapy, soap opera, but less suspenseful -- Sturm and Drang that more or less fizzles on a daily basis.

What bothers me more than anything, is the cast -- the women themselves. I think these shows are promoting a"babe" image that's old-fashioned. (If it's new-fashioned -- igg! Yuck!!)

Nowadays, more often than not, in music, DVD's, ads, movies, and definitely, in all the various Housewives shows that I've seen, the female is ultra carefully dressed, makeup and hair done ultra perfectly -- spouting platitudes, enormously overly-concerned with household, kids, pets, and spouses -- ho hum -- enticing, delighting, warring, divorcing, seducing men AND ... (oi-vey), competing with each other.

Watch "The View." It's entertaining. It's culture, fashion, male/female issues, news -- everything that's current.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Self-promotion ... Eek! Ouch! Yiii!

It's a serious, heavy-duty, full-time-part-time chore. It's an obligation, a responsibility, if you're an artist -- you can't be an artist if no one is aware of your art.

What do you need to do to sell tickets to your show -- to sell what you're doing -- to get people to read your book or buy your painting, or whatever it is that you're creating in your place, your theater, your shop -- wherever it is that you display your wares?

Throughout my professional life, publicizing myself has been a problem. I think my work is interesting-- hell, I know it is, but somehow I don't say or do the right thing. I'm friendly -- sometimes too friendly. I'm arty -- often too arty, also sometimes kooky. I'm definitely shy so I bend over backward to be outgoing and end up being (sometimes), embarrassingly outrageous.

Two years ago, when my "big" novel didn't get sold, I worked with a great web designer, evolved for my novels, and started Em's Talkery. Right away, I got an email invitation from Linkedin, (a dear PR friend said she'd joined, so I did, too).

Browsing online, I noticed a SHARE button, and lots of names -- Digg, Stumbleupon, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Craigslist -- a bunch of other names of social networking Websites -- that help you promote what you're doing on the Web.

The Readery got visitors, but only three people were reading my blog. I spent umpteen hours, brain time, and creative energy trying to figure out how to promote my blog on Digg. Yowy -- I couldn't join without giving my life history. I tried joining some other sites, but they were even more complicated, and asked for names of my "friends." Dammit, I wanted strangers reading my blog, not friends!

Back on Digg I finally crammed one sentence into the requisite spot, then -- yikes I couldn't publish it on Digg without inserting my own name -- dumb rule - Em couldn't tell folks that Em thought her blog was great! All my labors were an utter waste of time.

Okay, I've self-promoted my NY performances, a biography about me, my novels, my plays, my Dance Drama Company, JC's and my Saturday p.m. performances on Broadway -- been on radio and TV talk shows, had my picture in all the major papers, all the magazines, hired press agents, sent out thousands of brochures -- even had life-size posters of me on street corners all over New York City.

All this publicity worked for a week, two weeks maybe, sold some tickets, made a little money -- cost a mountain of money and where am I -- not unknown, but I'm not famous

Well, I read the other day that Digg was not doing well -- I found myself smiling evilly, delightedly -- it was worth $130 million a few years ago and now it's worth only a mere $20 million.

Look out you social networking guys -- hey Facebook and Twitter -- you don't have a product like Apple, or HP, you're a show! Like a sitcom, you're ephemeral -- people flock in for a while, but they get bored and move on.

Okay, I'm self-promoting, but at least I've got a product!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I wonder how Edison Pena, one of the rescued Chilean miners, who ran in the New York City Marathon, is feeling today? Is he still exhilarated, making plans for other adventures while he's still in America?
Pena is not a champion or an athlete. He's a 34-year-old miner who survived a near death experience.

I know, from personal experience, that the 33 miners who were trapped for 70 days in the mine have a new perspective -- a power they didn't have before the mine collapsed. Aside from becoming celebrities, which is a life-changing experience, there's a change in your spirit when you almost die.

I don't mean a scare, the kind that happens when you're driving and something unexpected happens: "Oh my God, I could have crashed into that car." When you are "dead," or almost die, but don't die, there's a new awareness, a loud, very strong sense that this is your life.

It happened to me. After I'd recovered from an major accident, suddenly one day I was convulsed with pain, and landed in an operating room. During the surgery my heart failed. I watched the Doctors trying to revive me with electric paddles. I knew I was dying.

I didn't see light at the end of the tunnel. But I heard someone say my heart had stopped beating for five-and-a-half minutes. A doctor said I might be bedridden, there might be brain damage.

I am not bedridden. While I was recovering, I decided I'd like to dance at Lincoln Center. It took a lot of doing, and hours and hours of rehabilitation exercises. It seemed like a fantasy, but it kept me going, over the years.

The 33 trapped Chilean miners are out of the mine, and back with their loved ones in the sunlight and fresh air. It's as if they've been reborn. I'm sure that each man, in his own way, feels as if he can do whatever he wants to do.

Edison Pena told The Late Show's David Letterman that before the mine collapsed, he'd never run more than ten miles. During the first endless days in the tunnel, he huddled in a corner, couldn't do anything -- he was sure he was going to die.

Then he started running in the pitch dark corridors of the mine, three to six miles a day with a flashlight in hand. "I ran to forget I was trapped." And though it seemed like a fantasy, a financially impossible, impractical dream, he thought about visiting Graceland and New York City.

Yes, he's undoubtedly still exhilarated, making plans for what he'll do when he's back home in Chile. He'll probably take on work, a craft, a job that he dreamed of doing when he was kid.

Yes he will, and I danced Mahler's Fifth, a seventy-minute marathon of a symphony, at Alice Tully Hall, at Lincoln Center.

Monday, November 15, 2010


What is the American dream?

Is it still what it was in the fifties, the sixties? A house in the suburbs on a green acre, gleaming possessions -- appliances, furnishings, cars, bathrooms, swimming pool, gym, recreation area-- and easy days? Good food, clothes, and fun with sports, theater, parties, vacations -- and success -- power, position, ranking, and someone who loves, admires, and shares all that with you?

Does the dream of all that stuff make you feel sort of weary, sad, a bit bedraggled because ... well ... privately, inside you, that dream no longer fits where you are heading?

I just read "How to Restore the American Dream," an article by Fareed Zakaria, the new Editor-at-large of Time Magazine. His essay is packed with figures -- billions, millions, percentages, median incomes, wages, profits, losses -- big numbers, big issues that relate to money-money-money. Zakaria says, "Americans are strikingly fatalistic about their prospects. The can-do country is convinced that it can't."

I say all that money-money stuff is why we don't have the American dream anymore. Movies, TV, the Internet -- everywhere we look -- store windows, signs, ads tell us MONEY IS IT.

Furthermore, I think it's a harmful, wrong vision, a bound-to-fail dream.

I say you need to DO. Dreaming is DOING something. It's an action (hey, it's an Aristotelian concept) -- teaching, cooking sewing, writing, painting, gardening, hunting, cleaning, inventing, engineering -- add to my list whatever you like to do. "Action" usually involves bodily movement (philosophers argue about this), but in-active doings -- studying, learning, listening, thinking are also actions.

Let the wise men discuss and diagnose the world's economic problems and translate them into solutions. If you fog out, blot out, ignore the money problem, you maybe can find in your thoughts a dream, a focus that will inspire you to DO something.

If your dream sounds or seems ridiculous, impractical, impossible, silly, too big or too little, just hold onto it -- let it build into something you can maybe, possibly, sooner or later try to do.

Just the possibility is beyond money, more than the gleaming house ... it's gold in your mind that you own.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

ORGANIC (video)

The Cullums talk about organic food. Is it better for you? Does it taste better?

In their early days as a couple, they couldn't afford the best meat, fruit, or vegetables.

They looked for bargains. Emily learned how to make great-tasting dinner dishes using chuck steak, or chicken thighs -- with nuts, raisins, apples, plus any vegetables that were on sale in the nearest store. And of course, there was rice with every meal.

Times have changed. But even now, John Cullum, who does most of the shopping, tends to buy what costs less.

They decide they will continue to buy what tastes best, and resolve to learn more. But both of them wonder if it's a resolve they can stick to.