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Nance Crawford

Books - Plays - Words & Music


Who I am on the day I post. Always subject to change.

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Acting on Faith

Posted on August 8, 2014 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (5)

Okay. Big Leap.


The Celebration of the life of Richard III and reinterment will happen March 21 – 28, 2015. (Yep, that's a link.)


I’ve found a hotel in Leicester that will allow cancellation as late as 24 hours before the arrival date. Virtually every hotel and inn in the city is already booked – when I made the decision, there were only two rooms available at that hotel for the lowest price.


I locked it in.


I don’t know how this is going to happen, but I’m not going to worry about it, now. I’m about finished with the last essay for KING’S GAMES: A Memoir of Richard III, “Who Did What and When.” Once I’ve got the Table of Contents straightened out, I’ll add a preview page here on the site. I expect to finish formatting for a proof copy before the end of the month.


I decided to set up the book in the basic format used for my Yale Shakespeare collection: the text of the play, followed by essays and appendices. The whole idea is to make the material accessible to folks who aren’t necessarily up on the history. Who knows? It may actually turn out to be a reference and teaching tool.


Somehow, I’ve got to figure out a huge, exciting launch.


My heart is pounding ten miles a minute. (Does that use up calories?)


I’ll worry about travel arrangements closer to the first of the year.


Prayers gratefully appreciated!

I Totally Lost It

Posted on July 20, 2014 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (10)

. . . in church, today.


I quite often cry in church. I guess it’s because it’s a safe place. Tell me a sad story, a happy story, point out the goodness in my fellow human beings, point to the injustices, point to someone who has triumphed above persecutions, to the simple faith of a child – the Christmas pageant, flowering the Cross at Easter – heck, two-year-olds toddling, thumping to their fannies, and, without missing a beat, gaining their hands and knees to crawl across the lawn after that next Easter egg – I’m there. If I could have opened the floodgates as easily as a kid actor, I’d be a multi-millionaire, by now.


Have to admit, sometimes it’s absolute jealousy. I envy pure, simple faith. I’ve often wished I didn’t think, so much. Then, maybe, I could get back to the time when I knew, without a doubt, that God loves me, that He protects me and always will, that growing up hasn’t meant growing away.


Don’t get me wrong; I still believe it – no, I know it. But damn, it’s plain hard to keep it in the foreground, with all the static jamming the air. I know He never allows me more than I can handle. If it’s in front of me, I can handle it – when I start to doubt His knowledge of my capacity, that’s when I get into trouble.


But today I got blindsided. It’s nearly seven hours later and, intermittently, I’m feeling that awful, hideous fist-clamp around my heart – it’s there, and then it’s gone, and then it’s back again – that happens when there’s real loss.


I figure I’d better write about it, right now, because I can’t get back to Richard III until the distraction goes away, and I’ve got to get that book Out There. It’s my way out of the hole. I know it. Has to be.


So, it’s July. The choir is off, in July. People go on vacations. Usually, there’s a serious slump in attendance – not so much at Prince of Peace in Woodland Hills, California. We have Sunday at the Movies. The presence of Christ’s wisdom and the universal lessons for humanity that can be found in secular films.


“Finding Nemo.” Great movie. Tenth on the list of ten all time great animated films. Not even I can do “forgetful” as brilliantly as that little blue fish.


I was enjoying the heck out of the snippets, the Homily between snippets – and then, from nowhere, I was back in the ’60s, and the phone was ringing, and I was being told that, within the hour, my son nine-year-old son was being put on a plane to Dallas.


It’s a longer story than there’s time for, here, but it boils down to the fact that, when Pat Hogan died, we were pretty well left destitute. Patti was seven, Jimbo almost six, Kathie just had turned three, Brian was fifteen months, and Shawna was six weeks.


In the ensuing two-plus-years, I was told that I should give up my kids for adoption, they were still young enough to find good homes. I was told that I did not qualify for Social Security or Veteran’s Administration widow’s benefits because – oops! – Pat’s first wife’s attorney never picked up the final divorce papers. What little there was – and I thank God every day that I could feed all of us on $20 a week – wasn’t enough. All my kids qualified, though, as Pat was acting as their father.


We were lacking $100 a month - the child support payments Jimbo’s father had been ordered to pay when he was in my custody – and there was nothing I could do about it.


(Advice: Never get a divorce in Nashville when your husband lives in Texas and you live in California. They take your nine-month-old baby out of your arms in the courtroom, and you don’t see him until he’s shipped on a plane six months later, for your six-month visitation period. This goes on for two years, until, one day, his Daddy, who owes all kinds of child support, doesn’t show up for his turn because he knows he may go to jail as a deadbeat in Santa Barbara, California. Also, make sure that, after a year of no contact and no child support, when your new husband applies to adopt the now “paternally abandoned” little boy, that the guy doesn’t get sick, and die in six weeks of cancer, in the very week Child Services phones, wanting to do a follow-up interview.)


After six months, when I couldn’t afford to continue paying the rent, mom and dad bought the modest little house we were living in.


There was the day that the Social Worker showed up at the door because someone had reported I was abusing my children. She took one look at my happy, boisterous crowd, said she didn’t see anything wrong, and handed me her card, telling me she was available, if I needed anything.


I knew I was unraveling. Office work didn’t pay – I had to pay a sitter, there was nothing left. The day I had to leave a room, because I knew if I didn’t I would unjustly and viciously smack a kid, I called for help.


When (a different) Social Worker showed up, I said I knew I needed help. Could they please find me a counselor, a psychologist?


The answer was simple. They could help, but only if I put my kids into foster care.


I didn’t know what to do. I knew I needed help, or I couldn’t help my kids. I figured that, if I had a chance to calm down, to get myself together, they’d only have to be away a short time.


What I wasn’t told until after the children had been taken away, and I was forbidden to see them for a month, was that they would confiscate the Social Security and V.A. benefits, for the kids’ support, and place them in five different homes: Burbank, Saugus, Woodland Hills, Pacoima and Van Nuys.


The shrink was at Olive View.


I didn’t have a car. It had been wrecked – not by me – another story.


I got a call from my folks telling me that, now the kids were gone, I had to repaint and fix up the house, they were selling it.


He never sends me more than I can handle. I handled it. I can’t – or don’t want to – remember how.


I fixed the house that they bought for $26,000. (It’s worth half a million, plus, today. Sherman Oaks.)


I got temporary office work. Found a falling-apart teeny little former farmhouse in Van Nuys. Finally hired on in the International Dept. Secretarial Pool at Max Factor. Was making payments, buying back my car, which had been rebuilt.


My ex-husband, who had never paid a penny of support after the first $300, found out Pat was gone went to court in Tennessee to sue for custody of our son. The attorney who last represented me, did again, as a personal favor; he knew I could not afford it. The court found in the ex’s favor. I had thirty days to appeal.


A week later, the phone call, as I was getting ready to go to work.


It was Jimbo’s foster mother. She said they were coming to pick Jimbo up, to put him on a plane to Texas, and she wasn’t supposed to let me know, but she had to let Jimbo say goodbye.


The ex had convinced the Department of Social Services, over the telephone, that he had won the case. My thirty-day Appeal was being mooted by a Social Worker.


I had no car.


My little boy was hysterical.


I was dead calm. I told him I’d get there.


A friend finally got me to Saugus, to be told that he was gone, already on his way to Delta Airlines at LAX. We dashed for LAX.


And arrived at the Delta counter to be told the plane was taking off, as we spoke.


I did not make a scene at the airport.


I went to Legal Aid, sued. When the case was called, a lawyer I didn’t know, who hadn’t read the file, represented me. The county offered me $500 to settle. I told them I couldn’t get my boy back, or appeal, on that little money. They would go no higher.


My seat-of-the-pants lawyer fell on his ass.


The judge ruled against me.


I let out a wail, “Oh! No!”


You would have thought a bomb had gone off. My lawyer tried to comfort me.


I couldn’t stop weeping, cried, “You don’t understand! I’ll never see him again!” I could feel the wave of shock roll through the room.


I didn’t see him, or know where he was, or what was really happening, for five years.


And it got worse. But that’s for another time.


I survived.


We survived.


Yes, he came home. But I wasn’t there for him when he needed me most. And, for him, it poisoned everything that followed.


He hasn’t spoken to me for – what? – I don’t like to think about it – seven years?


Talk about finding Nemo.


Thanks. That helps. Maybe it’s time to take a nap.


I was Kidnapped . . .

Posted on July 2, 2014 at 3:45 AM Comments comments (7)

On Friday, June 20th.


First time in my life I’ve regretted not owning a cell phone smarter than I am, or I could have shared it all as it happened.


We got home at 2:15 a.m. Saturday, and I slept until 10 a.m. the next morning.


Our cats did not starve, although they obviously thought they were in imminent danger of the probability. When I finally stumbled out of the bedroom, I was greeting with a nasty feline admonition. Somebody had neglected to cover up.


There is no such thing as a dumb animal. Six burned matches and a shot of air freshener into the air conditioner intake later, they got their breakfast.


Three days earlier, David told me to plan nothing, whatever, for my birthday. Checking my calendar on Thursday, I asked if I would be able to attend my 10 a.m. to noon poetry group meeting on Friday. He not only said no, he told me that I was to dress layered, as it might get cold.


We had to leave the house at 8 a.m. on Friday. This was suspicious. Since he began recording books, David’s day has started at 1:30 p.m., ending about fourteen hours later. It takes a miracle of nature, or a call for immediate acting work, or a 10 a.m. church service (after which he comes home to nap), to shoehorn him from his mattress a minute earlier.


I am now assured that my birth was a miracle of nature.


We have not been to Disneyland for at least four years. For anyone else, this is hardly a traumatizing truth.


Family. We’re all doomed to being rattled like dice in Parcheesi cups by the effects of growing up in our families.


My family grew up at Disneyland. Johnny and Grammy were there on opening day, sweltering and sticking to the still-drying asphalt with the rest of the giddy guests as the ribbon was cut, and a mob of very lucky kids, my little brother one of the twenty-four original Mouseketeers among them, dashed madly across the bridge to swarm Cinderella’s Castle, for all the world like a seething crowd of fire ants attacking Charlton Heston on the banks of the Amazon. (There’s an Official Commendation for the person who first recognizes that reference.)


Except for a brief year and a half when living in Nashville, and the past four-ish years, I have spent at least one day a year at Disneyland. In the past ten years, as cooking became a real challenge, we even did Thanksgiving dinner there - until everybody else discovered it was a great idea, and it got so crowded we decided that a healthy budget was a good reason to retreat.


So long without Disneyland was warping me.


Disney has been an ongoing factor in my life. Brother Johnny got his first real break, there. Brother Bobby appeared as a guest on the Mouse show, fencing with Johnny. I did my first acting job as an adult, no-guardian-on-the-set, there. Pat Hogan, most of my kids’ father, worked there, gained renown as “Red Stick,” in Davy Crockett. Shawna and Mike’s company, HMS Productions, made the guitar that’s in Mickey’s House in Toontown and continue to work with Disney.


David was chained to a wall in the Pirate’s Cove cave on Tom Sawyer’s island a couple of years ago. He still is. We have blurry photos and videos to prove it, if you don’t recognize the voice. Something to share.


Traffic was challenging, as it always is - except at 2 a.m. (maybe) - on the freeways in Los Angeles. We arrived at about 10:30. As I waited for David to buy the tickets, the sound system began an instrumental rendition of, “Davy Crockett.” I mumbled along, with the first verse. And kept whisper-singing the first verse. It’s the only one I remember.


Sometime around daughter Kathie’s eighth grade sojourn, I reinstated a Disneyland family tradition started by my mother when, one day, she found it too exhausting to walk/run the entire park following her excited progeny. Escorting a gaggle of giggling teens, I decided to exercise that discipline. I rented a wheelchair. Plenty of people to rotate the pushing. It was bliss.


Until we arrived in Adventureland and the Jungle Boat Cruise. Pushing up the foot rests, I stood.


Half a dozen Catholic schoolgirls began bowing and screeching, “She can walk! It’s a miracle!”


They lived. Which was the greater miracle.


I have to admit that what started out as a brilliant convenience – especially after electric carts were brought in – has now become a necessity. The inconveniences of the onrushing calendar have caught up with me.


This is how I now travel the park.


It was a lovely, lovely day. Lunch, (really brunch) first, at the Blue Bayou, where we decided to concentrate on just a few rides, taking our time. Tom Sawyer’s Island, then Pirates, Star Tours – as many times as we could get on it – now that the flight choices are random after take-off, I understand you could spend a day there and never get the same ride twice.


Checking the program, we wandered over to the Royal Theatre and our day opened up. It was between shows and we got to talking with Stan, a costumed cast member-host. When he learned it was my birthday, he searched out and found a birthday badge, felt-tip-penned my name, and a Mickey balloon on it, and I was suddenly a Personage.


Happiest Place on Earth, for sure. For the rest of the day, everyone who spotted the badge wished me a Happy Birthday. It was a constantly surprising experience. Outside Tomorrowland, I met a seven-year-old birthday girl and, when we stopped for a pick-me-up at the Plaza Café, there was a gal in her early twenties with the badge. A waiter pulled out a harmonica and encouraged everyone to sing “Happy Birthday,” to us.


As it worked out, the submarine ride, now “Finding Nemo” was being refurbished, so we’ll have to wait for another time.


The park wasn’t as crowded (Thank You, Lord, most sincerely) as it is on holidays, but there were still lines – Roger Rabbit was really the most annoying. I swear, it would be possible for someone to get a first kiss, married, pregnant, and deliver twins in that dark alley before sighting a glimpse of, much less get onto, the actual ride.


David thought I’d hate him, but he wanted to do “Small World,” to see it without all the Christmas décor. I dragged him through Storybook Land because I haven’t seen it, in daylight, in years. We meant to go back, after dark, but after dark comes late, this time of year, and, at dinner, we decided to stay put, because the porch and patio of the Plaza Inn can be the best place to see the fireworks.


Somewhere in there, we saw the show at the Fantasyland Theatre. . .

Gaston flashes his assets

. . . and visited Mr. Lincoln, and – after another loooong wait, a second Star Tours trek, this time, instead of Yoda telling us we had to get the rebel spy on board to safety, Princess Leia begged for help – which was a good thing, because, the first time, when Yoda pointed out the spy to be protected, that little walking stick popped right out, in 3D, aimed at ME.


We closed the place. As I waited for David to complete the paperwork for returning the motorized cart, the sound system began playing “Davy Crockett.”


I slept all the way home, then slept until noonish.

The Happy Couple


Best day in the Park. Ever.

Quick Blast!

Posted on March 31, 2014 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (2)

Posting this everywhere, because attention must be paid!


I am so proud of my sweet Ginger Paule. Check out "Vintage America with Ginger" her new Facebook page and take a look at the video.

She's going to make it happen, herself! And we can all help. Who do we know at HGTV, The History Channel, USA, etc.? Somebody out there is about to find the base of the rainbow and I'm proud to lead the way!


Here's my favorite picture of us - just pulled it from the hallway wall to share it. Here we are, with Francis Lucaric, in GIGI.

Jeff Bezos, Who's Minding the Store at the Printing Plant?

Posted on January 18, 2014 at 12:05 PM Comments comments (2)

Since November, when there was a serious glitch in the printing process, my adventures with DRAGON SOLSTICE have been beyond annoying. Only the Kindle version has been available since that time - which meant, of course, that Christmas sales of print copies flew out the window into Neverland faster than Peter Pan with Nana on his heels.


How in the world a cover that looks just fine on the CreateSpace proof page can be bollixed so far beyond rational explanation is a wonder that is still being investigated.


A word about preparing the cover illustration for printing. It is a “reproduction” of the stained glass window in the castle chapel (an interpretation of St. Bobb’s legendary moment of triumph) that Sarai remembers, and compares to the young creature perched like a startled squirrel at the opposite end of the log where she is sitting. The original painting has a thin, black border.  


Now, we all know (or will hereafter) that, including overlaying the title on the illustration, I did the whole formatting thing by myself, alone, stumbling through the trial-and-error process with the Chicago Manual of Style at my elbow, three months of the least holy kind of hell, in order to produce the most professional and pleasing book possible. It may have made me a mad woman.


I jumped through each of CreateSpace’s hoops. Warned by the instructions that I must be aware that the cover was subject to trim, I kept the printed matter one-half inch away from the edges and widened the black border to one-quarter inch all around, just to be on the safe side.


Nevertheless, it took several proof copies to finally correct chopped-off Thistle heads at the apex of the arch, and mutilated angel wings at the sides, not to mention the disappearance of the artist signature at the bottom. After an initial print run generated from a tainted master file (I’ve got eleven hand-corrected copies, numbered and signed, which may someday be considered collectables), two years ago DRAGON SOLSTICE went out into the big world.


When it was first released, right away: three unsolicited Five Star reviews on Amazon. Wow.  And, in the first month, some enterprising person offered to sell a copy for $187.00). Another Five Star review, last year. I know screaming success begins to happen after well over one hundred Four & Five star reviews, but I’m happy anyone has paid attention, at all.


I can’t afford a publicist, so it all rests on word-of-mouth and book signings (which don’t make brownie points with Amazon, because direct sales to authors don’t count – only what Amazon sells direct). I haven’t been too concerned, because it’s a holiday-themed story, and can only be marketed late in the year, so dribbles and drabs make sense, right now.


Last Christmas, however, I got shot in the foot – and I don’t think I have myself to blame.

As many times as it took to get it right for the initial run in 2010, it should not have been a problem at all, this time, even if one-quarter of an inch was added to the size of the book - and the cover matter was resized to allow for the change. There was enough time to order copies for the sale.


In preparing for our California Writers Club-San Fernando Valley Branch Holiday Book Fair on December 7th (that should have been a heads-up, right there!), I realized that DRAGON SOLSTICE and DREAMS AND PORTENTS were not the same size. Although I was sure I had specified the same size on the CreateSpace template for both books, DREAMS was one-quarter inch wider than DRAGON. So, I called CreateSpace and was assured it was no problem, all I had to do was submit the correct size for the cover, and I would receive a proof copy within a few days.


Dream on. I had managed to forget about the first time around. This time, upon arrival on November 22nd (another day of infamy), the cover proved to have no black border at the spine edge, just a thin black line. It was also printed crookedly, allowing a portion of the blue on the back cover to bleed, at an angle, onto the front cover at the top:


I called. The second proof (Thanksgiving weekend having gone by, finally arrived on December 5th, but for which I did not have to pay, thank you) had border only at the spine - not to mention effective loss of the point at the top of the arch (trimmed Thistles), and deep, glaring color saturation:


End of Christmas orders. Anytime a manuscript is being updated, it is pulled from the Amazon catalogue – even though, in this case, I was assured that would not happen.  


I finally connected with a Customer Service Representative who really cares and who has been doing his best to help. He hasn’t been able, yet, to figure out what’s going on, either. This is the copy that arrived on December 20, 2013:

At least we're up to three borders. I don't care if they're not equidistant from the edge -I just want four of them back.


It’s beyond frustration, it’s just sad. From audience at workshops, I know I wrote a good musical - - but, apparently, no one wants to take a chance on a show that can only run six weeks a year – even if those six weeks keep coming back until the end of eternity - Okay. (I still believe that someday, somewhere, someone will come forward to help finance a concept CD, and that will be the beginning. Ashley Noel has everything needed to make him an entire generation’s “Rudolph.” What child doesn’t want to know how Santa got his pocket alarm?)


So I put it aside – until the all the other characters in the story kept scrambling to get out of my noggin and onto paper, as a book: DRAGON SOLSTI CE.


And, suddenly, there was CreateSpace, and I could do it myself.


Yeah, right.


Mr. Bezos, update the equipment and open a second plant on the West Coast, where there’s more than one person who understands the mandate to help dreams come true.




Posted on January 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (4)

I'm still boggled.

Today at 10 a.m. attended the celebration of the life of Elizabeth Hart, a fellow parishioner at Prince of Peace, whom I greatly admired for her truly Christian spirit and ministries. A stunning, meaningful event which is still tearing at my center. It's all been so frantic and busy for the last week that the sense of loss didn't really hit until now  - mingled in, I realized as we were driving away, with the loss of my half-sister, Shelley Scott Hayner, right in the middle of the year, when all was crashing down around the ears, and there was no way to get to New Mexico for the service. (We have a very complicated family history, folks.)

Anyway, couldn't stay long, afterward, because it's the first Saturday of the month and I had to dash home to pick up refreshments left in my care, and change into bright red earrings (black really was the order of the morning – I have never seen so much black at an Episcopal funeral).

Then, off to (the) Motion Picture (Country House in Calabasas) to preside over the California Writers Club-San Fernando Valley Branch membership meeting.

And here's the kicker: our speaker was author/editor Victoria Zackheim, who had driven down from San Francisco with her friend, Anne. I know I turned into an incoherent mush. Anne's last name is Perry. One of the two literary goddesses whose books cram my shelves. What a lovely, gracious person.

Victoria was very kind, before the meeting, sharing the name of her agent and telling me to mention her, if I followed through, and she is a marvelous speaker whom I will never forget, regardless -

But Anne Perry! I've actually been on the verge of getting up the nerve to write her on the subject of finding an agent for my Victorian adventure novel - and there she was! We were able to visit, after the meeting, and she shared some wonderful, thoughtful advice. I gave her my Dragon Solstice business card and hope she finds time to take a peek here – but she just signed a contract for three new books this year, and she has to get started on the first one, which is due in March! (Oy.)

Boggled. Just plain boggled. And so very grateful. God is good.


I'm Back - with DRAGON SOLSTICE!

Posted on November 17, 2013 at 3:55 AM Comments comments (1)

If you're a member, you're here because you got the announcement about the serialization of DRAGON SOLSTICE. You'll find it at "Preview of DRAGON SOLSTICE, in the header, above.

If you're here because your web browser hiccuped, Welcome!

If I handed you a card and asked you to check all this out, you are a superlatively intense intellect. I know this because I know how many cards I've handed out and I get to see the stats. You are amazing. Thank you.

If you have just become a registered member of this site, be warned that I cannot promise you my firstborn. Somewhere along the line, a while ago, she became her own person - an independent one, at that. She is now taller than I and would undoubtedly throttle us both. After she stopped laughing. This is a frightening prospect because she has my laugh. All three of my daughters have my laugh. We have been known to clear crowded theaters. On the other hand, if you're producing a comedy, we are in high demand. We work for comps.

Yes, I'm giddy. With good reason. It appears that things are finally beginning turn around. There have been a lot of prayerful thanks around here in the last couple of days.

It looks as if I'm going to be able to get back to actual writing.

While I return to LOVE ON THE ROCKS, I'm plan on getting my hands on the transcripts of that legal case I've been so coyly referring to, so research and organizing can begin and the story can get properly told.

I've also been inspired by the Georgia Holt album and have decided to create a little album of my own - just the demos of me singing my own songs, but, what the heck, why not? I've got some good stuff in the file and it's time to share. "You Can't Go Home Again" was my first attempt at writing a country song. Don't know if I got any better at it, but I don't think I got any worse.

Truth to tell, time to contribute to the retirement fund. David shouldn't be having all the fun.

P.S. : How Not to Spend the Longest Day of the Year

Posted on August 7, 2013 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (5)

It’s been crazy. Still in emergency mode. Truly scary stuff. Everybody who hears about it says, “But this is America!” Yup. Geographically. But this is the West. The Wild West, in at least one place to our northeast. Gearing up to let you know. Still talking to lawyers.


Oh, just didn’t want to leave you hanging on the almost-denouement of the Adventure in Trauma Room 1.


Just got two Explanations of Benefits from my insurer, Anthem Blue Cross. I think I am taking back every single unkind thought that has flitted through my head while writing my monthly supplemental insurance check.


The bill submitted by Northridge Hospital totals $52,104.00.


Anthem has told them to go back to the drawing board and submit properly, under Medicare Guidelines. Anthem has told me I am not responsible for any part of the bill.


I should hope not - not even the three $.01 charges for Occupational Therapy (is that what they call going down the hall to the restroom?) or the $957.00 for drugs I don’t recall taking (maybe one of them knocked out the memory).


On the other hand, the Explanation of Benefits for the three instances of Cardiovascular Service totaling $610.00 were paid in full: $162.35. Anthem tells me I have saved $447.65 and owe nothing more.


 I’m still trying to recall three instances of Cardiovascular Service above the (billed separately) two charges for Nuclear Medicine (ten grand plus) and the MRI.


Ah, the glories of contemporary witch-doctory.


No charge for investigating a pinched nerve.




How Not to Spend the Longest Day of the Year

Posted on July 26, 2013 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (6)

The day after my birthday. You cannot imagine the joy of finding myself in Trauma Room 1 at Northridge Hospital, completely alone (having sent my long-suffering honey away, saying, "I'll call when I know what's going on," because he was on a book recording deadline).

All because I had called to make an appointment with my doctor, that afternoon. I was off my feed, feeling nauseous, generally punk, and as, for the past few days, feeling a compelling need for a nap at 11:30 in the morning.

It was a Friday, they don’t have an emergency room at the Motion Picture Hospital in Calabasas (where my doctor is) and, the last time I felt a need to call for a quick appointment on a Friday (February, 2011), it had turned out to be Sepsis and we were told later that, if I’d waited one more day they couldn’t have done a thing about it - so I wouldn’t be here, kvetching at you, right now.

Anyway, I was connected to the nurse, so I repeated the symptoms, adding, “and, while I was talking to my daughter, (Shawna, as it happened) earlier this morning, my left arm went tingly and numb.”

“Get to an emergency room. Now!” was the command, in a tone that did not need to elaborate. OMG, left arm. Heart. OMG! was undoubtedly trampling, like a herd of hysterical bison, through the poor woman’s head.

I, on the other hand, was mildly startled, said, “Okay,” hung up, and told David, figuring that the closest emergency room was less than a mile away.

Oh, so wrong. My new Anthem Blue Cross directory (about the size of the Greater Los Angeles phone book) told us that I was only allowed to go to emergency at Northridge, four miles away.

Side note to those not in the L.A. - San Diego megalopolis: even when the freeways are not part of the travel plan, it takes about 2 minutes to go a mile in sparse traffic, not including traffic lights that last no longer than 2 minutes, if there isn’t a separate, left turn arrow.

Took nearly twenty minutes. I knew it wasn’t my heart. I would have been dead, by then.

Another fifteen minutes to fill out paperwork (yawning all the while), and I was finally put in a wheelchair (with one broken, useless foot rest), and pushed through endless, busy halls (good thing, the walk would have killed me) to Trauma Room 1, a double-garage-size room with shelves and cabinets that quickly proved to be the repositories of every single bit of emergency supply for every single emergency need, and continually as busy as Union Station, Los Angeles, during WWII.

I was hospital-gowned (my nicely pressed clothes stuffed into a see-through plastic bag), connected with tubing and wires to various computer-enhanced machines, covered by a blanket thin enough to qualify as one of Salome’s veils, and left to lie on a gurney with my feet toward the door, my purse in the well of the slightly upraised head of the bed.

The drape covering the doorway was pulled back and I could see into the hallway. I was at the T-end of a crossroad. People were talking into cell phones. Patients on gurneys lined the walls while I was in a private room with all of the privacy of Louis XIV’s dressing room at Versailles.

People were talking on cell phones, in the hall. My poor, loving worried husband was hovering. I felt ridiculous. But, people were talking on cell phones.

I told David to go on home, it was okay. I’d be fine. I would call him when it was time to pick me up. I wouldn’t take, “No,” for an answer. Finally, after receiving assurances from my (male) nurse (whose name I have, mercifully, forgotten, so he will be “Dante,” here), David left.

Dante. Unforgettable, except for his name. He left, too.

It was a busy hospital.

I had brought a 20-ounce bottle of water with me. When it was gone, I realized I was receiving a strong call from Nature - and my throat was parched.

Unfortunately, Nature could not make herself heard by any of the people who were constantly in and out of the room for the next two hours. Those people did not include Dante.

I call him “Dante,” because he presided over the last (and never described, for the sheer horror no one would ever believe) circle of Hell: the place where one waits for hours watching a constant stream of passersby, all of whom are deaf to one’s pleas for the john, more water, a phone that works (surprise! My cell had all its bars but I could not call out from Trauma 1 and nobody was going to move me into the hall, so I could), sustenance to prevent a low blood sugar attack (in anticipation - so my finger was expertly pricked, my blood tested: “Your blood sugar is fine!” - well, yes, Dante, but wait twenty minutes and you’ll be calling for a straight jacket as you peel shaky me off the floor), or any acknowledgement of one’s basic humanity, until one is approached by yet another stranger, to be whisked away for another, endless test. Without water.

Finally, Dante popped in and I convinced him of my need to use the facility. I was supplied with a second hospital gown, used as a robe to cover the natural air conditioning feature of the first gown, disconnected, and walked . . . way . . . down .  . . the . . . hall . . . to the restroom, then back (a distance that did not seem as far) to my gurney-bed in Trauma 1.

Sometime later, Dr. “Blondie Whoever,” who looked as if she had just escaped Grey’s Anatomy - which I never watch, but E.R. is long gone - popped in to tell me that everything looked just fine. They were going to do more tests. When I told her I had not been able to get anyone to give me water, she chirped pleasantly, “No wonder your blood is so dehydrated!”

Equally chirpily, I was also told I would not be moved to Motion Picture.

By four-thirty p.m., I was containing my chagrin with great presence of mind. The neurosurgeon arrived. She was “Dr. Lee,” (spelling deliberately misleading) a most definitely Pacific Rim person of great kindness. Why my heart needed a neurosurgeon was never explained to me but, between Dr. “Lee,” Dr. Whoever, and the irrepressible Dante (“people ask me why I didn’t want to be a doctor - no return on the investment, anymore,”;), I began to understand that I was going to be staying overnight, that there were many other tests to be taken, that I was trapped.

This was not good news. Earlier that month, I had been elected President of our local, San Fernando Valley, chapter of the California Writer’s Club. My first, informal meeting with the new board was scheduled at my house at 1 p.m., the next day.

Dr. “Lee” assured me that I would probably not make the meeting.

After she left, something in my face - it certainly couldn’t have been in my voice because, except for the watery desperation that had gotten him to escort me down the hall, earlier, Dante had not seemed to hear much from me - Dante grabbed a blue telephone (?blue?) with two (?two?) receivers, and showed me how to dial, “9” for an outside line.

I called David and let him off the hook (pun intended, sorry), and asked him to get in touch with a CWC Board member, to postpone the meeting tomorrow to 3 p.m.

I was not admitted to the hospital. I was taken around the corner to a private room, in the area where they keep patients for observation. David arrived in time to share the delight of watching the less-than-100 pound nurse shoving the balky bed around the 9 x 10 foot room, so that it would be possible for me to actually look at the television screen on the wall. Having survived the excitement, he kissed me goodnight and went home, to more recording and editing.

I was given lunch at 4 p.m. and taken for a test which I cannot remember well enough to describe, but which returned me to my new room at 6 p.m., where dinner was waiting.

Oh, I wish I’d written this sooner - or taken notes - because the dinner served to this prospective “heart patient,” was even more of a symphony of carbohydrates than lunch (2 hours earlier) had been - although it was outdone, the next morning, by breakfast.

At last, a call button.  A TV.  I actually slept.

Never mind about breakfast - but I would advise, forever and always, to run as quickly as possible from egg substitute, scrambled. The only saving grace was a choice of tea bags. I went for Earl Grey.

No toothbrush, no bathing kit. What luxury. My mood was not lightened by the news that I was going to have a nuclear stress test - necessary because I cannot use a treadmill (arthritis in the feet) - and it would not be done until at least noon.

I called David and asked him to cancel the Board meeting, that I’d reschedule as soon as  escape had been accomplished.

More machines. Mercifully, I have developed an ability to zone out and let it happen - except for MRIs, in preparation for which I will willingly ingest almost any effective drug.

Long story not any shorter, the last person to visit me (once they had established I was breathing on my own and would probably continue to do so for a while longer) was the Physical Therapist!

This enthusiastic and charming young man arrived to give me basic instruction on how to stretch. I did not show off my prowess at touching my toes (which, I am led to believe, is astonishing, at my age), but assured him I try to do a modified yoga routine every morning, repeating, as I had to every medical practitioner I had seen in the past 24 hours, that I have arthritic feet, thoroughly trashed L4 & L5, and dissolving rapidly C1 & C2. (My chiropractor, Mark Somberg, is my first line of defense, every other week of my life.)

When I told Physical Therapist they had been able to find nothing wrong with my heart, in spite of the numb arm, he said, “It’s probably a pinched nerve.”


David picked me up. I was fine. The Board got together. This is L.A. It was a dramatic meeting.

On June 28, I got a call from my middle daughter that changed everything.

But that’s going to have to wait - and it’s probably going to be a locked blog, open to registered members only, for a while.

I love America. But some of its citizens deserve a hard smack on the side (or the back) of the head. Gotta love NCIS.



Catching up, Catching on!

Posted on June 6, 2013 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (3)


Staged Reading April 13, 2013

Barry Saltzman    -    David Fruechting    -    Earnestine Phillips

No news from me has turned out to be very good news, indeed:

Dad is his former self, again, getting stronger and better every day - if you didn't know him, you wouldn't notice he had slowed down.

I have continued to prepare for the staged reading of KING'S GAMES: A Memoir of Richard III on June 15th. Part of the challenge is trying to get a complete cast - all in the same place at the same time. Even with minimal rehearsals (to assure that everyone onstage knows where they are supposed to be, so they don't crash into each other), when you have cast fine actors in just the right roles, the probabilities of losing them include the unanticipated arrival of visiting family/friends, who simply must go to Disneyland now (meaning: pick-your-absolutely-necessary-rehearsal day(s) or - gasp! - the Saturday of the performance; sprained limbs, broken tree limbs ("It's on my car!"); dental emergencies; or (the Good Lord be Praised and one cannot but be green with envy while proud as punch) an actual, residual-generating, paying Job! 

Such is the life of a theater professional in Los Angeles. Nothing trumps money and screen time, with credit, except lots more money and a juicy leading role opposite Meryl, Brad or pick-your-Tom. (Participating in free theater isn't a tax write-off until you have earned enough to be obliged to pay taxes.)

Thus far, of thirteen actors (no cracks about that being the number present at the Last Supper - I'm counting Carol Barker, who's reading Stage Directions, as one of the actors, since she's an actor and that makes fourteen, thank-you-very-much), we've called in five replacements and are still looking for a suitable first casting of one of the roles. (I won't say which one because I have someone specific in mind and am applying charm and constant prayer in hopes of achieving the coup.)

So, those of you who are reluctant to hie out of the house and to Woodland Hills, California, next Saturday, June 15, 2013, may well regret your inertia. Not only will you miss the solution to a mystery (what-the-heck, it's only 530 years since the thing supposedly happened), you will miss the enchanted moment of 2 p.m., PDT, when we all find out whether a complete cast has been assembled or if the harried writer/director will be forced into pretending to be whoever is missing at the moment - after greeting the crowd and making generous, humorous and wildly embarrassing excuses, beforehand.

Oh, and while I've got your attention, last Saturday, I was elected President of the California Writers Club - San Fernando Valley Branch, beginning July 1st. I love those folks. If you own copies of "Dragon Solstice," and/or "Dreams & Portents," blame them. Without SCW-SFV, I wouldn't have had a clue in the world as to how to get into print, in this day and age.

Hate to say goodnight, but I've got to go chase down another actor.