Diary of a Dancer
10 PM Sun 24 Apr 77 Very good day working "critic" at Pacifica radio. Worrying if I get 2nd job
novel will suffer. Maybe Mr. Pierce will take care of that. Finished
Shelley – why is Triumph of Life always the Triumph of Death?
Nothing left to read – Natural Hist of Vampire; ho hum, Beyond
Belief is a yawn, Spoor of Spooks holds some interest but grating
tone. Finished scene between Nilssa and Labarraz – not really happy
with it. Total collapse of self-confidence a real problem for an artist.
Tues 26 Apr 77 Keith Dalrymple came in to place a call and unfortunately
asked me how I was. Threw myself sobbing into his arms. Scary bad
R. called last night to say, “I’ll take care of you.” Then said
I should move to Maine and get an apt I can “afford”!!! Then said he’d
been comparing everyone in Boston with me – no one stacked up.
Whiplash. “Taking care… isn’t that what hit men say? Butchers?
Garbage men? He is schizo. The unspoken message is I have to be
what he expects – clearly impossible. So why am I stuck? Why can’t
I just move on?
Sexually he’s spoiled me, alas. Must finish this goddam novel
but I need to run around town in a G-string auditioning. Wish there
was anyone I trust to show novel to but everyone’s taste is so weird.
They don’t see what I’m trying to do and they don’t see any point in
getting there. Must learn to please myself but I’m bone tired, dammit.
Making a list of Sources of joy:
The Beauty of Everything
11:45 AM Sun 1 May 77 Keith softened me up by calling to ask if I’d been in
his office. He smelled my perfume. (I hadn’t.) Agreed to go out with him
Sat night. Just awful. Awful. Keep wishing he was literally ANYONE
else. Dating someone who doesn’t interest you sexually is like trying
to diet by ordering food you dislike. (I actually tried this. Ordered tripe.)
Howlably stupid. Yet no one to howl to.
R. says he’d “hate” to think I “needed” him and didn’t
call. Am I the stupid one here? I think so. Sucker for punishment. Upstairs,
Downstairs cheers me up a little. Considering renting little house in the
wilds of Virginia. Or garden apt. utilities included. Dogs would like it –
close to clubs. Read Eliz Savage’s Good Confession – very minor.
Cleaning. Laundry, dishes, garbage.
Thinking about Sylvia Plath and the problem of panic
attacks. It’s all about learning to steer into the skid.
Wed May 4 - 77 Made illegal copies of novel at work, drove to Plush
Palace in Virginia to audition. (10 Mins down Rt 1 from Woodrow
Wilson bridge. 1 HR commute). VA pays better, mandates pasties
& stockings, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (I’m not kidding)
makes sure you don’t sit with or talk to clientele. Amen! I was hired
immediately $90 day plus tips. So pleased. Got a car appt Fri 13th
so El Diablo won’t die on Beltway. Working Thurs, Fr. Sat and there’s
no holdback, they pay you immediately. Buy G-strings & pasties
Avril says R “betrayed” me. But do you “betray” someone
by having a weak character? He can’t help it. A says he’s behaved
so badly there’s no hope for him. I think he can’t make up his mind –
he wants me only if I don’t want him. Plus if he finds out I’m dancing
again he’ll want to “convert” me. (He’ll think I’m doing it just to torture
him. I don’t plan to tell.) Gave A a copy of my novel to read – feeling
insane – got to get reaction from SOMEBODY. Broadcast asks me to
stay “on call” so Mr. Pierce has forgiven me or is desperate.
Plush Palace – 9 PM Fri 6 May 77 Very nice dressing room. Girl I’m dancing with (Darla) is just
awful. Find the comparison very cheering. A gobbled my novel up, says
it’s “deep” but “obsessive”; made me feel on right track. How much can
I torture my audience? I‘ve GOT to stop blubbering and start fantasizing.
Who CARES about the pathos of my existence? Make something up.
Sat. 7 May 77 House is mine! Everyone moved out. (A’s & Mason’s new
place just what they wanted – skyscraper urban nightmare.) Listening
to opera, reading NY Times, feeling like a Big Success. Dog across
my chest in blissful rapture. ($100 in tips last night!!!) R called to say
I “always have a place with him” and He “has never taken my heart
ring off”. Is he nuts or am I?
Realize for the first time he says things he KNOWS aren’t
true just to hear himself say them!! Just like the Victorians –
mouthing something is halfway there! Because you’re making an
effort! You could not imagine anyone more opposite from me. Hopeless,
hopeless, hopeless, as the rock musicians say.
Reading Bottle Factory Outing – so wonderful. (But liked
The Secret Glass better.) Trying to numb weird longings to write ghost
stories and eat chicken potpie (regression). Wrote first draft of a short
story about a grandmother telling her shocked granddaughter about
“the time I almost committed suicide”. Very matter of fact. Feel I’m
recovering from “mono-soul-iosis” – not just R but my first marriage,
Devon and everyone between. Shoulders asks to borrow lawnmower –
asked me if I want to watch him use it. (He knows he’s pretty.) I do.
7:15 PM 8 May 1977 Feeling much better, like I’ve passed a turning point. Wasn’t
sure how much I could trust myself in the past, but if I’ve come through
this, my core must be solid, instead of the jelly mass I fear. Sitting in my
far-from-clean study beneath my poster of Blake’s God & the Angels
enjoying an after dinner cup of coffee. Sanity returns. A. is coming tonight
to get her flicati rugs – that will make the downstairs look empty. Trying
to finish Household’s Courtesy of Death, so I can take all these silly books
to the library, dump them, and get a lifetime supply of Peter de Vries. The
only proven painkiller is laughter. My damn novel’s made a fool out of me.
Time to admit it.
3:15 PM 9 May 77 Called into Broadcast to sub for Loretta. Working on Devlyn
galleys. The main scary thing about this place is that no one works
here willingly. “Morale” is a poisonous miasma. Kind of like the
Mom & Dad raise hell over A’s living with Mason. I thought
they were so worked up about “commitment”! Sharing an apt is a
commitment, isn’t it? Not according to them. Glad poor A is taking
the storm for once and not me. Couldn’t cope with them on top of
everything else. R. and I are trying to evolve into a “friendship”. I know
it sounds stupid but there has to be some third place between
attraction and avoidance because each of those is obsession.
When I ran this idea past R he said I was his “best friend”. This is
why he is so impossible to deal with. Best friend? He wouldn’t
treat a pet the way he’s treated me (the SPCA would come and get him.)
Speaking of Ryder, he just called. Finished my book,
found the Black Mass a little short otherwise liked it. Didn’t say a
word about “who’s Hank based on.” Thank God. He did ask who
the baby’s father is – I said even Nilssa doesn’t know. According
to R. I have “no problems”. (He doesn’t know about the dancing. I
f he was REALLY my best friend I could tell him.) He says we have
the whole rest of our lives to talk. He’s uncannily good at saying
what I want to hear (unfortunately). Seeing him tonight. Take the bus
home, buy wine, wash & set my hair. If only we could get to the stage
where we no longer fear each other.
4:50 PM Tues 10 May 77 Well we’re not out of the woods yet but perhaps have
found a path. Last night was like losing my virginity all over again
– we were both so shy. Slept wrapped up and embracing. Many
compliments on my body (no tell-tale glitter in the bed.) He said he
was so upset by me breaking up with him at McDonald’s he can’t
go to any McD’s anymore. Pledges of love somewhat ruined by
an argument during breakfast about whether a novel can be “good”
if no one will buy it. Uh oh. I tried keeping it philosophical, not
giving historical examples he wouldn’t recognize (which would be
“one-upping”.) Finally stopped when he got a call from a “goofy
chick.” Should I be worried, I ask, and he says no. But I can’t avoid
the sinking feeling that I don’t dare hitch my wagon to anyone
so dependent on mass psychology – even as a friend – without
losing my way.
8:20 PM Plush Palace Getting ready for my 2nd set. Thinking hard I decide
I need 8 months in Maine. I should quit Broadcast Agency right
away (I think they need two weeks, poor bastards. No one wants
to work there. When you have to quit a job that allows you to read
you know its bad. This job lets me read and it’s a lot more interesting.)
Stay there the summer at the very least. Just writing. The problem
is, if I’ve got Mom and Dad working on my one side and R working
the other, I’m like a chew toy.
Horrible realization that if I told R I was dancing he would
demand I quit and I might do it. So when I realize the person I need
to be afraid of is me, it’s a Mary Shelley-like horrific moment. Trying
to read Household’s Three Sentinels but all I can think of is those
awful Juan Carlos coffee commercials; “harvesting de beans wid de
donkeys”. My own life way more interesting.
10 PM – It’s my diary that’s my best friend – tell you
anything. Household’s women are unspeakable. Just got to the
place where he describes being “turned on” by the hair on a woman’s
upper lip. Doesn’t do a thing for me. Hungry, but maybe when I get
home I’ll have a yogurt. Trying to save $1000. And stay away from
the 12¢ donuts.
12:55 PM In an hour I’ll be on the road and not a moment
too soon. Fall into the arms of empty house & importunate dogs.
Just ate a whole plate of cold French fries (not good). Boredom’s
my worst enemy. Food at least feels like excitement. Such pathos.
Gentleman Jim just gave me Thurs night, which is welcome.
Broadcast Agency – Wed – 11 May 77 5:35 PM R. says his latest philosophy is “To Love is to Be
Happy With.” He’s all worked up about snowshoeing and horseback
riding as the cure-alls for anything that ails us; says he’s budgeting
money to spend on me every week. I do not find this appealing.
He’s a warm puppy, all right, but I’ve already got two of those. In
spite of that I fall into a reverie where we buy an old house outside of
Annapolis, slowly fill it up with precious junk and love each other to
death. Need to go home, eat rice & vegetables, and give dogs a
good long walk. Reading Martha in Paris but thinking about Alysse
7:50 PM Sun 15 May 77 Justifiably proud – paid ALL my bills and sent off my
galleys. Nothing like money! (Stupid car needs a new clutch.
It’s always something.) Able to refuse “help” from Mom and Dad
who are dithering about whether I need to be institutionalized.
Told them I was working at a “restaurant” (Let them
assume waitressing. They know I can’t cook. PP does serve food;
State of Virginia makes people who serve alcohol serve something
to sop it up with. Good old Virginia. ) Sent M & D a DEVLYN cover.
$57 left in my acct.; $100 in my purse. (Open a savings acct tomorrow).
Ordered a beautiful Vietnamese print ($80) for Genevieve’s
wedding gift (last time she got married I sent candy. Well, I wasn’t
invited!) Horseback riding did make me horny however – Ryder & I
made love like a pair of wild animals. He may be compact, but he’s
beautiful. Cleaned the entire house. Now darkness falls – means it’s
time to walk the dogs. How I love peering into people’s windows.
When I get back, strong tea with milk and the “splendeurs et misères”
of Monica Dickens. Or will I succumb to that modern master of
the Grimm fairytale, Agatha Christie? No poetry, but plenty of trolls.