Diary of a Dancer
Shadowe Island 23 June 77 11 PM
Walked around corner of house to deck – there’s
Devon sitting with his Mom and my Mom and Dad. Waiting
for me. He is still dreamily beautiful; cut glass profile,
muscles shining through clothes; a star. The understanding
between us electric as always – hope I did not gape too
obviously. I felt a “reaching-out” from this shy man –
seemingly frightened by his own beauty bubbling up
from the deep wells of his most secret personality.
Obliterating poor hopeless Ryder, which is just what
I need. I must have babbled something as they gave
me a huge Tanqueray gin and tonic. Mom has that
wrinkle between her eyes whenever she looks at me l
ike there is no book I can publish, job I can take, no man
I can marry to iron out that wrinkle.
We hear them talking about us as if we weren’t there:
“1972 was such an important year for them, that Winter
Carnival;” “Why don’t they get together if they love each
other?” “Kids these days think marriage just a piece of
paper.” Just a piece of paper? You won’t get a rise out
of me over that. I pass my life in a blizzard of papers,
which may (or not) survive me. May (or not) have any
His Mom offers me studio apt in their ski chalet –
$125 month utilities included. Staking an early claim to
any progeny I may produce. I say, No thank you, I need
a city. Still, it gives one furiously to think.
When Devon left he lifted up my chin to kiss
me – tight familiar “everyone’s watching” mouth and
prickly blond moustache. He says he’s going to England
for a week. Invited me to Boston after. I imagine us
unpeeling at the station, two nude souls confronting one
another. Rank terror. The body reacts first, hands trembling
violently. All I could do to keep from just savaging him in
front of everybody. I could hardly hold my drink.
I am an easy catch, too. He quoted from my poem
“the one you wrote on the bus” when I visited him at Amherst –
I had completely forgotten about that one. Quote to me from
my own work and I become your slave. Poor Ryder! He never
thought of that! He will “feel” the moment I lose interest in
him; he will lift his head – wherever he is and whatever he’s
doing – and come after me. Just when I don’t want him any more.
(The quote: “memories like stones I’m free to choose and
in life’s rivers, eventually lose”)
Barnacle – Sat June 25 – 77
I can tell it’s early by the light but can’t find out what time
it is without waking someone. Health complete. Walked the dogs
all over Heath Island, ran into Paul Morris who just bought the Burnside
Inn. He invited me back for coffee and brandy, to show me the
changes he has made. He sneered when he asked me if I thought
“exotic dancing” was “art”. I said Sure, why not.? It can be. He read
Boston Globe “exposé” on “strippers who are just little girls. They were
all molested by their fathers.” I told him they get better tips by calling
Paul has a mysterious live-in girlfriend who refers to herself as
The Sinister Chambermaid. Helping him renovate the place, traveling
with him from Boston where he is a university professor. Since they
are not married I wonder about their “financial deal”. Let me guess,
she invests labor, you own title and invest cash? But now I have a
good excuse to stay at the Inn and I am considering it. They have
electricity for my typewriter and the Barnacle doesn’t.
New York City, 96th off the Park Sat June 25 77 ll PM Suffered through my sister’s wedding – a day of hideous
rain forcing us out from the rooftop garden to huddle in the restaurant.
I wore a gray silk backless tuxedo pantsuit – halter-top and bare midriff
– Mom did NOT approve. (Looked ravishing if I do say so myself.)
Someone asked Dad – about me – “How many of you are redheads?
And Dad answered, “Hardly any of us.” Bride tells me she chose Brett
because he would make a good father. Says she’s coming back
pregnant from this honeymoon if it kills them both (they take temp,
every morn, etc.) Mom all dewy eyed. I feel like replaying a few
“deleted” scenes from Genevieve’s past of which Mom is blissfully
unaware but loyally refrain, thus retaining my title as Official Bad
Daughter. Hey, it’s a pivotal job.
NYC 10:45 PM Sun26 June 77 Last night Avril came into my hotel room to stop my wailing
and we talked till 2:30 AM. We both agree “fireplug sex” – you stand
there while I spray you – is out of the question. She says women
who expect nurturing from men are always disappointed because
men lack the nurturing gene. Hmm. This is not true of Ryder OR
Devon (it was true of Bruce.) If we’re going to talk about “nurturing”
we have to face the fact that plenty of mothers seem to lack the
gene too – they don’t care what you want or who you are they are
just trying to smack you into “shape”. That’s the kind Ryder is.
Devon? Remains to be seen but the way he talked about my novel –
seeing me inside it – gives me hope.
Went to see 3 Women tonight with Best Man (Brett’s
brother) on the Doobie Bros principle of “why you in such a hurry to
be lonely one more night?” But he is still in college. Immature frat
boy. Any relationship speculative at best. There’s Genevieve’s bike
to ride when the physical becomes overwhelming on my 3 wk housesit
(while they are on their honeymoon & Devon is in Eng) will pass fast.
Hearing I was “house-sitting” in NYC parents’ friend at wedding offers
me another outside Boston – perfect for seeing Devon whose theological
college is nearby. That’s a definite yes.
I REALLY miss dancing. Yet creativity heals all. Conquers
my fear of ultimate impotence. The act of creation – even if others don’t
agree – has a purifying effect. After all, we can’t live in other people’s heads
(it’s dangerous to try).
Tues. 28 Jun 77 Walk Genevieve’s miniature dogs, tend fish & plants, take bike
ride, wash hair, see Swedish flick Man on a Roof (like a Lincoln Mercury
ad). Bought huge-brimmed red sun hat with single rose in Greenwich Village.
Walked HUNDREDS of blocks to NY Pub Lib they won’t let me take anything
out. Planning next novel, A Demon Roused. Need to give Jewell some past
crime. Infanticide? But under sympathetic circumstances. Or maybe murder
of Stephen Ward-like pimp. Bad news at publisher: Harcourt acquires
Pyramid and my editor dumped (lunch with her Thurs). Could be good
news for me (lunch with new editor tomorrow). Trying not to feel
dragged in to dumped editor’ hysteria.
Out to dinner at Fiorello’s last night with Brett’s brother,
then Altman’s Images (which he knew I wanted to see.) He is trying
to figure “a way in”. There is no way in. Images exquisite. Much
better than 3 Women. Transitions so elegant they hardly existed.
Wish I could do that. Didn’t want to ruin it by talking about it. Very
reminiscent of La Prisonniere. My previous all-time favorite. Sent R.
my Pevensey Old Farms address so he won’t harass M & D. That’s
what I tell myself, anyway.
Listening to Vivaldi and reading Haskell’s From Reverence
to Rape –anything I can find around here. Genevieve likes novels and
I HATE other novelists writing (usually). Lauren changed our Monk’s
Inn lunch to dinner.
Chuck Kornowitz offered to read Secaire – I invited him to
Wed 29 June 77 Disappointing meeting with “editor”. I guess dinner went
as well as it could on the surface – but Lauren doesn’t like me and
eager to wash her hands of me. Damned if I know why. Trying not to
take it personally. She is furious at being in “paperback division”
(subtext: “throwaways” ) and says my new novel being read by
someone else – guy promoted over her who used to edit Westerns.
Think she enjoyed my panic at this news.
Tried entertaining her with usually reliable Tales of childhood
but she was not amused. Probably considered it all bragging. She
was very what I expected, mousy bun, tortoise shell earrings, presumably
raging hormones. Dinner with me was something she had to “go through”.
Work, not fun. Said she has to read two novels a day and prefers
memoirs! That’s what she reads for pleasure. I ate snails with lots
of garlic and I think she was a bit disgusted. I conjectured you could
take out an eyeball with those special snail tongs. Since she was
not turned on by the idea I could see she is not the editor for me.
Snails were delicious, however. Anyone who loves mushrooms
would adore snails.
Lunch with ex-editor Ruby a scary experience. She
made me meet her at a laundromat where her clothes were in the
drier! Went to a Mexican restaurant around the corner, I ordered
Sangria. She wore old jeans, ill-fitting shirt, had a price list in hand.
Trying to get me to hire her as freelance editor! She showed me
her poetry collection (awful: title “Twitterings”.) Says she has a
novel ¼ done. Praised me awkwardly by saying I am “a real writer”.
When I tell her I just want to find out what I need to write by patiently
building house of cards in my head she tells me people like me are
trampled underfoot by the thousand and I need her to make my novels
acceptable; her qualifications are that she has been fired by all the
big publishers (they are “consolidating”) but she also expresses
disgust with them. She is probably right on facts but she needs to
work on her presentation.
I was horrified. Wanted to be friendly because she bought
my book, but when I say why pay someone to rewrite your book in a way
you might hate she say there are no guarantees in life. You have to go
with whatever “works”. That she is not working seems too rude to point
out. I agree the world’s a dark wood but I need to find my way out
alone. She drank 3 bullshots, I order coffee frantically afraid I’ll have
to drag her and her laundry home. We split the tab both probably
thinking the other should have treated (last time out was on Harcourt’s
dime). I tried to act like I might be thinking about it but I don’t have a
good face for not showing when I am absolutely appalled.
Purged my mind at Visconti’s Conversation Piece.
Especially reveled in the beauty of our modern Dorian Gray
Helmut Berger and the “footsteps of death” in apt. overhead.
Very Edith Wharton. Dinner at Ms. McManus’ Sutton Place apt.
(whose house I will sit next.) She shows off her latest antique