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Inspired Pleasure

Diary of a Dancer Who Happens to be a Poet

    11:30 AM Friday, 24 March 78
            Staggering down for my first cup of coffee when I 

heard Harvey’s voice in the kitchen. Thank God I heard it in time – if
he had seen me in my baby doll nighty I guess he would have considered
himself justified in pinning me immediately to the floor. He brought me a
hibiscus flower as a peace offering.
A more significant peace offering came from Mom
and Dad who gave us each 100 more shares of stock.  I tried to refuse it
– they insisted. I warned them I’ll only sell it. Maybe I’ll be able to buy a
new car when I get back.  I could use it.
Spent last night trying to read Welty’s Bride of Innisfallen, couldn’t get my mind around it. Read Faithful Are the Wounds instead.
Very like a stage play – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    Powder Mill Road – home – 8:30 PM Sun 26 March 78
            Can’t describe the ecstasy of being in my own

place. On the island I am hideous – here I am beautiful. The loss of
confidence there is so severe as to actually induce delusions. Now that
I am back I am ready to tackle my existence brilliantly. As always.
We got in last night in the pouring rain – 11:30 PM
– A had coffee and left.  I read a soppy love story and slept in my Own Bed.
Today we did laundry, went to see a bad movie – actors working madly
away to no effect. Tomorrow I get mail – hope there’s lots of it.
Did get a beautiful poem out of the island –
Peacock Pavement: The Poet on her walk – submit to Denver
– which has been very polite about me lately. They’ve
shown an interest in my stuff though nothing has ever been exactly “right.

PEACOCK PAVEMENT: The Poet on Her Walk
Femininity has Everests I mount daily.
The crow’s belly’s is black, I
Envy his womb-less contentment as I stroll 
Among the old wrappers, the used condoms;
Joints rolled tight as bedsheets
Adverts used – abused – discarded.
He envies me my
Zircon hair; my lunar map of freedom,
Battering-ram jaw, baroque nose, the
 Greek depths through which
These eyes record their wanderings
Outside the convent walls, between
The stalls, corrals, chained-up lambs,
The leaf-filled swimming pools:
First act, second act, third act
Numbering days by counting
Depth marks round your taproot
Sporadic questings
Belonging to a future all
Unknowing what anyone will
Ever make
Of these Portentous Pleiades:
Disparate sisters,
Me, myself and I.

  Plush Palace – Mon night 27 Mar 78

So glad to be back. Really missed the old place.
Walked in and there was Jervaze, big as life. He was quite plastered
but acted very pleased to see me. I feel he has turned a definite corner.
He could have been somebody, could have made choices, but he
seems to have decided to live in an ever deepening blur. I am well
out of it. I asked him what happened to my ring. He promised to look
for it. He has a new plan of course. His brother is trying to talk him
into returning to school. He’ll talk that to death for a while till his kidneys
fail and his liver withers and his brain goes. Then it won’t matter anymore.
But I must get a picture of him now while he still looks good so I can
show my grandchildren. He was dressed all in white like an angel and
is letting his silver gilt hair grow long.  I can hear it now: “You dated
Wild Bill Hickock?” Yes kids. And it was really wild.


My aunt’s a dancer
She said “Feel my thighs
Ain’t they hard
They’re my love-wings
Hard as heartwood
I’m flying on ‘em half the time.
Practice making perfect I’m
Tightening up my style in case a valve
On this here pressure cooker blows
And splatters darkness like a
Damsel in a murder we might
Solve someday.”
She laughed and did an arabesque.
My aunt is thirty-five. I said
What beautiful thighs you’ve got

Called my agent and demanded to know how much
I am actually going to get from HBJ. The answer is $1993, so it’s a
good thing I got that stock which I sold today. April 5 I pick up my new
car – a Fiat. (A takes the Gremlin.) Money in the bank – need to settle in
for a long writing session.  Trying to concentrate on my book – Bowen’s
The Last September – but it just feels too distant from my own life. I feel l
ike I’m slowly surfacing, like a corpse that has been in the water for three
days.  Last night I finished Anne Tyler’s Searching for Caleb. Her most
beautiful novel in my estimation. Today A and I bought plants, put money
down on car.  I’m exhausted and out of love with my own life – don’t
understand why I personally seem to need to do everything backwards.

  4:30 PM Fri 31 Mar 78
Barrage of criticism from Mom and Dad that I
spent stock money on car. How do they expect us to live in two different
places and have one car? Doesn’t make sense.  Avril has car today for
her eye appt – will pick me up in 45 mins. I am struggling with Bowen’s
The Little Girls. She uses writing for disguise.  Last night A and I went
to dinner at an Italian restaurant – she had the clams, I had the shrimp,
we split a bottle of wine. Then we went to see what  A described as
“one concentration camp film too many.”  I bought tickets to Bonnie Raitt
concert – Mom and Dad suggested I “look up” their friends’ son Peter Pauley.
I may invite him, I do remember him as cool and handsome. But brunette.
Oh well, can’t have everything.   Got check from agent – less her percentage –
which I forgot to calculate. So I hope I get paid enough Sat to have money
for car.  My future emerges through a glass darkly – don’t know yet whether I like it or not.

    2:50 PM Sat ;April 1, 1978  - Starlight
            Working a double. My latest realization is: I can never 

have enough money. Curse you, Marc Kramer for suggesting I invest
in real estate. In spite of this I’ve decided not to take on doubles unless I’m
in a jam (as I am over this car.) Interesting new dancer – big hips and no
boobs but a wonderful attitude. Her laugh can be heard by fishing boats
on the distant Chesapeake. Alvera. She works in a lawyer’s office during
the day. I’m trying to imagine her in her suit typing briefs. The Little Girls
is Bowen’s worst written book. She’s not a narrative writer but a prose poet
– always falls down over narrative. Plus I feel a loss of joy in her art – maybe
because she “had” to write it?  This is really a book about despair – which
To The North also was – but one book was good and the other isn’t.  I think
writing is a lot like cooking – some ideas can’t be rescued through editing –
they just get worse and worse.

10:30 PM Tender is not the night thank God – three
more sets and it will all be over. The next one will be the worst – the last
two I won’t even notice. I called A – she’s despondent. Feeling chained
to the apt I’m sure. I agreed we’d see An Unmarried Woman tomorrow –
go out and have some fun.   Mon after her classes we’ll watch The Oscars
at my place. Bought 3 costumes from Kerry that I can ill afford – but they
were a steal. Sent Harvey the Brownmiller book. There’s no excuse for such ignorance.

Plush Palace – 8:50 PM – Thurs night 6 April 78
So ends one of the happiest days of my life. Woke
this AM two minutes before clock radio – breakfast in bed reading –
good work at typewriter. Long walk with dogs – came back to find
Green’s Mag took my whole “suicide” series. A showed up helped me
play with my car – first and second tough to get into and out of until the
salesman professionally broke its little hymen. Seems all right now.  Book
going well. Most of the time I feel I have the ideal existence – plenty of
sleep, plenty of exercise, plenty of time to write, plenty of privacy. Paradise.
J called. He is really going to Alabama this time. Said he loved me, thereby
proving my point that the less of a relationship we are having the more
important it is to him. If we never see each other again, I bet he will
remember me as the perfect girlfriend. All future women in his life will
curse my name. 

Good letter from Mom and Dad apologizing for
their explosion about car. Part of the problem dealing with them is they
try to preserve a “united front” which means they have to frantically
whisper and negotiate behind the scenes, then speak awkwardly
together like an ill-rehearsed Greek chorus. I can kind of speculate
about who really thinks what – not that I want to.
A and I liked Unmarried Woman – much better
than Goodbye Girl. I tried Peter all day – no answer. 

Storm Jameson’s Journey From the North – it’s like watching  a
slo-mo car accident the way she beats up on herself. Why this sense
that honesty requires one must utterly disown all one’s earlier versions? 
CS Forrester did exactly the same thing in Long Before 40 – will I feel
compelled to do the same some day about this life I am leading now?
Foolishness is youth’s necessary clothing methinks. Think I will dump
this book without finishing. Try Angus Wilson’s The Middle Age of
Mrs. Eliot.

    9:25 PM – Plush Palace – Sat night 8 April 78
            Beautiful day. Off to Columbia, testing my new car. 

A & I had lunch at Clyde’s – talked about what fun it would be if we each
had a full-time man – and they liked each other. We could double date. 
Feels impossible. Walked around lake – bought baby clothes for Genevieve. 
Home, walked dogs, then to work.
Boring evening. Few unenthusiastic customers.

GiGi brought in a bottle of champagne – I broke my rule and had some
out of sheer boredom. A father in with his 2 ½ yr old daughter – sent her
up to the stage with a tip for me. Depressing fact #2 – tried to read a short
story about rape in Fiction called The Intruder – it was awful – turned me
off the whole magazine. Angus Wilson’s Middle Age merely stupid. Will I
have a go at No Laughing Matter? Still no Peter and no explanation.  If
he is away on vacation his parents don’t know about it. Feels suddenly
difficult to be independent and alone. 

10:10 Pm – Sunday night 9 April 78
Avril  met a guy she likes in one of her classes who
likes her. Fingers crossed. As a result I spent Saturday alone, which I
don’t mind. It would be OK with me if every day were the same, wake at 10,
write till 4, then off to work. On Sun we played in Adelphi Mill Park – swam
in the falls – wonderful picnic of brie and cherries – played with dogs.  Wrote
poem about Devon:


I shall harmonize your life I say
Make your blood sing woodwind
Stretch my nerves harp-tight
Across your exo-shell
While you, heart racer
Put me through my paces –
Muscling through
The gates of my life
Forcing me past theory
Pluperfect post-poetical, ever
Reckless like a downhill artist
Speed devil
Speed demon
Speed dreamer.

            Phoned Peter – a girl answered!  He came on very

brisk and businesslike – had been in Venezuela. I asked if she was
“the housekeeper” – he hurried to get off phone – said he would drop by
club. Always wanted to see me perform. I told him my schedule. I figure
if he and she are seriously involved so that I shouldn’t move forward –
he’ll tell me. Chloe’s friend Dennis called and tried to make me feel guilty
enough to go out with him. Little does he know how far past that “Since I
can’t think of an excuse you’ll accept I guess I’ll just be forced to go out
with you” stage I am. He turned hostile – said I’d “led him on”. I refused to
rise to this, portraying self as a naturally friendly but also naturally private
person. I guess I’ll have more of this stuff with J gone.  He was sort of protection.  Everyone wants someone who doesn’t want them. Highly
entertaining if one were bored enough. I am not.

Interesting conversation with A where we discussed
the “courting rules” we’d learned. They were grim – we’ve had to ditch them completely. Got into another one of our “Is Satisfaction Possible”
marathon debates. I always say it is, she says, what if it’s not.  I refuse
to consider this option. Mom’s advice to A is loiter around art galleries and art museums to get the right guy. This sounds expensive & time consuming.
Plus, I know too many artists to be in love with this idea. They are the worst.
I want someone stable.

I have to admit my chances of finding someone like
that in the job I’m in seem small. But I only need one guy. I’m special – so
would he be. A insists things were better in the past – “pre-liberation” but I’m
not buying it. Opal’s marriage very instructive on these points. They are both beautiful, can think and have work they love. So why do they fight and sulk nonstop?
Each feels the other does not truly “value them” and fusses for increased
respect. Each thinks the other is “holding them back.” So they claim. With any encouragement I think they would jump into a threesome. Non merci.

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