Diary of a Dancer Sometimes Poet
10:30 PM – Plush Palace – Mon night 10 April 78 Two more sets. I’ll live. Finished study of Mary McCarthy
by Doris Grumbach. Much prefer that to actually having to read McCarthy
who reminds me of Aldous Huxley – Is it possible to be too contemporary?
Trends of modern writing a little too sketchy for me. No book should feel
like flipping through a magazine. Sensory overload sans enlightenment.
As for Angus Wilson – we are parting forever. I read all but two stories in
Such Darling Dodos – back on the shelf he goes.
Wonderful day – up before 7, read New York Times,
sent out poems – magnificent walk with dogs – explored abandoned house.
Haunted by novel – so went back and got six pages – one good new idea.
Called publisher – ordered ten more books. Little self-promotion. While
working got call from the Plush Palace – would I come in two sets early
for Glory, who is sick? Love to. Just feeling bankrupted by the
drycleaners. I was justified too because first set got a big tip. ($300)!
Peter called – said he would have loved to go to the Raitt concert with
me but had to go to Vermont. He certainly talks differently when his girlfriend/housekeeper/telephone answerer person is not around.
He hinted that his love life is impossibly complex and
he doesn’t want his parents to know. I’m guessing that she is married.
promised to get in touch when he gets back. I’m in the ladies room
because the air-conditioning in dressing room not working – it is suffocating
in there. Yesterday evening thoroughly enjoyable – steaks wine and hot fudge sundaes at A’s then watched Richard Brooks Happy Ending which really
was a bomb. Trying to read Anthony Powell’s Venusberg but feeling
nothing yet. Tried Sarton’s Miss Pickthorn – a hash of all her other stuff –
very slight. Avril not home for past four hours – out on date with Jordan.
Can’t wait to hear how it went.
11:45 PM – Thurs 13 Apr 78 Safe & warm in my gilt-canopied bed, happy in spite
of my cold. A & I got “El Diablo” inspected today – $70 – But at least she
can take it to the MVA tomorrow and have it put in her name. That great
feeling of “starting out fresh”. In spite of dribbles & wheezes, blissful dog
walk followed by deep-dish pizza & wine at Armand’s. No painful memories.
Cherry blossoms are out.
Saw Coming Home with Jon Voigt & Jane Fonda. Good, if somewhat
earnest. Bruce Dern acted like he was in a different movie. Rough part
deserves a hero’s commendation. I stare at the casually interdependent
couples – it’s been a year since I could lay a hand on another’s thigh with
that proprietary air. Poor A dissolved in tears towards the end – too
reminiscent of the “endless pain” of vets like Bruce and Mason.
I’d be more sympathetic if they didn’t take it out on
others. What they learned apparently is how to “stage a war”. The people
we love inflict the worst damage. A’s at the stage where she’s still
haunted by Mason but feels it’s “boring” to talk about him so she
bottles it up. I tell her get a diary. Hope to finish Powell’s
Agents & Patients tonight – but it is a little dull.
Plush Palace –Fri 14 Apr 78 – 3:50 PM Only 3 more sets, with 4 dancers. Still, made
enough tips for groceries. Buy wild birdseed for the birds cavorting
outside my desk’s bay window. Daringly went on without stockings –
such a savings if we didn’t have to buy them but Eddie told me No Cigar.
Too bad – they’re hot in summer. Alvera says Yvonne’s back at Mother
Joe’s. I thought she wouldn’t be able to eat enough shit to stay in her
music clerk job. We goddesses areso spoiled by our pedestal. Called A
in the afternoon to see how she was doing – Shoulders was there flexing
his muscles at her and she is over the moon. Trying to be glad for her
but in spite of his obvious beauty I’m afraid he is a bit of a shit. (See testimony
past burnees plus eviction notices.)
I feel I must disappear deeper into solitude and see
what’s down there. Gift (new version of Courtney) coming along
interestingly but slowly. I’m afraid it has no plot other than my own life,
when what it needs is a couple of murders. (Same thing my life has always
required.) Poems easier instead:
MAN – FISH
My husband caught a walleye; I caught
A day-old baby
Trolling my Dalkon shield
On idle spinnerets I hooked him
He bore the wounds of other fishermen.
Through holes in his side I saw
His heart still beating
Shielded by a membrane tough
As duck’s egg.
I said I think I can save him
My husband said too small
And threw him back.
Tried to read Phyllis Bottome but she’s a fatal cross between a
didact and a pleaser; sort of like a barky little dog. Most unpleasant.
And that casual anti-Semitism pretty shocking.
Plush Palace – Sat 5:50 PM 15 Apr 78 Halfway through novel – can’t figure out if I’m
satisfied or not. All my discoveries so agonizingly slow. Can’t afford
fuckups – then I’ll have to go through it all AGAIN. Slept late, breakfast
at A’s. We did laundry together, then played gin.
I was the first one here thank God (means I’m the
first to leave). Got my schedule – 4 nights in a row, 2 days off. Good.
Congratulate myself on my intellectual freedom as I wrap black lace around
my throat, recalling all the put-downs suffered as the “architect’s helpmeet”.
Reread Alvarez’ description of Plath’s suicide – I don’t agree her death was
some “by-product.” Her mother raised her to be murdered by other people –
Nazis or husbands. There had to be a “bloodletting” – Mrs. Plath’s ulcer –
Sylvia’s “suicides”. If you don’t “accept” martyrdom someone will have to die
in your place. Kid yourself it’s” freedom” just because you choose time & place.
It bothers me terribly that they shared a bedroom during
Sylvia’s formative years. Death would seem inevitable just to get some privacy & distance. Poor Sylvia offered those magnificent poems to Alvarez and he
backed away terrified because Art is terrifying. $30 for lost contact that came
out when a necklace scraped my eyeball while I was hanging upside down.
Teach me to wear contacts onstage. Who needs to see the audience anyway?
7:15 PM Sun 16 Apr 78 Spent the day in bed eating oranges, coffee, peanut
butter. A’s spending the night at Shoulders’ new place – then tomorrow we’re
going to the new Cassavetes film and I’m excited. Jervaze in for last set to
invite me to his going away party. I slept nine hours.
Horrifying Who Made the Lamb – author really lost
control of this one but I bet she would say she was just “reporting”. Books
do Furnish a Room much better than Powell’s previous – has a sense of
direction. “Trapnel himself always insisted that a novel is what its writer is”.
I would agree. Style follows taste, I think. Realize Dad and I don’t mean
the same thing by the word “intellectual”. He means a person who knows
specific things, (education) I mean a person who thinks a certain way (style).
Twain never meet. I am not respectful of an artificially acquired patina of
“points of view”. Wrote the infirmary scene – just what I wanted to say.
Maybe I need to give up sex and even male companionship
– just can’t afford them.
Plush Palace – 6:45 PM Fri 21 Apr 78 Wonderful walk along Powder Mill Road thinking
about the mystique of money. I eternally fight a rearguard action. M & D
call at noon – Genevieve had little girl – Belinda. Avril delivers my new lens
– bounce notice in mail – I tear my hair in a frenzy. I get to dance 2 sets for
GiGi – $200 – she tells me about her night of sin with Louie. And she wants
another one. Life’s a soap opera. Management says there’s going to be
a drug raid with dressing room search warrant. Panic among the girls – but
not me. Check out the customers with a more intense interest. Are narcs here? Everyone planning to leave town except me. I offer to work tomorrow night.
Reading an interesting study of Iris Murdoch novels –
the Disciplined Heart. Too much coffee – I’m switching to tomato juice.
Sat night – 22 Apr 78 8:30 PM My whole body hurts from dancing 5 nights in a row.
It’s not good for tips, either. Poor May Sarton is trying to exorcise Eliz Bowen.
Good luck with that! Elizabeth so contemptuous of “schoolgirl crushes”!
Real love in EB’s world seems strangely synonymous with corruption &
loss. Old fashioned view and more male really – “ejaculate” and die. We
women get children, poems & novels out of it. Avril stood up for dinner by
Shoulders. Uh oh. Beginning of the end. Apparently saying “yes” is fatally
unsexy. She & I will be eating her pot roast tomorrow – fine with me.
Fatima came down early but Lori refused to go up,
pointing to her watch! Much excitement & hissing.
7:45 PM – Mon. 24 Apr 78 Good Gift scene – Miss Pruitt vs. Viv. Now I need a
boathouse picnic. Every time you get to the mountaintop there’s just more
mountain. Then you’re supposed to “prune” at the end – if you have any
energy left. Trying to read A Literature of Their Own but Showalter too
hard on poor old Woolf. Women have always owned literature, it’s the
publishers, editors and critics we apparently can’t have. 60,000 words on
Gift tells me it’s time to celebrate. No novel could EVER be this hard again.
I demand a party.
Strange letter from Devon – he is involved with some
“Jewish woman” and it isn’t going well. She seems “inaccessibly foreign”
and he is “losing faith” in his “ability to pick a friend.” Is this a plea for help?
He specifically asked where I would be this summer. Said he loved me.
Took his glamour pic out of the bin where it has lain and put it up, then went
out with A and bought a bikini. She and Shoulders are so mired in excuses,
lies and expectations no new relationship seems possible. Intensive
sunbathing season starts tomorrow.
1PM Thu May 4 -78 Comparing lovers. “It’s Devon in the stretch with
Jervaze fatally winded and Bruce fallen by the wayside”. Write poem:
The sideways smile
I heard you singing and remembered
things that you’ve forgotten
I see you clearly
Fish in a hailstone.
See your hands
Long for a man I always thought
And your upper lip too short
Like a lion’s in fact
You have an animal presence
Placing no trust in words
Placing no trust in love
Acting like you’d never met me
As you roll your joints with
private letters that I sent
islands undiscovered and
You were the joke
I didn’t get; I recall
your sideways smile
blowing smoke between us
refusing to forgive the essential fragility that
Marks us humans;
Fated as you were
always to surrender
to the scornful cries of your
Finished Gift last week. Letting it “perk”. It already feels “swallowed up” by the past. Avril read it, disappointed by the ending. Wants murder at the very least. But is that real life? I think I agree with her that it should be. People should kill themselves when you are done with them. Sadly, in reality they’re all whimper and no bang. How to fix? When I’m not engaged on some important work my “real life” ceases. Car to its “first service” Mon – involved ferrying each other around and jockeying with one car. Why don’t M & D appreciate this? It’s like they want us to be ashamed of needing other people to survive. Mom staying in NYC with the new baby but then coming here Sat. to inspect our dissolute lives. Uh oh. I won’t have any trouble getting time off but I hate to. Can’t work when she is here. Living two weeks off one paycheck can be done. But I will feel obligated to battle Mom for financial freedom. Finished Glendinning’s Bowen. A life rich and strange but hardly enviable. I’m being pestered by old “college friend” but I am officially “not home”. She sneaks around the house, sniffing.