Diary of a Dancer
Boston to Rockland shuttle 11:45 AM Fri Dec 22 Thank God I brought this diary in my purse. Bad flight
feels like Week 7 of the flu and I need something to take my mind off stomach.
Love people-watching at the Downeast Gate – there’s a novel in that all by itself.
This flight goes straight up the coast. Avril is sleeping in the co-pilot’s seat – let’s
hope she doesn’t have to assume the controls. She is trying to get a march
on the insomnia she always gets around parents. We just missed Genevieve
and Brett – they put 2 planes on this flight and they must be on the other one.
Christmas Day Enmeshed in a family that’s not even close to changing
age old patterns. Listening to Christmas music by the Oberlin Choir and roasting chestnuts. As always, food preparations take a disproportionate amount of time
– one might as well just surrender and become a restaurant prep chef.
Family “scene” caused this time by me – I objected to Dad making the two
older daughters executors – I guess that makes me and A “executees”? He
says you can’t have four executors. A likely story. Well I felt I had to lodge a
formal protest but of course it didn’t change a thing.
Plush Palace – midnight – Fri 29 Dec 78 Merrill and Julian came to watch me dance. I think
they were interested. Don The Lawyer came and sat at their table – he behaved himself. Good evening for tips. Don asked me out Wed – I explained I have a
lot of demands on my time – just about to double my working schedule to buy
this damn house – so it doesn’t look good. He passed that test by taking
this news calmly. Having a sister makes me a Real Person at least.
Catching up on dancers – Jerrilee’s pregnant,
Fatima’s new boyfriend is obviously an ethnic gangster. (Armenian I’m guessing.) Jerrilee tried dancing at a club in DC where the girls “make
lots of money” but just in tips – they have no salary. Rotten. I need extra
hours but won’t audition there – prefer the protections offered by The Great Commonwealth of Virginia.
Plush Palace – 7:30 PM Tues 2 Jan 79 Horrifying letter from Scott Meredith demanding money
to read my novel. His form letter didn’t acknowledge mine in which I said I
was already the author of one book but went on and on about “unpublished
writers new to the business.” They obviously didn’t even read my letter.
My father said, “Maybe he knows what he’s doing since he’s Norman
Mailer’s agent” but I wrote back and said non merci. Auditioned at The
Country Fair – they offered me $100 each three x a week. Call for my
schedule. So that’s set. They have a good stage plus a barre and a pole.
Haven’t seen a barre since Shalimar.
Zachary unfortunately back from New York and in a
mood to party. Claims to have provided drugs to SNL. Reads my novel
and says it’s not commercial enough. I’m sure he’s right, which doesn’t
cheer me up at all. Says it’s too brief – needs development which is also
probably true. Trying to write a poem about funerals called Treading
Pasture. Bad, bad, bad. Reading Tillie Olsen’s Silences and that’s
not cheering me up either.
Party Castle 11:15 AM Mon 8 Jan 79 I think I like this place better than Plush Palace or
Country Fair. The dancers are totally uninterested in their jobs – they
are all busy being college students, musicians and models – they rush
in, rush out, spend their time studying and on the phone and offering
me cash to finish their sets. Fine with me. It’s very restful not having to
make friends. I called J’s brother – he’s due Thurs. Probably the worst
thing about this place is the commute – I need to take Rock Creek Parkway
and sometimes it goes one way and sometimes it goes the other way. An
unwary person could end up in a head-on collision.
The stage is way better than Plush Palace but the
dressing room far worse – a miniature chamber behind the potato bins –
très très très Colette. With me tonight are Phoebe, ex-stewardess with
a degree in languages and Tasha, very silent black fashion model. She is
gorgeous. Costumes are not big here – the idea is to wear one g-string all
night – pasties small as possible. Contac really works – has totally drained
my sinuses but also made me very thirsty – I am drinking gallons of water
which I am afraid will make me visibly sweat. (Then pasties slide off and
the woman from the Alcohol & Tobacco Task Force rushes forth with ticket.)
Got my MS back from Scott Meredith. Zachary came to see me dance in
the new club. We had a tender moment on how tough and insensitive the
world is – he is having a bitching time with his new band – wants to go solo
but feels that will never get anywhere. The truth is it’s tough to go it alone.
Everybody thinks Gift is “unfinished’ – which – horrors – means I have to
do more. The dog to her vomit. Absolutely NOT fun.
I want to start something totally, totally new. I suppose
tolerating all this barfing and re-barfing is what separates the sheep from
the goats – but which do I want to be? Sheep? Goat? Spare me the “fun” of wandering around blindfold trying to imagine what you are touching followed
by the Inevitable Disillusionment of taking it off and seeing you’re locked
in the Same Old Basement.
I think Buck has found another girlfriend. I am rather
relieved to be let so painlessly off the hook – of course I miss the great
parts of our relationship. It was starting to get unmanageable along
with everything else. At least with Zachary I can level with him about
my life. Tonight’s reading: Margaret Millar whether I like her or not – and I
don’t like her.
Ordered a book on depression through the mail. Need
all the help I can get. GiGi came in tonight – probably to gloat over my
exhausted dancing. Even people who love it inevitably do too much.
She’s enjoying being a trophy wife. She says.
Tues 16 Jan 79 A call from the real estate agent – we can move into
the Queens’ Chapel Road house Feb 1 if we want to because that’s when
they’ll be out. We’d only have to pay them one-month rent. A and I looked
at each other and immediately said “yes”! Woohoo! Rushed off to Wendy’s
for celebration dinner – note we chose a cheap place. It will be that way
from now on. Called Mom and Dad in Trinidad to tell them. Dad sounded very dejected and gloomy like we are completely crazy and certain to be old
maids on his tab forever now.
Sunday Zachary and I went to Ellicott City. We were
coming out of Cocoa Lane (he paid) when we met an old friend of Zachary’s
Corio – singer for the Bills Blues Band. Gorgeous. I stuttered and quivered
like an infant. I may have to do something about this powerful attraction.
He gave me his card. Avril listens to call-in shows all the time and she says
women are sick of being penalized for making the first move. Men say they
“want it” but usually that’s an absolute lie. So how can I make this guy think
he’s making the first move? Puzzler. Z needed to score some dope so we
parted company. Corio is playing Childe Harold’s next month so maybe I
will see him there.
Plush Palace 11:15 PM
Two doubles in two days. My father’s right, I’m off my head.
Can’t keep doing this to myself. Drive from one club to the other in full makeup
wearing only a gold lamé cover-up in rush hour traffic. God knows what the
drivers think I do for a living but I can imagine. Ronnie says Jervaze was in
asking for me! Alvera dancing tonight – she says I’m her favorite person to
dance with. Sigh. Feels like home.
Famous poet – Usher Glayne – came in tonight – I
recognized him from party at the Folger Shakespeare Library (we both read).
Shyly introduced myself. He gave me his card told me to send him something.
Who would expect to see a beautiful man like this in a sleazy trap like the Plush Palace? Send him my Heloise & Abelard poem.
HELOISE TO ABELARD: “FROM THE FLAME TO THE FLAME”
Master, my Brother; Father
Confessor; my all – Before you see a nun
Abbess in fact – antiphon of grace enclosing
Octaves of silence.
I had rather be your whore. Slut, jade, poule –
What sweets! I relished those words as I craved the
Blows you struck like kisses.
Five, like Christ’s wounds. I counted them.
No midwife cut my cord but You delivered me.
Satan wormed your root; left Me whole but
Empty. I’m still cinque-cut while
You’re a smooth stockade. I “mistook” the veil –
Impetuously as you stole me –
Masquerading, copying the night
We stole from uncle’s house
In holy guise.
This veil is Jason’s wedding dress –
It cannot be removed.
It burns my flesh, these cerements
Cremate me. You denied me thrice, False Peter
Though I crawl to Bethany to earn
One word. Master, cousin, lover – slave –
We are bound.
This grave is not so silent as you are.
Yes, I’ve chatted up the dead
I’m closer to you than that tattoo you wear
As if it became you. When you die
I’ll be the fire that quickens
In your veins – the centime on your eyes
The empty scabbard left
Along your thigh
Your last escaping sigh – I.
Reading Crazy Sundays about Fitzgerald in Hollywood.
Ten days till we move into new house. Need sleep badly. Maybe buy
Quaalude from Maureen.
Castle – Fri Jan 26- 79 –5:30 PM Halfway through my double – pacing myself – still
feel fine. Reading Published in Paris. Obnoxious guy in tonight calls
himself Spewey Suckman – says he knows Zachary. No I do not wish to
spend my evening chatting – but he does tip well. Discovered that my
phone’s been accidentally unplugged for days so I fantasize about all these men –
Jervaze, Usher Glayne, Zachary, Don trying to reach me. Maureen very
excited about moving in with us – A and I each get 2 bedrooms (a bedroom and a study) and she gets one (but it’s a big one). She and I will have to share a
bathroom upstairs (there’s two on the first floor) but we’ll survive. Just had the
most fascinating conversation about sex with Roulette.
If I hadn’t drunk two glasses of wine I’d understand it better,
but if I hadn’t drunk two glasses of wine I wouldn’t be having it in the first
place. She says her son’s penis is so huge she got embarrassed at his
wrestling match. She also wants to discuss the clitorises of bisexual females
– she’s convinced they’re bigger. I really couldn’t say.
Jervaze is getting married – that’s the latest – his brother
set it up – so he brought in the bottle of wine and we’re all taking swigs. That’s my excuse for drinking on the job. “Long-time girlfriend from Alabama.” I suppose
this is my fault for being so discouraging about him living with me. We are just at different stages, I guess. I wished him well. Cross him off my list (sigh.) Feel this leaves my sexual eggs bouncing around in a single basket – very unsafe place for them, in my experience. Avril and I toured our house. I hadn’t fully appreciated the
yucky white paneling but the carpets are good and the place is spotlessly clean. Kitchen huge, yard very nice (gas grill and “workshop”.) Exciting! My bedroom
and study painted lime and emerald green with matching shag carpet. I can
work with that.
Mon 29 Jan 79 Castle 7:30 PM J. came by. Kind of broke my heart he was so loving and tender with me. He said he wanted to come Wed and help us move. Nice of him.
Zachary’s also coming. That could be fun. J. says his fiancée feels I’m “no
threat to their relationship.” She must be from another planet. But possibly I can control myself. It’s always dangerous to tell me I can’t have something.
Old home week for boyfriends. Marc Kramer called and
said his “Official Girlfriend” found my valentine and “got upset”. In my
recollection it wasn’t very incriminating. Avril and I trying to scrape together $120
to pay for oil in fuel tank – its always the bills you don’t expect that sink you.
Tonight I’m working with Gaysha, Indonesian law student, and Phoebe. Don came in
wearing a Bill Blass suit. Boring crowd. I’m wearing my feathers for fun – got
one $40 tip. I think changing costumes helps keep the crowd awake. The really
drunk ones think I am a different dancer they haven’t tipped yet. Tasha came in
on her night off. Her boyfriend drives a dump truck. She wanted to show off
her new flowing weave, rabbit coat and picture of her Eldorado. They are a pair.
Party Castle – 3 Feb 79 11:30 AM We did it – moved into the Queens Chapel Road house
though nothing is organized yet. My study is the nicest room in the house
– a whole wall of huge windows – sunlight always blazing in. I covered
the walls with my pictures and they fit perfectly – leaving one wall empty
for a big corkboard.
Guess who showed up to help us move? Ryder!
He brought his “girlfriend”, plus a huge bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken
and a large bottle of Irish Mist. Girlfriend a shocker – little nursy mousebird
of a woman! After all the hell he gave me, this is who he ends up with.
His sexual revolution is over – single shot fired.
Went to see Corio play at Childe Harolde – he acted
surprised to see me – introduced me to his date, Bev. I didn’t feel Bev is
much of a threat – Avril says, “She’s a hot water bottle.” I said, “I’m not giving
up”. Zachary didn’t help move – so when he showed up for sex I sent him away.
I was really annoyed – his excuse was he “wasn’t up to it.” Who is? Fortunately,
I have strong muscles. Carried a gold velvet sofa practically on my head.
Mon 5 Feb 79 Moments of pure joy while painting my bedroom shelves.
So adoring Sylvia Plath. Closer Look at Ariel & Letters. Her letters burst with
plans, lists & preparations – like this diary. That’s how it goes. Feeling capable, independent – maybe strong enough to even rewrite Gift. There is pleasure
to be had even at the start of a journey with no apparent end in sight. Back on
my Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner diet. Feel house will be ready Sunday. Party?
8 Feb 79 Plush Palace Surprise today - Usher Glayne came in to see me
dance. Curtsied low and slow. I felt intimidated by him but he said he liked
poem I sent. Struggling with Boston Adventure – Me no likey.
I’m on p. 300 and if there’s a novel in this mess I can’t find it.
8PM Mon night 12 Feb 79 Snowed all night – didn’t feel guilty about calling the
Plush Palace and saying I couldn’t make it. Used the time well – finished
my study. It is perfect. Bedroom almost done – must unscramble my jewelry
to put it away. Great having laundry in-house – I am washing all my costumes.
I give up on Boston Adventure. To think a critic compared her to the Brontës.
Well they did have under-functioning ovaries and the English language in
common. Marc called – he will be in town and wants to have lunch at the
Capitol. Which I would love to do. Told him I took his advice and bought a
house. Roll my eyes while he complains about his horrible life investing other
Maureen is never here so we hardly see her. And
she’s very neat, so far sharing a bathroom is no problem. Recovering
from my bout of restlessness, I managed two pages. But it was too hot to
work up here last night (I can’t seem to control the heat.) Tomorrow buy fan.
Usher called. He wants to be “friends”.
Queens Chapel Rd – Wed 14 Feb 79
At last a comment from an agent who likes Blood
Memory (latest incarnation of Gift). We now have one agent who likes it,
one who didn’t, one close relative who likes it and two who didn’t, one lover
who likes it (and two who didn’t.) I wish she would start a “sell job” with me
but she’s just “dying to talk with me about it.” In other words, she wants to
know, how crazy ARE you? Sadly, it depends on the day of the week.
Avril just phoned – invited me downstairs for an omelet.
I said no. Fasting today. (I like being somewhere the kitchen is not.) Later we’ll
go out and try to find a pair of emerald pants for me to see my new agent in.
This is one of the ways A and I make do with living together – we respect each
Yesterday at work who should be second dancer but
Yvonne! We had so much fun catching up. She’s still dancing at Mother Joe’s,
but needs all the work she can get. I feel a perverse satisfaction in the
fact that even amazingly talented, flaming beauties can’t seem to struggle out of
life’s junk pile. Her ex, whom she quit dancing for, went out with an “all nude”
dancer the night after they broke up! A friend of Ryder’s came into the bar –
I pretended not to recognize him. I’m sure he’ll be running back with the story.
Dreamed I had open lesions in my face and you could see right through them.
Reading Greene’s The Human Factor.