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Inspired Pleasure

Diary of a Dancer

2 PM 15 Feb 79 – Thurs
            Sleeting out. Feeling restless the way I do before I write 

a new book. Hauled out Bride & Wolves for a rewrite – tremendously
impressed with my own talent! Development always was my problem (as in life).
Greene’s Human has an odd, unfinished feel. Reviews did not prepare me for it
in the least. I think they reviewed Greene rather than his book. More impressed
by Margot Ruddock’s letter to Yeats in Ah, Sweet Dancer (which could be
retitled Dirty Old Man.) She compares the “fickleness” of men to the fickleness
of God! Can’t blame her if God insists on being male. Read Howatch’s Call
In the Night
as a purgative. Going to see Country Wife tonight at U. Of Md.
Usher sent me strange Valentine collage of Playboy photos, couples kissing, etc.
Avril says “I give up on him. It’ll be a miracle if he can ever say what he wants.”

Starlight Sat 18 Feb 79 – 11:10 AM
Waiting for my bangs to curl at the start of a
double. Had a nightmare where Devon performed marriage ceremony between
me and some other guy! Right up to the end I kept thinking he was going to
“rescue” me. Naturally he did not. “Psychic” about him as usual I got a letter
saying he’s busy with this year’s Ladies Ski Team meaning he’s got 12 girls
passionately in love with him and he plans to take his time to savor the field.
Vengeful poem results:

Some roads lead nowhere;
They’re my favorites.
I held my breath while
You drew my face in
Blinding strokes and
Creamed my mouth with curling lines
Destroyed one picture; then another.
Left at dawn while I
Ran downstairs in circles, calling
Raging, spending
Nights without you,
No blue thigh to guard
My sleeping heart while yours looks out
To gauge the coming storm.
Now I’m trapped in cloverleaves
Sentenced to school figures
 By endless angry judges.
Every face I paint is yours; balked by
 An enervating past
Of unlived lives.
Open up the chilly ruffles
Of my breasts
To beauty; yours and mine and your
Strange spine’s;
 A body so much lighter
Than the mountain that you loved
 The course you learned
Much better than you learned me.
Overconfident that
 you’ll come back
I float across the powdered snow;
In bird-winged silence
Unless I’m
Lost and frozen like my heart?

            2 PM – Jervaze came in!  Ducked away momentarily 

from his fiancée. Glad he didn’t bring her in as I am having my period and feeling
particularly fat and grumpy. My poor body’s been unloved for a month now and
is falling to pieces. Still it was an enormous pleasure to see him. Someone
for whom I apparently remain The Holy Grail.

Tues. 6:45 PM 20 Feb 79
Struggling against a vast undifferentiated depression.
Going to treat it with diet and meditation. Reading Tapie’s Richelieu and Louis XIII.
History a great cure for all who feel unlucky. Even being an aristo was
no picnic. Avril accepted for both of us to go to Aunt Frederica’s party on
the shore where she’s rented a house. Hitchman’s bio of Dorothy Sayers
very bad book. Sayers wasn’t “in love” with Lord Peter, she was him!
Will-to-power and dream logic. Trying to “bind” her two halves together
when she made him marry Harriet. Had to re-read Sayers’ wonderful
Unnatural Death (my favorite) to get the taste out of my mouth. Ah. Such
pleasure. Painting till I’m exhausted then long walks with dogs through pretty
Queens’ Chapel Manor. Haven’t seen a neighborhood this satisfying
since Chevy Chase.

Starlight Wed 21 Feb 79 – 11:45 AM
Going through a phase where work feels like
being beaten. Think it’s because no one is caring for my body. Will warmer
weather turn the tide? I love my house but Marc Kramer is wrong – home ownership
NOT the cure-all promised. The only difference I can see is I can no longer
mess around financially. Nose permanently to grindstone.
Reading John Dickson Carr’s Blind Barber. It is so
awful. Why does anyone like him? Pass my time sewing red rhinestone
buttons to my pink satin blouse. Yesterday clutch cable snapped – pedal
became a dummy. Fortunately I was right NEXT to a gas station. Had to
take a taxi home. Financial nightmare – more doubles to get my car out of
hock? Turns out it’s not expensive. A. gives me ride to work, Eddy gives
me ride to car. Leaning heavily on inner life. Efforts to live “outwardly” all
seemingly result in hideous failure. Shopping list: pasties, carpet tape, stockings,
cotton balls, liquid plumber, string bikini.

Sat. 24 Feb 79
Devon turned 30 today. Great house party at bungalow
Aunt F rented on Mulberry Island. Interesting artist named Stockley there
with an exciting mind but unworkable body. Fun to talk to though. He wears
a hard hat and welds. Avril asked out by handsome redhead named John.
Fingers crossed. Jervaze called to say he broke off his engagement. Uh oh.
Macmillan says my novel “not their cup of tea”. Very sneery.

Starlight Fri 2 Mar 79 – 2 PM
Bought a pair of yellow overalls to write in. Hadn’t realized
how thin I’ve gotten – I look fantastic. House (closing) magically lifts depression
when it cost $900 less than I expected. I was fully ready to write these nice people
a rubber check – Thank God that’s not necessary.
Instead of wasting away in debtor’s prison, I get to compare
myself to Sylvia Plath. What if in a panic, I married a party boy who fails to love T
he Real Me? Wait, I did that. But I didn’t stay to wrestle with him and now I’m free.
Could be much, much worse. Hang in there and go it alone. See it as a strength.
Trying to apply for grants. There’s an art form all by itself. Avril’s redhead working
out nicely. I don’t like his comments about his mother though. Is satisfactory
sex possible with men who hate their mothers? Could be massive Red Flag.

12:35 PM Tues Mar 6 – 79
Sit down to chat with diary over lunch – can’t eat
because scolding letter from agent gave me a stomachache. Didn’t I know it was
unethical to allow several agents to consider me at the same time? I do see
it’s a very beneficial for the agents to drag this process out so they end up
doing all the choosing and not you. But since she’s the one I want I can’t say so.
Play dumb, promise to Be Good in Future and throw my affairs entirely into
her hands and let her speak for me. Silence frees the artist from “servile
bondage to the world”, says Sontag.
Letter from Devon saying he really respects me for
buying a house (the opposite of what Mom thought would happen. He says
it makes me more interesting. Or he’s just less scared I will show up on his
doorstep.) Also he says “it’s been a bad ski season” and asking particularly
about the men in my life, closing, ”I love you Alysse. Our relationship is the
most important thing to me.” Whew! What are the odds that every girl on that
team would turn out to be a lesbian? Or were they fooled by his aura of untouchable
purity? Most girls would consider it a challenge but some lack the three hours
necessary to defrost him. Still, they’re all out of their minds not to give him a
whirl I must admit. Interesting how very much we each fear the other’s loss.

11PM Starlight Wed 7 Mar 79
Very down night. Only $70 so far. Need $600 to
keep my bills current. Bryony wailing because the state took her children away.
Sometimes seems like the pain of the helpless is smothering the world. Tony’s
the bouncer tonight and he’s all for letting the men stick their bills down the girls’
G-strings! No thank you. Wait till Gentleman Randy hears about this. Reading a bad
German mystery – the mystery being why he wrote it, how it got published and
why I’m reading it. Fantasizing celebrating spring by getting all my hair cut off.
Hmmm. Jean Seberg? Could be sexy. Wish I’d brought Kafka’s Letters. Making
huge floor pillows for my housewarming party. Longing to sink into classical music
& bubble bath, followed by Oleg Cassini sheets & cup of diet cocoa. Having my
own house really is a dream come true.

Mon 20 Feb 79 – 12:20 AM
Such a depressing party I got drunk just to be “out” of it. Avril
& Ben making out in a corner all evening. Usher brought me books and a bird of
paradise flower, Stockley gave me a beautifully framed tiny drawing of crustaceans
but then cancelled that by attempting to corner me all evening. He covers up the
soul he doesn’t believe in with a repellant fleshy brutality – life is kill and conquer –
eat or be eaten. Honestly, now I’m scared of him. Afraid to even argue with him
for fear of launching something irreversible. Luckily, he next fastened his lasers on
Yvonne. Poor Yvonne. Save yourself, I should say. Plan to ask Paz to schedule
me for just two nights. On a self-dare, I sent my poem about Rossetti’s model to Usher.

LIZZIE SIDDALL: The Woeful Victory

Be still or I can’t paint you.
It is evening and
I almost recognized you. Who are you
Fair one? Your mouth is stuffed
With poppy hair
Fate coils between your breasts
Like snakes. But
Your tongue’s torn out.
You must be the echo of my thoughts.

(I am the motionless cradle.)

Your flesh takes fire from my setting sun.
Can you free me, O Lady of the Sundial?
My eyes are growing dim.

(Perfect love’s not found this side of heaven.)

I shall paint you vermilion
Butcher nightingales and use their tongues for brushes
Melting foil & verdigris
To the tune of Canterbury bells.
Stay awhile, Fair one.
I almost thought you spoke.

(I am the face that rises from the pool
to drag the drinker deep.)

I will bury you in manuscripts, I will
Visit when there’s time. Someday
We might marry, but
I am not whole, dear lady.
I am not myself.
Who are You?

(I am thyself. What hast thou done?)

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