Diary of a Dancer
Tues 28 Mar 78
Extraordinary spiritual experience. A haunting. Someone
standing behind me in the empty house. I turned and no one was there but
power only increased. At first I was afraid – then felt a melting richness of love
– coming at me, into me from outside of me. I realized it was Jesus. Relief.
Of course afterwards I question it all over the place.
How could I be so certain? Maybe just an ordinary haunting by a peculiarly
loving ghost? Maybe a thing in my head? But I do have that memory of certainty
and bliss to cling to. Very powerful. It’s out there – somewhere.
Starlight Thu 14 Mar 79 – 10:00 PM
Started out as a very bad night – trying to dance myself
exhausted – then some guy tipped me a $50 and I ate an orange and now
I feel better. (Feeling so unbearably fat I bought diet pills. Then “dinner” of
cashews and wine.) Finished Prayerbook for a Skeptic – I liked it. Fortunately,
I brought along a ton of reading. Had to dump Joyce Carol Oates’ Do With Me
What you Will when I became disgusted with zombie heroine. NOT as good as
The Hungry Ghosts (but reminiscent of McCarthy’s Groves of Academe.) I’m
in the mood for something different. Not, however, C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves
which is deeply annoying. Women are “unqualified” to be “true friends”. Isn’t that
the “know your place” argument?
Maybe what I need is Thos Merton’s, Seeds of
Contemplation. How to switch the physical into the spiritual
– that’s what I can’t figure out. Sexual longings intense – my body on fire.
No wonder monks beat themselves. Peace and concentration in the dressing room
– we are all doing doubles. Yvonne is fine. She is more than a match for
Stockley – saw through him without a problem. She just acts interested in all
men regardless. On principle. She says if you want to choose, you’ll have to
compare offers. So sensible. Tomorrow a day of cleaning & working in my study.
Sun. 18 Mar 1:50 PM.
Terrible nightmare about Usher Glayne. His face
melted showing the skull underneath – two hideous holes of darkness. The
world is fierce, cruel, we are all hobbled. Wake to astonishingly gorgeous day.
Worked on expanding short story Erin – cleaning away deadwood – it’s only
going to be 30,000 words but the hell with it. Can’t “produce” to “compete”. Want
to find the intrinsic shape buried within. The secret meaning. Letting it speak for
itself makes me happy.
Adoring Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. (Wish I had written it.)
Then it’s off to the library á la bicyclette for more theology books. Obviously,
I should worry more about Success and the fact that I’m dirt poor. But I have
arranged my life so carefully to do exactly what I want. Seems a shame to ruin it now.
12:30 PM Mon 19 Mar 78
It’s a problem that I don’t like Usher’s poetry. At least
he talks about sperm and chastity so presumably is not yet dead from the waist
down. He’s successful and I am not, so criticism from me sounds like sour
grapes. I call to thank him for the books; a woman who is probably his wife
answers. Should I be embarrassed? We are NOT having A Thing. Out in the
yard with dogs trying to read Teilhard de Chardin. Hot sun.
Café Rabelais, Wed 21 Mar 79 3:25 PM
Pleasant 3 hr lunch with Usher discussing literature
– he had to run away leaving me with my coffee. Tried to get me to pretend
to date his friend who is wheelchair bound. I have a feeling this was the
whole point of the lunch. I want to talk about literature, he wants to give
me away to his friends. I said No. But couldn’t I just make nice? I said no.
I’m not that kind of nice. I took revenge by asking if he lives with his wife.
He said “sort of”. Their child is “a problem”. No one can write within a mile
of this child. (Poor wife. Luckily her life doesn’t matter!) Usher seemed
taken aback by my questions so maybe I won’t hear from him again.
Good lunch, though. Very cuisine minceur – lots of different dishes and
you don’t feel full afterwards. (Rabelais would have been very
disappointed.) I top off my coffee with a glass of blond chartreuse.
At the Phillips, I saw a Goya that made me want to burst into tears.
Note to self: reorganize Courtney entirely around paintings. But which
artist would be perfect to express my anti-heroine?
4:20 PM Thurs 22 Mar 79
Today a model for what all days should be.
I’ve passed unscathed through the financial hysteria of closing, even
have money in the bank. Sparkling weather; spring is definitely here.
A day of sunbathing – the first are always the worst – skin a white blubbery
mass. Reading Kroll’s book on Plath – gives one furiously to think. She
wants to find everything in the poems themselves – and of course – that’s
exactly where it all is. Plath controlled by potency symbols.
I am sick of Devon’s letters – he must “shield his eyes”
against my radiance”. Come on. I can’t believe he doesn’t want exactly
the life he’s got. Always hard for me to believe that one can reject the
sprinkles, the cherries, the walnuts on the sundae. My family always
lectured me for being attention-seeking and voracious – so it makes
me shy to advance myself into anyone’s purview. Plath seemed prepared
to be loved for her accomplishments rather than her being – a scary
Although I do recognize that I am trying to
experience my own “wholeness” through the eyes of another with all
the danger that implies. Trying to kick my sugar cravings.
11:30 AM Fri 23 Mar 79 More sunbathing – my own skin smells
intoxicating to me. Like pool water, like beach sand, childhood.
Dixie – “God’s lioness” stretches out beside me, wind ruffling her fur.
I write a poem about dogs.
Went on fetching sticks
Long after it was dead.
We’d find them on the stoop
Arranged In patterns
Pete would sigh and say
That’s poor old Monk all right
Still missing people games
Heaven won’t allow
Add it to my ghost story book. Unexpected tear sheets in the mail from Usher
– his reviews of Plath. He says he didn’t think it “professional” to disclose
that he knew her – that seems unprofessional to me. Makes his comments
seem underhanded: pale. He says diplomatically about my poetry that I’m a “rare being.” Hmmm.
11:40 AM Mon 26 Mar 79 Ezra Pound’s last years (Nigel Stock) make very
depressing reading. I wish “survivors” seemed more enviable, considering the alternative is Death at the Height of Glory. The good news about a long life
is, you can accumulate quite a body of work – the bad news is your instrument
is increasingly deranged.
Dreadful schedule this week – 5 shifts including one
double. Present of $2500 “house gift” from Dad means I don’t need to accept
but I would have to quit and I’m not ready. These are the best places to dance
with the best managers – I don’t want to get thrown into some of the compromising situations I’ve heard tell of. Plus they just let me up and leave for vacation
whenever I want. Can’t play that hole card too often.
Spent all day wandering the mazes of literature
– look at Lillian Hellman – surely she’s getting very bizarre. She’s a “history
fixer” and no one wants artists doing that.
3:20 PM Tues 27 Mar 79 A bad day doesn’t make a bad week thank God.
Got drunk with Maureen last night, (too much sherry in our tea) but with
careful diet and lots of sleep I bounce back. Anne Lindbergh’s Flower &
Nettle a great improvement on previous volumes. Tantalized by Rosamond
Lehmann, who ought to be my next project. I AM HAVING ALL MY HAIR CUT OFF MAY 1!!!
Starlight 8:30 PM Thurs 29 Mar 79
Joselle plies me with Chablis – I succumb to get her
to spill her secrets – but her secret seems to be she’s thinking of turning
lesbian and her gaze on me seems somewhat fixed. Or am I imagining things?
Two glasses of wine on an empty stomach and I’m a goner. God knows I long
for the flesh – those “brown motherly furrows” as Plath calls them are in need of plowing. Would I have to exclaim over her body the way men exclaim over me?
It just doesn’t sound fun. If only she were less female. More boyish. Order a cheeseburger to snap myself back to reality. This is a dangerous world to be
Reading Randall Jarrell’s Third Book of Criticism.
I enjoy him enormously.
11PM – Shank of the evening. I am dancing superbly
but tips very bad. The approach of tax time or are they simply seeing too much
of me? The latter, no doubt. Went to the health club today but I won’t renew
when my experimental month is up. I was seduced by their sauna and masseur but need something closer to home.
Starlight 2:30 PM Sat 31 Mar 79 Hot day – sun behind clouds – the sky is violet
and the air intense – looks like rain, but I’m overflowing with joy and luck
and good fortune. Just ate an enormous chef’s salad and two cups of coffee.
All I needed for returned confidence was one big tipper and a non-suicidal letter
from Devon. (He’s been depressed, is all.) Obviously it will never work out
between us. We would be in competition each trying to get the other to play
caretaker. I need too damn much care. It would be madness. Discuss this over
vod & tons with Avril. Invited back to Mulberry Island, but also got a card to the
Bullets opening (which I prefer.) Reading The World, the Flesh and Father
Smith. Dancing very well – what a pity I’m “sculpting in snow”. Feeling in
tune opens a clear lens to the soul.
9PM Tues 3 Apr 79 Buying spree with A. Bought a pile of silk shirts and
a satin whipcord coat & skirt (black). Immortal piece I should still be wearing
thirty years from now. We had a lovely lunch at Third Edition – reminiscing
about our lovers’ bodies – what we treasure most – I vote for the flock of
milky-white scars above Devon’s buttocks. Aaah. Intimations of glorious,
irreproducible mortality. I am also irate at not hearing from Usher and even
more irate at myself for being irate. He is obviously a no go so what’s wrong
with me? I think I may be like those explorers expiring for lack of vitamin C.
Need to force myself to eat raw blubber just to save my life. It’s a wonder anyone survives.
Reading 3rd vol David Garnett’s autobiog – what an
unlikeable human being.
Car pooped out on us will cost $250 to fix.
Starlight 9:15 PM Wed 4 Apr 79 I hate wasted days. Drove all the way to White Flint
Mall to pick up my rhinestone glasses – a pin broke on them – and all
the way back. Grrr.
Not liking Robt Frost’s letters and Christina Stead’s
House of Nations is even harder to get into. But things looking up on
diet front. Fewer binges. 5 days of rain, and a power mogul in the
audience who keeps instructing me on how to please him. I curtsy down
to the floor very gracefully and pretend I don’t speak English.
Starlight 8:25 PM Sun 8 Apr 79 Burst of freedom rescues me from inertia. My best
moments are intense enjoyment of the present: must write and examine
everything. Revel in my own growth – including comprehension that Usher
Glayne can’t be my crutch. Lost 4 lbs eating apples and feel good – refuse
to take a guy’s tip because he licked his lips at me. Yuck. Jervaze came into
the bar last night, dragging his shame-filled self across the floor. I couldn’t
resist suggesting he come home with me – he was so excited – love poured
out of him like a dizzying force. I browsed greedily on his beautiful body. It
was like plugging into an electric current. He moaned, “You’re so good to
me” but when my orgasm came it was just a little pop – uncorking a bottle of
stale champagne. So goodbye to all that. Masturbation is really a lot less
Out to China Syndrome movie tomorrow with Avril.
John Middleton Murray is a blubberer. Usher sent me a poem entitled “I
dream of starting off with you” which was obviously not written for me. Took
her name out and slammed my name in. What could go wrong? What a pity
we leave choice up to men when they so clearly have no idea what they are