Monday, April 03, 2006

I am a Superstar

Be forewarned: Nice Christian Families might wish to look the other way this evening and sing hymns instead. Or perhaps not. Pretty Lady believes in cultural integration.

Pretty Lady is Floored. She never would have dreamed it possible. She is Cool. She is Bad-Ass. A girl from the Edge, a girl with a blog called "Entropic Doom" is a fan of hers.

This girl has Lived, and lived to tell the tale. An excerpt:

And there must be something in that laughter, or in the streams of blood that are now trickling down my face from unseen scalp lacerations the way I wanted it in the first place, or something in Boston Pete's face as he tries to pull himself back into some semblance of manly rage, or in the way I'm tossing that pretty pink-and-white cupcake of a chair back and forth in a manner that will leave my unwitting biceps and those complicated-named stringy muscles in my forearms sore for a week, all the time eyeing that herd of gazelle-girls twitching on the sofa. There must be something in some of it, anyway, because before I can hurl the chair like I've been rehearsing, several things happen at once that I will not recognize for their acts of love and bravery until it's far too late to thank any of its heroes.

Spacey Stacey reaches over and slaps the "play" button on the cd player, sending Beck reeling with mellow madness back through the room's smoky air currents.

Stephanie grabs the bottle of hooch and turns to the bunny girls with a forced smile.

Bastard starts forward and grabs Boston Pete in a half-joking, half-assed high-school wrestling hold, making some asinine joke as he does so.

Loaf springs forward to grab me up in unyieldingly huge arms, scooping me off my feet and through the door before I can drop the chair; it jams in the doorframe and I let go of it, at the same time as I let my head droop onto the meaty shoulder of this, my friend since before I was even kissed.

Now, Pretty Lady has devoured the works of Cookie Mueller. She has a passing familiarity with Henry Miller and little Anäis Nin. She was dwelling with fondness upon reminiscences of Mary McCarthy, just the other evening. It is her firm opinion that Going to the Edge does not make a person a fine artist, not at all--this is a misconception that has led to the tragic destruction of more fine young souls than she cares to count. But when a person with sensitivity and talent hurls herself to the edge and draws back, sometimes poetry results. She has hope for this one.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link....I'm reading her stuff from now on. Another excerpt from same writer/blog (from November 2005):


She is six or seven years old, running through scrubby underbrush, laughing. The high excited voices of children, boys, up ahead of her. Her pink tights and fluffy tutu are splattered with the mud that splurts up around her clomping feet laced tight into an older child’s army boots. She stops short, quiet, listening, then crouches down, brushing her fine blonde hair out of eyes which squint hard to see things I can’t. She smiles, perfect, heartbreaking, vicious, and begins to creep forward again, black plastic machine gun raised to her shoulder, rosebud lips pursed in preparation to provide the accompanying sound effects.

My dreams have always been strange, surreal, usually frightening or enraging, but they have always centered around me. Me, of course. This is my internal landscape we’re talking about here.

She is lying still and wide-eyed in her crib, where she never sleeps in real life. Their impossibly long hairy limbs chitter over the perfect bridge of her nose, slide down her plump cheek to catch themselves in the china-delicate curve of her ear. Thousands of eyes glitter from hundreds of faces, and her eyes biggest of all, peering out from under her bristling spider mask.

I used to dream about spiders, some, but as a child, my most terrifying dreams were of an enormous black cat, big as our house, that would come nightly and kill me, then parade my lifeless body around in front of my parents, who never looked up from the yardwork to notice. I watched from the highest limbs of the backyard elm, unable to scream, unable to close my eyes.

I am walking down the stairway of a glittering high-end hotel lobby, approaching a small landing where the stairs turn. She is only weeks old, wrapped securely in a soft pink blanket. The high heel of my strappy classy shoes slips on the slick marble, and I pitch forward. She sails out of my arms, weightless, in slow motion, arcs over the railing and I don’t see her land, but I hear the cracking wet thud before I make it to the edge.

I wake up retching. I wake up in cold frenzied sweats, wake up and can’t go back to sleep for hours, for hundreds of counted breaths rippling that tiny chest, and when I do drift back off, it’s only with her hot restless feet pressed into the fat of my stomach or her breath, scalding and reassuring, on my arm.

I am driving to Topeka, reason unknown. Almost there, I look in the rearview mirror, checking to see if she’s fallen asleep in the hypnotic hum of motion, and she’s not there. Her car seat isn’t there. I left her at home. Forgot her. She’s all alone in the house and the door’s not even locked. It’s half an hour to get back home, and how did I make it this far and not realize I left her behind in the first place? I want to drive over a bridge, break my nose, anything that will let me take it back. Traffic on this mostly-abandoned back highway turns suddenly gridlock. It is hours before I make it back to her. Her diapers are so soggy it is as if she hasn’t been changed in days. Drool rash and cradle cap have anti-miraculously appeared on her flawless skin, her cotton dress is caked with vomit. Lice swarm through the wisps of pale hair on her tiny scalp. She never smiles for me again.

I used to think my dreams were horrible, worse than anybody’s, ever. I woke up with bloody knuckles, having punched the wall in a somnolent rage. I dreamed that I was breaking the necks of people who’d hurt me, or that I was trying to smash in the face of some asshole, known or unknown, but the harder I hit the harder he laughed.

I answer the door because it’s just a girl, and a young one at that. But a man rushes through, young and skinny and stinkingly desperate, a man with a knife. “Take whatever you want, I’ll do whatever you want, just please, please don’t hurt my baby.” I hear these words, and even dreaming it takes a few moments to believe I said them. The gun is in the cabinet where it should be, but it’s too risky, she’s so heavy, so squirmy, I can’t load it without putting her down and maybe it’s just safer to beg and cooperate. Maybe in all the excitement I can hide her, and a neighbor will hear her crying, call the cops, after they’re gone. I do not stop to think where I’ll be after they’re gone.

My daydreams, as well as those that come at night, have, for as long as I can remember, centered around survival. Behind my closed eyes as a kid I ran down paths I’d memorized in the daylight, out the window, behind the windbreak, down along the creek, behind the sparse cedar trees lining the road until I got to the neighbor’s to call for help. Washing the dishes, as an adult, I drift along memorized maps of county roads, long-forgotten highways, gravel paths leading from field to field, staying off the main routes, down to my parents’ house, back to the Hoyts’ for guns and food, into the Ozark mountains, into the land, away from people and their craziness. I always keep four days’ worth of portable food in the house, always guns and ammunition and empty knapsacks in the closet by the door. Not packed, I’m not some paranoid fruitcake, but they can be packed in five minutes. Of course I haven’t timed it. Not lately, anyway.

The house in the country, not mine, someone else’s. They have come in the night, and I can hear the screams of those left in the house leaking out into the cold darkness around me. I clutch her to me as tight as I can, my balance off-center with her silent warm weight. I twist my ankle in a frozen rut of mud and keep running, stumbling, panting an under-the-breath tuneless lullaby. I run forever, but never get out of hearing distance, and I wonder only what I will do if she wakes up and cries. All I can think of is the desperate antics of prairie hens, all I know is that I, too, can cluck and scold and flap my wings, leading them away.

In my old dreams, I may have been scared, terrified, but I was always brave. I almost never ran, and when I did I was swift, none of this slo-mo monster movie invisible glue nonsense. I fought, I screamed, I rained down destruction and hellfire, or at least tried to. My dreams were all about immediate gratification, the satisfaction of bullet into muscle or fist into face. My dreams were bloody, and I always felt like I should enjoy them more than I did. I felt great when I was in them, depressed when I woke.

She and I are hiding at my parents’ house. The Chinese have invaded; we stopped listening to the reports on the radio once the fireworks started marching across the sky, set off at every new conquered city, approaching us steadily from the south. My mother has her hidden up in the attic. I am downstairs loading the shotgun, shoving extra shells in my pockets, my bra. I step out onto the porch ready to fight, and they are legion. Their numbers spill off the road, tramping through the ditches and fields. I know, as I have in many similar dreams before this one, that I am outnumbered, that fighting is futile, useless, suicidal. For the first time, even in dreams, I lay the gun at my feet.

Anonymous said...

Aw, shucks, you are all far too kind. (I'm humble enough to take Miller-esque as a compliment).
I don't know how close to The Edge I can be said to be living these days--SAHM doesn't have quite the Underground Credibility of rentwhore--but I'm flattered as heck by your praise nonetheless.

Pretty Lady said...

I don't know how close to The Edge I can be said to be living these days--SAHM doesn't have quite the Underground Credibility of rentwhore

Good, darling, I am very glad to hear it. Artists rarely produce great work while actually ON the Edge, but some of us have to go there to get our source material.

And Scooter, it is when Style communicates universal Content with maximum impact that great art is produced. One or the other alone makes 'nice try, but...' material.