I found Eddie’s letters last night. I’d tucked them in with some other papers & forgotten about them. They bring back a torrent of feeling. I miss Eddie. I haven’t written or talked about him in a long time. I can’t believe he was so stupid as to start shooting heroin. There’s so many ex-junkies in the rooms. Everyone says there’s better sobriety in AA than in NA. I’ve never been to an NA meeting – I never had a problem with hard drugs. Honestly, I’m getting sick of AA – not that I want to start drinking again – but the weather is getting nice & I have better things to do than to sit & listen to someone go on about their drinking days.
A year ago today, Bard Ellison called me to ask me out. It seems like 4 years ago. I feel 5 years older than last year, 10 years older than when I first met Jon Kudzma. So much has happened & honestly – there are such incredible gaps in my memory – so much I simply do not remember at all.
On my lunch. It is hot & windy. I can hear the store flag flapping in the wind. It is not a beautiful place, this parking lot. But there are trees up on that hill & grass. I should bring a blanket to sit on, up there. I’ve pulled down my dress to my breasts so that they can get sun. A blossom, blown off the tree by the wind, just fell into my iced tea. I should bring a thermos full. I spend too much money at Friendly’s. I have just enough time to get a sandwich & an iced tea & come out here to sit & smoke a joint in solitude. Then I go back to work stoned & happy to handle unhappy customers & solve problems.
I have been seeing one of the stock boys here at work – the first time I saw him he was coming out of the men’s room opposite the credit office & I was like – who’s that gorgeous boy? – over 6-foot tall & built like a linebacker with long hair & a mustache. A few days later, I was on the loading dock checking the manifest & I saw him again & I realized that he was a coworker & I went through the office files to find out who he was – Donovan Murphy, just turned 18 – compared to the other guys I have been seeing for the past several years, way too young for me. & I wrote him off because of that.
But one Friday, I was handing out checks – usually Diane does it but she was off for the day – & he was at the window, picking up his check & I couldn’t help but flirt with him. I noticed he had a Grateful Dead t-shirt on. “Hey, you’re into the Dead,” I said. “The Grateful Dead Movie is playing tonight at Cleveland State.”
“Yeah I know,” he answered. “Ya wanna go with me?”
So I did. & afterwards we parked & fucked – he was really good raw talent – as Janis Joplin would’ve said – real teachable. He must have liked me too because he started asking me out every Friday – we’d see a movie or go to a show or catch a band at a club. He has a fake I.D. so he can get real beer & alcohol – technically I’m not drinking so if I can’t get real beer, it’s not an issue – but these silly distinctions Ohio has makes me miss New York. Anyway – he’s really into the Dead. Like totally. Calls himself a “Deadhead” & everything. He’s been going to Grateful Dead shows since he was twelve years old & he has a bunch of concert tapes – plus all their albums – even the crappy ones. He’s also into Bob Dylan, The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and the Allman Brothers. Quite a change from the punk rock I was listening to back in Buffalo. He knows almost nothing about punk – but unlike so many guys I know, he’s willing to listen & learn. He genuinely likes music. & I think he genuinely likes me.
I finally tripped! Donovan went to Ashtabula & bought twenty hits of acid on Friday night – I was pissed off because he was supposed to call me & he never did – apparently he dropped as soon as he got them & he was tripping all night & forgot about me. But we went out Saturday night & it was so great. We dropped right after he picked me up & we went out to this small club in Medina. We picked up a hitch-hiker on the way out there & he sold some to him & he also sold 10 hits at the club. Donovan’s a real enterprising kind of guy. Me, I’d want to hold on to them, but Donovan made a profit on what he sold & he’s going to buy more. He may have sold even more when we were there, I wasn’t really paying attention. I was watching this young professional in an expensive Ralph Laurent tropical print shirt & a pair of faded blue painter’s pants play pool. Medina has a lot of young professionals from Cleveland – they go out wearing expensive shirts & old jeans – they’re just out of grad school & they just landed a job at some big corporation. There was a terrible band playing, it was one of the worst I’ve heard in a long time. I was longing to dance but of course the music sucked. I was just standing there waiting to get off. I was tugging on Donovan’s arm: “When’s it gonna start, when’s it gonna start?” I was jumping up & down, almost. Donovan was smiling. “Well, you’re pretty hyper, that’s a good sign.” I said, “I feel pretty good – like I’ve done some good speed & smoked a few joints – like I could go all night.” I felt totally good – usually I have some depression hanging out somewhere – even when I’m really happy, there’s that shadow hanging over me. But last night it was all gone. The band was setting up for a second set & I couldn’t stand it, so we went out to the car & smoked a joint. All of a sudden I started laughing – I couldn’t stop – & Donovan said, “Stop laughing! Go ahead! Try to stop!” I couldn’t do it. Every time I tried, I just busted up again. Eventually, I sobered up. “So this is tripping,” I said seriously & started laughing again. It was like I could make fun of myself & everyone else & everything so much easier! I mean – that’s what I do all day at The May Company – make fun of people. Imagine it tripping! We drove all over the place & eventually parked in a cornfield & fucked. It was beautiful – I got home at 4 a.m. I said, “Oh, my mother is gonna be mad at me tomorrow, she’s gonna be pissed! Oh well, what the fuck. It’s worth it.” I went upstairs & went to bed. My back really hurt cuz the skin had been rubbed off in the car – by the cheap carpet – & I put some Vaseline on it to make it feel better. I lay in bed & watched the sky lighten outside my window – watched the darkness swirl – I felt like when I was a little kid & I used to pretend that my bed was really a giant’s shirt pocket – or a raft – I was just lying there on this raft, floating – I didn’t get any sleep at all last night. My mother called me to get up at 6:30 & I was still tripping – I got up, washed my hair, got dressed for church – church was great. I shook hand with everyone & grinned. I couldn’t stop grinning. But it was nice to get back into bed – get some sleep. I slept until 1 p.m. & then got up & ate pan-fried perch & Mama’s great homemade French fries – I’m still tripping. I feel really great.
For a while, I went on a rampage – I just went wild, in the manner of the 18-year-olds I hang with – did acid, drank a lot, stayed out until 4 a.m., etc. – & ya know my mother didn’t dig it & she clamped down on me like she did when I was 18. As if I were still 18. I rebelled – we argued – I compromised. I really didn’t have a choice – I have no money & nowhere to go. At least there was a compromise to be had. I guess I’m more reasonable than when I was 18 & I can also see that my mother is trying to be more reasonable too. She just wants peace & quiet & I am not quiet when I am drunk. I think I am quiet. I am probably noisier when I think I’m being quiet or trying to be quiet than if I just was normal. But like all drunks, I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing.
Sometimes I’m frustrated. Sometimes I feel so goddamned stifled I wanna burst! But I feel like I’m growing into myself. Basically it’s just coming to terms with my loneliness, finding ways to make it work for me. Striving for patience, for an inner serenity – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” – I say that prayer a lot. I mean, it’s just growing up – realizing what I can do & cannot do. Figuring out my goals & how I’m going to achieve them.
One of the things I’ve got going at The May Company is making the silly people who work there laugh – all the phonies who think that fine clothes & the right make-up & hair are the most important thing – make them realize that to laugh & have fun is not antithetical to doing a good job while you’re working. I wanna break through that – I wanna make these people laugh – at the same time, gain their respect for being a hard fucking worker. I’m doing it, too. I know that sometimes I’m too much, which works against me – I’m kinda like Pollyanna – that obnoxious child who goes around making people smile & everyone’s lives better – only I’m the sexy stoned version. I would like to stay in management. I think I have a talent for it. Plus, business needs a good shot of rock’n’roll. It’s far too sanctimonious & self-important.
Mom thinks I should enroll in secretarial school – she says since I already know how to type, it wouldn’t take me long to get a degree & then I could get a decent job as an executive secretary – she says there are several excellent business schools here in Cleveland & I could easily attend classes after work. But not if I’m partying all the time with Donovan & the boys. I really don’t know if I want to be anyone’s damn secretary. I would really like to go back to UB & finish my English degree. But she does bring up some good points – like, even if I go back to UB, I could have a job as a secretary & be able to support myself. So I’m going to look into it.
Basically, I just want a nice place to live & a comfortable income, lots of books & friends who drop in & gossip & talk about the arts & jam – & a job that’s right for me. Oh, I want so much. It’s so good – wanting that much.
I started taking classes at Cleveland Business Institute – it’s right downtown & I can get there easily on the bus after work – it’s sooo boring but at least Mom is happy – I’m taking shorthand & business procedure. I passed the typing exam but the skin of my teeth – I can type like a whiz but my accuracy could be a little better – they advised practicing in the typing lab. But once class is over, I just hop a bus & go home – the last place I want to be is at that school. & I can type at home, on my own typewriter. Of course it’s just a manual machine – not the nice IBM Selectrics that all the offices will have – which of course makes a big difference. But I just want to go home when I’m done with class.
Even though I’m in school, I feel like I’m marking time – not really doing anything – just working & partying – working & partying. At first it was fun – partying in the parks – getting laid in the back seat of Donovan’s car – but now the novelty has worn off. It’s time for a little seriousness. But I don’t know what. Business college isn’t it. I feel like I’m reaching but it seems like so much air – so much nothing.
But oh well. It’s summer – at last – & that’s probably one of the reasons for my restlessness – I just wanna burn burn burn. Sometimes I’m into having a party – sometimes I just lean back & watch, cuz I have trouble digging it – I felt more at home with my Buffalo friends – well, maybe I did. It’s just a little hard – a twenty-year-old chick with eighteen-year-old pretty boys. I have never had any interest in young men & here I am with these boys. I laugh cuz they’re so amusing but I can’t say why I’m laughing – they wouldn’t understand & I don’t want to bruise their fragile egos. I really like Donovan – I’m so much in love with him sometimes – but other times I feel so much older than him & I wonder why I’m with him. We have really good sex – some of the best sex I’ve ever had. The first time we did it, I thought – this boy is good, I’m gonna hang on to him. I mean, it was all about sex. Lately, we’ve been getting a bit bogged down in predictability. The lack of a place to fuck is a problem – all we have is his mother’s car – a Buick Skyhawk – which is not a car you want for sex. It’s almost impossible to move around in that thing. Now that it’s warm, we can open the hatch-back. The thing is, sometimes we have absolutely nothing to say to one another. If it wasn’t for music & sex, we wouldn’t have anything at all.
I wanna talk to Jon. I long for him so much lately. I don’t know why. I guess – I just want to talk to him & see if he’s changed as much I’ve changed. I understand now that I couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t before. It’s strange. I don’t know what I want, but I swear to god, I’d try again & I don’t think the odds are so against me now. Cuz before it was me who hurt me – my messed-up-ness. My neediness. & that’s gone now. I mean, really gone. I know how to deal with someone like Jon now. Always be strong & never – ever – let him know how much you love him or need him. Or love him. Never give him that weapon to use against you.
I can’t sleep at night. So often I’m so tired, so beat, but my mind can’t relax – my body twitches, my feet are hot, & I can’t sleep. I lie there, listening to the clock chimes, not really thinking, just playing tunes in my head. Empty your mind, think of a koan, say a rosary – but in the end, it’s just the tunes, playing, playing – the tunes in my head that never stop.
I’m so bored. I’m can’t even read anymore. There’s not a single novel that intrigues me – I just bought a load of books at the library book sale! – & I almost have to force to study my Greek history which only a few weeks ago was so interesting. I don’t want to read, I don’t want to write, I don’t want to listen to tunes. I don’t want to play the piano, I don’t want to sit still – I don’t want to do anything. I think I’m going crazy or something. My intellect, my interest in life is dying, or it’s sleeping – I wonder when it’ll wake up. If it’ll wake up. I’m so depressed. I’m so homesick.
I think I’ll move back to Buffalo. I’ll work through Christmas at The May Company & then when things quiet down after the January inventory & all the sales, I’ll start negotiating a job at Hengerer’s or one of the other big stores. I would only move if I had a job & I had things budgeted out so I know I could make it. It’ll take thought, it’ll take time & it’ll take patience. But I’m sure that it’s right. I was happy in Buffalo. I was happy even with all the shit I went through. I’m fairly sure that with my present head I would be happy. For one – I know I must live alone. There’s no one I know with whom I want to share a household – no one relationship with whom I would trust that situation. Plus – I want to project myself as Cori – in the singular – not part of Chaotic Bliss – or with Jon Kudzma or anyone else – but by myself. A single woman. A free woman.
I’m just not happy here! There’s not enough interesting people to take the place of the friends I had in Buffalo, or the rock’n’roll scene I loved so much. There is a scene – a huge scene – it’s just not my scene. There’s nothing for me to do here, anyway. I can’t go on living at my mother’s & I can’t move out – I can’t afford to live alone in this city & I don’t have anyone to live with. Donovan’s too young – he’s not ready yet. He’s a wonderful companion – I love him dearly & lord knows the sex with him is the best I’ve ever had but I am under no illusions about our ability to live together. We’re too different – he’s too young for anything like that. Plus – I simply have an overwhelming desire to live alone.
Anyway, it’s a goal. A reason to start saving money. Fifty dollars in the bank – every week – without fail. I have to start budgeting again. Cuz I’m gonna need a lot of things – a lot of money – to move.
Last night I had the most beautiful dream I’ve ever had. It’s the type of dream you wait your whole life of dreaming, the kind of dream that goes on & on & never gets weird or depressing or gets off the point. It was just – oh man – what you’d like to come true – but it was just so wonderful – you know life can’t be this way. I feel like the angels really blessed my sleep last night.
Tish & I were somewhere – visiting some other city. I’d say Buffalo, but it didn’t look like Buffalo in my dream. It was a more beautiful Buffalo – a Parisian Buffalo – if there ever could be such a thing. It was nighttime – everything was lit up. We went into a fast food place for some eats – there was the place where you would order & then a gathering room with some tables where you would eat. Tish got a bowl of chili & I got a hard roll filled with chili. It was really good. I can still taste it – it was so yummy. We were sitting there, having our meal & Mark Miles joined us. We were all talking & laughing at the same time. He was so excited that we were there. He was telling us about everything that was going on & I got the impression that all the cool people from high school & from college were living here – in this city – in this very neighborhood – & everything was really happening. I was like – wow, I got here just in time!
I turned & there was Jon. Like it always happens, I feel his presence before I see him & there he is. He was dressed in white & his hair was straight & he wore his old, thick glasses – the ones he wore when we first met – not the John Lennon wire-rims he has now. Actually this part is a little blurry – maybe I was waking up a little or something. Jon didn’t see me – he was leaning over to talk to someone & I thought, oh it’s another chick, as usual, it’s another chick, of course it is – Then there he was at my shoulder. He wanted to know how I was doing. I told him I was going to school to become an accountant. He said, “But is that what you really want to do?” & I was confused – because I have always wanted to be a writer & a rocker & why would I want to add up numbers all day long? But I need a job that will give me security & that’s the kind of job that provides security. Actually, this part of the dream is a muddle – I can’t really remember what happened next.
No, I remember. Jon kissed me – & the kiss went on & on. Then we were entering the house in which he was living. It was old. The front door was thick dark wood & had glass panes on either side & there was a little lobby inside – dark woodwork all the way throughout the house – hooks for coats & he hung my green coat on one. He took me through the entire house – which was a mess. Outside, there was a garden & you could see the University beyond – the tops of the buildings. Hayes Hall. The Old Lockwood Library.
He told me he worked for the University. He said he wrote all day. He took me to his room & we laid together on his bed, but did not make love – all he did was kiss me & hold me. His hands on my skin felt beautiful. As I fell asleep in my dream, I awoke in real life. I lay there & relived it again & again. Now that I’ve written it, it seems so flat, so nothing. But I feel like something happened to me.
To whom do I write? I sit & sit & – perhaps something “noteworthy” has occurred – I hold my pen over the paper & nothing happens. The words slip off my mind & dissolve & there’s nothing following up. I don’t know if I’m tired or just bored. Or maybe it was just a dream I had when I was younger – that I was a writer, an artist – all gone now in the name of so-called financial reality.
Inside of me I think I hear a scream. But who knows. It’s pretty damn weak. Besides I don’t have time to listen to it anyway. I’ve got to get ready for work now.
Oh wow! Donovan bought a car – a ’77 Chevy Impala – light blue & in fabulous shape for what he paid for it – & we went to Buffalo. He wanted to see the scene that I had been talking about. & there really isn’t any scene anymore – I hate to say it. McVan’s was featuring heavy-metal bands. I remembered what Jon had said in the fall of 1978 about the return of heavy metal & how everyone had laughed. But he was right.
So we went to the Schuper Haus to see Frankie & the Flirts – Frankie Malone’s new band – I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to see that jerk again. But they weren’t bad – in a Romantics kind of way – very pop & bouncy. Jon’s band – Zuperman – opened, although we got there too late to see them. But Jon was still there & my heart was beating so – I couldn’t breathe – I couldn’t think – it was a good thing Donovan was there to steady me – he had no idea who Jon was to me. Jon & I talked for while – mostly about current events in each other lives & who knows what I said. He’s with Sara! They live together! He went on & one about how happy he is! About how she gives him “freedom” & how “when the door is open, the bird doesn’t want to fly away.” Oh, really. I don’t recall chaining him to a fence – or putting him in a cage – I just wanted him to love me & not play games. Does he play games with her? Oh yeah, she’s so fucking perfect. He doesn’t need to.
He touched my hair. “Wild, wild perm,” he said. “Yours too,” I said. His is super short. “I can see your ears.” “I had it cut Wednesday,” he told me. “I had this done yesterday,” I said, laughing. “It still smells like a perm.”
“Who’s this young stud you’re with?” he asked. “Or is this your younger brother?”
All of a sudden, I realized he was jealous. I laughed. “He’s a friend,” I said.
I also talked to Frankie Malone & to Gregski – far less traumatic but still noteworthy – I got hit from all angles last night. Bard was there, too. He was all but rude to me – he had obviously been drinking, which I guess is par for the course now – accusing me of having an affair with Barrett & breaking up Chaotic Bliss – but Barrett would have left anyway. He finished his doctorate & he got a job at Stanford. But Bard acts like it’s all my fault he doesn’t have a band anymore. Ya know – I don’t have a band anymore either.
By the time Donovan & I were back on the road, I had laughed it off – I don’t let this kind of emotional stress get to me anymore. Jon says I’ve noticeably changed. Me too, I see it too! Well, a new hair-do & losing 25 pounds is certainly a “noticeable change”! I was really disappointed by the whole New Wave scene here in Buffalo. For one, the chicks were all so fat & dowdy-looking – they were all in the same old look. Like – they were stuck in a bad 50’s zombie movie or something. I don’t know – maybe Vogue got to me. Seeing haute couture everyday as a matter of course.
My sister Helena’s wedding. I am disappointed not to be a bride’s maid. She picked Tish to stand up with her – why she couldn’t have both of us, I don’t know – but Geoff only has one best man, so I guess you can’t have two bridesmaids. Still – of course she would pick Tish. Nobody picks me. That’s just the truth of the matter. Not when there’s another choice.
It’s a very small wedding – at St. Dominic’s – & then a brunch at Tanglewood Country Club – Mom apparently knows someone there – from AA, of course. No alcohol served at the wedding – no champagne toast – there was sparkling grape juice instead. The food was really good. Eggs benedict & chicken cordon bleu & a really fabulous rice pilaf. Now they’re honeymooning at Geoff’s family’s cabin in the Adirondacks – they’ll be back in two weeks, when Geoff starts his new job at Case Western Reserve University.
I have so much trouble sleeping. I suppose it has a lot to do with my general confusion with career choice, boredom, lack of go –
I want to write, write, write! I want to be a writer. But the lack of a project stalls me. I write, 5, 10 pages & it is nothing, no plot, no hook, nothing. I struggle with a poem & end up pushing it away.
I am very angry. I am angry all the time. I hate my job. I hate business school. I’m tired of pushing myself beyond what is reasonable – I mean, in relation to my recreational pursuits. I hate my life. I wish, I wish I could get some sleep. But I guess – that’s life.
My dreams are so vivid. One night Jon, another Barrett, other times Donovan or John R. or anybody. Very sexual, often violent in feeling &/or action. I wake up drained.
Daytimes are becoming are & are more dreamlike than ever – at least in a very long time. I am quite often dizzy, things seem visually hazy, my eyes lose focus regularly. I am depressed, angry, short-tempered. I hate the person I’m becoming – hard, bitter, brittle. I hope it is just a phase. I would like to change, to be nicer, gentler, more sensitive, but I am so busy, sends to do, supply orders, teletypes & customer always interrupting my train of thought & line of action. I am always masking my thoughts & feelings.
Another night with Donovan. They are all the same. Catch a show, get high, fuck. Tonight we went to see a movie about Jimi Hendrix at Cleveland State. Afterward we parked & fucked. Then we sat & drank bourbon & smoked joints & talked. I was wearing a short dress & dark stockings & black mules. The shadow of my legs pleased me.