mia loves henry miller
Letter 11 – Baths Before Burlesque Shows, New Beginnings, Overcoming Obstacles, and the Shock of Being Trapped and Exposed
12/11/2011 10:33 p.m.
“The difference between burlesque and the newspapers is that the former never pretended to be performing a public service by exposure.” —I. F. Stone
It’s getting late. I plan on going to bed soon. But, I wanted to write a few sentences. I have to paint a majority of the day tomorrow. I am hoping to finish a portrait. I have been working on for weeks. My goal is to finish by Christmas time – which is quickly approaching. The portrait is for the mural project. However, my soul is itching to write. I will have to do it in small segments throughout the day tomorrow. I wanted to get a head start on it tonight. The words I want to write are flowing out of me like a rushing river. It’s hard to keep up with all the topics I’d like to discuss with you. For, now I’m just keeping everything simple and concentrating on one letter at a time. I suppose it’s better to write a little bit to you whenever I can, than to not do it at all. Each moment I get a chance to write, a few sentences here and there, it will get me closer to finishing. I am finding the bliss in writing again. It’s a highly euphoric feeling. Thank you for being my muse and inspiration.
Good night Henry, I will write for a little while before I start painting in the morning.
12/12/2011 – 7:26 a.m.
Good morning Henry. I wanted to sleep in. My body is tired. But, the inspiration to write seems more powerful. I have about an hour to write, and then it’s time to paint. My foot is still swollen and sore from slipping on bathwater last week. If it continues, I will have to see a doctor. I may have fucked up the wire and pins that are in my foot from my surgery, last year. Somehow, I will manage to get a few hours of painting in. It’s turning out very nice. A little bit of work, is better than nothing. The same goes with my writing. I will eventually finish this letter and my painting if I move forward, even if my work is done in small spurts.
“If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having.” –Henry Miller
When I first began burlesque, it was the beginning of our long depression, soon after 911.
Mr. C had lost his job with a large computer firm shortly after we got married, which was about two years after we met.
He never found another job in the computer industry at the high salary he was making. He had to start at the bottom again, in a new career, making $7 per hour, with a brand new company, repossessing cars, security work, and sometimes private investigations – no benefits. Life totally sucked! It was very desperate times. We were both working our asses off. I was an artist and writer for MindCaviar.com. I also did many other freelance writing jobs – which sometimes didn’t pay – or it didn’t pay much – But, with my hard work, I gained a reputation, experience, publishing, and refinement – which is the way it works in the writing and art industry. But, my dreams are big! I believe that all my experiences from the past decade will eventually pay off. I can feel it in my bones. I will not give up. I can feel it all coming together. It’s been slow, but I know that I’m close to making it as a financially successful artist and writer. I just need the right connections.
“Of all the artists I have been privileged to associate with throughout my long life I could hardly have known four individuals more different from one another in so many ways than Reichel, Brassai, Michouze and Delaney. Yet they all had one thing in common, a virtue usually possessed by saints – I mean patience. And by patience I mean the everlasting courage to persist in the path one has chosen despite all obstacles.” –Henry Miller, This is Henry, Henry Miller from Brooklyn, by Robert Snyder.
Our children lived with us, except my stepdaughter. She was wild and independent at the time, exploring the freedoms of the city. My first husband didn’t offer anything financially to help us, as usual. He was thousands of dollars behind on child support. Mr. C’s first wife took a big chunk of our money. He still had to pay child support for his son – court ordered, regardless if we had his son living with us. She didn’t have a care in the world. She didn’t want to take care of her children. She could be a nightmare, stalking us and Mr. C by telephone and frequent, drunken drive by’s. Sometimes she would just walk into our home, as if it were hers. I had to call the police often – life seemed brutal and unfair.
Yet, we always seemed to function fairly well as a family. Of course we had major bumps and bruises along the way – many challenges and obstacles. Sometimes we encountered some very large bumps! However, most of the time, because of my love for Mr. C, and his for me, I didn’t live in chaos, fear, and regret. My home was calm a majority of the time. We managed to have great dinners on the table, a warm, cozy home with lots of beautiful land surrounding us. My stepson and my children blended well together – or so I think. There were many good times during our dark times.
We eventually lost the five bedroom farm house we were living in – foreclosure. We moved, with the help of many good friends, to a five bedroom rental house nearby, even though the expense of it was high. We were doing our best to keep our children in the same schools they had been attending for a few years – however, due to school district boundaries, which we never had the time to investigate and discover – that never happened – our efforts failed. Our lives were still a mess. My only joy was my marriage, my dancing at the nightclub, performing with MJ, and burlesque.
We hung on for as long as we could, until financially, things fell apart. Eventually, we could no longer pay our gas bill. By spring, when the weather became warmer, they shut our gas off. By the late summer, early fall, I began performing burlesque with the first troupe in Minneapolis. I had much to do and so many obstacles to overcome, just to get ready for a show. I would spend hours, for many days before a show, in our large basement, sewing my costumes on my vintage, Kenmore sewing machine, making my pasties, burning myself with my glue gun, adding rhinestones, fringe, sparkling embellishments, and glitter to everything. I would often use for material, old or unworn clothing in my closet, or clothing from my friends, which they didn’t want, and up-cycle the material into burlesque costumes. I could be very inventive at the time, which was very much a rush to my creative soul.
“Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.” —Henry Miller
At times, I was so disgusted and frustrated with our depressing, financial circumstances, I would throw temper tantrums, refusing to accept and submit to these unkind times. I especially hated to boil four large pots of water on the stove top, four times as fast I could get the water to boil, in order to take a bath before burlesque shows. I sometimes had large burns on my legs from accidently sloshing the hot water on me, while transferring it from the large pots from the kitchen stove, into the bath tub. I often think back, wondering how I ever made it through those difficult days. Where did I ever find the energy to perform, afterwards? Yet, they made me stronger, wiser, and more appreciative of life.
During the beginning of my burlesque career, I would perform my numbers early in the show, and rush off to dance as Bondage–A-Go-Go dancer at the nightclub. I never got paid much from either job, generally way less than $50.00 for each performance or dance night at the club. It wasn’t much – but, when I saved the small amounts, every week, it added up. It was better than nothing and I loved what I did. I was crazy, passionate about it. It’s what illuminated my life at the time.
I recall this one Saturday night, in the dressing room of the burlesque show, as I was finishing up my number, practically naked, wearing only pasties and panties, attempting to get into regular clothes, so I could leave and get to the night club, which wasn’t too far away. It was extremely hot in the dressing room. Humidity clung to the sweet smelling clouds of marijuana in the smoke filled room. Large beads of sweat dripped off of me. My make-up felt like it was melting on my face. There were several large fans attempting to cool the dressing room – long, thick blades whirling as fast as they could, attempting to lower the temperature. I wasn’t thinking about how close I was to one of the fans, still naked, except for pasties and panties. Suddenly, my long, black hair was sucked into a nearby fan! I couldn’t move, I was trapped, vulnerable, exposed, locked into one place by the strands of my now tangled hair. I had nowhere to hide from all the eyes in the dressing room. I was stuck in one place and couldn’t move. If it wasn’t for Mr. C and his patience, I would have had to resort to cutting my long thick hair just to escape. After much work as well as time, detangling, unwrapping, and very patient finagling, I was eventually liberated from the fan, extremely grateful that my hair was still long and extremely thick.
“When you surrender, the problem ceases to exist. Try to solve it, or conquer it, and you only set up more resistance. . . . The most difficult thing to admit, and to realize with one’s whole being, is that you alone control nothing. . . .” —Henry Miller
Not all of my letters will be filled with highly sexual, erotic content. I want to tell you my story as I lived my life – to give you an idea of my joys, struggles, obstacles, beginnings, and disasters. This letter may not be as thrilling to read, but, it gives you an idea of some of the things I endured, which I never thought I would survive at the time. The writing of yours which I enjoyed the best from your vast collection of books; was all the ones which had published the letters you wrote to so many people, about your wisdom, living every day life – which is what inspired me to start writing these letters to you.
“If only the dead could talk – not about the afterworld but the one they departed! If only we were able to learn from the experience of others! But, we do not learn that way, if indeed we learn at all during our short stay here below. All we can hope to learn is how to live, but for that there are no instructors. Each one has to find out for himself, or as some say, find the Path and become one with it. The irony of it all is that the errors one makes are just as important, or perhaps more important, that the right findings. Trial and error, trial and error – until one gives up trying, which is simply another way of saying gives up butting his head against a stone wall.” –Henry Miller, Sextet
Over the decade, as my life continually moved forward, it got better, day by day, minute by minute, permitting glints of light to shine in the darkness. The suffering never lasts forever. Sometimes it’s the most desperate, inconvenient, darkest hours when I find great strength and creativity rushing up and out of me.
It’s time for me to paint. I’m glad I wrote to you instead of slept in. The sensation of writing to me, feels as good as a vigorous, early morning workout, or great sex. I will write to you on my breaks. I also, still have a lot of work to do, to get ready for our New Year’s Eve, burlesque show. It’s going to be a long day!