I got Kurt Vonnegut's new book in the mail just before Xmas last year; I thought it must be a gift from a friend who spotted it on my Amazon wish list. But today, I found out different.
The book is a gift from someone named David Madden. If I had your email, David, I'd write you in person! It has taken me all these months to read your "gift message," that impossibly small print on the slip of paper that came in the Amazon package. I've been using it as a bookmark!
This afternoon, my lover pulled it out of the book, and said, "Have you read this?":
Dear Susie, We talked to each other a few years ago— I had a friend, a stripper, who taught herself to read using your books and a dictionary; 'twas her turning point. Recall? Peace, David.
Wow. David's friend was a beautiful Russian woman from Odessa. Back in the 80s, she had one of her penpals in the US take copies of my work, rip them into pieces, and use it as packing material for a glass vase — as if the paper was only stuffing for a box.
When she received the package, she would smooth out each ripped piece, tape them together, iron them, collate them, and get out her English/Russian dictionary. And then share them with her girlfriend. There was— needless to say— no Russian language lesbian anything. No paper, no community, nothing.
When she emigrated to the US, she came directly to the On Our Backs offices in San Francisco, a hole in the wall overhanging the worst Chinese restaurant in the city.
She was SO beautiful, as I'm sure David recalls, and her story had us all in tears. I have rarely met such a determined young person. I know she started her own business after stripping at the O'Farrell for a couple years. Then what? Maybe you'll fill me in.
I've been in the middle of a bad day. That means a lot of rejection on the work front... media people who don't come out of their coma until you scream, "Paris is on the phone!" And that's just the clueless ones. On the more vindictive tip, I've gotten so much personal hate mail about my recent posts, I feel like one of Napoli's sodomized virgins by proxy.
In consequence, I've made several threats to my loved ones today about how I am "this close" to flippin' vegiburgers at the school cafeteria with a hair net and a bad attitude. —In Alberta.
To find this note today, typed in 6 pt. italic Palatino on the waybill, gave me pause. I put down the gun, and had a little moment of gratitude. Maybe it's the lunar eclipse.
Thank you David! Thank you, Anastasia! Thank you, Kurt! Who was it who wrote to me recently, "Let no one disturb your peace— and live to fight another day" ? I'm going to write that on my forehead for tomorrow!