Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The First Rule of Curses

When I turned thirty, I went to a psychic who told me I had been hexed with an evil eye, a generational curse that went back many years from the French island (in the South Pacific, close to New Zealand) my mother born on -- New Caledonia. To remove said curse, I was to save nine days of my bath water in jars and call her when I felt it was time and say, Sister are you ready? The psychic weighed at least three hundred pounds and worked out of her house that looked normal except that she had her husband locked in a back bedroom and wouldn't let him out except to use the bathroom. The husband appeared to be severely crippled, and no explanation was given for the strange dynamic between them, not even when he was screaming for many long minutes, a plaintive wail that carried through the walls. To end the session, she put a bunch of crystals in a spaghetti pot, poured rubbing alcohol over them, and chanted to "cleanse my aura." I kept thinking she said that she needed to do an "oral cleansing" which I needed, but I couldn't imagine how she could know that. Maybe she was psychic -- my teeth are always a problem, even though they mostly look okay. Aura clean, I headed out the door with promises to return to see how the evil eye problem was progressing. This is what happens when you pick a psychic out of the yellow pages.

The first rule of curses is that you have to know one has been cast. This follows in all lines of belief, what some religious people refer to as the power of the word. I thought about the evil eye, what it might mean. My great grandmother's mother got stabbed to death by a jealous lover (who was a prisoner at the penal colony where my great-great grandfather worked as a guard) with my great grandmother (at age two) in her arms. One of her sons died of skin cancer, a huge sore on his face. He'd put a raw steak on his face at night and the sore would feed off of it. My mother's mother spoke of voodoo on the island, the people who casts spells, and she herself could read ordinary playing cards, tell you what the future held in the jacks and hearts. After my grandfather died, she lived with us, smoking a million cigarettes a day and reading romance novels. But every once in a while, she'd bring out her cards, not to read, but to play Solitaire. She never tired of the game, its hypnotic effect, the way she didn't have to address anyone else or tell them what had happened or what would happen, the worn playing cards hitting the dining room table until the moment she knew she had lost and would gather them all up and start over.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

"If the moon smiled, she would resemble you./ You leave the same impression/ Of something beautiful, but annihilating." Sylvia Plath (from the poem "The Rival")

Movies to drink by:

The Last Picture Show, Affliction, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, My Beautiful Laundrette, Faces, Cries and Whispers

Benedictions and Maledictions

In answer to the Ted/Sylvia questions (or why poets might think twice about living together):

For the lovely Ms. Robin (in her question about the movie Sylvia) and Mr. Anonymous Rants (in regards to whether I think Ted Hughes was the villian he is made out to be),

I loved the movie Sylvia, although many people I know did not. I feel it was a pretty measured view of the entire relationship, meaning that lots of people cast Ted Hughes as a villian who ruined Sylvia Plath's life, her work, and so on while the movie tends to bring a lot more depth to the story. While Ted was not the nicest man and certainly not prone to a lot of excessive bathing, I believe this view is unfair. As with most situations, the reasons why Sylvia stuck her head in the oven are as complicated as her poetry and it's an insult to her (she got upset because her husband slept with another woman and couldn't take it!) and him, the public insistence of his evil. The new introduction to her last book Ariel, by her daughter Frieda Hughes, helps understand all of this much better. By all means, watch the movie -- it's great and funny and sad!

It is my belief that each relationship (romantic and otherwise) has a signature, a story and energy that gives insight into it. For Sylvia and Ted, I believe this story is how they met. They were college students at a party, and Ted told Sylvia he was a poet (he was better known than she on campus for his work). They kissed for a little while and she bit him on the cheek, hard enough to draw blood, then ran out the door. So began the most famous poetic courtship of our time. And on this note, good luck to Hopeless in Bloomfield Hills with your story -- it need not be terribly detailed or long, just something for us to begin to get an idea of your situation.


cindy said...

Amazing entry today, stunning really. I love the mischievous look on your face in the picture, too. So sweet! And yes, Sylvia was more responsible for her decisions than any one man could ever be. We all have to die sometime, and she merely chose when and how, which is more than most will ever do.


robin said...

You are such an articulate writer, M! Awesome post! I love the bit about the signature of a relationship. I think the way, shape & form of that initial meeting is like a question that can only be answered through the evolvement of the two. Sometimes it's answered; sometimes not. Suicide may be an answer to suffering, but I don't buy it as one of true resolution. Any theories on why such great writers & artists have committed suicide? There's probably been tons written about it; I just haven't read any. -R

P.S. I can't imagine drinking while watching Cries & Whispers...although it might lead one to drink afterward. :) Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I love you, you are so funny -- are you single? Mike

Wichita-Lineman said...


I don't know what to say other than I think you're a freak magnet. Where do you find all these fascinating people?

I hear you on the teeth. I have my first dentist appointment in like a decade today. I have some nasty teeth that have been keeping me up all night the past few week. I was thinking about giving the dentist a 2X4 and telling him to just knock me out.
Affliction is a perfect movie to enjoy a few cocktails to. I cringe every time Nolte pulls his tooth out with a pair of pliers.


bonnie said...

Hey honey,
a very sexy post today all around.
But Mike: trust me, you wouldn't stand a chance. Better to bark up another tree.
kiss kiss

John said...

Dear Michelle,

Yet another lovely post. I like your movies, know them all except Faces. Great day for singing in the rain today.

Bravo, beautiful! I'll stock up on the Taittinger, in case you ever need any extra for your drink recipes ;)

James said...

You rock -- I remember you from school. I was in creative writing -- James, the guy with all the piercings.

Cheri said...

It's almost horrible to say this, but I love the way Sylvia killed herself. Sticking her head in the oven but throwing the windows open and keeping the kids busy... how insane it all is.. It's just such a thing only a tortured writer's soul could do. Nothing like going out uniquely, eh?

Anonymous said...

The best book on suicide and lit. is by A. Alvarez. He knew Plath and was among her first reviewers in England. Michelle, along with getting me the Shawn Connery autograph, could you please (if lovely Robin decides to ever get into the psychic game)do this: let her read the tarot, gaze into a crystal ball and cast spells. Just keep Dorothy and Toto away from her.

Anonymous said...

The best book on suicide and lit. is by A. Alvarez. He knew Plath and was among her first reviewers in England. Michelle, along with getting me the Shawn Connery autograph, could you please (if lovely Robin decides to ever get into the psychic game)do this: let her read the tarot, gaze into a crystal ball and cast spells. Just keep Dorothy and Toto away from her.

robin said...

I'm so offended--the Wicked Witch of the West! (been called worse, though, by the ex) Better watch it, Mr., Those flying monkeys are a bitch! I smell Ole Ugis; or is it just another incarnation?

robin said...

Was told by a psychic that Ole Ugis & I were married in a past life...but, hell, he's probably been married to most of the students in his classes, either in the past, or in an alternate reality. Does that mean I'm already cursed? If so, can you help me out, M?

Love, R

Wichita-Lineman said...

All this suicide talk makes me want to dust off my old copy of Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson. Maybe throw on Nirvana’s unplugged while I'm at it.