Someone pinned a note to Ernest Hemingway’s grave recently. Free of water stains, it read, “I started writing out of love and joy… I kept writing because of you. If you could create in the midst of misery, so can the rest of us.”
I write in my journal that I am not creating enough to call myself an artist. My journal is a garden for the half-truths I allow myself to flourish in.
I dropped a dime onto Hemingway’s small plot in Ketchum, Idaho, an inconspicuous spot sprinkled with pennies, wilted flowers, half-drunken bottles of whiskey, and a rain-torn copy of The Sun Also Rises. In my family, dimes are a sign of good luck.
Superstitions are ruled by neither fact nor fiction. Stepping on a crack and breaking someone’s back requires that you have a mother. Growing a long nose requires that you can distinguish your own lies from truth. Catching a bouquet at a wedding requires that you believe in fairness within monogamy.
In my journal of half-truths, I am trying to write less he-said-she-said, he-said-I-believed. I am trying to be less of a cliché, less of a girl who writes in cafes and becomes transfixed over writing in which she cannot distinguish fact from fiction. I have begun to say “transfixed” instead of “crying” because people love to read their own truths into situations when an emotional woman is involved.
At the end of I Love Dick, Chris Kraus writes, “No woman is an island-ess. We fall in love in hope of anchoring ourselves to someone else, to keep from falling.”
Yesterday I called every sexual health clinic in downtown Toronto. I left three messages at three offices that went straight to an answering machine. None of them called me back.
There are extremists who believe that in a patriarchal society, all heterosexual sex is considered rape with woman as the victim. Power imbalances do not disappear once they have entered the realm of sex. I write in my journal that assault necessitates anxiety over any sexual encounters in the future. Most survivors of sexual assault are accused of lying.
I Love Dick is a collection of the many letters Kraus wrote to the man she fell in love with as she travelled across America and Guatemala. Kraus turned her sexual desire for Dick into a voyeuristic novel that garnered widespread acclaim and criticism. Hemingway is still considered one of the greatest life writers.
There are no appointments available at any clinic until the end of August. A woman learns how to accept in pieces. Kraus writes in I Love Dick how historically, female artists were not taken seriously because their work was considered too emotional and personal, therefore could not be speaking to the same level of universal truths that men explored in their creations. As a result, female artists took the personal and made it universal.
Some lines from my journal that may or may not be true: birth control pills were first tested on incarcerated Puerto Rican women. The birds started chirping at 5:04am. I try to talk myself into being gay at least twice a year. Kraus is not taken seriously by literary institutions because female desire is seen as juvenile. I’m afraid to directly write about assault because I don’t want to be labelled as a victim.
I tell my friends that I only write experimental fiction. I tell boys that I’m not disinterested in that I only write poetry. I have my journal with me at all times. Telling the truth does not necessarily make it a fact.
Kraus and Hemingway wrote with desires to fictionalize their lives. In doing so, they have created myths of their own personalities, legends to be constructed in cultural manifestos and cited in peer-reviewed papers. Both have been threatened to be sued for defamation. Not everyone likes how fact and fiction stem from the same place.
I had a dream a few nights ago where my mouth was full of teeth that I kept spitting on my kitchen floor. I am unsure how to interpret that.