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When I was 19 years old, both of my parents died in the same year; my mom of cancer and my dad in a car accident. Through the next two or three years and a series of bad decisions – all my own, I might add – I ended up literally homeless, before that was even a word. I even slept occasionally under a pier on the Gulf Coast.
No, I don’t do drugs anymore, either. But I’ll tell you something about drugs. I used to do drugs, but I’ll tell you something honestly about drugs, honestly, and I know it’s not a very popular idea, you don’t hear it very often anymore, but it is the truth: I had a great time doing drugs. Sorry. Never murdered anyone, never robbed anyone, never raped anyone, never beat anyone, never lost a job, a car, a house, a wife or kids, laughed my ass off, and went about my day.
All my early memories are of forms and shapes and textures. Moving through and over the West Riding landscape with my father in his car, the hills were sculptures; the roads defined the form. Above all, there was the sensation of moving physically over the contours of fullnessess and concavities, through hollows and over peaks – feeling, touching, seeing, through mind and hand and eye. This sensation has never left me. I, the sculptor, am the landscape. I am the form and the hollow, the thrust and the contour.
It’s because the idea of what’s cool is different. When you talk to a girl who goes to regular school, what’s cool is whether or not you’ve been to jail, or if you have a car. If you talk to a girl who goes to art school, what’s cool to her is if you do art projects on the weekend with your dad, if you can build something – out-of-the-norm stuff.
Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big camp in Drenthe to which they’re sending all the Jews….If it’s that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilized places where the Germans are sending them? We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed.
A friend and I flew south with our children. During the week we spent together I took off my shoes, let down my hair, took apart my psyche, cleaned the pieces, and put them together again in much improved condition. I feel like a car that’s just had a tune-up. Only another woman could have acted as the mechanic.
The second suggestion is to think as well as to read. I know people who read and read, and for all the good it does them they might just as well cut bread-and-butter. They take to reading as better men take to drink. They fly through the shires of literature on a motor-car, their sole object being motion. They will tell you how many books they have read in a year. Unless you give at least 45 minutes to careful, fatiguing reflection (it is an awful bore at first) upon what you are reading, your 90 minutes of a night are chiefly wasted.