“I was thinking – to keep your left hand going – after I die – why not then – just pretend I’m still around…” — Excerpts from Dear Dawn: Wuornos in Her Own Words
On Thursday, we talked about Dear Dawn: Wuornos in Her Own Words, a collection of letters that Aileen Wuornos wrote from prison to her childhood friend Dawn Botskins. As a follow up to that post, which includes a conversation between editors Lisa Kester and Daphne Gottlieb, we’d like to show you some of the letters in the book. Our selection spans from the early 90s to the early 00s. Enjoy.
“Can you remember time!” Do you remember the fight me an greasy haired Penny Dole and I had at the front steps of troy Union Grade School . . . Do you remember when Lori, + Ducky got in that car accident . . . Do you remember a guy with real long jet black hair. Named “Black sheep” at the high school.? Well one day. Him and I went under neath a stair well near the new section they built that had swinging doors that head outside. Once you hit the bottom of the steps. Well he had a 4 finger lid of “Acapolco Gold” . . . we went under there to roll a big one and smoke it there. We heard footsteps coming down. But we figured that was just another kid on his way out to somewheres. So we finished rolling it. And started to lite it. And Low and Behold. It was the Principle. He looked at us both and said “Report to my office now” . . . . . Black sheep. Gave me the lid. And he started up the stairs. I said to the Principle. Bullshit! I aint reportin now where. Matter of fact. I quit school. Right now. He said. Then you get off of these school grounds right now wuornos. And if I ever see you on them again Ill call the police. You understand. ha ha ha! I walked out the double doors with the pot. And that was the day I quit school. What was really strange was that the principle knew I wasn’t living at home. But in the woods. I guess he admired me, for having the guts to still go to school, as a runaway, and living in the woods near your house. A trip huh!
Well last page. Gotta close er up. Take Care Dawn . . . I’m still surviven. A little crazy but still comin through. 4-now Love Lee
November 18th, 2012 / 2:46 pm
Imagine you are shown a picture of yourself walking along a highway you have never seen. And now you are asked how you got there. Obviously you have to start running. As in running out of what you remember. Or running out, like losing it. And they want you to talk and talk, so immediately you’re talking back through hell. Talking back to hell. Or taking back hell. Maybe sing, you could call it, like hell. Whatever you want to call it and others call it for you. Insanity is a community decision, heroism is a community decision. Violence is the opposite of space. Everything I know about violence is also the nothing I know about violence.
The principal admired her for living in the woods, she wrote. She remembered all the cool black light posters, she wrote. God had it all recorded, she wrote. “Every women,” she wrote, “even adulesent, should learn Self defense, Also carry guns and know how to use them., when reaching a certain age. Like 21…” Some of the other advice she wrote was “just pretend I’m still around” and “ride through it all naturally” and write to keep the wrist from “stiffening up.” There were details she didn’t want to go into. She remembered which days the rain came down hardest. All of this she wrote in letters to her friend. She called the letters kites, which is a pretty common word in prisons. The prison only let each letter be a few pages, so she wrote more than a few letters. If you can still see a face on the other end of the wall, you can fill the wall.
In 1956, Aileen Wuornos was born Aileen Carol Pittman in Rochester, Michigan. Her father was in prison for the rape and attempted murder of a seven-year-old girl. They never met. He hung himself in prison when she was 13. At 14, she was raped while hitchhiking home from a party. She gave the baby up for adoption. By 15, kicked out of her grandparents’ home, she was living in the woods and sleeping in abandoned cars in the Michigan winter. She survived by way of herself. Her body was involved. She did have friends, and she spent most of the money she earned from sex work on them. Two of the movies made about her are called Damsel of Death and Monster.
While in prison for the murder of seven straight white men, whom she shot and killed in remote Florida locations, she told Phyllis Chesler “I raised myself. I did a pretty good job. I taught myself my own handwriting, and I studied theology, psychology, books on self-enhancement. I taught myself how to draw. I have been through battles out there raising myself. I’m like a Marine, you can’t hurt me. If you hurt me, I can wipe it out of my mind and keep on truckin’. I took every day on a day-by-day basis. I never let things dwell inside me to damage my pride because I knew what that felt like when I was young.”
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November 15th, 2012 / 12:02 pm
Over at The Daily Rumpus they’re publishing new poems for National Poetry Month. So far they’ve got Daphne Gottlieb and Dawn Trook, but keep checking back to see what comes next. Also, YouTube clip of Tobias Wolff singing a song with John Darnielle.
from “the end of the county cheese princess’ reign” by Daphne Gottlieb
After I was crowned, I visited the next baby born
and brought a cheese basket with fruit.
Fruit has no princess so I became
the fruit ambassador as well
on a moment’s notice.