Friday, December 29, 2006

happy goddam holidays

The Season of Love was rough this year -- eight days of canned beets and escalating tension in East Jesus Nowhere with my family, culminating in a dramatic, albeit temporary, disownment on Christmas Eve, and an offer to drive me to the bus station in cold rain and return me to Texas like a wrong-size sweater.

On a brighter note, my bestest friend from high school was visiting her own set of relatives in the area, so I cut down to visit on Christmas proper, and from there on things were pretty sweet. Her mom and stepdad are gentle and kind and spread a mean table. Also, they have a hot tub. Naturally, it wouldn't be Christmas in the boonies without fire-arms, and we spent a satisfying afternoon on the day after Christmas shooting handguns at a salt lick in an abandoned coal pit. It was pretty sweet.

On Wednesday, back to the airport, where the sight of the Starbuck's made me feel safe and warm. My friend back to the Beltway to make grief for former student-government presidents who think a lifetime of kissing ass qualifies them to run the free world. Me to get naked for strangers.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying, sorry I haven't written in a while, and P., if you don't know it, you saved Christmas for me.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

hot streak

Yesterday I stopped by the salon to get my eyebrows done after an afternoon spent at the gym and tipped the girl extra to make it quick because I was meeting Scarlett for sushi-and-martini happy hour downtown and all of a sudden, there in the chair with my head tilted back and the big blond Swedish lady tormenting the delicate skin over my brow bone it occurred to me that I have become my own tropy wife. And it fucking rocks.

My hot streak continues unabated. It's nice. So, so nice. So nice to be able to pick and choose the guys with whom I spend my time. So nice, when the guy I'm sitting with starts pressuring me about how much it costs to fuck me after work, to just get up and wish him a pleasant night and walk off, knowing that there's always plenty of money for me somewhere else. As an added bonus, the gentlemen for whom I have been dancing lately have been total sweethearts, to a man.

I should start a dating service. No, I mean it. A stripper is in a position to vet men pretty thoroughly. We meet a lot of them, and we get to see what they're like when they're not on their best behavior -- when they're drunk and high and lonely and horny and desperate and they don't think anyone important can see or hear them. A man who is polite and fun under these conditions is a pretty good bet.

Fr'instance. I think met the man of my dreams Friday night -- a former teacher of at-risk youth who quit to drive a truck for a year and pay off his student loans. Pasty, wry, and bespectacled, the way I've always liked my men. Yum. He was celebrating paying off his loans and getting out of the trucking business, had a stupid ammount of money and hadn't been laid in a year. We talked about Hunter S. Thompson and Memoirs of a Geisha (which, thanks to Joel, I have read) and psychedelics and GWNN and were deeply, madly in love until 3 am when they closed the bar and turned all the lights on and hearded the dancers back into the dressing room to mill like cattle until the customers were shuttled out of the parking lot and the coast was clear. Seriously, this guy is awesome, if you are into the responsible-drifter type. I've got his phone number. I'll give it to you.

In other news, the Satanist offered me $300 for a blowjob, which I hear is a pretty good rate for that kind of thing. Not enough to tempt me, but it's nice to be offered a decent professional rate, anyway. Nothing is less amusing -- or, in the right mood, more amusing -- than the guy who spends twenty minutes telling you how rich he is and then offers you $100 for sex.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

itch

I'm under the influence of wierd stars, friends. For a while it seemed like the short days had me hobbled at the knee. When you consider that I go to bed most nights at 4 am and wake up around noon or after, that's a severely truncated ration of daylight. The old disorder has been flaring up. December is always a hard month.

My clinician has been liberal about doubling and tripling my medications on demand, though, and so far things have stayed tame. No howling fits of despair; just a dreamy melancholy, voluptuous and self-absorbed like the early, almost pleasant episodes I remember from my teens.

Meanwhile, increased dosage of the old SSRI's has tilted my brain chemistry around so that it is ridiculously easy to get aroused and pretty near impossible to get off, inducing a state of mild, chronic sexual frustration. The resulting fog of sex pheremones has men following me around the grocery store and tripping over themselves at the club to paper my path with money. This weekend I broke my previous (quite respectable) record for most money earned in a single evening, and also set a personal record for most songs consecutively lap-danced --25. This ammount of attention and success when I want nothing so much as to be home in bed all day under blankets has me walking around with my hair standing on end.

Not to mention that popularity never makes you popular. Other dancers tend to like me -- I'm free with my cigarettes and I talk no shit. But there's been a distinct coolness in the dressing room since I started my hot streak. Twice, guys have actually sent the dancer sitting with them to go and find me. From a customer's perspective, this might not seem like such an insult, but trust me, every dancer born hears this as, "You're ugly. Could you please go get the pretty girl?" The gossip starts right away. Any time any dancer does well, there's a little coven in the dressing room, whispering. <You know what I heard she does? She lets them put their...> Then everybody stops as you walk past, and stares. Oh, well. It'll blow over. Not that I give a fuck, really.

But the topper was the sudden reappearance of Joe (on the immediate tail of the the World's Longest Lapdance) come to train his charm and WASP-ish good-looks and large vocabulary on me like a jacklight on a deer. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure I like Joel that much and now he's in my head again, stuck like a catchy song. I went home that night and fucked my boyfriend till dawn. Woke up with scarlet hickies all over my breasts. Something else I haven't had since my teens.

I'm rich. I'm irritated. My shins are bruised. I'm tired. I'm disliked. And I'm still horny.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm back, motherfuckers

Man, sometimes -- not often, but sometimes -- this job is so retardedly easy it almost kind of sucks. Seriously, like taking candy from a baby. Which is not strictly the most ethical thing one can do, although candy is bad for babies and you can rationalize anything.

Like, sometimes it's as easy as walking into the bar in a t-shirt and jeans and throwing a casual smile at the guy sitting by the bar, not really even seeing his face, but he is the only person there more or less, and you are trying to get into the swing of smiling at people, and WHOOMP, that is totally it. By the time you are suited up and ready to roll, that guy -- a jug-eared thirty-something surveyor who has injured his shoulder and is temporarily dismissed from his job, with time to kill and the proceeds of a freshly-cashed worker's compensation check in his pocket which he is absolutely positively bound and determined to blow on somebody or something RIGHT NOW -- is hunting for you high and low. He likes your eyes and your smile and your dress and your shoes and your laugh and your ponytail and if there is any way he could buy two dances from you at once and thus spend money on you even faster, he would be doing it. (You have a twinge of conscious about taking his money, but it is simply and literally the truth that if it weren't you it would be any some one of these other girls, so what the hell.)And every time he gets up to go to the bathroom or you walk across the room to get some water there is some other guy, like maybe a bearded employee of the forrestry service, who is tapping you on the shoulder and asking if he can't get oh, maybe just one or two dances from you really quick until eventually you are palming the first guy off on friends of yours because you have so many customers lined up waiting for you that it's getting ridiculous. And then you tip all the staff a million dollars and everybody loves you and you come home and have a slice of pie.

If I could, I would french myself right now. Goddamn. Nothing cures the wintertime blues like a crisp stack of C-notes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ain't goin no place

Nothing could have gotten me to work tonight, and I was supposed to go. I need to go. There's plenty to motivate me if I were open to motivation: the Vanagon is in the shop for costly repairs, my computer is not nearly as fixed as I thought it was, my boyfriend is pretty and has expensive tastes, and so on. But every night for the last three nights, when it's time to hustle my dance things into their special bag, I get cold and queasy like a middle-schooler on algebra-test morning.

I am such a puss.

I don't know what all the dread is about. I figure I'm pretty thick-skinned by now about being groped, slobbered on, dicked around, cheated out of money, and turned down. I know how to charm and connive and pout and nod my head and winkle the money out Ben by Ben and Jackson by Jackson. When I'm in stripper mode, when I'm on, when I'm really and truly Grace, it's easy. But I just don't feel like it right now. It's hard to summon Grace up on command. Right now it's just me, and I feel like hanging out with the cats in my sweatshorts, reading and drinking tea and biting my nails.

Just the act of picking out which frilly, see-thru number I'll be sporting that night makes me feel like a dumbtard, the last few days. Lessee, I've got a so-tiny-you-can-see-both-ass-cheeks black sequined satin skirt with matching bra...I could wear it with a black thong, in case I start my period tonight, but it makes my boobs look small(er.) Or, if I wear a schoolgirl skirt, I can get away with knee-socks so I wouldn't have to shave my legs right now. Slut-tastic pink salsa dress with spangly flower applique? White booty shorts and matching bikini top? Did I really buy this shit?

(To be fair to myself, not all of it. Quite a few things were given to me in moments of mysterious kindness by co-workers who were probably drunk. One or two were gifts from infatuated customers whose sartorial taste did not match their generosity. Or whose ideal pin-up was a redheaded girl in a signal-orange, dark-light responsive fishnet tube-dress. Whatever. I think my point stands, regardless.)

I'd feel as dumb dressed like this right now as I did being crammed into a tutu and shoved on stage at the fucking Elk's Lodge for the fucking ballet recital when I was eight. Smile, they say, and give you a push and then you're out there and you have to smile. Eesh.

I think I could even pull the whole act off -- the Hey, how are you, sweetie and the falsh eye lashes batting and the chit-chat and the Boy, I'd love to get naked for you now -- if I could just do it in the comfort of pajama pants and reading glasses and french-braids. You don't know. Maybe you'd love it. You'd feel like you were over at my house and we were renting movies and any minute I'm going to start yawning and telling you how sleepy I am and suggest going to bed and there's slim chance you might get to feel me up, but most likely you will just be shifting around in bed all night with your raging boner listening to me breathe. Is that sexy?

No?

Well, good thing I didn't go to work then.

NB: This is my hundredth post. Hoist a beverage of your choice for me.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

me again, who else

OK, we're on again. I've called in some favors and the old jalopy is back on three wheels for the time being. I don't have much of relevance to blog, though. I've been playing hooky from the titty bar since the Monday before Thanksgiving, nursing myself slowly through a gentle, seasonal bout of melancholy. Does anyone else think Seasonal Affective Disorder is just another name for Really Hating Christmas?

Appropo of nothing, this morning I got a $50 haircut for $25 in a backyard full of dogs and rusting bicycle parts and blowing leaves. Grace's tip for thrifty living: make friends with junkies. The costs of their professional services are surprisingly flexible, especially around the end of the month when rent is due and they still want to score.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

filler

Sorry for my long absence, ladies and germs; we at Grace Undressed are once again experiencing technical difficulties, viz. my laptop being a jankie old jalopy of a machine. There's no point in starting a long, soulful entry about the hard times at the titty bar or the mutating nature of my relationship with my romantic partner or the hat I'm trying to make myself knit for my brother's baby or how the phrase "brother's baby" in and of itself makes me want to go lie down for a while in a dark room. No point, because at any second I'll be caught and booted off the Internet connection I'm poaching from neighbors because my own no longer works, and I'll find myself suddenly alone writing these frantic declarations to myself. It's like writing to you from the freaking Bastille.

Anyhow, I'm back from Boston and it's awful nice to be home. While I was gone, the weather got crisp and beautiful and someone came and built an upscale loft building on our street of haunted Edwardian bungaloes. My cat got fleas. My friend Scarlett decided to move to New York at some unspecified date in the future. My boyfriend succumbed to loneliness and started smoking pot again. The Satanist's dog died and then he asked me to go to the Melvins show with him but I said no. I went back to the titty bar and the lean season is upon us again, which means all the cheapest and savviest pervs are there looking to score discount handjobs and holiday time is here with it's short days and long nights and supressed panic. Fantastic.

No time for more. If you miss me, buy me a computer.
Love,
Grace

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

improper boston

I didn't get hired at Centerfold's. Or rather, I did get hired, after a thirty minute wait during which I had plenty of time to assess the three working dancers (not remarkably prettier than the girls at my club back home, despite Centerfold's reputation as a fearsomely picky hirer) and general atmosphere of the place (stuffy, ornate, dead empty.) Finally, the daytime manager came out and gave me a limp handshake and a bored look and some paperwork to fill out. I was working my way through the stack when he told me he couldn't book me that week, but I could come back next. I told him I was only in town for the week, so that wouldn't work, and got a reaction so melodramatically negative I can only assume that a stripper from Texas who was only in town for a week must have murdered his entire family and burned his village to the ground. I was told that "girls from out of town have no incentive to follow the rules" and escorted unceremoniously from the premises.

Fortunately, the only other strip club in Boston, the Glass Slipper, is right next door. Like, literally, right next door. I invited myself in. It was different -- a tiny place, like a neighborhood bar that just happened to have a naked lady dancing on a stage behind the bar. I found out later the club had moved from it's 21-year home across the street the Friday before. The decor was nice and new and managerially everything was sort of in chaos.

Everyone was friendly to me right off the bat. In strip club context, this is not necessarily a good thing. It smacks of desperation. Still, I needed a place to work, and the other clubs were out in the suburbs, many subway transfers and train rides and taxi fares away from me. And I did see customers, a nice row of them sitting along the bar like ducks in a shooting gallery. Good.

They wanted me to come back the next day to dance, so I took the afternoon to walk around Boston in the surprisingly nice weather and showed up the next morning bright and early. I was the first girl on stage, and some Irish guy tipped me $20 (an unheard of stage tip in Texas) and told me I had a nice can. And really, it never got better than that.

A dump doesn't have to look like a dump to be a dump. The customers, though grumpy and aggrieved in that unique New England style, were bearable. The place didn't smell. But it was awful. Probably it's the fact the management here makes it impossible for their dancers to earn money, consequently attracting only girls who (a) can't get hired as dancers anywhere else (b)are genuintly too dumb or too cracked out to work at McDonald's.

You see, there are no lapdances in Boston. Dancers can't touch customers unless they are fully dressed. Customers can't directly hand money to dancers. With money and touching -- more or less the life-blood of the strip club transaction -- off limits, what's left is a pretty pale experience for everyone. Now, you can give a "private dance" back in the brand-new "private dance area" -- a bathroom-sized space with restaurant-booth-style seating around the walls, where a dancer can remove her dress and panties and prance around buck-ass (except for shoes) as long as she stays three feet away from you at all times and her gentle admirer sits on his hands. Oh, and a bouncer is back there with you, watching every move either of you makes. Now, I pride myself on being able to create an intimate experience out of pretty much nothing, but this was tough.

And I'm almost forgetting, the process of buying a private dance -- what with handing a girl money constituting prostitution and all -- is positively Soviet in it's baroquely bureaucratic complexity. The customer gives $25 to the bartender, and then you go back to the private room to wait. The bartender goes and buys a ticket -- looks just like a carnival ticket and says "Admit One" -- from the doorgirl, who then gives the ticket to the floor-guy, who goes outside to make a phone-call and then maybe has a beer before coming back over and handing the ticket to the customer, who hands the ticket to you, and then you get naked. If you happen to touch the customer lightly on the shoulder or leg while waiting you are Out.

I'm dead sure that this process could be streamlined and dead sure that it won't be, not any time soon. The club hasn't got much incentive to make it easy to sell dances, since they are "only" keeping $10 of the $25 price of admission. The club would much rather the dancers sat at the bar all day selling "ladies drinks", which cost $30 and consist of watered-down Sunny-D or black cherry Kool-Aid. The agreement is that you will sit and flirt with the customer while you drink the drink. For this, the club gives you a cut of $4. Yup. Four fucking dollars. You can't drink more than one drink every ten minutes, either, effectively limiting your income to $24 an hour. The club, in that hour, will make $156.

The first day, I hustled my ass off, worked a double and made a pinch over $300. In Texas, this is the kind of night I would bitch about all the way home. At the Glass Slipper, managers were all over me like I'd pulled off some kind of economic miracle. Yuck. And the general manager's hands, on which I fixated each night while he counted out my money, were white with scaly, star-shaped warts, or maybe it was leprosy.

The girls who stick around for this kind of bullshit are girls for whom $24 an hour is money they just couldn't make any other way. There was a fat girl -- not thick, not heavy, not curvy, fat -- with a gap between her front teeth who wore fish nets and a blond wig and staggered around all day with a boozy smile, like something from another century. There was a sad-looking girl with a muddy complexion and many scars who, once fully nude on stage for the last song of her set, would reach down and sort of milk her vagina until a few drops of whitish fluid dribbled onto the stage. With these notable exceptions, the girls were not that ugly. The black girls especially were lovely, as is often the case in racist areas where they can't get hired at better clubs. I don't know why they put up with it. Dumb, maybe? Used to being taken advantage of and treated like shit, so what does it matter?

I lasted three days, but the strain of making so much money for the club and so little for myself was making me bitter and bored. On my last day, I found I'd really rather sit at a corner booth and read the Wall Street Journal than troll for surly guys to buy me Kool-Aid. Four dollars hasn't been enough to motivate me since I was, like, five years old. I swore I wouldn't smoke in Boston, but on my last day I was up on the fire escape outside the fourth-floor dressing room sucking ash. Since the typical fire-escape grating acts like a cattle-guard for girls in stilletto heels, someone has thoughtfully put down a few sheet of cardboard to keep us from spraining our ankles and falling to our deaths. From here we can look down the alley at men and women with briefcases and J. Crew sweaters hurry to and fro, tiny as ants. Maria, a cute, thin Puerto Rican hoodrat with glasses, joined me and asked what kind of day I was having. I assumed my expression of kabuki calmness and said I was doing alright, though I wasn't.

"Well, I'm doing bad," Maria said. She started telling me about her best friend, who used to be a dancer but now has a pimp and is flying around to Vegas and L.A. making three thousand dollars a night, or so she says, and how she showed up at Maria's apartment last Christmas Eve with a carful of presents for Maria's son. "It look like she bought out the whole fucking Toys R' Us," Maria said. She gets wistful. "I sure would like to have that money. I'm thinking about fucking around with them for a while. She says he's real nice, says he don't put his hands on his hoes hardly."

I'm not one to make other people's decisions for them, but I ventured that if I were going to enter the realms of prosititution, I'd be working for myself and keeping my own money.

"Nah, mami, I know," she said. "But he looks out for you. Like just now, I'm sittin at the bar rubbin on this guy's dick, and he put fifty dollars on the bar and say if I get him off I can keep it. So I rub him off and he cum in his pants, then he take the fifty off the bar and give me ten. And there ain't nothing I can do about it. If I have a pimp, he'da make sure I get my money."

Er. Touche?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

the jewel of the lotus resides within

I spent the first 24 hours of the retreat in an internal monologue of relentless derision against the smug self-satisfaction of people who wear linen pants and put "om" stickers on their cars and pay $50 a pop to have their auras photographed and float around in a haze of middle-class entitlement dressed up with New Age spiritual patchouli-scented loopiness. At the silent breakfast hour on Saturday morning I began to soften; no civilized society should allow an occasion so serious to be adulterated with chatter. Any institution that understands this cannot be all bad.

After breakfast, B. and I and our twenty or so fellow Concious Hiking program attendees got into a school bus and were shuttled out into the mountains and dumped out to consciously hike the seven miles back. We went single file, spaced a long way apart and enjoined to silence. It was cloudy and cold and I had thoughtlessly neglected to bring gloves or boots, but after the first ten minutes everything went comfortably numb. The ground underfoot squished and crunched in deeply satisfying ways. Late morning the sun came out and shortly afterwards it began to snow.

I grew up in woods like these, ginko, ash, turkey beard and hemlock. Even the smell was familiar, and the light through the last brown and yellow leaves; snow in the moss; tiny streams of water running over rocks with a sound like beads falling. I always loved fall.

Back at the house there was a monk's narrow, virginal bed for each of us and a sauna in the basement where you could sweat in cedar-scented darkness. Three days of this, until I was shaken and pummeled and smushed and boiled clean like the chickpea in the Rumi poem, naked of my stripperisms. And then it was time to go back to work.

Friday, November 03, 2006

beantown

So I was home long enough to take a shower and give my boyfriend a blowjob, and then up yesterday morning at dawn to catch a flight to Boston, where I am staying several days with my former college room-mate and future wife, B. I'm kidnapping her from her lab at MIT this weekend and taking her on a three-day yoga and hiking retreat in the Berkshires. According to the literature, the retreat also includes a sauna and "guided partner foot massages." C. got all googly and wistful when I was describing it to him, and again yesterday morning on the drive to the airport.

"You're going to be in a sauna together?"

"Yes, darling."

"Naked?"

"Quite possibly."

"And you're going to give each other foot-rubs?"

"That's my understanding."

Sigh.Pause.

"Do you think you guys will, you know, make out? Cause it would be totally fine with me if you did."

"Yes, honey, I know."

Every boy either of us has dated since we've been friends has been pretty enamored of the idea that we get it on in secret, although this has historically not been the case. We've been close at times, but, so far, no cigar. "Dude, she wants you," C. likes to say. "You should hit it." It's true she likes to come up behind me and wrap her arms around my waist and kiss my neck...maybe it's just a South American thing? They have, like, less personal space or something. Also, she's always trying to get me to sleep in her bed. Fuck. I'm sure I could hit it if I tried. I just think sleeping with your friends is pretty poor policy, even when they're totally hot and good to go.

It's weird being up here. B. is a graduate student at MIT, storing her stuff in an attic in Cambridge and sleeping most nights at her lab on campus. At one point, this was a credible future for yours truly, too. I was supposed to be an engineer or a chemist or something, I forget. But I've been off that track so long, I don't know if I'll ever be back on it. Truth be told, I don't even care that much about advancing the course of human knowledge; I think I just like the lifestyle. Being in school is fun, in it's way. You get to be busy and distracted all the time and people cut you some slack when you can't or won't or don't know how to do adult things like pay your taxes or do your laundry.

OK, time to go. Next time you hear from me, I hope to be all om-ed out and high on the astral plane and stuff. Later.

Friday, October 27, 2006

silver city blues

Baby Dolls wasn't hiring, but fortunately all the strip clubs in Dallas are within about a five-mile radius, so we headed down the highway to a club called Silver City, which I'd heard about from girls at the P10. We were hired with no questions and taken upstairs to get dressed in an enormous, echoing locker-room. Our hiring manager then collected us and gave us a tour. The club was very well appointed, close to empty, and creepy. It's hard to describe why.

Might have been the extreme seclusion of the VIP, which had booths with doors; I have worked in a club with booths before and they were called blow-job boxes for an excellent reason. It could have been the hard expressions on the faces of the other girls. I don't know. Neither of us felt good. We seperated and walked around the floor for about ten minutes befor bumping into each other and achieving instant consensus that it was time to leave.

We went up to the dressing room and suited back up. On our way out, the manager followed us to car, begging us to come back in. I just Googled the club and apparently there've been a number of high-profile stabbings, killings, and sexual assaults at this place. Check it. So we're not crazy, after all.

So back to the Men's Club for a couple of decent but unrewarding days. I'll finish out the week here, which is more than I would have promised Wednesday night, but after that Dallas can crawl up its own ass and die as far as I'm concerned. A more coherent analysis most likely to come.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

prick city

On Monday my travel companion, whom I'll call Tommi, and I applied at the Men's Club of Dallas, which is one of the Big Kahuna clubs here in Big D. It is spectacular inside; the only club I've seen to rival it is the Scores in Vegas, and this was perhaps even a little glitzier -- lots of gold and mirrors and velvet curtains and a courtyard with statue of Venus de Milo with exageratedly large boobs. We were hired on the spot, which I guess says something nice about our pretty faces and/or Tommi's hilariously large breasts.

The first two nights I made what I'd make on very best nights at home, and this is a Monday and a Tuesday we're talking about. One the other hand, the money is very grueling to make. The men here are big, angry, carnivorous, and carved out of something very dense of hard. They are impossible to talk to, educated only to the point of profitability, devoid of interests or interest, and apparently take no pleasure in life beyond coming to a dressed-up titty joint and sulking by the bar. I don't usually have a problem making conversation. I can bullshit about a variety of pleasant subjects, including football, golf, music, computers, art, religion, horses, my ass, blah didddly blah. But this was not a club where personality seemed to be at a premium. Looking perfect, sitting still, and smiling seemed to be a profitable skill set. Yikes. I felt like I was milking every last dollar out of rock. Please understand, I am a stripper who generally like customers, enjoys customers, sometimes becomes overly emotionally involved with customers. And so far, I have not met one guy I could stand the sight of after thirty seconds. The possibe exception was Peter, the fruity drunk from Western Massachusettes (Sixty, I was trying to figure out for an hour if this was you) who was amusing in the way that Ivy League graduates born into entirely too much money can be amusing, if you do the aural equivalent of squinting and crossing your eyes.

Yesterday, the club required us to work day shift as part of the new-girl hazing. It was lamentable. Girls who had worked there for years and had regulars were banking, I know. A blond girl named Star with perfect breasts and zero body fat, tanned the color of tea, was floating around with tributes of jewelry and Godiva chocolates which is an everyday thing for her, I guess. Kudos. But it was not for me. We had meant to stay and work a double shift til at least midnight. I left at 8pm with the kind of money I used to make back in my weeping-stripper days at the Crazy Lady. Tommi was hanging on, so I walked back the motel right around the corner and called C. and cried for an hour. At the end of that hour, Tommi too trailed home defeated, which makes me feel better, because she is an astounding and tireless Superstripper, so if things weren't working for her either then it wasn't just me.

Tonight it's a big Fuck You to the Men's Club and off to check out Baby Dolls, which has a reputation as an enormous emporium of wickedness, but girls have told me that there's easy money to skim off the top without having to do any sucky-sucky. We'll probably return to the Men's Club for the weekend, unless Baby Dolls is just astonishing.

I miss my boyfriend. Post me, I'm lonely.

Monday, October 23, 2006

grace does dallas

Woot! Leaving for Dallas in about ten minutes. Scared shitless and probably forgetting a ton of stuff. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 20, 2006

crow's feet

I look tired to myself tonight. Eight hours of sweat and cigarette smoke and the paint and powder seems to exagerate the lines on my face more than it disguises them. I made good money tonight, the lion's share from a breeder of show-horses with whom I had the same two-minute conversation -- "You're beautiful." Thank you. "I could make you happy." I bet you could. "I love you." Oh, silly you. -- over and over for three hours. Then he tried to gyp me out of money, but in the end I won.

People throw the word love around in a strip club like it's nothing. They trip you with it like a wire, slap you with it like an open palm, wheedle you with it, like it's candy. If it were my world, you would have to pay a dollar every time you said it. Then maybe people would fucking think.

I just get tired of it is all. I get tired of being on the receiving end of so much emotion, of being blamed for feelings that no one can fix. But it's my job and it's what I signed up for, and so be it. I just get tired of it is all.

I come home through the rain and my love has cleaned the kitchen. He waits for me asleep in the big bed in the room with the bay window. He is my heart. I think he will still find me beautiful when my face is full of lines and my bones are melting away. I think so.

Pam pointed out to me that I dropped the f-word a few entries back without warning or explanation. So yes, C. and I are affianced as of a week or so ago. Or, as I prefer to say, afinanced. It's not a hard decision. I wake up in the morning and see his face on the pillow next to mine and feel giddy. I can't imagine anyone I'd rather have coffee with every morning for the next sixty years. He's such good company. We're still impressed by each other, amused by each other, in awe of each other, even. It's nice.

Still. I spend four nights a week talking to lonely men, the vast majority of whom are at least once divorced. It could make you cynical. Or, at the very least, wary. But the canary in my heart beats its wings. C. and I are different. We will always be different. We will always be in love. I will always want to fuck him. He will always hold me after.

We will. I will. He will. Right?

Sometimes I'm afraid all the love will just get up and walk out one day and there'll be nothing either of us can do about it. I had a dream once that I was standing on a dock and C. was in a dingy and didn't seem to notice that he was slowly drifting away. It was one of those dreams where you need to scream, but can't. How is that people let love go?

I remind myself often how much I love him, how lucky I am. I try to do it every day, like brushing my teeth. I am not good at remembering things, but I hope I will remember. As far as I know, that's the best I can do.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

clark kent

Speaking of being eaten alive, let me tell you about Clark Kent, so-called for bearing an uncanny resemblance to that bespectacled Man of Steel. Only this is Clark Kent if he married Lois Lane and settled down and had two kids and got a job as a warehouse manager. And Lois got jealous and lazy and fat and stayed home all day watching soaps and yelling at the kids and complaining that their house wasn't nice enough. And Clark became nervous and withdrawn and put on some weight and adopted the permanent stooped posture of the broken-hearted. And then Clark decided he couldn't live like that anymore, and with the kids out of high school he wanted to enjoy whatever was left of his life, so he sold all his stuff and moved into an apartment.

His first night in the apartment he went out to a strip club for the first time in more than ten years and only halfway into his first rum-and-coke he was familiarly accosted by a redheaded stripper named Grace. He was so terrified he couldn't think of anything to say, and after about two minutes of attempted small talk she patted his knee and left, and the sight of her walking away filled him with such feelings of abandonment and loss that when he saw her on stage ten minutes later he walked up and tipped her $50. Because maybe if she would just come back, it would be like everything was OK. And she did come back, and for a while everything was.

He gave her his business card and asked her to call, but she didn't, so the next week he came back and spent even more money. And because it was lonely in his new apartment all by himself, he came back the next night and the next. And she was always glad to see him, and she was always nice to him, and she always took her clothes off any time he asked. And he told her how he thought about her all the time -- every day at work and every night while he was falling asleep. He told her how much he'd love to take her up to upstate New York where he was born, and he told her how she should meet his parents and how much they would love her, and he told her how he thought he and she would have beautiful children together, and how every love song on the radio reminded him of her. And then he asked her to marry him.

And she never says yes to anything, but she never exactly says no, and any time he tries to bring it up, he finds they are suddenly talking about something else. She told him that she has a boyfriend, but he knows it won't last, because that guy doesn't love her like he does and someday he will make her understand how much he really loves her and they will be together forever and everything will be perfect. And now she's changing her schedule without telling him, working different nights, nights when he can't make it in. Sometimes she has other customers and is too busy to spend time with him, and that seems to happen more and more lately, but that's OK. He understands, and he just sits at the bar drinking rum-and-coke and watching her walk around the room. Now she's telling him that she's going to be traveling and might not see him for a while, and he's sad, he will miss her, but not too sad, because he knows that meeting her was no accident -- it was mean to be -- it was fate. And nothing can stop fate.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

grace and satan and the dog with cancer

I was talking to Slayde, the Satanist's room-mate the other night, and she told me he had just gotten back from taking his dog to a specialist three hundred miles away to see if anything could be done about the poor critter's cancerous throat tumor. Turns out the answer is no, and the dog is going to die. He was devestated, she said, which is bad news she says, since when he's depressed he tends to go on drug binges. Six months ago he over-dosed (I forget on what) after breaking up with his girlfriend and nearly died. This is how young Slayde came to move in with him and take care of him. Apparently he is one of those lovable, self-destructive types who needs an entire team of devoted followers just to keep him functioning.

I told her I'd give him a cheer-up call the next day and because I'm not a liar I did, and left a message. He called back sounding awful, more or less on the verge of tears. We talked about the circle of life, and the karmic cycle, and that stuff. I truly felt for him, cause he is just lovable, but I also started to get nauseous tremors of paranoia. I've been suckered into nurse-maiding emotional cripples before, and it's not cool. The Satanist's disembodied voice -- light, querulous, tenor -- was a dead ringer for the alcoholic mailman I lived with an loved the year I was 21, during which time I declined into a long and terrifying depression. Maybe it was that giving me the cold chills. At any rate, I logged about twenty minutes on the phone with the Satanist and then I had to make my excuses and go.

He was in Friday night, though, and seemed better. Same old sweet self. We danced and smoked and he told me the correct way to appease the spirits when taking soil out of a cemetary for the manufacture of voo-doo gris-gris -- cigar smoke and pennies, in case you ever need to know. He was passive and blissful while I danced; seemed tired. Nothing heavy. I'm wary, though. There really are excellent reasons for a dancer to keep some professional distance between herself and her customers. I like my customer, most of them. Some of them I like a lot. I just don't want to be eaten alive.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

disclaimer

OK, it's time we had a talk. This blog is not a democracy. It's mine, and I made it because (a)I'm a compulsive person and writing is one of my compulsions; if I didn't blog I'd smoke more (b)my boyfriend is tired of my stripping stories (c)I enjoy the shout-outs, feedback, and occasional constructive criticism.

I do not enjoy random, inarticulate abuse. I deal more than enough at work with the various manifestations of desire as it curdles into hatred, and I don't propose to do so on in spare time, in the vulnerability of my pajamas. If you just don't like reading about strippers, there are 18 grabillion other things on the Internet for you to look at, like this or this or this. If you feel a burning desire to express hostility towards a woman in the sex industry, you can turn it sideways and shove it up your ass.

Articulate objections to my personage, prose style, and line of work will be considered for posting. Abusive drivel will be deleted with a light heart.

Go and sin no more,
Grace

Thursday, October 05, 2006

grace loves satan

So last night was slow again. Mercy. They told us things would be better by October. They, of course, is a notoriously unreliable source. I still made my nightly goal, by magic, at the last minute, and only because of a Buddhist and a Satanist.

Has anyone else noticed that many of my best customers are followers of obscure sects? Maybe I've forgotten to mention that detail, but there's got to be a good joke in it. The Buddhist, the Satanist and the Charismatic Christian walk into a titty bar looking for Grace...

The "Buddhist" was a bit of a pill, actually. Since when did Buddhism become new Satanism in terms of attracting disaffected loners who long to identify with something exotic that won't require too much from them beyond the purchase of some cool new accessories? At least he had the class to wear his prayer beads under his shirt.

The treat of the night was another visit -- the fourth in three weeks -- from my buddy the Satanist. OK, I give -- he's not a Satanist, but I like to tease him about it because with the long white goatee and the Grandad glasses and the toothy smile he looks like Anton LaVey if you met him at a Halloween party and he'd gained some weight and was doing keg stands and then later you sat on the porch with him and bummed cigarettes and told funny stories. I adore him. Last night he came and paid me above and beyond my normal Champagne rate to sit on the couch with me and read to me from Robert Tallant's Voodoo Queen by candlelight.

In real life, the Satanist is a fashion and fetish photographer of some local reknown and he has fallen in love with my belly scar and wants to take pictures of it. If I haven't described my scar before, or if you are just tuning in, said scar runs from sternum, flanked on either side with rows of scarrified dots from where the staples came out. I got it when they removed my ruptured spleen and picked the bone shards out of my heart and lung after my car accident. The Satanist calls me Zipper Girl. One of the other dancers at the club is his roommate, and pulled me aside in the locker-room last night to tell me that the Satanist is a really great guy, a very professional photographer, and has a crush on me the size of a cow, so if I have a boyfriend I should tell him before he breaks his heart over it. So I do tell him, and he takes it in stride. I really, really like this guy.

Still wants to take pictures of me, and I think I'll go for it, as I do need promotional shots before I can start booking out-of-area and I've seen his stuff before and it's quite good. He'll have to Playboy it up for me a bit -- I don't think the Suicide Girls look will go over too well with club managers in Tempe -- but I think we've got ourselves a deal. He'll take Glamor Shots for me, I'll get naked and crawl around in a cemetary in a bloody wedding dress for him, and everbody can go home happy. Don't tell me this job isn't all about networking.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"wanna see something cool?"

You know your job is hardcore when you're chatting casually with the cute co-worker you've been flirting with on and off for weeks and he asks you whether you and your boyfriend would threeway with him and you say maybe and then and all of a sudden he busts out his cellphone and shows you a 30-second video clip of his girlfriend, who is also your co-worker, sucking his erect, slightly-larger-than-average penis and this is so very much not the weirdest thing that happens to you at work that night that you only remember it two days later at breakfast and laugh so hard that you blow chunks of muffin across the table and your boyfriend asks you what's so funny and you say, "Oh, nothing, really. Just some shit at work."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

hello, joe

Shit. He's here. Everybody, hide the bong. I mean, everybody welcome Joe, who has apparently stumbled into our secret lair. I forgot that he's in some respects a Computer Guy and, like the rest of us, probably spends too much time on the 'net Googling through the infinite after our lost desires.

First my yoga students come to my titty bar. Now the regular for whom I have ambiguous feelings finds my blog. For fuck's sake, is there no such thing as anonymity anymore? I guess not when you go and post about your darkest feelings on a public board under your real-fake name for all the world to see. Even precious C. has started mooning around over my shoulder while I type. I hate all of you. Go away.

Monday, October 02, 2006

goodbye, joe

So Joe came in Saturday night very late -- after last call in fact, but the bar stays open til 4am. He didn't want to hit the couches in the Champagne Room and dance, just sit at a little table in the main room and talk. He's been generous with me, so I didn't mind giving him a little bit of time for free. Except that the conversation quickly got emotional, with him telling me he didn't want to be seen as a customer, and me trying to make everything OK, but my guard was down, as it has been with him, and I couldn't make a recovery.

He wants to be friends, but I don't think that's reality. I'm a 26-year-old stripper with a fiance, and he's a 47-year-old businessman with three teenaged children. Maybe if he'd really seemed sincere about the friendship part, but it was pretty obvious that the version of friendship he had in mind consisted of waiting around in the wings in case I broke up with my boyfriend. "Friendships" like that are crap.

There's also the fact that the girl he thinks he loves does not actually exist. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Grace is a completely fictional character, but Grace is definitely a cleaned-up and sexified version of a real woman who is not always in a good mood, doesn't always have perfect hair, and isn't completely fascinated by you and totally hot for your body. Grace is a service that I provide; she's available only at the club, at certain times, for a set rate. She isn't someone you can date or fuck or even be friends with. Even my boyfriend doesn't get to date Grace. He's stuck with me.

When Joe says he wants to get to know me, he's talking about Grace and he's asking for something that's not possible. He wants to scoop up the happy, sexy redhead and carry her home to dance on his coffee table every night for free, and it doesn't work like that. He thinks he can see the "real me" but if he could he would see that the real me is a girl who happens to be a stripper, who wants to do her job and get paid and go home. This is the highest level of strip-club-customer sophistication, and few achieve it. Most get bogged down somewhere in the idea that their stripper is either an eager slut available for the asking, or a soiled dove in need of rescuing, or some other fantasy that casts them as the hero who gets the girl.

I didn't attempt to explain this amidst the smoke and flashing pink lights and hip-hop soundtrack of the Saturday closing-time bar. I just said, no, I have a rule that I don't mix up my dancing life with my non-dancing life, and rules wouldn't be rules if we only followed them when we felt like it. And he was upset. Today we exchanged e-mails going back and forth over the same ground, and I haven't answered the last one because really what's the point.

I'm sad. I was sad at work the next day, and tired -- a zombie dancer. I'm sorry Joel is hurt, because I do like him, although not as much as I did before. He's just another ex-regular now, and the more he tried to say he wasn't, the more obvious it was. Just another guy who can't beleive Grace doesn't really want to fuck him, after she sat on his lap and stared in his eyes and listened to him talk and smiled like that, another guy who thinks life would be perfect if a full-time free stripper would move in and spend all her time making him happy forever.

Men are so strange, so weirdly fragile. Did you know that male infants cry when seperated from their mothers much sooner than girl babies, find abandonment much more traumatic, are more stimulated by being held and caressed? I imagine pink flashing lights in a smoky room of crying male infants, and I am even sadder than before.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

jinxed

Yup. And I know that most curses are nothing more than self-fulfilling prophecies, but this Friday night was really something else. For one thing, I started my period that afternoon and thus was bloated, grumpy, and hobbled with cramps. For another, it was the end of the month, which is a slow time in this business. There was a crowd, but they were young, and broke, and surly. I made the rounds, accomplished little, then stumbled on a guy who said I danced for him before and was all excited about seeing me again. Had me sit with him about ten minutes while he drank a beer and told me how much he was looking forward to getting some dances. Then he told me he had to go call his wife, because she would expect him home. I said OK. Guys goes out to make a phone call and never comes back. Because I have a charitable heart, I'm going to assume that Wife yanked the leash on him and he had to bail, rather than that he is the kind of cheap perv who can con sufficient masturbatory material out of ten minutes of flirtatious chatter and surreptitious thigh-rubbing. But this was regular bullshit -- nothing compared to what happened next.

Those of you who have been paying attention know that I teach yoga at a shelter for domestic abuse survivors. You might think that I'd be less likely than most strippers to encounter folks from my day job, but however low the odds are, when they come up, they're up. Barely an hour into my shift a guy walked past me who looked vaguely familiar, but not in a club-regular kind of way, and after a rummage through the mental Rolodex it clicked that he was in fact an employee of the shelter, and a regular class attendee. So I follow him with my eyes, and sure enough, there is a whole table of shelter employees whooping it up front and center by the main stage. To their credit, they were tipping and seemed to be having the best kind of cheerful good time. If they'd been anybody else, I'd have made a beeline for them. But shit.

So I tipped the DJ to take me out of rotation and scuttled back to VIP to hide. It was more or less dead back there, save for a customer of my acquaintance named Sam, who talks a lot, looks like the sort of simple, good-hearted goon character who would be rubbed out halfway through a movie about the mob. He has allergies and his eyes water all the time as if he were crying, and given the way he talks and the things he talks about, you actually think at first that he might be. He did eventually buy a few dances from me, but for every dance you sell this guy, you have to start again from the beginning and explain that you won't date him, because he gets quite emotionally confused every time and thinks you are in love with him. And he feels bad about it because he's not sure that he loves you back. It's hard work, and I was at it for three hours, because that's how fricking long my yoga students were out there living it up in the front room.

Finally, they left and I was released but the night was pretty much as dismal as before. I sat with the world's most depressing bachelor party, honoring a groom-to-be who had just been released from prison that morning and attended only by an aging former stripper and a guy who races stock cars out in Killeen. They called me over to their table to dance, then wasted another ten minutes of my time before they figured out that they'd already squandered their meager funds on cocktails and couldn't afford it. So they gave me everything they had left -- about $8 in ones -- and a napkin with the address and number of their hotel room in case I wanted to stop by after work and party.

By then there was only an hour or two left of the shift -- too short to make any serious money, too long to just go back in the dressing room and put my head down. I was headed back there anyway, to kill some time reapplying eyeliner or whatever, when a middle-aged Dude in a Suit flagged me down as I passed the ATM, and asked me for help because he didn't have his glasses and couldn't see the buttons. I navigated him with utmost charm through the withdrawal of several hundred dollars, and he indicated that he was back in VIP with some other very important persons, and I should stop by. A last chance at redeeming the spectacular awfulness of the evening, thinks I. But then I got to the bathroom and discover that my own personal crimson tide has burst through it's fragile packed-cotton barrier and soaked my (black, luckily) thong with blood. And it's the only thong I had with me.

A trooper would have borrowed a thong -- or made one out of leaves and twigs or something -- and gone back to VIP anyway to hustle the rich guys. But this little panty waist simply sat on the pot with her head on her knees and moaned. Then I packed my things and got the hell out.

Happily, the next night was better, up until the very end when Joe came in and schizzed out on me and broke my heart. But that's it's own story.

Friday, September 29, 2006

winning streak

I didn't run away from home, nor did our friend John come back to the club and murder me, as promised. I haven't felt like blogging, and I finally realize it's because I don't want to jinx a good thing. I've been having such ridiculously great times -- er, make that totally adequate -- um, let's just say things have been OK, very OK, and I'm afraid if I do or say anything, it'll ruin it.

This month is the one-year anniversary of me getting fired from the yoga studio for reasons to this day unknown ("not a good match for us"), crying for two days, and returning to the sordid life of iniquity I lovingly call the titty business. I didn't plan to do it for long. I'd never been more than an average dancer for a week here and a week there in shady, two-bit dive bars, anyway. I wasn't drawn to it for the glamor (ha!) or the riches (double ha!) but for the speedy and easeful hiring process. Throw a thong, a bikini top, and a pair of shoes into your back-pack, hit up every club in town on a Tuesday afternoon until somebody gives you a job, and by the end of the day you've got a fistful of twenty dollar bills. Or ten dollar bills. Fives. Ones. Hell, money is money.

As it happened, I went to the two sleeziest joints in town and got turned down. Then I went to a relatively nice place and was hired before I'd walked all the way in the door. Gambler's luck, I guess. Also by chance, it was Texas-OU football day and in the middle of the afternoon the club was full of drunk Hispanic guys up from the Rio Grande valley to make a day of it in the big city. I made $400 that day, which to me then constituted riches beyond my wildest imagining. That's when I understood that you could make real money prancing around in your underpants. As it turned out, that was an unusually good dayshift at that particular ass factory. Still, the pickings were pretty good.

At the time, I wanted to go to Washington, D.C. the next month to see that Dalai Llama with my friend and consort, Barbara. All of a sudden, the money was easy. So I went. Then I went to Vegas, cause I felt like it. Then I went to New York City to visit my friend Emily and welcome my old high school roomie Pam home from foreign wars. Then I went to Florida to see my Grammer cause she's the one who put me through yoga school in the first place and I don't get to see her much and I love her. Finally, I settled down and started saving some money. I never knew how much money I'd make in a day. It always felt like luck, but my number came up often enough. My bank account got so fat and I got so cocky, I told my brilliant and beloved college-dropout boyfriend that I'd send him back to school on my dollar and he took me up on it.

So then all of a sudden, it couldn't be luck anymore. Because luck is not going to support two adults and three cats and a college tuition and two aging automobiles that have to go to the mechanic a lot. All this hit me when we got back from the trip in August. And so I spent most of that month -- when I wasn't at the club -- in bed, shivering.

And then suddenly, everything got good and I started making money. I don't know how, or why, except that I really, really, really wanted to. All of a sudden I'm an ass-shaking, high-heeled money-making machine. I think I finally figured this game out. I think things finally clicked. Or else it's all just a hot streak, and then I'm fucked indeed.

Monday, September 18, 2006

john's speech

Hey, come over here. Yeah, c'mere. S'down, OK? Wow, you're pretty. Hey, how long you been dancing? Two years, huh? So you're an experienced girl, right? OK, cause I need to talk to a girl with some experience. This is the thing. I just got off probation, OK, and I want to have some fun, you know what I mean? I mean sometime you just want to have a cookie, right? Like you just think, hey, I've been a good boy -- I should get a cookie. OK?

So this is what I want, OK, and I will give you a hundred dollars if you will tell me, if you can get me, or you can tell me where, some coke. You know what I mean? OK? Oh, come on, you know where to get it. The other girl knows. Look at me. Look in my face. You don't know? OK, fine. No, sit down.

You're so cute, aren't you? Hey, take that top off. What? OK, dance then. Start now. I don't care. I've got plenty of money. If you can tell me where to get some coke I'll give you anything you want. Hundred dollars. Two hundred. It doesn't matter. Listen, they've been piss-testing me for two years and I just wanna have some fun, now, OK? Is that so bad?

Oh, wow. Put those tits in my face. C'mon, closer. What the fuck, no one's looking. Can I suck 'em? No? OK. No, keep dancing. I wanna take you home tonight. Can I take you home tonight? Please. Please, I just wanna have some fun. I've got six hundred dollars and you can have all of it, I don't care. Why not? Why not? Don't you like me? Is something wrong with me? C'mon. I don't wanna get you pregnant or anything. I just wanna fuck you. I just wanna look at your face when you're cumming, like it was a movie and we were in Russia and you thought you were about to die and it was the last time you were ever going to have sex, that is just so, so, so...

C'mon, I thought you liked me. Don't you like me? I'm a good guy. Don't you think I'm a good guy? Listen, I used to be a quarterback. Yup. High school. Yeah. Quarterback. I'm the guy that counted off for the other guys, that's me, the guy that counted off. The guy in charge. I'm a good guy. I can see that you're different. I can see that. And I don't want you just for sex. Other guys, they want you just for sex. You know that, don't you? Life is short. Life is so short and pretty soon you won't know what happened to you, and a guy like me is going to come along once in your life. I hate to tell you this, but after me it's all going to be downhill. You are never going to meet anyone again who cares about you like I do, OK?

You're sure you can't get me some coke? The girl earlier got me some. C'mon. I just want a little bit more. Just for the drive home, OK, because I've had a lot to drink, and I need something so I can drive. No, don't call a taxi for me. If you do that, I will kill you. I've gotta drive home tonight. Cause I -- here, c'mere, closer, I don't wanna say this out loud -- cause my daughter is with me this weekend, OK? My little daughter and she is just ten years old and I just got off probation this weekend. I waited till she was asleep and then I left, and right now she is there at the house all by herself. Do you think I'm a bad father? You probably think I'm the worst guy on earth. I'm not. There's a lot worse guys out there than me. But I need you to sit right here while I walk to the door, and every once in a while I'm gonna look back over my shoulder. Don't call the police on me. Don't tell anybody anything. I'm gonna look back at you, and if I see you talking to anybody, just remember that I know your name. I know your name and I know where you work, and I could hurt you. I know people that would kill you for fifty bucks, no questions asked. I know people. So look at me. Look at me in the face and tell me you won't tell anybody about me. Look at me.

I knew you wouldn't. You're different. You're nice. I like you. I'm gonna come back and see you, OK? I'm gonna come back and you'll come over and sit with me and dance for me again. Won't you? Won't you do that? You will, won't you? Won't you? Won't you?

never mind

OK, I'm over it.

Got a normal night's sleep. Went to the gym. Did laundry. I'm over it. I think I just needed the attention. C.'s deep into the semester at school, and preoccupied much of the time, and I've been working a lot -- between my four part-time jobs, I'm doing about 80 hours a week. It was nice to sit down for four hours and be told how beautiful I am and how clever and how desirable. And I have to remember, my buddy Joe is a Salesman -- and not the kind who wear the polo shirt with the company logo on it and bother you when you come into the store in the mall, but the kind who is on the phone to China closing multi-million dollar contracts when you call in the middle of the day. No wonder he had me eating out of the palm of his hand. That handsome bastard.

OK, but I'm not going to give myself grief over it. Because at the end of the day (make that night) I didn't go home with him and I didn't promise I would in the future, either. I just had a good time, and there's nothing wrong with having fun at work, once in a way.

Peace.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

crushing

I called Joe midweek, somehow expecting to leave a message, but he picked up. It was the middle of the day and he was at work, doing business on the other line, so it was a very brief conversation. I thanked him for the book and he asked if I was still working at the club, and I said, yes, and we rang off.

Last night a waitress came up to my stage during my rotation and told me a customer wanted to buy me a drink, and I looked where she was pointing, and there he was. I checked myself in the mirror and was relieved that I had done my hair and smeared myself with fake tanner and was looking pretty good. It was "Hawaian Night" at the club so I had on the brown-with-gold bottoms of my actual bikini, and a cute peasanty-beach top and my $3 imitation Louis Vuitton sunglasses from Juarez. It was a good look. These things matter. So I got off stage and did my slinkiest walk over the table and he stood up to give me a hug. He's tall. Tall enough that I still have to tilt my head up a little to meet his eyes, and bear in mind that in my six-inch Lucite heels I am NBA height.

With little ado, we went back to the Champagne Room and scandalized the entire staff for the next four hours by drinking moderately, talking much, and keeping all of our clothes on. The bouncer kept wandering past our couch to eye us suspiciously and wonder what the hell was up with us. "Are you two getting married?" he asked at one point. Later, a manager came over while Joel was rubbing my shoulders and told us the police were in the club. This is a polite way of telling you to stop whatever you're doing because it's crossing the line. Funny thing is, if I'd been using my ass muscles to grind him to orgasm, no one would have blinked an eye, but putting my head on his shoulder and stroking his hair made everyone uncomfortable. So grinding is fine, I guess, but affection is tabu.

I left that night with my throat hurting and my brain in a buzz. This morning I feel sticky and clumsy still. I remember this feeling. It's a crush. How remarkable. How stupid. And, probably, how unwelcome. A stripper's job is to flesh out fantasy. Fantasies don't have feelings; that's part of the deal. A stripper doesn't miss you when you don't call, is in love with you only for the hour a week or evening a month that you can spare, doesn't have a birthday for you do forget. It's a lovely arrangement that way -- simple, elegant. Hell, my number one dance-selling line is "You won't have to call me in the morning."

Besides which, I adore and admire and belust my boyfriend and want to be sorting his underpants our from mine in the laundry for many, many years to come. I'm not going to take a flying leap for a roll in the hay with a 47-year-old high-power-salesman type, however lilting his British cum North African accent, however tom cat his smile. So now I'm Googling brachmacharya, the yogic principle of chastity, loyalty, continence. I'm coming up with stuff like this:
Often translated as celibacy, brachmacharya is controlling sexual desire, redirecting this energy to deepen our connection to the Devine. Uncontrolled, sexual desire and activity can easily bring out the worst in people. When one attempts to completely sublimate or suppress this energy, it has a tendency to manifest in life-negating ways. Only when one learns to channel this energy in healthy, nourishing ways will one be free to deepen spiritually.


Yes, sure. But how? How how how how how how HOW? I need to know, and soon, or else I'm off to flog myself into a masturbatory frenzy over a middle-aged guy with three adolescent children, and then maybe I'll I dunno meditate or something. God help me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

oh, canada

This weekend I was offered marriage and Canadian citizenship by an online gambling magnate from Toronto. Failing that, he also offered to fly me in for a weekend rendevouz in Cancun or London or wherever I might want go. Oh, if only.

This was also the weekend that I began my new goal-setting regime. It's been lousy the last few weeks -- few customers and no one who wants to spend any money. It's the end of the summer, and everybody's either saving to go on vacation or spent all their money on vacation already. Besides which, this is still largely a university town -- 50,000 young people with disposable incomes and poor impulse control leave every June, accompanied by the sucking sound of the municipal economy going down the drain. Couple that with a positive deluge of expenses on my part, large and small, expected and unexpected, and you get that scene with the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass -- "Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." Now add to that a throat infection, a hideous outbreak of acne, and a flare-up of the old clinical depression and you've got Grace moping around the club all night starting at her fingernails and wishing she could have a cigarette. I wouldn't have wanted to dance with me either.

But this weekend I'd had enough and decided to pull it together. I was thinking wistfully of the average money I was making last spring -- easily two or three times my new average since coming back from vacation -- and I decided that fuckit, there isn't any reason I shouldn't make that money again. So I just decided I would. Every time during that day that I felt a flicker of doubt or apprehension about the night ahead, I just repeated the dollar ammount to myself. At work, every time I got turned down for a dance, every time I heard another dancer back in the dressing room ranting about the slowness and impossibility of it all, I repeated the ammount to myself again. It was my mantra. And stunningly, amazingly, magically, it worked. I exceeded that average two nights out of three, and on the third hit it dead on the button, despite that fact that local college football team lost the first game of the season and the mood in the club was quiet and sullen.

But the best night was the night I met the Canadian. At first, I didn't know he was there at all. I stopped to talk to a swarthy, corpulently handsome Brazilian guy in a sports jacket, who seemed to be sitting by himself. A few sentences into things, the Canadian returned from parts unknown, a non-descript 50-ish white guy in a nice shirt. The Brazilian was playing hard to get, so I switched the charm over to Mr. Canada, who was telling me how classless he thought it was to tip the stage with less than $5. This is a great line to use on strippers, obviously. We got along swimmingly, talking about the lovely lines of girls' hip-bones, and how I registered with marryacanadian.com after the '04 election, and next thing we knew we were back in the Champagne Room getting naked and romantic.

Some customers -- young ones, mostly -- ask me if I don't hate dancing for men who are old or ugly or fat. What they don't know is that when you're a stripper, there really isn't any such thing. Being a stripper, for me anyway, is sort of like being truly in love. Appearances are incidental. What I care about is, truly, what lies underneath -- i.e. your wallet. But the single-minded focus on whether or not you are going to give me money also shows me, peripherally, a host of other qualities that might otherwise be hidden. If I were going to date you, or fuck you, or take you home to my parents, I would be worried about things like your appearance and your circumstances and your station in life and your probable impression on my friends. Freed from these hypothetical constraints, however, I look at you and see your soul. Most of the time, people's souls are boring and/or a little bit gross, but sometimes you meet a real sweetheart, and the Canadian was one. Interesting fact well known to strippers: the guys who give you the most money are almost invariably also the ones who don't try to finger your orifices. And the Canadian lived up to this rule. He did try to get me to go back to his hotel with him, but I can't blame him. I'm hot like that.

Turns out that for legal reasons involving his line of work, he can never come back to the States, though, so I guess I won't be seeing any more of him. Unless I want to fly to London and be his mistress. Actually, I'd adore being a highly paid courtesan to wealthy globe-trotters, but I'm very attached to my boyfriend and value the regard of my family too highly. If only I were a friendless orphan, what a time I could have.

NB: Joe must have been to the club sometime recently and missed me. He left Memoirs of a Geisha at the front desk for me with his name and phone number inside the cover. I should probably call, but then again, do I need the headache of a customer whom I actually find attractive and charming? Answer: As long as he's paying, why the hell not.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

a modest proposal

So this was a new one on me. DJ calls me over and asks if he can send me on stage because a guy just tipped him $10 to play "Sweet Child of Mine" and no one else will dance to rock and roll, and I say I will. This is how a lot of my stories start. I've noticed that too.

I'm on stage in a very newly acquired polka-dotted skirt/top set of which the top is clearly intended for a lady of more generous endowments so that it keeps sliding off. I would have known this if I had tried the set on at StripperMart, but I was racing the clock to get to the club early and avoid the hefty weekend house fees. Then I got stuck in traffic for thirty minutes and it didn't matter anyway. I digress.

So this gentleman comes up to tip me and thanks me for playing the song and I put boobies in his face and he rains dollar bills down on me like snow, which I hear is commonplace up in them Yankee clubs up north, but in Texas is a relative rarity, so I take notice. He invites me back to VIP to sit with him, and three and a half days later, when I finish rotating through all three stages, I go.

He is sitting with a lady, a tall blonde woman of a Certain Age with Nordic cheekbones, sad eyes, and pretty teeth. I am little more than seated when he asks me if I know the difference between dominance and submission, and as a matter of fact I do. They tell me that they have a 24/7 lifestyle relationship, of which is the master, but she herself is dominant to two female subs, one of whom lives with them, and has born her husband's child. And if I need proof, people keep sending them text messages asking their permission to do things. They ask if I am 'freaked out' and I tell them I think it's all perfectly charming. So I do a few dances for the lady, and a few for the gentleman -- your average tubby Texan with a handlebar moustache -- and a couple for both of them and then a few more for the gentleman and then for the lady again. All in all I am in VIP with them for a couple of hours and they are all but injecting champagne into my eyeballs.

So then they are telling me that they have a current opening for a full-time live-in slavegirl to take care of their cooking and cleaning and look after their six-month-old son -- both of them have high-powered and demanding careers -- and fuck the hell out of them at a moment's notice. They ask me about my hobbies and whether I have any pets or children or drug problems and it becomes evident that I am being interviewed for the position, at which point I convulse in giggles. I ask if I will be provided with a uniform. They smile indulgently but are quite serious. I can picture myself getting sloppy with Mrs., but Mr. doesn't do it for me, and I don't deal well with male authority figures in the real world though I can fake it for an hour or two in the club if the money is good enough. I politely decline on the pretext that I have a loving and committed relationship and I get the speech I have been getting all week about how I will eventually realize that he is not good enough for me and then I will come running back.

If I were a little older or younger or dumber or smarter, this would actually be a great offer, assuming it's for real, and who the hell knows. Did I mention that the slavegirl will be provided with room and board, a car, and a living allowance? And Madame will take you shopping as much as you want. Seriously, anybody want to give it a shot? Pidge? Pam? Anybody? They left me their number and I'd be happy to pass it on...

Friday, September 01, 2006

chicken strip

My friend Scarlett started dancing about four months ago at a club on the east side of town affectionately known as Budget Strip, or sometimes Chicken Strip. I tried to get her a job with me up north, but the managers gave her the elaborate call-back-later-and-leave-a-message-with-someone-else-which-no-one-will-ever-return run-around that they give girls they don't want to hire. Why strip club managers are so famously devious about this stuff is beyond me. They are dealing with girls who get rejected five, ten, twenty times a night, for a living. But anyway.

So, out to EconoStrip for Scarlett, and I was worried about her. I've never been there, but it's one of the rougher joints in town by reputation, a tough place for a newbie to be thrown in. I'm proud of her, though; she took it on the chin. When she started she was broke as beans and more or less homeless, surfing from couch to couch, losing job after short-term, dead-end job. I've known Scarlett since we were waitresses at the same 24-hour greasy-spoon diner when we were respectively 19 and 25, and it's been grieving me to watch her drift downhill since. But in the last couple of months she's really been pulling it together. She's lost weight, sublet an apartment, and for the first time since I've known her she has plans for a future more than two weeks ahead. Call it Better Living Through Stripping.

Last week she made a big jump up from Budget Strip to the Yellow Rose, a large and relatively upscale club of mixed but venerable reputation. She seems happy there, and I went in and worked a dayshift with her yesterday to check the place out for myself. I found the place fair to middling in atmosphere -- nice cush leather booths, a fun run-way like second stage with three poles -- and largely dead. Dayshifts are about regulars, and hard to break into. I did a dance here and a dance there for gents whose main ladies had not arrived, and then spent a large portion of the afternoon with a hefty gentlemen who told jokes as a sort of neurotic tic. He was the kind of joke-teller who claims the jokes happened to him -- "So my friend asked me if I'd ever eaten out a Jewish woman and I said" -- and even when he told you something about his life it had the rhythm and pacing of a joke, so that only when he got to the end did you realize that he was talking about his divorce and it really wasn't funny at all.

Scarlett spent a large part of the day sitting at the bar sipping whiskey with a cowboy who bought her drinks and didn't buy any dances. She had to borrow $20 to make her house fee in the afternoon, but then made it back up in the last hour or two and paid me back. At the end of the day, she and I made about the same ammount of money, which wasn't all that much. In monetary terms it was a disappointing day. To make it there, I'd have to get back into the dayshift swing of keeping a regular schedule and cultivating regulars and staring at the clock. Blech. One of the these I love about nightshifts up north is how fast they go. You can't beat it.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

fate, huh?

I thought astrology was crap until I'd had a customer service job and it became obvious that, by the pull of the stars or by some other mysterious universal force, everybody has the same stupid ideas at the same exact time. Some days the stars tell everyone to go to a strip club and try to finger the dancer's asshole, or to claim retrospectively that they thought lapdances were free. This week the stars seem to be telling everyone that a snarky redheaded stripper is their ideal woman and destined life partner and that if they wait long enough she will leave her boyfriend and come to them. Or at any rate, the stars are telling people that telling me this will get them laid. The stars are wrong, incidentally. Nice try, though.

Usually telling customers that I love my boyfriend will put them off the scent. When Joe told me the other night that he would wait -- years if necessary -- for me to figure out that he and he alone was the man for me, it was a new one on me. Since then, I've heard nothing but. Seriously, do strip club customers have, like, an annual convention or something where they get together and trade strategies? If so, please tell your brethren they can dump this one. It's not working.

Monday, August 28, 2006

meeting people is easy

Dang. You use a few ripe phrases in your blogging and this is what you get:

Hi there --

I would like trading links with your blogs.
All my links got Google PR4-PR3.

LINKS:

ASS EATING

+

JULIA BOND

+

HANDJOB

+

SPUNKMOUTH

+

JIZZ ON GLASSES


Thanks,
Max

Sunday, August 20, 2006

drama, mama

It was an OK night, right up until the end. Not spectacular, by any means. I've never liked the weekend crowd much: the party people who come in to gawk and make the scene, the bargain hunters, the gropers, the weirdos. But I've learned to pan the gold out and find the few friendly souls who want to have a good time with a pretty girl, who have a little money and want to spend it.

It was slow. Girls were changing outfits two or three times or four times, which is never a good sign. Finally, an hour or so before closing, people started dribbling in. The DJ called me to the booth and asked if he could put me on stage, because I'm one of the few who will dance to Ozzy and Judas Priest, and he wanted to break up the solid hour of techno and hip-hop that had gone before. I said yes, which put me on stage right after the World's Hottest Asian Chick -- perfect slim body, waist-length brunette hair, style so sharp it could cut you -- a hard act to follow. Even better, the DJ starts hyping the crowd up, "everbody yell if you love rock n'roll", etc.

Now, I am, at best, an average stage dancer. I am not the swing-around-the pole-flip-upside-down-get-crazy dancer who really should have followed a build-up like this. But I scrunch my hair up all bushy and wild and get out there. I figure I will make up in enthusiasm what I lack in all other respects. I swing around the pole and kind of slip, but I take it in stride and feel like things are OK. Nobody is tipping yet, but the hell with them. Crazy Train is playing and I dance like no one but Ozzy is watching.

Then there's somebody at the tip rail. Another dancer, a hatchet-faced blonde I've seen before but barely noticed except to note to myself in passing that if one's eyes are average-to-small and deep-set, one should not ring them heavily with black mascara. She holds out a dollar and I am already smiling and bending over before I realize that it is bait. When I am on eye level with her she snarls and makes a throat-slashing gesture. "Just stop," she says. "Just stop. You look awful."

It takes a second to register, then it does. "Go to hell," is all I can come up with on such short notice. Her lips curl back and she shoves me hard in the chest. I sprawl over. The crowd is staring the way people stare at a car wreck, hungry for the sight of other people's misfortunes. Blank faces, like wads of dough with raisins stuck in for eyes. My first song of three is not even half over.

Oh, I get up. I get up. I finish. No one tips me. It is terribly lonely up there, and it lasts for a long time.

I'm not angry often, and when I am I don't know what to do with it, where to put it. I am tall and, to an extent, strong. The only fight I was ever in, I dropped my adversary like a sack of potatoes with one instinctively perfect punch to the nose. It felt great, and this girl had a face made for punching. Unfortunately, my impulse control is cast iron. I am always thinking five years ahead. As fun as a lusty brawl on table surrounded by gaping bachelor party attendees might be in the short-term, I'd get fired and I like my job. Is this the same thing as being weak? The high school guidance counselor in my brain says no, but I suspect she is hedging.

Anyway, I didn't kick the bitch's ass. I lodged a complaint with a manager and then I tipped the staff generously, got my things and went home. In the dressing-room I cried a little bit and my friend the World's Hottest Black Chick petted me and told me I was beautiful. I recounted my adventure and she knew who I was talking about before I could even describe her, said she was the club bully, that she regularly does and says ungly things to girls who are young or new.

My friend told me she loved me. So did the manager. So did the DJ, who saw everything, when I gave him his tip. Weird how this heavy phrase gets passed around in the strip club world. It should be meaningless, coming from people who don't know your real name or hair color, or anything else about you, but it isn't quite. It gives you the same tiny jolt of seratonin as a mild drug, a very small ammount of coke, maybe. The brain is soothed by the idea of love, even in the absence of love itself. We know that. That's why we say it. To jolt a little more money out of you. To change to mood. To soothe a crying friend.

Anyway, I'm home now, in my beloved house, with my cats snoring all around me and the love of my life sleeping in the next room. My life is so good. Hers -- what ever her name is -- probably isn't. I doubt that she has love like my love, friends like my friends, peace like my peace. She probably cries herself to sleep a lot more than I do. Maybe when I wake up tomorrow I'll ponder that and feel compassion, but right now I think that's pretty fucking sweet.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

ka-ching

Last night was my favorite kind of night. The kind of night where I sit down at the bar for a second to catch my breath and hustle the cute bartender for a drink, and the guy next to me makes a comment about my hair -- yes, it's red. No, I'm not Irish. Well, not unless you want me to be -- and I make a crack back. He tells me I look like Scarlett Johansen which is a lie and next thing I know we are back in the Champagne Room and he's doing all the work selling himself on me -- my beauty, my charm, my razor-sharp wit, my psychic powers -- and handing me fistfuls of dead presidents. Aw, did you pick these yourself? They smell wonderful!

Added bonus, this trick is of reasonable good looks (for a 47-year-old with some ancient acne scarring), much education, and considerable charm. Time passes like swiftly flowing water, and at the end of the night I am considerably richer and he is promising to come and see me again and bring me his own copy of Memoirs of a Geisha, which I have not read.

Friday, August 18, 2006

hi honey, i'm home

Yesterday I woke up in Texas for the first time in many weeks. Goddamn. It is hot. The climbing plants that were winding so green and delicate up my very own homemade trellis by the side door are yellow and flaccid. The neighbor entrusted with their care apologetically assured me that he had watered them every day, and I beleive him. Photosynthesis stops around 100 degrees and according to all reports the temperature didn't drop below that for the entire time we were gone.

Last week I was waking up in Big Sur and fighting with my boyfriend over blankets. Now I won't even let him hold my hand in bed -- not because he tried to squeeze a zit on my neck without permission, but because I'm afraid we'll wake up cemented together by sweat. It's gross. It's foul. I'm SO moving to San Freakingcisco.

Except C. is non-relocatable, at least for now. School, but more than that, band stuff. Dating a musician is like dating someone who is already married to several other people and raising a monstrous, expensive, very precious child. The only way C. and I can move is if his guitar player, drummer, bassist, producer, distirbutor, and promoter all agree to move with us. I'm working on it.

Speaking of which, C. went to the recording studio this morning and probably won't be back, in any meaningful sense, until school starts next week. Bit of a drag for me, but it gives me plenty of time to do all the stuff I wasn't doing while I was on vacation -- write, do yoga, and dance like a motherfucker to replenish the pillaged household coffers.

I'll be back at the club tonight, so time for one of those magic stripper-make-overs. Coconut oil to tame the frizz and split ends. Glue-on plastic nails. Fake eyelashes. All that should do the trick just fine but oh, my poor skin. I am sun-phobic and did my best to ward the old bastard off with floppy hats, long-sleeves, and SPF 45, but I have the kind of olive-toned skin that LOVES to darken. I have a retarded arms-and-legs farmer's tan that highlights my soft white underbelly. Blech. I've been doing my damndest with fake-bake for the last 24 hours, to very little effect. Now you know why strippers are so fond of stockings and those fishnet arm-warmer-type things.

So here I go. Wish me a million dollars. I need it. C.'s art school tuition is due next week.

P.S. For those curious about our experience in the SF brothel, details here.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

message in a bottle

Help. Please help. I'm still here. Still hanging out in C's high school best friend's room-mate's bedroom, watching the Discovery Channel which during the day is the Gruesome, Tragic and Completely True! Channel. Right now it's a show about children with skin diseases.

Get me out of here. Not that everybody isn't being lovely. Treating us like freaking royalty, in fact. Stoner royalty. Anything we want -- sausage biscuits from McDonald's, an air bed, Vicodin.

C. is their Local Boy Made Good, see. The one who is actually living in the city, actually going to art school, actually in a band that plays actual shows at actual clubs, actually dating a stripper. Back home, guys fitting this description are a dime a dozen, but out here, that is Something.

C. and I went out today looking for something to do. There are abandoned fluorite mines in the mountains around here, where local kids get drunk every summer and fall down the shafts and die. I've been clamoring to go there for the last several visits, but the van has been acting funny again, and C.'s too wise a desert kid to head off into the bone-dry mountains in the middle of the day in August. We drove around town and got shuffled out of a couple of antique shops by fuzzy-haired ladies, had a really awful lunch, got iced coffee drinks at the coffee shop, and now we're back here again. Tonight we're going to see a theatrical production of modernized fairytales which will feature a former boyhood acquaintance of C's friend's room-mate as the Baker's Wife.

The scariest part is that the feeling that I am living in an alternate universe. One where I did not move to Austin, go to college, meet a lot of people very different from me, and, basically, grow up. This is what happens to people with large ideas who stay in small towns. Every day they wake up, rediscover that there is nothing to do, and just go home to crank up the air condioner and get high.

Forty-eight hours and counting. Tomorrow there are plans to go to Mexico and see a museum. Maybe. Tonight we might go out to White Sands to see the Perseid shower. If everyone feels like it. Or whatever. I feel like it could take a stick of dynamite to get us out of here. If you never here from me again, I'm at

Friday, August 11, 2006

what i did on my summer vacation

How was my trip, you ask? So. Freaking. Awesome. We're on the home stretch now, laid up for a day or two in C.'s home town of Las Cruces, NM, getting high and watching a special on poisoning on the History Channel with his boyhood friends. After 19 days of hiking, driving, and camping, it's a pleasant lull. I was planning to bring my laptop with me and update you periodically, but my harddrive failed again about fifteen minute prior to departure, so I guess it was not to be. But no fear -- here for your edification, Grace's Pocketbook Guide to the Great American West.


Compared to most of the rest of Texas, the Hill Country is pretty, especially when you are driving through it at 75 mph in an '85 VW Westphalia bus with a cute guy and a chocolate-dipped cone from Dairy Queen.


Colorado's San Isabel National Forest
is a green and pretty place to spend an afternoon. The Rifle State Park just outside Rifle, CO has gorgeous canyons along the Rifle River, and some neato rock-climbing paths which we didn't take because we don't know how, but plan to learn. There is also something call the Ice Cave which is drippy and mossy in early August but probably looks badass in winter.

The Travelodge in Lander, Wyoming has renovated it's hot-tub room. When we stayed there two years ago, the room was pine-paneled and shag carpeted, but now it's all respectable white plaster and gray paint. Oh, well. We'll always have the memories.

Thermopolis, WY is not for lovers. C. and I were lured there by promises of the world's largest hot springs, which turn out to be housed in a sort of weird retro family waterpark. The Blue Thunder, the park's three-story waterslide, is satisfyingly scary and the Vapor Cave does not admit minors for good reason. C. and I received official reprimand for rubbing noses in the mineral pool in front of children. They don't stand for that stuff in Thermpolis.

Yellowstone National Park is mind-bogglingly gorgeous, and, on the main roads, very crowded. There is a tiny traffic jam every time an elk wanders in sight of the road and a sign next to every natural feature that you're supposed to take a picture of, but the smaller hiking trails are pretty much empty. Thank you, America, for being a bunch of lazy pussies. My boyfriend and I really appreciate having all the coolest stuff to ourselves. Like the Roosevelt Tower Falls, and the little cabin by the beach on the Colorado River, and the alpine meadows with the glassy little lakes and the wild rasberry bushes.

Ontario, Oregon is right on the border between Wyoming and Oregon. According to my frantic scribblings on the atlas, we must have spent a night here, but I don't remember anything about it.

Southeast Oregon is way flatter and drier than my mental picture of Oregon. At one point you are driving through a scrubby desert and then there's a vast, inexplicable, sky-blue lake and flocks of seagulls. Weird.

Jacksonville, OR and surroundings used to be all wierdos and survivalists but has suddenly become she-she wine country. We camped in a state park that felt like somebody's orchard -- wild blackberries everywhere.

Word up to Crescent City, California. This is where our AAA-approved tow-truck driver took us when our van died in the parking lot of the Redwoods National Park Visitor Information Center. He also took us to a convenience store to buy beer and firewood, and dropped us off at the campground where we had reservations. Thanks, Mike. Thanks also to Doni and Jenny, the lovely couple at the campsite next to ours who lent us the cushions from their RV so we didn't have to sleep on the ground while the van was in the shop. My highest recommendations on Ken's Auto, where they found our starter did not need to be replaced, but only taken apart, blown on, and put back together. They charged us $15. Also, the Good Harvest Cafe where they take breakfast as seriously as I do.

The Redwoods are one of my favorite places on earth. You'd think there'd be a point where that wide-eyed Damn-That's-A-Big-Tree feeling would wear off, but I never seem to get there. If you do, you can always hike down to the coast, which is breath-taking.

At Buckley's Thrift Store in Laytonville, CA C. bought a pair of shiny patent leather shoes and I got a sweet vintage garterbelt for amazingly cheap prices.

San Fransisco is the only place we stopped where I was not amazed by the general obesity of the resident population. C. and I had some awesome curry at the Thai Stick and went to a strip club that turned out to be a brothel.

Coastal Highway One is a great drive. Big Sur is the name that everybody knows, but the view is amazing pretty much all the way down. The road is winding, though, so Yours Truly was carsick as a Labrador Retreiver for most of it.


Los Angeles.
Blah. C. has a remarkable fondness for this place, but I tend to feel it looks best from the freeway. Except when the freeway is shut down for the filming of an ambulance chase scene, or when the traffic is back up for forty minutes because EVERYONE must slow down for second and third looks at the flaming Jeep pulled over on the shoulder.

When we were there, Eastern California was in the grip of a dust-and-thunderstorm that resulted in a spectacular sunset. Arizona has Saguaros, which are the cactuses that look like cartoon cactuses. It also has The Thing, which is advertized by billboards for 150 miles in either direction. C. was sucked in years ago and says it isn't worth it.

And that, in a nutshell, is that. Tomorrow we're going to Juarez, Mexico with some friends of C.'s, and I'm going to try to buy a velvet painting of a naked lady. A day or two after that, we should be leaving for Austin, a nine or ten hour drive from here. But now C. is doing the leg-jiggling thing he does when I am boring him by hanging out on the computer too long, and somebody has just popped a beer for me. Hasta la vista.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

update

Hey. It's been a while. If you're still reading, thanks. I finally liberated my laptop from the repair shop. They took entirely too long a time with it, but the guy also surreptitiously replaced my disk drive and downloaded some anti-spyware software for me and didn't bill me for it, so all is forgiven. In the meantime, all kinds of things happened which normally would merit full reportage. Only it was all so long ago that none of it seems that remarkable anymore, and also the computer is in the un-air-conditioned part of the decaying Victorian manse where I live, and it is 105 degrees in the shade today and C. is entertaining himself by reading me a list of fines off the traffic ticket I got on the way to work last weekend, and all in all, for my sanity, I'm going to keep this brief.

1. A close friend of mine came back into town for a few days a week or so ago, and she had just dumped her boyfriend, so C. and I got her stoned and then took her out and got her drunk and then came home and made out with her til all hours of the a.m. I had a good time, tempered with a certain apprehension of emotional consequences, but so far there have been none. She went back to graduate school, C. and I settled back into the normal routine, and peace is upon the land.

2. Last week I worked six days back to back, in a final burst of effort designed to fund the summer road trip C. and I take every year. I made good money, especially considering this is the slow time of year hereabouts, and nearly met the unrealistically high goal I had set for myself, but then had a panic attack on the sixth night, a Saturday, the first attack I've ever had at work. It wasn't dramatic. I got anxious, and then I got short of breath, and then I got claustrophobic, and then I started to feel my grip on events slipping away from, and began to be haunted with the feeling that I was powerless to prevent myself from doing something socially inappropriate -- say, lying down on the floor and howling like a baby wolf. Crowds have this effect on me occasionally, as do flashing lights and loud music. As a matter of fact, it's sort of minor miracle that nothing like this has happened at work before. Lucky for me, managers were very understanding and let me go home early. I held it together pretty well in the car, and then back at my house my teeth started to chatter uncontrollably. C. rubbed my back with a new lotions the smell of which reminded me of my grandmother's house, and I had to go and take a shower and spend an hour rehearsing unfortunate childhood memories, the time my grandmother slapped me for going outside in underpants and an oversized t-shirt (I was four), the time she made me get down on my hands and knees and pick up potato chip crumbs, one by one, the time she locked me in a shed for being loud. I went to sleep finally around 3 a.m. and then was awake with the sunrise. I got up and took a bong hit, hoping it would calm me down, but it had the opposite effect, and I ended up curled up at the end of the bed, hungry and weeping. Fortunately, my boyfriend is a perfect human-being and knows me very well. He took me out for coffee and breakfast tacos and we talked about Dream Theater until I felt OK. I've been fine since.

3. That was my last day of dancing for the near future. This week I have once again traded in heels and thong for sweatshorts and "Coach" T-shirt, and am teaching 3-10-year-olds to cultivate a peaceful mind while walking around on their hands. It doesn't pay nearly as well as dancing, but is a hell of a lot less stressful. Except when I'm making a nine-year-old boy go sit in the Peace Circle or something. I wish we had a Peace Circle at the club. I can think of some people who really need to go there.

4. This Saturday, more or less at daybreak, C. and I are taking off for parts only vaguely known. We will head north and get out of this blasted hellmouth weather, and west, hoping to hit the Redwoods, which is about my favorite place on earth. Nothing like 1,000-year-old trees to restore some perspective.

5. The telephone domination service hired me as an "erotic consultant." I start August 21. C. got into art school and starts August 19th. Grand things on the horizon.

Hope everyone out there is also doing well. Peace.