Monday, September 08, 2008

casual friday

On Friday I went to a pool party. I didn't mean to go to a pool party. I meant to go out with my friend and colleague Corinne for end-of-the-week drinks. The last few weeks have been tough going for the project. A presentation week before last was received very badly. On Wednesday a major non-financial partner withdrew from the project completely. Apparently I have generated controversy. Apparently everyone thought I was a nice girl who would do something nice. The project is not nice. It was never trying to be nice. Nice? No. Not nice.

Corinne tried to save me, but even she agrees that the project is not very nice, and if nice is what her people were expecting there is no point in trying to make this partnership work anymore. "We can still be friends, right?" Corinne asks, via text. We can still be friends.

She calls me as I'm leaving my house to meet her downtown, and she says, "Let's not go out. Let's go to Dave's."

Dave is her boyfriend. He has a condo on the lake, with a hot-tub. Going there and drinking beer out of the fridge will be a million times better than going to some bar. I agree, change course. I am covered with sweat when I get there. Corinne hands me a beer, asks if I want to freshen up. I take my beer into the shower. Cold beer in my mouth. Hot water on my face. I am so tired.

The day before I ran into a friend in the grocery store and she asked how the project was going. I told her we'd hit some rough spots. She asked what kind and I tried to explain, but talking about it made me feel worse. She said, "Honey, everybody gets to this point. You get to a point where you think you can't go anymore, but you do, and that's what separates you from all the people who don't make it."

I say, maybe I am one of the people who doesn't make it. I have to think about that. I have to let myself contemplate that that could be the truth. I say,"Maybe I'll just say fuck it. Maybe I'm done." I want to pretend for a second that it could be that easy. As easy as that fantasy I used to have of just buying a bus ticket, leaving town, leave the whole mess. Let everybody else work it out. Fuck it. I'm done.

She said, "You'll pull through."

My heart goes bang, starts racing. Maybe I don't want to pull through. I pick up my basket, start backing away down the soap aisle. "I'm sorry. I have to go. I really can't talk about it."

"Call me," she yells after me. "I'll cook for you. You look like shit."

I turn the handle in the shower, cranking the hot water slowly over to cool. I've started seeing an acupuncturist. She says I have a heat imbalance -- too much yang energy, too much activity, masculinity. She tells me to spend time doing yin activities, soothing, passive, feminine. Like what, I ask her. Swim, she says. Go for a walk in the morning when it's cool. Sit still.

I let the cool water run over my face. I could stand here forever. But not really, because this is a stranger's house and my friend is waiting for me downstairs. I turn the water off. I towel myself off and leave my hair down so it can dry.

"Your hair's so long," Corinne says as I come downstairs. "You should wear it down more."

"Is Dave home?"

"He's out by the pool. He'll be out there all weekend. We can go in a little bit, but I'm warning you now, it's a sausage fest. You'll think you're in a frat house. Beer?"


We sit on the couch and drink. Corinne says, "Look. Keep doing what you're doing. It's a good project. Now you don't have to worry about making us happy. You can do it your way and take as long as you want."

Yeah, it could go on forever. Just me and my project. Me and my fucking stupid fucking project.

Corinne says, "Let's go out to the pool."

We go out. It is a sausage fest. A bunch of guys. I forget how many because they all look alike to me. Eight? Ten? Throwing a football and splashing and shouting. Guys. Normal guys, who are like a weird foreign culture to me. I've never actually been to a frat party. But here I am and here they are, comporting themselves in their natural habitat. Corinne sit down and I take the deck chair next to her.

I am too tired to party. I lean back in the deck chair and keep drinking beer while the last of the sun dries the last of the water in my hair. Guys keep coming by and talking to me. Sometimes I open my eyes to see who it is and sometimes I don't. I can't keep their names straight anyway.

Some guy comes by and asks me about my job. I guess somebody told him about the project. I say yes, that is what I do. He says, "Wow. That's so great. Listen, I've been looking for someone..."

He tells me about the project he has in mind. I laugh. It's a funny idea. It's a silly idea. It's the kind of idea a guy like this would have. I tell him I love it, and it's brilliant, and it will make a million dollars and everyone will love it.

"So, how much?" he wants to know.

I shut my eyes and do a little math. I name a number, a ridiculous number.

"Done," he says. "Here, let me get your contact information."


"Honey," C. will say later, "Honey, I have a suspicion he was hitting on you."

"No shit. What difference does it make?"

C. will shrug and make a face. But that's all later. Meanwhile there's food on the grill and groups of people keep shifting and reshaping and going in and out of apartments. The last of the sun goes down and Corinne comes over and says, "Let's go inside."

Inside we start to talk about the project again, not what people think of it, but the real stuff of it, the parts I love, that keep me up at night, the stuff that makes us want to do the stuff we do, and suddenly I start to cry. For a while I can't stop. Strings of sobs like little implosions suck me in on myself, and in, and in. Corinne gets me water and sits by me quietly. She and I might be really good friends one day. I might pull myself together and get myself out of this. I might take the pool guy's project and we might make a million dollars. Stranger things have happened.


Sra said...

I believe in you, fwiw. Don't give up.

Krafty Like A Fox said...

The one thing I've learned in my short life is that if you're going for something you love, never take no for an answer, even if it means you are trundling along by yourself.

Sometimes I wonder if the starving artist refers to food or partnership.

kelly said...

I might attempt to give some advice, but it doesn't sound like you want or need any.

Frank said...

These vague projects are maddening.

I love the moment in the shower. I do that often. Water soothes me for some reason. Hell, I even love to wash the dishes.

Chin up, girl.

nikkos said...

Anyone offering to cook for you is good people. Heed their advice. Food is love. Don't give up on your project. Or yourself.

Pamela said...

Funny you should write this post now, because I'm hitting this spot myself. This one publisher is taking her own sweet time to get back to us, and it's holding us up, and some of my best friends are leaving Palestine soon and I'm missing them, wishing I had the cash to go over there and write in a more inspired setting than the reddest red state in the union, flat broke... Losing faith in myself and my project, wondering what the hell good anything is. Trying to muddle through, even if I know that working on the project is the only cure, and I don't bloody feel like working. This isolation was good for a while, but it's starting to get very tiring.

Grace said...

Pam: come visit! The weather's about to get amazing here, and we both need a break.

Jordan Parker said...

So what is your project? You should tell people what it is, because all it takes is one Mason Novick (Diablo Cody's discoverer) reading your blog to change things in some way. Mystery is intriguing, but it only goes so far. You can always be vague and mysterious later on, after you've made millions from turning your dream into a reality. Or at least enough money so that you're not crying in your beer.

Speaking of which, what IS your dream? Is your dream different from your project? And might I add, I like the idea that it's a not-so-"nice"-project. Nice is often The Gap and Christian Rock (no wait, that's just irritating). I'm beginning to believe more and more in marketing. It's not as much about getting other people to believe in our "projects" as it is finding the right channels in which to distribute them.

Grace said...

Yeah, I understand what you're saying, but I am really resistant to the idea of being "discovered" via this blog. I would so much rather be discovered for something less silly.

The whole "stripper" thing is just such a gimmick, and once you buy into that gimmick you are stuck with it for a long time, or that's what I'm afraid of, anyway. The boing boing dust was all "Stripper Writes," not "Writer Strips." Fuck that.

Jazzy said...

What is this project we are speaking of?

Grace said...

It's a secret. Sorry, but that's how it needs to be. Or look at it this way: everybody gets to make up their own favorite version of what the project might be.

nikkos said...

The last time I took on a challenging project, I set up a blog devoted just to it. I kept it private, and only gave access to fellow co-conspirators. It became a good place to do brain dumps of various, not-entirely-fleshed-out ideas and as a repository of links, imagery and thoughts. Just an idea.

davka said...

Grace, I totally feel you on the Stripper Writes vs Writer Strips thing. I am finding myself described as a Stripper Blogger on the web and it makes me very uncomfortable. I am a writer and I will be many people in one lifetime and stripping isn't what I want to be remembered for. I don't mean that in a negative way toward strippers- I mean that I get offended when people pay attention to that and not the millions of other things I have written about. People love sensation and naked women. Anyway, your writing is great and that's what we see.

Anonymous said...

I found you through Boing Boing and have been following you since - read all your past entries and still check semi daily for updates.

Honestly... you're a writer. You have a manner of writing that is compelling and honest, yet shaded at the same time. I write, and I think I do halfway decent at it, but not like you. I don’t have the way of drawing people in like you do.

But the way I look at it is this, and I hope I don't come off in some way offensive or belittling in my phrasing, but: very few will read an amazing writer's work if they have nothing to write about. Stripping is one of the many things of intrigue about you - it's given you stories and insight and confidence and courage and pain and experience. It's one of the many things that have shaped your life, just like the man you cheated on all those years ago, and the fact that you dedicated so much of yourself to making others happy.

It's a facet, and an interesting facet, of your life; one that people are curious about.

I know a lot of people are unhappy with the way they were discovered, particularly in the sex industry. Evelyn Lau wished she hadn't published Runaway. Tracy Lords (understandably) regrets her time in porn. You don't want to be discovered as a woman in the sex industry either, and that's perfectly fine.

I guess, in summary, I'm just trying to say that even if you don't want to be discovered through this blog, never forget the things you've been taught and never forget to be grateful for it.

In the end, I just came here to point you to because it reminded me of you.


Grace said...

Thanks. It's a complicated decision. Dancing was/is/might again be a weird and wonderful and fascinating time in my life. I would be a very different person if I had never done it, and I like who I am, so I'm glad I did. I don't want to disown that part of my life, or the many amazing people I met. I wish I thought I could come out as a dancer and people would go, "Oh, hey, that's an interesting facet of your life experience" and move on. But I'm afraid it would be the ONLY thing people would ever be interested in, and I would have to carry it around with me forever. Like, I could do a million other things in life and my obituary would still read "Ex-stripper, 87, dies."

A little paranoid? Kinda. But I also see the way regular people react when they find out I dance, and all of a sudden it colors everything for a little while. Sooner or later they forget about it and other things about me become more important, but it's a weird feeling. And I'm talking here about people who know me socially, the actual me.

Maybe I won't always feel like this. Maybe when I'm more established doing other things, my past won't matter as much and I'll be able to own it without worrying that it will take over. If anyone in my professional sphere ever "discovers" that I was a dancer, I know I won't deny it. I'll just hope they see it as part of a bigger picture, not as the whole picture.

Anonymous said...

As part of the painstakingly normal world, I speak from those I've met and those I've known to say they will always look at you differently, at least for a little while, much in the same manner that they'd look at a celebrity or a criminal or a stunt double for a little while. It's outside the norm; so fabulously different than the paper pushing and the memos and the meetings and the drab, dull colours of office life. I don't speak for all, of course, but I can say that I feel we would be terribly fascinated to know you just because you're *different* than what we know.

Some will, like I, think that’s wonderful and be curious about the differences and similarities between us. Others would look down on you, judge you, and never care to learn a thing about you other than that one part of you. In my opinion, they’re probably best left in their own unhappy world anyways.

And don’t worry about your paranoia, Grace. Sometimes paranoia keeps us safe. Hence why I’m anonymous and not using my email ;)