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

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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


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.