Term’s started: so many tangents while I dangle the details of my Vegas trip like an enticing and sexy carrot

(my last term ever as an undergrad and at this university!)

and you know I always update more when I ought to be doing anything but. And a real update is overdue. First it was finals and I had to study, then finals was over and the last thing I wanted to do was spend a lot of time in front of a computer, then I got my grades back and I passed and am set to graduate and was too busy celebrating and working to write, then I went to Vegas. Which deserves an update all for itself so more on that another day.

But this is my last-hurrah term, my term to take two final good classes to rinse the last few abysmal months of underachieving undergrads and uninspired instructors (I think one of them may have been basically brain-damaged, if not -dead) out my brain. One class with the Peripatetic Professor of my Middle East classes last year (this one is imperialism) and the last with the Beautiful Professor. I have to redeem myself with him too, his commentary on my last paper still burns. Entertaining but sloppy. It was, but knowing he’s right only makes it worse.

By Sunday night the only people who’d posted responses to the discussion thread were his fan girls (that’s me included) and a random guy. I was still in Vegas during the first class, but that seemed absurd, and also likely to get the class canceled.

Texted my friend and fellow fangirl, as his grad student advisee she ought to know.

photo-1

She concluded that the rest of us were invisible to her, as lowly undergrads. There’s three of his fangirls in the class, plus a smattering of senior auditors, two guys looking to take an easy A[1], and a sociology major whose look of baffled pain has us placing bets on whether she drops this week or next.

K gave me my birthday present–late, but not as late as mine to her:

photo

“I wonder if I’m the only grad student.”

“I think we had already established that you are. Yours is a high and lonely destiny.” I tried to channel as much Uncle Andrew as I could.

K rolled her eyes. “Nice Narnia shoutout, nerd.”

But you note that she caught it! Frenz.

Promise to update with salacious stories about Vegas and all the pictures I haven’t posted yet next.

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1-They’re wrong, but entertaining. One of them put his hand up and asked “What about the salt?”*

*-the course is Yiddish film and the movie was Ost und West, and the salt in question was something to do with a ritual (I can’t remember because I wasn’t taking notes, I was too busy comparing it to Twilight 2–benighted lover sees wavering phantom head of beloved in front of them, see what I mean? equally hilarious as a device in 1923 or now–and there you go, I’m entertaining but sloppy)

BUT

the question itself caused a flashback to my seminar on Early Modern England last year: My friend was giving a presentation on women and sociability and the role of gossip/slander; predictably enough the accusation of whoredom was very common. She finished up and,

“What about the bastards?” said Awful John. Awful John deserves a better descriptive, something like Halfwit, Stupid, Vacant, but my New Years resolution was to be kinder, so.

I choked back a laugh.

Emily looked a little stunned but explained that, though “whore” was a common pejorative, it didn’t necessarily mean that the woman in question was indeed a whore or having crowds of wee little ones out (or in, plenty of married whores) of wedlock. &c&c&c

“But, what about the bastards?” he asked again. “There weren’t any?”

We all had to give four presentations a term, and Awful John’s were the highlight. He strang together words chosen apparently at random, with key words that would be repeated throughout (the key words changed from presentation to presentation) but none of which cohered into a full sentence. I transcribed one of his presentations so I could do a dramatic re-enactment for the girl I was seeing, a stolid and deeply matter-of-fact water sign who thought I was prone to exaggeration for comic effect (I am, but). That didn’t last (romances based solely on bone structure never do), but luckily the notes did:

Redefined freedom. Faith. Prosperity. Revolt in the revolution, fascinating. Radical ideas. Throughout the text it emphasizes a lot of aspects of you know, things that were happening around.” (I guess that one is a full sentence.) “Thus the title. A struggle for power. First revolution…”

Here my notes broke in to comment on prof. “Dr L looking increasingly severe and prune faced. Now doing her nails. !!! omg”

“Movements substantially up until the Restoration Hill emphasizes the English radicalism that ensues as the result of movements. English radicalism. Radicals like Gerard. Emphasis. Authority of church, social superiors.”

See? School is fun. I can only hope What About The Salt is as entertaining as Simple John.

Sluggish pt 1:

It’s midterms and I realised last night that we’re studying the same thing in Mandatory Science that Edward and Bella were when he finally overcame his bloodlust and decided to actually speak to her.
“Prophase.”
“Mind if I check?”[1]

Which made studying more fun for all of fifteen minutes.  The instructor has unofficially retired from teaching the class[2] and each week for the rest of term a different group of disaffected undergrads will be lecturing from incoherent powerpoints about different subjects more or less related to biology.  What any of this has to do with that embarrassment of a text I have yet to figure out, I read half of it, noticed it was unrelated to any assignments or anything on the syllabus, and gave it up with relief.  I now rely entirely on YouTube and Wikipedia for my understanding of meiosis.

I’m a little frozen. It’s not just the stultifying tedium of my classes (which occasionally burst into hostile yet self-flagellating outbursts of “white guilt”, like in a lecture on Kara Walker we had, where even the TA apparently could not stop herself from asking if the curator had felt guilt over hanging Walker’s art. Excuse me? Is that really a question we need to waste time answering? No, you’re not entitled to your asinine, juvenile, and poorly thought out statements. Thank god I’m not an art major).

There’s this article, Welcome to Planet A-Hole, about the 12 year old sluts facebook page.

And this article I already posted, The Limits of Free Speech, on privacy, capability, and what renders women unfit to do their work (private lives, apparently).

If you care to go back in time, you have the women Melissa Petro listed in that article, Petro herself, and of course, Angry Stripper.[3]

You learn things on the margins. You learn about who matters and who doesn’t, you learn cues to pass if and when possible or necessary, you see things you wouldn’t if people thought you mattered. It’s so super Downton Abbey, but you learn more about a person from the way they treat their service staff that their companions.

I walked up to a guy at the ATM, thirties-ish guy, kind of cute. “You look ready for some fun!” I told him.
“I am!” he answered. “I need a drink first though.”
I saw with approval that he had a lot of money, and we chatted as I walked him to the bar.
“Hey,” he said. “See that girl in the corner? She’s shy but she wants company.”
I blinked. But fine, whatever. I know I say I’m opposed to couple’s dances but when it comes down to it 50$-80$ for 3.5 minutes is nothing to sneeze at. Short of inadvertently being party to someone else’s illicit hookup[4] I will take your couple and raise you: my slowly decreasing debt to Sallie Mae.

I sat down next to the woman, who looked disconcerted and uncomfortable.

“You know, I don’t know why he sent you over here, this wasn’t my idea,” she explained. Lovely. Her boyfriend was playing a not very nice trick on us both. Leaving would have been like letting him win, having made us each uncomfortable, and what the hell. Next to her was as good a perch as any to scope out greener pastures (metaphors, I have them). I asked about her job while I did a visual once over of the room.
She warmed up, recently divorced, out on a date with a childhood friend whose idea it was to come here. She seemed to really like him, so I refrained from saying that it seemed a poor choice of venue, given her obvious discomfort, and we talked about her divorce. Her date eventually came back, looked surprised to see me still with her, and dismissed me with a smirk.

“You can go now,” he peremptorily informed me.

The woman looked back and forth between us uneasily, and it was a rare shock.[5] Somehow the facade of impersonal kindness I’d been using to make the woman comfortable took over before I could blurt out that he was acting like an arrogant asshat–something I regretted as I walked away. I decided to catch her at the next available opportunity and tell her… I wasn’t sure what yet.

“I just got dissed and dismissed in a totally new way,” I announced to the dressing room. “The guy in the corner by the window is a total jerk, fyi.”

Bea volunteered to dump a drink on him, but I had my own idea. Guys who are jerks to strippers are generally really big jerks. They see the club as a safe space to act out, and us as people who for whatever reason have to take it, which is only slightly true, and only for hefty compensation. It’s not like catcalling some helpless girl on the street. And this guy took his date here with no regard for her comfort, and was rude to me in the quest to make her feel awkward. Real hot. On the off chance that she was still confused enough to go home with him, I was going to say something.

I was thinking all this as Bea zoomed up, face red and crumpled. She’s kind of a crier though, so I didn’t think much of it, kind of “there, there”‘d her and waited for her to tell me what was wrong.

“Who’s that woman?”

“…”

“The woman with the guy you said was a jerk! We went on a few dates last week, I totally slept with him and he knows I work here! How could he take her here on a date?”

“Umm.”

She looked at me tearfully and zoomed back into the dressing room to hide.

That settles it! I thought triumphantly. I may come across as completely Victorian, but I’m gonna say something.

I was almost through my set when I saw them getting up to go. Oh hell no, I thought. I’m taking my revenge, Victorian or not!

I sashayed to the edge of the stage and crooked my finger at the woman, who seemed like her night had really gone to hell. The awkward cheerfulness from earlier was totally gone. And now a stripper was pulling her up to the rack to tell her something. I could almost see her rethinking it, but I leaned in.

“You can tell a lot about a guy from the way he interacts strippers,” I told her. “It carries over. Guys who are rude to us and treat us like crap don’t just leave their misogyny in here when they leave.”

“Um, what are you saying?” she asked.

“He’s a jerk, dump him.”

“Oh, yeah… I had pretty much decided on that.” She looked bummed.

I wasn’t sure about her resolution but I did my best. Patted her shoulder. “Good luck.”

A half hour later I left the lap dance room to find her hovering outside.

“I just wanted to say thank you,” she said. “He was really rude to you, and I noticed. And then after you pulled me aside this crying girl came up and pulled him aside and I don’t know what’s going on but it’s been a really weird night.”

I imagined Bea and the scene she must have made. It was the stuff of stag night movies, less funny versions of the Hangover.

“I wanted to give you this,” she pulled out a 50 and I stared. “And to ask if I could talk to the crying girl too?”

Bea will like this, I thought. Fifty dollars for each of us for being righteous and screwing up that asshole’s night? Awesome. “I’ll get her.”

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1- I love Twilight unabashedly–the movie, anyway, the book’s a little tedious with all that info-dropping and they only get worse. The tent scene in Eclipse is the most egregious example of Why Show When You Can Tell For Pages and Pages that I can think of–but the movies! Ahh, so much room for campy joy! Plus if I had any Photoshop skills whatsoever I’d be selling t shirts of this photoshopped to be more Twilighty that say “Team Jane”.

2- Although she and her two (2) fannypacks

 

are still physically present at every session, something I’ve documented for you!

 

3- Because god forbid we supplement meagre incomes by offering entirely legal commodified (if sexualized) services.[3a]
3a- although it’s probably a toss up about what’s more “unfitting”, being naked in public or the more private act of grinding on dicks.

4- This actually happened! But is deserving of its own post.

5- Eight years of dancing and I think I’m mostly unflappable, although someone in the past week did prove me wrong.

Stripper art: production, circulation, consumption

used to be my morning chant.  I stole it from Mimi Nguyen back in the day and it’s invigorating.

Mona Superhero has a new show that just opened in Portland.  I love her work and have wanted it for ages, even more so after the one piece I modeled for got snapped up before I could buy it, so I’m REALLY EXCITED to finally have bought some of her art! This is mine, all mine:

And I just–again finally–bought the Bad Roommate Zine, edited by Nicole J Georges which has Kat’s amazing story about the compost and the rats.  There are certain things–that video Lazy Sunday/Chronic(what)cles of Narnia–that make me laugh til I cry no matter how many times I see/read them and this story is one of them. 

order it here.

What I’m doing right now.  And reading this:

THE LIMITS OF FREE SPEECH: DOES POSING FOR RACY PICTURES MAKE A WOMAN UNFIT FOR A JOB IN EDUCATION?

Perspective

file under “it could always be worse”:

Instead of Woman: An Intimate Geography the instructor for Mandatory Science could have assigned Vagina, by Naomi Wolf.

Introduction
coverIn the weeks since Naomi Wolf’sVagina: A New Biography was released, feminists have enjoyed a rare moment of widespread agreement: This book, without a doubt, is awful.

In the New StatesmanLaurie Penny explained how and why “this sort of excuse for feminism” hurts women. In the New York Review of BooksZoë Heller was so scathing, a friend of ours who hasn’t read the book said he thought, “This can’t possibly be a fair account of Wolf’s thesis because it would entail — among many other things — that Wolf doesn’t know what the nervous system is.” (It was a fair account.) Jaclyn Friedman declared in The Prospect, “The book collapses under the weight of a breathtaking narcissism: If it doesn’t apply to Naomi, it doesn’t exist.” And at The NationKatha Pollitt wondered if “opinion-mongering, black-and-white thinking and relentless TMI are the price of remaining a world-class celebrity feminist.”

Meanwhile, a shady cabal of feminist writers were conducting a week-long roundtable discussion of the book, occasioned by the following e-mail conversation:

You should just read the post.  It’s funny.

killing time: what I’m reading, what customers talk about when they’re trying to sound smart, what I fall asleep when reading. And what I’m eating.

So… expect more posts now that I’m back in school.  Inspiration strikes hardest when my attention is supposed to be elsewhere: for example, right now I’m trying really hard to focus on “The Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies” but all I can think about is how there’s a pun in there somewhere about naked girls.  This is after falling asleep multiple times when trying to read the text for my mandatory science class–four years and I’m just now taking it. I feel really good about the past four years of history, literature, and almost nothing else, and the bitterness I felt about having to take art history–which at least had some awesome pictures, including this picture:

(which my friend recognized from the last Indiana Jones movie, exciting because it’s real! I always figured it was a set.) is nothing compared to the quiet bitterness of having screwed myself so that my last term is eaten up with this dullness.  I might take a class on colonialism and imperialism in the middle east winter term just to make up for this. 
 
But mandatory science–okay, it’s one of two non-science science courses, the other being science through science fiction[1], and both are in high demand from all the history/liberal arts majors who can’t be arsed to do actual science or math–is that a harsh judgment?  I’m extrapolating from my own situation, which is driven by sheer lack of interest–this mandatory science class (I like calling it that and think I will for the rest of term) is taught by a very kind, very dull instructor who has already promised us lots of group work and given me a talking to a bout using a laptop to take notes. Which is fair because it was actually an email to a friend in which I complained about everything that was happening in class in real time.  I haven’t sent it yet, but I’m sure she’ll be stoked.  
So here I am: falling asleep over Woman[2], which is the text for mandatory science, and which is something like if Jeanette Winterson immediately followed Written On the Body with a sort of 90s update to Our Bodies, Ourselves.  Or something.  It’s indescribable, and yes, it is entertaining, if at times entertainingly self indulgent. I read a line which I really wish I’d managed to underline and dogear before accidentally falling asleep–it was ten or fifteen word sentence with three interior rhymes. And she keeps doing that!  I haven’t found that one again but here’s this example:
“Estrone alone for the merry crone.”(203)
or this:
(201)
“Until we cry aunt and have the uterus abolished.” I don’t even know what I want to italicise more in that sentence, it might actually be cry aunt. 
There’s also a nice reference to Heloise and Abelard, which I appreciated.  I think if Heloise had been able to express herself in hair metal lyrics, she would have written No One Like You 800 years before the Scorpions got to it.  
Which reminds me that one night a few weeks ago I let my smile slip and a customer asked me what was wrong.  
“I’m bored,” I answered, being candid since I’d made enough to be impervious to their money.
His friend took offense at this and asked me what kind of intellectual stimulus I needed. “Do you need to talk about Abelard?  What do you think of his misfortunes?” It’s like when someone aims a ball at your head expecting to hit you but it turns out either it’s nerf or maybe you’ve got better coordination than they thought.
“I think it’s a real bummer that Fulbert castrated him,” I answered.  “What did you think of his ideas about intentionality and sin?”
“Not much.”
We laughed. 
This has been brought to you by the best batch of chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made, and I’m not sure what I did different this time.  Which clearly means I’ll need to do it a bunch more until I have isolated and memorized the difference.  I think it might be running out of baking soda (or powder, I can’t tell the difference, but I didn’t use either one because I was out) and they’re so amazingly delicious and chewy.  Also extra vanilla because you can’t have too much of a good thing?  That’s not true.
PS
the inscription on this book (I know, I should stop bitching about it and just read it, except I already read it what! what I’m avoiding right now is Copernicus, hello) is so awesome(ly bad) it’s almost worth the (second hand) cover price!
why is “us” “WOMAN” singular?  Why would you say that?
I wonder if Ivy enjoyed it.
 

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1-which a different friend highly recommended, but only from a certain instructor,  and this term it’s offered but by someone other than the person my friend liked and I think it would take someone really amazing to make me focus my eyes on a combination of science and scifi, cause I’m strictly a fantasy nerd and can’t get into scifi no matter how hard I try,  although I did just finish Embassytown and really enjoyed it, so that could, maybe, change at some date in the future, with a lot of work.  But with so much awesome fantasy why bother with scifi? so I opted for Science of Women’s bodies instead, and here I am. Plus I ‘m a Capricorn, myself, so I like a known quantity,  I digress)
2-which has the most embarrassing title/reductive cover design ever.  I had to buy another copy of Sarah Rees Brennan’s book (which I already own but miss since loaning it out) and The Diviners just to justify going to the register with such an unspeakably women’s studies book.  I know I started this blog as a queer feminist stripper dyed in the wool fantasy geek and I’m still a bunch of those things but I will never not be embarrassed by bad design that is essentially a vulva–no, it’s not even a vulva, it’s definitely just a crotch[3], or maybe a martini glass. The martini glass makes me happy so let’s go with that.
3-A word that Regan hates when I use, “because it’s terrible!”–as in “Move over, crotch hog,” because I’m tired of smilingly entertaining the customer’s gaze during a lapdance and I want to give my face a break but she’s hogging the prime territory of his lap, which allows you to avert your face in a number of ways.

Scholar

Frowning at my phone. Glaring, really. Regan is on her own phone, kicking my ass at Word Scramble, as usual. So she’s distracted.
“hey, what’s this word?”
She reaches out for my phone and I hand it to her, hoping she doesn’t look too close at the top.
S_H_L_ _ is where I’m stuck.
“Scholar,” she says after a brief pause, and hands it back.
“thanks!” I try not to let the giddy relief of postponing my inevitable loss sound too clearly in my voice and I finish my turn without laughing.
I hear her phone alert her that it’s her turn.
“Whose word was that?!”
I can only keep a guileless smile up for so long before I start cackling hysterically.
“you’re ridiculous.” she says without heat, mildly disgusted but more amused, and I lose my shit still further, doing a little footloose dance of glee in my 8 inch heels. She’s shaking her head at me.
“your turn!” I gasp.

Regan and I have two new games we play. This partially accounts for my slacking here; also there is the fact that Beautiful Professor sent me some very true feedback that had me sobbing in therapy, whereupon we spent the next hour constructing potential scenarios in which I do not faff off and read fantasy, leaving 15 page term papers til 5pm days after they are due. I have actually been timely (well, with studying. Being consistently on time to a morning class is a work in progress) and only missed one class, last week when my engine died.

Let me tell you about being relegated to biking and public transit. It is rapidly sending me back into the baleful vale of hate that caused me to have a total meltdown and quit dancing because men on the street seem incapable of allowing a woman to simply go about her day, and life, unmolested.
I got a taste of this on my first trip to the grocery store without a car:

“hey, how about you come over here and make fifty bucks the hard way?”

This alluring invitation was issued by a creepy white dude in a creepier white van. I’ll pass, but thanks for reminding me again of reason #3 on the list of Why I Love My Job[1].

However. Despite assholes inside the club and out, and despite rapidfire word games with Regan, I remain on top of things. I paid 1,000$ on my student loan, my new engine is paid for, and I even got an A on that midterm I thought I did poorly on. My classmates remain ridiculous and mockable, particularly a long-winded and begoateed[2] fellow I have dubbed Shakespeare-in-Love.

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1- While on the street I’m fair game to any creepy asshole misogynist laboring under the (notreallymis)-apprehension that he can harass, follow, and even potentially assault me with impunity, the club destabilizes this. It’s the one space I can think of where this sickeningly prevalent idea about the easy availability of free female attention–or forcing that attention if it isn’t immediately given– doesn’t hold. In the club, if they want my attention, they pay. Through the nose. And even that doesn’t give them the unfettered access to my attention and person that they can force on me outside the club. I say what happens when, and I can choose to walk away.

Stripping lets me profit, even from interactions that anywhere else–and let’s be real, they happen almost everywhere else– cost me a sense of security and peace of mind and make me dread running simple errands. In the club it costs them.

Although, honestly, unlike street harassment, the vast majority of customers run the gamut from nice to boringly innocuous to harmlessly weird or gross. Only the ones that stick in my head for being outstandingly awesome or hilariously terrible make it on here.

2-I learned years ago from reading the scrabble dictionary that “be” in front of anything is a valid word. My personal favorite, and one that made me laugh for ever, was bevomit. Like bedeck, but more acidic and foul.

Hands off

12.30am after that last post I was set to leave, there were enough girls that my 12.20 stage set would be my last. I did a cursory circle, not wanting to miss out on a last lapdance, and was passing the stage when a bachelor party in matching tuxedo tshirts walked by me. Though they’d hovered around the stage shooting the shit on my last set, only one of them had tipped me. This guy reached out as I navigated through them, grabbed my tits in a smooth, deliberate gesture, and squeezed.

I don’t like not making money, I don’t like losing sleep to not make money, and I especially hate getting treated like a blow-up doll as I lose out on sleep and study time to not make money. Any one of those things is bad enough; he didn’t make eye contact as he moved on and I could tell he didn’t think anything of it. It’s what you do when you go to the strip club, don’t pay the girls, make their night that much more stressful, and then reach out and fondle them because of course, they’re not autonomous adults with personal preferences but objects there to facilitate a specific (and apparently free) leisure experience.

I grabbed him by the neck of his stupid fucking tuxedo shirt and hauled him back to me before I could think about what I was going to do to him. His shirt ripped, startling both of us; he let out a hysterical squeal and started trying to pull away from me and I jerked him back. I mentally ran through my options as fast as possible. Outside of the lapdance aggression is frowned upon–I got that lecture about slapping customers who touch me at the rack and since then I’ve limited myself to casually taking their outstretched hands and bending their fingers back as hard as possible before moving on–but I couldn’t let this go. His friends heard his yelping and started moving back toward us.

He had a half full pint in his hand and I grabbed it with my free hand and poured it over his head. One last tug ripped his shirt further, just as a bouncer walked over.

“He grabbed me,” I explained. The bouncer grabbed him and hustled him out. I went in the dressing room to cool off.

The girl who’d been onstage during the incident came back after.

“Someone write ‘Hands off’ on my ass!” she demanded.

“What happened to you?”

“That same party, the one you grabbed? A different one grabbed my ass and slapped me!”

“I hate them.”

I found a sharpie and wrote “Hands off” arching across each ass cheek. Thought about it, added an exclamation point and a little heart.

She inspected it, pleased.

“You’ll have to change into a g-string so it’s visible,” someone advised.

I changed, left.

My test Thursday morning didn’t go great, my essays were overly general, I forgot the specific details that would have made them solid, as well as what the hell the Turkish national Pact was. Unnh. You can’t win them all.

Last night was better than Wednesday (almost inevitably, it would be really hard for anything to be worse). I tried hustling an old man who seemed perfect and was in reality awful. He kept grabbing me by the shoulder and back of the neck and shoving my face into his to whisper inane commentary into my ear.

“I love redheads.”

“I’m out celebrating with my son.”

“My night’s so much better now that you’re here.”

It was the longest minute of my life, and every time he shoved me into his face I felt the impending doom of his spit meeting my skin, and I flinched away from him. He wasn’t having it; I needed to be thisclose to his face for him to be certain I could hear him. Or something. Eventually I pried his fingers off my shoulder and fled.

I went up to Regan to complain and caught the eye of a girl sitting at the rack. I had to transition expressions, from bitchy horror to friendly smile, but it worked. Her girlfriend bought her a dance from me while she got a dance from Hands Off. Even better, my girl didn’t frantically hump me, and she was wearing underwear, and leggings. After the last few dances I’ve given to women–the girl from C—–, every couples dance ever, another woman a few weeks ago who wasn’t wearing underwear, a fact I discovered to my horror when her skirt rode up and I felt something like beard stubble against my ass–this was a piece of cake.

Perils of summer school

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Class every morning and work every night. Killing time til 1am when I have permission to leave and studying for tomorrow’s test.
Only lapdance I’ve had so far was a guy who told me it’d be better if we were smoking rock with his tongue so far up me that it came out my mouth while my girlfriend got eaten out from behind by her boyfriend. Direct quote.
What do you even say to that? I said it sounded like he should be at the swingers club instead, and he agreed.