Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why I Hate January

I started this project, this blog, as a personal project, it's written for me, mostly I'm doing this because January is a very dark month for me, and I was hoping that if I could find something "TO DO" with my time, it would keep me from dwelling.

So with that in mind, here is a letter, to an unnamed someone, it probably shows too much, says to much and shares too much, but tonight, I need the distraction and I need to feel like it could possibly be read by the person it's intended for, even if I'm fairly positive that it wont be.

Dear Anonymous,

Nine years ago I had one of those moments in life where you see yourself from outside yourself, one of those experiences where you know your life has changed, and what has changed is permanent. I experienced this again when my daughter was born in 2004, a moment of realization that "What you thought you knew" was forever going to be altered by this experience.

What happened that night nine years ago yesterday, was that I was held down and raped in my own bed by someone I trusted, a man/boy who was up until that moment, my best friend in the whole wide world. 

Those words hurt to write, they make my skin itch and crawl, not because I have post traumatic stress problems, or because I'll never be ok, or because I'm a "Victim" but because while it was a defining moment for me, that moment, that event, does not define me. What makes my skin crawl is the fear that saying those words (or in this case typing them) will change how you look at me, and I don't want that.

The experience itself is something I've healed from in a great many ways, I have moved on beyond what I would have thought possible. But it is hard, to let an anniversary like that pass by without acknowledging it, that event shaped a lot of events that followed, in a great many ways, it made me who I am. How I've dealt with it, who I am, were changed by that event. But I am NOT a rape victim, and I'm not a "survivor" if you are, and that's how you choose to phrase it, I support you in that, but those words are not for me. I am simply me, and this is a fact of being me.

I get dark and down and moody this time of year. And a large part of the reason for that is that event.

I mourn the loss of that best friend, that betrayal, and in many ways a loss of innocence in some fashion.

Five years ago, I lost a baby in January, this also weighs heavily on my mind right now. It's just a very dark month for me. And every year I say "but more so this year than most because **insert reason here**"  but the ironic thing is, when I look back on my journals, on my emails, or my letters to friends, every year I say "this year is worse than most because..." so really, I don't think this one is all that different. I'm moody and reflective and not at my best and for that I am sorry.

Please though don't treat me any differently because I've told you this, I didn't tell you this to illicit sympathy or pity, I just wanted you to know, that I'm a little off my game right now, and it's not you, it's me. 

I give myself permission to feel like that for this one month of the year, and honestly, the rest of the year it doesn't often cross my mind, I go weeks sometimes without it coming to mind, and that is also progress, but this time of year is where I allow myself to and just.keep.dealing with it. Life is a process, LIVING is a process.

So now you know, a little more about me, about why this isn't a good month for me, and why I seem a little down, I hope that knowing this about me doesn't change how you look at me.


Monday, January 10, 2011

The often not so single single mom

So a bit of background on me. I am a self-proclaimed lesbian, who, dates men (let the flame wars begin). Hear me out here, I don't date men, in fact I don't date much of anyone really. I suppose if I had to pigeon-hole myself a sexual identity I'd claim I'm a "sapiosexual", my mothers brother (often referred to as The Optimist) claims I'm just "too brainy for men" and need to learn to "be less cerebral", I will credit him with something in this conversation, at least he knows what the word cerebral means.

Now as sarcasm doesn't translate well via the internet and I am, by nature, a supremely sarcastic person (and have been since birth, but that's a story for another time), I will tell you flat out, that my uncle and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things, my love life however does tend to come up in conversation far more often than it should, and while I appreciate his assholery wisdom, I don't think we'll ever fully agree on how I should go about dating.

Now it is worth mentioning that I have two hellspawn children, darling, wonderful, amazing, light of my life, daughters, that do their best to love me despite my horrific personal failures character flaws and general inability to keep a clean house. I was also married to their father (I think I lose cool points for that one). I am now quite  blissfully divorced though, amazingly, I'm rarely single.

Tonight I am enjoying the single side, of my single life again. I am theoretically unattached romantically right now. I am living alone with my kids (and have been for half a year now) and I am a FULL TIME PARENT, with the exception of Saturday nights, where the amazing CookieMommy takes the girls for a sleepover so that I can put in one night at work without having to worry about who's babysitting, what time I have to be home and weather or not I'll have just finally drifted off to sleep when I hear "mommy, is the trash can on fire again?".

CookieMommy, you are my hero.

So single parenting is both fantastic and horrible all at once. You don't have to worry about weather or not your house looks like a war zone, if Cheerio's are an acceptable dinner food (and weather they go better with cheap Pinot Noirs or cheap Merlots), or if "I don't feel like it" is a reasonable excuse to simply not do any ONE of the 90bajillion things mom's have to get done in a day in order for the house not to explode spontaneously (these things include laundry (or in my house, the Floordrobe), dishes, cooking, and general house work). In fact being single, living without other adults, to some extent is like having the freedom to be a totally lazy teenager. Don't get me wrong, things still have to get done, you do have to take the kids to school, feed them, and do some house work to prevent eviction, BUT you get to decide what NEEDS doing based solely on your own ideas of "what is necessary to run a house hold".  For me, lately, this means that laundry and dishes get done on an "as needed" basis. Martha Stewart would probably pull a Linda Blair in the exorcist if she saw my house.

Of course there are the down sides to single parenting, working with only one income (and sometimes maybe a child support check, maybe... sometimes...), not having a car also is less than awesome, all of the grocery shopping and bank errands are done with small children in tow. Then there's the "what's an educated woman in her late 20's with an IQ in the 140's doing working as a stripper?" question, that I love so dearly. Do you have ANY IDEA how awful, expensive, and just down right frustrating it is trying to fine decent childcare for an allergy-ridden likely neurologically atypical 4 year old? We tried day care, it was a DISASTER. In fact, disaster was an understatement. Blame my overly crunch, granola-loving breast-feeding hippie-assed morals for this one, but HOT DAMN, good care is hard to find.

The short answer as to why I'm working nights in stilettos is that it was (and still is) the best choice for my family. What a crock of horse-shit that sounds like, even to me, and I'm typing it. But hear me out, when you've had nothing (and I've had nothing) for long enough, anything looks good. When I started this job, I used my last $2.30 to take the bus to the strip club and HOPED I'd make enough money while I was there to afford the bus ride home. It was a gamble, I had NO ONE to call, if I didn't make any money, or the manager didn't like me, or my shoes were wrong or WHATEVER, and I'd been asked to leave, I likely would have had to walk home, and where I was living at the time was the OPPOSITE end of town from the club I was working in. The gamble payed off, and eventually I started to climb out of the financial sink hole I was in, I went back to school, and got more of an education and came out the other side of the equation, two failed relationships later, with my kids still loving me, and my mind still relatively in tact and I realized that, working 20-25 hours a week, in the club, is giving me those moments with my daughters while they're still young. It's let me ALMOST have the illusion at times of being a Stay At Home Mom again. It's given me a chance to be a mother, not just a bread winner.

Time is the most precious gift I believe you can give someone. To me, if you spend an evening drinking wine with me and just talking, that's worth more than a months rent. To me, to be able to give my children my time, to be at home with them as much as possible before the academic monstrosity eats them up for 13 years is worth the sacrifice of having an unsteady income and a job that most people think is completely degrading and awful, and sometimes it is, but if everything in life were a f*cking bowl of cherries all the time I personally would be bored out of my tree.

I have a good friend, he likes to talk about risk vs reward, and I think most decisions in life are based on that premise, or at least they are for me, is what I'm getting from this situation worth what I'm giving up? For me, parenting is an instant yes. I wouldn't trade a thing in my life as a mother. As a person in this industry, I'm not sure, for now, the reward of being able to be present in my kids lives while we sort out some of the shit of early childhood (things like allergies and asthma and Aspergers syndrome) and still be able to stay off of government assistance is worth it to me. Are their other options, yeah, probably. Would they work as well for us? Maybe, I will admit to not knowing everything about everything. What I do know, is that right now, this is working, and until it's not, I'm unlikely to change it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The super spawn

So I'm going to take a minute and babble about my darling daughters. This morning (well ok yesterday morning as it's Sunday now, but I had to race off to work before finishing this post yesterday) at the crack of 6:20 am, my 6 year old appears in the doorway to my bed room, and says "Momma, um, there's a fire".  Now to most people this would probably yield a ZZOMG jump out of bed and go running, now me, I understand that my 6 year old is very creative, and often very good at exaggerating. So I said, "what kind of fire hun?" and her response was "um, a burning one, come look".

So I sleepily rolled out of bed, walked to my deck door and HOLY SHIT there's a BLAZE O' GLORY buring away in the trash bin in the back lane.

AWESOME way to start my Saturday.

So I watch the fire for a minute, it's a pretty impressive sight, I take note of the tree nearby and the decision is made to call 9-1-1 and discuss the matter with someone with more expertise.

Within 5 minutes we hear the sirens, the fire department show's up and there's steam and what have you and next thing you know, the garbage bin is a smoldering pile of.... garbage.


God, I'm living in the hood.

I imagine how the poor firefighters were feeling, picture it:

They get the call, the bell starts ringing, the fly down the pole (hey fellow pole workers!) into their super-fire-fighter-suits, the jump in the truck and they're on their way, to fight "the blaze ! Only, this fire, that they've been woken up to rush to put out, is in a garbage bin, in a back lane, on a shitty street, in a not so awesome neighbourhood.

I'm thinking, they were probably asking themselves "is it the same garbage bin as last week?"

Poor poor fire-guys.

Sorry dudes.

The 6 year old, and her 4 year old sister, were however quite happy to have an excuse to play on my "fire-man-pole" (which we normally call a Pole Dancing Pole) in the living room all morning.


Oh yeah, I went there, I am *THAT* mother.

But hey, my kids have AWESOME fire safety skills.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Often when I write (which I have done in some pseudo professional form for over a decade now) I picture myself at a desk, in the summer with a glass of red wine and a cigarette burning away in an ashtray waving my hands like a maniac at the direction of a computer screen.  This is (in general) not usually the way my writing actually takes place. For starters I haven't ever really committed to being a smoker, sure there was that experimental phase in 2003 but a month and a half of smoking menthol slims doesn't really constitute a bad habit ya know? For example, tonight I'm lounging in bed (which sadly is where I do most things lately, I've been afflicted with some upper respiratory-bronchial plague of doom for over a week now and I have some other health issues that this viral blah blah blah is complicating nicely) with my 80 lb brindle mastiff lazing at my feet sipping on my *gasp* second glass of cheap Cabernet Sauvingion  wearing a Questionable Content T-shirt  and a pair of thigh high argyle socks.

So classy right?

But I guess that's the magical thing about the internet, you don't always have to be "on". I can sit here and type away and pretend like someone is out there on the receiving end "listening" to my rambles without putting on the cultural war-paint; mascara and lip gloss. You can exist, and be nothing more than what someone else imagines you to be.

Words are powerful that way. You can do a lot of creating with words, and of course they can be entirely misread.

I live some days more than a dual life. Some days I can't even count how many personae I put on and take off. I have myself the mother, who's sitting here in her socks and t-shit and nothing else, haven't even looked at my make up since before work on Friday, couldn't tell you right now where my shoes are or if that low cut blouse I plan to wear to the bar tomorrow is even clean. Then there's the waitress who's going to show up tomorrow and put on a blue dress and far too much eye make up, and a pair of 6inch see through light up stilettos (only one of which works) and prance around being some combination of flirty and caustic and hopefully not come home too drunk to stand. There is/was me as the student or office worker,with my dress pants and blouses that go out of their way to hide any assets one might have, the dress shoes and the forced washing out of my filthy trucker vocabulary. Somewhere in my closet is the hippie, the lesbian (yes I do own several plaid shirts thanks for asking), the daughter, the girlfriend, and I may even still have traces of the wife hanging around a box near the back.

I haven't been in a good frame of mind lately, sometimes I wonder if I put on a different disguise, another set of personality traits, go be someone else, or even just "settle down" and stick to one or maybe two of those titles/costumes for myself if I'd be happier.

The truth is, I don't think that's the case.

The title of this blog, is based on that fantastic saying "Everywhere you go, there you are". And it's very true, no matter what you dress up as for the day, at the end of it, you come home to yourself. Trying to outrun that is pointless.

I've said before that working in this industry attracts a wide variety of people, and I've also said I wouldn't recommend it.

I know a woman who's worked in just about every capacity in this industry, in various places, and she explained it very well one day by saying something to the effect of a stripper is not the person you are, it's a two dimensional construct designed to separate men from their money.

Most of the time I find this to be a brilliant way to look at what I do for a living, and other times, I think about it and the cynic in me takes over and I wonder if there really is anything more to me than that two dimensional creation.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Music and hookerware

I'm not going to pretend that there's any class involved in stripping. In fact as I recently told one of my regulars a "Mr. Tall Dark and Brooding" the great equalizer of all strippers is seeing them face down ass up writhing on the floor. No matter how much you payed for those tits darlin, no matter how much you spent on your hair, nails, costumes or other senseless trivials that you think make you so much "better" than then new girl, with no moves and no clothes and no skills, the playing field is completely leveled when you're sticking you ass in the air for a room full of disinterested drunks who for the most part don't honestly notice one girl from the next.

Sure you get your die-hards, the ones who notice every freckle and tattoo, the ones who have probably complimented your eye color or may ask you when you change your hair style, I'm not going to pretend that those guys don't exist. They do. And I suppose in someways those guys make up for the disenchanted drunks who only keep coming back because it's part of their routine, or they get on well with the bar tender, or (as pointed out to me by another of my favourite regulars) "It's the closest bar within reasonable stumbling distance to home". 

The thing is, like any other job, most of the strippers I've met like to feel like they do a good job of their "work". They choose their music based on what they like to dance to, or what kind of mood their in, their outfits reflect their personality to some extent - as an aside to that, one of my girlfriends recently quit dancing and offered me first go at her wardrobe, she has acknowledged this is likely just a hiatus from the job but didn't want the clothes cluttering up her space so I found myself with damn near and entire stripper-drobe of HOT PINK EVERYTHING. Now I'm not so much of a hot-pink leopard print type myself, though I'm trying to rock some of the more neutral stuff she's sent my way, I've gotta say it's made me realize just how individual a lot of the clothing and just general style each girl puts into her "work wear".

For me as a sometimes stripper (I believe my official title in the bar I work in is a "waitress" and the stripping part general only happens as a fill-in when dancers no-show or there's a gap in the line up), I find I can get away with mini-dresses and low cut blouses for the most part, where as the "real strippers" often have very elaborate costumes often costing them hundreds of dollars for "custom made" outfits, which really I'm quite convinced are not so custom made, and instead are just brilliantly marketed by the 2-3 women in the city who make costumes to fit most anyone on the "stripper spectrum" from the 5'1 100lb waif with a crack habit to the 6'1 curvy girl with the boob job. It amazes me how much of a range there is in the types of women who find themselves in this profession, and also, mad props to the women who make the costumes who can somehow do very little alteration to their garments and still have them fit women on both extremes of the spectrum.

The point of this post which I swear I am getting to was to be about the music, anything that makes the top 40 is obviously going to be in high rotation, also most things by Nickleback, or any other pop group that likes to ramble on about strippers (has anyone else noticed that pretty much all of Nickelback's Dark Horse album was stripper tunes?) and of course the hip-hop and rap get a lot of play time too. For me well I have a more eclectic taste in music, my favourite DJ (ok one of  my two-favourite DJ's) is pretty well guaranteed to have me dance to the Eagles Hotel California at least once in a night, which of course is my own private joke with myself about how addictive the industry can be.
Specifically this version.

Of course this begs the question "So what kind of music DO YOU LIKE?" I'm a jazz fan, I like my blues, my classic rock, and folk. Not exactly "hot sexy strippa shite". That's ok though, I don't intend to market myself as a stripper until the end of time.

In fact mostly because at this point I'm rather bored with my job I'm going to make it my goal for the month of January to dance to at least ONE song per shift, that I enjoy that wouldn't ordinarily make the playlist for the club.

I'm next there on Wednesday and I think my goal for then will be a song my best girlfriend has been subjecting me to ad nauseum lately the singer is Adele and the song is "Rolling In The Deep" it's brilliant lyrically and her voice is magnificent. We'll see what kind of effect this little experiment has on my tips for the month. My tips vary a lot from month to month anyway, but sometimes I do notice discernible patterns in increase or decrease depending on everything from my mood (amazingly enough bitchy strippers make less money), to what color I wear at what time of the month, to what I weigh, to what I dance to, and about 20 or so other variables that I've tracked over the two years I've been doing this job (and clearly have been under stimulated intellectually if I'm tracing this kind of shit, but really I have excel sheets and everything) so this will be my little experiment to keep me entertained for the month of January.

And as with this blog, and most things in my life in general, I feel I should add the disclaimer that I am doing this experiment (and blogging about it) purely for my own entertainment.

I will try my best not to harm any strippers or customers in the making of the blog.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Day one, day one, start over again

So I've started yet another new blog, I am somewhat hesitant to even pretend like this one is really going to out last the previous however-many attempts I've made at social commentary on the world at large, I mean really 10 years of blogs, online journals, opendiary's and home-made plug and play websites (Tripod and AOL Hometown, you haven't been forgotten!!) ought to have shown me that my ability to commit my often useless commentary to one solid medium or even one steady topic is at best wishful thinking.

But here I am, opening another page of the proverbial internet book, typing away on a Saturday night thinking maybe this time I have something to say. I do in fact have something to say. Many things to say.

First off I suppose an intro might be a good idea, though I am hesitant with that as well, I haven't published anything in a public setting since my marriage in 2004, having now officially earned the title (and piece of paper) stating that I am (fianlly) someone's ex-wife in mid 2010, I suppose I can breathe a little easier on the subject of public appearance, but even so you never really know who could stumble across your blog and make your life, shall we say, a little more interesting.

I am Andy, I'm a mother, though I don't intend this to be a mommy-blog, I'll leave that to the other awesome ladies on the web, they seems to have a handle on it, I'm a stripper, though that's not so much a defining characteristic of who I am, so much as it is a gold mine for social-political commentary and of course when you combine "Stripper" and "Mother" you're bound to get a whole lot of opinions. I fully admit I may seriously regret this blog idea once the first wave of "zzomg won't someone PLEASE think of the children!" starts pouring in.

I suppose I should start the disclaimers now: I do not advocate working in the sex industry. In fact, I would strongly discourage anyone ever from getting into it, in any way shape or form. Having children or not. Being pretty or not. Hooking vs. stripping, the merits of cam-girls, online pornography, vs. massage parlors, this is all sex work. And while I am definitely hypocritical for saying so, I would NOT recomend sex work, to anyone.

That said, it is the OLDEST profession in the book, ya know, that dusty old repeatedly translated book, that people like you think people like me have never heard of, or thought of or read, yeah I've read it, cover to cover, twice. I like to read. I love my kids. I'm not on drugs. I don't need or particularly want saving from anyone or anything, though sometimes I could see the appeal to being saved from myself.

What I'm going to try to do with this blog is blow the lid off of the stereotype of sex worker, I'm going to attempt to introduce you, the reader, to me, the writer, as a human, as a mother, as a student and as a woman, and ask that you take all of those ideas you have about sex work and just shelve them for a minute, read this for a bit, and let me know, if I'm what you think of when you hear the word "stripper".