14 October 2010

This car isn't my pants.

I've not done much with this blog, but I'm done with it.

Goodnight sweet prince and all that.

15 August 2010

Angels With Monster Feet

Angels With Monster Feet, Monsters With Angel Wings

The day had gone and it was night.
The little girl, she hid from sight,
Not in her closet or under her bed,
She found a place inside her head.
Where she lived was not her home.
Where she lived she was alone:
There were no walls, there was no roof.
The Truth was a Lie, a Lie was the Truth.
Look up, look in,
Don't be afraid,
No absolutes,
The world had grayed:
Angels with Monster feet,
Monsters with Angel wings,
Nothing is ever quite so bad
Or as scary as it seems.

The poem is from Marvel's Secret Warriors #4 written by Jonathan Hickman (plot by he and Brian Michael Bendis). It will eventually become a tapestry or blanket or similar gift for Christian (Steve's idea).

14 August 2010

Pack It Out: The Idaho Story

We went to Idaho this weekend to see our adorable son Christian and his lovely adoptive family, and to get some serious camping in. Steve and I both love to camp, and we don't do it nearly enough. It's easy to let the daily routine take over and then all of a sudden you've camped one weekend in the last year. And when you're living in Washington, which is easily one of the most beautiful states in the union, this may as well be a capital offense.*

By what feels like freak chance and poor planning, we ended up doing no camping whatsoever. The first night, after driving all day (11+ hours) we discovered that all the campsites I'd scoped out the night before on the internets were completely full. We drove an extra sixty miles between the godforsaken tourist town of Ketchum and the campgrounds, checking hotel/motel prices ($134 at the lowest with a AAA discount) and eating a late dinner. We ended up driving out to the middle of fucking nowhere past the campgrounds and just parking off the side of the road for the night. It was late, we were totally exhausted, and we were both driven to tears at different points from the stress of having nowhere to stay legally. We slept in the car. You'll notice this as a trend.

The next day we got up, hung out at a coffeeshop for most of the morning, and in the end (after counting our remaining camping fund money and some debate) decided to get the hell out that tourist trap as soon as possible so that we'd have money left for...well, anything. We had found out last weeked that the camping around Mount Rainier was plentiful and cheap, so we figured we'd try that. It would put us closer to home so that Steve could make D&D on Sunday and so that we could enjoy taking our time on the way back. We conferred with the Hubers and met at Frenchman's Bend Hot Springs, which was awesome.

Having now met all of the Hubers, I have to say I wish we lived closer together because I love hanging out with them. I thought it would be more awkward to try to interact with their older kids, but Christian makes a great icebreaker. He's adorable. He makes funny noises, has learned to bite people, and crawls at record-breaking speed. He looks a lot like baby pictures of me. Steve and I really enjoyed our quality time with everybody.

We left Hellhole Ketchum(tm) about an hour and a half before sundown -- exactly the time of day when the sun shines directly in your eyes when you're driving west. (We were. It went down over the horizon when we got gas, just in time for my turn to drive.) We made it about halfway across the great state of Oregon before we decided to turn in for the night. We stopped at a rest stop under the darkest part we could find and slept in the car.

That brings us to today, and the final nail in our camping coffin. We woke up and started out before seven o'clock and reached the Mount Rainier area at about two. Which is when we found out that every single campground that's accessible by car was completely full up. We're not kitted out at the moment for hiking campsites, and it seems insane to keep driving around at random looking for camping spots. We came home, a day early and without any actual camping having taken place. The driving was delightful. I love long car rides and road trips and driving. I'm getting better at listening to Steve's car and anticipating its needs, even if I still mess it up regularly. We got home, deposited our stuff, took a nap, bought a fan, watched Fearless, and have generally had a pretty good night despite everything. And there's still enough money left to get both our driver's licenses renewed ($45 each in the great state of Washington) and buy me a new tattoo.

*"Capital" in this sense comes from the Latin word "capita," which means "head" (also seen in "per capita"). It's literally about execution by beheading.

01 August 2010

District 9

I know it's been out of theaters for around a year now, but I just saw District 9 for the first time. I wanted to see it in the theater, but missed it. While I occasionally remembered I wanted to see it, only now have I gotten around to actually acquiring it. (Yay, Seattle Public Library!)

So, let me tell you: everything Pete said about it a year ago is true. It is amazing. I forgot for most of the movie that the alien star Christopher was a cgi effect. I hate and love Wikas because he is so well characterized and acted, and his character is pitiable and contemptible and courageous like a cornered tiger. The world is believable, the storytelling beautiful, and the aliens feel like a real people stuck in an impossible situation. While the abundant humor at the beginning is racist (alienist?) and quirky, most of the movie is very, very humorless. And it pulls it off without becoming too heavy...mostly. The action rocks, but it's not why I'll probably buy this movie. I love Christopher, and his son. He, not Wikas, portrays the noble, brave warrior-hero. Wikas wouldn't get a paragraph in a history book if it weren't for Christopher. To draw a jarring analogy, Wikas is like Eddie Riggs from Brutal Legend: the roadie, who moves things in the background so that the star can do what he has to. Wikas is just a bit more...well, generally useless, than Eddie.

I also really like the last tiny shot of the movie that -- not to spoil it for anyone else who hasn't seen it yet -- alludes to what happened to Wikas after the end of the movie. I think that shot is the most likely, considering the way the aliens were reacting to him at the very end, which was new and different and made perfect sense considering the state of the man at that point. While any of the other possibilities could be it too, primarily the "conspiracy theory" one, I think his wife is right.

I love this one. It's excellent, amazing, and looks and feels better by an order of magnitude than the latest big-budget SF I've seen. Fuck Hollywood. :)

29 July 2010

Zoe and the Boogieman

You know already that I've been reading a lot about stripping. Well, let me tell you about Bare and my mindspace these days.

I finished Bare yesterday. It is not a yay-happy stripping book. It doesn't paint the whole industry as evil, it doesn't preach to you, it doesn't even draw many conclusions. It's a biography, a combination of the author's autobiography and the stories of women she knew as a stripper. It's about success in the industry and what the might really mean, about what you would do for money, about an insane situation twisting your thoughts and ideas of yourself, about sketchy boundaries and hard limits and seduction into a system that you think you can master without letting it master you. I am not very good at portraying in words the things I feel from books, the soup of thought-emotions roiling in my mind. There comes a time in stripping when you have to take a hard look at what you're doing and determine who's using whom, and whether you're okay with that. Are you using stripping to get something you want or is the system consuming you, masticating your soul and preparing to spit out an aging whore who bears no resemblance to the young woman who first grabbed that pole?

Elisabeth Eaves, the author, tells the story of one of her friends, whose name is Zoe. Zoe started stripping at bachelor parties when she was about 20 and later added a few shifts a week at the Lusty Lady, a local Seattle peep show that closed down a couple of months ago. She started because she loved to travel and didn't want to be tied down to a boss and a paycheck at a regular 9-5, and wanted the ability to move around whenever she chose. It should surprise no one that I felt with her on all of these points. As of the pubication of the book, ten years on, Zoe was still doing it, still mainly parties. Many of her boundaries had erode over time: she did toy shows regularly even though they used to bother her and sometimes still did, and she was actively considering an offer from one of her regulars to have sex with him for money. She didn't know how to handle new people when she wasn't acting in her stripper persona; she became mousy where she normally was bold. She had no plans to get out of stripping; she'd decided to wring every last dime she could out of it, for however long it made her money. It was the axis around which her life turned, the lifestyle that made the rest of her lifestyle possible. She couldn't get out and didn't see why she should want to. She still advocated that young, smart women get into it.

Everything in the above paragraph makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me ill inside to think that I could end up like that, oblivious to everything that is eating me alive. I tell myself that I couldn't do that, that it's not possible anymore, that I'm too habitually suspicious of myself, of my ability to acquire noxious bullshit like this, to let it stick around so long. I have Steve, who is just as good if not better at sniffing out bullshit and who is strongly invested in my continued sanity and well-being. We wouldn't let it happen. We wouldn't let it happen. Not to me.

I have told myself too many huge, pretty lies over the years to believe myself anymore. I have no idea where the truth lies or if it exists. I know, in my intellectual brain, that it cannot exist and that we're all operating without a map -- off the edge of any map we can try to paste together from mutually agreed-upon nonsense -- but it doesn't help when I feel soulsick seeing myself dancing spaced-out for customers, grinding without looking at them, checked out. Not there. No one home. Dead.

I tell myself I wouldn't let myself get that far, that I'd check myself and run for the door long before that. But fears -- well, hell, if fear were always rational the stock market would be a perfect system and we wouldn't be at war in Iraq right now. I've survived getting knocked up without ending up in the horror story I used to weave for myself about how badly that could go, and now I guess my brain wants to fill the gap with a new boogieman. The same boogieman: identity-death.

And that surprises me. It shouldn't but it does nonetheless. I already feel as my identity is a small, fragile, cherished, and loathed thing, something I can't live with and can't live without. It's intriguing that something so absurd and about which I feel so ambivalently is the leading edge of my worst-case-scenario fear. But then fears do need an emotional charge to leech energy off of. Time, experience, and contrasting experiences will take the edge off the fear. When I eventually do amateur nights at Deja Vu, when I start dancing at Extasy*, when I start doing capoeira here and belly-dancing, when I learn to connect to the goddess and explode life-energy like a human prism -- all of these things will dull the edge of that baseless fear. I know what I'm getting into it for, and I know when to get out. I'll take the money (and the sexuality/sensuality/spirituality training) and run.

*The only club in the area that doesn't do lap dances. Ask me about the weird enforcement of anti-prostitution laws that makes this the case. It's worth the two-and-a-half-hour roundtrip commute each day not to have to stop creepy men from pawing at me and trying to pay me to grind on them.

21 July 2010

Getting Hotter!

My clothes are getting looser! I'm losing weight! IT'S WORKING! Bwahahahahahhaaaa...

I'm going to do some Pilates today. It's time to make sure I gain some muscle tone. :)

A Slut's Reading Corner

Part of my stripper training has been devouring everything I can find to read on the subject, mainly first-hand accounts. They have been uniformly interesting and largely well-written. The women who write about their stripping experiences are universally fascinating, self-aware, introspective people, and reading their books is a joy. Here are some recommendations if you want to get an idea of what this business is like.

Bare: On Women, Dancing, Sex, and Power by Elisabeth Eaves. I'm still in the middle of this one, but I already know that it belongs on the list. The author has a wonderful grasp of the absurd play of social mores regarding female sexuality, starting from when she was about eleven and continuing through her time stripping. She also starts her career in Seattle, which is of some practical help to me personally.

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody. This lady has an incredibly distictive writing style, a mix of indie-rocker arrogance and poignant sarcasm. She's nerdy, intellectualist, and bitingly humorous. Her story runs through strip clubs, a peep show, and a long-term supportive relationship. It's well worth reading.

The S Factor: Strip Workouts for Every Woman by Sheila Kelley (Dad, if you're reading this, you'll be interested to know that this author is an actress married to the man who played Toby on The West Wing.) This workout book has, to start with, some of the best stretches I've ever seen. They and the workouts themselves focus on moving your body in different ways, which leaves me feeling rejuvenated, light on my feet, and invincible. There's even a section on giving a good lap dance. :)

How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale by Jenna Jameson. Jenna started as a stripper, then moved to nude modeling and then porn. The book is huge, and I've only read the first third -- the stripper years. It's fascinating. There are tips on how to maximize your earnings and a two-page spread in comic form of common stripper ailments and long-term physical problems.

The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt. This isn't directly about stripping, but it is about sexuality and it's been indispensible to me for untangling my sexual desires and social bullshit and all the weird, absurd hypocrisy and mores involved therein. It is, essentially, a handbook for owning yourself so that you don't need to own anyone else and can go play with as many lovers as you'd like.

13 July 2010

This Pole Is My Pants

I'm becoming a stripper.

No joke. I've been telling people as I see/talk to them and I figured that since I've told my mom I'm safe to post it now. I'm becoming a stripper. By Halloween. Right now I'm in training. I'm doing a lot of working out, reading up on the business and working through the bullshit I have in the way of letting my sexuality flow openly and freely. It's tough work, but it's already paying off. I'm doing a combination of running most days, Pilates, and a strip workout from "The S Factor" by Sheila Kelley. I'm excited and trepidacious* (which only means I'm heading in the right direction); I feel like I'm rolling down a hill, gaining momentum, like everything is inevitable. It's satisfying and scary and majestic. And I'm going to be in the middle of it. I know I can earn at least a thousand dollars a night with practice and dedication, probably after a month or so. (That's what the training is for.) I'm going to develop my sexuality and get comfortable with my body completely while relearning how to relate to people and saving money for a house in New Orleans and an architecture degree from Tulane.

*May or may not be a word.

07 July 2009

Adopting to Mormons

I mentioned in passing a couple of posts ago that I'm pregnant. Let's get a little more specific about that.

I'm 26 weeks preggers at this point and the pregnancy itself has been free of nearly everything that usually makes pregnant women miserable: no morning sickness, no weird cravings (although eggs are not my friends at the moment), no swelling or just about anything else. I just have a baby in me. (I do have some uterine fibroids that may become a problem at some point, but they've been behaving so far.) Pregnancy is fucking weird and I'll be glad when I can go a whole four hours without needing to pee, but that's really not what I logged on to talk about today.

Instead I logged on for Mormonism.

See, Steve and I are adopting out our unborn son, and the family we chose happens to be Mormon. We've met them, we really like them, they're fantastic people. We wouldn't be giving them our kid if we didn't think they were the best family possible for him. But damn, this has given rise to a lot of discussion in the house. Our roommate Varina used to be Mormon; now she's trying to decide where to get her "Daughter of Perdition" tattoo and all but filling out paperwork to officially leave the church. She's been trying to explain the theological and social aspects of Mormonism that we'll want to know about for our kid. She thinks we're a little mad for adopting to Mormons, but not nearly so much as a friend of hers who actually was adopted by Mormons and made a long, wrenching post about how much the religion fucked her up, no matter how much she loves her family. It's been around my brainpan a bit of late. Oh, and the local Mormon church is right across the street, anytime you look out the kitchen window or leave the house, there it is. (It's actually pretty scenic; a lot of our weather comes over the church and the clouds look very cool against its spire. But it is weird to have around.)

I guess what's bothering me is that I don't know why this discussion is happening. I know I want this family to raise my child. Maybe this is just part of that looking into the unknown of the future that's inherent in adoption. I have no idea. I don't want my son to get fucked up by his religion, but I also know that if he does he will still be okay. The couple in question are sane, understanding, emotionally competent people and I believe they'll help him deal with the religion in a way that makes sense for him. And if the religion itself becomes a problem, then hell, his birthparents are heathens and we can help him figure his shit out. The support structure is good. He'll have all the people around the he needs. I mean, if Steve and I for some reason raised him we'd teach him to be a nihilist in a beautiful world, and possibly a Thelemite. Thelema is one of the best religions out there for getting your head on straight and looking at the world, but in all honesty 90% of all religion is identical. That's why I'm not a Thelemite on my own or a member of any other religious institution.

I know my kid's going to be okay because while that identical 90% can be damaging and the remaining 10% is necessarily crazy-looking, religion is a system that you can grow with and that can grow with you if you deal with it as something that should grow. A stagnant system is useless to everyone inside and outside of it. But if you look at your faith as an organic process, as something that ought to change over time as you explore it, then I think it can be positive. I didn't. My religion (Episcopalian) was just this thing I did on occasion without much interest, so when my disinterested fakery became a serious emotional sinkhole that kept me from respecting myself as a person, I just left the church. Leaving is easier when you don't believe. I spent awhile half-heartedly trying to find a replacement before I admitted I didn't need or want one, that they all felt just as fake as the institution I'd left, and that I wanted to go it alone. My worldview has grown up since then as a fairly cohesive universe that does everything I need it to and nothing else. I don't understand doctrinal belief; why do you need all these precepts that you didn't invent, that somebody else came up for you, that often get in your way or become points of strife between your desires and your prepackaged morals? That seems like a lot of unnecessary hassle just to get a lens through which to understand the world. (I know a lot of the sociological reasons people join religions. They make sense, in a way. But it's such a bizarre, narrow, fear-based way of dealing with a welcoming, expansive, free reality.)

Perhaps what I'm getting at is that this whole discussion about whether it's a good idea to send a kid into Mormonism isn't part of my reality anymore. There is no possible manner in which this child's life could not turn out in the best way possible. Bickering over details like where one religion falls on a scale of 1 to Crazyballs is moot -- beyond moot, it's meaningless. They are all Crazyballs and they are all perfectly reasonable and they are all useful only to the degree you use them instead of vice versa. It's a meaningless discussion. The universe wants me to give this baby to this couple, and the universe knows what it's doing. Everything else is idle chatter.

01 July 2009

Melville and Ellis on breaking out of the world

There's a book you should read that you very well may hate. A lot of people who read it do, although I'm not one of them. It's called Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment, the second in Jed McKenna's three-book series about enlightenment and other things that are bad for your sanity.

Incorrect has a lot to do with Moby-Dick, and that's the level on which I bring it up. You see, Jed came up with a way of reading that book so it actually made perfect goddamn sense, which is more than any Melville scholar has managed. It's actually been well established in academia that Moby-Dick is essentially ineffable. But Jed proved otherwise by establishing a whole new archetype in the character of Ahab. He calls it the Break-Out Archetype: someone bent on breaking reality, on burning it to ground to see what's left because they can't do otherwise.

I'm posting because I've just realized that Doktor Sleepless, the title character in a comics series by Warren Ellis, also fits the definition of the Break-Out Archetype. He is driven, amoral, monomaniacal, and unswerving. He doesn't reflect on the sacrifices he makes constantly because he is certain of his path.* There is no Plan B. He is alone and self-sovreign. Emotional attachments are meaningless, including the Doktor's first love and Ahab's toddler son.

One thing and one thing only matters: the destruction of that which is between him and his ultimate goal. For Ahab, that was the white whale; for the Doktor, it's the total destruction of Heavenside (and assumedly the world afterward). He's hell-bent in more ways than one, yet he embraces his madness as a new and more coherent form of sanity.

Ahab and Doktor Sleepless are lies. Their personas are pure invention, devised purely to manipulate everyone they know into helping them succeed. Ahab manages to fake it as a sane, sea-worthy Nantucket whale-captain for weeks before the Pequod is safely out to sea and he lets Crazy Ahab out of the box -- and even then, he convinces his men to support his insane chase for Moby-Dick. Likewise, on the first page of the first issue of Doktor Sleepless, our title character deliberately takes on the persona of a cartoon mad scientist so that he can get the attention he needs without anyone taking him too seriously. They are finely crafted masks that the characters wear with specific intent and not a drop of self-deceit. Both, however, reflect on an actual transformation and an actual loss of some tangible part of the characters' earlier persons. Ahab lost his leg in Moby-Dick's maw and spent weeks raving and sick aboard the Pequod till he emerged permanently changed, no longer the same man, yet pretending he was. And the Doktor -- hell, where to begin? When he saw his parents killed he stopped sleeping (a first transformation, possibly from being Oblivious to the Mass of Men stage**) and then over a decade later he had a "breakdown" when he unlocked The Darkening Sky, the cryptic book his parents had been reading from/using when they died (a second transformation). It was only after the breakdown that he was able to become Doktor Sleepless, the mad scientist bent on world devastation, because that transformatino was the one that made him the break-out archetype.

Like their persons, the good Doktor's and Ahab's goals wear masks. Doktor Sleepless' agenda is not the end of the world. It's the end of himself. Just as Ahab kills off a shipful of whalemen to succeed in destroying everything he is, so does Doktor Sleepless drive Heavenside to utter, stark-raving chaos designed to eat itself just as the Doktor devours his own self. These may sound like acts of callous or vindictive sadism unrelated to the true goal at hand, but they're not. The true goal -- self-immolation -- cannot be accomplished without this outside destruction. It is certainly callous, but that's it. It's wholly necessary to the characters' paths.

Interestingly, Doktor Sleepless displays one point of the archetype that Ahab doesn't. The Doktor is filled with "Elation. Lunatic joy. Stark, raving happiness. Transcendental exultation." He's got that mad scientist maniacal laughter in droves. Ahab, on the other hand, just doesn't, which is interesting in and of itself. To quote Jed twice in one paragraph, "all the uncertainty, fear, doubt, mediocrity, pettiness, striving, ambiguity and myriad other chains that bind us and weigh us down have been sliced away. His fate is known, his success certain. He is hurtling at thrilling velocity into perfect freedom. He knows it, and he would be unspeakably happy about it." Setting the world on fire brings him a manic, unceasing, defiant, impregnable job satisfaction. That is what the break-out archetype is all about.

*Jed explains this well: "It's not that he's unaware of the cost, but that he knows it to be irrelevant; a non-issue."

**This references another of Jed's concepts that's outlined very well in Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment (a book I usually just call "Incorrect").