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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Must-Read Blog #5: Grace Undressed

This is the fifth post in a series featuring blogs on my daily Must-Read list. Some of them are from people I know personally, and others are from random people I found on the internet in one way or another, but all of them are worthwhile reading.

Grace Undressed is written by an exotic dancer living in the state of Texas. At least that's the premise of the blog. As I read I often find myself wondering whether this blog is a narrative of a woman's real life or a work of fiction, because it is simply unlike any other blog I've ever read.

Most people detail their lives on their blogs in a very clinical way... there's a particular word I'm trying to think of that means that the work shows a textual awareness of itself. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, please post a comment.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that most blogs are written with the type of textual/clinical awareness that you find in reading non-fiction. In contrast, Grace Undressed is written very much like a creative work -- much more characteristic of fiction. That is not enough reason to peg the blog as fictitious; it merely makes me wonder. But whether real or not, Grace Undressed is exceptionally worthwhile reading.

Repeatedly I find myself reading Grace in awe with a touch of envy of her craft. In fact, when I read the second paragraph from the first excerpt that follows this introduction, my jaw fell open, and a whispered "wow..." escaped my lips. You probably won't get the same affect reading it out of context, which is why I recommend clicking on the links to get the full posts. But in case you need a little enticing first, I've picked excerpts from four of Grace's most excellent posts. After you've finished with these, you can add Grace Undressed to your feed reader.


Thursday, July 24, 2008


Josh and I have history. We worked together on a different job one summer a long time ago, when I was twenty and he was 26 or so. I'd been there longer, which technically made me his supervisor. The job ended at the end of the summer, but we stayed in touch. The day after Halloween we kissed. By Thanksgiving we were lovers, although I had a boyfriend already, a sweet Catholic kid who cried and swore suicide any time I broached the possibility of breaking up.
History is collective. You have to share it with someone, or it's just a story. And that feeling, when someone knows your history, really knows it, that sense of being so instantly and so deeply recognized, is a lot like love, or maybe it is some kind of love.


Our history was the history of flight, from home and everything that felt like home. The history of love and hate and love that feels like hate, and pain squeezed down inside so tightly and so long that it becomes a diamond, hard and bright.

I could have left that Catholic boy for you. In the end I left him anyway, and in the end he didn't kill himself. It all still would have ended like it did. It never would have ended any other way. But I could reach my hand across the cab tonight, snake down between your thighs and it would be like eight years never happened, and like you never left and like I never found a better man, a man who is not a game I could never win.

I had to leave you to keep you. You know that. [...]

Sunday, July 06, 2008

uncharted seas


A big bag of money means the project can go on. If there is no money, I do not know what I will do. I don't seem to be worried. The project will go on, or maybe it won't. But probably it will. It has momentum, now. A lot of people want to see it happen. I myself will go on, regardless. I always go on.

I find I'm not scared, not at all. This little boat is on the ocean now and the only thing to do is make for the far shore. There is no point in thinking about how deep the water is, or what might be down there. The water is deep and the monsters are down there whether you think about it or not.

I only worry because I am not alone. If it were just me I would have quit dancing a long time ago. I would sleep in someone's garage and live on tortillas like I did when I was twenty, and it would be OK. But C. didn't ask for anything of this, and he trusts me, and I don't want to let him down.

I tell him that we're going to be poor for a while. [...]

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

boss man


Later in the night the same manager comes up behind me and raps my tray with his knuckles. "That's one," he says. As in, that's one strike.


"Don't put your tray there."

My tray is sitting on a wide ledge that lines the ramp down to the main floor. It looks pretty safe there to me, especially since I am standing next to it with my hand on it.


"Yes, really. Because someone could come along and just do this."

He puts his hand on my tray and gives it a sharp shove. It flies. Matches and lighters and cigarettes and ballpoint pens scatter while cocktail napkins and credit card receipts drift down slower, like snow.

We look at each other. "Really?" I say, finally. "But, who would do a thing like that?"

He doesn't say anything and he doesn't have to. He folds his arms. I stoop to pick up my stuff, and here I am, on my knees, at his feet. He wins. I lose. I've been out-pissed in this pissing contest.

I sort everything back onto my tray. I go back to the dressing room. The chair is empty. I take one of my rescued cigarettes and roll it lightly in my fingers, put it to my mouth and light it with a kiss. It tastes like, fuck you. And it tastes like, enough.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

a beginner's guide to pissing me off


On Saturday, the sun came out and I took them downtown for brunch. On the way, Pat starts asking me questions about stripping. I'd figured he had some idea what I did for a living, but he struck me as a fuddy-duddy, so I thought we just wouldn't be discussing it. But apparently another friend of Pam's was coming into town and wanted to go to a strip club, and there had been some conversation about it. Patrick didn't want to go strip-clubbing and wanted everyone to understand that it was because he doesn't agree with the sex trade and chooses not be involved.

Which is totally fine with me. Most people DO have problems with the sex trade. If they didn't, it wouldn't be a gray market and I couldn't make the money I make. I'm used to holding a minority opinion on this.

But it became obvious pretty quickly that Patrick's line of question was aimed at justifying his personal decision to himself and to Pam and me by proving that stripping is, in fact, just awful. Communications broke down pretty quickly, and my heart started to beat in my throat like the wing of a bird.


So I left the restaurant and walked around in the brisk sunlight for a while until my heart was going something like the normal speed and my forehead felt cool again. Then I went back in and asked Patrick to please find another place to stay for the rest of his visit.

There was a lot else I could have said, but I was too angry, or too taken aback, or too polite. Jeremiads are hard to deliver in person, and I think if I'd gotten going I wouldn't have been happy until one of us was bleeding.

I like my anger to serve a karmic purpose, though, and Paddy is hardly the first person to offend me with this line of questioning -- just the first one to do so while sleeping on my air mattress and eating my minestrone. [...]

Read more at Grace Undressed.

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