Thursday, August 19, 2010

American Workplace

Upon my return from a brief unpaid vacation, I was told that my desk had been moved. To the other side of the floor, the windowless side, near the construction. Just follow that fellow with the tool belt and the surgical mask. They showed me a desk that apparently had last belonged to Miss Havisham, all cobwebs and thick with dust and grime it was. Littered with magazines and catalogues from well before the start of the first gulf war. The red light on the desk phone flashed with messages that will never be cleared because no one has the password anymore. The one saving grace was that my new desk was next to another freelancer, a really great awesome person with whom I'd struck up a nice friendship. In the last days of my assignment, she would be my solace.

I have now been informed that she is moving, too - to the other side of the floor, from whence I have been banished. The clean side, with all the light and the people.

First they took my stapler, and then they took my friend. And the space bar on the keyboard barely functions, and the keys are sticky. It's a good excuse to type hard and angrily.

It shouldn't bother me. I am a freelancer after all, and the assignment ends in ten days. And when I began this job, my private mantra was "I'm here to help." I wanted to have no needs or expectations. I wanted to engage in the work and with my co-workers in a zen sort of way, with as little ego as possible, with service as my primary objective (okay - getting paid is the actual primary objective). As a freelancer, you get money in exchange for your time and that is all. You're a commodity. There is $xx in the budget for you, and that is all you get. You can't hope for more than a thank you at the end of the day, but you must know that you probably won't even get that.

But it didn't work. I found myself craving approval. I wanted a job offer - not a job, just the offer - or a medal; or at least a bottle of something expensive because they just can't thank me enough. They would just have to find more money in the budget to keep me on after the assignment ends because, well, I'm just that good. And they need me. Please don't leave; we can't go on without you.

And so it is with every relationship. And every guy I ever dated, no matter how unappealing. That smelly, un-manscaped humunculus with the mullet? The one with nothing to talk about but mortgage securities and The Hobbit? The one who tried to seduce me with the theme from The Godfather? Why didn't he call me, dammit??

Soren Kierkegaard said, "You have absolutely nothing to do with what others do to you. have only to do with yourself." Oh, Soren. How right you were. As always.

Friday, July 23, 2010

More mid-century wisdom

I believe it was Winston Churchill who said, "Never, never, never, never pay retail."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Smiles of a Summer Night

It's summer. And if there's one thing the Solipsister hates it's having to look at other people's toenails. A decent set of pedi-digits is a rare thing. Thanks, Havanias, you've done enough.

However, there are things to love, if not live for, in the summer in the city. Last night I learned there are fireflies in Gramercy Park, and they are legion. I went inside the park for the very first time. It was dusk, and it was magical. Masses of tranquil roses and hydrangea, as well as stately old trees, and a perfectly combed pebbled pathways to meander on. This sounds is beginning to sound like a brochure. But it felt a little like a brochure, or an opening shot from Woody Allen's Manhattan: zoom past the statue of Edwin Booth, through the park gates and up Lexington Avenue to the Chrysler Building, all lit up against an indigo sky. Cue the fireflies. In the summer, it is possible to fall in love with this city every day.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Office Girl

The Solipsister has taken a job. An office-y office job. The kind where everything around you is a shade of beige. Where you ride elevators and nod to security guards. Where some nice person or other has often baked banana bread for the department. The kind of job where you should always have a cardigan handy because the building is cool and all you do it sit at a desk and type. And check your email every four minutes. And blog. Because you can only go to the bathroom so many times, and there's never quite enough to do to keep you interested.

When I was a dewey lass of six, I used to dream that one day I would grow up and have a job in a big office building. I had a romantic Mad Men vision of office life: hale bosses, pert secretaries, rambunctious Christmas parties, endless office supplies.

But don't get me started on office supplies. Staplers. Notebooks. Pens, pencils, paper clips. Now I'm really getting turned on.

Office supply lust. You know what I'm talking about.

At one office job I had, there were giant closets bursting with tape, folders, binders, pads of paper, writing implements of every color and nib. I'd stand in front of them and breathe in their scent. Then I'd gather up as much treasure as I could carry and take it home with me.

But here's how it's gone down. At my last job, one had to go through the judgmental department "admin" (i.e., secretary) to get anything, a pen. Then she would "order" things for you, since one of her many hats was Keeper of the Office Supply Catalogue. It generally took four to six weeks to procure the things you needed. But at this job, the new one, they've all but eliminated the notion of a "supply." What happens, apparently, is that when an employee resigns or is fired, the other employees descend like vultures on his/her cubicle, rifle through his/her drawers and walk away with handfuls of Post-It Notes, etc. This is why you want to be in the loop about things. You want to know who's about to be ejected so you take inventory of their stuff. Then while they're down at HR being canned, you can raid their desks before they can box any of it up and take it home.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Drink Your Milkshake

Back in the halcyon days of Barney's on Seventh Avenue, there was a greasy spoon so close to it you could smell the neckties. It was the kind of place where you sit at the counter and order a side of fries and a Coke. Then smoke a cigarette and read Spy Magazine while you waited for your meal to arrive.

Yes, I say "meal" when referring to my side of fries. Because some days, a plate of fries was the best I could do. And on a side-of-fries day, I was somewhat better off than on a cup-of-chicken-and-rice-soup day, which set me back a buck thirty-five before the tip. That said, the lonely cup (as opposed to bowl) of soup days were far superior to the ones where I didn't have the subway fare (90 cents) to get to my temp job downtown, not even after rifling through all my roommates' coat pockets and drawers.

Last Saturday, Peter and Edie and I lunched at the Empire Diner. Though almost pure kitsch, it's one of the few remaining diners in this part of town. Also, it closes for good on May 15. Out of some atavistic and/or perhaps sentimental habit, I felt compelled to order a milkshake and fries. But vanity, in the long view, finally vanquished desire. I got the mesculun salad with sliced chicken breast.

I know. When you're at a diner and you find yourself ordering a mesculun salad, is life even worth living anymore?

In my wan defense, it's not so much a matter of trying to keep my figure. Such as it is. Rather, at this point in my life, a plate of fries and a shake are basically a sodium-dairy-sugar speedball that my entire GI system would have to pay for for at least a day. At least. So alright. Gimme the roughage and some sliced protein from a cruelty-happy poultry factory and be done with it.

Gone. Trans fats, nicotine, dairy binges and diners. Also, for me, short shorts, cheap costume jewelry, bedhead, silly hats, Urban Decay nail polish, under-wireless bras. Also gone: kissing stupid jerks. Worrying about stupid jerks. Freely giving away chunks of self-respect to stupid jerks. These things are not mutually exclusive. But soon I might start going out in short shorts and green polish, packing a box of Camel Lights. Because I don't want the rest of my life to be an entree of mesculun salad.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sentimental Lady

Today while Peter was making lunch (seared scallops with braised kale and black beans. No joke. For lunch!), my daughter proposed that she and I play Zingo. It's a toddler board game, totally my speed. But to ratchet the cognitive development up a notch, I turned on a little Mozart. So sue me. While I was sorting the Zingo tiles, Edie asked me what that song was. I told her how it was a little song by a little someone named Wolfgang, and how he started writing music when he was a little boy. Score!: she began showering me with questions about this little Wolfgang: how old is he now? Do I know him? Will she ever meet him? And I told her how he wrote this music a long, long time ago, and that he has since died. She got that very concerned look on her face and asked me twice: "he died? He died, Mommy?" "Yes, Edie, he died." "Oh," she said. She hung her head and shook it slowly. "I miss him."

Back in September, at the full mass/rehearsal for my brother Sam's wedding, she was checking out the church's stained glass windows. They depicted episodes from the Stations of the Cross. She looked up at one - I think it was the Fourth Station, Jesus Meets His Mother. She whispered to me, "Mommy, who's that man?" I looked up to see who she was referring to. "Oh," I said. "That's Jesus." "Who's he?" Um. "He was a man who lived a very long time ago. He said a lot of things that people that people think were very, very smart." She frowned. "Is he dead?" "Yes, he's dead." She hung her head and gave a slow, solemn shake. "I miss him," she said gravely.

As her mother, I am inclined to wonder whether, before she was born, she was chilling with some heavy hitters out there in the ether. Because she seems to have an impressive amount of sentimentality for the Great Ones. Is it that? Or does she just sense a certain reverence in my tone, which triggers an innate sycophancy? Will she one day say, "The Kennedys. They were really special. I miss them." Or, "The Clash. What a great band. I miss them." And what will she say of me when I am gone? "My mother. She had issues. I miss her."

Also today, I taught her all about the exclamation point.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Angels We Have Heard On High

Another day, another over-the-top Victorian Christmas tea party for three year-olds at a billion-dollar loft in SoHo.

And as a point of interest, Vicodin isn't so much a party drug as a birthday party drug.

I kid. Sipping Veuve Cliquot beside an artificial, twenty-foot Christmas tree while my daughter decorated four (4) pink cupcakes with Santa Claus faces and tiny, edible reindeer was quite enough to nudge my entire world into the Surreal. Did I mention that all of the toilet seats in this home were heated? I'm assuming all, but Edie & I only tried out two of them. We discovered the first after Edie ran into the living room completely bare-assed - her tights down around her knees - exclaiming, "Mommy! Mommy! I need to go to the bathroom but the seat is hot!"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Just Wondering

An email exchange between me & Jeff Sharlet at

(Me) Can we talk about what we talk about when we talk about Christmas to our children? Much obliged.

On Nov 8, 2009, Jeff Sharlet wrote:
I'm the only active KtB editor with a kid, and my daughter is seven months old, so we really don't know the answer to this question. What do you talk about when you talk about Christmas to your children?

On Sun, Nov 8, 2009 at 8:14 PM, NYCAlice wrote:
I suppose it's just part of the bigger question: how will I talk to my daughter, who's now three, about God? I got religion through total immersion. I went to Catholic school and stuck dried palms behind the crucifix over my bed until I left home to go to a Jesuit university. The Father, Son & Holy Spirit were family, the fabric of my every day.

On the one hand, bringing my daughter up in the Catholic tradition is unthinkable. Yet as damaging as I believe it was for me, I feel uncomfortable keeping her ignorant of its undeniable richness. Trotting out God for Christmas and possibly Easter just feels icky to me. And then there is faith ... and belief ... by ignoring religion now, am I denying her the roots of something more profound? Obviously she'll find spirituality without me. But I think I might feel almost superstitious about closing the door on what was absolutely a way of life for the generations that came before me.

Growing up, my brothers and I were required to attend mass every Sunday (or Saturday night) and Holy Day of Obligation. When I was 18, on the Feast of the Assumption I was badly, tragically hung over. There was no way I was going to make it through that mass without throwing up. So I took a stand and refused to go. It was the worst fight my mother and I ever had. I was seething; my relationship with god was my business, not hers. She said looked me dead in the eye and said, "Don't turn your back on your faith. It's the only thing you ever really have."

What I want to know is, how can I give my daughter the foundations of faith without fucking her up with religion?

On Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 9:56 AM, Jeff Sharlet wrote:

Dear Alice,

The only thing I think I can contribute is the idea that "religion," so widely despised these days -- even the fundamentalists I mainly write about say they are not religious -- is what's worth remembering, if not necessarily holding on to. I don't think you can give anyone faith; anyone who took it unquestioningly would be dangerously gullible. But "religion" is simply history, not faith but facts. And not facts about the afterlife or virgin births, but facts about human institutions, organizations, ideas, convictions, and arguments. Faith denies doubt; religion is nothing but doubt, not least because so much of it is plainly horseshit. At KtB, we're more interested in religion -- the things people do or don't do because they believe or don't believe or give loyalty or refuse it -- than the vast vagueness sheltered from questioning by the term faith. I'll go one step further, though I'm not speaking for KtB here: I think faith may be the opposite of stories. But the great story you tell so perfectly below? That's some true religion.


- - - -

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I recently went shadow shopping. That is not a metaphor. I felt I had to have new eye shadow, so I shopped for it. I do have some; good Bobbi Brown product that I bought for the wedding. Four years ago. But it's all neutrals: the dark shade for my eye crease, the shimmery light shade for my brow bone, and a middle-of-the-road for the lid. I don't have much in the way of an eyelid, by the way. There's just not much acreage there. Which is why I have almost never bothered with shadow. It always makes me look like the urchin in the poster for "Les Miserables." And now, more accurately, that same urchin at seventy. Oh I do envy a good eyelid. Ms. Winslet, I'm talking to you.

I was going to an event, and I was determined to attend with a dramatic eye. It was imperative: I was going to finally break out the black strapless dress that's been hanging unworn, tags and all, in my various closets for the past twenty years (locations include: Blair Road (Washington, DC); South Maple Avenue (Westport, Connecticut); West 46th Street (NY, NY); East 64th Street (NY, NY); West 20th Street (NY, NY); Gold Street (Brooklyn); Butler Street (Brooklyn); East 3rd Street (NY, NY); East 6th Street (NY, NY); Court Street (Brooklyn); Third Street (Brooklyn); West 11th Street (Manhattan). Plus various sojourns at Chelsea Mini-Storage on the West Side Highway. Yes, I do move a lot. It runs in the family.).

The black strapless. It's velvet, it's to the ankle, and it's slim. Very slim, with a daringly long slit up the back. I must have been drunk when I bought it. It's rather like Saran Wrap but merciful. You see, it has bones; bones are essential. I bought it, yes, over twenty years ago and never wore it, not once. The lesser reason is that I don't get invited to black strapless events all that often. The more substantial reason is that I never felt comfortable in it. I have mentioned before that I'm the type who melts down when my bra strap is exposed. How could I show up at a dignified event such as this, all shoulders and decollete, flashing miles of pale, freckled skin? The thought was alarming.

More alarming, however, was the idea of buying a new dress. Shopping for it, fretting over it, spending money I do not have. So I snuck the black strapless out of the pitch black recesses of the closet. I dimmed the lights and slipped it on. I would turn the lights back up if in the dark it seemed like people might not suppress giggles or throw up a little in their mouths when they saw me in it. And so it seemed. And I turned up the lights. Still not offensive. So I tried it on again the next night, and the next. Then let Peter see me in it. He liked it. He insisted I wear it. I decided to grow up and wear the f'ing thing. There was a reason I hadn't dropped it at the Salvation Army.

And henceforth I made an appointment with myself to go to the Mac Store (not the Apple Store. Totally different store.). I would go early on a Tuesday morning, when they first opened, when there would be no one there. I imagined entrusting myself to a sympathetic, delicate-boned boy who looked like a more-androgynous Robert Pattinson in pale pancake. He would listen with a sympathetic ear to the travails of a girl with a diminutive eyelid. Then we'd discuss my deepest anxieties about being seen. How could I be both dramatic and subtle at the same time? Both a diva and a supernumerary? Could he integrate my splintered psyche for me? If so, I'd probably buy a lip gloss, too.

But alas, I was met with a young lady who wanted me to make all the decisions. The shade, the shimmer level, the density of application. It was a disappointment. I'd have ride the rails on my own. Such are the laws of self-transformation.

And so I did. I wore the black strapless. I wore a deep, dusty blue on my lids. I wore jewelry. I wore red lipstick. And left my anxiety with the babysitter. It was just for the night.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Very Bad Mommy

So today I get an urgent message from Peter: we're down to two diapers. I make haste to the Whole Foods where they sell the environmentally correctest of all the disposable diapers in size 6. And when I get up to check-out girl #21 she examines the squishy package, grins and says, "How old is your baby?" I blush with pride. "She's three." Thud. Her jaw drops. Her eyes go hollow and cold. She whispers, "She's still in diapers?!" My shame floweth out like a river. I cast my gaze downward. "We're starting tomorrow. I swear. We've tried to potty train her, but it's never worked. She likes her diapers. I really did try! It's not my fault! It's her fault! She won't use the potty!"

After which I listen to a potty-training lecture from Checkout Girl #21, nodding obediently, thanking profusely. She makes me promise to come back and inform her when I've found success. I can't fault her. I have been lazy, and I am indeed a horrible mother. Checkout Girl #21 cared enough to call me out. She cared enough to shame me. She cared enough to double-bag me. I am grateful.

From there I swung out onto 14th Street and let my shame fall off of me like a damp blanket. Some would say I'm a lazy mother. But I read the Michel Cohen book. I heartily agree with and adore his terribly French approach to child-rearing. Laissez-faire! Que sera, sera! Mais oui. When it comes to things like reading and using the potty, I believe she'll just get to the point where she'll be so humiliated for being the only illiterate eight year old in diapers, she'll figure it out. She will teach herself. I'm taking the organic approach. Edie is a smart kid. She knows all the dialogue to the last six scenes of "The Little Mermaid." She's got brains. She'll teach herself the potty and how to read, just like she'll learn how to make the perfect martini and light my cigarette. She'll learn the things she needs to know to survive. For the love of god, it's Darwinian.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Yoga Loca

So the other day I made time for my favorite yoga class at The Shala. I rarely practice anywhere else; my favorite teachers are there and it's the kind of place where you walk in and they don't try to sell you a t-shirt before you've even signed in for the class. In fact, they do sell things, but they keep them on a rack out of sight - in the spirit of, like, hey, if you were in a humongous rush this morning and forgot pack a pair of yoga pants, you could borrow from the lost and found, but if you'd prefer a pair that have never been touched by a human crotch, here's a brand new pair you could buy for (we're dreadfully sorry and slightly embarrassed) sixty dollars.

Apparently everyone but me knew our teacher would be away, because hardly anyone showed up. Anyway, the class was small and the substitute was ... odd. He seriously kept making pig jokes. I don't know, in my opinion the swine flu isn't funny. Not yet. When people are still dying from it, it's not a joke quite yet, not even when a yoga teacher is making it. But I digress. Morbidly inappropriate jokes notwithstanding, the class wasn't bad, and I even got a smidge closer to clinching Scorpion pose.

At one point during class, I flashed on a room - a lot like the room I was in, but populated with yogis performing the most far-out poses and defying all kinds of physical laws. They were both super-intense and very at ease in every posture. This was not just the next level. It was another realm entirely. And I wondered if I mightn't have been one of those yogis if I had made one small, different choice in my youth. Come to think of it, though, it would have had to be an exceptionally aggressive and bold choice, because in those days yoga was all icky-New Agey and weirdo-smelly-hippie and absolutely NOT in the spirit of the Reagan Decade, even if Nancy did hold seances at the White House or whatever. Anyway, I so wanted to be in that somewhere room, with those awesome yogis, doing those crazy poses with absolute ease. I wanted to be on that level. I wanted to transcend this sparse classroom with the ripe-smelling bald man making pig jokes. I wanted to transcend.

The very NEXT day I found myself going back to The Shala for a class with someone named David. Little did I know that this was the very David who created a style called "Multi-Intenso." And guess what? David regularly packs the house with yogis who rock all those crazy poses I had envisioned just the day before. So there I was, in that room with all those intense, gifted folks who glide from handstand into Eka Pada Galavasana like it's nothing, a light breeze, a chocolate chip cookie. I, on the other hand, was Ed Grimley. Bounding around, sweat-drenched, like a hyperactive geek. But you know, pretending to keep up has its own rewards. And I did manage to keep from collapsing or screaming or throwing up. All in all, I'd say I was a success, given the circumstances.

Here's what I want to know: did I manifest my Multi-Intenso experience? I mean, do we manifest? Or is that "manifestation" closer to memory? Or, to say it better, is it basically time collapsing in on itself, showing itself a (in my case) a day early? How does it work? Do we have free will or do we not?** Moreover, does it really matter? I kind of think the important thing was that I threw myself - unwittingly - into the deep end and I survived. And as I take on anything out of my comfort zone, let that be a lesson.

**Duh, of course we do. But the more we know about the power of genetics, the more we have to admit that free will has its limits. As they say, DNA is destiny: it defines our possibilities and our limitations. And I believe the nature of our DNA evolves or regresses depending on how we live and the choices we make. And we pass our slightly altered - evolved or devolved - set of circumstances on to our children.

Consider this: A dream may not be realized during the dreamer’s lifespan. But it may be carried out in the generations to follow.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Upset at the Oscars

Because the blogosphere needs more Oscar predictions, I'm doing my bloggerish duties and throwing mine in the ring.

This week I was starting to get the nagging feeling that Juno was going to sweep it. Best picture, best original screenplay. What an upset! A little movie with a big heart (and no stars!), killing There Will Be Blood, pummeling No Country For Old Men. There would be a TWBB blacklash (well-deserved) and rumination over whether we even liked NCFOM. Noirish movies about evil, step aside. After a long, depressing Hollywood Writers strike, audiences want to like Hollywood again. They want to laugh. And what's funnier than teen pregnancy? Certainly not Javier Bardem stalking the American Southwest in a bowl cut.

Now I'm changing my mind. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that No Country For Old Men will take top honors. Best picture, best director(s). And not just because the Coen Brothers deserve a break. But this spectacular meditation on evil in America is the perfect way to usher out the Bush years. Really. Joel and Ethan, I salute you for bringing this muscular tribute to a decade of depraved villainy in this country (yes, ten years - because of the absurdist spectacle of the Clinton impeachment) to the screen at exactly the right time.

My theory is that Javier Bardem's character (Anton Chigurh) is Laura Bush. Think about it: Reticent. Mexican. Black hair blown into a flyaway sort of Hamel Camel. How can I not support this movie for best picture? But what really chills me is that in the movie, Laura Bush would not die. And so it has been with the Bush Administration. Two heinous terms of boundless corruption, preposterous greed, and unmitigated disregard for human life. These eight years have felt like twenty-five. It's so hard to believe that it's actually going to happen, that this time of great calamity is drawing to a close. I'm exhausted and full of rage. But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the Oscars, Hollywood's happiest night!

No offense, then, to Juno, which I have not seen. I know it's supposed to make people feel good. But maybe feel-good endings are not what we're supposed to get right now. Maybe we're supposed to be reminded how grueling these years have been. So that in our blinding Obamania we don't forget how much it has sucked and still sucks because it ain't over yet. And because Obama may be a "change", but he's not exactly Dennis Kucinich. Maybe now is the time for those meditations on evil in America. We can always laugh at pregnant fifteen year olds.

Before I close, let me say that my favorite movie this year, hands down, was Into The Wild. I am passionate about it, as are many people I know. Its absence from the Oscar ballot only confirms that the "Academy" (does that make its members Academics?) probably won't do what's right. Probably, they'll ignore the existential stuff (like they did last year by voting for Inconvenient Truth instead of any of the docs about Iraq) and go for Juno. Which it's kind of supposed to, right? It is Hollywood, after all.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Today there was a story in the New York Times about a screenwriter whose movie is coming out soon. She grew up in Minnesota and was living what reads as a fairly conservative, advertising-copywriter life when she decided to bust out and take a job as a stripper. She stripped and wrote a blog about it. The blog got some attention and someone encouraged her to write a screenplay. She wrote a screenplay and her movie got made and now she is the hottest new/young screenwriter in Hollywood.

By the way, she changed her name to "Diablo Cody."

Peter was fascinated by the story but I must say, for a young, bourgeois Gen Y female like herself, the stripper thing isn't such a big wow. The choice of names elicits at most an eye-roll from me, but I guess "Diablo Cody" is way more palatable than simply "Diablo." Screenplay by Diablo. No. So it's good, I guess, that she took a second name. Though if it were me, and I insisted on calling myself Diablo, I'd go with Kowalski as a surname. But that's just me.

The story put me in mind of an episode from my life as a young actress trying to make it in New York. This was fifteen years ago. I was doing a god-awful play called The Web of Night. As you may have guessed from the title, it was a play about incest. I think incest plays always work best as comedies - but there wasn't a single joke in the whole excruciating three hours. I was rehearsing in the evenings, after my day job as an assistant research librarian at a law firm in Newark. I was living on the Upper East Side with a roommate and her nine cats and commuting to Newark every day. A girl has to make a living, and it was the early nineties and jobs were scarce and at waiting tables I was abysmal at best. So I had this job in Newark, New Jersey - an hour's commute - at which I made $13 an hour. Even though my rent was relatively low, after taxes and everything I made so little money that I had to think twice about buying a magazine.

Anyway there were two girls in the cast who were a few years younger than myself. I think they were both named Jen. They were both cute with rockin' bods and long blonde extensions. Walking out with them one night, we got on the subject of day jobs. They said, you should work where we work. I said, where's that? And they said, Stringfellow's. What's that? I asked, naive as I was at the time. And they said, oh, it's a high-end strip club on 22nd Street. They went on to tell me how they only worked about five hours a night and brought home around three thousand dollars a week in cash. No sex, they said - this was a classy place. All they had to do was dance, and the bouncers protected them from the weirdos. The Jens were like, come on! It's a great job, we can totally get you in.

I spent that entire night entertaining it, wrestling with it, breaking it down. Me? A stripper? Me? I have nervous breakdown if my bra strap is showing. However, I reasoned, if that's the case, maybe it would be good for me. Maybe stripping is just what I need to bust through my inhibitions. Maybe it would be the best thing that ever happened to me! Think of what it would do for my acting. Confronting my shame in such an aggressive way. I started getting excited. I could solve some of my deepest issues and pull down $3000 tax-free dollars a week doing it. It was the obvious answer. My poverty, my shame - I could solve it all by simply taking this job. Not to mention that dancing naked would force me to the gym like nothing else ever had. It was a win-win-win. I was decided.

So I called my boyfriend Eric and told him my plan. He freaked out. I complained about my job. My body shame. My sexual inhibitions. I spun it so that he might get past his initial shock and subsequent rage and see the long-term benefits my stripping would have for our relationship. But I don't know, he just never got it and we hung up angry.

That night I went to sleep knowing I would never even have the nerve to go in and apply, much less take my clothes off and audition. Much less shimmy around naked five nights a week for bachelor-party douchebags from Long Island. For one thing, my thighs were too big. They don't like that. For another thing, the cost might be too high: I'd be putting my relationship in danger, and possibly my acting career (I was, after all, a serious actress), and possibly my life (wasn't there something in Flashdance....?). And for what? For the money. The money was the reason why I was so intrigued in the first place and tempted enough to actually consider doing it.
It's hard to be a girl in New York with a dream, and fucking expensive.

I made the moral decision: it's wrong to risk your life, your love - and, finally, your dignity - for money.

So that's what almost happened to me fifteen years ago. That's something I almost did. I know that people don't like movies where the hero wimps out - but for me, at the time, even considering becoming a stripper was a dangerous journey unto itself.