The Apple Rose

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When I left for the USA at the start of October, the thought of letting someone in made my body curl inward. The suggestion of sleeping next to someone made me want to cry. Going to work had been such a struggle. Speaking to people, sexualising myself, being sexualised, disrespected, adored – all of it was too much. Breaking my own heart and deciding on having my womb raked when I wanted to keep the autumn leaves was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

The guy who was 50% responsible  claimed absolutely no responsibility, he did not help me when I asked, he expected thanks for telling me I was doing the wrong thing by considering the alternative which he did not welcome. This cavernous human being was so incredibly awful that I had to send that little spirit on rather than let it enter this world with him as a father. This misguided, egotistical narcissist was so lacking in sensitivity as to flippantly tell one of my dearest and most intuitive friends about how the other girl he got pregnant two weeks after me was so cool about it, she just dealt with it like you’re meant to, without making a fuss, without being difficult, without being a bitch and making him feel bad. This moron was so self involved that he would say this to a woman in her second trimester of pregnancy while she stood with her face perfectly composed, hands lightly shielding her belly from anything he had to send forth to the baby girl growing in there. She called me when she arrived home, shaking with rage and disbelief. I was at work, about to go on stage. I was trembling. I was still pregnant. My legs felt like they’d disappeared, as though my torso was hovering above 6 inch heels, each guiding the other out into bright lights and an onslaught of loud.

My friend had withstood the pathetic tirade of this squirming lumbricus as only a queen can, “I will not be conquered by a fuckwit Billie. I just won’t, and nor will you.” This woman knew the extent of he and I. She was our number one supporter in the beginning but swooshed her skirts in his blind little face at the end. Dismissed by royalty. He’ll be flailing, nothing more than brainless matter at her feet til kingdom come, taking any breath shared in the same room to mean she doesn’t see him for who he is, as if the sharing of oxygen alone will absolve him of himself. What a douchebag. What a dickhead. I could not curse a child with him for life, when in 8 weeks I went from one of the happiest versions of myself to the most broken B side mix tape of the shittiest band ever known to man. Imagine how fucked up you’d be, if you had to have him as a dad? Imagine the cycle of pain and suffering as this child, my child and his, spun its way through relationships with family members, partners, its own children? I could have no part in this. Cycles have to be broken.

By the time I left Australia I’d emerged from the worst. I still didn’t smile from my heart, but I wasn’t overtly grieving or consumed by anger either. I went straight from La Guardia to Brooklyn and a guy I’d never met in real life before. He took me out of NY and away to East Hampton the evening I arrived. It was so calm and pretty out there. He was fun and silly like the old me. He reminded me of all my favorite parts of the girl who had been buried in snow for months. There was a rose bramble growing in a car park over some whitewashed  fencing. The roses smelt like rose, lemon and apple. Felt like all the answers were sitting in that moment when I had my face in those petals and let my heart fall in. Sharing those seconds, elongated with magic, a stranger standing right beside me, face mushed next to my face, arm resting against my arm. I was suddenly clear. My thoughts felt like my own again and I laughed when I realised that somehow, I felt beyond safe with this man. That moment felt like home. He had absolutely no idea. I hadn’t breathed a word of anything to him. It wasn’t an outpouring of secrets and acceptance of my darkness that brought me close to him.  I don’t know why. I felt like myself. I exhaled. Finally. All my shit, started to melt off me. I could feel myself as broken but getting ready to stir and shift the pieces. Later that day I wrote. I hadn’t written anything much for months. I hadn’t had the reserves of strength it takes to put all this down and still be able to press on with my day having played the painful history over in my head. The reality of it sitting in solid, ordered characters confronting my face with lines and lines of pain in words on paper.  That afternoon I lay on my stomach in the lounge room and I wrote. I wrote with my hair draped over covert tears as they made their escape down my face before I myself absconded from the room and passed out for hours. Exhausted. My Home Fire cooked our first supper like a boss named Jesus and I woke up to a table laden with food and butter and warmth.

I forgot about it until a couple of weeks later when I’d moved on to North Carolina. When I dug it up again I found my little love prayer for the future. Loneliness is inherent in most people i know, or maybe it’s just me. But we are creatures to love and be loved. That’s just how it is.

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I want to breathe unhindered.

To feel the cold wind,

the golden syrupy sunshine,

to smell the apple rose right down to where my heart lies beating,

whispering in rhythms.

Tell my all of the magic that emanates from simple things.

I want to give my love to someone and know it will be treasured,

to show myself.

Give my heart and have it held in open palms,

a baby bird to be cared for.

Share my joy with me.

Feel the same light glide inward across fingertips that keep me safe from any darkness they made themselves.

 

Cradle my head.

Uncrush my heart.

Dint by dint.

Scratch by scratch.

Smooth the scars from my skin.

Kiss my lips with dew drops.

Press flowers into my hair.

Love me.

Without fear.

Let my face always look upwards to yours and trust my neck wont break.

My head won’t roll.

My heart won’t bleed in rivers from me,

cascading down my legs,

pooling at my toes.

 

Vibrate. With me.

Let each cell jump with joy and noticing.

Have each moment this smile lingers,

bask in the assuredness of its immortality.

Answer me in songs,

speaking five tongues.

Dance with me in rhythms nobody else cares to know.

Leave the giant blooms of the oriental lily.

Wade through heavy curtains of its smell they made.

Leave its stems in the crystal vase to stew in money.

Walk a little farther.

Come, bury yourself in me.

I am the apple rose.

IMG_1034Final two photos taken by Misha Jenkins on Instagram @miloscameros.

EAT, SLEEP, RAPE, REPEAT. 

After a particularly harrowing night last week I haven’t been able to quite shake the blues after witnessing the fucked up aggressive behavior toward women and the ignorant attitudes (the most alarming was from a fellow dancer) that continue to enable this current trend of violence against women and rape culture as “not ok but to be expected” in certain contexts, or the old “She was wearing this,” “She does that for a living,” or “She looks like a girl who would….” .

The excuses I hear from men behaving badly over and over again about the conniving sorcery of the vagina as it renders men helpless in a flash of gash, robbing them of their basic sense of human kindness. The definition of ‘violence’ has become one so extreme and obvious as to obliterate the subtleties and manipulations most often deployed in order to effectively be violent….and not get caught. Basically the general feeling is that if you don’t get punched in the face, or visibly bruised, or raped, you haven’t really been a victim of violence. It hasn’t been that bad. Could’ve been worse.

I’m still processing why the other night has effected me so deeply. Nothing that fucked up happened to me in particular but I was there. In the thick of it. The extreme nature of the people involved in the events has burnt something into me. Rolling hills of fear, discomfort, sadness, adrenalin, disgust, anger, tension, violation, humiliation, embarrassment, confusion, disbelief. I keep seeing the faces and hands…fingers, hearing the roars, profanities and cries, feeling over and over again the sensation of being numb in myself but hurting on behalf of everyone else and beyond. Maybe those girls have forgotten it by now. I haven’t. I want to be able to sweep it to the side, watch my sadness for human kind float away like particles of dust. I don’t actively watch the news anymore. I haven’t since 2008. But even still, ensconced in this little girl’s bubble of a world that I have constructed for myself, the stories of brutal rape and senseless victim blaming in India, of some fat Asian’s stupid rape culture t-shirt at Coachella, the girl in Melbourne being stabbed to death in the light of early evening, have all made it through my strawberry flavoured hubba bubba barrier.

Photo sniped from thump.com and please note that @JemayelK is the guy who posted the picture, not the dickhead wearing the shirt.  

No one was violently raped the other night. Not as such. Not with a dick anyway. I don’t know. Does a finger shoved up a vagina or asshole without consent count? Does a giant Maori man fucked off his face on drugs licking a girl’s vagina while she is facing the other way, or the same giant biting another girl hard on the shoulder, or his Sydney Lebanese friend digging both hands into her ass so hard that I could see the dints of his nails and fingertips, count as violence? I’m inclined to say yes but for some reason, the reactions of people who are told this story or who were actually there, seem to indicate no. This is what makes my heart hurt days later. This is why my eyes still sting with the threat of tears. This is why my throat constricts and my breathing pauses as I actively try NOT TO FEEL IT. I am trying not to feel the way I SHOULD feel when I was in the same room over a period when all of these things were happening. Some things I was aware of, some not. I was doing my best to manage my guy, to distract him from the fingering, the arse smacking and grabbing, ear licking, that was going on around us so that he wouldn’t expect the same. His octopus hands were doing their best to wander, his energy within our dynamic was threatening to fracture, to stray from me and become a part of the pack. My eyes were on him. So I did nothing. I said nothing.

My sister is a science writer. She says we are in a unique position as strippers to have insight into many elements of primal behaviour that have stood their ground through centuries of evolution. Now she has me reading scientific papers on aggressive fucked up chimpanzee behaviour and the hypothesis that these correlate with that of humans due to both biological AND cultural similarities. I’m learning that sexual coercion and collective violence are common in both. That it’s not just an imagined phenomena that men are more likely to fuck your shit up, and that women go for men who will fuck their shit up. And that one of the biggest differences between Great Apes and homosapiens is that the male homosapiens SHOULD be advanced enough to over ride their biological compulsions to be total fucking assholes, and that the females SHOULD be advanced enough to know that they have other choices than to take it like a bitch. And it’s up here on my high horse, where the air is brisk and fresh, and everything seems so clearly laid out before my eyes, that I have to marvel at myself. It was only 6 months ago that I allowed myself to be violated. I did not defend myself. I did not speak out. My brain over rid my instinct and I paid that milk eyed toad faced predator and left without a word of complaint. When I was 14 years old I was in the room as my best friend was molested. It was subtle, it wasn’t obviously violent. Even so, I thought I knew something was wrong. I did nothing. I said nothing. I did nothing because all my life I have been trained not to speak up. I was taught as a child not to question people in a position of authority or care. As adults women are told not to be hysterical, not to over react, not to be emotional. To handle things without ‘causing’ drama. It’s always on us to fix our reactions, to tolerate the behaviour of others and adjust ourselves to cope. It’s wrong. This needs to change.

After a night like that all I want is to be held. To have a man I care for show me what it’s supposed to be like. Contact. Intimacy. Care. Tenderness. The right way to be naked in front of someone. The right way to be touched and admired. To be desired for more than my instagrammable arse and my perky boobs. The right way to have someone inside me. To be really seen, and valued, instead of just looked at and chucked a hundred dollar bill. To be wanted for more than just 10 minutes of possession.  To have someone see me as I really am as their eyes move over me, trace their fingertips from my forehead to my toes, up the back of my legs all the way up again to cradle the crown of my head. Just to remind me that that kind of thing really exists.

Dreams Come True!

Last night I was on the club Catwalk. Front centre pole, otherwise referred to as “Cellulite City”. It makes girls who have no cellulite, look like they do, and girls who do have cellulite, look like they need to fast. Forever. I’m in the latter category. But whatevs. I work my angles and find the shadows to keep me safe. Can’t remember if I was working my angles last night though. I’d had 3 tequilas, a hideous glass of cheap Australian sparkling and 2 vodkas in the 1.5 hours I spent with my regular customer. Effectively rendered myself entirely ineffective. SMASHED. He came and went so I was left to populate cellulite city with my thighs and ass alone. We did ok, not quite a metropolis. The music was good. Better than usual and I vaguely remember moving really slowly. Mostly so that I wouldn’t fall over or hit my forehead on the pole. I have a bad track record with stationary objects.

I looked up and saw a little Indian man coming toward the stage, his shiny bald head catching the light as he emerged out of the darkness. I beamed a big, happy, drunk smile at him. He beamed a happy little smile back.

“Hello, how are you going?” I said.

“I’m good. How are you?” He replied.

“I’m great! What’s your name?” I said.

“Blah Blah. What’s your name?” He replied.

Standard mind blowing opening conversation.

“Billie. Would you like a dance?” I asked.

He held out a little wad of $5 and $10 notes and gave them a little waggle up and down. Not in an offensive carrot dangling way, just in a wad of money waggling way.

“No, no. I don’t want you to dance. I want you to lie down.”

I’ve never been asked to do this on stage before so I made an effort. I lay down on the stage with my back arched and my legs elongated toward the ceiling, my ankles crossed lightly, making beautiful iridescent shapes with my body by catching the light just so.

“Open your dress.” He instructed.

It’s not a dress. It’s a playsuit but I didn’t think it was the appropriate time to correct him on the specifics of my garment.  I let it slide and pulled aside the two pieces of black fabric that drape over my breasts so they were exposed and peaking toward the ceiling. He stood there smiling at me from the shadows and then extended his arms, reaching his hands forward into the light. His wad of cash was sitting atop of his left palm, and with his right hand, he began to flick each note over the top of me. Slowly and deliberately at first, then with the reckless abandon of a small Indian man who is living his African American hip hop hunny DREAM, while also making a dream come true for an extremely drunk  stripper who had only moments ago been schlepping her way up and down and around a pole in cellulite city. Maybe the lights aren’t as bad as I thought…. No. They really are.

Fast forward 25 minutes to the smoking room where I was dressed and ready to go home. Lipstick wiped off. Fag in hand, slurring my way through a rubbish conversation with one of the other girls. A dancer walked in and asked to have a drag of my cigarette because her customer had just tried to stick his finger up her butt hole. Turned out it was my little Indian friend with the shiny head, ticking yet another one of his dreams off the list.

Black Dress 2_2

Soft Touch With A Hard Cock.

I’m up in the mountains in Bali. My curtains are drawn. My window shutters closed. My hair is wet and I’m sitting wrapped up in a towel on my bed. Hiding. Probably still a little bit in shock but I think writing this is helping me be numb again. I don’t have any alcohol, or cocaine, or weed to take the edge off. Writing this will have to do. I have a couple of close friends here already but I don’t want to go out to see them. I don’t know if I can handle having anyone tell me I need to take any course of action right now. I don’t know if I can cope with something as simple as a kind embrace.

I just returned home from a massage. The guy had a firm but soft touch. No pain, not much pressure. I was super relaxed and it felt good. I didn’t sleep much last night. Was up skyping and writing emails, cause I’ve been a little lonesome. I don’t want to go into the details of the rub down. In essence, the same old story as many others. The guy went to town on my breasts and at some point was brushing his hard and undeserving cock, encased in damp underwear, against my hand. Starring in his own sexual, and might I add unimaginative, fantasy. Manipulating my arm so that my half unfurled fingers were skimming firmly over it. He walked the line between ok and other. Incorporating some movements that were common, with some that seemed legit but that I didn’t know, and then just lightly dusting the cake with something putrid. I was so out of it, so foggy and hot, half asleep and drunk with client/practioner trust. And to be shamefully honest, the massage felt good. In a dream like state I convinced myself I was getting it wrong, and berated myself for being grossed out by him. Because he was kind of a fucking freak, fat gut, short curly brown hair, one wonky milky eye and an accent like a German villain in a poorly acted film. I thought I might just be being unkind.

When it came to the damp hard cock, it took quite a few strokes for me to become closer to consciousness and click that something might not be right. Then I thought it might just be his pants and you know, sometimes in a massage that happens. The whole time through him working on my butt, my thighs, my pubic bone, I thought it was just something that could have been interpreted as sexual but could also have just been legit. It felt overly familiar but the woman who owned the place had been working on me at the same time for the first 15 minutes and was using me to show him techniques. I just thought he wasn’t very good. That his touch was different to hers, cause she knew what she was doing. After the cock, still in between asleep and awake, I pretended to be dead asleep so I didn’t have to deal with what might be happening. I wasn’t sure. I still wasn’t sure. I remember thinking, “This isn’t happening. I’m getting it wrong.” I definitely remember thinking that. It was only 3.5 hours ago.

Even now I feel disconnected from this whole experience. Wondering if I am running hard in an over-reactathon. He left the room not long after the cock. I lay there. Pretending to sleep. I still didn’t know that I knew what had happened. In hindsight I know exactly what happened and that he most likely left the room to go bang with his own banana. In real time, I thought I might be wrong. I wasn’t upset yet. I was just wondering. I was still half asleep, still quite relaxed. Just turning it over, around, up and down in my head. Just telling myself to be calm. Don’t be cynical. Don’t be hysterical. Don’t be rude. I lay there, and I lay there. It was unbearably hot. He’d turned the fan off when he left. I half opened one eye. No sign of him. Then I heard him on the phone to the owner, saying he would see her soon. He’d known that he had time.

I got up. I went outside. I glanced at his pants. He was wearing thick cargo styles with a zipper on the crotch. When he’d rubbed my hand against his cock, there was no zipper. The lech had pulled his pants down especially for me. I paid. He tried to thank me for the tip I wasn’t giving, to steam roll his way into not giving me my change. In the end I fucking tipped because he didn’t have enough change. I took a pricelist and smiled like a normal customer. I pretended I had just woken up from sleep so that I didn’t have to look him in the eye. I accidentally did look at him, in the eye and was reminded again of how hideous he was. I had the same thought that maybe I was being rude, but then he told me I had fallen fast asleep at the end and that he’d tried to wake me but couldn’t. He hadn’t tried to wake me. I asked him if he’d done my hands as I’d requested at the start. He said yes, yes, that he’d done my hands. He hadn’t. He was lying. I felt like I was in a scene from a movie. The part where the audience gets a fucking clue but the protagonist isn’t quite there yet….

I walked down the road, went into a shop, bought a coke and some water, ordered some food. I stood and I chatted to the woman as she made gado gado. Mesmerised by her mortar and pestle grinding away at peanuts in a circular motion, breaking them down to mush. I teetered on my feet, it was creeping up on me. I had to get out of the shop. I walked with my food and drinks down the garden path, past my home stay mumma and the housekeeping girl, they called out to me and I smiled with my whole body and my whole face just like I always do as I sung a hello that floated on the breeze over to them in their kitchen. I got to my porch and put my things down. Texted my friend to see if he could skype me cause something shit had just happened. I said that I had to shower. I left my phone behind, outside on the table. I left the food, my wallet, my disbelief my everything out there. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “Billie, don’t get upset. You don’t have to get upset. You are ok with what just happened.”

As soon as I turned the water of the shower onto my body, my tears began to cascade from my eyes. I turned my face up to meet the stream of cold water. The tears ran into the arms of their brethren and amongst the fold, they all made their way down the drain together.

It was impossible for my friend to talk. I know he’ll feel bad when he reads this (please don’t A). My other friend thought my text was a joke but with my tawdry sense of humour I can understand why. My gf’s all had stuff on today. I ended up skyping my exboyfriend. He is my best friend these days but I didn’t want him to be the first one I told. I wanted him to get the later version, the one with less detail in the telling because the story had been told before and the corners are rounded, the edges softened. And that’s when it really hit me. Putting it all into words, going through the whole thing from start to cock. All the questions I’d asked myself, I asked again, but with the torturous clarity of hindsight. I cried so ugly that my mouth turned square and I couldn’t breathe. Half an hour later and I’d resigned myself to being alone in my room eating the closest thing I could find to cheesy poofs and drinking a coca cola. The irony of the cheesy poofs being called “Chiki Snack Balls” wasn’t lost on us. The sheer ridiculousness of this made us both laugh before we hung up. My ex-bf saved my day. As only he can.

I have to move forward. At the end of the day, I will be fine if I let myself be fine. If I just accept what has happened and get the fuck over it. I don’t know. I do know. I know that I’m full of shit. And that my head is toying with me because I’m in tears again thinking about what a fucking idiot I am. I’ve been like this my whole life. Polite to the point of delusional. Never supposing that people who aren’t supposed to do things like that, would actually do them. Convincing myself in the moment that what I think is happening isn’t really happening. Having conversations with myself where I talk myself out of what is real and into what should be real. As an 8 year old thinking it must be ok for the neighbor from down the road, to have me sitting on his lap, embracing me from behind with his hands up my shirt and rubbing up and down my chest. I thought it was ok because he was our family friend and because my dad sometimes did the same thing. Even now I think to myself that it must not have been sexual. With what I know now, I understand that this isn’t the truth, about my neighbour, but my first inclination is to explain his way out of it for him. It’s nothing I’ve ever lost sleep over.

In the context of men overstepping their boundaries, when the truth and I disagree, I always win the argument in my head. I don’t think I’m the only one who does this. From a young age we are taught not to question people in certain positions of status. To respect without exception our teachers, priests, parents, family friends, elders, customers, even perfect strangers. Our parents tell us “Because I said so, that’s why.” We are trained not to ask questions, not to speak up, not to be contrary, not to be difficult, to do what it takes to please the other party. This way of thinking, of not being taught to trust our instincts and value our feelings as children has pretty fucked up consequences when we grow up.

Even now, after working in strip clubs for 9 years, something like today will happen and all my assertiveness and street smarts dissolve in disbelief. All the things I should know better are once again, not known at all. I’m so indignant at work when men ask me to let them suck my tits, or finger me, or lick out my ass or fuck me til I break in two, or put their dick in my mouth. I’m so indignant that there is NO time or place that a person who is uninvited should talk to anyone that way, let alone actually make the moves to manifesting any one of those things beyond that infantile, socially unaware, power tripping douche bag’s bland sack of shit imagination. I’m so assertive with setting the boundaries and not allowing anyone to cross them. I don’t know why this falls away so completely in real life.

I deleted about 4 big paragraphs from the first section of this post. Because I realized that I was including all that detail because I wanted every one to know every little thing so that they could see I was being 100% transparent. So they wouldn’t think I’d done it on purpose, or that I’d asked for it, or implied that it was ok or in some way manifested what that wonky eyed, predatory, lascivious German toad did to me. I deleted it because I don’t want to be defending myself for something I shouldn’t be defending myself over. I don’t want people to see my shame and guilt and foolishness become clichés in the details. I feel as though I have to say “It could have been worse. There was no penetration, there was no ….” There was no what??? There was enough. And that should be the end of it.

2 DAYS LATER

 

A good girl friend and kindred spirit that I’ve met here in Ubud has offered to go back to the massage place and tell the local Balinese woman who owns the joint that something happened. I can’t face it, I don’t want to see that man. When I told her, she relayed several stories to me of sexual harassment in her life – massages, men masturbating next to her on the bus, in a park across the way, groping her arse or breasts from this country to that country. We had some laughs, I shed some tears as we juggled the questions of the why and the who? My other good friend and saviour of sorts offered to go and throw the fucker out the window. I’m sure he could manage it. But I don’t want him seeing the face of my shame. There have been a myriad of inappropriate jokes made and stories told to lighten the mood for me. It’s good to laugh. I don’t want to let the memory of his sweaty dick wrapped up in cheap underwear come between me and my love of drawing cartoon dicks on things. I feel lucky that I can still laugh, but it’s not an event I’m sailing through. It’s had repercussions already.

I feel alone. I feel dirty. There’s heaviness on my shoulders and a fog in my mind that won’t lift, even after my 4th coffee in the morning. My head can’t process this beautiful paradise as it is and everything is overlaid with a grotty sepia hue. I feel like some of my friends at home don’t want to speak to me, when usually a changed skype date or unreturned email or tardy reply to a message wouldn’t be a blip on my radar and I know my mind is trying to trick me into feeling like a bad person. I feel unworthy of friendships I have never doubted until now. I’m really angry. Every now and then I can feel that guy’s cock in my hand. I see the sneaky, gratuitous sideways glance of his milky blue eye as he thinks he got away with it when I leave the shop front. I feel a little trapped in my own head and I don’t quite know how to get out. I guess it will just pass. Like any other cloud.

I woke up to a series of emails from a beautiful pixie friend in NYC who put it perfectly when she said, “It makes me really angry because it is the sort of thing that I fear happening all the time, as a woman, and a small one at that. I am so tired of feeling constantly cautious, constantly untrusting, constantly scared. But this is the reason why.”

I’m comforted but also revolted and so very upset that I am not alone in this experience.

Soft Touch Hard Cock

This is how it feels when you do this to someone. Just in case you think they may have enjoyed it. Just so you know. This is how it felt for them.

My pixie friend is on twitter AND tumblr @tinyprofessor. Follow her.