Once back in Orlando, I was eager for September 12 to arrive.  I had a great time in New York, but I was ready for my career at Snizney to start.  A fellow dancer from the dance company back in Gainesville was already working for them and loving it.  But in the meantime, bills still needed to be paid and I was soon making the trek from Orlando to Tampa nightly.  I was enjoying myself at work: making friends and making money.  I was easily one of the girls now.  I had bad nights: driving an hour and a half home with $8 in my pocket…I had slow nights that ended well: fewer than 20 customers in a 6 hour period, but I stuck it out while others went home and snagged a spaceship for 1/2 an hour followed by a champagne room…and I had fabulously steady nights that net me a great profit.  It all balanced out and things were okay.

I even tried to get Jen out of my mind.  I went out to a lesbobar in Orlando, anxious to meet new people.  For those who know me and have gone out with me, I’m a self-professed wallflower.  I watch, too nervous to actually attempt a conversation with a pretty stranger.  So going out by myself was quite a feat.  Oh, people come up to me and ask me to dance or offer me a drink, but they’re not my type and I feel bad if I accept.  It’s like a false promise…much worse than a white fib.  Truth?  The boldest bitches in a lesbobar are usually butch dykes with gold teeth, poorly maintained locks, very shortly cropped hair, cross-eyed, overweight with a lisp.  Now, I’m not just picking on gay butch women.  The same can be said for men in straight bars.  They’re the only ones with enough balls to approach an attractive woman.  I get it.  Just don’t get mad if I don’t talk to you.  I’m doing you a favor.  But then I look like the uppity bitch who thinks she’s too good for anybody and I leave alone with not a single number.

Here’s the problem with fem lesbians seeking other fem lesbians: who makes the first move?  Two very attractive women can stare across a crowded bar at each other all freaking night long and then leave – separately and with absolutely no communication with each other.  Why, you ask?  Whomever makes the first move sets the stage for the potential relationship: they’re the dominant one and for some of us that’s a scary thing.  When I say I’d like to date a feminine woman, that doesn’t mean I want a priss who jumps on a chair at the sight of a spider.  If I can handle a spider, so can she.  I want balance in my relationship.  A little give and take; some fashion sense?  The first move…not my style.  Hence, I still check the single box on any given application or contract.  Hey, I made it clear several entries ago that I was a work in progress.

The bar was eh.  That’s it.  Eh.  The show was…interesting.  They had this hostess (an actual woman, not a drag queen) who danced and lip-synched a couple of numbers.  I remember thinking: I can do that.  Just as good if not better.  She was cute and I gave her props…and tips.  Remember: you get back what you put out there and tips count tenfold!  I made a mental note that this place might be a cute gig to have on the side.  Orlando was looking better and better.

Until the morning of Sept. 11.  I woke up quite early as usual, preparing to hit my complex gym and I did what I normally do when I get up.  Living alone, the television is my company.  Sometimes I watch, sometimes I don’t.  But it’s comforting to have it going in the background.  It makes me feel less alone and reminds me that life is still going on out there.  I stepped out and realized that the news was on.  I rarely watch the news.  It’s way too damn depressing.  I changed the channel and couldn’t believe that the same program was on another channel.  I remember thinking what kind of programmers all opt to put the same show on at the same time? Don’t make fun of me…it was early and I wasn’t completely awake.  I started to get annoyed, until I began reading the scrolling headline at the bottom of the screen and actually listened to what the anchors were saying.  Sept.  11 was happening and I almost got sick in my living room:

‘Stripper X’ and ‘J’ observe the glittering lights in the distance.

‘Stripper X’ – “It looks like the planes are going to fly into each other.”
‘J’ – “Yeah, I know, it does.”

Holy shit.  My first instinct was to call my friend immediately, not to tell him that I think I might be psychic, but to make sure he was okay.  And there was no ring, no voicemail, no answer.  Not even static.  I was very scared.  In a nutshell, I was just there and could have still been there if I had been hired for that show and possibly near the melee.  I was at Union Square…I saw the Twin Towers close by…everyone remembers where they were when that catastrophe occurred.  I was so grateful for being back in Orlando.  I didn’t get in touch with my friend for several weeks.  Thankfully, he contacted me.  He was on the 70th floor of the Empire State Building, having taken the day off.  He was a lucky guy and, I’m sure, is still an awesome person.  The news continued and I watched in disbelief.  This is why I don’t watch the news.  Too damn depressing.

While the world rocked in the wake of 9/11, my life had to go on.  But it wasn’t going to be going on at Snizney.  I received a call the morning of Sept. 12: In the aftermath of 9/11, Snizney issued a hiring freeze.  My presence is not necessary at this time due to an anticipated decline in travel and recreational activities.  Please check back with human resources for…blah blah blah.  I hung up.  Basically, last hired – first fired.  I looked around at my new apartment in Orlando, my very first place all by myself, my things all properly placed, the sun shining through the windows, the television blaring in the background.  I turned it off.  For the first time, I just wanted quiet while I tried to figure out my next move.  It would come to me…any minute now…I’d have the answer that would calm me down and realize that I did not just fucking move to Orlando for a fucking job that wasn’t going to FUCKING HAPPEN!  I knew no one.  And I had no job.

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