Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘anecdote’

purple laptopIf you read Saturday’s TW3 column you already know that within minutes of arriving in Raleigh on the 17th, I was chatting with Rachel Mills on her spreecast, LiberTea.  Rachel and I were introduced by veteran libertarian activist Angela Keaton, and liked each other immediately; she generously offered me her guest room, which made the interview a lot easier since I was already at the studio!  She later mentioned that she was learning photography, and asked if I’d model for her; I of course said yes, and I’ll be sharing some of the other results soon.  FYI, I don’t use glasses to read; I’m nearsighted, not farsighted.  However, I believe in artistic license.

On Monday, my book reading at The Internationalist was rained out; the downpour was, in fact, so heavy that water started coming into the store, but luckily I was wearing sandals so I was able to help out with a mop without risking falling on my arse on a slippery floor.  They were very apologetic, but as I told them nobody can help the weather; besides, as I’ve written before it’s the odd experiences that make a trip memorable, not the ones that go exactly as predicted.  Still, it was nice to get a good book reading in at Flyleaf the next day, and I got to meet two more regular readers.  Eros Guide is currently based in the Raleigh area, so another highlight of my visit was meeting with several members of the staff to discuss not only the work I’ve been doing for them the past few months, but also the future in the current climate of hysteria.  And on a more mundane note:  I’m now back in the South, so I can get sweet tea at restaurants again!

Generally, I haven’t been doing public events on the day I arrive, but that was not so in the Carolinas; I left for Charleston on Thursday morning, knowing I had an event there at 7 PM.  Everything went well, though; I arrived in Charleston exactly on schedule and was delighted to discover that my Priceline-booked hotel was not only on the same street as the restaurant where my Liberty On the Rocks appearance was to be held, but also directly on the route I’d take to Atlanta.  It took me only a few minutes to reach the place, and the group was small but very engaged and highly enthusiastic; it was also one of the quieter venues.  In fact, “quiet” is a good word for my stay in Charleston; on Friday I was able to spend the day catching up from comparatively-hectic Washington and Raleigh-Durham, and getting myself ready for the last two stops before the home stretch.

The tour’s nearly over, but you can still catch me in Tampa or New Orleans; if your city is within a few hours’ drive of those (or between them), you can still send an email asking me to visit, though obviously it’s pretty tight now.  Your request will be more likely to be doable if you can make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Read Full Post »

crazy PhiladelphiaAfter leaving New York City, I expected the drive to Philadelphia to be rather easy…and it would have been, if not for the legendary badness of Pennsylvania highway design and signage.  See how I-276 appears to intersect I-95 there?  Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.  Only it doesn’t; there isn’t even a sign to mark the place they cross, nor any instructions such as “use US 13 to reach I-95″.  If one doesn’t already know how to get from one to the other, one will find oneself west of the city wondering what the hell happened and calling one’s husband for directions.  Furthermore, even those highways which are labelled properly often don’t connect properly; one may have to exit and drive for miles on surface streets (complete with traffic lights) to get from one interstate highway to another it supposedly connects to.  Oh, and please don’t suggest I get a damned GPS unit, either; every time someone uses one of those screwy things to give me directions it takes me miles out of the way through a maze of turns instead of just plotting a direct course; on the day I’m writing this I was literally given GPS directions to a business that led me to a completely different part of town than the one the business actually occupies (fortunately, there was a similar business in the vicinity of the incorrect destination, so I used it instead).

Grumbling aside, I had a good visit to the city; the group at Liberty On the Rocks was undeterred by heavy rain, and we had a lively discussion which was actually joined by a sex worker who just happened to be in the cafe at the time.  On Thursday I drove down to Washington DC, stopping briefly in Baltimore for a TV interview on the local ABC affiliate (I understand it will be part of an investigative series).  From there I went on to Alexandria, Virginia, the Washington suburb where the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit was being held; I’ve written my thoughts about the conference in a little more detail for Eros Guide.  While I was there, Cathy Reisenwitz kindly invited me to stay at her place; it turned out to be very conveniently located, a straight shot down one long street to the convention.  I touched base with some activists I already knew, met some folks I hadn’t before (including Melissa Gira Grant and porn performers Nina Hartley and Buck Angel), attended an informal group discussion of Lawrence vs. Texas and similar sexual freedom cases, and even sold a few books before zooming down to Raleigh, North Carolina for a podcast that evening.  The details of that, however, can wait until next week!

The tour’s nearly over, but you can still catch me in Charleston, Atlanta, Tampa or New Orleans; if your city is within a few hours’ drive of those (or between them), you can still send an email asking me to visit, though obviously it’s pretty tight now.  Your request will be more likely to be doable if you can make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Read Full Post »

MEDION DIGITAL CAMERAOn Saturday, August 2nd I drove into the Boston area; hotels in the city itself were so outrageously expensive that I actually stayed a little west of Framingham and, other than on Monday, restricted myself to that area.  Everyone I talked to warned me that the traffic going into Boston would be bad even if I were going in the opposite direction of the commute, so on Monday morning I decided to drive up to Salem for the afternoon and then go into the city from there.  My motive was twofold:  first, the suburbs to the north of Boston are largely residential, so I figured the traffic wouldn’t be as bad inbound from that direction; second, it seemed a shame to come so close to the site of the definitive American witch hunt without visiting it.  Of course, it was very touristy, but that really didn’t bother me; in some ways it reminded me of the French Quarter in New Orleans (another mixture of serious history and tourist traps).  My plan was a success; it took me only half an hour to reach the neighborhood of my speaking venue from Salem, and had I not blundered into a traffic jam by taking the wrong exit I would’ve been an hour earlier than I had planned to be.  Even with the error I arrived an hour before showtime, found a parking place literally across the street and thus had plenty of time to prepare.  The presentation went extremely well; I think it was among the best yet, and the bartender (who had no idea who I was before I got up to speak) was so engaged by the discussion that he bought a book and asked about my website!

Since I had nothing in particular planned for Tuesday, I took that night’s hotel in Providence, Rhode Island and went on a walking tour of H.P. Lovecraft sites on College Hill (yes, this is my idea of fun; you may laugh if you like).  I then checked into my hotel and ate dinner at a little mom-and-pop counter-serve restaurant called Cosmic Pizza and Steak, which I discovered quite by accident.  I’m very glad I did; the prices were very reasonable, the portions large (and delicious) and the people were extremely friendly and welcoming.  The next day I drove over to Hartford, Connecticut, where I planned my approach to New York and had dinner with the blawger known as Gideon.  He and several others suggested I park outside the city and take a train in, and a little research showed me the ideal spot was Metropark in Iselin, New Jersey, which cost me only $9 a day and $20 round trip for the train (and best of all, was on the way to my next stop in Philadelphia).

Manhattan subwaysSome of you may be surprised to hear that this was actually my first trip on a full-scale train; there are no commuter trains in Louisiana, and I’ve never taken a trip on a long-distance passenger train, either.  But that situation was corrected while I was in the city, because I took subways every place I had to go unless it was close enough to walk.  One of Tracy Quan’s friends was kind enough to offer a spare room just off Broadway, and when I went to dinner with Tracy and Melissa Ditmore on Friday evening I decided to walk to the restaurant; it was a lovely day and Manhattan is pretty narrow, so it only took me an hour to get there.  On Saturday I read to a packed house at Bluestockings Books on the lower east side, and answered questions for hours; afterward, I went out with regular reader Susan and another reader who prefers to remain incognito, and didn’t get to bed until almost 3 AM.  Finally, on Sunday I spoke to a group of woman journalists at the home of Jillian Keenan; Tracy was there as well, and with her help I discussed the general awfulness of reporting on the topic of sex work.

I don’t mind admitting that I was very intimidated by New York; I was worried about its size, its population density and its expense.  But a little careful planning and a lot of help from good people negated most of the real issues, and as so often happens the others faded into insignificance once I got to experience the reality rather than focusing on my own preconceptions.  Now that I’m past the most expensive part of the tour I can breathe a bit more easily; however, I still haven’t quite reached my funding goal yet so if you haven’t yet contributed, please consider doing so this week!

Here’s my tour schedule, which is now pretty tight; if your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within a few hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have much more impact if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Read Full Post »

Pittsburgh skylineThe week after leaving Chicago had a much slower pace, which is probably for the best; if nothing else, I needed a break from driving in heavy traffic before moving on to Boston and New York City.  That’s not to say that driving across Ohio and Pennsylvania was relaxing, however; I’ve driven all over this country, and the highway signage in those two states is absolutely the worst I’ve ever seen.  Street signs are often tiny, badly-placed or entirely absent; many exits have names that seem to have little relationship to the place they exit to; junctions are not clearly marked, and the signs are sometimes placed so that by the time one sees them it’s difficult or impossible to decelerate and exit; and junctions with toll roads usually require exiting onto surface streets in order to connect with the freeway (and vice versa).  New York state’s “let’s number the exits by counting them rather than by the mile marker they fall nearest” strategy is positively sensible in comparison, though I have nothing good to say about the bizarre way that I-87 exits from itself at Albany and the New York State Thruway suddenly changes from I-87 north into I-90 west (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky).

The day after I left Chicago I went as far as Cleveland, and moved on to Pittsburgh the next day.  There I had a wonderful visit with Lucy Steigerwald and her mother; they took me to dinner and showed me the sights (including the absolutely gorgeous view of Pittsburgh from the south), then we talked late into the night at their lovely home.  They invited me to spend the night, and had I not already paid for my hotel I certainly would’ve; in fact, given that I got lost for almost an hour on winding rural roads in a thunderstorm, I was kicking myself for not accepting the offer!  Eventually I got where I needed to go (though not without asking directions three separate times) none the worse for wear, and the trouble was nothing in comparison with the wonderful evening which preceded it.  The next day I moved on to central Pennsylvania and had dinner with Mike Siegel; we talked about my work, his work and all manner of other things, and I apologize to Mrs. Siegel if I kept him out too long!

On Tuesday I drove in to Albany, where I had a book reading the next day at The Bookhouse; it was my smallest gig yet, but one of the attendees was an 80-year-old lady who nonetheless wanted to hear what I had to say.  The next two nights I went to dinner with two of my “Angel” patrons;the gentleman who took me out on Thursday also invited two other sex workers, and the gentleman who treated me on Friday turned out to be a lover of comic books and role-playing games, so we traded favorite stories for hours.  So although this week had only one public event, I still found it one of the most rewarding of my whole trip; I got to enjoy four separate evenings of dinner and socializing with some really great, generous, interesting people, and I’ll remember those events long after the details of the more public ones have blurred with time.

Here’s my tour schedule, which is now pretty tight; if your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have much more impact if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Read Full Post »

844,739

There are 844,739 ways to eat a hamburger at Waffle House.  –  statistic of dubious authenticity which used to grace Waffle House menus

Waffle HouseSome people may think it strange that one of my favorite restaurants is the diner chain, Waffle House.  But honestly, there is very little not to like about it.  Obviously, it ain’t haute cuisine, but it doesn’t claim to be; one of the company’s slogans is “good food fast”, and that’s what it delivers:  inexpensive diner-style food of consistent quality, prepared quickly and in generous portions, and served 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round.  In fact, Waffle House restaurants are so consistent that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses them as a quick means of assessing the severity of a natural disaster:  if the local Waffle House is open and serving a full menu, the damage to the area is relatively mild; if open but serving a limited menu (because it’s running on a generator and/or food shipments could not reach the location) the damage is severe; if entirely closed the damage is catastrophic.  But the reasonable prices and palatability of the fare aren’t even the best things about Waffle House; that would be the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff.  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an employee of the place who was unpleasant, curt or surly; the atmosphere is always relaxed and welcoming, and that usually affects the customers as well.  To be sure, not everyone enjoys conversations with strangers as much as I do, but I suspect anyone who isn’t a dedicated misanthrope prefers waitresses and cooks who are not only attentive to their needs and responsive to requests, but seem genuinely interested in ensuring that their guests have a positive experience.
Waffle House map  I don’t like eating alone, so when I’m forced to (as I often am while on this tour) dinner can become little more than a refueling stop for my body.  But when I’m alone and hungry and see that familiar yellow sign that looks like a completed Wheel of Fortune puzzle, it will more often than not be the place I choose to stop.  You may laugh if you like, but one of the things I found most annoying about the first leg of this tour was the complete lack of Waffle House locations; this map shows a few in Arizona and Colorado, but they must’ve been hiding ‘em from me because I sure could’ve used one the night I was as hungry as a bear and discovered that for all its size and supposed sophistication, they apparently roll up the freaking streets in Denver at 10 PM.  In June.  Barely an hour after dark.  That would never happen in the realm of Waffledom; it’s nearly impossible to drive more than half an hour in any populated part of the southeast without encountering one…and if the one you find isn’t open, you’ve got bigger things to worry about than your appetite.  Obviously, I don’t eat there every night; I like variety too much to do that, and I like Waffle House too much to risk making myself sick of it.  But the first night I was in Memphis I landed there, and I’ve chosen it several times since then.  And I find it extremely comforting to know that for the rest of my tour, there will usually be one somewhere close at hand. FY10 OP13 Menu Master

Read Full Post »

Tour Diary: Week Nine

LOTR ChicagoIt’s a good thing I approve of polyamory, because Chicago did her best to win my heart from St. Louis last week.  But while St. Louis seduced me with her Southern charm, Chicago was a bold, brassy dame who swept me off my feet and refused to take “no” for an answer.  From the time I arrived until the time I left she kept me busy nearly every waking hour; I was actually concerned that I wouldn’t be able to finish TW3 #430 on time, and indeed a lot of it was finished Friday night in Cleveland and I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM, a mere four hours before publication!

I had at least one event every single day, and on several days I had two.  I’ve already mentioned my dinner with Cathryn Berarovich on the night I arrived; the next day I had my first reading in an actual bookstore, Bucket O’Blood, which as you can probably guess from the name specializes in horror.  The owners were lovely and welcoming, and among the attendees was Reason‘s Zenon Evans, who was in town visiting friends.  Then on Monday I went to breakfast with one of my “Angel” level patrons, and had dinner with Aspasia Bonasera; after dinner we went back to her home and I got to meet her wonderful mother, who welcomed me as family.  We spent the rest of the evening talking, and at 1 AM I reluctantly returned to the hotel for much-needed sleep.  On Tuesday I didn’t have to start quite so early, but I finished just as late; after my presentation for Liberty On the Rocks (which was attended by Mark Draughn, Serpent Libertine of SWOP Chicago, sex-positive writer/podcaster Eric Barry and prominent criminal defense lawyer Joe Obenberger) Serpent recorded a short video in which I was interviewed by Cathryn.

On Wednesday afternoon, I had to go to the Fox TV studio downtown to be interviewed remotely for a short segment on The Independents, a libertarian show on Fox Business Network; that evening I gave a presentation at SWOP Chicago to a very respectable crowd.  The group was much smaller at my book reading Thursday night for Uncharted Books, but I’m equally happy to read to small groups as large ones because I think I win new allies to the cause at every event, no matter how small, and obviously I have more one-on-one interaction in small groups.

By the time I left Chicago on Friday I was quite enamored of her and plan a return visit as soon as possible (though based on what I’ve been told, NOT in the winter).  Still, it’s a good thing I didn’t stay longer because I was absolutely exhausted!  After resting for a night in Cleveland I moved on to Pittsburgh, but my experiences there will have to wait until next week; Chicago needs a column all to herself. SWOP interview 7-22-14

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Read Full Post »

Family Curse

Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.  –  Alexander Pope

In January of 2003, soon after I had bought my country property, a spotted dog showed up while we were putting up the shop.  She was in heat, the neighbor’s dog Stampy (yes, he was named for Bart Simpson’s elephant) paid court to her, and she started spending her nights under our house.  At first I referred to her as “Stampy’s lady friend”, which was soon shortened to “Lady” when we decided to let her stay.  When it was time for her to whelp I started shutting her in the shop at night (we set up a wooden frame with blankets for her), and she had eight puppies in the wee small hours of March 10th.  Within a few months, though, we knew something weird was going on; Lady would amble off with the pups into the woods and come back with one fewer than before.  She lost three that way; we’ve never been sure if she was doing it on purpose because she sensed something was wrong with them, or if it was just the way of things, but I wasn’t going to let it continue.

Accordingly, I established the procedure we followed thereafter: Lady and the pups could never be loose at the same time.  When she was out alone she was fine, and when the pups were out without her that was fine too.  But if she got loose at the same time as they did, the whole pack would take off and not be seen until very late at night (or, in later years, even the next day).  When they were all together it was like the pack instinct took over, and their normal obedient ways cast to the winds.  And whenever it happened I would never sleep well until they were home safe.  There was plenty to worry about; this area is full of predators, and while they were more than a match for coyotes there are also cougars, rattlesnakes and other dangerous animals.

On top of all that, there was the epilepsy.  Oreo had it worst; she started having grand mal seizures after her first year, and eventually died from them.  But Stampy, Jr and Caramel also had it in less severe form; Stampy had petit mal seizures from time to time, and though Caramel never had any obvious seizures she would often have episodes where she seemed upset or frightened of something the other dogs didn’t notice, most likely some feeling inside her.  After Oreo died, we were down to just the three, Lady, Stampy Jr and Caramel; one of the others had been given away, and Damsel met with some accident before she turned one and never came home.  By this point, we had the grim joke that Lady was under a curse; four of her pups had met with unknown dooms, one had perished from a chronic illness and the remaining two seemed marked.

But as the years rolled by, my fears abated somewhat; it seemed the remaining three would live out normal lives.  Except for that strange thing about not being able to let them out at the same time, they were friendly, affectionate, obedient dogs; Lady went everywhere with Grace, and was probably the best-known dog in the whole county.  And though Stampy (the largest of the three at 40 kg) was an accomplished coyote-killer, with humans he was amazingly docile.  He and Caramel had been inseparable since birth, and though she often gave him grief over taking up too much space in the doghouse, he was very protective of his little sister.

Then just a year ago, the curse seemed to return with a vengeance.  They were all getting on in years; the vet figured Lady had been about a year old when she had the puppies, and they were now ten.  Like many large dogs, Stampy had become arthritic; we were giving him medicine that seemed to ease his pain, but he had still slowed down considerably.  And though Caramel (who only weighed about 30 kg) had no such symptoms, she rarely wandered far from her brother.  Neither of them hesitated, though, when one day last July a lone coyote wandered  near where Grace was working, in broad daylight; Stampy and Caramel gave chase and Lady got so agitated she managed to break her leash and follow…trailing a long length of leash into the woods and ignoring Grace’s commands to stop (as was typical when the three were loose together).  When Grace told me what had happened my heart sunk; I knew a long leash dragged into thick woods was a death-sentence.  We searched for hours, and then Grace drove around the whole area calling her for days, hoping against hope she would hear her barking and could go to her aid.  It was no use; we never saw her again, and I only hope the coyotes got her quickly because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Last winter seemed especially hard on Stampy; even with the medicine he seemed constantly in low-level pain, and began to move more slowly and awkwardly.  Still, he greeted me every morning with wagging tail when I came outside to let them off of the porch for the day.  But on March 21st, just eleven days after his eleventh birthday, I saw him for the last time; the others were back from their morning run long before noon, but Stampy was not with them.  We called his name repeatedly; again, Grace drove around looking for him.  And again, it was no use.  Maybe he attacked another animal he was no longer young and strong enough to defeat; maybe he just went off to die as animals sometimes do.  But as with his mother, it was the uncertainty that was the hardest part.  Death, as the Bard said, will come when it will come; it’s not knowing a friend’s fate that’s unbearable.

After losing her lifelong companion, Caramel just wasn’t the same; she seemed to grow old overnight, and no longer went off the porch much unless she was following one of us.  Grace noticed that she was cleaning her bottom a lot more than she used to, and fussing with it as though it bothered her; of course neither of us thought much about that at the time, but it sprang immediately to mind when Grace called me on the first leg of my tour to tell me that she had stopped eating and seemed to be straining every time she went to poop.  The vet discovered an intestinal blockage and some swelling, but even after enemas and antibiotics her appetite and bowel movements failed to return to normal.  Grace discovered the only thing that would tempt her to eat was pure meat, but even then she wouldn’t take enough to really sustain a dog her size.  By the time I got home on June 28th she was badly emaciated, like a recently-rescued stray; I cried that night, because I knew what was coming.  We took her back to the vet first thing the following Monday, and an examination revealed the underlying problem: cancer of the anal glands, and in a fairly advanced state.  I held her as the vet did what needed to be done, and the last of her doomed line went peacefully to sleep in my arms.

When we lost Lady last summer, something kept me from writing about it; the same thing happened when we lost Stampy in March.  But this time it was different.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that with Caramel at least, I absolutely knew she was dead, whereas with the others there was no real closure.  Or perhaps I realized deep down that they would all follow one another into the Beyond as closely as they had followed one another in life.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I’ve lost three dear friends in much too short a time, and though it’s hard to type this through my tears, I felt their loyalty deserved the only memorial I know how to give them.  Requiescat in pace, pups; the curse at last is done.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,410 other followers