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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

Thanks in part to my foresight in getting ahead in my writing before I left for the UK, it wasn’t difficult to catch back up when I returned; I’ve made similar (though lesser) preparations for my trip to Los Angeles this weekend (leaving Seattle on Thursday & returning Sunday).  And that’s good news not only for my stress levels, but for my off-blog writing as well; it looks as though I’ll finally be in the right headspace to start compiling The Essential Maggie McNeill, which I’ve been promising y’all for about three years now.  Even better news:  once I get in the swing of doing that work, I should be able to get out about three volumes of that in reasonably-rapid succession.  I’ve also got another story in mind, and I’ll probably write it before the end of the summer.  But back to the short term:  at 10 AM PDT Thursday (17:00 UTC) I’ll be taking part in an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit organized by Liara Roux.  More accurately, the AMA starts at that time; there are over 25 of us participating, so though it’s very unlikely you’ll see me there very early, I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can while at the airport and on the plane to LA, so roughly 4 – 8 PM PDT.  Which reminds me:  my venerable rolly-bag carry-on, which I’ve had since the mid-90s or thereabouts, seems close to giving up the ghost; one of her zippers is now broken and the other lost its pull-tab quite a while back.  So I’ve put a new one I’d like on my Amazon wishlist, along with a lot of other nifty things I’d like; if you’re in a mood to give me a present, there’s your chance!  Amazon arranges the list by order things were put on, so don’t be afraid to scroll down and get me something from further down the list if you’re so inclined.  And anyone who does gets a copy of “Bird of Prey” if they haven’t got one already.

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Diary #415

After two weeks of wandering around Great Britain, I returned home and hit the ground running; though my body clock took longer to reset than I’d have liked, that didn’t stop me from having a busy week of work.  I spent a lot of it where you see me in this picture, and I don’t mean sleeping; that’s a good thing, because my bills aren’t going to pay themselves.  But I also spent some time working on catching up on my blogging and engaging in some activism stuff which I can’t tell you about yet, but which I think will be big; the only hint I’ll give is that I spent some considerable time emailing and talking on the phone with a person who’s been in the news quite a bit over the past few years, and whose work you’ve often seen mentioned in this blog.  Yes, I’m a terrible tease, but you knew that; don’t worry, it should only be a few weeks before I can say anything.  Speaking of a few weeks, I’ll be in Los Angeles from the 21st to the 24th, but that’s on activism business rather than harlotry business; I don’t really plan to see any clients, but if you’re absolutely desperate to see me I might be able to squeeze you in somewhere (see what I did there?) before I fly back to Seattle.  Anyway, that’s about all I have to say for now, except yes, I really do have red sheets on my bed (except when they’re purple); if you’d like to see ’em in person, you know what to do.

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On Thursday, I returned to Seattle from London; the two halves of the trip couldn’t have been much more different.  The transatlantic leg saw me assigned a business-class seat very early, attended to by a sweet and maternal air hostess, and comfortably sleeping through the first five hours of a smooth, quiet flight in my roomy full-recline seat with a soft pillow and snuggly blanket.  But for the transcontinental leg, I was placed at the last minute in the usual bolt-upright bus seat which barely has room for my rather petite self, much less enough room for either of the people I was stuck between.  After pulling away from the gate we were forced to sit on the runway for two hours, increasing the total time I was stuck in that seat to about eight hours and increasing the amount of Valium needed to stay calm by double; on top of that the ride was bumpy most of the way, even on the approach to Seattle.  By the time I got home it was nearly 11 PM and I hadn’t had any solid food for roughly 25 hours, so after an egg sandwich and some Vegemite toast it was straight to bed for me, and I only woke up two hours early the next morning.  I’m still not quite back to normal; as I type this it’s only 9:30 PM but I’m already fighting off sleep, despite having retired and arisen at my normal times.  Ah, well, in a few more days I hope to be rested up and back to what passes for normal in my world.  In the meantime, you might be interested in this article I wrote for the current print edition of Reason; I’d also point you in the direction of Tina Dupuy’s radio show on Sirius from last Friday, but it was live and I don’t think there’s a way to listen to it now.  But for the time being, I should probably get a strong cup of tea before I fall asleep and crash my head into this keyboard.

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No Innocence Abroad








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The most enjoyable, rewarding and memorable moments of my life have always involved other people.  –  “The Best Part

I reckon my travel habits probably seem odd or even boring to many people; I don’t generally go to see the sights or touristy things in places I visit, and when I do I generally prefer the more off-the-beaten-track ones rather than the ones that demand both admission and standing in long queues.  When I travel, I like to spend as much time as possible doing things the locals consider quite ordinary, such as eating local foods or just walking around the streets or countryside.  And nearly every time I visit a new place, I discover several new foods I like and learn new ways of doing things.  On this trip I discovered haggis, Stornoway black pudding, stroopwafels, and a flat wine I actually like (generally, I only like sparkling wines).  But I don’t just stumble on these things by accident; I try them because either my traveling companion or someone I meet recommends them to me and takes the time to tell me why they think I’ll like them.  As I’ve written on several occasions, it’s my traveling companions and the people I meet and talk to who are the best part of travel for me:

I’ve met a lot of people in [my life].  I’ve talked with them, argued with them, loved them, and fought with them.  I’ve hired them to do jobs and been hired by them; I’ve fucked them, been fucked over by them, played with them and feared them.  I’ve learned from them, taught them, helped and been helped by them, ignored them, missed them and avoided them and done many other things far too numerous to list.  And for the majority of my adult life, I’ve made my living by interacting directly with them on a one-on-one basis…I can open the vault of memory and find a wealth of experiences from months, years and decades in the past; I can see their faces, hear their voices and even tell you where we were and what we talked about.  Some of the people with whom I had these treasured interactions are still dear friends, and some I haven’t seen in many years; many of them were with people I met only once, and whose names I have long forgotten.  And many others fall somewhere between those two extremes…

This trip was no exception; I met, talked to and otherwise interacted with lots of people I didn’t know before, some by introduction from Brooke and some just by circumstance (the festival at Hay-on-Wye was very fruitful in the latter respect).  I’ll probably never cross paths with most of them ever again, and others may grow into friends.  But as usual, the memory of many of those meetings will outlast most of the other experiences of the trip.

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As those of you who saw Friday’s picture column were probably already aware, Brooke Magnanti and I spent last week in Scotland, largely doing the sorts of things I like to do on such trips: talking to people and sampling the local foods and ways (including haggis, which I absolutely loved).  Then starting Friday afternoon, in 24 hours we used basically every common sort of vehicle (boat, self-driven car, airplane, bus, train and chauffeured car) to get from where we were in the West Highlands down to Hay-on-Wye in Wales for a large literary & philosophical festival at which Brooke spoke & participated in panel discussions.  It was quite rainy on Sunday, as this picture demonstrates, and I’m currently typing this using the festival’s wi-fi while waiting to see a panel on sex robots which I will try VERY hard not to disrupt.  By the time you read this, we’ll be on a train back to London; Brooke’s flying back to the US tomorrow, and I’ll be returning on Thursday.  I’ve very much enjoyed this trip, and I’ll have more thoughts about it on Thursday and more pictures on Friday; for now, it will suffice to say that I’ll be back to the UK in the not-terribly-distant future, with any luck sooner rather than later.

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Abroad, But Not Innocent







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