The big snowstorm in Portland delayed my departure by a day, but fortunately I was able to reschedule my Friday appointments in San Francisco for Saturday. Though I shouldn’t have been, I was rather surprised to discover that a hothouse flower from New Orleans who never drove in snow until after her 36th birthday was still able to do it better than the majority of Portlanders; most of them seemed unable to grasp basic concepts like “driving in the rougher lane or in the tracks left by others will result in better traction”. But in spite of it I had a lovely dinner with a young sex worker who is starting to become interested in activism, then had a long but uneventful drive down to San Francisco on Friday and lots of fun in San Francisco on Saturday (y’all know who you are!) On Sunday I continued on to Los Angeles and spent two days with a friend who in turn introduced me to many of her friends; sometime today I’ll be moving on to Las Vegas, so if you’d like to see me there I still have availability for ONE gentleman tomorrow. I also have time for ONE gentleman in Albuquerque on Monday, but other than that I’m afraid I’m booked solid. If you missed me, please try to book early next time! Anyhow, a week from today I plan to start for home by way of Salt Lake City, and if the weather cooperates I’ll be home a week from tomorrow. Though I don’t like to tour often, it always seems to give me new energy; in fact, things are already looking up foe February! But as usual, you’ll have to wait to see what that means (except for my book, which should be out in the next few weeks).
Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category
Grace went back to the ranch last Wednesday, and today I’m the one leaving Seattle for my tour. If you haven’t booked an appointment yet it’s too late to take advantage of the special, but I’m still available at my normal rate and I have availability in Portland, Los Angeles and Los Vegas (and I could probably make time for one in Albuquerque). I’m thinking of shortening my return trip by a day so as to stay overnight in Salt Lake City instead of Denver, so if you’re in Denver and want to see me you need to speak up soon! I’m pretty excited about the trip; I’ll get to see some friends I don’t get to see often, plus this is my first keynote address ever! And though I don’t really enjoy driving such long distances, it doesn’t really bother me either. The only thing that bothers me (besides being away from the people I love in Seattle, of course) is that I’m a bit wary of driving over both the Rockies and the Cascades in January. But Grace got me a set of snow chains, so I’ll just be careful, watch the weather and hope I don’t have to use them, and I’ll be back two weeks from tomorrow or thereabouts!
Live fast ’cause it won’t last. – Chris Stein & Debbie Harry
In Monday’s column “Crystal-Gazing” I wrote, “I don’t think it’s likely I’ll be around to see [the mid 2030s], but many of you will be.” Several readers asked me why I believed I wouldn’t make it to that point; after all, I’d only have to live to 70, and the average white American woman born in the 1960s lives to about 75. Now, I could point out that statistically, my chance of dying before 70 is roughly equal to my chance of living past 80, but that wouldn’t quite be true; a lot of the reason the life expectancy keeps increasing is that infant mortality keeps decreasing, so anyone who survives childhood isn’t statistically likely to live as much longer than her ancestors as it might appear just from looking at those life expectancy figures. Also, most of the female members of my family live into their ’80s, even if the male ones have an odd tendency to die under strange and often newsworthy circumstances (ask me about that if we ever get drunk together). That having been said, a fair number of relatives of both sexes have contracted cancer or more-exotic terminal diseases, some of them at early ages (like the maternal uncle who died of leukemia in his late teens), and I’ve had several close brushes with sudden death (two of them of the “hushed-nurse-saying-I-shouldn’t-be-alive” variety), so I don’t think my familial or personal life expectancy is quite as high as that of the general population.
And thereby hangs the tale. As I’ve stated before, I have absolutely no intention of ever enduring chemotherapy; if I develop cancer I’m going to seek out palliative care, put my affairs in order and let the disease take its course. I’ve seen more than my share of people I love spending their last days hooked to machines in sterile institutions, dying in infernal contraptions surrounded by shouting doctors and nurses pounding on their chests and shooting chemicals into their veins, or electrically shocking their soon-to-be-corpses, instead of expiring quietly in their own beds surrounded by loved ones. So I have a DNR order; if it’s respected I will die when I die rather than being dragged violently back across the threshold because mere humans have decided I’m not allowed to leave this plane yet. Furthermore, though the more strictly-rational among my readers may scoff, I’ve never claimed to be strictly rational; my several close brushes with death (and a frank assessment of the chances I have taken in the past and those I continue to take on a regular basis) have led me to feel that I’m living on borrowed time, and Death knows that “when he at last come to collect me it will be a rendezvous rather than a capture“. Death and I are old friends; he was gracious enough not to interrupt my work before it was done, and it’s the least I can do to return that favor when the time comes. He’s passed me by on several occasions when he probably should have taken me, and I’m not such a fool that I think he’s going to keep doing that indefinitely.
Nor would I want him to. I’ve clearly stated my philosophy on this subject many times, including in my fiction; it’s mortality which gives life meaning, and I think it’s a bit rude for those whose dance is done to keep hogging the floor rather than making “room for the new dancers who are always waiting for their turn.” And besides all of that, I’m far too independent to be able to enjoy a life of decrepitude and dependence, and far too vain to desire a life in which I’m no longer the object of desire. The song below has always been among the larger group of my favorites, and I don’t feel any differently about it at 50 than I did at 15; when I go, I want people to still be able to honestly talk about how beautiful I was. Shallow? Probably. Silly? Maybe. But my friends will tell you I rarely ask for anything, so I don’t think it’s greedy of me to ask that no one begrudge my wish to not have to endure years or decades of life after the things I like best about it are gone.
The holidays were absolutely lovely; Grace and I got to spend a lot of time with my friends, who are quickly becoming her friends as well. And that’s a wonderful thing; there is very little in the world more rewarding to me than when two people I like meet and become friends with each other. We’ve spent nearly every day visiting, attending small parties, going to dinner with people, getting high and otherwise celebrating, and even though I need to put her on a plane tomorrow I don’t feel that same sense of profound sadness that I did last year at this time. That’s because I’m committed to our plan that will allow us to see a lot more of each other in the coming year than we have in the past two; I have a really good feeling about it, and I’ll let you know more as it unfolds.
Of course, the holidays weren’t all fun and debauchery; I worked a good deal as well (including catering to a gentleman’s librarian fantasy, as you can see in the picture), and I’ll be leaving for my tour a week from today. My San Francisco calendar is pretty full up, but I may be able to fit one more appointment in if you’re flexible; I still have pretty good availability in most of the other stops except Phoenix, so if you want to see me (and especially if you want to take advantage of the special) you need to contact me by this weekend at the latest. I’m thinking about rerouting my return trip to stop in Salt Lake City instead of Denver; whichever of those cities books an appointment first will win the stop! Last but not least, thank you so much to Celos for sending me the Universal classic monster movie collection! If anyone else wants to send a late Christmas present from my wishlist, I promise I’ll overlook its tardiness.
Grace’s visit has been wonderful so far, and she’ll be here for another week; even when we aren’t actually doing anything together (such as on Christmas night, when she was watching some kind of show on her computer while I wrote and prepared turkey stock) it’s a comfort just to have her nearby. And because of that, I’ve decided this visiting-only-twice-a-year thing isn’t good enough any more; I’ve already started taking steps to ensure we’ll be able to see each other much more often. Over the past year, I’ve come to understand much more fully what I already knew: that of all the ways I can spend my time, enjoying the company of people I love is the most satisfying and has the most beneficial effect on my emotional health. And that means I’m going to invest a lot more effort in doing it more often, starting today; we’re doing a very small party for Grace tonight, and we have two more get-togethers planned before she leaves a week from tomorrow. And if the gods are willing, next year will see a lot more of the same.
This last week before Grace arrives has been pretty busy. Besides work, trying to get as ahead as possible on my writing, holiday prep and activism (including Saturday’s December 17th vigil and an interview for Nightline about the TRB shutdown), I’m working on the final pre-composition stages for The Forms of Things Unknown. Once Chester Brown gets me the cover art I’ll need to have it colored, then compile the virtual book in CreateSpace software before proofreading it completely and then having a proof sent out. I’ve also had a number of beauty appointments lately, such as my most recent trip to the stylist; she talked me into letting her blow my hair out, and I liked it so much (you can see why in the picture) that I think I’ll let her do it every time I go. It’ll be interesting to have relatively-straight hair for two days every eight weeks! I’m also preparing for my January tour, for which I’ll leave only a week after Grace goes back to the ranch; if you’re interested in seeing me in one of the cities I’ll be visiting, you need to let me know ASAP. To encourage you, I’ll give you a special rate (see that link for details). And on top of everything else, I made some hard but necessary decisions last week which I’d rather not discuss just yet, but which I’ll be telling you about later (probably in the spring or early summer, as plans mature). Anyway, Grace arrives tomorrow and I’m more than ready for some celebrating and relaxing, though I will still be taking appointments throughout the holidays because bills don’t take days off. And if you’d like to send me a gift as Skye did (thank you for the Scary Stories Treasury!) you can either consult my Amazon wishlist or just donate via PayPal toward my beauty fund. ‘Cause I ain’t gettin’ younger, y’all, and all this pulchritude takes maintenance!
Grace will be arriving for her Christmas visit a week from tomorrow, and I’m so excited! We’ve got a number of fun activities planned, including a small holiday party (she doesn’t really like big groups) and a Christmas feast. But the best part for me will be just getting to see her. As most of y’all know, my life has changed so dramatically over the past three years that I barely even recognize it any more; it’s hard to believe that it was ever as stable and predictable as my memory tells me it was. In some ways it’s better now, and in some ways worse; some aspects of my life now are so full of beauty and sweetness that they are worth all the pain and bitterness which accompanied them, yet at the same time there were aspects of beauty and sweetness in my former life which are now gone forever, never to return. But of all the things I’ve lost, there is none I feel so keenly as the loss of having Grace nearby all the time. Oh, we still text every day, and talk on the phone several times a week, and visit in person at least twice a year, but it’s not the same and never can be because I’m not the same. Change happens; seasons come and seasons go. And though it’s impossible to revisit a season once it has given way to the next, it is possible to sit with dear friends and reminisce, and to open our old books to gently touch the pressed flowers from which the perfume has long since faded.