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.
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I have some good news for those of you who’ve been waiting patiently for me to come to your city, at least if you live on the West Coast: I will be driving down the coast in advance of my giving the keynote address for the Freedom Rising 2017 Convention for Outright, a libertarian group for gender & sexual minorities (including sex workers). That’s on January 21st in Phoenix, Arizona, so my tentative travel schedule is this:
||San Francisco, CA
||Los Angeles, CA
||Las Vegas, NV
||Twin Falls, ID
||Return to Seattle
Those dates are not set in stone; for example, if I get a lot of bookings for Los Angeles but few for Las Vegas, I could stay an extra day in LA. The sooner I know, the better, so here’s your chance to get a great deal on time with me: until Saturday January 7th, I will give DOUBLE your time if you book and pay in advance. Two hours for the price of one, three for the price of 90 minutes or four for the price of two; it’s a steal! The reason I do this (it’s my traditional pre-tour deal) is that I like to know my schedule in advance and I like to have my expenses covered, so the discount is my way of thanking gentlemen (or ladies, or couples) who help me with that. Please note: on the first day in a city I’ll be driving there from the previous city, and I’m not an early riser. So evening appointments only that day! I can take afternoon appointments on the second day in a given city. I’m going to be very busy in Phoenix, so I may not be able to take more than one or two appointments there; if you’re interested, you should probably contact me ASAP. Finally, I may (though I can’t promise) have some copies of my new book for sale; we’ll know once we get closer!
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On Friday I flew out to Oklahoma to speak at the #OKAnarchy2016 conference at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and if you’d like to see what was going on there you can look at that hashtag on Twitter. My talk on “The War on Whores is the New War on Drugs” seemed well-received, and my friend Angela Keaton kicked ass with her concluding talk on the problems with many “-isms”, especially “feminism” that serves the carceral state. I got to meet some new allies in a group fighting for the rights of sexual minorities, and though the drinks in Oklahoma are far too watered-down to be effective I certainly gave it the old college try. On Sunday Grace picked me up, and I spent a night at my ranch before she took me to Dallas yesterday afternoon so I could fly home. Unfortunately, my new drug regimen failed me for the first time; the ride proved too rough for the meds to control, and I got very ill. But fortunately, the diazepam kept from from having a panic attack when the sickness set in, and the ondansetron at least helped me from the attack much more quickly than I usually would. I was also invited to speak at an event n Phoenix in January, and I’ve decided to drive down so I can tour along the way; watch this space for details!
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Posted in Diary, tagged activism, anecdote, blogging on October 18, 2016|
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Though last week was full of the little chores which are necessary to real life, it was also full of the kind of weather which tends to raise my spirits. Plus I had a multi-hour outcall with a very nice gentleman whom I hope will become a regular, and I restarted one of my old ads and started up a new one. But I suppose the most interesting event of the week from your point of view (besides the taking of this selfie) was that on Saturday night, Christina Slater and I went to dinner with Desmond Ravenstone, a lifelong advocate for the rights of sexual minorities who has joined the fight for decriminalization and recently helped found Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change (COSWAC). I’m impressed by both his energy and the knowledge and experience he brings to the table; if we can keep attracting individual allies of his caliber and pulling groups like Lambda Legal and the ACLU into our coalition, I think decriminalization in the US can be achieved a lot sooner than many people imagine. And it’s about goddamned time, considering that there’s never been a valid legal rationale for criminalizing it in the first place.
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You’ve mentioned several times that you’ve never really “amateur dated”, but you’ve also said you were promiscuous before becoming a pro. Those seem to contradict each other; could you explain?)
By the standards of the 1970s, my mother was quite overprotective; her level of caution would be considered fairly low in these days of bubble-wrapping and helicopter parenting, but 40 years ago she was definitely on the strict side. Like modern parents, she “seemed bound and determined to control my natural free-spiritedness and to delay my sexual maturation for as long as possible“, and part of that was “she did not allow me to date until I was 16, and even then only in groups to chaperoned events.” Of course, that backfired (as authoritarian prohibitions generally do); all it did was to stop me from dating, but not to stop me from having sex (especially since nobody bothered to chaperon me when I was alone with other girls). It did, however, mean that I never developed the weird habit of going places with guys I barely knew and then letting them grope me. By the time I was out from under my mother’s roof I had already had my heart broken once and wasn’t exactly eager to experience it again; I had a few long-term arrangements with women, including my second heartbreak and my first sugar mama, but until Jack started pursuing me my relationships with guys were largely pragmatic rather than based on mutual attraction. After he left me I didn’t want to be with anybody for a long time, and by the time that feeling faded I was already a pro and had no interest in giving away that which I could sell. So even though I had sex with a lot of strange men in my teens, they were all guys I met via my social group and my motive was profit or some other practical thing rather than auditioning partners; the majority of girls who hit on me were already partnered with men and were only interested in experimentation (except for that second heartbreak, about which the less said, the better). Therefore, even though it wouldn’t be accurate to say I’ve never been on an uncompensated date, the idea of making a regular practice of going out with strangers of either gender and giving them sex for free, and of wanting to do that badly enough that I actually take the time & trouble to create an ad on a website and somehow work out how to decide which messages are even worth answering (again, without profit in mind), is so alien to me that it’s like an outlandish custom practiced by some exotic culture I read about in National Geographic.
(Have a question of your own? Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)
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Last week was much quieter than usual; it was as though everyone was sort of stunned into silence by the end of the Dog Days, and just decided to lay low. So I used the time to catch up on my writing (I’m back to five days ahead) and finally finish decorating my apartment. Jae did most of it for me last year, but there was still one wall of the bedroom unfinished when she left on her ill-starred motorcycle trip, and obviously she’s had bigger things on her mind since then. So I decided to just follow her pattern and finish it; she looked it over and declared my job “adequate”, but that’s a lot better than it was before. Also, I got to hang a picture of Aphrodite that Sol and Abby gave me for my birthday last year, and a large print of an artwork named “A Garden for Darwin’s Daughter” that I bought from Abby when she moved a few months ago. The place still needs a few little touches, but for the most part it’s done and I’m rather pleased with myself. I’m also rather pleased at the rush of traffic I got when Dan Savage quoted me in this week’s “Savage Love” column, but actually neither of those is the reason I look so…relaxed? in this picture; that, dear readers, is what I look like a few hours after the peak of an endorphin high, and y’all will simply have to figure out for yourselves what got me there. Yes, I’m teasing you again; it really is awful of me, I know.
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Last Tuesday I alluded again to the howling things shut up in boxes under my mental stairs; what I didn’t tell you (though you may have guessed) is that they tend to be a lot more restless when I’m asleep, and every so often one of them actually gets loose and it’s all the knights of the Sacred Order of Sanity Defense can do to get it jammed back into its crate by morning. And that, dear readers, is why I do not sleep well unless sedated; if there isn’t something (diazepam, diphenhydramine, cannabinoids, etc) keeping me asleep, I tend to wake up after about three hours or so and can’t go back down. I’m not a classic insomniac; I never have any trouble getting to sleep. The problem is staying asleep after the critters start their nightly racket. C’est la vie. But as I’m sure you can imagine, this makes awakening a slow process. The lingering effects of the meds require movement and caffeine to clear away, and my dreams may require processing; I also find that my noisy mind tends to be much quieter first thing in the morning unless I had an actual nightmare, and I really enjoy having that time alone…having my breakfast, reminding myself of whatever I have planned for the day, checking my emails and Twitter. I absolutely won’t see clients before noon, and even noon is a bit of a push; I try to schedule my earliest appointments (work and other kinds) for about 1 PM. No description I could easily pen would truly capture how much I loathe waking up to an emergency, bad news or bullshit; in fact, presenting me with any of those can ruin my whole day, and doing so is thus a very effective way to get on my shit list.
On the other hand, discovering nice things in my mailbox (electronic or physical) has the opposite effect; reminders that I’m loved and admired help to dispel any gloom my nocturnal intruders have left behind, and put me in a good mood that can last all day. So I really like it when friends from time zones east of mine (i.e. most of them) send me lovely messages, or guys start their work day by sending appointment requests for me to find a couple of hours later. And one of the loveliest things I like seeing while my tea is brewing is an email (or multiple emails) from PayPal letting me know that a payment has come in from one of my subscribers. There’s something very comforting and flattering about getting those regular emails month after month; they say to me in no uncertain terms, this person admires you and cares about your work. So if you can spare a bit of change every day, would you consider subscribing to this blog? As you can see in the right-hand column there, you can sign up for as little as 10¢ a day, and it really does mean a lot to me. You might think that I need it less now that I’ve returned to work full-time, but that isn’t true; the support Matt sends me, though very generous, is a good bit less than the roughly half of his paycheck which was at my disposal when we were married, plus I have a lot more financial obligations than I did when I first posted those subscription buttons. And that’s not even counting the extra expenses from living in Seattle (not one of America’s more economical cities, I’m afraid). So yes, I really do value those small but very regular payments, not just because they help pay my bills and remind me that people put a high value on my writing, but also for the reasons I’ve described today. And if that’s something you’d like to do for me, I’ll be very, very grateful.
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