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Posts Tagged ‘Presents’

The Magic of Gifts

I’ve written before about how nice it is to receive gifts from readers and friends, and how much it means to me that I touch the lives of people so much (even when I haven’t met them in person) that they want to bring a smile to my face and/or make my life easier and more pleasant.  The gifts take all forms; sometimes people help me with things I need, such as my friend Winnie doing my nails this week or Chekhov buying all the lumber for my various building projects (not to mention an extra guest cottage!)  Other times, readers send me things from my Amazon wishlist, such as a Sonos speaker system for Sunset I got from Derek Ashworth last week; I appreciate all such gifts, and even have some very inexpensive ones on there for those on a limited budget.  And sometimes, readers send me nice things that they just thought I’d like, such as this six-months-early birthday present from a reader (who prefers discretion around his name) who was concerned he might not have the cash on hand by autumn.  But whether the gifts are practical or aesthetic, expensive or inexpensive, requested or spontaneous, I appreciate them all, and that’s why it’s so important to me to acknowledge each and every one so the senders – and everyone else – knows that.

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By the time you read this I’ll be in Orlando, Florida visiting with Alex Andrews of SWOP Behind Bars; there are some things she is much better at than I am, and she kindly offered to help me with them so I wouldn’t either procrastinate in the forlorn hope that they go away, or else have an anxiety attack when I force myself to do them anyhow.  Of course, travel itself gives me anxiety, and modern airline travel even more so; though I finally broke down and got TSA Precheck, the airlines themselves have discovered so many ways to make the experience awful that the Precheck is at best a harm reduction strategy.  I mean, take Tuesday for example; overfull airplanes stress me out, but airlines also have a tendency to cancel flights that aren’t very close to full, so I spent three days dealing with low-level anxiety over that because I managed to find a flight that had a wonderfully large number of empty seats.  And since Seattle was unusually sunny last week, my pineal gland was screaming that IT ISN’T SPRING YET DAMMIT SO WHY IS EVERYTHING SO BRIGHT AND NOISY?  As it turned out, the travel itself was relatively uneventful, and I got to celebrate Mardi Gras on Tuesday with one of my favorite gents before going on to Florida, where I hope to relax and drink too much in addition to getting done with the stuff I came to do.  And though I was a bit on edge over the weekend, I also got to see a new musical with Lorelei and go to Lady Vi’s “house cooling” on Saturday, plus I’ve sent the necessary materials to Shannon Reeves so she can start on the cover for The Essential Maggie McNeill, Volume II.   Geek Downrange send me a router from my Amazon wishlist (thank you!), and I got the very good news that the young man who’s going to help us wth the floor-repair project went under the house and discovered that the problem is actually less severe than we had initially believed.  It looks like they’re going to start working on it this week, in fact, and I’ll be going out there a week from today (maybe even as early as Wednesday) to help.  So all in all, it has been quite a good week despite my brain carrying on as though there really were something to carry on about.

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It’s kinda nice when I can keep things moving along for a change.  We’ve got the trim for the bookcases; I’m waiting for the proof of The Essential Maggie McNeill, Volume I; I’ve made my travel arrangements for this weekend; and I’m starting to figure out my schedule for February (about which I’ll say more later).  And in addition to all that I managed to read a novel and listen to a rather strange but very entertaining radio serial from 1972 named The Fourth Tower of Inverness, which Chekhov gave me for Christmas (he also gave me the sequel, Moon Over Morocco).  Normally it would be difficult for me to sit and listen to such a long series, but I’ve driven to or from Sunset five times since receiving it, and the car has a CD player, so ta-da!  If you’ve ever heard the series you’ll understand when I tell you I kinda wish I had listened to at least some of it stoned, but I’ll have a chance with the sequel (which I’m told is not dissimilar).  Learning to relax and let go of stuff that stresses me out has been a long, slow, laborious process, but I’m getting there, and it’s lovely when people give me gifts that help.

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I drove back from Sunset last Thursday to find a couple of gifts waiting for me; one was a book named A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder, sent to me by Jeremy Dunn.  I had a rather quiet weekend (except for going to a special Doctor Who screening on Sunday with Lorelei); aside from writing and getting stoned (because I believe in keeping Christmas going for the full twelve days if at all possible), I did a bit of planning for an upcoming overnight with one of my favorite gentlemen, and I finally got the cover art for The Essential Maggie McNeil, Volume I completed!  I originally planned to use a photo, because I wanted a different style of cover for my non-fiction books.  But we just couldn’t get any photos to work, so Shannon Reeves (who did the art for The War on Whores) did a sketch based on one of my photos instead.  I think it came out very well, and as soon as I’m finished examining the proof the book will at long last be ready for sale!  So I should be announcing that soon.  Because, as I mentioned last week, Grace has been in poor health, I decided to run back to Sunset for one night earlier this week so she wouldn’t have to be alone for such a long stretch; while I was there we did two more bookcase units, which completes the main work for that set of shelves.  Chekhov will be back tomorrow, so they’ll start on the finish work and staining, and before much longer I’ll have a real library again!  We want to do a few more sets of shelves for DVDs and CDs, then after that Chekhov is going to put new flooring down (the existing flooring is 90 years old and quite worn), and then Jae will do the rest of the decorating; by spring we’ll finally have the main room finished.  And after 25 years of waiting to have a nice place of my own again, that’s going to feel so wonderful I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to react to it.

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Diary #495

On Monday I drove out to Sunset, and the past few days have been lovely.  I’ve managed not to stress about anything this week, even when I was preparing our small feast (5 of us altogether) on Wednesday.  Oh, I had the usual low-level anxiety which is inevitable when trying to get several dishes prepared at the same time, but beyond that nothing.  Even the drive out on Monday wasn’t bad; I threaded the traffic in Tacoma pretty well, and got here in about 2 hours and 20 minutes.  And Christmas Eve…well, look at the picture and judge for youself.  And I’ve got almost another week here!  Sometime in the next few days I’m going to try to listen to the latest episode of the Trek Profiles podcast, featuring me; since most of the podcasts I do focus on heavy topics like human rights and police violence, it was rather nice just to talk about Star Trek for once.  If you’re a fan, give it a listen!

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Yuletide 2019

Every year on this day, the traditional beginning of the Yuletide season in the US, I remind my readers that the real spirit of the season involves giving to others rather than literally fighting to get more for yourself.  Children and whores are St. Nick’s two favorite groups of people; you can help the latter by donating to a sex worker charity such as SWOP Behind Bars, or you can help BOTH by booking a session with a sex worker you know has kids. If you don’t know any, you can help by participating in my annual Toys for Tots special, which for a small expenditure will allow you extra time with me while bringing a little bit of joy to needy children.  From now until Thurday, December 12th, book a session with me and bring up to six new, unwrapped toys with you, and I’ll add ten minutes per toy to your time!  If you prefer, bring an extra $100 and I’ll extend your time by half an hour (then use the hundred to buy toys). Please let me know when booking you want to take advantage of the special, so I can allow for the time in my schedule.  If you don’t want a full date but would like to meet me, for $100 and three toys (or $150 cash) I will have an hour-long coffee meeting with you anywhere in the Seattle area.  If you don’t live near me, please consider simply donating to my toy drive via PayPal (to maggiemcneill@earthlink.net) or Cash app (to $MaggieMcNeill) anyway; make sure you note what part of your donation is for toys and what part for me (it’s perfectly OK to tell me to spend it all on toys; I don’t mind).  And if you want to take advantage of the special but don’t have time to actually see me by the 12th, that’s OK too; you can prepay and schedule the appointment for later.  I want to make this as easy as possible for you, so together we can bring joy to needy children who might otherwise have nothing on Christmas morning.

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Diary #491

Unlike last week, which only seemed quiet, this week was genuinely quiet.  And you know what?  It was hard to be upset about that, and I didn’t really try.  Some writing, a couple of nice sessions with regulars, getting my hair and nails done, doing a fun podcast that I’ll tell you about when it drops, planning Thanksgiving, doing a little shopping and hiring someone to help me finish a long-delayed project; that about sums up the productive portions of the week.  Otherwise, I actually managed to do some light reading (!!!) and have made some new additions to my wishlist (if you’re considering getting me a Christmas present), and I did a bit of philosophizing while stoned that might make it into a future story or philosophy column.  Tomorrow I’ll be driving out to Sunset in the evening, and then the feast on Thursday and tree-trimming on Friday; with any luck, I won’t have anything more exciting than that to tell you about in next week’s diary.  Except for reminding you of my toy drive, which is always exciting.

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Diary #489

Early last week I received a number of birthday presents that were apparently just a little slow in transit; among them were a CD transcription of an old vinyl album featuring a Boris Karloff interview about the Universal horror classics (given to me by Jeremy Dunn) and this Lovecraft-themed cookbook from Bad Luck.  I’m always especially happy when readers send me the weirder things from my wishlist; I know most people prefer to go for the sexy or useful things, but I was a Halloween baby and, as regular readers know, it shows in my writing and my love for horror stories and movies.  So when people send me the weird stuff it’s like they’re saying, “You’re a beautiful woman, but you’re also a weirdo and I respect that.”  I guess you could say it makes me feel seen and accepted.  I’ve never been good at putting on a persona in sex work; I’ve always just been me, nerdiness and all.  And the fact that this has never impaired my ability to make a good living just goes to show once again that clients are nothing like the two-dimensional caricatures prohibitionists seem to enjoy fantasizing about.

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Diary #488

What a lovely birthday week I had!  My friends and readers showered me with gifts; Grace got me this deluxe heated cushion for my writing chair (which is like a little slice of heaven); it also has a vibrate function!  Jae unveiled the curtain project she’s been working on, which included my old sheer bedcurtains from New Orleans; I was too sentimental to let go of them, so she cleverly incorporated them into my new home.  Daedalus gave me this multi-disc set of Beatles rarities, and another of my gents sent me a case of my favorite tea AND a lovely sweater dress!  One of my readers sent me a silver coin with an interesting design, and the ladies who use my incall got me boxes and boxes of supplies.  On Tuesday I met Grace, Chekhov and Jae in Olympia for dinner, then on Wednesday night I had just a small all-whore party (which, as anyone in the know can tell you, are the best parties).  Then on my birthday itself I had a little Doctor Who night with Lorelei.  I also hear that of her gentlemen is sending me something as well, which is pretty damned sweet of him!  And I’ll show it to you (with the sweater dress) next week!

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I was recently talking to Paul Johnson, director & producer of my documentary The War on Whores, about our next plans for disseminating the movie; one important part of those plans is getting onto platforms like iTunes and Google Play.  Unfortunately, unlike Vimeo and Amazon, the only way to get onto those sites is to be placed there by middlemen called “video aggregators”, who naturally charge for the privilege.  I don’t quite have enough left from the fundraiser to do it, so I asked Paul to explain what we need.

Thanks to your generous support to help market The War on Whores!  This has been nothing short of a great success so far:  we have held screenings from to coast to coast in the U.S., in Canada, Austria and Thailand and more to come.  Video downloads have been purchased by viewers in 19 countries so far,  and this is all thanks to YOUR help.

We have one more ask from you:  we are working to get the film on two new distribution platforms to broaden this movement even further.  We are now trying to raise $1800 to cover the cost of a video aggregator making the film available on itunes and Google Play.  This will allow a whole new universe of viewers to see the film and understand more about the critical fight for decriminalizing Sex Work among consenting adults.

Thanks for your any help you can give to this important project!

Don’t forget the gifts I offered are all still good!  And if you donated already but didn’t receive your gifts, please let me know; my summertime anxiety may have addled my brain enough to overlook you!  Here’s a reminder of them:

$30 or more – Donor
Permanent inclusion in blog-supporter deals (free stories, etc).

$60 or more – Friend
Autographed DVD of The War on Whores

$125 or more – Sponsor
Autographed copies both of my books, plus The War on Whores DVD.

$250 or more – Patron
When I’m in your city, I’ll have coffee with you and hand-deliver the Sponsor-level gifts!

$500 or more – Angel
When I’m in your city, I’ll have a leisurely dinner with you and hand-deliver all the Patron-level gifts!

$1000 or more – Producer
I will make a special trip to the city of your choice and give a full screening of the movie, with Q&A session, to the group of your choice!  If you have no special group, I’ll give you the Angel package without your having to wait until I reach your city!

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