Songs by the likes of Bob Seger and The Eagles, songs about life on the road as a rock star, for the first time rang true for me when I heard them this week. Long hours driving, boredom on the road, a different hotel every night, eating a lot of greasy drive in food, spending so much time setting up and taking down equipment compared to how much time is actually spent on stage, forgetting what state you’re in… the month of October has been like being a rock star but with sex. But anyway I’ve always contended rock n’ roll and sexuality are cut from the same clothe, that rock n’ roll is sexuality embodied in song, sex set to music, if you will, so the similarities really struck me.
I’ve learned, I’m not necessarily cut out for being “on tour”. Here’s a recap of the month of October, the highs and lows.
My travel route
October 1: I spoke at Delaware County Community College about Female Genital Mutilation. Very intense topic.
October 2-4: “Normal” busy, which means getting ready for all my workshops, packing, and getting Feminique ready to be renovated in my absence, which means cleaning and packing in boxes the whole damn shop top to bottom until it’s empty. SO. MUCH. WORK.
My store is naked!
October 5: 5 hours of flying to LAX, and then 5 hours of driving to Yosemite National Park. Ryan Tyler came for the first few days of my business trip, trying to salvage the vacation trip we had to bail on this summer because I was dissertating.
When my plane landed and I turned my phone back on, this picture was waiting for me in a text. Demolition was already half done.
October 6-7: Hiked Yosemite, hugged some big ass trees.
October 8: Drove from Yosemite back to LA and checked into the hotel. If you’re counting, that’s 2 out of 4 days of my trip thus far spent traveling. I was put up in some sweet digs, and I hung out in the pool that was heated to 82 degrees for an hour while I did a phone interview with a San Diego radio station about my workshop at San Diego State University the next morning. 82 degree pool water is to die for. The organization that sponsored my trip had some killer PR. We went to bed at 9pm because we were so exhausted from 4 days of hiking and driving, driving, and hiking.
October 9: I woke up at 4 something in the morning to get “TV ready”, because the PR woman, who I’ll blog name Nancy, got me booked on Good Morning San Diego, my first LIVE television gig. I’ve done TV, and I’ve done live radio, but never live TV, which is a whole different ball game. I got to chat about my Safer and Sexy workshop that I was presenting at San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara that week, and why I think safe sex should include conversations about pleasure. It went *mostly* well, except for the first 15 seconds in which I didn’t know they were filming and I look, well, not TV ready. But once I knew I was live, I think I pretty much rocked it because I’m quick on my feet and a natural in front of cameras.
Me: is there anything I can’t say?
News anchor: like what?
Me: like can I say that masturbation is safe sex?
News anchor: umm…
News anchor: or dry humping?
News anchor: I think we should probably stick with talking about your Safer and Sexy workshop and how to make safer sex methods sexy.
Me: But that is what is in my workshop, and that’s a really good way to make safer sex fun.
News anchor: I just don’t want to lose my job.
Me: I’m just saying your brought me on to talk about safe sex methods, and I mean those ARE safe sex methods…
Nancy: She’ll have no problem avoiding those topics!
I did avoid those topics, but interesting enough they were going to let me bring Margeux on air, but I chose not to because without being able to talk about pleasure I would have no catalyst to introduce her into the conversation, and so I would just be sitting there on live TV with a vulva puppet in my lap.
It was a 4 hour drive from my hotel to the TV studio, then another hour to the college. At 10am it was already driving driving driving. I feel like all I did during my trip to California was sit in traffic. The highlights of speaking at SDSU were 1. talking about sex 2. getting to visit with Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, a sex educator who mentored me in college, and who has been an long distance friend and colleague. I sought her out when I was in college because I saw she was doing independent sex education work and I asked her how I could go about doing the same. Very cool that after 8 years of long distance communication we finally got to work together. Love when things come full circle! 3. Facebook friends who happen to live in San Diego saw my status about being on campus and came out to hear me speak. On campus I did two news paper interviews.
Otherwise, I wasn’t thrilled with the experience and I learned some important lessons about being a traveling sexologist, or sex rock star as I’m growing fond of calling it. 1. INSIST on booking my own hotels and then get reimbursed by the sponsoring organization vs. letting them book it for me. That way I can make sure I’m 20 minutes away from the venue, not 4 hours. Grr. 2. INSIST on renting my own car, and then being reimbursed, and not accept offers to be chauffeured. Because then you’re relying on the schedule and whim of your ride. 1 and 2 together equals 14 hour day that should have been a 3.5-4 hour work day. But on the plus side, the cheauffer, who also happened to be the PR woman Nancy, and I got to know each other VERY well, as you will do when you’re in a car with a stranger for that long, and I quite enjoyed talking to her.
October 10: My friend Amber and her friend flew in to hang out with my in Cali, and the four of us decided to spend the day in LA. Our plans were to go see a taping of The Price is Right, then go to Venice Beach, an then clubbing in Hollywood. Plans didn’t quite go that way. First, The Price is Right was an 8 hour ordeal, as they made us wait in line wait in line wait in line wait in line foorreeevvveeer. And we didn’t even get called to come on down. By the time that was finished it was late afternoon and we were in southern California during their one week of the year it’s chilly so beach was not so great, and traffic and parking in Hollywood was so horrendous we just bailed on clubbing. More traffic. More waiting :(
October 11: Another work day, this time at UC Santa Barbara. Again, the workshops themselves were a really great experience (talking about sex rocks!), I got another radio and newspaper interview, and I got to meet facebook friends and chat with my new friend/cheaffuer/PR woman but the hotel/car/traffic logistics made for another 14 hour day, which is utterly exhausting.
October 12: Ryan flew home while the girls and I checked out of our fancy hotel that was paid for by the sponsors of my workshops, and checked into a dirty, gross, and scary motel that we paid for for our trip. Fun! But we were so tired, not to mention annoyed, by all hours spent in traffic that we scraped the rest of our plans and decided to not leave our hotel pool the entire day, which included for food, which prompted the world’s worst pizza delivery experience ever.
October 13: Time to go home, and with hotel check outs, shuttle buses, and airports, it took the entire day. Another day of nothing but traffic and travel and waiting. YAY! Also my anxiety was through the roof because I am petrified of flying and I was flying alone for the first time. My fears of travel are many, which makes being a sex rock star even tougher because life on road has to be literally on the road for anything less than a 15 hour drive because I have a panic attacks in the air and it’s not worth it unless it would take a full day to drive, like California. One of the sources of my anxiety is getting pulled out of the security line for a pat down of any kind. Because I’m going to refuse on the grounds that it’s sexual assault and then I’ll cause a scene about my bodily and 4th amendment rights and then I won’t be allowed to board the plane, best case scenario, or I’ll be arrested, worst case scenario. Either way it would be bad, and my trip would be ruined. Every vacation Ryan and I hold out breaths to see if our vacation will be spent in the slammer, and he’s always the one that gets groped.
This day, traveling alone, security flags my bag for an inspection. I have a moment of panic, but then just start laughing.
Me: You’re about to be entertained greatly.
TSA: Why’s that?
Me: Because there are about 20 vibrators and stuffed vagina in that bag.
Of course they flag the bag with my Safer and Sexy teaching supplies, including 20 penis molds, hundreds of condoms, and Margeaux. After he finished searching the bag:
TSA: You’re funny
Me: I know.
They wouldn’t let me take a picture, but i snuck some video footage which I’ll include in a future episode of my show. Got home after midnight.
October 14: After sleeping, albeit briefly, in my own bed for a night, it was up early and off to Arlington, Virginia for a workshop called The Politics of Sexual Oppression. I love politics, and I love sex, and I love talking about oppression and privilege, so it’s always fun for me. It’s a very provocative workshop and always garners great discussion, as it did on this day. The discussion, however, got a little heated at one point. It was a community audience of about 40 people of all different ages and we were discussing whether violent rape porn serves as an outlet for rapists, and thus decreases actual rapes, or serves to embolden and give ideas to rapists, and thus increases actual rapes. Two different audience members disagreed with each other, and one got angry and started cursing the other one out. It was upsetting to watch for many reasons, partially because I don’t know what my role should have been in that situation. Do I jump in? Do I intervene? What do I say? So awkward… but otherwise a super cool audience offering super amazing dialogue.
October 15: I had planned for this day to be post renovation clean up. I budgeted to be closed to shoppers one day past when construction would be finished for cleaning and reorganizing. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA silly Jilly. Apparently everyone but me knew that renovation NEVER finishes on time or on budget, and post reno clean up takes 5x as long. Awesome. I also visited my grandfather, who I call Popcorn, in the hospital because he had a stroke while I wan in California.
That night I did a cool in-home party on sex positions. If you’re counting, my count is up to 5 paid speaking engagements so far in October, traveling through 5 states to do so. West Chester is a small town and there are so many people I’ve seen a million times but don’t know. This party was cool because I finally got to formally meet and talk to a bunch of those people, and also realized that we had so many friends in common, who came to the party later, and it’s small West Chester world’s collide. It’s reminds me that although I have my issues with WC, it is my home and I’ve made a life here. The participants and a ton of fun and were super receptive to what I taught, and they invited me to stay after, which is ALWAYS fun. So we ate pie and drank wine and chatted feminism and I asked them their opinions on a personal thing I’m going through that I haven’t blogged about yet but will soon. I have the coolest job!
October 16: This was supposed to be the Feminique grand reopening day, but it still looked like this on October 16, so clearly that twas not to be. So instead my mother and I went shopping for Feminique supplies including new picture frames, new satin table clothes, etc.
October 17: I wrote my sex column which was several days past deadline, about the worst political statements made about sex in 2012. There were so many it was hard to narrow it down to 500 words! Then I went to do an in-home party for a sorority, the topic being sex toys. Hostesses always estimate an expected number of guests, and I always divide that in half because you know people are, they RSVP and then life happens. Well she was actually spot on- 59 attendees! WOW! What a party! There were so many people I actually did two back to back parties with 30 in each group, which was still packed. I was tired after my double feature, and I could barely talk.
I came home late and was delighted to see my shop suddenly looked like this. My staff, interns, boyfriend, friends, and even a person who I’ve never met in real life but saw my facebook post about how much cleaning the shop needed, came by with cleaning supplies while I was gone and did all his for me. People make my heart warm :)
I packed my clothes and supplies for the Fellatio 101 workshop in Alabama and went to bed at 3am.
October 18: After less than 2 hours of sleep, I was awake and on the road again, picking up my friend June on a journey to Huntsville, Alabama. We drove through PA, Delaware, Maryland, DC, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. It took 18 hours thanks to a 2+ hour traffic jam in Virginia.
Crossing the state line into Alabama was an interesting experience. First, we couldn’t get a good picture and June and I were freaking out thinking we were going to get kidnapped on the dark highway.
We finally got to our hotel, which was also dumpy. We switched rooms after we found a pubic hair on a wash clothe (I took a picture for evidence- I’ll spare you) and we accidentally broke the lock off the door, which was not a super good sign for safety. Finally we hit the sack.
October 19: My party was not until 7pm, so I decided to make October 19 a day of rest and relaxation, something I clearly had not experienced in quite some time. So I woke up when my body told me to, June and I watched some TV (I don’t have a TV at home so this was an extra treat!) and leisurely got showered and dressed. We finally made it out the door at 12:30 in the afternoon for lunch.
I started thinking- what am I doing with my life. I LOVE being a sexologist, but I’m not sure it’s healthy to find it a rare treat to be able to watch 30 minutes of television and take an hour to get ready and enjoy a lunch with a friend. Those types of behaviors should be fairly commonplace for one’s psychological health and wellbeing, and I started thinking life on the road is not for me. Yes, a business trip here and there, but being away from home for 2+ weeks, living out of a suitcase, having my entire day regimented minute by minute, sitting in traffic, not having sex because I’m either on the other side of country from my partner or too tired to because of traveling- that level of travel needs to be scaled way back in my life.
But I did enjoy that taste of actual living. After a tightly scheduled trip to California, my plan was to have no plan. We just started driving and just let the wind take us. We first found a delicious lunch place were I had brie and lobster omlet and mimosas. Then we found this MASSIVELY huge craft store which we spent 2.5 hours shopping in. Of course, I found myself working some more, and bought a ton of stuff for Feminique’s post renovation, including tons of shadow boxes for the museums displays I’m adding (that’s a future blog coming soon). After two overflowing shopping carts and $320 later, we decided to head back to the hotel. Everything in Huntsville, AL is closed after 6 we heard, so we bought microwave dinner and cheap wine at the market to eat later at the hotel.
I went off to my party, which was at a super fancy hotel. I had no idea what to expect. Turns out the women were all Ob/Gyn doctors, so we had some great conversations. I taught my blowjob class, we danced a little, then I headed back. My friend and I drank our cheap wine and ate our cheap microwave dinner, but realized we had no utencils. Our hotel didn’t either. So… we used a bathroom cup as a spoon. Eating mac and cheese out of a cup in Alabama. This is my life.
October 20: Another day of doing nothing. Holy cow! We slept in again, had delicious lunch again, went shopping again, then went to a wine tasting. A woman there told us of this little known restaurant where her son is the chef. We checked it out and WTF!!!! Out of this world delicious, insanely beautiful décor in the restaurant, and because we told them we came at the recommendation of the chef’s mom, he came out to meet us and brought us free food. Huntsville, look at you having swanky dining!
Before heading back home, we learned from the waitress about a sex shop a block from our hotel. Turns out I’ve heard of this place before on the news because they have a drive through. A sex toy drive through. Hmmm. I didn’t care about that novelty piece; I was more interested in checking the place out to talk to them about how they are able to stay in business when Alabama has a law against sex toys. Yes, you read that right.
In the state of Alabama the fine for selling a sex toy to an adult is $10,000 and up to one year in prison for the first “offense.” And this is not some archaic law that still sits on the books, it was enacted in 2009! I was actually worried driving around with a license plate that says SEX DOC and a box full of sex toys in the trunk. But I figured there had to be a loophole if this store was able to operate, not so discreetly and making national news with their drive through. Turns out, they are able to sell sex toys if they have customers sign a form, checking off private conditions that may cause them to need a vibrator for medical reasons, such as depression or erectile dysfunction. I find this outrageous, to place such intimate information in the hands of a retail clerk and the government. Ugh.
October 21: Up early and drove back home to PA.
October 22: Spent all day continuing to clean up Feminique from the renovations, building new shelves for the new products and tracking down the artifacts for the new sexuality museum displays. That night, I did an in-home Orgasm 101 party for a group of regulars.
October 23: clean clean clean, museum museum museum, trying to get the shop 100% back in order in time for National Orgasm Day in November.
October 24: I don’t remember much of what I did that day. I was bona fide delirious at this point. Visited Popcorn in the hospital.
October 25: Drove to Boston and unlike my trips to California and Alabama, I went alone. In thinking about my trip to Boston, I kept saying the word “Boston” with a Boston accent in my head the entire time. It didn’t help when the clerk at the hotel asked me, “what brings you to these pahts? Oh, speaking at Hahvahd?” It entertained me greatly.
Speaking at Harvard, I didn’t know what to expect. For one, I didn’t want to fuck it up because it had been a big time career bucket list item for me to speak at Harvard. I did a combo “The Female Orgasm” and “All Things Penis” workshop. The event was packed and very well received and the genital confession activity was so moving, especially with so many men in the room. There was also a few newspaper reports on the event. The students invited me to a local college bar with them after. Super cool!
Margaux and I in Harvard Yard. Also known as Hahvahd Yahd. hahah love the accent! More pics from the actual speaking event will be added once I get them!
October 26: Drove home from Boston.
October 27: Working Feminique, and more cleaning and museum artifact collecting. In the evening I did a Kama Sutra Positions 101 in-home party with another group of regulars.
October 28: More renovation project stuff, and hurricane Sandy preparing stuff. At night I actually did nothing except stay inside and cuddle while a hurricane was swirling by outside. It was pretty relaxing, finally!
October 29: See October 28. I had a workshop scheduled about rape culture and victim blaming, but clearly it was postponed due to the hurricane. Feminique had a leaking roof, but it thankfully didn’t ruin by brand new floor!
October 30-31: Normal relaxing 8 hour work days.
In conclusion, I’ve been insane. In one month I was in 13 states, staying in 5 different hotels, providing 6 media interviews and 14 paid speaking engagements presented to over 500 people, while my home base was being completely gutted and my grandfather in ill. October included driving. Driving. And more driving. Traffic. News. Traffic. News. Driving. Talking about sex. Driving. Talking about sex. News. Hurricane. Renovation. Driving. Renovation. Sick family member. Driving. Talking about sex. And one very patient and accommodating boyfriend who put up with me through it all. I’ve heard that being a rock star and life on the road is not nearly as glamorous as it looks. Same for sex rock stardom. But at the end of the day, I get to talk about sex for a living, and so I can’t complain. Life is good. Tiring, but good.