My birthday was this week, and what I wanted for my birthday was for my sex-positive variety show + afterparty to go well. That meant a night the audience would enjoy and remember and, for me, high enough ticket sales so I could finally fix my sex ed mobile and get back out on the road to teach sex workshops and attend conferences.
The show was incredible (seriously, the performers were amazing) and I kicked ass at my standup comedy debut, but we fell short of our ticket sale goals. We had a Sunday night show the night after the World Naked Bike Ride, there were record high heats, and it was just Pride Weekend – not easy to compete with those things. So, while I am proud of the show and everything it brought to the community, the joy of the event unfortunately didn’t last long for me because of the impact it had on my bank account. It was a major bummer, especially since I was hoping to earn some of the $700 I need for van repairs before I can leave town.
This is going to start sounding like a sob story, if it hasn’t already, but hang with me (it gets more positive eventually).
On my actual birthday, I had one of my worst days in recent memory. It started with me being admitted to the hospital with a very painful autoimmune flare-up, and continued to get comically worse, until it ended with both of my dogs puking all over the house. When it rains it pours, and this time it poured vomit.
I was pretty ready to give up. It felt like rock bottom to me after one of the worst years of my life, in which I got divorced, sold my possessions and moved into an RV to travel the country only to have the RV break down on me, was crashed into by a hit and run driver that left me with medical bills and worsened my chronic pain condition, dealt with multiple mental health crises, and had my heart broken (again).
Pushing myself forward in a career where I was always supposed to be “on” – sexy and funny and charming and self-promoting, didn’t seem feasible any longer. I told myself that as much as I love the work I do, and as important as sex and consent education and patriarchy-smashing is to the world, it was time to either become an off the grid hermit or get a “normal person job” that paid the bills more consistently. Not making enough money each month has meant chronic stress, which certainly doesn’t help pain or mental illness or healing from grief. But when I told my best friends about my fears and plans, they all told me I was full of shit. I mean, they did it in the nicest way possible, but they still refused to believe “hermit” or a 9-5 job were my only options. They begged me to never be normal, and encouraged me to try a few more things before I gave up on my dreams. Most of them agreed I should set up a Patreon, so that’s what I did.
The life of a sex educator can be exciting and hot and rewarding and ridiculous, but it can also be challenging, exhausting, and like I’m always fighting “Imposter Syndrome.” Plus, it can be really financially unpredictable, like when colleges wait two months to send a check for a safer sex workshop, or frustrating when everyone asks for sex and relationship advice and expects it for free.
However, I love my job and am very passionate about my chosen career. I’m good at it, and people tell me frequently how much it means to them that I do this work. So, I really want to be able to keep teaching, writing, interviewing, and podcasting about sex, relationships, love, and intersectional feminism. I also want to start embracing my creativity and getting more in touch with the comedian/writer/storyteller I’ve always been. I know creating and performing, and vulnerably sharing those parts of myself, will help me heal. And I hear that’s something the world needs – more healed people to help heal others.
Whenever things get to the point where I feel hopeless and helpless, I admit, I wallow in it for a day or two (#Cancer). Then I try really hard to get out of my mopey crab shell and rise from the ashes like a glorious Phoenix of Sex Wizardy (because apparently mixing a bunch of half-assed metaphors and witchy imagery is how I get inspired). That’s what this Patreon is for me – an attempt at an self-inspiring rebirth – or at least a healing new chapter.
So, please, won’t you allow yourselves to be inspired too? Join my Patreon, get exclusive access to my intimate stories/projects/comedy/podcasts/ridiculous life + sex ed videos and advice, and feel good because you are making a huge difference in the life of an educator (who can then make a difference in the lives of others).
Episode 14: Flirting – Sex on the Brain brings back two former guests to talk about flirting and modern dating. Ev’Yan Whitney of the Sexually Liberated Woman podcast and Intimacy Educator and Sex Coach Stella Harris join Amory Jane in discussing different flirting styles, pick up lines and so-called “pick up artists,” and how flirting has changed with online dating. They also share their experiences with dating non-monogamously, and offer plenty of flirting advice to listeners and each other.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, I thought I had made a really stupid choice to leave a great position at a great company (where I made a living wage) to follow my passions and become a (mega poor) full-time Sex Educator Extraordinaire. Lately my risks have seemed a little more like they are paying off though. I’m getting booked all over the place, selling out classes and shows, getting thousands of downloads on the podcast, and finally feeling more like a part of the community.
With the depression and anxiety I felt after the election, I almost gave up on my dream. I didn’t have to energy to actually do it, but I thought about looking for a “regular person job.” Then, and I don’t know exactly what happened or how, a couple days ago I broke open and a lot of grief rushed out. Then energy to move forward and kick some ass settled in. It’s like I got a giant slap in the face, but I am not complaining.
Anyway, thank to all of you supportive wonderful people who encouraged me to keep going. I’m not very good at being my own cheerleader, but your combined forces showed so much belief in me that maybe I finally started believing it too.
Now that things are settling down after the end of my tour, moving into a new home, and my hit and run accident, I’m excited to share details about my time at kink camp!
Boundless is a four-day kink retreat located at a beautiful private resort about 2.5 hours north of San Francisco. Boundless 2016 took place September 30-October 3 and I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to attend. My partner, Matias, also joined me there (and it was his first time going to a kink camp as well).
I first heard about Boundless when we received some of their promotional posters/fliers at She Bop. I had missed a few kinky camp out events earlier in the summer when I was traveling the country in my sex ed mobile, so I was glad to see something scheduled for early Fall when I was at the end of my tour. The Boundless website said that the cost was $335 for the full weekend and covered all meals and workshops, which didn’t seem like a bad price. Still, it was out of my budget, especially if my partner and I were both going to attend, so I almost just closed my laptop and moved on… until I noticed something in fine print about offering a scholarship for sex educators.
Good thing I got my eyes lasered to perfection in 2009 and can read the tiny font at the bottom of a website.
I sent an email to the organizer, James, asking him about the scholarship application, and he sent back a friendly response encouraging me to apply. I answered a few questions in essay format (I always nailed the essay portion of my tests in school) and was feeling pretty good about my chances of being accepted. Sure enough, James got back to me a few days later offering me the scholarship, which covered all costs of the retreat, including a camping spot! He even said I was the exact candidate they were hoping would apply. Sweet!
When the time came to head to camp, I made sure to pack everything I thought I would need: a tent and lots of blankets, condoms, lube, edibles, a couple of my favorite sex toys, and lingerie. I also overpacked cute summer camp clothes and underpacked clothes that would keep me warm, which means I ended up spending the majority of the time in one pair of fleece-lined leggings and an extremely unsexy sweater. Next time I will remember that California + “summer camp” does not equal warm and dry. I mean, it was October and we were north of San Francisco, (and I’m always cold), so I should really have known I couldn’t survive only wearing a corset and my Sasha harness. Plenty of other people there managed to be comfortable in their kinkiest costumes, sexiest lingerie, and completely nude though. Maybe handling cold temperatures with a smile is a special skill reserved for masochists, which I very much confirmed I wasn’t over the course of that weekend.
More on that later.
Matias and I spent a good portion of our drive to the retreat discussing our boundaries, desires, and concerns. We both wanted to primarily play with each other but were open to making connections, we wanted to learn/practice new skills, and we wanted to sample kinky things we hadn’t yet had a chance to try. We had been to plenty of play parties, BDSM events, kink nights, munches, and sex workshops during our 2+ years together, but never an overnight camp or a multi-day event that wasn’t a conference. I had also attended sex clubs and swingers parties while in a previous relationship and am part of a femme coven, so I love kinky spaces and feel comfortable with consensual sex happening all around me. Still, a kink retreat would be a new experience and neither of us really knew what to expect.
After a long (but beautiful) Autumn drive through Southern Oregon and Northern California, we found ourselves driving alongside a large freshwater lake called Clear Lake. We knew we were close and speculated what kind of welcoming committee would be at the camp. Would people already be walking around naked or clad in latex and leather? Would we show up presenting as the most vanilla people there? Turns out, we were fairly accurate with our hypotheses. As we pulled in, there were some people hanging out wearing little to no clothing, some people in Boundless crop tops, and one gentleman wearing stilettos that were chained together and a very frilly tutu. We were in hoodies and jeans with beanies on our heads. We looked very much like we were from Oregon. Still, we were greeted with a wave and a smile and the volunteers helped us figure out where to park our car and set up camp.
After putting up our tent, we went into the main lodge for dinner. There were at least 50 other people there, from all walks of life, and most of them were already sitting down to eat. Meatloaf and veggies were on the main menu, along with vegan options and gluten free pasta. The food all weekend was really good, and they always had snacks available. As a person who needs to eat every few hours, it was a relief, and it helped me stay fueled for all of the workshops and sex adventures. While we mostly took in everything around us and kept to ourselves during dinner, we got out of our shells more during the opening address and formal mocktail party. Matias and I volunteered to walk around with drink trays and offer tasty beverages to attendees, which took me back to my days as a cocktail server, except for that instead of serving hipsters at a karaoke dive bar, this time I was serving kinksters in their finest fetish gear. I also helped get a sexy lady into her corset, which I had never done before, and it turns out it is only sort of like lacing up a pair of boots. Definitely more tugging and gasping and overflowing cleavage. It wasn’t an easy task for a first timer, but I have zero complaints.
After the opening address, which included info about the weekend and a talk about consent and dungeon rules, Sinclair Sexsmith presented a fun and interactive icebreaking workshop called Flirting Dirty. We got to practice being turned down and saying no, negotiating boundaries, and asking folks if they wanted to play. I was paired up with the stranger sitting in front of me, who had a completely opposite flirting style, and that was sort of eye opening. He was telling me about how he’ll just say hello and start a nice mild conversation that is not at all sexually charged, and I appreciated his low pressure approach. However, it was in stark contrast to my approach, which is usually more like, “We seem to be checking each other out, which is cool. I really like your nose and I would be down to ride your face if you’re interested.”
That was only the beginning of eye opening things I discovered and/or reaffirmed about myself that weekend.
After the flirting event, Matias and I stayed in the Heart Lodge as they transformed it into the dungeon/play space. Multiple spanking benches, sex swings, St Andrew’s Crosses, rope suspension areas, massage tables, and mattresses for the floor were set out. There were also towels, wet wipes, condoms, gloves, and extra sheets. Hooray for a well-equipped dungeon!
We spent most of that first night hanging back and observing. We snuggled and made out on a floor mat while watching people get whipped, tied up, and fucked. We talked about what turned us on, what didn’t seem like our cup of tea, and what we were curious about trying. We listened to the sounds of a woman riding a Sybian while giving her partner a blowjob, watched some artful Florentine flogging, and took in all of the hedonism that filled the room. Eventually we realized that we were exhausted from the long drive, and went back to our tent to have a quickie and pass out for the night.
I slept on an under-inflated air mattress and woke up in the middle of the night to baby deer prancing around on the tarp right outside of our tent (which was adorable, but kind of scary to hear at first, since we were in the woods also surrounded by bears). Still, even with a bad night of sleep, I woke up on time for breakfast and attended a workshop called “How to Be a Successful Male Submissive.” I found myself nodding my head on most things, disagreeing on a few points here and there, and generally daydreaming of a harem situation where an assortment of submissive men serve me and worship my body whenever I snap my fingers.
That first workshop put enough ideas in my head that I decided to skip the second one to go back to the tent with my boyfriend. After a few orgasms, we fell asleep and accidentally napped through lunch. Fortunately, we woke up with enough time to find leftovers before the next session. That session was the Heart Centered Needle Pull and it seemed to be getting a lot of attention around camp from nervous but curious attendees who wanted to know what it was like to be pierced in the chest and connected to a pulling cord while ecstatic frenzy was being whipped up all around us. The Boundless website describes the Heart Centered Needle Pull like this:
Join a community ritual to open our heart centers and bring us closer together as mindful individuals. Facilitated by Fakir Musafar and Cleo Dubois, variations of this ritual have been used for centuries by Native Americans (the Sun Dance) and other cultures as a way to develop mind/body awareness and connection with others.
The ritual consists of an invocation and invitation for traditional sources of spirit and our own higher selves to join us in creating an ecstatic state. Each participant will be safely pierced in their heart Chakra with two small needles by Fakir or Cleo and attached by a sterilized cord to a common point. Music, chanting and drumming will then propels us to ecstasy. Sound interesting?
If you join this ritual you will be guided every step of the way by experts who have facilitated this ritual for over 30 years in the USA, Canada, England, Portugal, and Italy.
We were “cleansed” with sage as we walked through the doorway into the dungeon, which had been converted again into a new type of space. This time there was a horizontal pole in the center of the room with many cords hanging from it, a very large suspended gong, and tables filled with unopened boxes of sterile gloves and needles. We took off our shoes and found a seat, facing a person who appeared to be in his late sixties (it was Fakir Musafar and it turns out he is 87). Then, after everyone else finished walking through the door, Cleo joined Fakir at the front and they proceeded to tell us about the history of the ritual and what to expect.
Matias was definitely nervous, but I was feeling incredibly calm about the whole thing. Piercing has never bothered nor scared me and I had read enough to know about the possible risks and about the incredible strength of human skin. I was ready.
We stood in line and waited our turn to get pierced. Fakir was using hooks on the more advanced campers and Cleo was piercing those of us who were new to the ritual with 22 gauge needles. With each new participant, she had an assistant help her put on a fresh pair of gloves and she would pinch the skin (above the breasts, below the collarbone) and slide the needles through. On my turn I took a deep breath and looked at Cleo’s face as she pierced me. The first needle went through perfectly but the second one went through a little too easily and poked her finger as it came out of the other side. She immediately started gushing blood, even through the gloves, and I could tell this was something that didn’t usually happen. I felt bad that she was hurt, but I wasn’t freaked out, and it didn’t have any sort of negative impact on my piercing experience. After getting cleaned up and bandaged, she put a small carabiner at the end of my string loop and I felt the weight of it gently pull at my skin. Matias was pierced next (he did really well), and then we walked together to the room’s center point to connect our carabiners to the hanging cords that we would use to pull ourselves.
Music swelled around me, the smell of incense was strong in the air, there were people (who weren’t pierced) drumming and dancing, and the rest of us (who were pierced) were leaning back with the skin on our chests stretched out. It was like a mini suspension, but both feet were on the ground, and as the music grew faster and louder, many of my fellow campers started having stronger responses. Some had their eyes rolling back in ecstasy, some were swaying to the music or testing their bodies. A couple of people were crying in a way that you could tell they were releasing something more than just tears. I pulled harder and focused on the feeling, hoping to also feel something powerful or release grief, but I couldn’t feel any adrenaline running through me. All I felt was a tugging, a very literal tugging. It wasn’t a bad feeling by any means, but no matter what I did, my body just stayed very neutral and I didn’t feel anything strong or spiritual. I even unhooked from the main point after a while and hooked my carabiner to Matias’ carabiner and had us both pull back and stare into each other’s eyes. Matias kept breaking eye contact when his eyes would roll back into head, but it still felt very bonding, very novel and was a unique experience to share. However, I admit I was slightly disappointed that my body just wouldn’t get into the intense energy around me. Empath-types are supposed to feel all of the energies, right? – that’s what normally happens to me in crowds – but this time I just felt the most basic sensations in my body without any sort of energy rush. It was curious, and not the only time something like that happened to me that weekend.
My favorite part of the ritual was when a percussionist was dominating the room with the sounds of the hammered gong and Cleo was going around and whacking our tautly pulled strings with a cane so that the vibrations were sent into our chests. She also used a vibrating sex toy against the strings for the same purposes, and I enjoyed the rumbling and shaking sensation. Of course I did. Because I love vibration in pretty much all of the ways it comes to me.
I also enjoyed coming down after the ritual, watching people sort of float back into their bodies and then have their needles removed. Matias and I were some of the last to have our needles taken out, and the twenty minutes or so that we sat quietly waiting for that to happen were some of the best moments of the afternoon for me. Hearing about what the experience was like for him and watching his eyes light up as he talked about it made me feel very happy that I was attending Boundless with a partner. Even if my body has a hard time with adrenaline production or I am sometimes too much of a control freak to stop my observation mode and fully let myself go, at least I was experiencing new things, learning a lot, and feeling closer to someone I loved.
That night in the dungeon, Matias and I were both flogged (at separate times) on a St. Andrew’s cross by a trained professional with a very extensive set of hitting implements. There were leather floggers made from different animal hides (deer, elk, rabbit, buffalo, etc.), skinny whips, rubber toys, and a few items I had never seen in person. It was an impressive collection…but you’ll have to wait to hear about our flogging adventures in a future post.
My First Time at Kink Camp: Part 2 will be all about our second and third nights in the dungeon, what it’s like to be on edibles at a kink retreat, what I learned about mental health at the workshops I took on day 3, and my newfound love for sex swings. Stay tuned!
Content note: This post describes a minor auto accident with vehicle damage (but no gruesome injuries).
On the night of October 5th, as I was driving home from the store to my new apartment, I was in an automobile accident. It was dark and pouring rain and I had a few IKEA boxes in the hatchback trunk area of my Honda Fit. My partner and I were at a stoplight, discussing how we would decorate our room, when we heard a very loud horn and then immediately felt the impact of another car crashing against us.
We were rear ended with the other car going full speed (45 mph), so I still don’t know how we walked away with only some rear bumper and hatchback door damage. Especially once I saw the other driver’s car. Their Nissan was severely damaged – both of the airbags deployed, the entire front bumper and hood were crunched up like a squeezebox, and the engine was smoking. I pulled off to the side of the road to exchange insurance information and check on the other driver. He pulled over slightly behind me, still in the road, got halfway out of his car, and began to yell at me like it was my fault that he hit me.
I asked for the driver’s info and took out my own insurance card, but he said he didn’t have his on him. He claimed it was at his house up the street and said we needed to follow him there. I told him I wasn’t super comfortable with that and would prefer to at least get his contact info to follow up, and that’s when he got back in his car and drove off. His airbags were puffed out like Jiffy Pop foil and his headlights were barely hanging on, but still, he sped away.
Hit and run. This was the first time it has ever happened to me and I felt confused and angry and unsure of what to do next. Fortunately, Matias was there and caught a partial plate number along with the make and model of the vehicle. We drove the short distance home (keeping our eyes open for the other driver’s messed up car) and called the police and insurance company when we arrived at our new place.
No word yet from the cops or the insurance folks, but I am happy to report that my car is still drivable and the IKEA boxes were unharmed. I, unfortunately, have whiplash, a headache, and back pain. I also had to miss a couple days of work and take my move-in process more slowly than I would prefer, so this is certainly another large and expensive inconvenience.
Speaking of large and expensive inconveniences, as you may have read on Intern Courtney’s recent post, St. Edna the Sex Ed Mobile bit the dust as we were driving into Portland on the final day of my national sex ed teaching tour. The good news is that Edna got us close to home and didn’t die out in the middle of the New Mexico desert. The bad news is that her engine is completely shot and she is not able to be driven right now.
I am distraught and very anxious about Edna. She isn’t just my mascot, she is a huge part of my traveling sex education business and she was my home and mode of transportation for four and a half months. This is a huge loss and it creates a lot of major questions:
-Should I try to get Edna fixed up even though it will cost me a lot of money I do not have?
-Should I organize a fundraising event and/or crowdfunding campaign to get her a new engine?
-Should I focus on putting in more internal cosmetic work on Edna and rent her out to tourists as a cute and affordable Airbnb option? (And not even worry about her engine right now?)
-Should I lay Edna to rest aka sell her as a “mechanic’s special” and use that small amount of money to go toward a teardrop trailer that I can customize and haul with my Honda Fit (after that gets repaired, of course)? Can I even afford a tiny trailer right now?
I wish I had plenty of time to weigh all of the options, but I have more classes to teach and travel plans coming up in November, so I have to figure it out soon. Eep!
It is hard to not feel cursed lately; like someone has a voodoo doll of me/my vehicles and is gleefully stabbing away at them. However, I know that this is just another setback I will survive. Everyone likes to tell me that this means good things are coming, that the crap has reached a tipping point and soon it will crap somewhere else and only rain goodness and financial success upon me. I sure do hope all of those optimists are right. 😉
For now, I am focused on moving into my new apartment and enjoying life off the road for a couple weeks. I will be using this time to launch my podcast, get more sponsors, and work on a highly entertaining top secret project that will be revealed on my first episode. Even though stressful things have been piling up, wonderful things are on the horizon. That is what keeps me going.
Well, that and the new Pumpkin & Spice Triscuit. Call me a “basic bitch” and make fun of me all you want for loving on pumpkin spice, but these little cracker buddies are subtle and delicious and pair really well with cheddar cheese, fig jam, and pretty much everything in my cabinets. Let me have this simple pleasure, y’all. I need it.
Wyoming is a beautiful state and we came across some serious magic there.
On Friday, my two travel companions (Amari and Amber) and I drove from Idaho for over seven hours, through the mountains and high desert then on unpaved roads through the dark without having any real idea where we were going. Eventually we discovered an isolated but perfectly set up campsite with wood for a fire already in a pile nearby. It felt like a gift or a prize that was waiting for us after a very difficult day where Amari lost her wallet, phone, and passport and Edna decided that she wanted to temporarily shut down when she was put in reverse. We needed a victory, and finding an empty, free campground in the middle of Wyoming after a long journey felt like we had won.
Since we were basically in the middle of nowhere, we saw the entire sky, including bright clear constellations and the Milky Way. Seeing our galaxy made us feel itty bitty and filled with wonder. We realized we were truly newborns on the cosmic calendar; so young compared to the age of our universe. We felt insignificant but comforted. We felt introspective and open to possibilities. I even saw two shooting stars! I took that as a sign that we were exactly where we were meant to be and I needed to allow myself to fully embrace my new life plan and let go of the things from my past that were holding me back.
It was a new moon and I had just started bleeding. In fact, all of us were bleeding, even though two of us weren’t expecting that to happen. For whatever reason, that felt important/symbolic. Amber gave Amari a tarot reading that helped Amari find closure and shed her former self. It was so moving and empowering for her that she ended the night by shaving off all of her hair.
While that was happening, I felt called to be alone in Edna. I had my own healing to do. I stared out of the cab window at the vast night sky and felt like I was in a spaceship. It felt good to be alone. I was happy to be with me, in nature, feeling tiny yet connected. I wrapped myself in a blanket and caressed my arms for warmth. My skin was cool, smooth, and sensitive. It felt incredibly nice to be touched, and it dawned on me that I was the one doing the touching. I was doing this thing called “self-soothing” that I have struggled with for the past few years, especially when I was angry with my body over infertility and chronic pain. I continued to hug myself tightly and rub and squeeze my arms. My body felt less sore and uncomfortable than it had in a long time. I sobbed and let the grief and stress come out with it. I rested my hands on my abdomen and sent gentle energy to my uterus, which I had cursed so many times over the past three years. I breathed deeply and slowly and thought warm and compassionate thoughts, and I let my mind fill with happy memories. I imagined my lover’s embrace from afar and pictured his sweet smile, and my heart swelled with love.
Just then, Amari and Amber walked into Edna. They checked in on me and I checked in on them, and we all agreed something magical was happening there in the rolling sage grasslands of Wyoming. I rubbed Amari’s fresh and fuzzy bald head and we all expressed our love and gratitude toward each other. Amber sat down on the cushioned bench in Edna and Amari crawled into the overcab bed with me. We took all of Edna’a curtains down and turned off the lights so we could feel like we were floating through space. With no light pollution we couldn’t even see our hands in front of our faces, and we commented on how it was a darker darkness than we had ever experienced. Then some really special energy kicked in.
We stayed up for a couple hours more, laughing until we had tears streaming down our faces and our stomachs were cramping. We bonded and wrote songs and poured out all of our album ideas into Amari’s handheld recorder. We talked about how we felt like sisters, like a coven, like a little family. Amari pointed out that our coven would be complete if only we had four members, but Amber wisely noted that St. Edna was our fourth. Then we wrote a song about Edna as the fourth Beatle and fell peacefully asleep.
We woke up to a storm, heavy rain pouring down around us, and the sound of the wind and water beating against Edna’s fiberglass body. We were safe though, and the storm passed just as quickly as it had arrived. The next time we awoke was to a pink and orange sunrise, and we finally got to see the wonderful place around us that we had discovered in the dark.
We walked down to the Teton Reservoir and took a few photos then said our goodbyes. We left Wyoming that afternoon feeling revived, more creative, and closer than ever.
As I am getting the details worked out for my upcoming travel adventures with Edna, I am realizing that I am booking just as many learning experiences as teaching experiences. Hooray for knowledge! I can’t wait to soak it all in and use everything I learn on the road to be the best educator, partner, coach, and sex positive entertainer I can be.
Today is my last day as the manager at She Bop and am having a lot of feelings about it. I love my job, I adore my coworkers, and my bosses are the best bosses I have ever had. Working for a company I believe in, who also believes in me, and who I know makes a positive difference in the world has been a fantasy of mine since I joined the labor force at age thirteen. The fact that everyone in the She Bop family also kicks ass and has similar feminist values has been amazing. Working for a small business that is active in the community, gives back, and is filled with queers and femmes and tender hearts, allows me to be myself and feel good about what I do. I don’t have to work for a big corporation. I don’t have to work for “the man.” I can be openly polyamorous and ethically slutty and it gives me street cred. Y’all, I made a patriarchy-smashing porn (with a coworker!) for HUMP! film fest and my colleagues went out and voted for it and my employers congratulated our Best in Show win with an excited and proud post on social media. There is no way any of my previous places of employment would have done anything close to that. In fact, I would have gotten fired at my last job if they found out I made a film for HUMP!
Portland will still be my home base. I will be here often; teaching, writing, recuperating, and spending time with people I love. I will continue being the Education Coordinator for She Bop, will still present my regular classes and host events, and I will cover shifts when I am in town. I know I will always be part of the Team Bop family and will very actively be promoting She Bop on the road and on social media . Still, this work has been a big part of my identity. I have been with She Bop for over five years and was the first sales associate they hired. I’ve watched the company grow tremendously, they’ve definitely watched me grow too, and now I hope we can continue to help each other grow more and more.
This is such a huge change for me and a giant risk. It could all blow up in my face – who knows? I have to try though. I have to put myself out there, talk to people about sex and shame and emotions and relationships and life, and allow myself to pursue a dream. I have to passionately throw myself into something, and this is the best something I can imagine.
It is very hard to give up a steady job I enjoy (especially one that is pretty darn perfect for me) for something that is filled with a bunch of question marks and no guarantees. Honestly, as I type this, I am wondering if I am making the right choice. But, there is only one way to find out. I’m hitting that road and doing this thing! This baby bird is ready to fly. I’m going to push myself and heal myself and prove to myself that I deserve this and can pull this off. I know I am a good sex educator. I have the knowledge, the experience, and the drive to always learn more. I know that I can be funny and entertaining and truly help people. I know that as much as I enjoyed my 5+ years working full time at the shop, I have an opportunity to do something new and bold but that is really a continuation/extension of the work I have already started.
The owners of She Bop gave me some lovely parting gifts this morning: a big box of wine, trail mix, gas gift cards, a first aid kit, and (my favorite part) a very kind and personal card. I may or may not have cried a little (of course I did). Working a job you love, with people you respect, in an industry you know is important, and doing work you know is meaningful? I feel like that is pretty much the Millennial Dream (you know, except without the massive student loan debt). I have been very fortunate to work here over the years and am grateful for everything I have learned and all of the opportunities I have been given. Now, I am looking forward to beginning the next stage as a national sex educator and making Team Bop proud.
Giant hugs and thanks to my She Bop family (Jeneen, Evy, Wyatt, Sid, Alyssa P, Alyssa K, Gretchen, Nicolette, Kate, & Courtney) and everyone who has encouraged me along the way!
Ooooh. Maybe I could get paid to host sex parties/play parties for beginners a day or two after the workshops I teach. I could do this all around the country, and even interview folks about their experiences with my workshops and parties. A girl can dream, right?
I having been hanging out in Edna the Sex Ed Mobile and parked in my best friend’s driveway. My mini fridge isn’t working properly in here so I’m refrigerating some things in my friend’s house. I had gone straight for some hummus and crackers when I got home from work, but once I was finished eating, I needed to go put the hummus back in her fridge. The lights were off in the house though, so I wanted to make sure she didn’t think I was a burglar. I sent her a text to see if she was awake.
I realized while typing my texts, that since I stay in her driveway in the front yard and her bedroom is on the same side of the house, we were realistically only a few feet away from each other. It made me feel like a child again, like I was on a walkie-talkie with one of my siblings while we’re camping. Or I felt like we were two best friend neighbors, like all of the ones from my favorite 90’s sitcoms, and there was just a homemade tin can telephone between us.
I told her this via text. She responded with one my favorite texts I’ve received to date:
“Haha. Best friend one to best friend two. Over aaaaannd out!”
I just love it when my friends get my weird brain and send me something funny in return/play along.
Speaking of, I am feeling extra grateful for friends lately. I have been able to have Edna stationed here most of this month because of my friend’s generosity, and I have been able to prevent my depression from taking over during a very difficult transition and instead emotionally thrive with support from amazing human beings.
The progress I have been making on everything has been slow though, or at least it is feeling too slow for me. However, when I am gentle with myself, I realize that I am making progress in multiple giant areas of my life all at once (starting a business/transitioning into a different kind of career, working through years of grief and trauma, going through a separation, redefining relationships, etc.). So, of course things are going to take time and I am not going to instantly have everything perfectly together and running smoothly.
Considering I have only been out of my house for a month, I am actually pretty proud of what I have accomplished. Edna feels like home already, I am making a lot of new friends and strengthening many of my existing relationships, I co-founded a femme social and sex education meet up group, my husband and I are talking through text and getting along as family even if we aren’t partners, I’ve taught workshops, walked in the Pride Parade, continued doing my regular job, and I am feeding myself (even if it isn’t the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life). I also had a birthday, went on a camping trip, and set up a big interview for a new podcast that will begin recording at the end of this summer.
I list those accomplishments not to brag or to fish for praise, but because it is important for me to continue working on lifting myself up and staying on track. My life goal once was to have a polyamorous family with multiple partners, be a mother, have lots of dogs, live in the country in a spacious Victorian home or farmhouse, and have a successful career as an educator and event planner. I am nowhere close to being on track for that anymore, and I know that some parts of that dream will never be able to happen. Yet, I am hopeful. Not hopeful for those dreams to come true anymore, but hopeful that I will heal and love and find my way and feel free.
Time for my first guest post! This was written by a fan and new friend, Eric Snyder, after he volunteered to help me with Edna last weekend.
I pulled onto the street and was met with the visual of St. Enda the Sex Ed Mobile sitting diagonally in the middle of a suburban-like street in NE Portland. At first it put a smile on my face to see this RV I was looking forward to meeting sitting right there in front of me. However, I quickly assessed the situation and realized there was some stress in the air. Amory Jane, Edna’s owner and sex educator extraordinaire, was sitting behind the wheel with a trusty friend by her side and an onlooking neighbor was starring the situation down. Cars were maneuvering around Edna, but it was a little precarious for sure. The peering neighbor offered the oh-so-helpful advice of ‘you’re gonna have to move it’ as he took another puff of his cigarette.
I parked and approached the situation. Within a few moments AJ took control, tried to tune out the neighbor, and with the help of her friend pulled Edna safely up a steep gravel driveway. The stress of the first situation had been defeated, but soon the three of us were starring at a solar panel that needed to be attached and tested. None of us had any working knowledge of such things and had only done some minor Googling. The stress had returned, but we were soon on our way to understanding.
Going over to help with a few things was my first time meeting Edna and only the third time I had been around Amory Jane. The second time was an impromptu hang that included pizza, pot, silly movies, and life talk. The first time was when she led a sex education class about cunnilingus at Portland’s wonderful She Bop. I attended the class because I was very newly re-entering the world of dating after a 15 year relationship. I went to the class excited but filled with nerves. I was quickly comforted as Amory Jane and her co-teacher (Sid Need) put everyone at ease and educated us about oral sex. I learned tons of different tips, ideas, positions, and more practical information about anatomy than any public education or Google searches had ever provided me. Most of all though, I was provided a safe space where I could be curious, ask questions, and feel comfortable speaking about sexuality. Unfortunately, these spaces and opportunities are few and far between in our world. I wasn’t raised in a sexually oppressed environment and as a middle class straight white cisgender male I definitely had more opportunities than many. However, I did have plenty of cultural shame attached to areas of sexuality, and as a feminist I definitely wanted to approach sex and dating with respect.
In this short class, Amory Jane proved that as a sex educator she was the perfect tour guide into exploring these ideas with lots of enthusiasm and knowledge and without shame. That is why when I heard about her sex education tour, and then the idea of this traveling sex education mobile, I wanted to help make it possible in any way I could with my limited resources.
As we got the basics of the solar panel set up, unfortunately the rain clouds started to roll in. It seemed like a moment of defeat, but I couldn’t leave without helping. I knew AJ had mentioned the trouble she was having trying to remove the ratty carpet in Edna’s bathroom. Armed with an exacto knife type of tool, I took a crack at it, and soon big chunks of carpet were coming up. It didn’t feel like much to me, but AJ seemed very grateful.
In all reality, Amory Jane has a lot on her shoulders and she is feeling it right now. Going through a divorce (as she mentioned in her first post), making quick decisions about purchasing an RV and starting a business, and other life issues were making her feel like she was in over her head. However, amid the defeatist language we sometimes use when we feel overwhelmed, there was still hopeful talk about Edna’s future. The bathroom I was currently ripping up carpet in would eventually have an outer space theme and perhaps a floor lined with miniature dildos. Dildos in space? There was also talk of having an exterior wrap on the RV, proclaiming Edna’s name, Amory Jane’s website, and logos for sponsors.
These thoughts also perhaps felt out of reach to Amory Jane in the midst of the swirling situations she has around her. However, as I stood outside and prepared to leave with a quick hug and promise to help in any way I could, I stole one more look at St. Edna. Sure, she looked a little worn in and like any other RV that you’d spot in camp grounds or freeways across America, but I had a vision of her future. Someday, in the not too distant future, Amory Jane will be behind the wheel traveling the country to not only educate and discuss sex and sexuality with the masses, but to truly bring them hope. There are people like me out there who need to learn more and feel comfortable with sexuality. There are also people who have been made to feel ashamed of sex or abused or confused or dealing with rejection from family and friends. There are people across America that will see St. Edna as even more than a kitschy cute sex education mobile. There are people who will see her and Amory Jane as actual saints providing the safe space and opportunity to explore ideas and get their questions answered without fear or judgment.