I have been on the road with my sex ed van, Blanche, for 27 days now. I also just passed over 5,000 miles driven on this road trip so far!
A lot has happened since my last post, some of which has been documented on my Patreon (includes photos). For folks who want more updates and behind-the-scenes content from my adventures on the road as a sex edu-tainer, I have also been making little videos to share on Patreon and I published a secret patron only podcast episode with my best friend Amari Indigo.
Here are some of the major highlights/summaries from my trip to catch you up to date:
I have driven through 14 states (although, honestly, it feels like more): Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, Missouri, and Kansas
I taught at the Central Ohio Perversion Excursion
I was reunited with my darling Amari Indigo for a few days in the Midwest and we caught up, created, and had a bunch of fun together
We were joined by my friend Eric in Ohio and all went to Cedar Point for a day of riding roller coasters
I visited Pittsburgh for the first time and loved it
I got to see everyone in my family and even got a tattoo with my older sister
I have many stories to tell and paragraphs to write about my adventures, especially at SGCC, but right now it’s time to get out on the road again. Today I’ll finally be getting back into the land of mountains and cannabis (hooray!) with a visit to Denver.
Day 3: I drove 407 miles from Salt Lake City to a gorgeous campsite in Eastern Wyoming. It was called Vedauwoo located in Medicine Bow National Forest. The air smelled like desert sage and pine. I collected wood and built myself a nice little fire, cooked food, and wrote by firelight until it was too dark to see. Then I climbed onto the roof of my van and looked at the stars. I felt alone, but calm and powerful. I felt present. I felt like I was enough.
My mind, body, and spirit feel a hundred times better when I am doing things like this and surrounded by nature. The constant stress of capitalism and needing to be connected to social media and always trying to promote myself is not only exhausting, but it’s actively unhealthy for me. My time in Wyoming made me realize that If I didn’t have a mission as a sex educator and need to be near a major city to do my work, I would love to hide away for a bit to live somewhere quieter and write a book.
Day 4: Another long drive – 473 miles to Lincoln, Nebraska. Everything became much flatter once I left Wyoming, and there was tons of construction on I-80, so it wasn’t an especially pleasant drive. I decided to get a cheap motel room for the free HBO so I could watch the Game of Thrones premiere though. 😛
I have added two more videos to my Patreon page of me giving updates and singing from my car. Day 2’s song was “Stay” by Lisa Loeb and Day 3’s song was by the Dixie Chicks. Those are viewable to Patrons only, so if you want to check them out, please sign up and support my journey. Just $5 gets you videos, extra updates, and late night vulnerability posts (and higher amounts allow you to request songs and get access to a few soon-to-be-released secret podcast episodes and sex ed classes)!
Tomorrow I am going to Iowa where I’ll be staying with someone I’ve never met but who is a friend of a friend. They’re even going to make me a home cooked meal. Can’t wait! Loving the road but eating well isn’t easy.
I did something WAY outside of my comfort zone and recorded a video of myself in the car yesterday while I was driving to John Day. It’s a little over 5 minutes of unedited dorky footage and I end it with singing a Rilo Kiley song a capella.
I always get really nervous about posting videos, which means I never do, but I decided I needed to get over that if I’m going to start “building my brand” more. So, I just said ‘fuck it’ and hit record even though I was sweaty and driving and not wearing makeup.
It’s on my Patreon right now for all to view, but future videos will be for Patrons only as a way of earning gas money to get me to Ohio to teach at the Central Ohio Perversion Excursion. A one time $5 contribution will get you daily videos along with other fun things (or for $10 you can make song suggestions and for $20 I’ll sing whatever you want and dedicate it to you).
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).
It is not yet a 100% done deal, but it is looking like I am going to be trading St. Edna the Sex Ed Mobile for a van. After getting multiple consultations, I’ve learned that a new engine for Edna would be $1200-1600, and I just don’t have that kind of money. As much as I don’t want to part with my baby RV, she’ll have a better life if she goes to a mechanic who knows how to get her running again and keep taking care of her. Besides, a van could be both my every day vehicle and a decent road trip mobile for when I go back out on tour (which I am hoping will happen in July).
I’m having lots of feelings about this, because getting Edna was a huge important chapter of my life and gave me freedom when I needed it most. Plus, the night she broke down was a night that has a lot of memories attached to it and marked the beginning of another chapter for me. So, saying goodbye to Edna feels more loaded than any other auto trade or sale I’ve ever done. Maybe I’m being too sentimental, but this feels like another significant marker in a year that has been filled with heartbreak, change, and learning to let go.
The sweet/good news is that the mechanic who will likely be getting Edna saw the bumper sticker on back and asked about it. So, I told him that I drove the country with Edna to teach sex education. He thought that was great, and he wants her to stay named Edna (which makes me feel a lot better about all of this, as stupid as that may sound). He also wants to leave the bumper sticker on and get a stack for his other cars, and he said it’ll help him talk to his kiddos easier about “the birds and the bees.”
Amory Jane is currently at a kink retreat called Boundless and will be returning to Portland (and this blog) on October 5th. Since she is off learning new things to teach at her future classes, getting to know some needles, gazing at the stars, and frolicking/flogging in the woods, she hasn’t had reliable access to the internet to post any updates. So, I am here to deliver some deets to you! Here’s what’s up:
– St. Edna the Sex Ed Mobile is very sick. Amory Jane and her travel companions were driving back into Portland when Edna started making very weird noises. Her engine died suddenly on the side of the highway just 20 minutes outside of Portland and she had to get towed away by AAA. Fortunately, the team made it back to Portland and Edna didn’t shut down on top of a mountain or in the middle of the desert or something. Unfortunately, Edna has complete engine failure and will need some expensive repairs. AJ is still weighing all of her options, but is considering launching a campaign and/or throwing a sex-positive fundraising event to get Edna back out on the road. In the meantime, AJ is traveling the country in a much smaller (but equally cute) sex ed mobile – her purple Honda Fit.
– Amory Jane has some rad classes coming up this Fall, including a new one on Sex and Cannabis! There might even be some free cannabis lube samples in it for you! Details can be found on the She Bop website.
– Amory Jane will be traveling through California this November and still has a little bit of room left in her schedule. If you would like to book a workshop, private party, or coaching session in that time, give her a shout! Her dates in California are early to mid-November and she will be visiting the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and everywhere nearby and in-between.
– Yes, AJ did get the donuts she asked for. She put it out into the universe and it came to her (and by that I mean her intern dutifully got them for her).
I don’t know about you, but I am SO stoked for what the future has to hold! Stay tuned to the blog for detailed accounts of Amory Jane’s final few days of her recent teaching tour, St. Edna’s prognosis, and tales from kink camp!
Why oh why did I only schedule myself three days and two nights in New Orleans?!
Of all the cities I have visited in my life, New Orleans is one of my favorites. The food is phenomenal, the houses come in every color of the rainbow and the architectural styles are really neat, strangers make eye contact and say hello as though you’re their neighbor, and the nightlife can’t be beat. Even when I am there to work, I still feel like I am on vacation because of the party vibe and the energy in the air.
It also didn’t hurt that I was lucky enough to be offered a free stay in a beautifully renovated historic home that had a four poster bed, a luxurious vintage bathroom, and a gold glitter wall. After traveling for two weeks in a 21 foot RV and sharing that small space with other people, being in such a fancy house made me feel ridiculously spoiled. Especially when our hosts made breakfast in bed for Matias and me after our first night of deliciously comfortable sleep in NOLA (and cooked us up some grits and gravy after our second night). <3
Speaking of Matias, my partner flew into New Orleans to join in on the Sex on the Road Teaching Tour. This was a wonderful surprise to me, since his job wasn’t originally going to let him have the time off. Fortunately, he pulled some strings and will be traveling with me all the way back to Portland (and to the Boundless Kink Retreat in early October). I am ultra pleased to have my honey keeping me company, sharing driving duties, and providing me with much-needed snuggles and massages. Also, he is a babe and total sweetheart, so that tends to help when I am feeling grumpy or life on the road gets stressful.
While in NOLA, I taught two sex ed classes for Dynamo: A Romantic Boutique in the Deep South. They have a fantastic new store on St. Claude and it was an absolute pleasure to teach there. The owners, Hope and Nico, are terrific and genuine people and I expect that Dynamo is going to continue to do really well in New Orleans. They have high-quality sex products, fun events, local kinky goods, and they truly care about their community.
I taught Back That Ass Up: Anal 101 and Swinging & Threesomes & Orgies, Oh My! and both classes went well. The audience on my second night seemed especially excited to learn about group sex etiquette, and many of them reached out after class to get copies of my play party rules. My new Moto Insta-Share Projector was also a success once we figured out how to keep it charged. It really makes traveling with my presentations a lot easier than carrying around posters or flip charts. Highly recommended for other sex educators or traveling public speakers.
Both nights after teaching, we went out on the town and had a blast. NOLA is a party city, but it is also city of artists, an international city, and a place where everyone seems to know each other. So, going out means you’re guaranteed a social time and interesting conversations. You can also take your drinks out of the bar with you if you don’t finish them, which makes bar hopping especially easy. We even spent one night on Bourbon Street like a bunch of tourists, which was overwhelming and had me feeling way too many other people’s energies, but it was also an experience I was really glad to have had. I also got to visit some voodoo shops and bought myself a tarot deck, which I have been thinking of doing for years, so I had that very cool experience in addition to some mildly drunken shenanigans.
We said goodbye to Amari the next day, and she recorded a little goodbye video of St. Edna the Sex Ed Mobile. It was raining and the way the water fell on Edna’s windshield looked like she was crying. It was a touching moment; both Edna and I are going to miss Amari (and New Orleans) dearly.
We departed NOLA in the afternoon and headed to Houston – our return to Texas – and that is where I will leave off for now. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Los Angeles!
The stresses and rewards of the road have been pummeling me with full force since leaving Wyoming. It certainly hasn’t all been idyllic, but the journey has been worth it and I have grown much closer to travel companions, learned more about RVs/cars, and have done tons of self-care and reflection. I feel like a lot has happened in the past week, and if you follow me on my Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you may already aware of some of the struggles and triumphs. If not, the full updates are below.
Amber, Amari, and I went to Colorado after our magical night in Wyoming. We went to Boulder first, to meet up with one of Amber’s friends at a karaoke bar (yes, you are noticing a theme – we like karaoke). Driving in Boulder was a pain in the ass (the roads were confusing), but the Rocky Mountains were beautiful and brunch in Boulder reminded me of the amazing food in Portland, so that was the first time I missed home. We made the shortest drive of our road trip from Boulder to Denver last Sunday, and it was nice to not have a day that was spent completely in the RV. Especially since Edna the Sex Ed Mobile had started driving a little funny and seemed to be under the weather.
Amber had to get back to Portland, so we took her to the airport in Denver that evening. It was hard to say goodbye, but I was thankful for the time we had spent together. With just Amari and me left, we decided to spend some time getting to know Denver’s cannabis culture. We visited dispensaries and noted similarities and differences to how Portland sells/promotes legal cannabis, and I personally was very excited to check out Denver’s enormous selection of edibles. Amari and I spent much of our time in Denver at a place called iBAKE; a cannabis café that had free Wi-Fi and friendly patrons. We managed to get quite a bit of work done there on our podcasts, and we also got news that Amari’s passport, wallet, and phone had been found, so our time in Denver was rather uplifting (and not just because of the weed).
We slept in Edna in a 24 hour restaurant parking lot and took showers at a truck stop the next morning, which made us feel like real road warriors. Then we hit the road for New Mexico. We had no solid plans for New Mexico, other than driving through on our way to Texas and finding a place to camp. We had originally intended on staying at a state park near the grasslands, but we got caught in a storm and had to pull into an RV park off the highway somewhere in Union County. The lightning in the sky was pink and white, and the thunder boomed immediately after each flash. Chickpea sized hail and strong winds attacked Edna all through the night while Amari and I stayed put safely inside her shell and watched the violent sky from the RV windows. In the morning, we realized that we were camping between a crater and volcano, which felt pretty bad ass, and then we enjoyed a picnic at the Capulin Volcano National Monument before setting off on our long journey through Texas
It was in the sweltering and sticky Texas heat that Edna really started letting us know she was sick. She was having a very hard time getting up to speed and was going through gas far too quickly. She also would occasionally shut down when put in reverse or while waiting at a stop light, and that problem was occurring with more and more frequency. So, we decided that we would go to Denton, Texas for the night since Amari has friends there, and we would get Edna fixed up while we were in town.
Denton ended up being a really fun place to visit. The food was tasty, the people were very social and inclusive, and the nightlife was actually pretty hoppin’. This was a pleasant surprise to me, and it was fortunate that we enjoyed Denton, because we got stuck there for an extra day while Edna was getting repaired. It was hard being away from St. Edna, since she is more than an RV to me: she has been my home, my companion, and my literal shelter from the storm. We ended up having to sleep on a floor of a jam space on our second night in Denton, since we didn’t have the comforts of Edna, but we were in good company and Edna was in good hands. The fine folks of Ace Tech Automotive Repair Center treated Edna right and got her running on all cylinders again (and they were honest and very helpful). Thanks, Andrew and Dusty!
We left Denton at night and drove through the rest of Texas and Louisiana to get to New Orleans at 5:30am. I had to pick up my sweetheart, Matias, from the airport in NOLA at 10:45am (P.S. Yay, Matias is here now!) and teach my Anal 101 class that night at Dynamo: A Romantic Boutique in the Deep South, so stopping to sleep somewhere wasn’t really an option. The minute we arrived at Amari’s house, we parked Edna, shuffled our exhausted feet inside, she had a happy reunion with her cats, and then we passed out. For Amari, the road trip had come to an end. For me, one chapter had just ended and another was about to begin…
I am excited to announce that I now have an intern! Communicating on the road has been a bit hit or miss even though I have Verizon MiFi. I’ve been going through many mountainous regions and deserts that don’t have 4G, so I decided that I needed a little help. Enter Courtney Kist – Intern Extraordinaire.
Intern Courtney will be proofreading and tagging my posts, contacting guests for the podcast, helping edit episodes, organizing spreadsheets and business documents, and occasionally writing on this here blog. She is also a great cheerleader via text when the road gets rough, and I hope that when I get back to Portland, she’ll bring me donuts. (She will definitely be bringing donuts ~ Intern Courtney)
I met Courtney at She Bop after I returned from my first national teaching tour in April. She had been hired while I was out of town and I had heard rumors from the other employees that we would probably hit it off since we had many of the same interests, like singing and sex (then again, the entire staff is interested in sex and about half of us sing together regularly, so I was not shocked by the fact that we got along). We have been working together at She Bop two days every week since then, and she has attended a few of my classes and is very up to date on my life and in touch with my goals. So, when she asked if I wanted an intern, I gladly welcomed her to the Amory Jane/Edna the Sex Ed Mobile team knowing that she’d be a great fit.
More on Intern Courtney: she is a jack of all trades with a passion for sex education, theater, cheese and queer politics. When not spending her days working at She Bop, she can be found performing in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, dancing at a queer party, hiking, spending time with her femme sex-positive coven, watching Gilmore Girls, or occasionally writing something personal for the internet. She hopes to eventually translate her experience into providing inclusive sex ed for queer and trans youth, writing about sex and sex toys for the internet, producing media (video, podcast, performances, etc) for educational and entertainment purposes, and doing everything in her power to de-stigmatize the way we talk about sex.
She has my login info now, so perhaps I’ll let her finish this post and I’ll get back to checking in on St. Edna, who has been sick and in the auto repair hospital for the past couple days. We’re currently stuck in Denton, Texas, but Edna is supposed to be fixed up and running like a champ again within the next few hours. That means we are going to have to make one long and hot drive to get to New Orleans on time for me to shower and prep before my ass class tomorrow at Dynamo – but we can do it! By the way, there are still spots left and you may purchase tickets online now for $2 off the door price! Looking forward to teaching again in New Orleans!