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.
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 12: A Visit from The Mystery Box Show Reba Sparrow and Eric Scheur from The Mystery Box Show visit the studio and talk with Amory Jane about sex-centric storytelling. We hear how their show began and how it’s evolved, chat about vulnerability, clowns, and “celebrities” as storytellers, and get tips on how to tell our own sex stories well.
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.
I’ve been talking about it for a while, but today it is a reality – I have a podcast! It’s called Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane.
Sex on the Brain with Amory Jane is a geeky, feminist take on sex, kink, and culture. This new sex-positive podcast will be released every other Thursday and will cover a variety of topics, such as porn, non-monogamy, BDSM, gender, and sex in pop culture.
Our first episode is all about sex-positive entertainment and features comedian Bri Pruett, hip hop group Bomb Ass Pussy, Intern Courtney, Sound Engineer Mat, and of course me, your host, Amory Jane.
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…
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.
Two of my dear friends, Amari and Amber, have joined the first half of this adventure with me and I am thrilled! We have been friends for over nine years but have never taken a trip together. It’s only day one so I know that doesn’t say much, but so far everything is great and we travel very well together. We are all sensitive souls who seek to understand others, who love to sing, love to be creative, love nature, and who like to feel connected. We also all appreciate Edna and the hard work she has put in today, driving up steep mountains, through deserts, and around rock falls. Thanks, St. Edna!
We had a hectic start to the day and there were a few hiccups (the bar in Edna’s clothes closet came detached while driving, the table broke, and Amari almost forgot her passport in Portland) but we hit the road and managed to arrive safely to our first stop about 90 minutes before sunset. Our destination was the John Day Fossil Beds: Painted Hills Unit.
The Painted Hills are one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon and I can see why. They were incredibly cool looking, almost like a Martian landscape. Highly recommended for anyone heading through central-eastern Oregon.
We were lucky enough to find a convenient campsite about an hour away from the Painted Hills where we could build a campfire, eat a meal, rest our bodies and rest Edna, AND have electrical hookups so I could write this blog post before bed. 😉
It was a lovely first day and I look forward to tomorrow’s plans, which will be driving out of Oregon and into Idaho for more camping (and perhaps some local karaoke). I don’t haven’t any teaching gigs or conferences scheduled during these first few days of the tour, so my focus will be on bonding with my pals, seeking adventure, and doing more adjusting to life on the road.
Looking forward to continuing this new chapter and sharing my journey with all of you.