Escort, Mental Health, Musings, Updates

Happy New Year

This is actually for a Cholera vaccine, but the aesthetic is too perfect to discard.

I started writing this piece while I very literally suffered through the first course of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. I heard the second shot could get really nasty, but none of the people I know who started their vaccinations before me experienced much more than some fatigue and a very sore arm after the first shot. I, on the other hand, got everything: a sore arm, body aches, headaches, a few hours of low fever, extreme fatigue, and even one of the somewhat uncommon, but well-documented side effects: a metallic taste in my mouth that was closer to tinfoil than pennies and proved absolutely impossible to get rid of. I brushed my teeth six times in a little under three hours before I finally gave up because it didn’t do anything except add a minty crispness to the foil taste.

For the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting deeply on what things were like a year ago, and starting my vaccine course has intensified that reflection. January first didn’t feel much like a new year, only another day in what had become a seemingly endless series of days that stretched on into an uncertain future, but whether was brought on the approaching equinox or the similarity between the ache in my bones caused by the vaccine and the growing pains I felt in my early teens, I am finally able to not only imagine something better, but believe that it is both possible and imminent.

After taking a very long semi-hiatus in order to focus on other things, I decided to begin advertising again on the first warm day of 2020, just a few weeks before the shutdowns went into effect, when most people thought this new pandemic would be only slightly worse than swine flu. We had all lived through a pandemic before. I contracted swine flue and survived. I remembered SARS, how the danger was fleeting and far away and then almost immediately forgotten. This would be like that, I thought. Quick, relatively painless, and then gone. Obviously, I was very much mistaken.

I think about those strange days a year ago, how long we all went about our lives with the specter of mass death hovering over us, and then how quickly we all adjusted, superficially at least, to the isolation and the ever-growing number of casualties, how impossible those things are to ever fully adjust to. I remember letting my last professional set of nails grow out, sure the salons would reopen soon. When they started to lift and crack after five weeks, I bought the supplies I needed on Amazon, taught myself how to build claws out of acrylic and polymer resin, and discovered how good you can get at something if you do it every two weeks for a whole year, even if you’ve never done it before, even if you can only use one hand at a time while you’re doing it.

I didn’t expect to have access to a vaccine so soon. I figured May, maybe, if I was lucky and distribution went according to plan, although what ever actually goes according to plan when we’re talking about bureaucracy? I listened with bitterness as I waited for a Lyft and overheard a man laughing to his doorman about how he managed to get in early because he “knows the right people,” and reflected on how the lack of vaccine priority for my colleagues and myself was just another ugly entry in the litany of ways in which the state, which loves to claim responsibility for rescuing sex workers, refuses to actually keep us safe. Ultimately, it was not my profession, but my cussed refusal to leave the south side, and the resulting residency in a zip code targeted for mass vaccination that got me in for my shots.

In my last post I used the word “interminable” several times, and still it is the only word that seems to come close to describing how the winter had started to feel. At first the slow solitude of the pandemic had been a welcome change. I thrive on solitude, as much as I enjoy the company of others, I enjoy my own more, and I’ve always excelled at entertaining myself. But the winter turned solitude into isolation, and it seemed increasingly impossible to distract myself from the darkness and monotony. It is difficult to present yourself as happy and horny and without a care in the world when everything is intensely unpredictable and both smiling and sex are about the same distance from your mind as a trip to the beach, and gallows humor gets old fast.

This vaccine is not a magic bullet. It doesn’t offer full immunity, it may not offer much protection at all from newer strains of the virus, it doesn’t necessarily prevent the spread of Covid, we don’t yet know how long it lasts, and I am not unconcerned with the way people seem to be under the impression that full vaccination is the same as a ticket back to normalcy. I’m not even sure if I want normalcy again, I didn’t like it very much the first time.

But this vaccine is a step towards something better, a step towards living again, and not merely existing. It’s a new year, and it finally feels like one.

Let’s do some shots.

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Musings, Uncategorized, Updates

The Lesser of Two Evils

Watching the election like…

This is not going to be a sexy post, but today is not a sexy day, and so I hope you’ll all bear with me.
I guess it’s technically the day after Election Day, but I only slept for about two hours and they’re still counting results, so it feels like it’s still just more of Election Day, stretching interminably out before us for who knows how long until we finally know for sure which old white cis dude rapist is going to be made president. How else could this election have gone? After all, this is 2020, the year we all became unstuck in time.

I don’t think a lot of people are very happy today. I know I’m not.
I didn’t vote for a president. I thought about it, but ultimately I decided I couldn’t bring myself to grit my teeth and vote for a man who not only has several credible accusations of sexual violence against him, but who chose Kamala Harris, the former prosecutor who has done such irreparable damage to the sex worker community, as his running mate. If I lived in a swing state, my decision might have been different, but I don’t. I live in Chicago, a city so reliably dyed-in-the-wool blue that my vote doesn’t matter at all. I guess I could’ve written in Vermin Supreme, the only candidate I would actually have been happy to see win, but it seemed like such a pointlessly symbolic gesture that I decided it felt better to abstain entirely.

As I’m writing this, it seems pretty clear that more people have chosen to overlook the failings of the more bumbling of the two old white cis dude rapists than to glorify the failings of the more menacing one. The news anchors are starting to look as tired as I would expect from people who have been reporting live for almost 24 hours straight. An hour or two ago I updated my website and my Tryst ad to reflect the re-establishment of my original COVID-19 protocols in response to the 10.9% and rising positivity rate. If things keep going the way they’re going, I expect to be on full hiatus again by the beginning of December. This winter is going to be long and difficult.

There are a lot of reasons why this doesn’t feel like much of a victory, and they are not limited to the fact that it’s impossible for me to consider any outcome of any presidential election to be a victory when I do not believe that the office of president should exist in the first place, or that the power vested in that office is legitimate.
Like most people who have been paying the slightest attention over the past four years, I’m worried about how smooth the transition of power will really be. I worry that Trump will simply refuse to leave office, or at the very least sink us into a series of byzantine and interminable legal proceedings of dubious legitimacy in an effort to hang onto what shreds of power he can and keep his creditors from the door. I don’t have a great deal of faith in the success of these endeavors, but I know that every small delay of Trump’s exit from the White House will bring more mass death.
What concerns me much more than the tedious workings of the state is the reaction to a Biden victory. For the past four years, so much of the mainstream political rhetoric from anywhere other than the right has boiled down to little more than a mantra of “Orange Man Bad” with no discussion of how to effectively combat his badness. I have almost total certainty that many, if not the majority of, Biden voters, both those who self-identify as Democrats and those who consider themselves leftists, will allow this election result to lull them back into complacency. I have complete certainty that the reaction from the far-right will be biblical in proportion. The defeat of their Fürer will do very little but convince them that all their wacked-out conspiracy theories are correct, and with the removal of their leader, they will have gained a martyr, which is much more powerful. I have very little doubt that for the next four years, the Biden administration will spectacularly fail to clean up the disaster they have inherited while liberals wallow in self-satisfaction at having put a stop to Cheeto Benito and the far-right steeps themselves in the salty brine of defeat, exploding occasionally into violence. The idea of who they might choose to lead them when those four years are over is chilling.

The thing that weighs most heavily on my shoulders, though, is unquestionably the pandemic. I’m confident that a Biden administration will handle the threat of COVID-19 better than the current one has, but the bar for that is set so deeply into the floor of the sub-basement that even the most basic, barely-adequate response would be an improvement on the current situation. What I’m not confident about is whether the response will be any better than barely-adequate, and who knows how bad things will be by mid-January when he is installed in the White House, and whether things will even be salvageable at that point.

The time between now and January seems like this endless Election Day: interminable. I think about all the damage that can be done in that time, all the people who will die. I think about the four years after January, the inevitability of drippy, milquetoast liberalism with a crunchy center of mass incarceration and the associated rescue politics, the violence the far-right will enact as an offering to their new martyr saint, and the way Biden is already throwing his lot in with the kind of people who think right wing death squads are a utopic dream, by insisting that his opponents are not his enemies. How is that statement substantially different from the assertion that there were “very fine people on both sides” at Charlottesville?

Never forget that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

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Playlists

♏︎ Scorpio Season Playlist ♏︎

Some of my favorite people in the world are Scorpio Suns. I love you guys, I love the way you keep my secrets, I love the way you always want to know what’s going on with the people around you, even if that stems more from general nosiness than it does from completely altruistic curiosity. I love your intensity, and the way that once you latch on to something you just do not give up. I love how fucking weird you all are, whether it’s a weirdness that lurks beneath the surface or whether you’re more overtly bizarre.

Since the playlists I’ll be sharing here are playlists I curate for appointments, they’re not purely astrologically inspired, but this particular one seems to fit the spirit of Scorpio season the best. So without further ado, I present the first of what will hopefully be many playlists for your enjoyment. I’ve listed all the songs below, but if you’re on Spotify, you can find the playlist in its entirety by clicking here or by using the embedded link below.

  1. I Get Nervous – Lower Dens
  2. Preface to a Dream Play – Chelsea Wolfe
  3. Lavender Moon – Haroula Rose
  4. Sore Eyes – Widowspeak
  5. If I Had A Heart – Fever Ray
  6. Bury – Unions
  7. Money Power Glory – Lana Del Rey
  8. Pagan Poetry – Björk
  9. Biting Down – Lorde
  10. Stroker Ace – Lovage
  11. Mother May I Sleep With Danger – Joy Crookes
  12. Femme Fatale – The Velvet Underground and Nico
  13. Moonrise Kingdom – Angel Haze
  14. Black Milk – Massive Attack
  15. Bad Girls – Blood Orange
  16. Wicked Game (cover) – Emika
  17. Sour Times – Portishead
  18. Me and the Devil – Soap&Skin
  19. The Passenger (cover) – Dinah Eastwood
  20. The Chain (cover) – Kerala Dust
  21. Midnight Man – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  22. Don’t Go (cover) – Nouvelle Vague
  23. everything I wanted – Billie Eilish
  24. Warmer – Widowspeak
  25. I Walk the Line (cover) – Halsey
  26. Snake Song – Isobel Campbell
  27. Ondine – Lower Dens
  28. Devil Devil – MILCK
  29. Lucinda – Tom Waits

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Kink, Musings

The Borderlands of Pleasure

Orgasms are overrated.
That’s right, that’s what I said. Now, more than likely you’re staring at this page, scratching your head and thinking, “Ruby, how can you, a person who is very literally in the business of orgasms, actually believe such a thing?” This is an understandable question, so hear me out.

When I say orgasms are overrated I don’t mean they aren’t great, they obviously are. I also don’t mean they should be avoided, or that they’re not something to aim for, neither of those things are even somewhat true. What I do mean is that the way we learn to hold orgasms up as the height of pleasure, sexual or otherwise, is both reductive and boring. The reality is that pleasure is immeasurably vast and subjective, and when you use only one experience or factor as an absolute barometer of satisfaction, you also run the risk of shutting yourself off from many other avenues of enjoyment. There is so much to pleasure and eroticism that stretches far beyond orgasms, and so many experiences and acts that won’t bring most people anywhere near orgasm, but are deeply sensual nonetheless.

When it comes to nonsexual pleasure, we readily recognize that its different forms are nearly infinite, yet somehow when it comes to sexuality we get hung up on the event of orgasm as if it is some kind of One True Ecstasy beside which all other raptures pale. This may be true for some people, I can’t speak for the entire world, and maybe my view of orgasms as something nice, but ultimately unnecessary to my enjoyment, has more to do with my being very queer and very kinky than it does with any kind of objective truth, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.

Our culture is obsessed with instant gratification, and this unfortunate fixation has crept into the way we’re taught to approach sex and sexuality. We learn that orgasms are the one and only indicator of whether or not a sexual experience was positive, when the truth is that they are just one of many possible indicators. It’s possible for generally underwhelming sex to produce orgasms, just as it’s possible to have deeply satisfying sexual experiences in which no-one has an orgasm. When we become so laser-focused on the destination, we lose sight of the journey entirely, and when it comes to sex and sexuality the journey itself is what makes the experience.

It’s true, to an extent, that I am very literally in the business of orgasms, but much more than that I am in the business of pleasure. Orgasms are easy, anybody can suck a dick, and contrary to popular belief it isn’t actually that much more difficult to bring people with vulvas to orgasm. Most of us are more than capable of getting ourselves off faster and more efficiently than anyone else could ever hope to, if there wasn’t more to it, no-one would ever bother with partnered sex. Orgasms are one momentary event that exists within the infinite circle of pleasure, an intangible thing that encompasses not only our bodily senses, but also our minds.

Life is too short and uncertain to fixate on one single, small aspect of something so enormous as ecstasy, and sexuality is so vast and various that it does us all a disservice when we treat it as simply one box to tick.

Destinations, after all, are so much sweeter when you take the time to enjoy the path you take to get there.

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