Donna

I met Donna when I was 18 and we were working together at Mars on Telegraph. I had just escape the confines of high school and my parents’ house, and I thought she was so cool. Like, ineffably cool. She was going to SF State studying film, and she lived close by me in West Oakland. She was three years older than me, so she could buy alcohol, and I remember thinking: she has so many friends. I wanted to be one of her friends.

We bonded over all the things we had in common: a mutual love for alcohol, a penchant for West Oakland warehouse parties, boy craziness and that unique mixture of punk rock and rap music that weird girls like us listened to in 2006. We would drive around West Oakland in her red pick up truck and listen to her original tape cassette of Mac Dre’s Too Hard For The Fucking Radio while talking about art films and feminism. She loaned me her Tom Robbins books and turned me on to astrology. She was so emotional, more emotional than any woman I had ever met in my life before. In fact, she was so emotional that in some ways it liberated me from my own prison of feeling out of touch with my own emotions. She wasn’t afraid to cry. She wasn’t afraid to yell. She wasn’t afraid to be mean to the customers who came into Mars and harassed us for being women. Like I said: so cool.

We started going to parties together. Her and me and a few other friends. She seemed to know everybody, which to me, at 18, was so impressive. She knew where to get coke, and she’d always buy me booze. She knew where the cool parties were and drove us all there. She liked going to the Lanesplitter’s in Temescal, and she’d buy a half pint of Ancient Age and dump it into our cokes so we could ripped before biking back to West Oakland. We had a penchant for drinking firecrackers, or Sparks (when it was basically proto-Four Loko) with a gin shooter. We spent all of summer 2006 hanging out at Dead Rat Beach (back when it was, um, a full blown meth lab). That Halloween, we got all dressed up to go to the party at Lobot but got so drunk outside that we never went in. (Even though apparently everyone was drinking mushroom tea. Whatever. I had more fun with Donna outside.)

Donna was the first friend I had who looked out for me when I was on my own. She was the first friend I looked up to. The summer of 2006 was wild, and eventually I quit Mars to go do better things. We were never as close after that as we were when we worked together. I have too many memories from those days to even write down here, mostly because I’m trying to finish writing this blog post without bursting into tears.

Even though we didn’t hang out as frequently as the years went on, we remained friends. I’d always see her at the random art parties I went to, at bars around town. She still played in bands and invited me to hang out with her. Sometimes we’d go to parties together, just like we had done all those  years ago.

Two years ago, after I had gotten out of the hospital, she texted me to wish me well. I told her we would hang out when I was feeling better. She told me that she had just started culinary school and would love to see me.

But I didn’t get to see her. She died in the Ghost Ship fire. Which was, as we all know, it’s own special hell of emotions. There’s no point in reliving any of that, but there is a point in remembering Donna and the impact that she had on my life.

Ugh. I don’t know. I hate all the sadness inside me right now. Because that’s not Donna, and that’s not the memory that I have of her. That’s not who she was to me, but I guess on the two year anniversary of her death I can’t help but pay homage to that sadness. Maybe tomorrow or maybe some other day I’ll be in a better place to tell you about all the crazy shit we did all those years ago. She was so cool, and I don’t want the world to forget that about her. I definitely won’t.

 

 

Dating In The Drowning Pool

So, I got negged last night.

I realized this morning upon further consideration that, yes, it has been a while since I’ve dived this deep into the dating pool, which is why I totally forgot about that irritating male habit of negging women. *sigh* I mean, I thought that I had found a cushier side of the dating pool. In the past, I wasn’t really into screening my dates for things like jobs – I would go out with anyone who had a dick and a bad attitude. But now that I’ve gotten older, I try to avoid the slew of fuck boys that had served me so well in the past. Now I’m aiming for the type of men that my friends tell me I should date, namely men who are older than me and have jobs and cars and a place to live. I’m not opposed to trying new things, so I’ve been pretty committed to pursuing the type of men that my friends think are worth my time. It’s not that I don’t trust my own judgment, it’s more that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I’m only going to get better results if I try something new. Right?

Wrong. Apparently, it’s possible for me to get worse results from a seemingly more reputable slice of the male population. Eh, I already knew this, but I was feeling optimistic, as usual. Which is why I got a drink with this “man” last night. He’s older, he has a nice car, he has a good job and money. I’m supposed to want that, right? (I mean, yeah, I do want that, but I want that for myself by myself and not because some man gave it to me. I know, I know, I’m “wanting” these things incorrectly. Or something.) So I entertained him for a bit. Mistake.

He was critical of the fact I wear a crucifix. There are a lot of reasons why I wear my crucifix, the first and foremost being that Catholicism is part of my identity. For a man to criticize the fact that I identify with a core element of my upbringing (while not adhering to its dogmatic tenets) and am not ashamed to show it to the world was, like, woah, wow, um, major red flag. Am I not allowed to have a controversial opinion? Am I not allowed to be honest with myself and those around me about how I was raised and the impact that has on me today? Let a bitch live, maybe? On the other hand, I also still admire the aesthetics of the Catholic Church, something which was iterated quite cohesively in this year’s Met exhibition, but, hey, that’s only a major New York museum, who am I to say that they’re right or wrong. Anyways, what I got from that first criticism is that he wasn’t interested in me, myself or how I identify. Cool.

Look, I’m not here to defend the Catholic Church. It’s basically just an international pedophilia ring, and it’s also one of the prime proponents of Western misogyny, so, no, not my favorite thing. But after having escaped that mind fuck cult, I’d definitely appreciate it if the atheists weren’t total assholes about my residual commitment to the dilution of Catholic iconography. Ugh.

But enough about the Catholic Church because it sucks and I’m not letting it hijack this blog post. Back to the date. Basically, anyone who knows me knows that I dress pretty flamboyantly in nice designer shit, so the fact that this guy honed in on my necklace as a topic of conversation rather than complimenting any of the other very nice things I had on was just like, yo, come on dude. Honey, not vinegar. I read The Game and I know how this works, which is why I don’t entertain anyone who negs me. Genuine compliments or gtfo. Because as I sat there engaging in that tedium, I realized, “Damn, I don’t give a fuck about his opinion.” Which is what negging does for me: makes me realize, no, I don’t care about this man or what he thinks or what he has to say, so, see ya. It would be one thing if a friend whom I loved and had known for years had something critical to say about what I was wearing – I would listen to them because we have built a rapport of trust and mutual admiration over the years, and part of that trust includes respecting their opinions. But some random man in the bar? No. No respect for you.

Whatever happened to manners. Or is this some weird residual call out culture bullshit. Or is this just men trying to be edgy and have opinions so that they appear smart and other worldly. Cuz it ain’t working. Although, no, it is working in making me realize: this is fucking annoying, I can’t believe this person makes more money than me, I think I need to try harder at work so I can have at least as much if not more social clout and real capital as this guy so I can go around being nice and generous with people. Y’know, for the culture.

Until then, I’m not sure if I’ll keep taking my friends’ advice on how to date in 2018. I mean, whatever, I start my pussy eating lessons next week so, who knows, maybe this is just a swan song.

The Girlfriend Experience: Step 1

He’s sitting at the bar telling me some sad, intimate story (that I goaded him into spilling because I like seeing the insides of people’s souls), and I can tell from the look in his eyes, that sudden fluttering of emotion, that this is the exact moment when, yes, like a revelation, I put my hand on his hand. And I wrap my arm around his neck, and I look into his eyes like I’m peeling back his skin and peering straight into his heart, which right now is full of sadness, and with my most maternal tenderness, I whisper, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”

This is a situation I engineered all on my own, so that I could be there to catch him when he fell. It’s part of the formula of falling in love: perceived vulnerability. You see, the thing about vulnerability is that it’s scary when you’re vulnerable with someone who doesn’t know how to hug you and tell you everything’s going to be okay. But I’m seasoned and I know how these human emotions work. I mean, fuck, I’ve been alive this long, of course I understand the commonality of the mechanisms of our inner emotions. I know how the machine of the soul works. I know which buttons to push. So I push him into loving me because that’s what I want because isn’t that what anybody wants? Don’t we all just want to be loved? I mean, yeah, you could say that pulling strings is just another form of manipulation, but it’s a benevolent act when we’re both craving the same end game. I want him to love me. And he wants to love me. So I’m going to make it easy for both of us.

At War With Gentrification

First of all, I hate the word gentrification. We are way beyond the Bay Area being gentrified and into the realm of an unmanageable population explosion. The fact of the matter is, gentrification is cemented in the Bay Area now. There’s not really any fighting left to be done. Instead, we have to ask ourselves: how are we adapting to change? Because that’s what we have to do. It’s a game of survival now.

For a long time, I really resented all the new comers. They were taking up space in the places I called home, but after seeing the throngs of people in Vegas, I realized: well, these people are now my neighbors, but, also – there has to be a smart way to deal with this. There has to be a way to make it work in my favor. This has to be an opportunity.

The reason why I resented the newcomers was because for a long time, they represented a dilution of the local culture. Newcomers moved into houses where my friends used to live, they brought different values (that I certainly don’t agree with) to Oakland, and their presence felt threatening. What I have to admit I regret the most about that mentality is: why didn’t I realize that it was a two way street? Why didn’t I realize that when the newcomers came here, they were being exposed to new values? Why didn’t I realize that I was the threatening presence?

Or, to put it another way, why didn’t I realize that I have the cultural control? As a local, I often felt like I was an overlooked minority. But what I should have realized was: I am a force to be reckoned with. Me and all my friends. I often times felt bulldozed by these newcomers who didn’t know how to adapt to the culture and speak the language. It made me feel alienated in my own home, and I allowed myself to feel alienated. But why didn’t I let them know that they were doing it wrong? That they had alienated themselves by failing to adapt to the local culture? I was so afraid of cultural erasure, but what I didn’t realize was: maybe I should work on erasing their culture and replacing it with mine.

I have felt so threatened by the newcomers for so long, but, you know what? I’m still fucking here. And I’m still fucking doing it. Who the fuck let me think that I was in danger because the newcomers had arrived? Nah. I was never in danger, was I? I was always right at home here. This is more my home than anyone else’s, and you know what that means? I hold the cards. I have the power. I know how this place runs. I know the people who run it. I know where to go to be seen, who to ask when I need a favor. I know how to navigate this wretched city, and I know how to influence the culture that makes this place ours. This place will be whatever I want it to be. I run this shit.

And so do you. You’re still here, aren’t you? You haven’t left, either. You matter, too. The rent is sky high, but you’re still making it. Damn – that means something. Our collective sense of comfort in this place is what makes us instrumental in building a better culture. It’s time for us to stop feeling threatened by the newcomers and realize: they are at our mercy. The Bay Area is changing, and we control the way it changes. Us. Only us. If anything, the newcomers represent the opportunity of a wider audience, a bigger marketplace. Our hustles should be better because we have more people to sell to. Our voices should be louder because there are more people listening. We don’t even have to worry about rising above, because here we are, on top. We have the power. Fuck anyone who says you don’t.

Get your ass out there and run this city. It belongs to you.

White Orchid Versus The IRS Incels

It was another day on the Internet, and White Orchid knew what she had to do. As she sat there in her bedroom in West Oakland, fresh off a flight from Las Vegas with her sugar daddy, checking in on whatever online chaos she had missed out on while dolled up and drunk in Las Vegas. Ah, yes, this new fuckery: the incels are reporting premium SnapChats to the IRS today.

White Orchid had weathered this kind of bullshit before. It’s 2018, and whorephobia has been peaking in a new and unexpected way: via the Internet. When White Orchid was growing up, the Internet was a far cry from what it is today. The Internet was Wild 94.9 chat rooms, MySpace top 8 drama, and tinged with the slight promise of anarchism and rebellion. But in 2018, the Internet had become less like the movie Hackers and more like an echo chamber of dystopia. The Internet was less a place to bring down the system and more a free for all for the rabid ideologies of fringe fascists. But you already knew that.

Upon reading the news that the incels had banded together to create a fever storm of hysteria around reporting premium SnapChats, White Orchid felt the same disdain that seemed to accompany all the other similar news that attacked her profession. This kind of news had become so common that she barely knew how to react to it anymore. There was certainly nothing shocking about it. It was merely another disappointment in a long line of disappointments.

News like this wasn’t unfamiliar. Even if trying to use the IRS as a weapon against sex workers was, as a tactic, fairly pathetic, the baseline whorephobia (which, in this moment, seemed to have grown beyond the quite roil it usually maintained beneath society and become a more publicly tangible incel rebellion) was cause for alarm. The actual threat of auditing seemed to be a bit unrealistic, especially given the amount of information that was required on that IRS form (no one’s using their real name or giving out their actual addresses or any other pertinent information), as well as the fact that the IRS cap for untaxable gifts had been set at $15,000 for 2018, and also PayPal generally doesn’t report income to the IRS if it’s less than $20,000 or fewer than 200 transactions in a year. White Orchid knew that her johns knew this – she’s good at her job, and she was lucky to be able to cultivate mutual relationships with her johns as her primary income. Cash is king, and White Orchid is queen.

Even though White Orchid knew she would be fine, she also knew that information is not the strongest weapon in the war between thots and incels – hysteria is. And right now the incels are controlling the narrative of hysteria. It’s moment like these when White Orchid wonders if wading into the trenches of comment threads and shit posting incels is really worth it. Because if this is a war, than anyone in the comment threads is a foot soldier, and foot soldiers are the ones who die first. Generals, however, are untouchable. So how do you shoot a general in the head?

The war between thots and incels is one that has boiled over in the last year or so. Sure, sex work has never been safe, but battles from previous years (such as PayPal freezing workers’ accounts) seemed tame compared to the hell storm of ire in the face of the incel war and SESTA/FOSTA. The male rage against women’s bodily autonomy seems to know no bounds these days, seeping into tech policies and federal laws and online meme wars. If sex workers aren’t safe, who is?

White Orchid couldn’t help but think: Where are the johns? Where are the men who love me? Where are the men with their high paying jobs and their access to power now? They’re absent, as usual, until, of course, it comes time for them to cheat on their wives and get their dicks wet. These secretive johns, who rub shoulders with people who can change the world, yet here they are in a walking hibernation of weakness, mute and inactive in the face of losing…us.

Guess this is what happens when a sex worker is the face of derailing a presidency. This is what we get when we are heroes. This is what we get when any asshole with a WiFi connection realizes that the Internet is a free for all platform for any wild thought that comes to his mind. We were never going to win this war unopposed – one can only hope that this is the death rattle, the last ditch effort of a soon to be extinct species.

With her last sip of wine, White Orchid realized: she wasn’t having it. She was sick of always being on the defense, especially in the face of men whose main rallying point was a shared inability to get laid. The sickness in this society is starting to rot away any last vestiges of hope and beauty, but there’s still a reason to fight. Isn’t there?

We are an army, too. White Orchid thought. And it’s time to get offensive on their asses. In a world of chaos, what’s the best way to win? Infiltration, of course.

The thing about this war is: it has always been going on. Before the Internet, before incels, before SnapChat, before Trump. White Orchid was born fighting this war, because she was born a woman, and she was born poor, and she wasn’t born white. That’s how society works: it is at war with you, always, and in different ways. But the thing about society is – it is defined by the people who built it and inhabit it, so to be at war with society is to be at war with some faceless, amalgamated enemy at all times. To be at war is to know that the people you fight are standing right besides you, in line at the grocery star, on the bus, next to you at the bar. The fight is constant, and it is invisible. Which makes it a tricky battle to fight, but after doing it for years – well, it doesn’t become easy, but it does become manageable.

The thing about the incels is – they will never win the game of charisma. On some days they might be louder than others, and on some days they might be more clever than the day before, and sometimes their chaos reaches new peaks. But the war of chaos is a zero sum war – no matter how loud, or clever, or chaotic they are, they will never win. No one will ever win.

This war isn’t being fought in the comment threads. This war is being fought in fine print – the type of fine print that you don’t read in the terms of the apps you use, fine print in addenda and articles in uninteresting legal documents, fine print in business contracts signed by business people who make deals that you and I will never hear of.

White Orchid knew this. Which is why White Orchid closed her computer and logged off the comment threads. The hysteria of the online world makes for interesting headlines, but public opinion can’t be swayed by something that the public never sees. So, kill it.

The freedom of speech is a whimsical marketplace and a lofty ideal, but the freedom of press is the one that matters more. Freedom of speech implies that whoever has the loudest opinion will be heard most clearly, but freedom of press dictates that whichever outlet can win the hearts and minds of readers is the one that matters most. Which means that the question has to be asked: when did the world stop loving women? Sure, maybe the world never loved women, but there used to be this idea that a woman was worthy of love.

Which is why we need infiltration. Which is what White Orchid had been working on all along: a more seductive narrative. A narrative so beautiful that it could kill every other narrative. It’s true, people are sick of being sold lies over and over again. But just because something is ugly doesn’t mean it’s true, and just because something is sensational doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The goal here isn’t to preach to the choir. The goal is to win hearts and minds.

White Orchid knew why these men feared feminism. Because what if every woman could be like White Orchid. Over the years, White Orchid had accumulated friends across various social strata. The point of those friendships was to create an impenetrable network of female solidarity, to invest in other women’s futures in order to elevate everyone within the network, and to gain influence across different echelons of society in order to build power in tandem with other women. It was the simple idea of diversification and infiltration, although it did require a considerable time investment. Hearts and minds, ladies. Hearts and minds.

White Orchid knew that in order to win the hearts and minds of other people, she had to win the hearts and minds of people like herself first. This is where the feminism comes in – when White Orchid started her nameless network, At first, the other women like White Orchid were angry. It was an insidious anger – one that came from outside of themselves and, once they had become infected with that anger, they aimed it inwards at themselves. Or, as we know it now: internalized misogyny. It was the first hurdle that White Orchid had faced years ago when she found herself alone and hungry and seventeen all those years ago in San Francisco. The first place she had faced it was within herself.

The anguish and the agony of fighting that battle utterly lacked glamour – as she sat there, still at her desk, still trying to figure out what to do next, she knew it was something she didn’t want to think back on. She knew that everyone in the battle today had some sort of tragic backstory. We all do. But there is no place for sympathy or sentimentality in this war. Just: phone calls. Text messages. Plotting and scheming. This is a battle for hearts and minds. This is a war to rewrite the fine print.

Learning How To Be A Lesbian

I went with my friends to the strip club the other night, and it made me learn a few important things about myself. First off, the strippers in Vegas are very hands on, which is something I was 100% not prepared for. With that lack of preparation, I realized: damn, I don’t know really know how to be a patron at a strip club. Sure, in the past I’ve enjoyed sitting at the rail and tipping and chatting, but, no, I was not prepared for hella titties in my face. It was nice, but also probably not really my thing. While I do love titties, I prefer to suck and fondle them rather than get hit in the face with them. Also, getting a lap dance was kinda weird, although because I’m from the Bay and there are pretty strict and heavily enforced “no touching” rules I didn’t really know how to touch a stripper giving me a lap dance. Like, is this okay? What are your boundaries? Ok, cool, you’re getting paid for this, but how can I not be a creep? On the other hand, I realized that sitting there and being slightly disinterested and slightly uncomfortable probably was not a good look because way to make someone feel like they’re not doing their job very well. So I tried to get into it, but how do I get into this? It was fun, but, wow, I do not have a penis, and getting a lap dance made me wish I had a penis just for this exact moment because it was pretty hot. On the other hand, the cynical part of me knew that this was just a simulation of sex and attraction and not the genuine thing, but who cares, I definitely got my moneys worth out of it. (Correction: I definitely got someone else’s money worth out of it). I realized that going into a strip club and getting a dance isn’t really at the top of the list of things I want to do in life (or even close to the top), and I  prefer sitting at the rail and watching the dances and chatting. Getting a lap dance isn’t something I would ever spend my own money on, not because my ego is so inflated that I think I can get that kind of attention on my own through the sheer force of game (I can’t, and I know that), but because it just didn’t give me that happy, tingly feeling in between my legs. However, at the end of the day, my true revelation was: damn, I have zero game with women. I don’t really know how to approach or be approached by a woman in a sexual sense. I’ve never really tried, mostly because I’ve spent all of my life focusing on how to be sexually attractive to men, but, you know what? Investing all that time into being attractive to men wasn’t necessarily the best use of my time and resources, so I think I’m going to learn something new. I’m going to learn how to be a lesbian. Which, I know, sexual orientation isn’t something that you can just flip on and off like a light switch. But that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not trying to make light of the situation. In fact, I’ve always been attracted to women. I’ve just never really known how to manage that attraction or even feel comfortable with it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love dick, but I’m kinda sick of being limited to heterosexuality. It can be a bit stifling. However, because I always aspire to be a good lay, this is going to be an entire learning process. Yup, you know what that means: I am on a mission to learn how to be good at eating pussy. I can admit in this moment that I probably fucking suck, which is part of the reason why I’m uncomfortable with approaching women: I’m totally inexperienced. Well, not totally, but I definitely don’t know what makes cunnilingus good or bad from a giver’s perspective. Every time I’ve gone down on a woman, I definitely felt like I was not as good as I wanted to be, which is why on some level I just gave up. The idea of studying women, studying their bodies, studying game is truly fascinating to me, mostly because I am a woman, so you’d think that I could just see myself and do what I like in order to make it work. I mean, I could, but, honestly, if I’m going to do this, I want to do it well. I’m also totally intimidated by the idea of learning how to eat pussy, but that’s great because I can’t remember the last time I felt sexually intimidated by anything or anyone. I’d like to overcome my fears. Luckily, I’m surrounded by a lot of supportive people who are invested in helping me reach my goals. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanksgiving Debrief

It was Thanksgiving, so we decided to go to the strip club because, fuck it, we were already in Vegas blowing off our families, so might as well roll with the theme, right? We had decided to go to Vegas after I told my friend that it sounded like a good idea, and then Kelsey told her sugar daddy, and he bought the three of us tickets. At first we were surprised that a simple request had been met with such elan, but as soon as we landed, we knew: we belonged here.

It was truly a quintessential experience, replete with spa treatment, thrift stores, and streets teeming with morbidly obese Middle Americans and also some Asian people. It made me wonder what Vegas used to be – if now it’s a family vacation destination, was there ever any point at which this city as solely reserved for beautiful people? Because that surely isn’t the case now. There was definitely a sense of anxiety that went along with being there, not in the sense that we were disappearing into the crowds but more that the crowds were consuming us whole. I guess I had hoped to glimpse something a bit more glamorous in Vegas, but there was a thickness of despair in the air on Thanksgiving day as we cabbed past the Taco Bell Cantina that was filled with large families feasting on xeroxed Mexican food in celebration of some supposedly great holiday.

But, fuck it, that’s why we went to the strip club, right? To filter out all the small children and the disappointed couples who had traveled to Vegas to realize that an unfulfilling life in bumfuck, nowhere is also an unfulfilling life in Vegas, just with more neon and service charges.

We spent Thanksgiving wining and dining in the classiest fashion possible before high tailing it to the Spearmint Rhino, where we managed to find a stripper who lived in Oakland, too. I mean, we had abandoned our families on Thanksgiving to go be debaucherous, so might as well commit to the theme wholeheartedly, right?I’m pleased to report that the strip club on Thanksgiving was everything I wanted it to be: filled with weirdos and creeps like us.  I, being straight, was fairly intrigued by the whole scenario but it was definitely a lot more exciting watching my friends get really, really into receiving lap dances, among other things.

I have to admit that it was hands down the best Thanksgiving I have ever had, despite the fact that I missed the usual locals and orphans party of desperation at Somar and Ruby Room, but, damn, there’s nothing that can top that party quite like a Vegas strip club on Thanksgiving. Won’t stop me from trying to top it again next year, but let’s wait and see what kind of fuckery I can find on Christmas first.