Gina de Vries

The election & other thoughts from The Road

Filed By Gina de Vries | November 06, 2008 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Weekly Reader
Tags: Barack Obama, election 2008, portland, prop k, Prop. 8, reading, seattle, teaching, tobi

Tuesday night while friends of mine were watching the election returns I was on a train from Portland to Seattle. It was, to say the least, bizarre to be on a train -- without cell service for half of the ride -- during the hours of 5pm-8pm on election night. I was calling and texting friends and family like crazy -- "What's up w/prez? Prop 8? Prop K?" Then, inevitably, my phone would cut off. Ten minutes, later I'd get ten texts all at once.

Ma was the one to call me about the presidential election: "Gina, Obama won!" We squealed and laughed with each other for a few minutes. Then my phone cut off. My service came back, I called Ma again, and we laughed some more. Then I realized everyone around me was dead silent and I felt conspicuous about being that loud bitch on her cell phone, so I said good-bye. But Ma called again five minutes later. "Hey Ma, is everything okay?" "Yes, yes, I just... Jesse Jackson is on TV and he's crying. This is amazing, Gina."

It is amazing. I'd been scared that the election would either get stolen like it did in 2000 and 2004 or that Obama would get elected but then be assassinated. Okay, maybe that's a titch hyperbolic, but shit -- just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you! I still can't really believe it.

I was on that train from Portland to Seattle because I've been traveling through the Pacific Northwest since Halloween night: teaching two all-day writing workshops & then doing a reading at Reed College in Portland; getting in some much-needed time with my brilliant, hot, & awesome long-distance sweetie; and, yesterday, heading up to Seattle to visit my old & dear friend from high school, Elisabeth (who you might remember from such excellent nerdgirl anthologies as She's Such a Geek).

It's been a fantastic, if slightly packed, trip. I'm very happy to be sitting at a cafe in Capitol Hill right now, with no plans other than lazily wandering around till Elisabeth gets home, at which point we will spend our evening... uh, probably in our pajamas, watching movies and playing with her cats. I know a lot of my writing is all about the backrooms of bars and sex parties and late-night adventures, but goddamit, people, teaching and writing all day and then reading/performing all night is exhausting. I loved being in Portland and teaching at Reed, loved the ways that people were excited and sweet and seemed really touched by my work and words -- but I'm absurdly excited about having a quiet night. It's taxing to be "on" 24/7, and as extroverted as I am, sometimes I need a re-charge.

* Some more about the election: I'm way bummed about Prop 8 winning in California, and about Prop K losing in San Francisco. I'm really impressed that K got 43% of the vote, though. I think that sets us up really well for getting a bill to decriminalize prostitution passed during the next San Francisco election. Also, I want to say here that I'm extremely proud of all of the amazing and hard work my friends and colleagues -- especially my friends Violet, Patrasha, and Sadie -- put into the campaign. You're stars and angels, darlings. This is by no means a defeat; this is the start of something great. Thank you for doing such an incredible job.

Portland is a funny place. It was charming in some ways, but it felt very much like a town to me. I'm realizing that while towns are nice for me to visit, they're not places I could ever see myself living. Seattle, on the other hand, really feels like a city, and I like that a lot.

My "You Can't Say That" workshop (about writing about secrets) could have been better -- it was the first time I ever taught it and it was a learning experience for me as an instructor. I learned some really valuable things, especially about what pushes my buttons as a teacher and ways to challenge myself to listen and critique writing that's hard for me to stomach (horror writing, for example), but that is still important for the student to share. Lots of food for thought.

"Hot, Not Throbbing" (the sex writing workshop) was fun fun fun! One of the exercises I used was to have people write personal sexual Yes/No/Maybe lists, and then write erotic language Yes/No/Maybe lists -- which we then proceeded to write up on the dry erase boards at Reed. It was a real testament to how everyone's taste is different -- some people hate the phrase "making love," for example, and some people like using it in some contexts, so that went up on the "No" and the "Maybe" lists. It was kind of amazing to see a big board in this very collegiate atmosphere full of things like:


  • fuck
  • clit
  • words with hard sounds
  • power dynamics
  • eroticizing things that usually aren't eroticized -- queerness, fatness, trans-ness
  • "pleasure"


  • vanilla sex
  • fruit metaphors
  • "making love"


  • "give pleasure"
  • fruit metaphors
  • "making love"
  • "love muscle"
  • "boobs"
  • masturbation euphemisms w/the word "bishop"

I really wish I hadn't forgotten my digital camera. I so wanted to take pictures.

Savvy Plus is a pretty amazing fat girl clothing store in Pdx. I found a gorgeous green lace shirt (which I'm wearing over a slip right now), and the perfect red Marilyn Monroe dress. Pictures forthcoming.

My reading on Saturday night was in a chapel, and went like a dream. Toni, you woulda been proud of me.

It's time to go explore Seattle. That's all she wrote, folks!

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Jesse Jackson, the man who wanted to cut Obama's you-know-whats off, was crying because he's out of a job now. He was always the spokesman for bad behavior (crime, sex, drugs) being prevelant in the AA community because the racist USA gives them no avenue to achieve. With an AA now elected President, Jackson's day is through.

What a great story to tell when people ask you were you were when you found out Obama was elected, Gina!

how did love muscle make the no list? that word is sooooo sexy!