Today was the official first day of the Desiree Alliance conference.
I woke up at my usual time and got online, hoping not to disturb Jill. She woke up anyway and we started chatting, which means my e-mail got short shrift. I convinced her to go to breakfast with me (if Iâ€™d known how sick she was feeling, I probably wouldâ€™ve forced her to stay in bed). I made sure to gather everything Iâ€™d need for my presentation today and plenty of books. I was just resigned to pain on the walk to the conference building.
We arrived a little later than I wanted, but everyone was running a few minutes behind. Lots of people were there and plenty of mingling. I realized the folly of not having anyone to sit behind the table where my book was displayed in order to sell it. I had to try and track people down. No one recognized me from my author photo (different hair â€“ I guess itâ€™s a Clark Kent thing). Lesson learned.
Jessica kept asking me if I was nervous about my presentation that afternoon. No, strangely, I wasnâ€™t. It didnâ€™t hit me until the moment I stood up in front of the room with my speech notes in my hand.
The keynote address was by Veronica Monet, whom I first read about in an Allure article as a teenager. She looks exactly like her pictures. She spoke well and eloquently about the larger issues of sex, sex workers and society. Her speech was 20-30 minutes (I wasnâ€™t timing it) and too short by far. I have no idea if sheâ€™s given this speech before or not. I wish it was broadcast nationally. I think it couldâ€™ve changed a lot of minds.
After that, we jumped right into the schedule. There was always an event going on in the main auditorium, with smaller events in a couple rooms upstairs. All events in the main auditorium were open to the general public but some smaller sessions upstairs had restricted access. The only issue that I had with this arrangement is that sometimes I wanted to be in two places at once. But from what I understand, this typical of all types of conferences, forcing one to pick and choose from a tempting program.
We had a short lunch break and a few of us (Jill, Jessica, another friend and I) trooped out to find lunch. We passed Good Vibrations and I told myself I needed to stop in and see the manager sometime to present my book in person (I never did though). We got the food to go and ate it on our laps in the auditorium. During this time, Robyn Few was speaking about SWOP. She called Jill and then me to the microphone to discuss our condom donation program (more details coming very soon). I was not expecting this and got very shy.
I also missed saying hello to Veronica Monet because I was worried about being called up front. That was disappointing.
Soon it was time for my privacy presentation. I needed to use PowerPoint and DA was aware of that. But there was no tech support and I wasted a hugely frustrating amount of time (30-45 minutes is my guess) trying to find a projector and laptop, then trying to set both of them up to project my slides. If it werenâ€™t for a couple volunteers in the room, weâ€™d still be sitting there staring at a blank wall.
Iâ€™d spent so much effort in preparing all of my speeches (two solid weeks not working on my book) and I was very invested in seeing it go smoothly. Wellâ€¦since it took so long to get things set up I was 1/3 of the way into my presentation when we were told weâ€™d have to vacate the room for another group. The only solution was to wait for the main auditorium to clear out, then set up there about 25 minutes later.
When setting up in the main auditorium, I lost my cool and walked out. I didnâ€™t want to yell and swear so I just left. But it was pointless. I had an audience who was patiently waiting to hear what I was going to say, soâ€¦a volunteer finally figured out a way of setting it up. I made an angry statement before I began my speech and then started in where we left off. It was the most fractured presentation I think Iâ€™ve ever heard about.
The day was over. I was worn out. There was a SWOP meeting after I attended. I grew bored and frustrated, so Jill and I left to get dinner. They were accomplishing some things, but nothing that needed my input. Dinner was good but not at this Italian place I had my eye on (I never did get to eat there). Jill and I went back to the conference for an evening session. It was very relaxed, with low lights, wine and snacks. Both tired, we left early and found the BART train back to the hotel.
At one point, I forget when, another attendee took me to the BART station and showed me how to get to my hotel. Thank god. It was cheap and I didnâ€™t have to walk far. The instructions were included in our DA packets, but I didnâ€™t pay attention because I knew I would just get myself lost.
Right behind us were two other attendees. One was going the other direction and the other was staying in our hotel. We ended up having a long chat and a drink in the hotelâ€™s bar. It was a good time even though we were all very tired. (Jill told a hilarious story about anti-porn feminists, a porn-store owner and bagels.)
Back in our room, Jill and I continued our conversation for another hour. I think we were both dead on our feet but the opportunity for talk was too good to waste. This time my bedtime was 1am. Although my mind was going 100 miles an hour, which normally keeps me awake, my body was tired enough that I was out in seconds.
In case readers are wondering, yes, I enjoyed every session I attended and regret that I didnâ€™t take more notes (a constant regret in college too). I spent the entire day listening or talking and the love-high was like nothing Iâ€™ve experienced in my life. But Iâ€™d rather not discuss, in detail, the sessions I attended or the people I met. Many of them are not public figures and prefer to keep it that way.
There is far more to this conference that I couldâ€™ve ever imagined and these blog posts are just the smallest part of it. Remember, I was still missing out on the Sex Worker Fest events that were also going on every evening. Despite my frustrations about the lack of technical help with my presentation, it was the single blot on an incredible day.
There wasnâ€™t enough time.