Excerpt: 'It's My Pleasure'

Pleasure isn't really about happiness or sadness. Of course, the path of pleasure is bound to lead to more happiness. Still, happiness is fleeting. Bad days and moods are inevitable, and often monthly. But pleasure is something you can keep with you and draw on in good times and bad. Those moments of self-discovery can strike you even when you're down, if you invite them to, and we've found that pleasure is always the result. Pleasure is a path of hope and optimism, belief in love and, yes, romance! It's a path that leads to happy endings and true love, but it's up to each of us to create it. We'll let you know what's worked for us. But ultimately the journey is yours to take and create. And the pleasure is yours, too.

Driving Down the Highway of Pleasure -- Maya

According to some people, I should be a total screw-up. I lived with my single mother and had no biological father figure. I watched MTV and movies featuring nudity and sex at a young and impressionable age. I learned and used quite a few curse words at the age of four. I never made my bed. I played with Barbies. And although I had lots of cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents around -- all of whom adored me -- the center of my universe was always my mom and I. And the strong bond between us is part of the reason I think I turned out OK.

Because it was most often just the two of us, we had to spend time together and love each other and become friends. All in all, we had (and have) lots of good times together. We share music (although when I borrow CDs I rarely give them back); we go to movies together; we talk about books we read. She gave me all her old Barbie clothes. We spent Saturdays at work -- she had her desk, and I had mine in a corner of her office. We drove all over town on endless rounds of errands. For a while, we lived in a one-bedroom basement apartment in Washington, D.C. We talk on the phone every single day, sometimes twice.

But liberal as my mum is and was about bedtimes, sex, and stuff like that, she also was overprotective. I wasn't allowed to cross the street by myself until I was around 11. I was forbidden to drive by myself until I was almost 18. Eventually, after all the pain and drama and oppression, I finally was allowed to take the car out. And, damn, was it good. It felt like life really began for me when I learned to drive. One of my favorite things to do is drive on the highway with the music really, really loud, singing along, with happy tears in my eyes. Something about that makes me feel the glory and magic of the universe to an insane degree. I guess it's what really religious people get out of church.

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