Sep 182011
 

Maybe you’ve lived through it yourself with with a family member. Hurricane, tornado, fire, flood….

Or maybe you haven’t, and have just seen it on the news and felt bad but couldn’t fathom it. That was me. I couldn’t fathom it. Even though I was seeing the photos of the area before I got to my Mom’s, I couldn’t understand.

I didn’t get it that 90% was going to be lost. I knew she’d had water in there, muddy floody water, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t know that every single cabinet would be ripped out and tossed; a lot of furniture ruined; drywall and insulation ripped out and flooring too until it’s just studs and plywood. When I finally walked into the house it wasn’t the muddy, chaotic mess of the first two days. They were already well into the gutting out process but it was heartwrenching to see. It was a shock. Something she’d designed and built not 3 years ago quite. By the time I arrived, mold was growing on things. Some stuff made of cheaper stuff like particle-board or similar couldn’t be saved. A lot of heirloom pieces had the veneer peeling off. Some pieces got sent to a restorer in an emergency phone call after we realized we’d lose some really important shit if we didn’t. I lost the piano I grew up playing for so many years. I used to feel ambivalent about it, til it got ruined. But when the cost of saving it was weighed with the cost of other things, I gave it up. I’m still sad though.

Thankfully only a few of mom’s photo albums got soaked, the ones she wrote in descriptions for. But hundreds of packets of photos that never made it into albums got wet and I have them with me at home now, and will try to salvage them.

Everybody says things like “Your mom is safe, healthy and alive, and so are her cats – that’s all that really matters”. “Her house is still standing…..gutted, but can be saved – it could be worse”. Yes. These things are true. These things are true ONLY because we have amazing family and local volunteers. People also say “They’re only items/furniture”. But when the items are very old and belonged to generations long gone, they almost contain the ghosts of those people. The items hold memories. It’s hard to lose them. I look at that one piece and remember it being in my gram’s house, growing up. I remember what was in it when it was hers. It was going to be mine. It was someone else’s before it was Gram’s. A china cabinet (to which I have the matching table) is one of very few things rescued from my grandmother’s home as a child when it was burning. That china cabinet was saved from a fire, and now it’s being saved from a flood by a restorer.

I cried when I first walked into the house. I took photos. And then I lost it when I saw my daddy’s thermal vest hanging up on the porch railing, muddy. It was the only clothing item I’d kept of his. I can remember being small enough of a child that I could curl up in it while it was zipped, and hide in it. We were able to wash it and hopefully save it. I see that and see my dad. So no, these aren’t just THINGS.

The universe decided to kick me in the gut while I was gone, and my site got hacked while I was defenseless with no internet access or computer. Thankfully AAG was able to eventually find the stubborn cause and cure it. I also oddly got tons of requests to join ToySwap, all while I can’t do a thing about it. *shrugs* It can wait.

I’m glad to be home. I know mom needed me even though I couldn’t help physically much, but I couldn’t be there anymore. I was constantly tired and in pain and frustrated/emotional, just as she was. It’s not easy.

I can’t fathom if we’d been one of the ones to lose everything.

I can’t. We lost so much already, if we didn’t have these remaining pieces and photos to cling to I can’t even fathom it. I know I’d forget too many important memories in the near future. My photos are my memories, as my mind starts deteriorating because of the fibro.

 

Regular “sex” blogging will return somewhat soon, i think.

Sep 082011
 

Life happens, shit happens.

Yesterday, I decided to go off of my “wakey wakey” drug for the day (Nuvigil, it does wonders for my ADD/fibro fatigue and fog) because I was getting a second trigger point therapy/beating, and the first one left me drugged-feeling and exhausted but unable to nap bc of the wakey drug. So I didn’t take it……and of course the second treatment didn’t affect me like the first. Then of course the doctor delivered the news that this back pain might never ever go away. I’d had hopes, and they’re barely clinging on now waiting for more treatments.

What I did notice though was that this drug, which is only FDA-approved for things like narcolepsy and sleep disorders (it’s been trialed though a few times on fibro patients to great result), keeps the hopeless-depression at bay. It’s not a stimulant, but it wakes me. It’s better than Wellbutrin for my mood. Yesterday was this mired pit of “I cannot bear to spend the next 30-40 years of my life in this constant daily pain and inability to do things” and said so many times I couldn’t bear to live with it that I scared my husband into fearing he’d find me dead upon coming home from work. The first time this sort of depression happened I wasn’t on any drugs, and it was after we moved here and I felt utterly USELESS. Like my life was pointless, I wouldn’t be remembered after death, I’d done nothing to leave an imprint on this world, etc.

The problem with the Nuvigil is that it will cost me at least $300 a month. This is in addition to all other health-related copays and such. And we do not have room in the budget for $300 a month. So I need to find myself a job that guarantees about $400 a month that I don’t hate and doesn’t exacerbate my pain levels too much.

Then last night my family world collapsed. My mother called me in fearful tears – a flash flood happened. She’d built her dream house on land next the creek she spent her childhood years growing up at, three houses down from her Aunt’s house (now her cousin’s house). She had her screened in porch with a full view of the creek below. It’s no stream, mind you. I’m terrible at judging distance but it’s perhaps 50 feet across and sometimes as wide as 100 feet? But during normal water levels you can walk across it, the water being no higher than knee/thigh level, sometimes as low as ankle. Anyways. Even in the flood of 72, the worst one, the water didn’t go inside her cousin’s house – this house is 100 years old I think. This time, it quite quickly became apparent that the water was in fact going to come up to the houses. She had very little time to rescue items and move them upstairs. Even one of her two cats had to stay behind, because said cat hid in the chaos. I was heartbroken equally about the cat as I was the house. She was safe, with her cousin and neighbors, in a house nearby but higher up. But 5 minutes into our call they lost power. Sometime later they lost phone service. There is no cell reception there, so we were cut off. I did nothing today but sob and worry about the house, her beloved deck, her cat, our family heirlooms and photo albums (with my declining memory, they are sometimes all I have of my past). I watched news broadcasts online all day. I saw viewers’ photos being posted on the news Facebook page. I panicked and freaked when I saw ones near her, of bridges gone and roads ruined. I still had no idea if her house was okay.

In the end, it is…..mostly. The cat lives. But there was 3 feet of water in the house. Recovering will take a long time, especially since she didn’t have flood insurance because she wasn’t on the flood plain and she was told she didn’t need it. We can only hope that FEMA will be available to help financially. I can’t get to her…..not to her house, because of the ruined roads nearby….not even to my family who live close to her, because of the PA areas being hit right now with flooding and major highways closed.

I have been updating family and her friends. It is reminiscent of calls made the day my dad died. I am retelling the grief and the destruction over and over and yes there is good….she is safe…she has a standing house…but she faces much financial, emotional and physical stress.

Husband and I were going out of town this weekend for a lovely late-anniversary overnight trip to Mystic but we cancelled – even though we now know we can’t do anything for Mom yet, I couldn’t possibly leave this house or do anything but worry. We’ll go another time, soon.

So….tomorrow and this weekend I crack down on cranking out e[lust], doing a much-needed temp job, as much as I can do of it before I go to my mother’s where I will be unable to communicate or have internet. I’d even typed up a few blog posts the other day but….I don’t feel like posting them. I don’t have the ability to be “here”. I can only focus on my mom and what we’re going to do, and making as much money as I can in 4 days. And trying to forget all the abominations I’ve seen on the CalExotics website, or the fact that they claim that TPR/TPE is a “safe” material and non-porous. :)

Next week’s WantonWednesday is prescheduled. e[lust] will be published to the best of my abilities. This blog will be stagnant for a little bit.

I really need something awesomely spectacularly good to land in my lap, soon. Very soon. Universe, I beg of you….give me a break. Give me a little rainbow….

Sep 052011
 

It’s been 20 years since I started high school. My high school was located in Western PA – I wouldn’t say it was an extremely conservative area but diversity wasn’t a word for us.

There were certain groups/types that I could count the number of on one hand – 4 grades, each with over 500 students.

  • Blacks
  • Overweight
  • Pregnant (I’ll go by per grade, but i think the most overall at any one given time during my 4 years was 10)
  • LGBT and open
  • Poor/very low income families

We were kids; and you know the saying “kids can be cruel” – they can. Overcompensating for their own insecurities. So yeah we gossiped and rumored about who might be gay but it was most certainly never in a positive light. Years later I’ve found out that some from my graduating class were in fact gay. Some we’d had an idea, some were a shock. All kept it fairly secret, though. There wasn’t even a hint of Kurt.

Through a situation that I don’t want to tell the entire story on to protect privacy, I found out that the niece of my old friend is an out lesbian AND has a girlfriend. And she’s a sophomore. Not at the same high school we attended, but in a town very nearby. I was shocked, if I’m being perfectly honest, but absolutely thrilled at the same time. Good for her!! She’d told her aunt that she’d known since she was a child. Her parents though are fairly conservative. Her father is a cop – a tough, daughter-protecting sister-protecting closed-minded rigid conservative. Her mother, I’d always thought, was fairly cool albeit quite religious. I’d wrongly assumed that at least her mother was supportive. It brought tears to my eyes when my friend told me that neither parent was supportive (although I’m not sure what exactly they’re unsupportive of – her being a lesbian or being out or having a girlfriend or all three) and that the only supportive adults in her life were my friend and my friend’s late mother.

Since I moved away (but even then, long before that occurred, we’d drifted apart) I had less and less contact with my friend’s family. I used to babysit for the girl and her sister, but the girl was a toddler back then. When I saw them both last year I was frankly surprised they had much memory of me. Bottom line is – I don’t know her. I’m “facebook friends” with her mom, and reconnecting with her aunt (my friend) but I do not know her. I told my friend to pass along my words of encouragement and support, to let the girl know that I think she’s awesome and brave…so brave. I find myself wishing that I could do more but I can’t. It’s not my place.

I know that bullying is rampant these days, I know that gay teen suicide is huge concern. I know that things are still hard for them. But can we maybe take a small “victory” that they’re coming out in high school years, and that it’s an improvement (albeit a very very slow one) from 2 generations ago?

Baby steps. But I wish they were big steps.

Sep 042011
 

Dr. Laura Berman’s line of sex toys has been around for awhile now. In fact when I first was purchasing sex toys back in ’05 they existed. Since then the packaging has changed; I’ve been able to see on the CalExotics website how some of the products have been slightly updated to look less cheap. But when you really get down to it my point is: If Dr. Berman were truly fucking serious about her sex toys then why the HELL did she partner with CalExotics?

Some of her products are eerily similar to existing CalEx products – they’ve just been made purple and rebranded. If she took a lie detector test (and passed) and swore up and down that she actually created the design of even half the toys in her line I would faint from shock. She does a great job of coming off as authentic and of course the MIGHTY OPRAH supports her.

I want to quote this, but since Dr. Laura’s site didn’t link to the original article, I can only link to quote on her site.

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about vibrators! The New York Times recently interviewed Dr. Laura Berman about her popular line of intimate accessories and the growing trend of women taking sex into their own hands. “Women are getting less and less caught up on an unrealistic and puritanical vision of what a good girl is,” Dr. Berman told the Times. “When they can embrace their self-stimulation, they can take ownership of their sexuality.” She pointed out that Sex and the City helped pave the way for sexual comfort in women and even the film industry is on board. Her products were in a recent episode of Private Practice on ABC, and in 2009, her vibrating panties appeared in The Ugly Truth, a movie starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. “That scene would not have been in a major Hollywood movie 10 years ago,” she said.

From Vibrators Carry the Conversation, New York Times, April 20

I do watch Private Practice and I don’t remember her products so I guess it didn’t stand out. “That scene” in the movie The Ugly Truth I definitely do remember and I also remember thinking that a woman would have to be highly sensitive and easy to orgasm if a pair of cheap vibrating panties sent her into epileptic convulsions. I’ve seen those panties in a sex toy store, I’ve read reviews. They’re most certainly not plus-size, in fact they come in only one size. Which is typical for CalExotics. They’re not exactly discreet, the remote is wonky at best and good luck being one of the few people for who the vibrating bit will be in the right spot (and stay there).

What else is typical of most CalExotics toys? They’re not “one size fits all” in situations where something claims to be; they’re cheaply made and even the higher end lines cut corners (like “couture silicone” dildos filled with foam, covered with a silicone skin) and they’re never going to last you very long at all. That’s fine for the 4,000 items they sell that are under $25, but it gives sex toys a bad name. When I first was buying toys and thought that Dr. Berman’s line was something special and better, I was so sorely disappointed by the reality – cheap, plastic, and somewhere out there is probably a similar version of it mad eby a different company and it’s much, much better.

If I were a famous sex sex educator I would *never* partner up with a company like CalExotics to bring my ideas to the public. Smart people who’ve bought toys with famous names on them like Sue Johanson and Dr. Joel Kaplan will probably lose respect from sex-toy-buying people after trying out their cheap unoriginal CalExotics toys. I’ve noticed that most of the old Sue Johanson line is discontinued on the CalEx site but can still be found elsewhere, mostly alongside crappy reviews. I recall once when I was considering a fancy and expensive clitoral/nipple pump system I looked at one that had the Dr. Joel Kaplan name on it. I was briefly suckered in until a reviewer friend pointed out that A: It was manufactured by CalEx and B: It was a copy of an existing item in their line up, just with different colors. Wow….talk about deflated! The credibility and reputation of all of these educators has plummeted in my eyes after seeing what crap they’re willing to pass off to unsuspecting sex toy noobs.

Lest you think I’m just ranting here against the shitastic CalExotics, I will state that I have (sadly) owned 4 of the Berman Center line of sex toys. And I owned them and hated them well before I was a sex toy reviewer with access to high end toys. /disclaimer.

Since this rant is mostly targeted at my disgust that a well-known sex educator would partner up with such a shitty company, I want to direct you to some more reading to know more (if my past reviews haven’t said it) about why I will never endorse/support/recommend 99% of CalEx toys. True Pleasures talks about her time as a CalExotics “Sexpert” and it really says a lot about the company. Please give it a read if you haven’t already.

Sep 012011
 

Recently I asked you all what you wished you would have known before you bought your first sex toys. One of the biggest things I’d touched on was that back when we first started buying toys there were no bloggers reviewing toys. I could see that a customer named Maria loved it and had great things to say about it, but I couldn’t ask Maria a follow-up question. I couldn’t ask ANYbody a question on a particular toy. I couldn’t really find out if one person’s “Wow that’s strong!!” was my “Meh…it’s so-so”.

Now I want to express here that I mean no disrespect to MyPleasure.com and especially Garnet, who works with us irritating bloggers ;)  – it’s just that in my sex toy noob days we probably dropped around oh….$300-$350 over a couple months buying sex toys and accessories at MP that ultimately left us disappointed or frustrated or both. We were too afraid to drop $75+ on a better toy and I was still figuring out what type of vibrations I liked, along with being able to tell if something really was “powerful”. It’s nothing against the site; it’s simply what they happened to carry back in oh….2005? 6? And quite frankly, their selection was less iffy than Adam & Eve’s selection at that time but also much much smaller; yet both were already leaps and bounds better than they’d been even just 3 years prior. I think it’s only been in the last 4-6 years that sex toys have really taken off into the “premium” realm – yes? no?

Anyways. So there we were, looking to make another batch purchase from MP in the quest for more exciting orgasms and we’re trying to find things for me and for us. Enter: The vibrating cock ring. In theory it’s good. In actual practice it requires two things: for the woman to not have full outer labia and to have a prominent clit; and for the couple to be engaging in sexual positions that maximize body contact  – i.e. something more tantric, maybe, or woman on top with very little thrusting. The key there is: very little thrusting. Because for every outstroke……AWAY goes the vibrator from her clit!!!

We quickly learned two things: A small watch-battery powered bullet vibrator was not going to vibrate his cock enough for me to confuse him with an actual vibrator. And two, half-second collisions with my outer labia wherein 1 out of every 6 thrusts might have landed the bullet in the vicinity of my clit did not have a prayer, not even halfway there, of giving me a clitoral orgasm during penetrative sex with him.

I can’t find the exact cock ring that we bought back then, but I think that this one is pretty close, ours was clear. I think it was TPR because I don’t remember a jelly stench, but clear stretchy TPR acts like jelly – kind of tacky, it sticks to itself, and it picks up dust/lint/fur. Once I went to pull it out of our toybag, the bullet wasn’t inside the little bullet sleeve, and it was this…..unrecognizable mass of clear sticky material in a ball. We finally figured out that if we stuck it under the faucet the water temporarily de-stickied it so that we could untangle it and maybe use it again. I must have tried the thing at least 3 times before it took up permanent residence in a pocket of the toy bag. Long ago I reviewed Lelo’s answer to a more premium vibrating cock ring, the Bo. Their updated version, Lelo Tor remedied one or two of my issues with the Bo, but in the end it’s still the same concept as the $16.99 TPR jobs – it’s not going to provide the clitoral vibrations that I personally need in either strength, type or time length of contact (can you orgasm with a black fly? that’s what it’s like) so it’s something that is more for “him” than “us”.

Vibrating cock rings. *shrugs* I just do not get the appeal. At all.