It’s been (way) more than a month now since Sex Blogger Christmas aka Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. I expected to write about this sooner but got hit hard with a cold-turned-infection the day I was driving home from the Summit; I missed a lot of work, have spent weeks exhausted and have had a lot of brain fog. The brain fog has clouded a lot of my memories, making writing about the weekend pretty difficult. I realized at one point during writing this (with its 14 edits) that I’ve been procrastinating on publishing this post because I’ve been afraid – afraid that it’s not good enough, that it’s missing important things, that I can’t do justice to my gratitude for Shevibe (my sponsor), Tantus, and Ricci Levy and the entire Woodhull Board. Because really, nothing short of a ticker tape parade would do justice to their greatness.
I absolutely plan to write up a separate post dedicated to what I learned during the Sex & Depression + Side Effects May Vary sessions. I don’t feel like there was enough for me to write about from Likes and Liberations, and #SFSMedia may not appeal to some of you – but if you are running the social media for your company, then you absolutely need to know what was said in that session. So many companies that want to work with me have atrocious social media accounts – some are so offensive they start a tidal wave of backlash, some are boring, some are dangerous and predatory. I do plan to write a post just dedicated to what was discussed in the #SFSMedia session.
There were sessions I missed, and it kills me to have missed them. I wanted to learn from Sarah Mueller again and understand more about bacterial vaginosis. I wanted to be inspired and educated about the intricacies of consent, but something happened. Both of those sessions were first thing Saturday morning and I slept in due to a few nights of getting less sleep than I need. I read these few tweets from the session on consent and promptly lost my shit. The tears wouldn’t stop flowing so I finally collected myself slightly and headed off to the Tantus Blogger Lounge to get some hugs and eventually put on my makeup when the tears dried up. The fact that there were so many sessions I missed (in part due to their early hour or happening at the same time as another session or my lack of spoons) that I made the suggestion that Woodhull consider selling audio recordings of the sessions next year, somehow. The #blogsquad is going to work on making this happen, and sponsoring it. Tweets are amazing but they don’t tell the whole story. There are little points missed in between sound bites – plus when you’re the one live-tweeting with such skill you too may miss something.
Thursday night’s group events didn’t work out for me entirely; they felt a little too loud or contained too many people I didn’t know. I ended up sitting them out for the most part. I was sad to have missed Crista’s thing at Bedpost Confessions but the popularity of that event led to a crowded room of people. There was a number of bloggers congregating in a circle in the parking lot, because reasons – Due to the collective anxieties of the group, I basically spent the weekend being some sort of fairy-godmother-Nancy-Botwin person. I remember showing Sugarcunt and….. I forget who else (ugh) the Rockbox Finger that evening and having to preface it with “Don’t. Scream.” before I handed it over. I went to bed, but not before catching a few Magikarp from my room!
Friday night’s Blogger PJ Party was amazing (and loud). Shevibe really did a fantastic job and we had so much fun. There were a few poetry readings from people braver than I; there were tunes playing that I didn’t really hear; and frequent pilgrimages to the parking lot (door! side door!). I have a photo I’ll treasure from the end of the night of a not-very-sober group hug between myself, Sandra (SheVibe), Metis (Tantus) and Ruby (Doxy), which I would love to share (but can’t). And hey we got a bunch of cool stuff from the party sponsors! Tantus, Doxy, Fun Factory and Sliquid, to name a few. This isn’t to brag – I want to share! There were a number of things that I already have one of and I think one of you should have it instead. How can you win it? Simple: Donate to Woodhull. I’ll have more details about this at the end of the post.
Saturday night was the fancy party and even though I bought a dress, I didn’t have the spoons to get fancy and femme and attend a loud group gathering so first, Epiphora, Sugarcunt, April and I had some dinner. Then I remembered this alcove dining area in the “retreat wing” of the hotel that had large, round tables and we took over with the plan of snacks and card games. The problem was we quickly discovered we couldn’t learn a new game when we weren’t sober (and we were definitely not). It was a fun attempt though and soon other bloggers in their fancy garb came from one party to another and in short order we had an official Cackle of bloggers spread out over a few tables. And hey, no noise complaints this year! Score! There exists a group photo of most of us from Saturday night that I love, but next year we need to get a proper photo of the entire blogsquad, all together.
The Best People on Earth
I have so many little and big memories of moments with the #blogsquad. For example, Thursday, Sarah helped me navigate the deceptively short (and enormously frustrating) drive from the hotel to Union Station to fetch Artemesia and Caitlin. I couldn’t have made the drive without the collective help of everyone and their maps because my GPS is a sadist. I will do my best to avoid driving in the heart of DC ever again, though. Anxious little bunnies just need to avoid gridlocked traffic with directions that include the phrase “From the right-most lane, make a left turn” and a train station without a goddamn pick-up lane/parking area to wait in.
Once again, the Tantus Blogger Lounge saved me. I crashed there for a bit on Thursday while I waited for a room to be ready; I hid there on Saturday morning to recover from a large case of The Feels brought on by reading tweets from #sfsconsent. There were amazingly geeky conversations there with Lorax and Mary as we talked about how best to swab porous dildos to detect bacteria or how to soothe burning genitals. There were discussions galore in that blogger lounge, and there were stories of horrific DIY sex toys. There were hugs and coffee and the Best Fucking Chocolate delivered to me. I left out my Jar of Horrors so that it could educate people all weekend. And yes, at one point I opened it up and made people poke it with a stick. I’m not joking. The orange-y bits which used to be cock extenders (and therefore pretty soft and pliable, right?) are now rock solid. All of the plasticizers have “leaked” out into the jar. Next year I’ll have to tie an information tag around it so that there’s a bit of a “guided tour” of important info readily available.
I reveled in Girl on the Net‘s accent (we Americans are often easily impressed with accents, but she’s lovely to listen to – and talk with!); I finally met Polly who I’ve “known” for about 8 years online. Bex was the first face I saw, and my first of many hugs that weekend. I soon met others I have only known online like Rebecca and Sammi, April, Taylor, Suz, Sarah and Sugarcunt – who all lived up to all my expectations (and then some). After many Facebook moments, I got to meet Ashley. I briefly chatted with Avery, had a little time with JoEllen, got in some amazing low-key chats with Epiphora, Bex, Girly Juice, Mandi, Rose and more. A bunch of us bloggers descended en masse to the hotel Dildo Factory as Kenton was creating a few things (and I even bought a Rainbow dildo!) after we’d spent more time fawning over Lunabelle‘s collection. I missed Penny, Lena and Reenie, though, who I spent a lot of time with last year. I met the lovely Rizzo from Tantus, and got to hang out and chat with Sandra, Thor, and Alex of SheVibe – they are a joy to be around and breakfast with them and Piph on Sunday morning was such a perfect cap to the weekend. I believe there are a few other bloggers who attended but an introduction/path-crossing didn’t happen.
Sunday, as many people were leaving, we all casually gathered (loitered) in the hotel lobby. This slow seeing-off helped me mitigate the worst of con-drop. We had fun; there were more hugs, so much conversation, and some fun pics. Sunday was really the perfect way to end the weekend.
I have Feels about these people. My people. Spending time with them, and being in the environment of a conference created with love and joy (a conference that celebrates everyone, including bloggers), was such a gift. I may not remember every conversation in detail anymore (thanks, sickness-brain-fog) but I remember laughter. Hugs. I felt heard, appreciated, respected. I may still have felt awkward, unsure and weird 1 at times but it all evened out. I might be a lot older than most of these people but I still feel like many things in my life had to happen this way to find these people, to be changed for the better by these people and this community has changed me. The blogsquad is a rock for me; collectively they are my soulmate and I don’t know what I’d do without them. I’m a better person for knowing them.
Dear friends: If you have a memory that in any way involves me from that weekend, please comment and share. It may help jiggle my brain fog. I’m writing this post in part to help me with my memory issues (which is why I write many things, tbh).
Next Year, Though…
My wish for SFS17 though is to fly a little less “seat of the pants” and plan a little more. A lot of us were able to talk in the week after Woodhull about our social experiences, others social experiences, anxieties, issues and more and it’s basically going to be even better next year. We’re going to get better about planning things for ourselves in groups and doing better at being inclusive with each other and those who are newer to Woodhull and the #blogsquad.
I want more small-group time to chat with people. I want to spread my time out so that I don’t leave and think “ugh I didn’t get enough time to REALLY connect more with that person!”, but also because I just personally do better in smaller groups vs 15 + people all at once.
If you are a blogger, or educator, or sex toy shop owner then you need to find your way to Summit 2017. If you are a company/manufacturer/etc looking to support one of the best sexuality conferences in the US, then you need to support Woodhull – both the yearly Summit and the Alliance. If you’re a sex toy company and want to connect with a ton of bloggers all at once, this is the conference to attend. Supporting this conference means you’re supporting an essential non-profit that fights for our sexual freedom.
Thank Yous and Thank YOU
My biggest thanks and endless gratitude goes to Shevibe – for being the best sex toy shop I’ve ever worked with; for being amazing people; for being supporters of the crusaders and bloggers; for sponsoring my ass. Without them, I would be lost. My thanks to Metis and Tantus for the blogger lounge (which needs to be bigger next year!!). I have such gratitude to Crista for her hard work behind the scenes, and Mandi. And all the volunteers who ran around with seemingly endless energy to make this conference the best it can be.
And a ginormous thanks to Ricci and the Board for creating the best sexuality conference, where everyone is taken care of, honored, celebrated and no stone is left unturned. In 2014, after some unpleasant events, I wished for a true home for the bloggers – a conference to bring us together, not push us apart. A conference to welcome us, and foster true community. Ricci Levy made that happen in 2015. Just like last year, the bloggers were thanked and treated with kindness and appreciation. For a number of us, this sort of treatment is still a bit alien (which is sad) but I feel safe in saying that for many of us, our heart is with Woodhull, firmly. The Summit is our superhero home base; it is where we gather to recharge ourselves and each other. Last year there were about a dozen of us attending and this year there was at least 2 dozen – safe to say this is the biggest gathering of bloggers in one space, ever. The Woodhull Summit – Ricci, the Board, the sessions, the volunteers all feed our souls in a way we’ve never experienced. It really is like Blogger Christmas – our reunion with part of our chosen family. I will forever be grateful to those who make this happen for me.
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And now, a little more about this Swag Bag package for ya. I have to thank all of my readers because without you reading and buying things and following me I wouldn’t have a sponsor and I wouldn’t get to go to Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit. Since you couldn’t go, the next best thing is reading about the things all us bloggers have learned, and getting some cool swag for yourself. Fun fact: I asked on FB if anybody else had a few items to throw in; Crista is now sending me a couple more items and Njoy, well….they took this from a mishmash bag o’ swag to a big grand prize.
You’ll get: A copy of the #NSFW coloring book from Shevibe, curated by Elle Chase. I have one, so you get my second copy! Bottles from Sliquid of their new coconut-and-plant-based oil lube, and their O Gel, plus a few packets of H20. A Mad Toto blindfold mask. A metal Doxy keychain! A literal dozen Tantus “tinies” and a bunch of Tantus stickers; a Shevibe logo sticker and Shevibe condoms. There’s also a Fun Factory logo pin and courtesy of me you’ll get a vulva/vagina pin and testicle pin from I Heart Guts and a couple of my Shevibe-designed sticker business cards. And not pictured, because it’s all en route to me, is Njoy swag. A small Pure Plug …. and an Eleven. Yep, an Eleven. Since the Eleven is such a big deal (and I know that people will want it who either went to Woodhull themselves or just don’t care about the swag bag stuff), it will be a separate raffle. The Pure Plug will be included with the Swag Bag.
How to be entered to win this pack? Donate $5 to Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit – every $5 you donate is a “raffle ticket” – plus there’re ticket bundles – using rallyup. The money goes directly to Woodhull2, not me. It’s open to everyone; I’d thought about limiting due to shipping costs that I have to pay, but fuck it. Anybody in the world can enter and I’ll happily pay shipping. You can buy a few tickets for each raffle, if you’re interested in both, and 1 winner for each prize pack will be chosen.