Mar 022013
 

I wouldn’t quite say that I have Obsessive-Compulsive Planning Disorder but it’s close. I got it from my mother, who also passed on her compulsive over-packing syndrome. Toss in a case of Chronic List Making, and you would think that I have a complete inability to be spontaneous. That’s not exactly true; if I know that *something* is going to be happening, then yes I need to have an exact plan for it. If you text me and say “OMG let’s go to ____ right now!!” if it’s within my doing, I shall be doing.

Let’s take last year’s MomentumCon. I took the train down, then had to catch a subway, then locate the hotel. But I’d never been to the train station here, and of course I was worried about locating the subway and navigating it. So I did research. I drove to the train station two days before my trip as a dry run, to ensure that I didn’t miss the turn and end up getting lost and missing my train. I used Google Maps street view and satellite to figure out how to get from the train station to the subway. I printed out subway time tables. Yet still I was a nervous wreck at all junctures. It’s just how I am.  This year I’ve decided to drive down, since it will (hopefully) mean 3 less hours of travel time, but now I’m all anxious over being able to find the turn-in for hotel parking on the first try, and anxious about the whole parking situation. If I leave for dinner, does that negate the daily parking rate?

Packing? Oy with the lists already. But in my defense…when I don’t make these lists days/weeks in advance? I forget lots of shit. Just this past week I visited my mom and I didn’t make a list. I forgot my back-up sleep medication, miscalculated what to wear by an entire day’s outfit, and forgot at least 4 other things. My brain just doesn’t work very well on these things. So I make my lists days and, for more important trips where forgetting something could be monumental, even weeks in advance. I leave them up on my computer and every so often I will think of something else.

Last year’s trip was made a little bit easier because I was rooming with Crista and knew that I likely wouldn’t have to worry about say, being alone for dinner. Yes, that bothers me. But this year things are still up in the air for things to do and the whole gluten thing makes it even more complicated. Last year we spent a lot of time eating in the hotel restaurant. I will speak to the manager when I get there, but I just don’t have much confidence in their ability to prepare me a safe-from-cross-contaminations meal. I’ve scoped out other places to go eat, but I sure as hell don’t want to go alone. And I don’t want to go off-site for lunch and risk having to miss an after-lunch session, or go hungry. Despite trying very hard to work out the whole “what to wear” issue, here we are 2 weeks away and I’m up in the air on at least 2 of 3 outfits. To say that it’s upping my anxiety overall is an understatement. And now topping things off is the worry that I will need to seriously conserve my spending from here on out and while I’m at Catalyst. Blah. Let’s top things off with the fact that I just trimmed my overgrown bangs, realizing only after that I don’t like how I look with bangs, plus they’re a pain in the fuckin ass to “do”. Can’t just wash and go with my hair.

Let’s add in the fact that, since I’m driving myself, I feel the freedom now to essentially over-pack. The thought of packing my Ninja cooker actually did come into my head, as a way to avoid the restaurants and have safe food…but I like the social aspect and want to spend time with people as much as possible. I’m bringing items for people (note: if you’re on Toyswap and are interested in anything I have, and you’re going to Catalyst, let me know and I can bring the item with me) and for my own comfort. I have an overabundance of makeup samples and trials from Sephora, and am bringing those for my friends to paw through. I’m bringing my Devine Playchest for Crista to have. I may pack my Fucking Sculptures dildos for people to fondle. I’ll definitely be bringing gluten-free foods so that I’m not in danger of going without (or worse: having my bacon cheeseburger on a piece of lettuce).

It occurred to me too late about business cards. I still have some mini-moo cards from last year, although they’re a bit outdated now. But I don’t have it in me to design new ones, nor do I have the funds. It’ll have to do I suppose for the 3.5 people who may ask for one.

I think I’ll go pack a few things tonight. Nail down an outfit. Wonder what I’m forgetting.

 Posted by at 9:37 pm
Apr 032012
 

I mean “aftermath” in the best possible way, but yet my brain is a freaking mess. “Overstimulated” is the best way to describe my current state. I go from leading a fairly boring life to a jam-packed weekend full of sex geek fun, feminist conversations, sex-positive atmospheres and 50-some hours with “my people”. It’s funny to me how different Mcon 2012 was from Mcon 2011 – a lot of the same people were present (but yet a lot of new faces) and a lot of similar sessions/discussions but my experience was very different. This year I co-presented a session on Blogging (the only session not to focus on anything sex-related, I think), I found slightly fewer sessions that interested me and/or applied to me personally, I hung out with different people.  Last year I think I really only spoke with 1 of the vendors but this year many hours of conversation was had whether it was in the vendors rooms or over drinks in the hotel bar. It was enlightening, empowering and validating. I think I have a better idea of what road I’m going to be taking now that my time in the sex bloggosphere has hit a multi-path fork in the road.

I will continue to remain “Lilly” and mostly anonymous. I will not be telling my family anything, unless it gets to a point where I simply have no choice. It’s not easy lying about my whereabouts but it’s been done so far. All that matters is that my husband is incredibly supportive of me and loves what I’m doing, loves that I care. That’s really all I need. He had a supremely shitty work week and was just depressed and exhausted; I felt guilty, a bit, for having fun at Mcon when I felt the pull to be a supportive partner to him but he wouldn’t let me go there. He insisted numerous times that I deserved this fun weekend and that I needed it, that he was proud of me and wanted me to soak it all up. And I did.

I was still my same socially awkward self, but less so. I started up more conversations. I put myself into conversations. Yes, I panicked when I realized that the “oh hey meet us at the bar for drinks” turned into “Oh, we’re sharing a table with Dr. Carol Queen, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Lynn Comella and Metis Black” but hey, I didn’t speak. I let the grown-ups talk while I sat on the edges in awe with the lovely Jenna of Tantus. Crista (my amazing partner in crime for the weekend, and roommate) and I hung out with Ducky Doolittle, Jenna and Metis; had conversations and intelligent discourse on the ethics and practices of the sex toy industry. It was a dream. I got enough hugs from friends to last me weeks. I felt pretty in my big Victorian skirt. Nobessence is no longer an entity, a luxury company – I know them now to be a spectacularly amazing couple leading a fairly normal but wonderfully sex-positive life committed to making excellent sex toys. I’m trying so hard to keep all the memories and words said in all these amazing conversations fresh in my memory but my cursed brain is leaking out things. I hate that. I wish I could have just been wired all weekend, recording everything like a spy. For my own personal use, of course, nothing else!

You all know I’ve never thought much of the Big 5 companies of the sex toy industry, but I know think even less of them if possible. While I can’t repeat some of what was said, suffice to say you should just take my word for it. Support the smaller companies whenever possible, you’ll never regret it. But I also learned that I’m wrong sometimes and while I still say JimmyJane is overpriced, Jacq from Sugar in Baltimore told me things that changed my opinion a bit. I finally held a fully-charged Form 2 in my hands and noticed it only once had that wonky motor issue other reviewers had mentioned but I also noticed that it was perhaps a little more powerful than I expected and it certainly surpassed the (still hate it) Form 3.

I think I’d like to consider the possibility of hanging up my shingle as an official consultant. Now to narrow down who I can help and what I can do and how to go about making this a reality. But there are a number of smaller sex toy companies/manufacturers/adult industry people that need a better SEO presence and need more information on social media but don’t know how to get it. I think I have something to offer. I have the experience of being on both sides of the coin.

I can only hope and pray that there will be a Momentum 2013 because we all need more – more instruction, more discussion, more debates, more affirmations – and we’re not done learning. If you are reading this and read my posts about last year’s event and say “I wish I could have gone”, here is my advice to you: Do whatever you have to do to start saving up now and get yourself there next year. You have no idea how it will change you. It changes you. It’s amazing. Thank you, everyone, for making this weekend the best weekend I’ll have all year, hands down.

Mar 252012
 

In less than a week I’ll be at Momentum, back in my beloved bubble of My People. Of course, in exactly a week’s time from right now, the moment I’m writing this, the bubble will be slowly bursting and all of my lovely friends will be departing for home and quite likely I’ll be alone in my hotel room for awhile. Hopefully I’ll be able to do things different this time and be able to write better about sessions I attend. Last year I tried to take notes and live tweet but all of that left me missing out on key statements – let’s face it, I have the focus and attention span of a gnat. This year I’ll be getting over my high school / college era anxiety and will be parking my ass in the front rows for many sessions so that I can just take personal use audio recordings for later perusal. I’m hoping that my fear of public speaking (or performance, as was the case growing up of participating in piano recitals) will not cripple me for the morning on Saturday. The session Laura and I are presenting is nothing like anything else going on (we’re doing a geeky session on Blogging) which could work for us or against us. It fits in with Momentum but yet in a tiny way it doesn’t. The UK recently had a conference called ErotiCon and while at first it seemed to deal a lot with the erotic writing and such, there was still a lot of sessions that would have been very useful and at least one that sounded similar to the one we’ll be doing. After reading someone’s re-counting of a session they attended there I’ve realized that I’m technically not a sex blogger anymore – I fall into a better category called sex journalist. But can one be called a journalist if they’re only writing on their own blog?

Momentum is probably one of the few sexuality events that is attended by all sorts of people who are horny perverts in their own ways yet there is no “play” party or plans of sexy orgies. At least not for me. I just want to soak up the company of People Similar To Me while it’s available before returning to my currently-boring life. Perhaps inspiration will strike me when I’m down there, who knows. If it will happen any place, it will happen there. The sessions blow my mind. The abundance of influential people is awesome and scary.

Overall I’ve been very excited for this weekend for the last few months. Some things have happened in the last week or two – seemingly minor things to other people but things that nonetheless speak volumes to me – which have set in motion a terrific depression and a heartache of epic proportions. So if you are at MomentumCon and catch me in a moment where I think nobody is looking (or I lose my self-control for a moment and my mask slips) and you wonder why I look so miserable….just give me a hug. Or a cigarette. Or both. I’ve not smoked in months but damn I need one lately. I have no fucking idea yet what I’ll be wearing because my entire wardrobe has been the butt of some huge cosmic joke or karma for who knows what. No big deal to some people but (confession time here) I’m one of Those Women who somehow think that a killer outfit will make up for the fact that my personality is not always sparkling and vivacious, that my social skills are lacking and that I’m not conventionally beautiful. Will a really great outfit (or at least ass-kicking boots) be enough to shut off the little voices in my head? You know, the destructive ones. I don’t know. I guess I can try. If I could suddenly heal this heartache the weekend would look much brighter but I can only hope that I’ll find a way out of the grey cloud long enough to enjoy the friends I so rarely get to see. Hopefully I can get it through my head that they won’t love me more if my nails are properly manicured or if I were 80 pounds lighter and just relax.

Oct 212011
 

If you thought I was intimidated freaked out excited by the list of presenters, you should have seen me when I viewed the list of sessions. The one that caught my eye and I Will. Not. Miss1. is just….oye I’m so verklempt. Read this.

The Dirty Business of Sex Toys
Metis Black, Greg DeLong, Rachel Venning, Dr. Carol Queen. Moderated by Lynn Comella

Sex toys, or “novelties,” are a billion dollar business. It’s an industry that thrives on creative (and not so creative) minds and ethical (and not so ethical) business practices. Get an insider’s look at a few company’s core values, and talk about material safety, creative rip offs, labor relations, financing and politics. Hear some stories on the challenges that have arisen and how very important you, the sex educators, bloggers and the consumers, are in moving and shaping up the industries ethics.

YOU GUYS.

I’ll probably have to be bound and muzzled so that the panelists and other people can actually have a nice session. I mean, you all know I have opinions on this stuff. Oh….opinions. I has them. I’ll be sure to pack a panty liner in case I piddle a little. Seriously now. The Founder of Tantus (yay silicone!), the Founder of njoy (yay Pure Wand!), a co-owner/co-founder of Babeland and Dr. Carol Queen. It’s like a goddamn sex toy reviewer’s wet dream.

Other sessions that I am really looking forward to:

So yeah…I’m seeing all this serious but awesome stuff and thinking “Gosh these are some intelligent people” and yes. I’m intimidated.

Our session is a lot different; Blogging 202: Take Your Site to the Next Level is definitely more “teach” than “discuss” although there will be a lot of discussion and questions. The geek in me will likely overprepare and have way more info than we can squeeze into our 40? minutes. A little less than 40. We want to let brave souls share their site link and get our un-sugar-coated 30 second opinion on it *grins*

(I might need a bodyguard)

I’m really excited to work with AAG on our presentation and see what we can teach people.

Now accepting volunteers to sit in the front row in their undies to help break the ice and my fear of public speaking!

  1. I am not above bribing the ladies who make the schedule with rich chocolate cakes to ensure my session isn’t going on at the same time
Oct 202011
 

After our session proposal was accepted I had this big feeling of “oh FUCK why did I do that???” Because I have the worst stage fright / inability to do public speaking / inability to behave normally in social situations.

And then today…..today they released the names of the rest of the presenters. You go take a look through that and then come back here, eventually.

Back now?

WTF AM I GONNA DO?

Do you see those people??? They’re famous. Or they have letters after their name. Or both. I don’t even know yet what the sessions are going to be, much less the session schedule to know what we’re up against in our time slot, but about halfway through the list three things went through my mind:

  1. I hope I can get somebody else to video record the sessions I wanted to see that will be going on at the same time as ours, so that I don’t miss anything good
  2. The audience for our session will likely be small
  3. Thank god for #2. Any more than 15 people and I’ll likely ask a few to strip to their underwear because I wouldn’t be able to imagine them in their underwear and do a presentation at the same time, my ADD doesn’t allow for such multitasking.

The session AAG and I are doing isn’t intellectual or provocative in the way that most of the others will be. Our session is going to be very slideshow-heavy and I’ll probably make up a something or other to hand out digital session guides with links to all the helpful places we’ll talk about. Our session is “Blogging 202: Take Your Site to the Next Level”. I’ll talk more about it when they officially release all the sessions.

If you think you want to go, you should start saving up now. I remember reading the tweets last year of all the people who regretted not going and I think that it’s going to be an even more impressive and wonderful event this year. Last year they limited the attendees to 250 people….this year it’s 400 people. Wow that’s a lot of people. This year their early bird ticket price will end on January 2nd and I have a feeling that most of the tickets will sell by then. It’s not cheap, but it’s very much worth it – so save up. Buy a few less sex toys or something, lol. REGISTER HERE.

My next step is figuring out how to get there. Can my body handle a nearly 350-mile drive? On major highways that are sure to be subject to traffic delays? Fly…..ehhhh, not so crazy about that idea. Not at all. I could take Amtrak….

Drive – cost of gas, toll on my body at 7 hours of driving, $12/day parking – but I don’t have to worry about lugging around heavy suitcases, which would require to be checked @ airport or lifted higher than I can manage on trains and rails
Plane – not going to find a ticket for less than $300, plus requires a layover in Philly, and then get to the hotel. And deal with TSA. And flying fat.
Train – will take less time than driving, at 5 hours, is affordable at $50 each way. It’ll land me at Union Station which will require 2 MTA rails to get to the hotel. Can I do that without getting lost? Must get a ride to the train station at home both days.

Apr 132011
 

One of the mind-altering panel sessions that I attended at Momentum was Who is SexyKitty69? Exploring the social media pros & cons of anonymity. Twanna Hines1, moderator, and Shanna Katz2, Samantha Fraser3 and Stef Woods4, panelists, were all originally anonymous bloggers (see footnotes for their “out” stories). They all now show their faces and blog alongside their real name. Katherine Curtis, also on the panel, is a little more like me (half-in half-out) except that she shows her face; she keeps some anonymity by using Kat as a pen name on Naked News.

There are many reasons why bloggers of any niche change from anonymous to open; most of these bloggers out themselves. Conversely, some like the blogger-formerly-known-as Zoe Margolis /Girl with a One Track Mind, have been outed without consent. She was outed because she wrote a book based on her blog, and published it anonymously. Since this happened back before sex bloggers and risque books were “common”, the UK media did everything in their power to find out Zoe’s real name. The damage done to her life was, and continues to be, devastating in many ways.

Blogging about sex isn’t always as easy to do as “the real you”. It’s a touchy subject in this country, and it can be very off-putting for some to openly discuss the sex they’re having knowing all the while that friends and family could be reading about last week’s threesome at any moment. For many, the cloak of anonymity offers freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and less worry that you’ll have to deal with real-life fall-out from the content of your blog.

With my fast-approaching life changes, I’ve considered being “less anonymous” on my blog. I’ve considered finally disclosing who I (at the time of this post still) work for, as an explanation for why I had to be so careful. I’ve considered showing more of my face, or even sharing more personal details about life in general. Instead, I was smacked in the face with a realization during this session: there is no way to reliably and easily walk that tightrope. I would never put my real name on this blog, yet I’d consider exposing details that, if anybody who knew me were to find my blog, would identify me as much as my name or face. It is all too easy to slip up and give away something game-changing. I didn’t think about those details until this session.

It also occurred to me during this session that I really need to re-think how my future plans for the sex toy education parties are going to affect me and my anonymity. One big facet of the workshop was to teach them how to find reliable sex toy reviews – and I feel that it’s easier to find a reliable reviewer by looking to the blogs. (You can go back and read all their reviews, see what they like and how they like it and find someone who’s likes and dislikes mesh with your own; you can also see that they’ve been giving credible and thorough reviews for awhile.)  But by teaching them to search for reviews on blogs, you know what’s going to eventually happen, right?

They’ll land on my blog.

While I don’t show my full face and try to only show enough that still gives me a veil of “is that…..? nah….not her,” I could be wrong. One of them could easily find my blog and recognize me! Of course, since these people will be somewhat local to me, there’s a chance they might know others I also know, or others I might write about in the future (should I start going out again). All of which leads to this really big reminder:

When you blog, it is not just about YOUYou are involving everyone in your life (unless of course you never, ever write about anybody other than yourself).Your partner, your friends, your family and even your boss/coworkers/company. If you’re anonymous it’s not as big of an invasion unless one of them finds your blog. If you’re out or decide to be out….you’re not just outing yourself. You’re outing them all. And did they give their consent? Probably not, I’d guess. And even if they did give their consent could they even have a clue what consequences there will be? Can even you foresee the future complications for yourself? Your partner? Your child? Your future child? Your next job? There is a big responsibility to everyone else in your life when you decide to blog publicly about sex. Take responsibility. When the shit hits the fan take responsibility for it yourself. Please don’t expect other people to clean up your mess5.

There are notable downsides to being out. Shanna pointed out that if she ever wanted to go back to her old type of work, in the vanilla world, she’s going to have a very hard time getting a job. On the internet, “Shanna Katz” is completely tied to her old moniker “Essin’Em”.  Employers DO Google and man will they ever get an eyeful when they see her internet presence – sex educator, sex blogger, she’s been in porn, etc. Awesome creds for sex-pos jobs, scary creds for say….an accountant. Stef pointed out that she’d like to adopt a child. Will her blog, which is about her friends/dates/sex life, prevent her from being able to adopt a child? Will they employ slut-shaming tactics and judge her mothering abilities based on the blog? Katherine Curtis and Shanna both have had fans try to “friend” their mom, their partner, etc on Facebook. And of course there’s the nut-jobs who might stalk you.

I don’t mean to be the purveyor of doom and gloom here, I truly don’t. I recognize that coming out and blogging as the real you (or in my case, just a little bit more of the real me) can be freeing. No more worrying about someone finding and outing you without your consent, and no more dual identities. So what about a little of each? Sharing some privacy-cropped photos, details of your personal life, attending events where a roomful (or conference-full) of people are putting a face (and maybe real name) to your blog but yet not going completely commando – taking care to draw lines and use different email addresses, not showing your face on a public blog, not sharing even your real first name or the name of the town you live in? But if you think you can pull off that tightrope walk of being half-in and half-out, consider these facts:

  • 78% of Americans are online.
  • 52% of people are on Facebook.
  • Half of those on Facebook are online at any given moment.
  • The average Facebook user has 132 friends.

Luckily for me I don’t meet that average number. Over a year ago I had a very close encounter with Facebook’s lovely practice of recommending friends based on things like number of friends in common AND who’s in your combined address books of the third party accounts you both chose to associate with the Facebook account. I’d had a blog-me FB and a real-me FB. One day I noticed that someone who was friends with real-me had requested to friend blog-me. Thankfully, she’s pretty cool and open and had no problem with the blog. But she had uh, ahem, recognized the cleavage in the blog-me photo I’d chosen to use. Not my face, not the background…my cleavage. What if someone else from my friends list at that time had clicked on the recommendation, not by recognition of my tits, but sheer curiosity? Would they have made the connection, seeing more of my body parts? It was a nerve-wracking 36 hours as I did my best to shovel dirt on my tracks and delete my blog-me presence in Facebook.

Another potential disaster that happened, because I was cocky and not thinking, occurred early on in my blogging career. I showed potential OKC or Craigslist dates my sex blog. After all, it gave them a pretty good inside scoop as to what I liked sexually and hey – great conversation starter! I know other sex bloggers who’ve done it as well with mixed results, but I just happened to show it to someone who worked for the same organization as me. The cards collapsed when he figured out where I worked based on one of my photos wherein I showed something outside one of our office windows. Once he knew what building I was in, and based on what I’d already disclosed privately and on my blog about my office…he came over. He didn’t ask, he just did it. Since I was a receptionist and not hidden in the cube farm, he was able to walk right by my desk.  He had texted me in warning about 20 seconds before entering my floor so I had the warning and I didn’t look up from my desk. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a guy walk by that had to be him. He didn’t say a word, just walked by. Twice. As I trembled in fear and adrenaline, I realized that he knew too much.

And he had seen my real name.

The panic that ensued on my part nearly got me to yank the blog entirely. He could have outed me to my boss and gotten me fired. It was a HUGE deal.

Instead of shuttering my entire online presence, I removed a few photos, changed a few others, & changed some previously-written details within my blog entries. At the time I balked about doing that. It felt “wrong” to me. Like I wasn’t being as authentic as I could be. But one smart point that Samantha made during the session was this: What is more important: The safety/happiness of a date/partner/job/yourself, or the story? She even brought up the time she was forced to change details & even remove some posts altogether once she was outed, all in the name of protecting someone she cared very much for who didn’t want to be on the blog.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now going forward. I do know that I have a lot to think about, both with this blog and the sex toy education parties I plan to do. The session presented me with a look at what could happen, and to be frank…it scared me. But it is a fear I am thankful for. I WILL be more careful, and I will put a lot more thought into my actions with this blog. I will think about myself, my family, those I’ve talked about on this blog, those related to those I’ve talked about on the blog and so on. I will learn to compartmentalize better and be safer while still retaining my authenticity and not becoming a recluse.


I’d really like to hear thoughts from all types of bloggers who are in various phases of anonymity or out-ness. What are your reasons for the choice? Do you plan to change? Do you have a “shit hit the fan” plan?
  1. Twanna started out blogging just as Funky Brown Chick when she was approached to do a paid writing gig for Nerve; once it was made known to her that they wanted a face shot to go along with her byline she took the plunge
  2. Shanna blogged for a good number of years under her roller derby name, Essin’Em. When she got her sex ed degree and started doing college campus tours and various classes it became clear that using her real name (which is what’s on her degree, of course) would make things infinitely more easy. It helped that by then she was working already for a sex-positive company (Fascinations/FunLove)
  3. Sam was anonymous until she was approached by a national newspaper to do a big front-page type article on her and her husband’s open marriage lifestyle – complete with real names and face photos. They both took the plunge with much thought and reverence given
  4. As CityGirl, a DC dating blog, Stef attended some blogging gatherings. When she attended things as CityGirl she would allow them to photograph her from the back, showing only her trademark long red hair. When she was at events as Stef the attorney, she allowed full face and name photos. But one day at a DC Blogging bash, an online publication listed her face shot as CityGirlBlog’s Stef Woods, not what she req’d: Attorney Stef Woods. The change was quickly made online and she continued to be partially out in the DC social scene. It wasn’t until her breast cancer diagnosis that she decided to be fully out on her blog in the name of activism
  5. and yes, I am referring to a few bloggers most of us know – be their situation chosen or outed, I don’t support their cries to the community for money to help them clean up the messes they ultimately made. Cold? Maybe. But when you’re doing something risky, you have to be prepared. I’m not going to help you pay for your unpreparedness
 Posted by at 2:32 pm