Friday, August 28, 2009

sex and menopause

I just found a really well written and comprehensive article about sex and menopause.

If you have someone who could experience menopause in your life - check it out.  

There's more about sex and menopause coming from me soon too!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Free Live Sex Show!

This is kind of awesome.

Apparently, The Standard Hotel and it's floor to ceiling windows overlook the new Highline Park in NYC (i'm so jealous every time i see someone tweet about going walking on the Highline!  Can't wait to check it out.).  And folks like to fuck in the windows.

Seriously - who doesn't like to fuck in floor to ceiling windows looking over NYC.  That's good times! And, apparently, folks have figured out that there's a good view from the Highline.

Free DIY peep shows.

God, I love New York.

*Pic from the Standard website

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PP Clinic in Sioux Falls Stays Open!

After I graduated from college, I worked for Planned Parenthood of MN/SD. Actually, when I started there, it was PPMN - we added SD and right after I left, they added ND.

Those of us who live on either coast may not understand what it's like to get an abortion in most of the country.  It's not just making your decision, making your appointment and having the procedure.  It can be an ordeal.

First, you have to get to the clinic.  In many states, that involves a long drive.  Of several hours (or more).  Wyoming doesn't have a clinic at all.  Neither does western South Dakota or North Dakota. Some states require a 24 hour waiting period between receiving counseling and having the abortion.  Because, you know, women are stupid.  And aren't able to make up their minds on their own.  Or maybe didn't realize that having an abortion would end their pregnancy?  And if you're under 18?  Well, you have to notify one or both of your legal parents.  Even if you don't actually have a relationship with one of them.  Or, if say, one of them is in jail for abusing you and their parental rights weren't terminated (I'm not going for effect here, that actually happened to one of my clients).  Of course, you can go to court to get around the parental notification rule.  Which means getting to court.  Not a problem if you live in a metropolitan area.  But in rural areas?  Well, I know one 15 year old woman who "borrowed" her parent's car in order to drive to the county seat to see the judge.  45 minutes away.

I worked with the Regional Services department of PPMNSD when we took over the Sioux Falls clinic. There, women drove more than six hours and slept in the parking lot.  They couldn't afford to pay for a motel.  The doctors wore bullet proof vests to go to work.

A few years ago, an abortion "informed consent" law was passed in SD.

In order for anyone to have any type of medical procedure they must sign a a release, and go through a process called informed consent. A medical professional reviews the risks and benefits of the medical procedure with the patient, answers questions, and makes sure that the patient is firm and clear in their decision to have the procedure and that there are no contraindications to the patient receiving this procedure. It's basic medicine.

And as someone who performed the informed consent and decision counseling, let me assure you, the process used at Planned Parenthood and most other clinics that provide abortion services?  It's way more comprehensive than what I went thru as a patient for my tonsilectomy or my knee reconstruction.

Part of the anti choice stragey has been to pass laws that specifically dictate what must be covered when a woman is getting an abortion. You can have heart surgery or a tonsilectomy and your doctor determines what needs to be covered in informed consent, but an abortion, which is way safer than either of those two procedures? Your friendly neighborhood policitician would like to tell your doctor what to say.

These laws serve two purposes. First, they ensure that the anti-choice agenda is present in the treatment room. Second, they put an increased burden on the physician. What they don't do is improve the quality of care.  Informed consent is already a critical part of providing good care and of risk management.  It's the doctors who don't do good informed consent who get sued.  And lose.  Any doctor worth their salt is going to put an emphasis on this part of the procedure (or ensure that it is well taken care of by their staff).  These laws aren't about good medicine.  Or well informed patients.  They are about harassment.

What's the big deal? 

Generally, most of the informed consent process (with any medical procedure) is handled by nurses, counselors or other clinic staff. The physician checks in with the patient, answers additional questions and signs off on the forms (which have already been signed by the patient and every other part of the clinic staff that has seen the patient).

It's done this way for several reasons. The most obvious is money. Physician time is expensive - when you go to see your doctor, your doctor is expected to see 4-6 patients an hour depending on the type of medicine. A nurse practitioner can see fewer patients per hour, a counselor even fewer. Since doing good informed consent work takes time, it is usually performed by someone who's time is less expensive, hopefully ensuring the patient is able to get all of the attention that she needs and deserves. 

Secondly, physicians are trained to perform medical services. And they're really good at that.  They receive very little training in how to talk to people.  They often aren't that great at it. And even less good at speaking in a way that is intelligible to someone who is not well versed in medical terminology. Telling a woman that there is an X percentage chance of uterine perforation isn't very useful when she doesn't know what perforation means.

So what happens when these "informed consent" laws are in place is this. The informed consent takes place like it always has. Then, the physician has to read the patient a statement that was prepared for them by the legislature. Not prepared by a medical professional. And in most states these statements are not even medically correct.

The SD law was particularly awful. The law requires that the physician disclose to the patient the following:
That the abortion will terminate the life of a whole separate, unique, living human being;
That the pregnant woman has an existing relationship with that unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution and under the laws of South Dakota;
That by having an abortion, her existing relationship and her exisiting constitutional rights with regard to that relationship will be terminated;
A description of all known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman would be subjected, including:
Depression and related psychological distress;
Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;
A statement setting forth an accurate rate of deaths due to abortions, including all deaths in which the abortion procedure was a substantial contributing factor;
All other known medical risks to the physical health of the woman, including the risk of infection, hemorrage, perforation, danger to subsequent pregnancies, and infertility;
The probable gestational age of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed, and a scientifically accurate statement describing the development of the unborn child at that age; and
The statistically significant medical risks associated with carrying her child to term compared to undergoing an induced abortion.

S.D. Codified Laws, § 34-23A-10.1 (2006)

What's the problem here? Well, first of all, there is no good medical definition of when life begins. A definition of life and when that begins is a spiritual, religious, ethical and philosophical decision that is utterly personal. Telling a woman that her pregnancy is a "whole separate, unique, living human being" is both insulting and medically inaccurate.  A fetus at 12 wks LMP is absolutely not capable of existing on it's own.  For some woman, such a statement may be ethically true. But that's for her to decide.

"That by having an abortion, her existing relationship and her existing constitutional rights with regard to that relationship will be terminated;" makes it sound like if something went wrong during the abortion and it was a result of medical malpractice, she would have no legal recourse. Also not true.

"Depression and related psychological distress; Increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide;" Also not true. Study after study has found that patients who were emotionally healthy before an abortion are emotionally healthy after. Patients that struggled with their mental health before an abortion may have increased symptoms after, just as they would be at increased risk for symptoms after any stressful event.  Furthermore, these individuals would be at significantly increased risk of post partum depression or psychosis. Even Regan's Surgeon General C. Everret Koop found that there was no increased risk to a woman's mental health after an abortion. And he was (is) prolife.  Every clinic in which I have worked has taken the mental health of our clients very seriously.  And clients with pre-existing mental health issues were provided with additional support and follow up.

"All other known medical risks" - well, this part isn't a big deal. It was already covered. In detail. And, may I remind you, an abortion is always safer than a full term pregnancy and delivery. And all women receiving abortions are pregnant. So a full term pregnancy and delivery? Yeah, that's the only other choice.

PP refused to follow this law for multiple reasons (although they have always engaged in a comprehensive informed consent process) and has been engaged in legal battles over it since 2005. Which of course is costing money on both sides that could be better spent on things like, oh, WIC programs, accurate and useful (eg. not abstinance based) sex education, reduced cost or free birth control including Plan B (the morning after pill), etc.

Recently, the Health Department threatened to shut down the Sioux Falls clinic. Last week, a court decision came down that allowed the facility to remain open. The physician still has to tell the patient that "the abortion will terminate the life of a whole separate, unique, living human being". But, they don't have to state the crap about suicide.

So, for now, the clinic stays open. And women from South Dakota still have access to abortion services. Although they have to jump through absurd hoops.

I have counseled thousands of women seeking abortions.  The truth is, for all of the women that needed counseling, a shoulder to cry on, or for someone to tell them that it was ok for them to not have an abortion and continue the pregnancy, the vast majority of the women I saw knew what they wanted. They'd thought it through. They were clear that having a child at this point was not a good option for them and/or their families. Women aren't stupid. Never once did a client say to me, "Really? You mean if I have this baby the father will have to pay child support? I had no idea!"

These laws aren't about supporting women. They are about restricting access.  And controling women.

So here's to a small victory in South Dakota. That leads to a much bigger victory. Another day of providing the women of South Dakota with the ability to control their own destiny.

Want to support the clinic in South Dakota?  Click here.
To support political action - PP of MN, ND and SD Action Fund
To donate funds in support of the SD Clinic email

Want to support an agency that fights for abortion rights? Click here.

Or support a woman in need of an abortion who can't afford one?  An average first trimester abortion costs $300-600 depending on where you are in the country and is often not covered by insurance (if you have insurance).

Condom Olympics!

next time someone tell's you their dick is too big to use a condom. refer them to this.

as a former pageant girl myself, it's awesome to see contestants doing good and having fun!

courtesy (i'm ashamed to say) of

i'll admit it. i was looking at info about MJs death...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Porn star return to Florida to Dance

Jazella Moore, the porn star who is married to Scott Janke, the former City Manager of Fort Meyer's Beach, FL is returning to Fort Meyers.

After her husband was fired, both she and her husband left town. According to AIN, she has been performing since - and is coming back to Florida as a feature performer at the local strip club.

Admission is $20. And that's before paying for a dance.

That's the way to work it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Night sweats: another michfest blog

Friday night I went to bed early.

I lay in my tent with a fine drizzle pitter patting on the fly and listening to Amy Ray's voice echo thru the trees. I love the Indigo Girls. And I love Amy Ray's solo stuff. It's gritty melodic. Part of me really wanted to be at the show. But I had three workshops to teach the next day. And one of them was new. I curled up in my nest of clothes, shoes and slightly damp pillows and fell asleep with Amy Ray dancing in my ears.

Part way thru the night I woke up. Desperate to pee. Only to find that sweet drizzle had grown into a torrential down pour. I practiced kegels. I prayed for a break in the rain. The rain was very determined. Finally I did that thing that you aren't supposed to do, but most of us end up doing at some point during the week: I darted out of the tent and peed in the woods. Walking to the porta janes was just not an option. Not only would I have been even more soaked. But I wouldn't have made it.

So, a little wet, but pleased i hadn't actually peed IN the tent, I crawled back in and went to sleepy town. Again.

By morning, the rain hadn't exactly stopped. It had more eased off into something like those mist-ers they have on the streets in Palm Springs. Except damper. And not at all refreshing. I pulled on some moist clothes and trundled off to the Saints for a hot coffee. Or three. Came back gripping my coffee like it was a life giving elixir (which it was) and sat under the grotto smoking, caffeinating and reviewing my notes for the morning workshop.

This morning I was teaching my sex and menopause workshop for the first time and I was nervous. You see, I'm 37. And I'm not peri-menopausal. When you're teaching about sex people want you to have personal experience in the specific thing that you're teaching. Which makes sense and doesn't. Everyone's body is different. And no-one expects the civil war teacher to have been there....

But my partner is 12 years older than me, and we have a lot of customers at the store that are in various stages of menopause, so the subject has become something I'm really interested in. Especially because the culture I grew up in had a tendency to talk about older women as sexually "over". Anytime you tell me that a woman is finished sexually, I get skeptical. And I've never understood why an "older" person would be less sexy. God knows I'm a hell of a lot better in bed now than when I was 18. Why would the learning curve stop?

Which is part of why I've always been attracted to women that are a little bit older than me. I look for those hot little lines by the eyes that tell me a woman has lived some life and learned some things. I love those lines. They make my stomach flip.

I've been working on this workshop for months, but purposely put off teaching it until Michigan. Because Michigan womyn won't let me get away with shit. If I'm saying something stupid - they'll tell me. I was counting on it. And a bit frightened of it.

All week, I'd been hearing from different women that they were looking forward to this particular workshop. 35 years ago this festival was founded by women in their 20s. You do the math.

I looked doubtfully at the sky and wondered if I'd even get to teach. But festies are intrepid. So my rain boots, my purse, my notes and I trotted off to the workshop area. I had to spend a little time looking for the workshop area. Usually, I teach in Area 9. That's where they put all of the sex workshops. It's a bit out of the way, and the actual workshop area is down a longer path. It helps keep kids away (not that I've ever had any problem with girls trying to get into workshops they shouldn't be in -they know the rules 18 and over). But this workshop wasn't in Area 9. Which offended me a little bit. What - we aren't going to be dirty because we're talking about menopause? It's going on my comment form.

There were about 4 women waiting for me in the workshop area. I sat down on a tarp covered stump. We waited a bit longer and a few more showed up. It was still misting. We started talking. I was learning a lot. But I was a little off my game. The mist became drizzle. We kept going.

Then it started to pour. My notes started to run. I looked around at the women who were gamely trying to stay present as rain poured off our hoods and onto our noses. And suggested that we adjourn to the Sugar tent back in the crafts area. And so we did.

On the way I stopped by the workshop coordinator's tent and told them that if it was still raining at noon, I wasn't teaching my ass play workshop. Not going to talk about relaxing muscles while it's cold and raining and we're all holding our bodies tensely wondering if our tents are staying dry. It's not conducive to learning.

So we tromped back to the Sugar tent and stood around, shoulder to shoulder and finished the workshop. It certainly wasn't the best workshop I ever taught. But I learned a lot. The most important thing that I learned was that we need space to talk about this. The changes that happen in our bodies during menopause are pretty big. Many women still have satisfying sex lives, but our bodies work differently. And knowing that we aren't alone is critically important. Remember when we were teenagers and our bodies were doing all kinds of crazy shit and we felt alone and freakish? The hormonal shifts of menopause are just as big. And create some of the same feelings. I know that some of the technical info I shared was useful, but even more useful was holding the space for women to hear from each other that they weren't alone. Or weird. I was honored to be there. And honored that these amazing women trusted this 37 year young woman to share their space.

So, thank you women, and thank you Michigan for giving me these gifts. I'll treasure them.

And I'm just a little bit more grateful for the roof on my house when it rains and I don't get even a little bit wet.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Clitoral research!

The LA Times recently published an article about Kim Wallen, an Emory University professor's research.

The theory is that folks who have less distance between their clit and their vaginal opening are more likely to have orgasms from just penetration.

Which makes perfect sense - the closer those two things are, the more indirect clitoral stimualtion a person would receive from penetration.

I'm wondering how he will differentiate g-spot stimulation in his study...

Anyway, check it out!

Gender, running and why science can't tell us what sex we are

For those of you haven't heard yet, there is a young South African woman who is a runner. And she's kicking ass and taking names. So, the IAAF checked her out for steroids - good idea. Steroids are bad. But she was clean. She's just that good.

She's muscly, and has extremely short hair, and girls aren't usually that fast, so, since she wasn't on steroids, she had to be a man right?

Yeah. I'm still stuck on the "girls aren't that fast part".

So there's been all kinds of hoop la. People saying that this question is absurd. Other folks saying that she "must be a man". Her mother saying that she's a woman.

But people do all kinds of crazy things for success in sports. On some level, although it's absurd, I can see how someone could ask the question. Remember the kid who was a baseball player and everyone that it was amazing that someone his age could be so good. Until they found out that he was really four years older?

Most of the coverage has been stupid and sensationalized. Until the New York Times. As I read quotes from the article to my best friend, we both teared up. It's the first time I've seen a main stream news source, hell, "the paper of record" acknowledge that gender is "messy".

“It turns out genes, hormones and genitals are pretty complicated,” Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, said in a telephone interview. “There isn’t really one simple way to sort out males and females. Sports require that we do, but biology doesn’t care. Biology does not fit neatly into simple categories, so they do these tests. And part of the reason I’ve criticized the tests is that a lot of times, the officials don’t say specifically how they’re testing and why they’re using that test. It should be subject to scientific review.”
And then, they ended the article with this:
“But at the end of the day, they are going to have to make a social decision on what counts as male and female, and they will wrap it up as if it is simply a scientific decision,” Dreger said. “And the science actually tells us sex is messy. Or as I like to say, ‘Humans like categories neat, but nature is a slob.’ ” [italics added]
Since then, they have published an editorial written by Alice Dreger about the complexities of gender and defining gender scientifically. It's an incredibly informative editorial.

All of us should read it. Like now.

at the end of the day, these doctors are not going to be able to run a test that will answer the question. Science can and will inform their decision, but they are going to have to decide which of the dozens of characteristics of sex matter to them.

In the end, their decision will be like the consensus regarding how many points are awarded for a touchdown and a field goal — it will be a sporting decision, not a natural one, about how we choose to play the game of sex.

Thank you Alice Dreger. And I'm buying your book.

Funny, that science doesn't support a binary gender system. Wonder why....

I'd also add that Semenya seems to identify as a woman. Which is good enough for me.

**pic from the NYT article

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Amazon Women Rise

Wednesday night at Michigan is the Opening Ceremony. M and K had arrived and redecorated the grotto - making a bit fancier. and a bit more, well, tie dyed. Which for some reason is actually charming in the woods.

But do not. Ever. Introduce anything tie dyed to my living room and I will quietly kill you with sarcasm. Or with very, very bland food. And cruel looks.

I even liked the fancy goddess banners.

After a day selling sex toys with the lovely Jenae, a dinner of Indian Curry and oddly large broccoli spears, we all showered re-dressed, grabbed our officially short enough chairs and trotted off to the main stage. Just in time for the opening ceremony.

The weather was perfect. The light was beautiful. The field was packed with women. Ubaka Hill drummed. Ruth Barret chanted. Ferron sang Imagine as women rose with signs lettered with words.

I love Ferron. There is something so compelling about her gravelly voice. It gets under your skin and holds you up. More women kept standing with more words. It was beautiful.

Then it was time.

For the annual singing of Amazon Women Rise.
Call it cheesey. Call it woo woo.

It's power. It's amazing. Thousands of women, singing and dancing the same song at the same time in the same place for 34 years.

Earlier that day ATB had been joking about it. I'd promised her that I'd come and find her and we'd rise. She was thinking she was too cool for the rising. So M and I ran over to the smoking ok/chem ok section and found the Chicago gyrlls.

Here's the secret. No one is too cool for this moment. Every woman rises. From the 80 year old woman in her wheel chair, the 43 year old pregnant woman in a loin cloth, the 30 year old tattooed hipster ro 6 year old little girl blowing bubbles who's thrilled that she gets to wear her tutu every day for a week. We all rise in our own way. With smiles on our faces and joy sparkling in the air. We rise.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

TSA, Gender and trans folk trying to fly....

Last week the TSA started to implement new regulations.

It's called the Secure Flight Program.

Secure Flight matches the name, date of birth and gender information for each passenger against government watch lists to:

  • Identify known and suspected terrorists
  • Prevent individuals on the No Fly List from boarding an aircraft
  • Identify individuals on the Selectee List for enhanced screening
  • Facilitate passenger air travel
  • Protect individuals' privacy

After matching passenger information against government watch lists, Secure Flight transmits the matching results back to aircraft operators.

From the TSA website 8/18/09

When you purchase an airline ticket you now need to provide your gender.  There are only two boxes: female and male.  At the airport, the TSA will not let you thru security unless both the name and gender on your legal ID (drivers license, passport, etc.) match the name and gender on your ticket.

The idea is to increase the accuracy of the watch list.  Say there is someone on the terrorist watch list who is named Kerry Anderson and that person is male.  This would prevent all Kerry Andersons who are female from being pulled out of line and going thru extra security screenings.  Frankly, although it's annoying, it makes some sense.

Of course, this is going to add an additional layer for folks who are trans and going thru security.  Hell, it could make stuff a little dicey for anyone who's not gender normative. Of course going thru security or customs as a trans person wasn't easy before.

I flew yesterday.  I'm cis gendered, but when I was going thru security at the Boston airport I asked a few questions.  

Here's how the conversation went.

Me: "Hey, can I ask you a couple questions about the new policies in relation to gender and IDs?"

TSA agent:  "Sure"

Me:  "I have a lot of friends who are trans gendered - their gender appearance doesn't match the gender on their driver's license.  What should they do?  What will happen when they hand you their stuff?"

TSA agent (looking a little bit nervous, but willing to listen):  "Well if we have any questions, first we'd call over the supervisor"

Me:  "Would it help if they brought a Dr's note?  You see, my brother is on testosterone and he looks like a guy, but on his driver's license his name says Judy and his gender says female"

Other TSA Agent steps in:  "Hormones don't change certain facial structures like your nose, or the shape of your eyes.  That's the stuff we look at.  It'll be fine for him.  We understand.  And we don't judge."

Which was nice to hear.  But I was in Boston.  In the first state in the nation where same sex marriage became legal.  And the second agent was clearly better educated on trans stuff.  I'm willing to bet the reaction would have been a little bit different in, say, Alabama, or Idaho.

I also sent an email to the TSA and am waiting to hear back from them.  I'll let you know what I hear (if I hear back at all).  The National Center for Transgender Equality has been in communication with the TSA about the new policy, so the TSA is aware of the issue.  But I doubt that will filter down to every agent checking IDs.

Here are my suggestions for getting thru security if you are trans and your name and gender on your DL don't match your gender presentation.  These suggestions are based simply on my years of experience in working with bureaucracy, federal programs and folks who are on the front line enforcing policies.  These are not suggestions from the TSA or any other organization.  They may not be politically correct, but they are designed to get you thru security with as little drama as possible.  The NCTE has some suggestions that may be more politically correct - click here for those.

1) Buy your plane tickets under the name and gender on your driver's license/state issued identity card (DL).  Double check your itinerary to make sure everything is correct (I saw a guy this weekend who had to go back to the ticket counter because his name on his license and his ticket didn't match and I'm pretty sure he wasn't trans). 

2)  Use your DL as your ID.  I've noticed the TSA agents spend more time examining other documents - even passports.

3)  Check your DL picture.  How much does it not look like you?  If it's really different (significantly shorter hair, major weight loss, etc.), think about "losing" your DL and getting a new one with a picture that looks more like you.

4) Get a letter from a medical professional on letter head that states you are transgendered and documents your legal name and gender. 

This  what I'd suggest for the text of the letter:

****** was identified as [gender] at birth, but now identifies as [blank].  ***** has undergone medical treatments in order to have their appearance match their gender identity, but they have not yet legally changed their name or gender.  As their medical provider I can attest that this person is legally ****** and [gender].

If you can have the clinician cut and paste a current picture of you into the letter, that could help.

Most cities have a sliding scale clinic where you could get a letter such as this.  

And yes, I know that you may identify as a gender other than male or female.  The TSA agent needs a box to put you in so that you can get on your plane.  Give them a box.  Fight the battle to eliminate the gender binary when you don't have a plane to catch.  Or a cavity search to avoid.

5) Self disclose when you hand the TSA agent your info - I recognize as a cis gendered person  I do not fully understand  how scary that could be.  People from a group which is marginalized are not the folks who should be responsible for doing the education, but in this case, I think it will save you a lot of trouble and drama.  A very simple, "I know my appearance doesn't match my legal gender, I'm trans.  This is my legal name and gender.  I have a letter from my doctor here as well,"  could help prevent a delay and reduce the amount of time you have to spend dealing with a legal system which marginalizes all folks who don't fit easily into a gender box. 

If you are some one who doesn't identify as trans, but presents in a way that is outside of dominant culture gender norms, check your DL.  If the picture of you is from when you were a girly sorority girl and now you are a muscly butch with a shaved head - "lose" your license and get a new one with a new picture.  A lot can change in the years between DL pictures.  Even more between passport pictures.  Hell, things have been a little faster for me at the airport since my DL picture now has my pink hair.

If you have any problems, please contact the National Center for Transgender Equality at 202-903-0112  so that they can follow up with the TSA 

***btw - Owen's birth name is not Judy.  He doesn't choose to share his birth name with many folks, so I don't either***

Non-monogamy and Feminism

Check out this article about the intersections of non-monogamy and feminism.  Really interesting stuff! 

Thanks to The Undomestic Goddess for pointing this out!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Julie and Julia

This weekend, we went to see the Julie Julia movie.  Which I was super excited about because I loved the book (the Julie Julia Project).  And I'll watch Meryl Streep act in almost anything.

The movie was lovely.  It portrayed two couples in supportive relationships (and yes, I know that Julie Powell has had problems with her marriage since - and picked up the pieces).  And it is so rare to see good marriages portrayed in Hollywood.

And, I don't know how accurate the depiction of Julia Child was, but, I walked out of the theatre thinking that I'd found a kindred spirit.  I know what it's like to lay down on a bed and have your feet hang off.  I know what it's like to tower over your partner.  And to be gleeful about small things. And loud.  And a little clumsy. And to build counters that are higher than normal in your kitchen.

But here was my take home message.  In my memory, Julia Child was one of the most influential cooks in the United States.  In fact, she's probably the first cook I could name.  
She didn't find her passion until she was almost 40.  She was almost 50 before her first book was published - and the book wasn't even her idea (although it became very much hers).  She wasn't on TV for another two years.  Julia Child was in her 50s when her career really started going.  Julia. Child. 

And she may not have done it if it weren't for the solid, strong support of a loving partner.

So often all we hear about are people in their teens and twenties who run in and do amazing things.  Which is great.  But we still get messages that life is over at some point.  That just isn't true.  Grandma Moses started painting in her 70s.  She painted for 30 years.  One of her paintings is in the White House.

I'm thrilled.  What's going to happen in the next 50 years? What amazing things will I learn? 


**btw- both Meryl Streep and Amy Adams were brilliant in this movie.  And how lovely to get to eat that stuff while you're at work!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Gold Vibrator Sells!

Who says we're in a recession?!

A few months ago, Lelo, one of my favorite sex toy makers, introduced a new line of "Lux" toys. And by "Lux" they mean gold plated.

I'll admit, when I saw them, I was a bit perplexed. It felt like something that would be more appropriate in the 80s or 90s. When the folks who had money were throwing it around like crazy. A $2000 vibrator when most of the folks with cash have just lost a lot of it in the stock market?

But I was wrong.

Lelo just sold their first Yva vibe for $2,229 to a woman in New Zealand.

Damn! Good for them. And, no doubt for the buyer. Metal is sexy. And every Lelo product I've ever used has been fabulous.

Of course, as far as I can tell, it's an upgraded Nea Vibe. Which we sell. And that's only $82...

In which i finally get to the Land with cheesy ass tears in my eyes

Sunday morning I woke up in the crusty motel room and hustled out in record time.

I began my Sunday morning in Grand Rapids before Michigan ritual.  I'm pretty damn predictable.  There are certain things that I can be relied on to do.  One of them is my this Starbucks, Target, Meijers, drive to the land, get lost a little, finally arrive at the land.

28th Street in GR is a Big Box paradise.  There is a Starbucks (drive thru no less) in the Target parking lot.  I got my Nonfat Venti Iced Latte in my re-usable cup.  And a cinnamon chip scone.  My tradition and nourishing pre-mich breakfast.  I promptly left the scone on the counter.

Then on to Target for fishing line, canned espresso, one of those tape deck thingies that lets a girl listen to her iphone on the stereo, and a few other things.

In the parking lot I ran into Kristin and Madeline, fellow crafters and fabulous women.  We hugged.  I jumped up and down and clapped my hands.  Then: Meijers.  Where they have heat treated milk in boxes so that I can make lattes on the land.  I am seriously addicted to caffeine.  I refuse to live without it.  And Pop Tarts.  

As I got back in the car, S called.  We were happily chattering away when I saw the sign for 131.  The highway splits at Muskegan.  Every year, I don't take the split and end up in downtown Muskegan. But this year I was smarter.  And hopped right on 131.

Except I wasn't supposed to be on 131.  I was supposed to be on 31.  The highway splits twice.  Brilliant.  I've made this drive from Baltimore many times, but I have yet to actually get it right.  At first I drove along happily, patted myself on the back repeatedly for not ending up in downtown Muskegan, chuckled with the special Lutheran episode of Prairie Home Companion and gleefully sang along to "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God".  I started to notice that some things weren't looking right.  So I checked the directions on my trusty iphone.  I had just driven about, oh, an hour out of my way.  

Which meant that I got to explore some of the back roads of Michigan.  It didn't really suck.

Eventually, I pulled thru the little one stop light town closest to the land, passed the fields with lacy asparagus dancing in the breeze, the homes with boxes of fruits and giant zucchini accompanied by a handwritten torn cardboard sign next to a cup for money and turned onto the dirt road that leads to the land.  I was hopping up and down in my seat with glee.  And tearing up a little.  Because I'm a sap.

The car, trailer and I bumped cautiously down the road until the gate came into view.  It's an old metal gate decorated with ribbons and other stuff.  Womyn sit just inside around a fire pit, each car is greeted as we enter.

"Hi - welcome!  Are you a crafts womyn?"


"I see you're well stocked." she said, eyeing the pringles, twizzlers and pop tarts that littered the front seat.  Geez.  Unlike some dykes, I'm not driving half way across the country on grapes, soy nuts and nutritional yeast.  Preservatives, caffeine and nicotine are where it's at for long drives.

She then directed me to my next check point, where I left the ticket for Jenae at HAG (Hold At Gate), said hi to the crafting crew, got banded and got my parking pass.  Once you are on the land, it's 5 miles an hour.  And they mean it.  I've gotten corrected for going 7 MPH. There are a lot of rules on this land.  And I've learned that it's best to just follow them. I chugged along, did some more paper work and finally showed up at the crafts area.

I triple, quadruple checked that I knew which booth space was mine.  Every year someone unloads in the wrong space and has to move all their shit.  Hell no.  After a bunch of sweating, some swearing and my first bottle of water from the land, the crap was loaded, the store tent was up, all the stock was safe. I watched two women have to move all their shit after they set up in the wrong spot.  Double checked my spot again.  It was good.  And I was starting to smell.  It was official.  I had arrived.

It was time to set up The Grotto.

*Thanks to Miranda for the Pic of Lois Lane - the main road on the Land.

Friday, August 14, 2009

And the men take it off south o' the Mason Dixson

Nashville, Tennessee has some new treats.


The club is called Arrow Nashville. It looks like they are still looking for a few good men. But the grand opening is scheduled for Labor Day weekend

The club used to be a strip club that featured women dancers, but they did some renovations and:

Wakefield's renovation included replacing the brass dancing pole.

"We decided to man it up - stainless steel for a tougher look to it," said Wakefield.

Of course!  'cause brass isn't butch enough.

Some members of the City Council are pissed.  Because as Metro Councilman Michael Craddock said:

"I'm sick to my stomach - I'm just absolutely sick," said Craddock. "It's different for a man to show himself than a woman. It's another step in the wrong direction."
WHAT?!  Exactly how is it different Mr. Craddock?  Please tell me.  It sounds like you're saying that since stripping is most often women's work, it's demeaning for a man to do it.  Or perhaps that a dick is more valuable and precious than a cunt.  But, you can't actually mean that.  Because then you would be a sexist asshole.

Let City Councilman Carddock know what you think of his statements:
(615) 226-0521

Thanks to Kate Bornstein for pointing this one out!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Strippers win their due.

I love stories like this.

Stippers are usually treated as independent contractors. But in most clubs, they have hours, they get fined if they are late, and all kinds of other things that technically make them employees. But by making the independent contractors, employers get to evade things like dealing with payroll tax, or needing to offer people things like, oh, health care, vacation, retirement plans, etc.

King Arthur's Lounge did not pay the strippers any salaries, required each to pony up a $35 fee to perform each night, and kept $10 of every $30 that each made for ''private dancing'' in video-monitored booths, according to a state judge who granted a stripper's motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability.

The club had argued that selling alcohol is its main business, not putting on strip shows, and that the performers were independent contractors who provided extra entertainment akin to televisions and pool tables at a sports bar.

But, in Boston, a group of women who work(ed) at the King Arthur's Club sued. And won.


Sex work is work. And sex workers deserve the same rights and benefits as any other workers.

Thanks to Spread Magazine for pointing this win out! And if you aren't familiar with Spread, you should check them out. They'll be one of the first magazine's we carry in the store - when we add magazine's that is : )

Why I heart Hampden

Because I get to see this everyday (on the Cafe Hon building kitty corner from our building)

Thanks to the Blonde Photographer for her awesome pics!  And, she's a pretty damn nice n fun person : )

the journey. or how i bash the rental trailer.

It was that time of year again. Time to go to Michigan.

Michigan (or the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - note the "y") is a touchstone of my year. It is the oldest and largest women only music festival in the country. Yep, women only. All other genders are excluded. Except for when folks who aren't women are escorted on the land to perform important duties. Like sucking out the porta janes. Or delivering another semi trailer of food. Michigan is a space that was started by lesbian separatist feminists, so, no men, or people who identify as other genders. Women who identify as women, but not as lesbians are welcome.

* Lesbian separatism is a philosophy that come from an understanding that we live in a patriarchy and that fighting the patriarchy only serves to feed it, so if we really want to end the patriarchy, with drawing all energy from it is the most appropriate response. *

No I don't identify as a lesbian separatist. But I do see the point. And women/womyn/wimmin only spaces are part of the reason that I am still in the world today.

Having a week a year in which I am surrounded only by other women, specifically feminist, most often lesbian womyn feeds me. I spend a week where everything surrounding me has been done by womyn from laying the plumbing for the showers to the cooking food for thousands, to the tractor drivers, to the performances. Michigan is part of how I mark my life. It provides me with grounding and strength to be in the world thru the rest of the year. I honestly don't know what I would do if this land, this place, this community didn't come into being every year.

Every year, Owen and I clash about Michigan. It's an exclusive space. It is not welcoming of folks who do not identify as women. And as the trans community grows, the line of where women end and other genders begins gets blurry. It's a valid concern. One about which I have mixed feelings. More about that in another post.

But here's what I know for sure. I need Michigan. I need that week.


For some reason, getting to Michigan is always drama. This is the third year that Sugar has sold in the Crafts Area. And I've learned. This year all of the stock was in the store by Thursday and carefully sorted into plastic drawers by toy type. I picked up the trailer on Friday. It was loaded by 4 PM. All that remained was packing my clothes (yes, that is a bit of an amazonian undertaking - the fest may be in the woods, but that doesn't mean I don't need seven different pairs of shoes including stilletos). I drove the trailer out of the store parking lot (the lot is too small to handle the SUV and the trailer). Drove down the block and went over a bump. The trailer made an odd noise. But trailers make odd noises. I found a spot big enough for the ginormous trailer and parked. A young man started hammering furiously on the passenger window.

"You hit that lady's car!"

What? I didn't hit a car. I would have noticed if I hit a car. But I did hear that odd noise...

So, I dutifully followed him back up the block.

Apparently, when I went over the bump, the trailer jostled and hit and bent the running board of a Ford Expedition. That noise? Not a normal trailer noise.

So, a police report was filed. Insurance info was exchanged. And I rushed back to work just in time to be late for my pre-festival hair cut.

After I was cleaned up and prettified, I started to be concerned about if the insurance info I had given the owner of the car was correct. You see, the car I'm driving is S's car. And the insurance card I had was expired. I was starting to have a dim memory of her getting a new policy last fall. And, I started to worry about telling S about the accident. It's never good when your GF's car is involved in an accident. And it's all your fault.

So, in the midst of panicking, I decided to go home and check on the insurance thing. I'd been trying to call S for a while, but she was working and wasn't answering the phone. So I closed the store and headed home.

After parking at home, I gave the trailer the once over. Which was a good thing. Because the running board on that Expedition had a sharp end. One of the trailer tires had been slashed and rapidly going flat. And the tire rim was bent.

Did I mention that the trailer was fully loaded? So, filled with self recrimination I embarked on a pity/beating myself up party that involved sobs, strange looks from the dogs, melting dramatically to the floor and then sniffily working myself up to calling the insurance companies, getting the Expedition owner the correct policy number and figuring out what crap I was going to do next (no worries - these over dramatic melt downs never happen in front of other people - only in front of dogs - ok they may also happen in front of S).

In the meantime, S called, reassured me that she still loved me even though I'd smashed the trailer.

Then Uhaul did the unthinkable. They sent out a tow truck and replaced the tire. Yep - they fixed it like it was no big deal! Soooo grateful. The insurance companies took all of the reports. The dogs licked me. I packed my clothes and crawled into bed. Where I proceeded to lay awake like a kid waiting for Santa.

The next morning I got up, took care of the dogs and hit the road. For the first time in three years, I managed to get on the road before noon. In fact, it was before 10!

Off I went thru the mountains of Maryland and West Virginia, up thru Columbus and into Michigan.

Just as it got dark, I realized the lights on the trailer weren't working.

So, I pulled over somewhere south of Ann Arbor. This was one of those moments when I realized that I am indeed an adult. Not so many years ago I would have kept driving and ended up in a ditch after I got smashed by a tractor trailer who didn't see me. Dildos would have decorated the high way. It would have been on the news. But no, I stopped. And called Uhaul. And they sent someone to fix it.

Turns out the fuse that supplies the juice to the trailer had shorted out. The nice guy replaced it with one of the back up fuses in the fuse box. I was back on the road.

Two exits later the lights went out again.

Which made sense. The back up fuse was probably ten years old. So I stopped at the next exit, bought a new fuse and used the tweezers from my makeup bag to replace it.

Because I'm a power femme. And tweezers or eyelash glue can fix almost anything.

A few hours, lots of caffine and some twizzlers later, I finally arrived in Grand Rapids. With a full bladder and a sleepy head.

I showed up at the hotel where I had a reservation to find: no one. There was a sign announcing that the front desk closed at 11. There was a phone for afterhours help. No one answered the phone. Finally after calling consistently for about 10 minutes and calling Expedia someone answered, came to the desk and let me check in.

When I got to the room, the indoor lock was broken off, the floor hadn't been vacummed and the room smelled a little funny. Creepy. I slept in my clothes with a t-shirt over the pillow. It was entirely too late to pitch a fit and get a different room or my money back. I should have spent the extra $20 to stay at a better place. Lesson learned.

The next morning I charged the rechargable toys, showered in my flip flops, made sure to touch as little as possible and was off!