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.

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