On Ovaries and Embracing Uncertainty

 

I’m going to start in the middle of this story when the doctor told me over the phone that I needed to get one of my ovaries removed. 

“The whole ovary?” I asked. 

“Yes, at your age it’s just easier to take out the whole thing,” she told me. 

You can function perfectly fine with just one ovary, but hearing that you have to get an organ removed is…unsettling. 

That was in the Spring. 

A few months earlier I’d spent the night in the emergency room experiencing some of the worst physical pain of my life. 

One morphine drip, one (useless) x-ray, a CAT scan, a second trip to the hospital and a lot of pain meds later, I finally had a diagnosis: 

A large benign ovarian cyst that would have to be removed at some point. 

The doctors sent me home with a pain med prescription and instructions to “wait and see.”  After a few days of lying on the couch watching a steady stream of Mike Tyson Mysteries (that show is a thing of beauty if you’re whacked out on opiates. Just saying) the pain subsided. 

That was in January. 

In February I attended a press trip on a sex cruise with one of my best friends, Mark. You can read about my experience here

A few weeks later, the pandemic erupted and well, you know the rest. 

Throughout the first few months of the pandemic I was having a cyst related pain attack on a monthly basis. When these attacks happen, the pain is unbearable. Impossible to keep it inside, screaming out loud pain. It feels like my entire lower torso is being gripped by the jaws of life; my organs twisting and turning on themselves. 

After the second attack, I was put on a waiting list for surgery, but with Covid I had no real idea when I’d actually get this thing removed. 

When these attacks happen (usually during ovulation), all I can do is lie on my side in bed, with heat packs wrapped around my mid-section and wait for the next round of pain meds to kick in. I turn on my salt lamp, plug in my ear phones and listen to podcasts, slipping in and out of sleep as I wait for my timer to go off (the signal to take more drugs). 

(I’ve struggled to listen to my usual diet of murdery podcasts during the pandemic; preferring slightly lighter fare. When I’m sick I keep things extra light. My go-to’s are Scam Goddess and RPDR podcasts like Race Chaser)

I breathe and wait. 

Because that’s all I can do. 

While I still feel like I’ve been run over by a truck for a few days every month, I haven’t had any severe pain attacks since late spring. I also have a surgery date to get the cyst (which is now 4 x 3 inches in size) removed. I’ll be going into surgery on November 19th. 

When I think about my experience of 2020, I always come back to those first few pain attacks and how they forced me to become intimately acquainted with the concept of uncertainty.

I didn’t know when/if the pain would end. All I could do was sit with the discomfort and embrace the small things that brought me comfort, like the soft glow of my salt lamp and the soothing banter of drag queens coming from my headphones. 

If that doesn’t sum up 2020, I don’t know what does. 

8 Quarantine Purchases I Don’t Regret

It’s me, your friendly neighbourhood, semi-retired sex blogger reporting live from my basement office where I’m currently wearing an oversized vintage Mickey Mouse sweatsuit because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic & civil rights battle and I’ve temporarily given up on real clothes (for the record, I call this look, “Business Disney.”)

{Btw, the gorgeous image above is by Kendra Dandy of The Bouffants and can be purchased here.}

I’ve had this post in the hopper for a while, but before I begin talking about personal quarantine greatest hits list, this needs to be addressed:

Non-black folks, what are you doing to support Black Lives Matter and anti-racism work?

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a few ways quick you can be useful right now.

+ Donate to a local bail fund.

+ Donate to one of these organizations.

+ Check out this comprehensive resource list which includes other (free!) ways to help.

+ Educate yourself and do the anti-racism work. I’ve posted a few resources on Instagram, but give it a quick ‘GOOG and you’ll find tons of action steps, reading lists & more (do your research!) This list of ways to learn about and act up for racial justice that Kate posted is a great place to start. This list of ally resources is also a super helpful primer.

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Like many of you, since the start of quarantine, my spending habits have shifted. Now with #blacklivesmatter front and centre, examining how and where I spend my money feels especially important.

Normally, at this point in the Spring I’d be obsessing over new sundresses and shoes and accessories — and for better or worse — spending my money accordingly. However, over the past few months, my taste for fast fashion has all but expired (WHAT ARE CLOTHES ANYWAY?).

The truth is, quarantine has given me the space to reflect on my consumption patterns and frankly I feel pretty gross about how I spent my money over the course of 2019. Also, without the option of going into physical stores, I’ve realized how much of my shopping is motivated by anxiety, avoidance and boredom (maybe I’ll write more on that later).

The past few months have been strange, sad and challenging. I’m still trying to figure things out, but going forward, I know I want to buy more used & vintage while making a point to support more small businesses –in particular, ones owned by BIPOC. In the meantime, here are a few pandemic purchases that I do feel good about & have helped make quarantine life a little better.

Causes that matter.

See above. I know money can’t solve everything, but it can help. Since last week, I’ve donated to a handful of bail funds and black centred organizations, but I want to commit to making this an on-going occurrence on a weekly and monthly basis.

Upgraded digital media subscriptions.

After years reading for free, I finally bit the bullet and purchased a monthly digital subscription to New York magazine. Being able to read freely without worrying about a paywall has kept me informed and entertained throughout quarantine.

A folding exercise bike.

Meet my #NotAPeleton. This folding exercise bike has been my saving grace since the start of quarantine. I recently started running (and love it), but knowing I can safely do my cardio at home feels like the ultimate luxury right now. Plus, this bike folds up and fits in a closet — making it perfect for small space living.

An adjustable bed desk.

I know there’s an unwritten rule that in order to be a productive freelancer you must never work from bed, but I feel like the pandemic completely blew that right up. Life has been uncomfortable and weird. Sometimes the only way anything is getting done is if I allow myself to work from bed, while ensconced in blankets.

Enter: this adjustable bed desk. This tiny blessing allows me to comfortably work in bed AND is perfect for when I want to watch Netflix on my laptop. Being able to adjust it so my screen is at the right level has saved me SO MUCH neck strain. Oh, and did I mention it can also be used as a standing desk?

Live virtual events.

Since the start of quarantine, I’ve made a point of attending live streamed virtual events. My favourite so far have included the Werk The World series which feature performances from RPDR alumni (ticket sales go to benefit drag performers who are currently out of work due to Covid-19). Their next show, Pride Castle (June 28th) will benefit The National Black Justice Coalition, an organization dedicated to empowerment of the black LGBT+ community.

Sweatpants.

These BP Joggers from Nordstrom may be the softest pants known to man. Who knew sweatpants could feel so deliciously luxurious? I’ll take comfort anywhere I can get it these days and these joggers have kept me warm and comfortable throughout quarantine.

Subscription to WOW Presents Plus.

If you know me in real life, you’re probably painfully aware of how much I love RuPaul’s Drag Race. Watching Season 12 and now All Stars 5 has given me something to look forward to every week during quarantine. The producer’s of Drag Race, World of Wonder (WOW) offer a subscription service ($4.99/month) which gives you access to all of their shows + quarantine content hosted by your favourite queens. Being able to tune into Trixie & Katya Save The World and watch their antics every week has been such a nice treat.

A non-terrible Bathroom cabinet.

Considering how much I disliked the majority of high school, I’m really surprised by how smitten I’ve become with locker inspired furniture. I recently bought this locker style cabinet for my bathroom and do not regret it one bit.

For the longest time I’ve had a set of clear plastic Rubbermaid drawers to hold the beauty product overflow in my bathroom. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with plastic bins (you gotta work with what you have!), my dingy and crowded drawers made me (unnecessarily) feel like a broke college student.

The world feels completely out of control right now, but at least my bathroom looks somewhat like it belongs to an organized adult.

What’s helped you get through the past few months?

Where To Meet Swingers Online During Covid-19

Where do you meet swingers online? A good friend of mine asked me this exact question a few days ago. She and her husband have been happily married for about six years and are now looking to experiment with other people. She turned to me for tips because writing about sex is my beat.

A few things before I start dolling out advice:

1. The super sexy artwork above is by Tina Maria Elena Bak and can be purchased here.

2. While I’ve travelled to a bunch of swinger & lifestyle friendly resorts like Temptation Cancun, Desire Maya, Desire Pearl and Hedonism II and have on occasion enjoyed being the “special guest” in other people’s bedroom activities, I don’t consider myself a swinger or part of the lifestyle. In other words, I’m not an expert on all things lifestyle related. To borrow a line from my first trip to Temptation, “I’m not a swinger but some of the people I sleep with are.” 😉

2. Secondly, it’s impossible to ignore that we’re currently still in the midst of a global pandemic. Adding multiple new sex partner into the mix right now is flat out dangerous. With that said, that doesn’t mean you can’t meet new people online! (It might just take a little while before you can safely play with them.)

Just as a side note: I was super skeptical about online or virtual dating during Covid-19, but I’ve since been converted to a believer. If you can meet someone that you connect with (or in this case, several people), not being able to immediately hook-up provides the perfect opportunity to get to know each other. Think of it like very extended foreplay.

To write this post, I teamed up with the folks at Swingtowns, the world’s largest non-monogamy community.

If you’re looking to find swingers online, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

1. Go to a site that’s dedicated to non-monogamy.

When my friend first asked for my advice, my first impulse was to tell her to get on Tinder — after all, there seems to a lot of couples on there (see this post about the 20 guys you’ll meet online dating in Victoria). However, “vanilla” online dating apps tend to be a catch-all of people — Tinder especially. If you’re looking for a particular kind of interaction, why not head to where likeminded people hang out?

Instead of swiping endlessly, a site like Swingtowns allows you to get specific about who you are and what you’re looking for.

Once online, Swingtowns allows you to search local Swinger, Open Relationship and Polyamorous Dating Ads.

They also have a pretty extensive listing of swinger clubs, swinger events and local groups.

2. Check out local swinger groups.

If you’re new to the lifestyle, chances are you’re nervous. That’s totally normal! Enter: swinging groups. Swingtowns has a comprehensive list of local swingers groups across the globe (I even found a few groups in my hometown. Go figure). If you’re looking to dip your toes into non-monogamy, joining a swingers group can be a great, no-pressure first step. Lots of newbies join groups as a way to meet other couples, make friends and ask questions.

As social distancing continues, a lot of local swinger groups are hosting virtual events!

The way I see it, we’re all stuck at home right now anyways. If swinging or non-monogamy is something you’re curious about this is the perfect opportunity to use the internet to your advantage and do your research. You might even meet a couple (or more!) that you’ll want to connect with once the pandemic subsides.

This post was brought to you by Swingtowns. Thank you for supporting posts that support this blog.

Everything I Regret Spending Money on in 2018 (& My Favorite Purchases)

A few years ago, I wrote a post about all the things I regretted buying in 2016 (& the things I didn’t) and it ended up being one of my most popular posts at the time. I’m always curious about other people’s spending habits, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to be transparent about mine.

Here’s what I regret spending money on last year.

This bathing suit.

I ordered this BCA Romance One-Piece from Nordstrom before my first trip to Mexico. It’s adorable, right? Well, it runs small. Very small. I ordered a size up as per customer reviews, but it still ended up being on the small side. I brought it to Mexico anyways because it was too late to return it & I figured I’d just rock it. I wore it once and have the photo to prove it. While it looks okay in the photo, all the cut-outs and stringy bits made me feel like a tied ham baking under the sun. ALSO, I’ve learned that one-pieces aren’t the most practical when you’re at a resort drinking a lot (water or alcohol) and making regular trips to the facilities — unless you love the feeling of peeling off a wet bathing suit every half hour… which I don’t. Lesson here: don’t order a pricey bathing suit online unless you’ve tried it on first.

(Or you can buy cheap bathing suit online here)

A weird stick on strapless bra that I bought from an Instagram ad.

It was late at night. The ad for the mysterious but alluring adhesive push-up bra had appeared on my Instagram feed at least 100 times that week. I’ll admit, part of me wanted to order it just to see if it was actually real. Spoiler alert: stick on bras are very real and they feel awful on — at least to me. It felt like my lingerie had been attached to my body with one of those sticky hand toys that I remember from the toy cupboard at the dentist (I had a neon yellow one). I’ve since learned that I feel way more comfortable and sexy just going bra-less if the outfit requires it. If I want some extra coverage, I use silicone nipple covers.

Fast-fashion for everyday clothes.

While stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Marshall’s are a godsend when it comes to finding super cute pieces for vacation and press trips to the Caribbean, I didn’t have much luck buying everyday stuff at fast-fashion retailers in 2018. Everything I purchased either didn’t match other things in my closet (red satin bomber jacket with floral pattern, I’m looking at you!) OR had quality issues (I am very hard on my clothes & I can’t explain why). I’ve realized when it comes to my everyday wardrobe, I’m happier when I spend a little bit more and just stick to really simple basics.

Professional memberships that I never use.

Media Bistro is a great resource…if you use it. Last year I forked out the money for a membership and literally used the site twice. I also didn’t renew a few other professional memberships because I’m simply not making use of them at this time.

Struggle tours.

Someday I’ll share the story of that time I went to see Nelly perform in 2018 (yes, you read that correctly), but for now let’s just say that’s money and an hour of my life I’ll never get back.

Now for the things I don’t regret! Considering I took over 25+ flights in 2018, it’s no surprise that many of my favorite purchases are travel related.

Here’s what I don’t regret spending money on in 2018:

Sturdy luggage.

Over the course of the year I managed to annihilate three separate suitcases (1 soft duffel bag and two hard-shell suitcases), all of which had to be replaced by the airline. Finally, I bit the bullet and splurged on a Travelpro soft side suitcase. It’s not anywhere as cute as my beloved leopard print hard shell (RIP!) but it’s super sturdy and comes with a lifetime warranty….which, clearly I’ll need.

Rolling Laptop Case/Under seat carry-on bag.

I have shoulder and back issues. I also work at local coffee shops and travel frequently with my laptop. Enter: the rolling lap top case that fits neatly under the seat of an airplane (did I mention I *hate* overhead compartment drama?!) Although I *wish* I could spring for this model by Tumi (I mean, it’s called The Simone and has pink lining), I just can’t justify the purchase at this point. Instead, I chose this anti-theft rolling bag by Travelon, which is similar in design and comes with a 5 year warranty, which I’ll need (because if this post has taught you anything, it’s that I will subconsciously find a way to destroy it).

Automatic withdrawals to my savings account.

This isn’t really a “purchase,” but I’m so glad I set up automatic withdrawals to my savings account in 2018. I used to struggle with saving, but now I don’t even have to think about it. Even if you’re only putting aside $5-$10 a week, you’d be amazed at how quickly it adds up. There’s a couple of different apps that can do this for you, but I use Mylo. I like it because it also gives you the option of rounding up your purchases & depositing the extra change in your savings account. I wish I’d started this YEARS ago, because it’s made me so much more zen about my savings efforts.

PS. If you want to sign up, feel free to use my referral link.

(Full disclosure: I’ll get a small bonus, which I promise I’ll put towards buying tiny things for Joe the Intern and other critical necessities.)

 

Levi 501’s.

After wearing stretch-denim almost exclusively for the past decade, I bought my first pair of non-stretch Levi 501’s this past year and don’t regret it at all. This is the first pair of Levi’s I’ve worn since high school. While the stiffness of the denim takes a while to get used to, they also have a structured, retro feel that I really like. I’ve worn these jeans at least a couple of times a week for a year and they’re yet to show any wear.

TDLR: They seem to be “Simone proof” and I’ve yet to destroy them.

A pair of high-end leggings for travel.

Technically, these were a gift from my Mom….a really, really great gift. Although I buy a lot of my workout wear from Marshall’s, I’m so glad I finally invested in two pairs of plain black leggings from Lululemon for traveling. I’ve always shrugged off Lulu, but 2018 turned me into a true believer. With other athletic leggings, I often experience chafing and sweating if I sit in them for too long (ie. at my desk or on a plane). However, these high-waist leggings hug me in all the right places. Perfect fit + amazingly comfortable fabric + less sweating = great for long days & nights of flying.

Travel and experiences.

Nelly concert aside, I rarely regret spending money on travel and experiences. While most of my travel in 2018 was work related, I did take some trips on my own, took a handful of tours (stay tuned for an upcoming post about NYC), went to a Broadway show and saw as many concerts as I could. Even if these experiences didn’t always go as expected, I still took something away from each of them. I can’t say the same about that adhesive bra (except maybe that I should never, ever order anything from Instagram late at night). The lesson here:

Experiences > Things.

What do you/don’t you regret spending money on in 2018?

Photos by Mirza Babic  & STIL

June 12th was Loving Day & Here’s What You Need to Know

This is a sponsored post. Thanks for supporting the posts that support this blog.

On June 12th, people across the United States celebrated Loving Day — an unofficially recognized holiday that commemorates the landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Given how monumental the decision was, it’s embarrassing to admit that as Canadian my first exposure to Loving v. Virginia was through the  Oscar nominated film Loving, which stars (the amazing) Ruth Negga and Joel Edgarton as the very aptly named Mildred and Richard Loving, the plaintiffs in the landmark case.

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In 1959, Mildred a woman of color, and Richard, a white man,  settled in Virginia after getting married in the District of Columbia. One night, their bedroom was invaded by a group of police officers who’d broken into their home in the hope of catching them having sex, a crime under Virginia law (they were sound asleep). The couple was then sentenced to a year in prison for violating the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial marriage — a punishment they traded for a one-way ticket out of Virginia. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision determined that the law was unconstitutional. The date was June 12th, 1967.

As a Canadian, reading about Mildred and Richard Loving, was humbling. Let’s be real: Canada has a less than stellar track record when it comes to race relations, but interracial marriage has never been blatantly illegal.

(Sidebar:  if you’re curious about the history of racism in Canada I strongly encourage listening to CBC’s Missing and Murdered podcast – it’s amazing – or reading this piece for a primer.)

I feel incredibly privileged to live in a time and places where interracial dating is not only legal, it’s actually pretty common. A few years ago, Vancouver was dubbed “the capital of interracial dating” because it has more couples in mixed unions per capita than any other Canadian city, with Toronto in second place. In other words, I’ve pretty much spent my adult life living in a bubble of sorts, free to date and love whoever I want.

(Another sidebar: If you want to get a feel for interracial dating climate in Canada circa 1957, I suggest you watch the short film, Crossroads. It’s cringe worthy in the way only educational films about dating from the 1950’s can be, but also quite progressive in the context of what was happening in the United States at the time.)

This brings me back to Loving Day, which was established in 2014 as a way to commemorate the Loving v. Virginia decision and celebrate multiculturalism.

While June 12th is already in the rear view mirror for another year (seriously, where has June gone?),  Loving Day.org has a bunch of helpful info about the day and how to celebrate, including a list of Loving Day celebrations. Don’t see your city or town represented? Plan your own celebration.

If you’ve got little ones, there’s also a children’s book, The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage that’s really, really, wonderful and has gorgeous illustrations.

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I know this isn’t your usual Skinny Dip post, but at a time when children are literally being ripped from their parent’s arms and police violence against people of color continues, it’s important we educate ourselves and resist — and that resistance includes celebrating loud & proud the freedom to love whoever we want.

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