DivineCaroline: Networking and Socializing for Women

Anyone else visit iVillage.com frequently? I used to spend hours and hours reading the pro-woman content posted on iVillage. However, in the last two or three months I realized that I was spending more and more time, trying to find an article or editorial bit that appealed to me. I don’t have enough time in my life trudge through a bunch of frogs to find the prince (or princess!).

Task. Journey. Search.

To find a new source of information. To find a community of female writers, professionals, sexual enthusiasts, intelligence, class, and maturity …

The Holy Grail of Pro-Woman Content: DivineCaroline
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Sex and Sweet Tea

So I have this new ritual of drinking sweet tea after sex.  If I try to drink it any other time, it doesn’t taste as good to me.  If I drink something else besides sweet tea after sex, whatever I chose to drink tastes horrible.  Imagine the horror I experienced two weekends ago, after returning from my trip, when I had no sweet tea in the house but had a whole lot of sex.  Robbed.  Short-changed.  That’s how I felt.

Is it strange that I’ll imagine myself drinking sweet tea right before I orgasm?  Man, I have some strange rituals.  I can’t figure out why I get stuck in these rituals.  It’s not like I set out to devote sweet tea as my after-sex drink … it just happened over a period of time.

It made me think of other strange sex-related rituals and phases of my past:

– sucking my own fingertips as I orgasm

– putting a small hand towel on the side of the bed to wipe my lover’s face

– making sure Depeche Mode Violator or Music for the Masses was playing during sex

– running around my house or apartment completely naked, making my lover chase me

– kissing the tip of my lover’s nose (gentle pecks almost obsessively)

– drinking this crazy XTC energy drink (when I lived in California) before any kind of sexual activity

– forcing my lover to lay on the floor as he makes love to me from behind, in front of a mirror

No big deal.  Nothing too shocking.  I’m sure there’s stuff I am forgetting about, but at periods of time, the above fetishes/rituals/phases added excitement during foreplay, during sex, or after sex.  Or all three.

Anyway, anyway.  Sweet Tea is my new thing and my lover knows that if I don’t get my sweet tea, I am going to kick his butt.

He came home with six gallons of sweet tea the other night.  A nice gesture, but it also meant he thought it was going to be a busy weekend.  Yikes.  Well, it wasn’t the weekend event that he probably wanted (too tired), but we had some fun, I drank my tea, and I have plenty for this week.

I’m Back, I’m Bad, and I’m Tan

How many of you missed me?  That many of you?!!  Well, I am back from my vacation to Puerto Rico.  Tanning than ever, more relaxed than I have been in years, and fully charged and ready to get down and dirty with whatever comes my way until the next vacation.

Here are a couple of personal admissions and observations that smacked my brain during the trip:

Most of my fears have no basis in reality – that is to say, I have no justification for fearing certain things.  Yet I am still plagued by the strangest fears in normal situations that produce an overwhelming anxiety in my mind and then my body.

The combination of airplanes and flying freaks me out.  I hate flying.  Planes freak me out.  And I have no reasonable explanation as to why I have this dominating fear.  Every jerk, drop, or bounce – I start looking around at people’s facial expressions for comfort, the kind of body language exploration that will grant me a moment or two of serenity.  I’ll look for a nod of approval so that I can finally relax.  The whole “I know how you feel; I’ve been there” response without words.

I eventually worked myself up on this short flight (like five or six hours) to the point that sleeping became my sole remedy.  I can’t figure out why I am afraid of flying, which is what bothers me the most.  I flew back and forth from my father’s city every Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, or any cause for celebration since I was a kid because my parents were divorced.  I never freaked out when I was younger, so this is a relatively new sense of emotional discomfort.

Regardless, I made it through the flight.  There and back.  And now I am home bragging about how I managed to sleep my way into forgetting that I was thousands of miles in the air, high above deep oceans and massive cities.  Maybe this was a one time event (wrapped up into two flights) for me?  I’m not sure, but I hope that’s the case.

While in Puerto Rico I refused to stay on the resort property.  I spent several hours each night sitting in the hot tub or swimming in the pool, but during the day I was out and about, mixing it up with the locals, who I found to be quite friendly and helpful.  Why go on vacation to another country and sit by a pool or hang out with people I could visit with in my own country?  I could have saved a lot of money by just staying in the US if that’s what I wanted.

So, yeah.  I said screw that … I am going to snorkel, swim, eat, and whatever else with an unfamiliar culture.  Great, great experience.  The food, fantastic.  Loved every dish at each restaurant.  I even managed to force down squid and sea snails.  Yuck, right?  The stuff tasted wonderful.  Kinda like chicken with a rubbery texture.  I figured both would be somewhat slimy, but that wasn’t the case.  If you ever plan on visiting San Juan or Fejardo, I can help you find the best spots to eat at.  (Most of the better restuarants are expensive, so keep that in mind.)

I took sex toys with me.  Several of my favorite vibrators, my favorite dildo, and of course, my lovely fella.  Lots of sex, several times a day.  I’m not the most exciting lover on most days, as I am so worn out with work.  I need to mix a little pleasure into my life, especially seeing as I am in the adult toy business.  It becomes all too easy to pull out a toy and please myself in a few minutes, whereas my guy is ready for a long night of sex and experimentation.

Part of it is having the kids and working so many hours, but the other part, I think, is the saturation of sex-related themes in my work life.  I have a libido; I am … Well, I am lazy lover, or have been over the last 4-5 months.  This trip allowed me enough time and relaxation to really open up.  I was bad.  A bad, bad girl.  We had sex in the pool, hot tub, and on the beach.  Public sex!  I hadn’t done that in a long time, so it was an enthralling experience.  And the naughtiest of times in our room, which overlooked the ocean. My sex toys, too, were used in new and innovative ways that, for whatever reason, hadn’t ever occured possible.

Trash.  I don’t consider myself to be the best environmentalist.  But – I get really upset about seeing trash everywhere.  I’ve been known to pick up my neighbors’ trash frequently, if only to keep my sanity within grasp.  If I see trash on the ground, even in the city, I pick it up.  I get so pissed off when I see trash laying on the ground.  In fact, it’s one of the few things that make me angry.  Puerto Rico is full of trash: cigarette buds are everywhere, beer cans on the beach, diapers sitting in the grass, wrecked car parts laying all over the street.  And in the ocean, I noticed all of these things and more (even a Halloween costume!) laying on the sandy bottom as I snorkeled.

I fished out trash, threw it on the beach, and eventually put my new collection of discards in a trash can.  The locals watched me like I was crazy, wondering what the hell I was doing.  I couldn’t help myself, I couldn’t stop, I couldn’t walk or swim away with all that trash in the ocean.  And, most of all, I couldn’t understand why anyone would throw away his or her shit in the ocean or on the beach.  This happened at most of the beaches we frequented.  It was a sad, disgusting sight still bothering me.

The resort itself wasn’t very clean, either.  When I mentioned this to the manager, he responded by saying, “This is a third world country.”  At which time, I asked him, “Is this a third world resort?  Because if it is, I need a third world hotel rate, because I significantly overpaid.”  He didn’t like that response, so he followed it up with, “It did rain several days ago and the river probably washed up most of the trash you are referring to.”  Again, I retorted, “Did the river wash tons of trash under my hotel room’s balcony?”  He took a few notes and said, “I will mention this to the general manager.” He wrote something down, but it had little to do with the trash we discussed.

Small cars rock.  Sort of.  Don’t ever drive a big car or a truck in Puerto Rico.  The roads are surprisingly narrow and people do not slow down, so there were a few times that we barely managed to escape a collision.  The police officers drive with their lights on for no apparent reason.  People honk for no real reason at all.

If you don’t like beggars coming up to your car in the city, you will dislike Puerto Rico, since locals flood each and every stop sign and traffic light, seeking free money or for drivers to purchase cold beverages or tropical fruit.  No one is rude or demanding, or expects anything.  It’s their version of business mingling in a society that lacks jobs, education, and overall economic advancement.  But this process works for them, as many people preferred to purchase beverages from their cars rather than pull over at a gas station.

So, I had a great time, learned a lot about my fellow human beings and myself, and found enough time to mix in some sexy pleasure.  Plus all the lounging on the beach and snorkeling in the ocean.  Oh, and I found a massive conch shell and gigantic starfish on the Seven Seas Beach in Fejardo.  Both sea creatures were alive, which added a lot of excitement.  I plan on posting some pictures in the coming days – if I don’t get too behind with catching up.

Hope everyone has been doing well.

Vaginal Douching: An Itch Away from Perfection

Indoctrinated. Female products, everywhere. Not all are bad. In fact, many are useful. What about vaginal douche products? Is vaginal douching this important? After all, since you were kid, you’ve been exposed to vaginal douche products at your local drugstores and grocery markets. The sheer volume of products must mean vaginal douching is important – or at least has some value or contributes something positive to female hygiene. Right?

Only if a doctor views it as a treatment, in which she or he will give you specific instructions about what product to use, how frequently, and for how long. Even then, ladies, you should ask your doctor why he’s recommending douching and if there is another alternative.

Here are a few facts about douching:

1. A “bad” vaginal odor can be covered up by douching, but the cause of the bad odor has not been addressed; thus, this is only a temporary solution to a potentially serious problem – maybe a bacterial infection, urinary tract infection, yeast infection, or an STD. A foul odor originating from your vagina is your body’s way of saying, “Pay attention to me! Something isn’t right. Go to the doctor!” – unless you refuse to wash your vagina on a regular basis, which is remedied by – well, taking a warm shower and using paraben-free and glycerin-free soap. Contrary to what myths people spread about vaginal odor, even the healthiest vaginal environment has its own unique odor.

2. Your vagina has its own natural cleansing system that produces mucous to flush out blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. After douching, women wash away important vaginal flora that helps regulate the acidity levels. As this acidity level increases or decreases, straying from the natural balance maintained by vaginal flora, bacteria levels increase – which leads to infections and other female problems. More harm than good, and only for temporary fixes.

3. Ladies: Douching does not prevent the transmission of STDs. This is a myth, if believed factual, that leads to serious consequences. There are many women who believe they can wash away the potential danger of last night’s sexual intercourse. No, no, no. Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent STDs. Condoms, of course, are the next best method. Safer sex, which doesn’t include douching. Some studies are being conducted to see if douching might actually make it easier to get an STD, as the vagina’s natural acidity level is compromised – which makes it more difficult for the vagina to fight off infections. Could it be that short-term or long-term douching leads to an even greater risk of catching STDs? Stay tuned for more information on this issue. We’ll let you know when more information is available.

4. Pregnancy. No, douching does not prevent pregnancy. Again, abstinence or safer sex is the way to go. Though some studies suggest that regular douching does effect the time-frame in which a women gets pregnant (usually takes longer than women who do not douche), douching should never be used as a birth control method. Ectopic pregnancies, also, have been linked to women who douche on a regular basis. No way, no how – Not gonna happen. The potential risks are far greater than the reward. (I am still trying to figure out what those rewards are – beyond the obvious “odor cover up.”)

If you notice these things, you should visit a doctor and stay away from douching:

1. Bad odor
2. Thick white-yellowish and/or green discharge
3. Burning, redness, stinging, or vaginal swelling (external/internal)
4. Uncomfortable or painful when urinating or during intercourse

Many women have been led to believe that the above symptoms are justifiable reasons to douche. That’s backward thinking. You want to address the causes of the above symptoms, not merely cover them up, which requires that you visit a doctor for examination, to see if these symptoms are caused by serious problems.

In our commercialized culture, these “quick fixes” seem to be legitimate solutions to common and uncommon problems. More sex education is required to combat the many myths associated with douching, specifically as it relates to birth control and STDs.

Personal Touch:

I used to douche. Yep. I started out douching in high school. I wanted to be “fresh” for my boyfriend. Not that he pressured me or anything. He probably didn’t even know what a douche was or why I would do it. I didn’t really know why I did it. Part of it, I believe, had something to do with my perception of womanhood, or what it meant to have finally “arrived” as a sexually active female – that douching is what you did, as if sex and douching went together like peanut butter and jelly. You have sex, you douche, and then have sex again.

I didn’t believe it prevented STDs or pregnancy, but I did believe douching was a female’s responsibility to her man and herself. To keep a clean, clean vagina – that was the goal. After douching off and on for several years, my vagina started itching. My solution: Douche more. Finally, I went to the doctor and found out, to my surprise, that douching can lead to yeast infections, which is exactly what I had. It took me a long time to get my vagina back to its natural acidity level, and there’s no way in hell, maybe even if a doctor recommends it, that I’ll douche again. I’ve gone through a similar phase with water lubes that contain irritating formulas, mostly those lubes that contain fragrances. I’ll discuss water lubes in more detail later this week.

If you’d like to read more about vaginal douching and safer sex, please visit these links:

MedicineNet.com
About.com
Planned Parenthood

Confession

Charles Bukowski

waiting for death
like a cat
that will jump on the
bed

I am so very sorry for
my wife

she will see this
stiff
white
body
shake it once, then
maybe
again

“Hank!”

Hank won’t
answer.

it’s not my death that
worries me, it’s my wife
left with this
pile of
nothing.

I want to
let her know
though
that all the nights
sleeping
beside her

even the useless
arguments
were things
ever splendid

and the hard
words
I ever feared to
say
can now be
said:

I love
you.

A Wake to Remember

This is a true story, I promise.  A strange anecdote to follow.  It’s so socially awkward and silly that I am inclined to convince you of its authenticity.  I almost feel like what happened was a fictitious event that I created in my head.  Like one of those days when imagination replaces boredom and goes into bewildering territories, where insecurities – the deepest rooted fears – mingle with idealized events, creating imaginary challenges that one can overcome without ever taking any action.  Anyway – check this story out:

Is there anyone else who has an appreciation of funerals for old people?  Just say, “Yes, of course!  I can’t think of a more lively event!”  You liar.  I am the only person, as far as I can tell, who has this peculiar fondness of old people’s funerals.  There’s something special about celebrating an old person’s life, because he or she actually lived through so much – starting with diapers and eventually, as the cycle goes, ending up in diapers. “Gross!” you might respond.  Yeah, I agree a return to diapers is life’s version of ego-demolition; but this notion of coming full circle is a remarkable feat, one that deserves recognition and celebratory gestures.

So, yes: I get all emotional and introspective and focused at these old-timers events, and I cannot handle a lot of person-to-person communication.  Dagnabbit, please don’t bother me with superficial commentary at an old person’s funeral – I am likely to bite your head off, kick you in the crotch, and while you lay on the ground grimacing in pain, my authoritative fingers incessantly waves.  Hint: Not right now, fella.  I should be more courteous to my fellow mourners, I know it.  Then I realize that the funeral isn’t about me, but is dedicated the old man or woman that can truly boast of MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  I MADE IT, FUCKERS!  Lordy Be, I need to get with the program.

All of this, a serious digression that’s probably left you scratching your head.  I’m not done yet, stick with me, keep reading – this damn story is coming … NOW!

My great-great aunt died a month ago.  I hadn’t seen my mother in several months, so we figured the funeral would be a great excuse to meet up in Dallas, Texas, where I am originally from.  Our motives, pure – we also wanted to pay respect to this amazing lady that I didn’t know very well.  Any relative with a “great-great” distinction is usually too old, or too far removed from my life, for me to know with any real significance.  I spent, probably, a total of 3-4 days (an aggressive hourly total) with Great-Great Aunt Ellen – and that’s it, like in my entire life.  But like I said earlier, I enjoy funerals for old people.  I was game, ready for the momentous occasion, and hell-bent on catching some glimpse of self-truth in all of this.

Finally.  Time for the wake, which was done with an old school twist – at my great-great aunt’s last place of comfort, her lovely house in the Forest Hills neighborhood near White Rock Lake, in East Dallas.  (If you have sinus problems, stay far away from this area.  You were warned!)  The problem with at-home wakes is that all the family members are packed into fairly small areas, so it’s tough to avoid boring conversations with your second generation cousin, who was recently released from the city jail – having served his “time” for intentionally pissing on his boss, who was having a long conversation with corporate about said cousin’s petulant behavior in the work environment.

Yes, this is absolutely a true story.  I keep pinching myself, praying I imagined the whole thing.  But – it gets worse.  Not understanding the concept of personal boundaries, Steve, my second generation cousin, tells me the story in its entirety – how he was “pissed off” at his boss for cutting his hours at the local pet shop store.  So he pissed on his boss, the only appropriate measure he could think of.  It didn’t help that his mind, soiled by two nights of chemically-inspired fun, wasn’t exactly ticking with the rest of the clocks on the wall, but this guy – wow, he seemed convinced that justice was served, bringing new literal interpretation to the idea of “It’s better to get pissed off than pissed on.” He got two weeks of jail time when the district attorney office viewed the pissing match as a type of bodily assault.

About the time that Steve started describing his cell mates, my mother inched toward the living room.  We hadn’t arrived together, so this was the first time I saw her at the wake.  I quickly interrupted Steve, waving at my mother – the code signal for Get! Your! Ass! Over! Here! – while at the same time validating poor Steve, confirming that I related to his perilous fight against The Man.  Unfortunately, my mother remembered Steve from his earlier years, I guess, when he had curly red hair and a habit of grabbing, scratching his ass without concern for his surroundings.  My mother, I tell you.  She mentioned this in front of Steve while I was standing there, and the poor guy, having been through enough recently, smiled and started waving at someone across the room.  He knows the drill: escape!

“Did I say something upsetting, Heather?”

“No, mother.  You only embarrassed the hell out of guy with an already declining self-esteem.  The Man’s got him down, but I suspect after all of this, he’ll include The Woman on his life’s list of resentments.  Other than that, I think he appreciated the ‘scratching ass’ comment.”

“Everyone, dear – and I mean, everyone – has those quirky habits as a child.  Maybe not <i>that</i> habit, but certainly one that’s similar.  In fact, you used to massage your putty when you were four or five.  There’s noth –”

“Wait a damn minute, Mom.  Not here, not now, not ever.  Imagine if someone heard you!  My God.  Seriously.  Why?”

“I see, I see.  Miss Sex Toy Reviewer seems to be ashamed of her early childhood sexual exploits.  You do realize that all children explore genitalia, trying to see what those ‘things’ are down there? You of all people – the sex toy expert – should know how natural it is.  So Steve grabbed and scratched his ass during the same phase of development.  All natural.  Your children will do the same thing.”

Fuck sakes.  At this point, I might wave at Steve to come back and tell me about his baby’s mama or his collection of fingernails, hidden in a tin can buried in the backyard. (Oh, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, the “putty” my crazy mother mentioned – well, that’s my kitty-kitty.  My mother hates the word “vagina”, so she made up this strange word to replace it.)

“Fine.  I get it.  By the way, you haven’t told anyone that I review sex toys, right?  I asked you to keep that a secret, so if you did … I am going to be super-bitchy pissed at you.”

“I may have told a few people, but no one of importance.  I think it’s funny, and there’s nothing wrong with it – so what does it matter?  Most women play with some kind of sex toy.  Hell, my first vibrator was the nifty massager shower nozzle in my bathroom.  Younger people always assume that parents don’t have a sex life.

“I am going to puke.  Thanks for that.  Too much information, mother.  And you sure are flaunting this information rather loudly, don’t you think – as if this is the usual conversation held at a WAKE!”

My mother blankly stared at me, as if she could see beyond my response.  That’s what happens when your mother is a well-known shrink.  Analyze, analyze.  I could tell she was convinced that I was being too dramatic and my response must be symptomatic of something deeper, dirtier – like a real secret. Body language, which my mother has mastered,  is more effective than verbal communication.

“Clock out, Mom.  Off the job training, unnecessary.”

She ignored the comment, turning her head and walking into the room of all rooms, the one with the casket.  Right as a person’s foot crossed the invisible line separating the living room from my great-great aunts bedroom, the collective disposition changed – in dramatic ways, too.  The loud squawkers, incessant talkers suddenly listened to an internal voice that screamed, “Shut the hell up.  For a minute at least, to pay respects.”  A rhythmic shuffling of feet, echoed in the room.  Mixed in with some deep breaths.

My mother was directly in front of me, starting to lean over the casket when Steve bumped his way to the front, and then, unbelievably asked me:

“I hear that you are some kind of sex worker.  Or that you do something with sex toys.  I’d like to talk to you about my girlfriend before you leave.  Please, don’t leave until we’ve talked.  This is really, really fucking import – ”

“Steve.  Look, right now is not the appropriate moment to discuss my profession, habits – really anything unrelated to the funeral.  Maybe you could emai – ”

“I understand.  There’s no reason to be embarrassed.  No one cares what you do for a living, not in a bad way.  I could use your expertise, in the worst way possible – I mean, good way.  Whatever, you know what I mean.”

“Are you sure we are related, Steve O?  Because if we are, my genetic composition is seriously tainted.  Fuck, fine.  We can talk AFTER! the wake and funeral.”

It seems that my mother, who had sipped three too many drinks before attending the wake, told my Aunt Jackie about my sex toy reviews.  Screwed.  Cooked.  Done.  My Aunt Jackie is our family’s very own Perez Hilton.  Mouth always moving, sometimes exposing morning’s breakfast, with sprays of excited spit traveling from the speaker’s mouth to the listener’s unwelcoming eyes – Yes, that’s my sweet Aunt Jackie releasing the caged gossip queen.

Wrong person to reveal that kind of information.  Before I knew it, even Steve, the social outcast, had the 911 on some of my personal activities.  Wonder-fucking-ful.  And it didn’t help that Steve made no effort to conceal his opportunistic agenda.  My poor great-great Aunt that I barely knew.  I blame my mother, Aunt Jackie and Steve – plus the rest of those busy-bodied family members, who were – I swear – looking at me differently than they had when I first arrived at the house.  Or was I being paranoid?  Not sure, but that’s how I felt.

What did Steve ask me?  I wouldn’t know.  After the funeral I booked it out there.  I didn’t say a word to anyone.  I called an old high school friend, explained the situation, and told her to pick me up at the stop sign.  I left my rental car for my mother to drive.  (She arrived at the funeral with … You guessed it!  My Aunt Jackie.)

Somehow I felt guilty because of these jerk offs running their collective mouths at the wrong time.  I felt kinda dirty inside – not because I do review sex toys, but because I related to yesterday’s biological waste.  Am I being too judgmental?

Changes.

Everything changes, they say.

Spring comes and the flowers bloom. They wither, fall to the ground, and repeat their cycle year after year. Happy only to bring momentous joy to the world.

Change occurs, and we learn to deal with it.