Nov 122013
 

Waiting for the shuttle at the airport.It began in the airport, with my iced coffee in tow, and two war vets grumbling to each other about Obama taking away all our guns. The flight was uneventful, save for the creeping, almost overwhelming sense of excitement and importance I was feeling — punctuated by surprisingly decent airplane coffee and one of the most beautiful 2 minutes of music ever made, Nancy Wilson’s “Cabin in the Air.”

The SuperShuttle guy totally thought I was some 16-year-old loser trying to sneak into fancy hotels, but I eventually ended up at the Marriott.

Just as I was settling in for some TV and a sandwich, my phone rang. It was a Goo Goo Dolls song, so I knew it was Tristan Taormino. I answered: “I turned off Toddlers & Tiaras for you, I hope you know.”

She wanted me to go to Bawdy Storytelling that night. While I’d planned to stay in and be an introvert, uh, who am I to argue with Tristan Taormino? She arranged for me to get a ride from the creator of Bawdy herself, Dixie De La Tour, a red-haired fireball with a Southern accent. I was the co-pilot with the iPad, laughing all the way through the bad L.A. traffic.

My outfit for El Cid. ALL OF THE GOLD THINGS.

At swanky El Cid, I met Technogeisha, Ashley Manta, and Lady Cheeky, then settled in at Tristan’s table. (Jiz Lee was also there but I was too nervous to talk to them.) My drinks were delicious; one had a blackberry on top. Watching Tristan react to MC Crumbsnatcher was the best thing ever. The stories, especially the one from Allison Moon about having a fling in Spain, were incredible — I laughed until my cheeks hurt.

Afterward, I needed a ride home and was told that Midori was going back to the hotel. Yes, that Midori. I was petrified of talking to her, but my survival instinct took over. Not only did she give me a lift back to the hotel, but we had an amazing conversation all the way there.

Being a boss in the Marriott lobby.Thursday morning, I bought an enormous coffee, acquainted myself with the layout of the hotel, then plopped down on a chair in the lobby to work on my panel. I don’t know why — probably too much coffee — but I felt like king of the motherfucking world. I watched businessmen strut through the lobby and take business calls while I did my own scandalous business. I was delighted with life.

Day turned to afternoon, and I continued working on my panel in the hotel bar. As I snacked on a highly-underwhelming plate of $12 shrimp, I was joined by Kate McCombs, Annamarie, and Stella Harris. Conversation continually veered toward weird animal sex, and we all vowed to look up videos of banana slugs and koalas humping later on.

When I returned to my room, thinking I might just chill out alone for the rest of the night, I saw a tweet from someone I didn’t know named Kate Sinclaire. Despite a bit of trepidation, I invited her over to my room. BEST DECISION EVER. She is adorable, funny, and knows a thing or two about sex toys (she works for Fuze!). Her original plan, like everyone’s on earth, was to go to Gloryhole that night, but I fed her wine until she could no longer resist staying with me instead.

We eventually acquired Aerie, LoraxHopeQueeraschino, and Queeraschino’s partner. I cannot describe to you the glory of this night. We laughed all night long, sticking Bad Dragon dildos to the sliding glass door, passing around the Shit Orb, testing various pens and paper, and devouring personal pizzas and astronaut ice cream. It was the Best Night™.

Right before the opening keynote, being girly.Friday, I ate multiple burritos and went to Tristan’s Boot Camp basically all day. That evening, to prepare for the opening keynote, Lorax painted my nails for me like such a friend. It was the only time I wore a dress. Behold.

Saturday, I attended panels and scarfed down tiny muffins. Right before my panel, I inhaled an apple, talked through my notes like someone on speed, and scrunched the crunch out of my hair. I assume for those reasons, the panel went great. The 70 minutes went by in a flash — a wonderful, exhilarating flash.

Building a Crave Duet vibrator.After that, I was finally able to spend some time in the exhibitors’ hall doing important things: building myself a Crave Duet, meeting the nice folks behind We-Vibe, and fondling all the dildos on the Tantus table.

That night, I somehow ended up at a sushi restaurant with some really important people, among them Danny Wylde, Sinnamon Love, April Flores, Carlos Batts, and Jane Ward (the writer of one of my favorite pieces in The Feminist Porn Book). I revealed my lack of culture with my inability to eat with chopsticks, but hopefully made up for it by being the intriguing one who tests sex toys for a living?

Also, shoulder-to-shoulder with Danny Wylde. Just quietly.

That night was another round of irresistible Bawdy Storytelling. Packed into the hotel conference room like sardines, someone poked me on the shoulder. It was Tristan Taormino, handing me her phone and asking me to hijack her Twitter account while she told the first story. I held up my mason jar of wine and asked, “are you sure?”

Similar bags, terrible carpet.Even on a foreign phone and with some wine in me, I was able to tweet a few times during Tristan’s story. Gotta say, there was something very fulfilling about being given the potential to ruin someone’s career1.

Tristan’s story2 was so good that it finished with both the crowd uproariously laughing and Queeraschino crying into my shoulder. This was followed by other wonderful stories, and more crying and laughing, and a general sense of both joy and relief. It was cathartic as fuck.

In the elevator, I got my chance to make up for my awkward response to the old men at Catalyst East who asked what I was there for. Some drunk dude wanted to know, and I didn’t miss a beat: “a sexuality and activism conference.”

Mona 2s in love.I capped off the night with a blogger party with Penny, Aerie, and Queeraschino. Photos were taken; our Monas fell in love; stories were swapped; blogger and anti-rapist affinity was shared.

On Sunday, after some panels, Queeraschino and I jetted across the street to the mall, where we secured sandwiches and stumbled upon a pet adoption place that, even with the strong smell of piss in the air, almost drove me insane with cat-desire.

After the closing keynote that evening, everyone on earth was starving for some real food, so we had a big dinner at PF Chang’s. I ordered too many appetizers. The night ended in Jenna’s room, as we unwound by donning Lush face masks.

On the last morning, I partook of the hotel’s breakfast buffet with Queerie and yet again wasted my appetite and $15 on an appetizer — of fruit and yogurt.3

Lorax (black nails), me (turquoise nails), Queerie (white nails). Photo by Queerie.Then Lorax and I shuffled up to Queerie’s room, where we sat around her epic microphone and recorded a podcast with her. My first ever podcast!

People keep asking me what my favorite part of Catalyst was. I know what I’m expected to say: the panels. But that is not really true. Yes, I loved Toxic Toys and Building a Career Talking About Sex and Top 10 Myths About Business and Moral Panic. But my favorite part was the people — and the feelings.

Because for five exhausting, wonderful days, I was outgoing, and I invited people to my room whom I’d never met, and I introduced myself to Midori, and I knew my shit, and I spoke loudly and honestly, and I felt so loved and so energized.

What I wish I could capture is each moment — and there were many — that I leaned against the nearest person whom I had met mere hours prior, feeling this stupid overwhelming kinship that I cannot possibly explain in a way that doesn’t sound like bullshit, and laughed until I cried.

In the airport, it was the reverse: after TSA got miffed at the water bottle I’d forgotten to drain, I broke down at the gate. But there, suddenly, waiting for the same flight, like a Catalyst angel, was the ever-smiling face of Kate McCombs. She asked me what I needed, brought me new water, gave me space, and then — made me laugh.

  1. OK, exaggeration []
  2. which I’m not going to ruin here, in case she wants to tell it again, because she should []
  3. I AM THE WORST AT THIS. []
  • http://loraxofsex.com/ Lorax Of Sex

    I kinda love the fact that, after parting ways at the airport headed home, I texted you to say that I was losing my shit and sobbing like a fool at the gate- only to find out that you were doing the exact same. Our continued same-yet-so-different-ness astounds me. I luv ya.

  • http://aeriesroom.com/ Aerie

    What an incredibly epic weekend! Thank you for writing about it all in full wonderful detail and creating the “best moments” Storify so that I could relive it all once again.

    For me also, the best part of Catalyst was the people. Meeting and making friends with so many smart, funny, creative, inspiring, wonderful people. I can’t wait to see everyone again.

    Much love and kitten fluff!

  • http://heyepiphora.com/ Epiphora

    You are welcome! I figure it won’t be that useful to people who weren’t there, but I wanted to capture it for the future. I loved meeting you and really hope to hug you again at other Catalysts!

  • Joan Price

    Loved your account! We all have different experiences at CatalystCon, because the possibilities are so rich that it’s a wonderland. We meet people we’ve only read about. We absorb new ideas, new information, new causes. We leave more fully human because we’ve been touched by Catalystcon.

  • Hope

    That WAS the Best Night (TM)! The camaraderie, openness, and excitement to build each other up really is the best part of Catalyst. I actually felt light-headed with happiness for days after I came home.

    Thanks for the memories! I can’t wait for next year’s!

  • tonyinabag

    i go to a lot (A LOT) of kink/leather conferences, and no matter the event, it’s always the people that make it amazing. pizza and booze and exhaustion-fueled nights in hotel rooms with awesome friends – new and old… it’s hard to imagine something more rad.

    that sounds like a fucking fantastic weekend.

    [i love/hate the random outsider in the elevator encounters! my standby answer is "an alternative sexuality conference." (a friend of mine, when we were at Int'l Ms Leather, was in the elevator with a horde of frat bros who had asked the hotel what event was going on, and misheard as the "International Mrs. Sex and Leather Contest" and agreed that would be fun).]

  • http://lotusbloomsalexandria.com/ Rebecca Hiles

    Will you be going to Catalyst East? I’ll be there, it’s my first time at Catalyst and I’m super excited!!!

  • http://heyepiphora.com/ Epiphora

    YES I WILL

  • http://lotusbloomsalexandria.com/ Rebecca Hiles

    You should find me and be my friend!

  • Jay Marz

    Oh the awesomness

  • http://heyepiphora.com/ Epiphora

    DONE AND DONE

  • http://www.ashesvondust.com/ Ashes

    This all sounds so…magical.
    Ok, that’s such a stupid word, but it’s the one my brain has chosen.
    I wish I could experience something like this. I have crippling social anxiety that hits me without warning, making me housebound a lot. But if I had the time and money, I would totally want to attend one of these things; everyone sounds so positive and warm and inclusive, I wonder if I’d be able to do it. Maybe one day.
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Victoria Reuveni

    Loved this summary of all the things that go on at a conference that make it fun! I have yet to go to CCon (though people have SWORN that’s where they met me. Doppelganger?), but look forward to CCon-East. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • http://noveltiestoymeetsgirl.com/ dizzygirl

    Sounds like a great time. Not sure socially awkward introverted me could have handled it though. Thanks for providing a glimpse for those of us who couldn’t go.

  • http://www.naughtynuala.com nuala macmoragh

    I had a few friends who went (one who presented on the Ass Panel, which are two words I never tire of seeing together), and was bummed that I had to chaparone my daughter to Anime Weekend Atlanta instead, but I promised her, for her birthday and all. Next year! I ALMOST went to Bawdy the night before! I went the prior month and was given a Vixskin Outlaw just for putting my name in the hat to be called up to tell a 5 minute story. Dixie was carrying it around and told me “You could choose a toy just like this one if you put your name in the hat.” “Just like this one, or *this* one?” I asked. “This one, but I’ll need to keep it until I get more names in the hat,” she told me– typical bait and swap. The other toys were not Vixskin, and they weren’t a giant Outlaw. She called me up by name to come and get my “big dick,” in front of everyone, and of course I pranced back to my seat with it, holding it high like the Olympic Torch. And I didn’t even get called up to tell my story!

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  • thelesserunknown

    I just noticed your Jollie-colored ring finger design. When I see little colorful dots like that, my mind no longer thinks “rainbow sprinkles” or “rainbow polka dots”. Thanks for permanently upgrading my brain to all dildos, all the time.

  • Adriana

    I am so happy and proud of/for you but I am simultaneously so jealous of this whole experience and this career you’ve built and know that the introvert that I am could never do those things and maybe, even if I somehow did, I’d be in the middle of it and be hating it. It has made reading your tweets and posts a trial and I sort of hate that.

  • http://heyepiphora.com/ Epiphora

    What this post doesn’t show is the other 360 days of the year where I sat at home in my pajamas.

  • http://ofsexandlove.com/ Adriana

    I do that about once a year LOL