My Trip to the Guelph Sexuality Conference

Maybe we can just say I got really into the theme?

So, as you may know, a couple of weeks back I attended the Guelph Sexuality Conference. I sat down today to write the traditional “I attended a wonderful conference, had a terrific time and everything is awesome!” post but I can’t do that. Don’t get me wrong, the conference was wonderful- it had an amazing schedule, chock full of incredible people teaching fabulous things but the thing is, I went to none of it. Instead I slept roughly 14 hours a day in my Guelph hotel room and when it was time for Stephen Biggs and I to present I, as I had warned him I might, turned most questions over to him and relied on him to remember facts, point me towards relevant stories, and catch me if I lost my train of thought.

In case anyone is wondering, this is what happens when you try to attend a conference in the midst of an (ultimately unsuccessful) medication change.

JoEllen with bright red hair and lipstick in a black and white dress wearing a conference bade labelled "speaker"

My “keeping it together because I’m a professional and stuff” look

I spent my time at Guelph in a fog, feeling awkward in the dress I had bought in a frantic pre-trip shopping excursion because, in the course of med switching my body had grown in size to a degree that my wardrobe could no longer accommodate it. I could barely keep my eyes open, an effect of the meds that (rather cruelly, I think) abated just days later. I was painfully aware that this was the first conference I had ever spoken at without the partner my brother refers to as “Conference Boyfriend” (with the capitalization, like a proper name) and I missed him with an intensity that surprised even me. My ever-present catholic school-implanted fear that people were mad at me was, like the famed Spinal Tap amplifiers, turned up to 11. It was all kind of surreal.

I know I missed some wonderful things at Guelph and I know I didn’t, by far, present the best version of me or my work (That is perhaps a huge understatement. It was the only time I can ever remember talking about sex and depression and not feeling any enthusiasm at all) and for that I am deeply sorry and incredibly sad. But, I did get to connect with people I rarely see in real life, I got to run fun giveaways and distribute lube samples to strangers and I got to spend quality time with Stephen, who I have been presenting with for 2 years but actually had yet to really hang out with and that was all wonderful.

Check out the giveaways and their winners (hover over the graphics for the answers)

There’s something my partner here in the PNW always says when I’m having a rough day because of depression or meds or pain or life: “you get to be where you are”. It’s his way of letting me know that where I’m at in that moment isn’t “wrong” (I often start apologizing to others when I’m in a bad place) it’s just where I am, and I get to be there. I love this and thought of it as soon as I saw the direction this post was taking. I couldn’t figure out how to explain to readers, to other attendees, to my sponsors that I went to conference and slept a lot but really, this is part of what I teach, isn’t it? Sometimes we’re the superhero and sometimes we’re the alter-ego (and the alter-ego on a bad day at that) and the best we can do is show up, do our job, and then go back to the hotel room and sleep. It’s no one’s favorite thing, but it’s true.

Peepshow Toys, sexy stuff. no yucky stuff.

These folks are rad!

Thank you to the Guelph Sexuality Conference for being awesome, to Stephen Biggs for carrying me through this one, and to the amazing folks at Peepshow Toys who made this trip happen. Without them I would not have made it to Guelph, without their generous giveaways and swag I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to connect with nearly as many folks as I did. Peepshow is an outstanding company and have been so wonderful to work with, I cannot thank them enough.

So, that’s my post-Guelph Sexuality Conference post. It may not be fun, I may have cried while writing it, but I’ll be damned if it’s not real. And, perhaps more importantly, it’s here for folks to see so that when they return from that conference/festival/convention/vacation/whatever that didn’t go the way they expected, or when they are at that event and feeling like crap, they can see that it happens, even to the speakers, and that they get to be where they are when they are there.

Get my book The Monster Under The Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations we Aren't Having!

Source link