Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘sex’

A Pharmacy Nightmare: 1980s Contraception

file000848108305So, there I was, standing in the bright Alabama sunshine, sweating enough with heat and nerves to have my tee shirt cling to my chest, clutching the two prescriptions in my hand. I was an adult. Taking care of myself. A sexually responsible person.

“Get in the car,” Mom said.

I got in the car, and we tootled off to Eckerd’s pharmacy. Eckerd’s was a large drug store next to the biggest grocery store in Mobile, Skaggs Albertson’s. Everybody did their shopping Saturday morning at Albertson’s. Everybody picked up their prescriptions Saturday morning at Eckerd’s. We parked seemingly miles away and hiked to the drug store. I felt gooey all under, flustered and untidy next to Mom’s powdered and polished exterior.

 

Shoppers packed the store. By the front door, the cash register and the pharmacy counter used the same queue. I had a moment of panic. The 1980s was the time before privacy laws and barriers to semi-shield you in your discussions with the pharmacist. Mom had a smug smile on her face. I inched closer to her side.

“Mama?” I said.

“You’re a big girl now. Get in line and drop off your prescriptions,” she said moving to the aisle with hair curlers. Mom had great cotton-candy hair – always fluffy in a controlled Brigit Bardot bed head swirl.

Shaking enough to start sweating again in the meat-locker chilly air of the store, I waited for my time at the counter. Handing over my prescriptions, I kept my eyes down and mumbled something. The pharmacist smoothed out the wrinkles of the prescription sheets.

“These are for you?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said raising my eyes to him.

We stood looking at each other across the counter.

“I’ll call you when they’re ready.”

I wandered back to the hair section where Mom hugged me.

“See, that wasn’t so bad,” she said.

 

Half an hour later, my heart rate had returned to normal. I didn’t blush every time I ran into a student or teacher from my old high school or the Catholic college I attended or an acquaintance from synagogue. I had begun to feel chilled from the wet shirt and had run out of things to look at in the hair section. On the way to the magazine rack in the back corner of the store, I heard a thump on the PA system. Another thump, then the booming voice of the pharmacist permeated every corner of the store.

“Trudi Young, Trudi Young. We have your size diaphragm in stock.”

Shoppers stopped speaking and looked around.

The pharmacist repeated, “Trudi Young, we have your diaphragm, please come to the pharmacy counter to pick it up.”

I turned to mother who burst into laughter. Not her most empathic moment. Mom handed me a couple of twenties. “Go on now, pick up your diaphragm,” she said giving me a little push.

Hurrying to the pick-up counter, I passed a bunch of pimply-faced boys who nudged each other and one open-mouthed girl from chemistry lab. I had almost run the gauntlet when the PA system thumped again.

“Trudi Young, Trudi Young. The spermicide for your diaphragm, Nonoxynol-9, is found in aisle five.”

Sweat dripped down the sides of my bright red face. If the earth could have swallowed me at that second, I would have been grateful.

The smiling pharmacist lay the small paper bag on the counter. I handed over the money stone-faced, stuffed the contraceptive into my purse, then high-tailed it over to aisle five. Through a mist of tears, I examined the array of spermicides in their garish boxes and squeezed my eyes shut. These were the days before waterproof make-up. When I peeked from between my fingers, a hand was holding out a pink and white box of Gynol II. The hand belonged to one of my teachers from college.

“I hope he’s worth it,” she said.

“I do too.”

“Anyway, see you in class Monday,” she said turning away.

Mom walked up to me. “Who was that?”

“Uh. My teacher.”

“What does she teach?”

“Biology,” I said, and both of us laughed until tears streamed down our faces.

Mom wiped away the mascara smudges then kissed my cheek. “You did a good job,” she said.

 

(Image by morguefile.com)

An Early Adopter: Contraception in 1980

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It’s difficult to imagine, considering the amount I curse my computer, but I was an early adopter – an early adopter, never of computers but of contraception in 1980. Yes, we had contraceptives back then.

One spring day, when my thighs were firm and my hair was bouncy, I had planted myself in front of my unsuspecting mother and said, “I am going to be sexually active, and I need to get contraceptives.”

I remember that she continued to sip her coffee, took a big breath, and looked up at me. “Okay,” she said. “Time to make a doctor’s appointment.” At which point, I sat down and broke into tears.

Mom brought me some toilet paper to blow my nose – I was way beyond tissue paper, patted me on my shoulder, and left me to wonder about this transition. After using up a good quarter of a roll, I came to the conclusion that I was being very grown-up and strutted off to my room where I looked at the bed and promptly burst into tears again. Looking back, I think that was the best it could have played out.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting in the family Pinto wagon, yes, the exploding model, on my way to my family GP. The nurse ushered me into a room, listened to me stammer and stutter until I could get out that I wanted birth control. I had done my homework. I didn’t want the pill – I wanted a diaphragm. She cocked an eyebrow at me.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I said.

She shook her head, yanked open the door, and yelled into the back of the office. “Diaphragm.” She turned back to me. “We need to get the kit. Get undressed,” and she handed me a sheer robe and a paper blanket.

Tying the strings on the robe, I started to shake so badly I ripped gown and had to cover myself with the paper blanket. Positioning it across my chest and over my lap, I saw one of my socks had a hole – my big toe stuck out. (There’s an analogy for you!)

I waited and waited. And waited. The room was chilly. I kept my mind carefully blank.

After a good forty minutes of ruminating – do I want to be sexually active? Well of course. But is it worth the effort, expense, embarrassment? The doctor rushed in holding an overnight-sized bag-box. “Do you want a pregnancy test?” he asked. His voice boomed into the waiting room crammed with Saturday morning, acne-plagued young people and ricocheted into the back office where I heard a few snickers.

“No. That’s why I’m here. I don’t want to get pregnant,” I said as the door slammed shut.

The nurse smirked, but we went on with the process. He fitted me for a diaphragm. “This ought to do it.” I didn’t know diaphragms came in eight sizes. He held the black rubber spring-loaded dome up to the fluorescent overheads. “Be sure and check it for holes against a light. And you’ll need spermicide.”

“Spermicide?”

“Yes, Nonoxynol-9. Get it when you get the diaphragm,” he said tossing the seven non-fitters into the sink. Hopefully for deep cleaning.

“Now you try.” He covered the diaphragm with KY and handed it to me; the diaphragm slipped out of my fingers and landed spermicide side down on the floor. The nurse shook her head. The doctor laughed as he handed it to the nurse. She rinsed it off and then I tried to insert the spring-loaded circular cup. On the first attempt, I had another floor landing. More rinsing. On the second attempt, it pressed against my bladder. Uncomfortably. And it was suctioned into place. The doctor had to reach in and get it out. By the fifth try, the diaphragm was properly positioned against my cervix. Rah. The three of us were sweating. We cheered. I nodded. They nodded back. I took it out, handed it to the doc who handed it to his nurse.

I was told to get dressed, and my prescriptions would be at the front desk. I walked into the blinding sunshine, got stung by a bee, and thought I would need to shower again before my date that night.

Check in next week for the debacles at the pharmacy and that night’s trial run.

Here’s the meat of my blog:

In the 1860s, a US doctor introduced the ‘womb veil.’

In 1882, Dr. C. Hass invented the diaphragm. Guess I’m not an early adopter.

In 1965, the Supreme Court allowed married couples access to birth control but in 26 US states, unmarried women were denied access to birth control.

In 1972, the Supreme Court allowed access to birth control irrespective of marital status.

In 2013, parental consent was mandatory in 2 states before minors could obtain access to state-funded birth control.

In 2017, with many forms of birth control requiring a physician’s visit, parental consent may be necessary for teens under 18, and doctors and insurance companies may have the ability to inform the parents of the reason for a teen’s medical visit.

Today, private insurance coverage for contraceptives is being questioned. Planned Parenthood, a major provider of free or low-cost reproductive healthcare including education, examinations, screening, testing and treatment of STIs, and abortions, is being challenged and defunded.

Some people are not as lucky as I was when faced with contraceptive choices. Let’s guard our reproductive rights and the rights of future generations. (more…)

Back Pain, Sex Books, and Responsibility

blog54         I did something bad, really painful to my back yesterday in yoga class. The muscles in my lower back seized tight like I had been digging graves or planting bulbs, you pick, for a few days. By 5 pm, I could barely sit at my desk, but walking helped, so I enlisted a friend, and we walked around Barnes & Noble bookstore for a good hour.

Giggling, I walked around the store, limping the gauntlet of back pain, circling literary fiction, then teen picks, over to poetry, and past the enormous display of 50 Shades of Mediocre Writing, More Mediocrity, and finally, The End of Mediocrity (until the author does some actual research into consensual sexuality versus stalking and rape). My friend was standing in the sex section.

You know.

The section of the bookstore that we want to peruse. But are frightened or plain embarrassed to be seen having interest, prurient interest in a topic that has been part of the NC legislature’s tussle over the last year.

Grow up folks; even the pearl-wearing and the seersucker-suited government is talking about sexual issues.

My friend looked pretty comfortable. We picked out books by their cover to be disappointed with the lack of pictures and the downright clinical tone of the books. When did sex become so dull? Well, I am living in NC, and it is a national chain of bookstores.

It wasn’t always that way. Ten years ago I took a similar jaunt to B&N to pick up some books for clients (counseling knows no shame thankfully). It was the middle of an afternoon in the middle of the week. I walked over to the shelves marked SEXUALITY, pulled a few books, tucked my skirt under me, and sat down with the books on the floor.

Within a ten minutes, a few people had walked by, walked by again, and then walked up to me.

“What you looking at?” asked a man.

“Books,” I said.

“Books about what?”

“Books about sex.”

“Oh.”

A few people skittered away. Fast feet and heads down. A few souls stayed.

“What do you think about this book?”

They sat down on the floor blocking the aisle. We started comparing covers. Yes, the cover of a book is crucial. (I like the hot pink and yellow book titled, ‘Hot Sex: How to do it.’)

In thirty minutes, we were a circle of people, different genders, different ages, different skin colors. And we were having a thoughtful conversation about what we look for in a sex book. Pictures, some humor, explicit information and directions, more humor, and permission to explore this important part of our lives.

“It’s great Barnes & Nobel has employees like you,” a woman said.

“Yeah, I’ve never felt so comfortable talking about sex.”

“Um, I don’t work here,” I said.

“Well, you should.”

“Who are you then?”

“Just a reader like you. Interested in sex.”

We unashamedly laughed, giggled, and snorted. Under the bright lights of the bookstore, we talked about the meaning of sex in our lives, how we wanted books that reflected that interest and employees that were knowledgeable and unafraid.

So what has happened in the last ten years? How did we end up with HB2? Why are we mute as our reproductive rights are being legislated away and programs are being defunded? We do not blink an eye as art, in its different forms, is rigidly censored. Art, the conscience of the culture, meant to confuse and inform and disturb us but we settle for sofa art – some image asking nothing of us.

ms-d1lz8z

I think we are fucked, and not in a good way. What are you going to do about this?

Weird Times

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I’m at this really weird time in my life – mid 50s where I am working as hard as possible but seeing opportunities land elsewhere. In younger people’s laps.

My friends are talking about retiring, counting down the days, and planning their last great adventure. About five years ago, I realized I would be working until I died. Through a couple of lousy turns of the luck and some bad planning on my part, I will never be able to retire. Not ever.

Being unable to see a retirement in my future has impacted most areas of my life freaking me out. How did this happen? How did I not notice? Maybe it is a combination of my friends being 5 to 10 years older and in the last of the pensioned jobs. Maybe it has to do with being single or the two major downturns, more like plummets, of the stock market. Maybe it is a realization of the probability of being single when I die. Most likely the realization became embedded with fright after last year’s string of surgeries.

My friends are settling into their last homes and having what they consider safe adventures – cruises. Paying deposits for communities that allow you to move through ever increasing levels of care. I look at my townhouse and wonder how I will get up those steps in 15 years when my knees and hips give out. But who will give a mortgage to some one nearing retirement … So I have been told to plan for my infirmity. Like a good old codger, I have. Replacing the HVAC system. Replumbing. Changing out appliances. Getting stuff out of the attic and into easily accessible storage. Definitely must upgrade my refrigerator.

My 30-year yoga practice has changed. I said good-bye to the Level 2/3 classes, taking and teaching them. In class, it seems quite pig-headed to keep attempting something apt to hurt myself to appease my ego. But on interviews for yoga teaching jobs, employers do one of two things. They assume I want the gentle and restorative classes or I get pressured into those jobs.

I’m having to hunt down new doctors – my current doctors are retiring. I understand that my new doctors will be younger than me with little empathy for aging’s undeniable march. For example, my forty-year old orthopedist said, “You will never dance again.” I will dance tango again, even Lindy. Just watch me. “Wear sneakers 24/7.” Not bloody likely. I may lower my shoes’ heels from a 4” to 3” height but I will wear the handmade leather shoes from Italy with a tight skirt and fishnets.

I am the patient doctors keep badgering to schedule a colonoscopy, a skin cancer exam, but no one asks me about birth control or safe sex anymore. Maybe they think I’m too old to still be having sex.

Then there’s the men and dating.

No, I don’t want to go antiquing – never liked it so why should I like it now?

Yes, I do want to go for a hike at a decent pace.

No, I don’t want to have dinner at 5pm and go to sleep at 8pm.

Yes, I like to nap but I have liked to nap since I was 4.

No, I don’t want a sexless relationship. Sometimes it feels as if I have aged out of the sexually active category. I could stand naked by a motel with a sign reading, “The room is already paid for” and no one would take me up on the proposition.

Then there are the well-meaning people sending me articles to settle, for a man, any man who is breathing. No thank you. I deserve love as much as someone in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

I am under pressure to go on that last great vacation. One doctor told me to do everything on my bucket list before 50 because after that I would need really, really good trip insurance. “All kinds of medical things happen.” Wow, groovy, I still plan to go to Argentina.

Maybe, quite possibly, I should replace the word ‘weird’ with ‘irritable.’ I am at this really irritable time in my life.

NSFW – Mild or Robust Sexuality?

missionaryAYElegs

I am in a slump. I am all written out. My brain is mush.

So I decided to play with Andrew’s photographs for our collaboration “69 Scheimpflug Street.” I am not sure he was amused – he sent me an article on how to crop and present images. Okay dokey. The article is on my desk somewhere. Surely.

I put the cropped images up on Twitter (TrudiYTaylor) and Tumblr (Cranky Writer in adult oriented category) with little captions. No one seems to mind. They get favorited, liked, etc.

The photographs are lovely. Erotic. Playful. My stories are sexy in unexpected ways (at least to my way of thinking and from the comments of our preliminary viewers).

And we are out of money for the series. Models cost. Locations can cost. Printing papers and final prints on aluminum cost. Our time costs. Yep like so many artists we eat that cost. So many costs – so little money.

So we looked into a Kickstarter funding process. They get good results. Participants have vouched for their veracity. But Kickstarter is not too keen on sexuality or nudity. They use the terms “slight” and “mild.” I understand their not wanting to promote pornography. Neither do we.

Here’s the dilemma – the exhibit is about moving sexuality and nudity from a slight and mild fuzziness into a more robust and integrated focus (think Scheimpflug Principle). We are sick of the all-or-nothing thinking this country has around sexuality. We must be hypersexual or asexual. What?

I am going to send in one uncompromised series of stories and photographs about a couple choosing to expand their sexual repertoire. The photographs contain full frontal nudity of a man and a woman. The stories are explicit.

I don’t hold out much hope …

Taking a different tack, Andrew found a site where we can sign up for patrons (yes, really, patrons). Another dilemma – we have to make videos to attract patrons. Now I do not have a problem asking for money for my services – got over that in graduate school for counseling. If you can’t ask for money, you do not value your product (whether it is counseling, widgets, or art). The dilemma is that I look like a mangy, cross-eyed cat in videos and sound like Julia Childs. Not an enticing combo when every one else on the site looks a sleepy 26 and adorable.

So what do you think? Is there a need or want for images and stories exploring, even pushing an integrated sexuality in our lives?

Would you rather support us with a monthly gift or with one monetary gift?

Send me your comments. Below are some preliminary images with my attempts at cropping.

AYElegs

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Passionate Fifties

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Aren’t these beautiful people? Isn’t it lovely to have models that are not in their teens or twenties? Or even thirties or forties? Aren’t they sexy?

Being mid fifties myself, I wanted this image to reflect the passion and tenderness of a couple in their 50s. The fifties. When you like a teenager, not one thing or another, not young or old but in the place where things, bodies, ideas, and values are changing.

The fifties, an age where sexuality and love have different meanings, different entanglements, and different responsibilities. We’ve lost by this point – more than a few ideals, some vitality, some abilities, and some innocence. We’ve lost people we love by choice or by death.

But what we’ve gained. We are learning to really love – our lives, our bodies, and connections to each other. The wrinkles and cellulite can’t overshadow what we gain from a loving life.

A week ago, I was talking on the phone with a friend about his phrase, “right now.” I got a tad cranky and flustered thinking, “right now, what’s this right now shit? Are you crossing out the future?”

With uncharacteristic tact, I gently probed. He was talking about staying in the present as a way he didn’t get ahead of himself; overwhelm the potential of a situation. Well that made sense.

Last weekend, I was talking to a girlfriend and bemoaning our physical changes. We laughed acknowledging our insight. Finally we were learning patience, just as we were moving closer to the endpoint of our lives than to the beginning. Life is full of ironies – they smack you in the face screaming, “Wake up.”

Last year, I thought that I had made peace with the idea that my love life was probably finished. Seeing an image like this one reminds me of everything I have to give to a lover – bound up in my wrinkled, dissembling, and experienced self. Looking at their joyous lust, I see their compassion for each other and themselves. At last.

So I am waking up with an urge to create the tender love, compassion, and lust of this image. A big thanks to the models for reminding me of this value.

(Image is from a collaboration of stories and photographs with Andre Giovina titled “69 Scheimpflug Street”)

Mumu’s Away

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One day when I was 45, wearing an expensive equivalent of a Mumu (a linen sack minus the pineapples and war canoes), I went back to therapy.

I said, “Help me make a graceful transition into middle age.” (Okay, so I was running a little late.)

He looked at me like I had grown a third eye right there in his office.

“No really. I’ve watched too many of my friends have difficulty with this change.”

He continued to smile benignly at me. “Why do you think you’ll have a difficulty with it?”

I looked at him like he sprouted a third arm. “Ah, society is not very accepting of middle age. They have two options – become invisible or act like a hypersexual 20 year old.” Internally, I was wondering if we lived in the same culture. Guess it is different for men.

We sat there for a minutes. Me with my third eye. Him with his third arm.

At last the font of wisdom spoke. “Why do you say that?”

“Well, I’m invisible. I don’t feel invisible but I am to men. And women seem to expect me to move into this matronly grandmother role. I don’t have kids.”

“Yeah. I guess that could be confusing,” he said. “I don’t think you’re invisible.”

“You have to say that. You’re my therapist.”

Really? No one else has asked for help around aging? Really?

We worked on the changing role and self-identity for maybe 2 years. I learned some love of my changing body. I discussed Botox with him. I told him about my changing intimacy needs along with the lack of available men. I expressed my frustration with the culture.

“I tell you I could stand naked by a Motel 66 with a sign reading, ‘The room is already paid for’ and no one would notice, not even slow down their car,’ I said.

“I find that hard to believe,” he said looking uncomfortable.

(I love when I can make my therapist uncomfortable – means I’ve struck a cord. He’ll probably go for supervision – a chain of therapists providing for each other’s retirement. Yay!)

“You still look good,” he said.

“What the hell does that mean?”

“You have nice skin and are sexy.”

(Eeoough. Sex with your therapist is a no-no, the big F for Felony.) I knew he wasn’t hitting on me but it was time to end therapy.

So, I went to yoga class to work on my aging but not decrepit body. My yoga practice had changed. No way was I practicing like I would have done in my 30s. That’s disrespectful to myself. And dangerous. I guess I did learn some stuff in therapy …

In this yoga studio, most of the students and teachers are in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s. By this time I was moving towards 50, yes 50 years of middle age. I plopped in wearing the de rigueur yoga leggings and some kind of spaghetti strapped top. The teacher said, “Fix your top.”

Another student said, “You may as well be naked.”

I thought, “Why? Other people in here are wearing a little sports bra and something that might pass for shorts on a preteen.” (Oops, there goes my judgmental self.)

I bounced over to a friend’s mat. She said, “You just exude sex.”

I walked back to my mat. Was I putting out the sexy vibe? My skin wasn’t over exposed. I hadn’t even looked at the men in the class.

Then I realized women over 50 who are confident in themselves, with an integrated sexuality, are a threat. We know things. Things other people want to do. With them. We know how to use words to ask for what we want, to clarify, and to connect. We have developed a proper place for sex in our lives. Sex being only one thing among many things that define us.

Two years ago, well into my 50s, waiting for a friend at a restaurant, I overheard two people from my decade. He said, “There’s nothing like young skin. There’s nothing like youth.” She started to cry.

I wanted to go over and hold their hands saying, “Yes that’s the truth of it. Each age has a particular beauty. Look for it in every one you come in contact with but don’t negate your own loveliness.”

A photographer friend asked me, “What is it about women in their 50s that makes them so attractive?”

“We have worked to become comfortable with ourselves.” Ha!

The therapy worked. I no longer wear Mumus. Mostly I am comfortable in my own skin – that’s my beauty in middle age.

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