CatalystCon East: Return to the Big City – Part Two

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CatalystCon East: Return to the Big City – Part TwoLast time in Part One, I talked about my experiences in the classroom at CatalystCon. The many lessons learned there and the wonderful presenters sharing them. However, they weren't the only wonderful people or events at the conference. I also met plenty of wonderful con-goers, and made a few conference friends. You know the kind, the ones that you spend a lot of time with while you're there, and look forward to seeing in future years? Well, I definitely made a few of those this year, and I learned quite a bit from them as well.

One of the things I learned from my new-found friends was a practical lesson in toy safety. I've certainly heard plenty on this subject, but for me it took a practical demo to really understand both the importance and just how darn simple it is. Using condoms to cover toys just makes cleanup simpler, and you can get economy-style boxes of some pretty good condoms at a pretty good price if you're really going to be using them that much. And I learned some creativity in how to cover other toys as well. I got a fairly solid guide of how to fairly solidly cover a sybian to have a massive reduction (possibly complete, assuming no errors) for the reduction of fluid crossover. It involved a good amount of creativity, a condom, and some pallet wrap.

However, as fun as it was to learn a lot of toy safety, that was small in comparison to the other lessons that I learned. Before the opening keynote, they had a meet-and-greet for newcomers and shy people. I missed this last year, having passed out from the insane car ride. Well, this year I attended, and it was a critical component in enhancing my Catalyst Con experience. One of the things that Ashley Manta and Dr. Hernando Chavez , the presenters for the meet and greet,  really hammered home was that it is okay to ask for what you want, be that a chat or something else. They emphasized how this was a safe space, and people will generally respond respectfully, regardless of their answer.

Well, I took that message to heart, and at an impromptu gathering where all sorts of lovely toys were being broken out, I swallowed my shyness and my self-consciousness and asked someone to tie me up, as it was something I have really wanted. And much to my elation, she responded positively! It was, in short, a wonderful experience. The memories (and pictures) of the event serve as reminders that if you ask for what you want, you might well get it. And that can be an absolutely wonderful thing.

However, even THAT wasn't the most memorable moment of the conference for me. I made mention to the person who had topped me with the rope scene, that I would like to talk with her about something else. At the meet-and-greet, she mentioned being a fan of butts. Well, something that was on my bucket list was to try a prostate massage, and I wanted to ask her for advice on going about trying that. However, after a small miscommunication led her to think I was asking to try it with her, which she was also amenable to. I certainly wasn't about to turn the chance down!

So, after exchanging our risk-aware-sex elevator speeches, and a couple of misses on timing, we finally got to do that. It was nothing short of a mind blowing experience. Not only did I enjoy the hell out of it, but she was having a blast with my reactions. And since then, it has become something I've enjoyed a bit after the conference as well. But that first experience was fantastic. And more importantly, it taught me that it's okay to ask for what I want, what I REALLY want. Because if I don't ask it, I deny myself the opportunity and I may end up denying someone else a fun opportunity.

It's been a while since CatalystCon and my writing this. More than any lesson I've learned, I've spent time really taking this to heart and putting it into practice. It has been an invaluable lesson and it has brought me much happiness. There are a couple of people out here in the cornfields with me, ones who I have taken the time to ask for what I've wanted with them. And lets just say I haven't been disappointed. It, honestly, has even improved my relationship with Bunny a bit, as it has left me feeling empowered to ask for what I want with her, without assuming her rejection or her acceptance.

This year's CatalystCon truly was a life changing experience for me. Between the lessons in the classroom and the lessons outside of it, I honestly feel like I've left it a better person. And not only that, I'm bringing the lessons I've learned there back to my community, back out here to the cornfields. I've been spreading the word. I've been trying to be a catalyst for growth and change out here. And I would say, even if it is in little ways, it's working.

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Derek is a twenty-something guy living in a somewhat urban and rural community in the Midwest. When he's not on the occasional date or trying to get a poly community started in his area, he enjoys hanging out with friends and playing all sorts of different games. Life is sometimes different out in the cornfields, but that doesn't stop him from doing his best to bring polyamory into the open by living openly poly.

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