How Big Did You THINK It Was Gonna Be?

For those of you who haven’t read any of my previous blog posts, you may not know that when I’m not being a mum or trying to be fabulous, or (recently) tracing my family tree, I run an adult toy website. Yes, my life is varied and strange.

Before you go getting ideas in your heads about all kinds of sordid stuff, it’s really a very classy site and the idea is that we need to reduce the stigma and shame about needing or wanting a little bit of help (or more fun!) in the bedroom. We sell kegel exercisers that help women get their lady parts back in working order after having kids, and lovely lotions and lubes to ease the way between couples. There are wonderful products that truly help women suffering from low libido or inability to orgasm, and that can help men with erectile difficulties. I love to educate people about all the possibilities out there. But, where there are sex toys, there is inevitably going to be some giggles too. I both love and dread those scenarios.

One of the things I quickly learned in the adult toy business is that a lot of toys are made waaay bigger than the average male anatomy. There are size queens and kings out there who like a bit of a challenge. And that’s great – for them. Then there are those folks who just don’t seem to understand what they’re getting into. I don’t know if it’s a case of “it seemed like a good idea at the time” or if they truly have no concept of how to measure stuff. Because all of the toys come with very specific and detailed measurements – for good reason.

For a while there, I would cringe whenever we would get an order for something that was… shall we say, substantial. Why? Because we also had a run on people who eagerly opened up their packages, delivered to their door by the unsuspecting postman, and then proceeded to freak out. Then they would email or call me and freak out and ask for a return or exchange for something more manageable. (Hopefully it will come as a relief to you all out there that returns are not an accepted policy in the online adult toy store industry.)

I  hate being the bad guy. I really do. But seriously, if the very TITLE of the product includes the words 12 inches, how big did you think it was gonna be? Because, let me tell you, 12 inches is the length of my forearm – and I’m a tall gall at 5’8″. And don’t even get me started on circumference because we’re talking pop cans – or bigger. I actually got a sample to use as an educational demo so that I can help people realize what they’re getting into and I love opening up my samples cupboard where it sits, still in the box, and showing my friends. Their jaws drop in collective wonder and then they laugh. Because really, it could be used as an effective weapon against burglars. I could either knock them unconscious or they would flee in terror at the mere sight of it.

I wonder if these customers have just lost perspective from watching too much bad porn or if they need to retake grade three math. Or is it kind of like how big boobs seem like a good idea until you’re faced with actually having them attached to your own body, weighing you down and making your back ache.

Whatever the cause of these misunderstandings I am trying to save others from the same fate by adding a size guide to each product page in the hopes that others will not suffer the same fate.  And for those who got exactly what they were hoping for, I tip my hat to you while at the same time cringing and crossing my legs.

 

My Weirdly Awesome New Job

Hi Folks!

After a shockingly long break, I am back at it with some new insights and a brand new job that you are all going to either love or hate.

If you haven’t read this blog before, you may not know that I’m now a work-from-home parent with all of the distractions and multi-tasking that involves. I’ve been at it for a good 6 or so years now and I’ve had some truly fabulous opportunities but none as fun or as challenging as what I’m doing now.

Prepare to blush… I am now managing a sex toy website! Yep, that’s right. And while the opportunity came completely out of left field, I have to say that I’m enjoying every ridiculous sordid minute of it.

If you’re still with me and haven’t run screaming, let me explain.

I’ve worked with a couple of great guys for years on a website they developed that’s in the medical field. I do updates and make phone calls and write health articles. It’s a lot of fun and I get complete creative control over what I want to research and write. I love it.

About 6 months ago, they let me know they were selling the site to another company and while they made sure that the new company would keep me on, they had some ideas up their sleeves and wondered if I wanted to be involved.

You see, they had always wanted to run an online store and were mulling over some ideas of what they wanted to sell. We went to lunch and were tossing ideas around and they said they were thinking of either staying in the medical field and selling geriatric devices – walkers, canes, the stuff you need to keep from falling in the tub etc. Or…. sex toys.

Now, I have a Political Science and History BA but they didn’t realize that a lot of my degree was in gender politics and women’s history. I loved the idea of a site where women in particular could be comfortable to shop for items that would make them happier and discover their sexuality alone or with their partners.

I think I shocked them a little with my enthusiasm.

It was on a patio across from St. Lawrence Market that the idea for Betty’s Toy Box was born.

We threw around ideas for what we wanted to do and decided that we wanted to be different from other sites out there. Canada has some really great sex toy retailers that are focused on education and acceptance but there seemed to be more of a void in the American market. I said that I wanted a cheeky, but not sleazy look. Something that women would be comfortable with but men would like too. I hated he in-your-face styles of some of the major sites where it’s all sex sex sex. I wanted women to realize that buying toys wasn’t something elicit – that toys can help your relationships, improve your overall mental and physical health, and be fun, not dirty.

Which brings us to today. About 4 months after our launch, I am having so much fun and learning so so much. I have been given complete control over what we stock and how we talk about our products. I am writing about things that really affect women and couples and helping people. I have met some really great people along the way, too.

I know this may not be everybody’s cup of tea but I wanted to share this with you all. There’s no way I would be able to pick up this blog again and not talk about something that is taking up so much of my time and brain power, plus if you’re game, you may learn something along the way. I promise this won’t turn into a sex toy blog. That’s not my intention. I’m still a mum and Mini Me is 13 now, with all the drama that comes with it, so there will still be chunks of my real life in this blog. It’s just that now, I have a cupboard full of sex toys to hide from the kids… and that’s a whole other post altogether!

Suddenly I’m Interesting Again!

Wow, its been a while, hasn’t it? Turns out my new job is not only fabulous but takes up a WHOLE lot of my time. I worked 40 hours each the last two weeks. That’s just crazy but I’m loving it.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.

I was joking with a friend of mine the other day that suddenly I seem to be ‘interesting’ again in many people’s eyes. Its funny, yet at the same time quite sad to come upon this realization.

See, I have always had the kind of jobs that people find rather interesting. Even when I was working in a bookstore, back in the days after I finished university, it was great conversation fodder when out at the bar, meeting new people. Apparently bookstores are fascinating. Working in one implies that you are an intellectual, that you love to read, and that if somebody gets to know you well enough, you may be generous enough to pass on your staff discount.

Then I started working in book publishing. Well, apparently that was super-duper cool. Everybody wanted to know which authors I had worked with and once you start being able to pass around names like Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, your cool and interesting status is well and truly secured. I admit that at moments I enjoyed the look on people’s faces when they found out what I did. They wanted to know more, to hear stories, to find out if it was as glamorous it seems (it’s not, by the way), and the conversation would flow.

Then I became a stay-at-home mum, and when I would meet new people and they would ask me what I did, I would tell them “I’m home with my kids right now.” They would nod and smile, and move on to another topic. Now, I didn’t expect people to quiz me about the daily happenings of my life changing diapers and making lunches. Kids are not everybody’s cup of tea and I certainly understand that once you’re out of the young kid phase, you don’t want to hear about teething and tantrums. Still, there was a certain unease when people would hear that, and almost a dismissal, like we may not have anything in common or anything to talk about. I admit that more than a couple of times I was guilty of the big BUT. “I’m home with my kids BUT I used to be a book publicist,” I would say and their eyes would go from glazed over to interested again.

I hope that most of you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not saying this because I’m some kind of attention seeking weirdo. I’m actually quite an introvert and deep down I find it really difficult to meet new people. Although I seem outgoing and social, that is a persona I have developed over years of working with people and it can be exhausting to keep it up for very long. So, when the conversation becomes stilted, I know that I have certain go-to stories that will keep the ball rolling and put an end to any awkwardness. It’s a tool, really.

Now, I am a Social Media and Communications Associate for a women’s e-magazine, and apparently I am once again interesting. It is a job that never even existed 10 years ago, and people my age seem to find it fascinating that companies hire somebody to post tweets and status updates. Of course, it’s much more than that, but the fascination is still there and just last month , I had two acquaintances from my kids’ school ask to get together with me and pick my brain. Both are self-employed and need to unravel the social media mystery sooner rather than later, so I get why they want to talk to me. I just find it fascinating that I amsomebody that people want to speak to again.

And here’s the thing: I was interesting when I was “just” a stay-at-home mom. I read books and followed politics, and was funny and smart and well-spoken and educated. There was so much more to me than wiping noses and attending play groups. My closest friends are the ones who always knew that, and I have to say that the ones who didn’t will never be people who I could be friendly with. And I feel a bit guilty now that even I would cop-out and bring up my old “interesting” job when I was a full-time mum. I know now that I was telling people that what I was doing with my life wasn’t enough, but you know what? To hell with that. It was enough. Maybe next time I’m faced with telling a stranger what I do for a living I’ll say “I’m a Social Media guru now, but I was home with my kids for 7 years and it was a blast,” and see what they say.

My Tragic E-Card Addiction

One of the things I learned at Blissdom this year is that you should never really do a social media post without some kind of picture attached to it. Anything with a picture gets, like, a bazillion more views and shares and likes (that is a rough estimate). Problem is, that pinning other people’s stuff or posting it to facebook or whatever helps your own business not at all and just helps to spread the love from the original source.

Well, it turns out that all of those e-cards with the Victorian pictures and snappy sayings that are all over the web? You can MAKE YOUR OWN! Who knew? Okay, I’m sure any of you under 30 with a pulse knew that, but for me, the thought that there was a website where you can make these things yourself and say anything you want on them is FREAKIN’ FANTASTIC. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Go to www.someecards.com or even more fun, www.rottenecards.com. See how quickly you get hooked. It means I can make gems like this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

or this…

 

 

 

 

 

 

See what I mean? Awesome! And I get paid to  make these things. Okay, so in retrospect, maybe I need to get out more. Sigh.

 

Remember Me?

My new teapot

Well, hello there. It has been a while, hasn’t it? As it turns out, being a full-time mom, holding two part-time jobs and trying to sleep occasionally means that something often has to fall through the cracks. Turns out that something was my blog. But, it’s Saturday and the sun is shining and I have a steamy cup of tea and I missed writing about what’s going on in my life.

Of course, the biggest thing lately has been this new job. I’m a few weeks in now and I don’t know how I got so lucky. The pay is crap (it is a start-up, after all) but I get to work with other women who all have the same desire to communicate with smart, driven women out there and form a community. I work from home every day but one, where I hop on the subway with my 4o-pound laptop case and work from my boss’ condo (which has a Starbucks on the corner). Sometimes we eat cake or chocolate. It’s like paradise.

The important thing, though, is I get to write. Whether it’s a Facebook post or an article or an opinion on one of the blogs we follow, I am writing all day every day. I wonder sometimes if this blog wasn’t what prepared me to have a job where I am writing. For so long, I had opinions or ideas, but the only people who got to hear them were Muppet and some of my girlfriends over a glass of wine. Even though this blog is anonymous, I still get to say things about my thoughts and my life that I would never normally share with anybody but my closest ‘inner circle.’ The blog has taught me that maybe other people are thinking the same things and going through the same struggles.

It was this blog that got me to sign up for Blissdom in Toronto next week. I’m sooo looking forward to it because I love learning new things, but I think that it will also be fun to see some of the bloggers that I follow live and in the flesh. It’s also my official ‘coming out’ because not only is this blog anonymous, I have never posted a picture of myself. But, the blog name will be there on my name tag for all to see and there will be women attending who know me from my previous career so I’m being outed no matter what. I’m kind of excited by the thought, honestly. It may be time to come out of the blogging closet. I have this new job to thank for that, because it has boosted my confidence in my writing. The ladies at work listen to what I have to say and they value my ideas and my opinions as much as Muppet or my girlfriends or my readers here.

So, I may have been MIA from the blog for a bit, but I have made a promise to myself to not let it slip again. Maybe I could just not clean the house anymore. That would give me more time, because I sure as hell am not giving up any more sleep.

Balls In the Air, Nose to the Grindstone

Being a stay-at-home mum is something I never thought I would do. Actually, being a mum at all is something I told myself I didn’t want until well into my twenties but by then I had met Muppet and I think I just knew right away that he would be the kind of dad to our kids that mine never was to me. So, we talked about the idea of kids and exactly when I had just gotten a promotion and a bunch of new responsibility at work, I got knocked up. Of course.

But then along came Mini Me and I took my year of maternity leave but went back to work because I liked my job in book publishing. It was fun and challenging and a bit glamorous. I got to meet important Canadian authors and go to cool parties and talk to interesting people. But. Very few of the women who held higher positions in the company had kids, including my boss, and the hours were rough, with night events and some weekends. With Muppet working as a computer animator in film and television, having punishing deadlines at the same time, it was too much.

When we got pregnant with Monkey, we talked a lot about whether I would go back to work afterwards. I loved the glamour of the job and certain aspects of it, but it was draining and I didn’t feel that there was enough flexibility for a woman with one kid, let alone two. Then fate intervened. The company was slowly being swallowed up by a larger publisher and they took over my department while I was on leave, getting rid of all of us in senior positions. I was packaged off (cue happy dance!). There it was. The decision was made for me. Not only would I stay home, but I would be getting money for it, for a while at least.

The funny thing about deciding to stay home is that you enter a whole new world. You have ‘mummy friends,’ and those who don’t have kids, you just don’t see as often. Your days are overtaken by diapers and potties and Cheerios and the constant picking up of toys on the floor. You go to ridiculous music classes and clap your toddler’s hands along with some over-enthusiastic instructor because you want to aid their growth and development. It becomes acceptable to wear yoga pants every day of the week. And your brain can really take a beating.

When Monkey started junior kindergarten, I decided to look for a part-time job that I could do from home and within a couple of weeks, I had landed an admin assistant position with a cheerful, ambitious I.T. guy who needed some help getting organized (thank you Craigslist). That job led to another and then another, with a slight detour along the way with a job that sounded great, but never did pay me.

My most recent job was data entry with some research added in, until my bosses decided to throw me some more interesting stuff about 6 months ago. Social media, article writing, research, reaching out to bloggers, forming a community. It all sounded right up my alley. But, being the I.T. guys that they are, they decided that it just wasn’t the way they were going to increase traffic to their particular website. It just wasn’t making money fast enough. So, back to data entry I went but now I had a taste of something I really loved.

That was when I started shopping around and sent out a few resumes. I applied for anything that had to do with writing that didn’t look like a scam (but some of them still were). I found out that writing reviews for ‘dating’ sites meant porn and that a lot of people want writers to work for free. But then I came across a posting that seemed like it may be legit and I sent in my resume. They emailed me and we set up a telephone interview.

When the call came, it was a cheerful sounding woman who spoke about how important it was to have a work/life balance and doing something you really love. She said that all of their employees were mums who were making their way back into the workforce bit by bit, at their own pace. She said that being a social media and communications associate could lead to writing articles if that was what I wanted and possibly blogging for their readers. It was important to the company that their employees felt fulfilled. Imagine me, sitting on the other end of this phone conversation just vibrating with excitement. It seemed too good to be true.

I went on to speak to the president of the company, a strong, independent businesswoman, who asked me to come to the office the next day. The office, it turned out, is a comfortable condo where brainstorming sessions happen a couple of times a week. I felt immediately at home. We spoke about everything from my dream job to my opinion on Fifty Shades of Grey and by the time I left, they were talking about having me start on Monday. Which is tomorrow.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. These women seem amazing and it is going to be a fantastic learning experience working with them, but I hope I am up for the challenge. I will be working 20 hours a week between their office and my home, making sure I can pick up the kids every day at 3pm. And to add to the crazy, I am trying to keep my current admin job at least until Christmas because it is only 10 hours a week at this point and we could frankly use the money. I am also looking after my friends’ son two days a week after school and in another couple of weeks I will add swimming lessons for both my boys, on two different nights. Gulp. Too many balls? Maybe, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.

I head to the office for the first time tomorrow morning. The outfit has been chosen, laundry done, computer bag packed. I am ready to start what will hopefully be a whole new chapter in my life. Wish me luck!

Epic Week of Epicness

Is it Saturday? Finally? I would do a happy dance but I may fall down in a heap of exhaustion. This was one of those weeks where a bunch of little things just keep adding up and adding up to the point where I just want to crawl into my bed and sleep for about a week. Instead, took advantage of Monkey being off at a sleepover, Muppet having gone ‘Man Camping’ (more on that another time, I promise), and I spent some quality time with Mini Me watching Back To The Future and eating Pillsbury Cinnamon Buns. Mmmmmmm, warm gooey goodness.

This was the week of the Invasion of the Bed Snatchers and I ended up with a kid in my bed every night but Thursday. Wednesday, I actually bailed and slept on the couch (have I mentioned our couch is only a two seater? Yup.) It was also the week for strange afflictions, like an infected cuticle on my left hand. Seriously? Who gets that? The whole tip of my finger was all puffy and red and sore all around the nail. Let’s just say there was lancing and puss. End of story. And finally, it was the week of the Epic Cold of Epicness. Two whole days of swollen glands, achiness, slight fever, before the damned thing finally became a proper cold and had me sneezing and blowing for two straight days. I’m still not a pretty sight and I may just take a nap after I write this. Ugh.

On the upside, it was the week when things started to really look up in a financial and career front. I have worked from home since Monkey was in junior kindergarten and my latest job was pretty much straight data entry and research until they let me take over the social media and do some article writing. I LOVED IT! Problem was, I.T. guys that they are, they didn’t see an immediate reward from social media and decided to scrap it, just when the ball was really getting rolling. That was when I started shopping around for another job.

I found out as I was writing this post that I got it! Social media for a women’s startup magazine. I am totally thrilled and totally freaked out. But that’s a whole other post, I think.

In the meantime, I give you the giant cauliflower that we just picked in our backyard. Notice how I use a typical wine bottle for scale. This thing is MASSIVE. I think there will be soup this weekend!