Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Monster Under the Bed

       When I was 19 I dropped out of college and moved back in with my parents. When people asked why, I told them it was because I didn’t like the University I was attending, I wanted to save money by moving back home, and I wanted to get a job so I could start making my own money. What I didn’t tell them was that I was too depressed to be living alone. That I didn’t leave my room most days and that I was barely functioning.
       Why didn't I just tell people that? Because like most people, I'm really uncomfortable talking about any mental health issues, let alone my own. Which is exactly what JoEllen Notte's new book The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having is about. Don’t let the title fool you though. Yes, the book is the intersection of sex and depression, but JoEllen has so many good points to make about depression and general, that I think everyone should read it.

A picture of a black kindle, with the cover page for JoEllen Notte's
book: The Monster Under the Bed displayed

       When my father came to help me move home (I was living in the dorms) he was appalled at the living conditions that had become normal to me. Despite being a licensed clinical psychologist with (at that point) almost 30 years of experience, my father said and did all of the wrong things. Instead of helping and making me feel better, he re-enforced the myths about depressed people being lazy and made me feel 120% shittier about the situation.
       In chapter six, “Your Team in Action”, JoEllen gives a list of things not to say to a depressed person. A lot of the things that my dad (and let’s be honest, lots of other people too) told me when I moved back home after dropping out of school are on that list. You might think that offering platitudes to a person suffering from depression can’t be that harmful, but JoEllen breaks down how saying certain things, like “you just need to exercise more” can really feed into a depressed person’s feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. She even offers things that you can say/do instead that might actually help.

       I was formally diagnosed with AD(H)D when I was about 9, and the diagnoses of depression (or more technically, dysthymia) that followed at some point in either Middle School or High School wasn’t exactly a surprise. My ADD made focusing on school a struggle, and my academic failures (don’t even get me started on being a former “gifted” kid) already had me feeling worthless before depression took a hold of my brain.
       I spent a lot of my childhood and teen years in therapy, but I can’t really tell you if it helped or not. I was prescribed a variety of different medications, but my ADD makes remembering to take a pill every day really difficult, so I never took anything consistently enough to know if it really made a difference. Overall, my therapists (and yes, there were many of them) focused on “managing” my ADD symptoms while just making sure that I wasn’t suicidal. So I never really had anyone listen to me about my depression, or make me feel like it was something that was important enough to get treatment for (besides being given some basic antidepressants and told that should help).

       When I first heard about JoEllen’s book (back in January, I think… which feels like a year ago at least) I knew I wanted to read it. I don’t usually go in for the “self-help” genre of books, but this one felt different. And it was, it is. It’s the only book about depression I’ve read that was written by someone who gets it. JoEllen gets depression in a way that my therapists, parents (both therapists themselves), friends and partner just don’t. Depression is something that can be very alienating. It makes us feel alone and isolated. Having to constantly explain (and justify) your symptoms and experiences to people doesn’t really help with this. Reading this book made me feel less alone. Because it made me feel heard. JoEllen’s experiences aren’t exactly the same as mine, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that for the first time in a long time, I felt like someone else really understood what I was going through. And that can make all the difference when you feel like you’re the only depressed person in the world

       This post is getting long and rambly, and feeling a bit less like a proper review. So let’s just jump into who I would recommend this book to:

Obviously, anyone suffering with depression
Again, I can’t emphasize enough that JoEllen’s book just made me feel so validated. Reading certain pages and passages just made me feel like my experiences were real and valid and that my feelings are normal! If you take nothing else away from this book, know this: “You get to be wherever you are”

Partners of depressed people
Like I’ve said before, even if sex isn’t a problem in your particular relationship, there is so much good information in here about how to live with and support depressed partners that I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of what their sex life looks like.

Basically everyone
As JoEllen points out, not enough people are talking about sex and depression, let alone the intersection of sex and depression. You would think that growing up with therapists for parents would make me more comfortable talking about mental health. But nope, I’m just as uncomfortable as everyone else. This is one of the reasons that this book is so important. It can help us all have important conversations about important topics.

I loved this book, and I think that lots of other people (especially anyone reading this blog) will too. So support JoEllen Notte’s work, buy this book and use it to talk to your friends and partner(s) about sex and mental health.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Svakom Amy

So, I think this is going to be an interesting review. Between when I received this vibe to review and now when I'm posting this, there's been a significant price change which colors my view of the toy itself.

But maybe I should back up a bit and start at the beginning. A few months ago I was contacted by Svakom and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing one of their products for y'all. I took a look at their website and was immediately into their toys. I love the sleek lines of their toys and the fact that everything seems to mostly fit into one color palette. I said that I would be happy to review something, and so they sent me the


A light pink g-spotting vibrator on a crocheted rainbow background
I've reviewed a few g-spotting toys before, but I'm always happy to play with new ones. I've come close to having a g-spot orgasm, but I've never been quite able to get there. Though I do enjoy the sensation of g-spot stimulation while I have an orgasm. And the Svakom Amy provided that for me.

The Amy provides me with some nice, rumbly sensations against my g-spot while I'm getting myself off with another toy (or with my fingers). There are a few different intensity and vibration patterns to play with, and you seem to be able to change them independently, which is nice. What's not so nice is that I could never quite figure out how to do that. 

There are three buttons on the Amy, up and down arrows and a middle "S" button that I guess is the company's logo. Pressing the UP button seems to cycle through the intensity settings and then the vibration patterns. But then when you press the DOWN button, it changes the intensity of whatever pattern the toy is on. If you just want to experience lots of different sensations, this set-up probably works fine. If, on the other hand, you're trying to get back to a specific setting... good luck.

It's rechargeable, which is always a plus. I like to think I've moved past the point in my life where I'm robbing the remote control of batteries to put in my sex toys. It comes with a fairly generic white charging cable that I need to label (because I've been spoiled by other companies that make color-coded chargers), and holds an okay amount of charge. There were a few times I went to use it, and it was out of juice even though I'd charged it somewhat recently, so I reached for something else. If it held charge for a bit longer, I'd probably end up using it more.

The Amy vibrator with a book of erotica
and a scented candle to set the mood
My favorite feature is that it's waterproof, and I mean fully submersible. I enjoyed "pampering" myself in the bathtub. And as I type this, I realize how cheesy that sounds as a euphemism for masturbation. 

I really liked using the Amy in the bathtub because, for me at least, I felt like I didn't have to try so hard to find the angle that worked best for stimulating my g-spot. Maybe the water helped? Who knows. It was more comfortable than using it on the bed, at least.

This is probably also the feature that's driving the price up, and I'll circle back to this in a bit, but it makes a certain amount of sense. There's a lot of sensitive electronics in there, and it must take some sort of special design to be able to completely dunk a toy with an open charging port. But again, more on this in a bit.

Now, as much fun as I was having with the Amy in the bathtub, it just... wasn't quite strong enough for me. Again, I've never really been able to get off with g-spot stimulation alone, but even when paired with another toy for clitoral stimulation, it took me a while to get off. I don't know if I'm just too used to the insanely strong vibrations of my Hitachi, but I need something a bit more than what the Amy had to offer. Even when just used against my clit, it wasn't enough to make me come.

And when I held it against my clit, I kept accidentally turning it off as well. I get that this is meant to be an internal toy, and the button placement works well enough for that (though it takes an annoying long time to turn the thing off when you're done with it - you have to hold the middle button for several long seconds), it would be nice if the buttons allowed you to use the toy externally as well. A toy that could pull double-duty as g-spot and clitoral simulator would be something I would be willing to pay more for... and I think that brings us full circle back to the price issue.

So, here's the deal. I can't really tell you how much this toy costs, because it's going to largely depend on where and when you buy it. 

When I first started writing up my notes on this toy, I checked to see how much Svakom was selling it for. Like I said, it's waterproof and rechargeable, so I know it wasn't going to be super cheap, but the price surprised me. When I looked it up a few weeks ago it was selling on Svakom's website for $109 plus shipping. 
I don't want to say that the Amy feels cheap, but it certainly doesn't feel like a toy that costs over $100! I was surprised to see that it was so expensive, and started poking around to see what other similar toys cost.

When I was done with that research and about ready to type up my review Svakom reached out to me to let me know that I can direct my readers to their amazon link to purchase the Amy for a significant discount. And when I say significant discount, I mean it's less than $40 if you have Prime... That's more than 60% off... 
I went back to the Svakom website to double-check the price there, and now see that it's listed for $75.

At that point I reached out to Svakom to find out what was going on with the price changes. And this is what I've been able to piece together:

The Amy costs $109 normally. It is currently (for about half a year) on sale on the Svakom website for $75, and on sale on amazon (supposedly for my readers only, but I don't know how Svakom plans to restrict that since it seems to just be the listed Prime price) for $39.95.

The Svakom Amy, looking regal and expensive
All this money talk might be a bit off-putting, but like I said, it kind of colored my opinion of the toy. In my honest opinion, the Amy is not worth $100. If you want to try it out for yourself, grab it on Amazon. $40 is much more reasonable for a toy like this, and I think you'll get your money's worth. It's a nice little rumbly g-spotting vibe and for $40 I would recommend it for anyone who wants to try it.

For $100 I was ready to tell you to skip it and pick up something more affordable. 

Thank you to Svakom for sending me the Amy in exchange for my honest review. If you want to pick one up for yourself, I recommend doing so through this (potentially exclusive) Amazon link

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The 60 Bulet

I don’t have many bullets. Or like, any bullets. So when SXOhh reached out to me on instagram to ask if I’d be interested in trying their 60 Bullet, I jumped at the opportunity. Since I first started buying sex toys in college, I’ve wanted a small, discreet, portable vibrator. While I love the vibrators I have now, most of them are neither small, nor particularly discreet (I’m lookin’ at you Hitachi…), so I was extra excited to try this little bullet.

60 Bullet

Here you can see the gorgeous teal color of the bullet against a multi-colored background

Not having any bullets, I didn’t really know what to expect the first time this one. Should I expect big rumbly vibrations? Should I look forward to strong, pinpointed vibrations? Both? Apparently, it was both.

Despite its size, the vibrations are surprisingly powerful. It’s strong, and got me off pretty quickly the first time I used it. Then I turned the settings down to a lower intensity and was able to build up to a second orgasm which was even more intense than the first. That’s a nice feature that I can’t get away with with my Hitachi. 

The pointed tip offers some really pinpointed stimulation, which is nice, but there really isn’t any good place to hold the bullet. It’s got a little gripy section near the end, but it’s very.... buzzy. When the bullet is turned on (to any speed and pattern) the whole thing buzzes, which means that after just a few minutes my hand gets really tired of holding it. I understand that it’s a small toy (its portability is one of the things I really like about it), but it would have been nice if there was somewhere to grip it that didn’t send a lot of the vibrations straight up my wrist.

Pressing either arrow button on the bottom of the bullet starts up a sequence of 7 different speeds/intensities and then the 13 different patterns. So you can’t change the intensity on the patterns, which would have been nice. To turn it off, you hold either button for a few seconds. I have to say that I don't love this mechanism. I prefer toys that just turn off when you press the off button, rather than having to wait. And I keep accidentally turning it off when I'm trying to scroll through the patterns and intensity settings, which is not fun when I'm building up to a good orgasm.
Here you can see the two arrow buttons on the base of the bullet,
 as well as the magnetic "click to charge" ports

It might be buzzy, but the 60 Bullet is surprisingly quiet considering how powerful its motor is, which is another nice feature if you're looking for a discreet toy. A person in the same room as you will probably hear it (even if you're using it under the covers), but a person in the next room or downstairs will not. That's not something I can say about some of my other toys...

The 60 Bullet is rechargeable and uses a "click to charge" system that I really love, and it holds a charge for a very long time. I've been using this bullet a lot recently and I honestly can't remember the last time I charged it. I should uh, probably go do that...

Over all, I really enjoyed this little bullet. It's a little on the pricey side, but you really get what you pay for, a strong, high-quality bullet that will get you off. It's quiet (but a bit buzzy) and small enough to travel with discreetly. It's soft to touch and rumbly enough to get the job done.

If you'd like your own 60 Bullet to try out, you can pick one up here.

Thank you again to SXOhh for sending me this fun little bullet in exchange for my honest review. And folks, I want to quickly tell you what a freakin' delight this company has been to work with. Some of you may have seen my little insta post where I mentioned that the 60 Bullet was a bit uh… linty, out of the box. What you don’t know is that the company contacted me pretty much right away to let me know that they were passing the information along to their manufacturing team to see what they could do about changing the packaging. You guys, this is awesome. I love when companies are genuinely open to customer feedback, and actually willing to make changes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Paloqueth Sonic Sucking Vibrator

       Have you ever seen a toy and wondered if it would hurt or feel amazing? Because that’s what was running through my head when I first saw the Paloqueth Sonic Sucking Vibrator. I was intrigued both by the shape and the claims of intense “touch-free orgasms”. I had to have one, and Paloqueth was nice enough to send me one to review for ya’ll. So, without further ado…

The Sonic Sucking Vibrator

       First, let’s go over some basic stats and see what this thing looks like, shall we? It’s a sleek little thing, with soft purple silicone covering the part that you hold, and slightly stiff white silicone forming the bit that’s supposed to go around your clit (or nipple, or… whatever). There are two buttons (and I’ll get to them latter) that control the 7 patterns that you can cycle though. And that’s it. It’s a simple little toy without a lot of bells and whistles. It comes with instructions, and you’re encouraged to read through them, but it wasn’t all that hard to figure out what was supposed to go where.

The Paloqueth Sonic Sucking Vibrator on its fancy box

       I had to try it out almost immediately after I received it. So I went to my bedroom, put on some porn1 and got down to the serious business of getting myself off. I wasn’t sure if I should just… put the thing on my clit right away, or get myself a bit warmed up first, so I played around with a cordless wand I just got (more on that in another review!) before transitioning to the sonic sucker. And… holy crap. Here’s a direct quote from my wank journal2 from that day:

“I feel like it just sucked an orgasm out of my clit. It was really fast, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.”

       The sonic sucker claims to mimic oral sex, and I don’t know how accurate that is, but it certainly does have a suction thing going for it. When you put the little white bit around your clit (or nipple, etc.) it creates sort of a weak seal, which in turn creates suction because of the little piece moving back and forth inside the mouth (for lack of a better word).

       Now, there’s no direct contact with your clit (except for the white mouth that sits around your clit), what’s providing the sensation is actually the air moving and vibrating around it. 

       Paloqueth claims that this lack of direct stimulation lets you have more orgasms in a row, and I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to work. For me it’s usually the intensity of any individual orgasm that determines if I’ll be up for more and the orgasms I’ve had with this little toy are… intense. There might only be a loose seal, but the suction is strong and it got me off very, very quickly. Almost too quickly. I’m glad I warmed myself up with another toy, otherwise that particular session would have been over way too quickly for my liking. I wish there was some way to change the intensity setting. I can kind of manage that by just holding it a little further away from my clit, but then the seal breaks and I’ve got nothing. 

       The patterns help a bit with the intensity problem. There are 7 patterns to cycle through, and I actually enjoyed most of them. I’m not usually a pattern person; I tend to like steady strong vibrations to get me off, but the patterns here were fun and provided some much needed respite from the very direct suction action. 

       To cycle through the patterns you press the little emoji button, which, while cute, is a bit confusing. Like I said, this is overall a straight-forward toy. I can figure out what it’s supposed to do without any instruction. What I couldn’t figure out though, was how to turn it on. Earlier on I said we’d get back to the buttons, so let’s tackle them now.

A close-up photo of the buttons. The top one has the standard "power" symbol,
while the bottom one has a "heart-eyes" emoji
       There are two buttons, a power button and an emoji button. In order to turn the thing on, you press the power button, which seems straightforward, but the toy doesn’t actually do anything until you push the little emoji button to start cycling through the patterns. I found this very confusing, and spent some time thinking that mine was broken because I couldn’t get anything to work. This isn’t great design. After using it a few times I finally noticed that the buttons light up when you press the power button, indicating that the toy is in fact working. But still, if you’re visually impaired or just using this under the covers where you can’t see it, it’s hard to know that it’s even on. 

       Over all, I liked this toy and I’ll continue using it. It’s waterproof, and I have yet to try it in the shower, which seems like a shame. I’ll have to get on that! And I want to let my partner play with it and see if he enjoys using it on me. I think he will.

       My feedback for Paloqueth is that this toy would greatly benefit from some way to control the intensity. I have fun playing around with it, but it’s just too intense for me. I almost feel like I’m being forced to come. Which, admittedly, is sometimes fun. It could also use a button upgrade. Again, I don’t like that I couldn’t figure out how to turn it on without looking at the instructions. And if a user has a visual impairment, this is going to be a very frustrating toy to use.

       Thank you again to Paloqueth for sending me this toy so that I could give you guys my honest review of it! If you want to pick one up for yourselves, you can do so here! And if you want to check out their other products, you can do that here.

1 CrashPad episode 264 for those of you who are interested

2 Does anyone else have one of these? I’d love to hear about it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

LoveHoney PowerPlay 7 Function Vibrator

A little while ago LoveHoney reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their G-Spot vibrators, and since I’m a firm believer that one can never have too many vibrators, of course I said yes!
They kindly sent me the “Power Play 7 Function G-Spot Vibrator” and I didn’t waste any time testing it out.

Look at those curves!

After only a few sessions, I quickly accumulated a list of what I liked and what I didn’t. Overall, there’s a lot to like about this little vibrator, and for the price, it’s a pretty good choice.

So what did I like about it? I’m glad you asked!

First of all, it’s a G-spot vibrator that actually has a nice curve to it! And it does hit my G-spot pretty well. You’d think that this would be obvious, but not all my g-spot toys bend enough to actually hit the spot they’re aiming for. I know some of this is just natural variation in people’s bodies, but I’m happy I found one that fits me well.
Like the name suggests, it has 7 different patterns and speeds. I tend to prefer just solid, hard, vibrations, but sometimes it’s fun to change things up, and I know that lots of other folks like variation.
The vibrations weren’t enough to get me off on their own (I like many people with my same equipment, need clitoral stimulation to get off), but they felt great in combination with my Hitachi. And since the vibrator has that great curve, it stayed in place so I could hold my wand against my clit.
The silicone coating over the plastic body has a nice soft (if you know what I mean) feel to it. It’s a lot of fun to touch, and it feels nice and smooth when it’s inside me.
LoveHoney’s site claims that the toy is waterproof, but since it has batteries, I was hesitant to try that feature out. It was nice not to worry about splashing it during clean up though. And I got a great shot of the vibration pattern in my sink!

And finally, like I said before, this is a fairly cheap vibrator, which is great if you’re on a budget.

Now, what didn’t I like about it? Well…

Like I said before, it wasn’t strong enough to get me off on its own. I need clitoral stimulation, but even when I pulled it out and put the tip against my clit, I could tell it wasn’t going to get the job done. If (like me) you crave stronger vibrations, you might be a bit disappointed here.
And it runs on batteries, which I never seem to have. Looking around for batteries to test the toy out with, I had flashbacks to my college days when I would rob the TV remote and my game controllers to feed my vibrators. I wish it was rechargeable, but for the price it makes sense that it’s not.

Overall, this is a great little beginner vibrator. It’s slim and comfortable with lots of vibration settings so that you can figure out what you like and what you want. It’s easy to clean and small enough to store discreetly, unlike some other toys I could mention (I’m looking at you Hitachi), and the price is right. This would be a great toy for those just starting to get into sex toys, or college students living on a budget.

If you want one of your own to try out, you can pick one up from LoveHoney here.

Thank you again to LoveHoney for sending me this toy in exchange for my honest opinion. Thanks LoveHoney!