Weekly Update: One Word Edition

Fall, cake, love, gin, apple, death, flowers, cards, family, friends, work, grants, work, grants, work, work work work, writing, calendars, planning, wine, winter, rain, coast, birthday, aging, gender, education, books, books, books, meetings, ladies, parties, friends, thankful, sad, happy, swoon, sads, happies, writing, journaling, yoga, yoga, yoga, running, stretching, tired, motivated, excited, bills, dresses, boots, tea.


I am

twenty seven

I am




What To Do When Sex Hurts (Vagina & Vulva Edition)

1. Don’t panic

The first thing people do when something hurts is panic. What happened? What went wrong? Is it syphilis? What if I’ve had syphilis this whole time and this is the first symptom? Let me just quickly WebMD oh my god I’m going to die. I’m actually dying right now. This is, of course, all made worse if there’s a secondary symptom. An area that appears to be redder than usual, some blood, painful cramping. In the span of thirty seconds you may be able to convince yourself that you’re having a miscarriage, that you’re deeply wounded, that you’ve broken your vagina. Panicking does one thing: makes everything appear worse than it probably is. It may even generate symptoms that wouldn’t have been there if you had not panicked, like a racing heartbeat, a headache, feeling faint or nauseous.

2. Stop what you’re doing

There are a lot of reasons something might hurt, but the general rule is if it hurts, stop doing it. There are a lot of people out there that like to rationalize things like “sex always hurts the first time!” or “anal sex is just painful!” but this is inaccurate and dangerous. If something hurts it is likely your body saying “no, stop, you’re not doing this correctly or this is something I am unable to do right now/ever.” If it stops don’t just keep doing it and hope that the pain will go away or get better. Figure out where the pain is coming from and evaluate how you can prevent that pain from happening again.

3. Determine where the pain is coming from

There are a lot of areas that can experience pain and it’s not done any favors by how many nerve endings are around the vagina and vulva. You could experience chafing from not having enough lubrication, you could experience some tenderness from penetration before your body was relaxed enough, you may pinch your labia if they get caught in the action, you may have a sensitivity to a lube or condom, you could get any part cut by a long fingernail, or your cervix bumped or bruised by an over-eager/aggressive thrust. Certain positions could prove to be uncomfortable. Maybe you get a cramp somewhere entirely unrelated because the position you were holding was uncomfortable. Lower back pain is common. Leg cramps are common. Bumping your head in the headboard is common. Where is the pain coming from, do you know? Evaluate.

4. Focus on comfort

If you determine where the pain was and why it occurred you can often go about your business and everything is fine. But, sometimes, the pain doesn’t go away. A bruised cervix, for instance, might provide intense cramping. A cut labia or raw vaginal canal may bleed slightly. If your discomfort continues, focus on finding comfort. Cotton underwear, soft and loose fitting pants, a blanket, a heating pad, a cup of tea, some ibuprofen.

5. Watch for new symptoms

If your pain does not lessen or it gets worse or if you see new symptoms, go to a doctor. Take notes of what is happening and when it happened. Especially if this pain happens more than once and you’re unable to figure out why it’s happening.

“Go to the doctor and get a professional opinion” is key for health issues and WebMD should not be consulted prior unless you totally hate yourself. Don’t ask me, I am not a doctor. Regular trips to a doctor are important to make sure that everything is a-okay. Remember to schedule health visits to get things like STD testings done, and pap smears at their recommended intervals.

Use common sense. If something is unusual for you and your body and it seems serious (excessive bleeding, cramps that make you pass out, your vagina starts frothing and screaming) go to urgent care.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit by clicking ask advice at the top and I’ll answer it on my blog.


New Year Means “I Have Great Hope in Not Failing”

I’m sitting on our couch reading this book called Do No Harm, stories from a neurosurgeon. It is gripping. He’s detailing some of his surgeries in depth – the ones that were successful, the ones that weren’t. But my computer is making noise. Facebook has just dinged on my phone, my iPad, and my laptop… which is now connected to a giant monitor that displays everything clearly across the room. A pressing message, an email that must be responded to, a phone call that brings to life every gadget. My phone alerts me to the fact that I have fifteen habits left undone today. I have to drink a glass of water, I have to brush my teeth after breakfast, I have to make my to do list for the day, read the news, stretch, and… somewhat ironically, a reminder pops up that says “be in the moment.”

It’s still over a month away from the end of the year and I’ve already determined my New Years Resolution.

I’ve come around to New Years Resolutions.

In the past I’ve scoffed at the idea that you should only attempt to create great change on January 1st. Isn’t every day the start of a new year, a new you? If you need an excuse to start a new you, you’ll probably forget about it, give up, fall behind. People hate the idea of a New Years Resolution, and it’s that guttural distaste for the whole thing that began to appeal to me.

Why do we hate the idea of New Years Resolutions? Because for a few weeks they remind us that we’d like to be better.

We could sit here and argue that you shouldn’t be made to feel bad that you’re not eating better or going on a run, but I’d like to feel bad. I want that deep inner shame of “I told myself I’d run 364 days ago and I guess I’m making that same resolution again this year.” I want to be reminded that my life is soft and fluffy and easy and sweet and the absolute worst thing that could happen is that I’d have to force myself to drink the free water out of my faucet or wake up at a reasonable hour and get something done. Oh woe.

This upcoming year my goal is a bit of a softer version of what so many people seem to be doing right now: tossing their computers out of the window to live a more authentic life. (But not before they send out several posts reminding people that, in their social media absence, they’re gonna be doing tons of super cool authentic things.)

My goal is to focus on one thing at a time, all the time, as often as I can, and here are some examples:

  1. If I’m watching TV, I’m not going to have my phone out.
  2. If I’m reading a book, my computer is going to be turned off.
  3. If I’m with a friend, I’m going to be listening to them talk before I begin to think of my response.
  4. If I’m eating breakfast, I’m not going to be pondering what I want for lunch w/o enjoying what’s in front of me.
  5. If I’m reading the news, I’m going to finish reading the news.
  6. If I need to do work I’m going to do work and only work until whatever task I’ve assigned myself is finished.

I am also going to attempt two other related resolutions:

  1. Do all my “big ticket” chores on the same day and do them immediately. Calls I’ve been avoiding, cleaning tasks I put in my rotation but totally hate, general life must-do-or-else things that literally get added to a list in my phone called “I should probably do this.” 
  2. Run errands in a way that is economical and sensible. If I have several places I have to be in one day I’m going to plan a way to make all of them happen without burning out. Extra important for introversion, extra important for getting things done without falling back on “I’ll do it later.”

If you’re not catching the hint, my general goal is to get shit done.

Of course there are other things I’d like to do next year. I’m currently studying grant writing. I’m catching up in my French for our trip to Europe. I’m trying to blog (hello!) and I’m starting my own business (I hope!) I’d also like to do those run of the mill resolutions, like drink more water, and be more fit. What I think is most important for me is the knowledge that if I’m able to give more of my focus to each individual task, I’ll be able to live more presently – be happier – and get more done. Phew.

What does the New Year mean for you? 

When Politics Cared About My Health

It is my wish that in the future, we’re all afraid that politicians and big businesses will care too much about our sex lives. Imagine new DASANI PINK with active pregnancy aids! Increase your libido and your chances of conception with one easy twist-off top! Do not confuse with DASANI BLACK the water for people who hate babies. 

Instead of gently implying that birth control makes you a whore, politicians would send you free condoms with their faces on them, telling you to “have a good night with a Bush on your mind, wink wink.” The next Clinton to run, sixteen years from now, might even give a gentle prod by announcing their candidacy in a flowing blue dress with white spots. “We get it, we’re hilarious.”

Abortion would no longer be restricted. Instead, large companies would send you packages you could choose from entitled “what life with your baby might look like” and “what life without your baby might look like” as they analyze your digital footprint and create possible futures for you based on whether or not you choose to carry out your pregnancy. We just want you to make the decision that’s best for your chosen future, the advertisements say.

Sex toys would be much like they are in Beautiful You, a book by Stop-Calling-Me-The-Fight-Club-Author Chuck Palahniuk. The creators of such toys now spend all of their time emailing you like heartbroken ex-lovers, wondering how well they satisfied you, and why you haven’t bought anything new. Was it not stimulating enough? Can we do more? Please send us the report from your digital spasm chart and we will use this to improve our customer service.

Yes even during election season there is the usual banter about sexuality. A wink and a knowing nod and a few butt jokes careen the debate down a shallow and empty road to nowhere.

At the end of the night, couples laugh knowingly about their sex lives. They proclaim to the monitors “we sure do love our new orgasm flavored tic tacs!” They crawl under sheets which light up and ask them “would you like to copulate tonight?” before they emit a chemical that allows for more efficient blood flow.

You would smile, of course. You’d have to smile. Everyone is just so goddamn thoughtful.

Q: Finding Love in a Hopeless Place

In a shallow world, how do you find a partner who finds you attractive if you are an overweight guy? Not obese, just over-weight enough to get dumped too easily into the “friend zone”.

I am so sorry if this has been your experience! The world is indeed a place filled with judgment, and no place is this easier to see than the dating world. This often times fast-paced game leaves little room for getting to know someone slowly and intentionally. Instead, it’s sometimes left to our initial feelings about a person. What vibe they give us, if we’re immediately attracted to them, if we seem to be looking for the same thing. These are all good things and can often point us in the right direction, but they also leave us at a slight disadvantage if we are looking for love.

With emotional intimacy – built over time – we begin to see people differently based on how we feel about them. A man who is sweet and funny may become more physically attractive, whereas a man who is cruel and cold may become less physically attractive.

My concern with your question is that your own insecurities with your weight may be at the core of the problem. If this is not you, skip ahead. But I think it is important to discuss. Our internalized negative feelings about ourselves can often manifest themselves in debilitating ways. If you consider yourself to be the over-weight guy who can’t score a girl, you may be less confident, less likely to put yourself out there, more irritable. You may hold yourself differently – stand less tall, smile less, be more ready for disappointment. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I don’t believe in the friend zone. There are so many women in the world and most of them are going to put you in the friend zone. Most of them are only going to like you as a friend. It is only the special few who you connect with, who you let see your true self, who like you in the same way that you like them that are going to let you in. Banishing the idea of a friend zone is going to open a lot of doors for you. Consider each date as a workout for your dating muscle. You become better at dating, better at opening up, better at knowing what to say and what not to say. Like all social scenarios, there is a certain amount of practice to feel comfortable. If a girl does not like you at the end of that date you either gained a friend or you gained some experience.

Of course dating is soul-sucking and disheartening for many people. But I do not think that your weight is to blame. There are women out there who will find you attractive no matter what you look like but the first thing you have to do is believe it.

If it sounds cliché and too simplistic that’s more or less what most of my dating advice is like. Believe in yourself. Be yourself. Be patient. Don’t give up. Acknowledge that most people out there won’t be for you. Have fun.

As far as the judgmental nature of the world, I sympathize. We often interpret our failings through our own insecurities or our own realities. If someone doesn’t like you, it may be easy to say “it’s because of these ways I feel I am not perfect” …but that may not be the case.

If it is, you didn’t want to date them, anyways.

Have a question about sex or love? Submit at the top by hitting ‘ask advice’ and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

Your Demons: Crushing Weight of School Debt

Some tips for the crushing weight of school debt?

I am still a couple of months away from having to start paying back my student loans, so I can only relate like a disaster preparedness coach who hasn’t ever encountered a disaster. What I do know is that a lot of what you’ll experience is a bleak sense of hopelessness. You either get a decent paying job and devote a good portion of your income to paying off your loans, or you get a moderately good paying job and pay off what is required of you and end up feeling like you’re lighting money on fire. Like many, you’ll get a shit job or no job at all. The first thing you should do is confront that hopeless feeling that debt can give you.

Some of that weight can be lifted by knowing what it all means and having a plan. Even if the plan isn’t the best plan or even if you wish you didn’t know so much. It will give you some sense of control over the whole matter and give you some direction. (Queue image of Stephen King character holding a flashlight into The Mist.)

  1. Figure out exactly how much you can afford to pay each month.
  2. If you don’t make any money or the idea of having money is laughable, do part one anyways, but make part two the how much do I have to pay question.
  3. For step two you’re going to become best friends with those loan people. You gotta keep calling until your mental image turns from loan sharks to loan farts. Oops, my payment is due in two weeks! I’m gonna call up Larry to see whats up! Swing some shit! Talk about how poor I am!
  4. Figure out the language of loans: Default, Consolidation, Debt to Income Ratio, Economic Hardship, Principal, Pay as Your earn, etc. Maybe you’re already out of college but it’s time to pull the books out again because you’re gonna have to use their lingo to get things moving.
  5. Make a deal with the Devil, see pt 4. Figure out what you can pay or what you can’t pay and be honest with the people breathing down your back. They’re used to it. No one can actually pay their student loans. I still think that the “I paid off my student loans” kid is propaganda but who knows, maybe Little Billy Hardworker is real.

Optional Option for Consideration: Look up “Loan Forgiveness” which is kinda like volunteering for Tribute.

Finally: Remember to breathe. Pick up yoga. Money will ruin your life if you let it. A lot of people are broke, living month to month. A lot of people have well paying jobs and still can’t handle their loans. Figure out a plan, feel well-read on the subject, wrap your head meats around the idea of loans existing as a part of your life. As you’re able, change that plan to make it a better one. Some day you’ll look at it again and think “it’s… it’s actually moving down, the number is moving down!” At this point you may forget that student loans weren’t always in your life and you’ll suddenly have twice as much money to handle and that will be an entirely different crisis.

Do you have a question about sex, gender, love, life? Submit to the top of the page by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

Coming Back to College

Last night I was part of an alumni panel to discuss my experiences post-college. It was a really interesting and exciting experience to go back to the place I spent so many years and look see a bunch of people just starting to do the same thing.

I wanted to keep my responses ‘real’ and so I said a lot of dumb things, but I think dumb things are good. And honest. Like maybe you won’t graduate in four years. And maybe you’ll fail a class and have to retake it twice. Maybe you won’t really understand the things you’ve learned until after you’re already gone. But you’ll still do the thing. In the end, you’ll do the thing the way the thing was meant to be done. Not the way they tell you it’s meant to be done.

We were given a small list of partners in the area that extend beyond Oregon and I thought it would be nice to share some of them here with you now:

yourbackline.org – Promoting unconditional, judgement-free support for people in all their decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, adoption, and abortion.

pflagpdx.org – Specifically the first African American chapter of PFLAG in the nation, the Portland Black Chapter promotes the health and well-being of black gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer persons.

choiceadvocates.org – Planned Parenthood needs advocates and thats what these people are trying to do. They do the hard work of acting as the political arm of PP. PP Advocates of Oregon engage in educational and electoral activity including education campaigns.

rosehaven.org – Rose haven serves women and children experiencing the trauma of abuse, loos of home, and other disruptive life challenges. This includes those who identify as women.

sarcoregon.org – Promoting social justice by eliminating sexual violence in our community through education, support, and advocacy. Support for survivors through a 24-hour hotline.

If you aren’t already aware of things like this in your community, take the time to do a search, or send me a shoutout for some help and I’ll do a look for you. It’s good to know where you can go, but it’s also good to know where you can send a friend.