How to Emotionally Support Your Partner Through School

Jason is about to start his masters of business program. His school did something unreasonably cool and hosted a “partners panel” where previous students and their romantic partners discussed how they survived the two year haul. It helped me a lot and when I left I felt so extra-proud of the adventure my partner is about to embark on.

J will be working full time and going to school part time meaning that most of his free time will be filled with studying. Here’s what I learned from the panel.

Set expectations

Set expectations up front and try to be realistic. Working full time is already a lot of work, but when you’re in school, it’s like working two full time jobs. Your partner might space out sometimes, they might not feel or be total present. They may need to change plans last minute or bail completely. There may be an adjustment period where they’re more tired or more stressed out at the start.

Take on more than 50%

Relationships aren’t always 50/50. It’s hard to be in a relationship that is always one hundred percent egalitarian. It’s important to recognize when your partner needs more than 50% or when you’re taking more than 50%. That way you can prepare to gather than energy, or you can prepare to find ways to give appreciation. I think that understanding that things aren’t always 50/50 is important in setting expectations.

Keep busy with your own hobbies

While we do a lot of things together, and like to spend a lot of time together, I also feel pretty comfortable saying that we have our own separate hobbies that we really enjoy. He has nights where he goes and plays poker or goes and plays music with friends, and I have girls nights or stay in and write. I like to think of this as a positive in that while he is working on his school work, I can use that time to sit and work on my writing.

Be patient

Whenever there is a significant change in your life, expect there to be a period of transition. You may both experience some turbulence as you find your footing. Be kind and patient to each other, but also to yourself.

Speak up

School and work aren’t excuses to be a shitty person or a shitty partner. If you feel like expectations aren’t met (on either end) sit down and talk about what’s not working and figure out a way to work together to fix it.

Create a shared calendar

All the partners in the partner panel said they had some form of shared calendar (google or otherwise) that they used to know each other’s schedule. Jason and I have been doing this for most of our relationship and it’s super awesome for keeping everything straight. If you’re in a committed relationship and you don’t already share a calendar, give it a try! You can also include events of interest, special holidays, or little shared reminders.

Understand why it’s happening

Why is your partner going to school? To better themselves? To give themselves more opportunity? To get the right credentials for a new career? Either way, keep coming back to that starting point in your head. School isn’t forever, but the impact of the program can impact your partner and your relationship forever.

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Weekly Update: This is Fine

First things first – everything I ever said about writing down clean and concise notes to “refer to later” whilst blogging is complete bullshit.

I’m sitting down to get some stuff out and my notes are leg spread between evernote, text edit, notes, wunderlist, and three different notebooks. It is a nightmare. 

Two and a half months ago I started working in web design as a marketing assistant. Two weeks ago I moved into a project management role. One week ago I got my first client, and now I have three. I’m signing on my first salary tomorrow morning and two weeks from now I’m going on my first out-of-state client trip. I have an alert on my phone that reminds me to brush my teeth. There are moments of peace and quiet with the muffled screaming of the tasks I’m ignoring, stuffed under the couch.

I am learning so much and doing so much that I can actually feel my cells being rewritten in these small moments of discomfort.

My boyfriend starts his master of business program this year. I am fully prepared for life to resemble the doctor who intro, just blue whooshy spirals, spinning, spinning, spinning. We attended a night out at his school and the highlight of the event was an hour long panel of couples who had previously been in the program. The whole thing was about to support your partner when they’re stressed out and busy all the time. More on this in another post.

This week was burger week in Portland. Forty or so businesses across the metro area gather together in spirit of $5 burgers. I realized that when you give yourself psychological permission to eat 1-2 burgers per day, it’s just not as fun anymore. The joy in the tacos, the pizza, the burgers, the hot wings, comes from scarcity. When you only get them every now and then, you feel like you’re being rewarded. When you get them every day on the routine, you feel like you’re being plumped up for consumption. I only had two, the whole week.

Yesterday we went and opened our first checking/savings account together. It feels good and exciting to budget in a shared account, save in a shared account, work towards new and exciting things together. I feel like I should have something more substantial to say about that. I’m mostly just glad to finally have a debit card that has a chip in it. Welcome to 2017, bitches.

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If You’re Young and Feeling Lost

I imagine myself as a character from a Guillermo del Toro movie. I sit in a chair in a café and place my hands on the table. It rocks; it is uneven. The room goes black and white and my limbs snap and break and bend into new position. This is an exaggeration of growth. Bones snapping into new you.

If I saw myself walk down the street five years ago I wouldn’t recognize myself.

I read Lolita when I was a teenager. I read Henry Miller. I read Stephen King’s Desperation. I poured over Anaïs Nin. I could smell the smoke on the pages of Charles Bukowski. My skin smells like weed and beer bottles. My fingers are smooth from turning pages.

There is a lump in my throat from all the things I haven’t said, coming up. These things that have rotted inside of me aren’t useful anymore. I’ve been trying to treat the rot. I’ve been trying to treat the water damage, tears rolling back down my esophagus. Pull the rot out, rebuild.

Everyone should know what it’s like to turn twenty-eight. I’ve been walking around a body for all these years and it’s like my soul has slammed back inside of me.

I don’t know that you ever find yourself. Your self finds you. Quiet and alone one night in bed when you’re not sure who you are anymore. It crawls up under silk sheets and slicks itself against your skin.

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Tackling the Gross of Menstrual Cups

Sometimes I write about something and I get kind of worked up about it. Like, why isn’t anyone else writing about this? And so I keep writing about it and then I get kind of irritated with myself. I don’t want to be the menstrual cup girl. Maybe someone out there does want to be the menstrual cup girl.

I digress, I think it’s important. I also think writing about it is difficult.

We are a culture of snap-judgements and one of my snap-judgements was menstrual cups. I thought they were gross and the only people I saw using them were crunchy. (See: A little bit of a hippy.)

I’ve spent nearly two decades using tampons. I think the statistic is that most menstruating people use the same method of menstrual product that their mother or other parental figure used. Once you’ve got a system it’s hard to go off of it. And let me tell you how much I loved smooth glide plastic applicator tampons. I had a hierarchy in my head of menstrual products and I apologize in advance for being a huge dick about it.

Cloth Pads: Once the blood leaves my body I never want to deal with it or see it ever again and this cloth pad thing is not super making me trust that my clothes won’t be covered in uterine lining.

Pads: Literally diapers for blood except you can smell the blood all day and if I’m anywhere near a bear I’m probably going to be murdered.

Tampons without applicators: You mean it’s normal in other countries to shove your finger into your bloody vagina multiple times per day even though you don’t technically have to?

Tampons with cardboard applicators: Literally satan.

Scented tampons: Cancer?

Tampons with plastic applicator: Totally great, almost makes periods fun!

Menstrual cups: If you live in the forest and drink your own breast milk and also maybe knit clothing out of your cats hair.

If you’ve missed previous posts about menstrual cups and why I decided to give it a shot in the first place, it was because I hate seeing this judgemental kind of a bitch side of myself. If a lot of people deeply appreciate something and I’m so adamently against it without even trying it, there’s probably something wrong with me. Go go trial phase. Major success.

I ordered the Lena Cup from Amazon and it completely changed my life. Perhaps this strange and somewhat offputting love for something people don’t like talking about is what deters people from trying it. Everyone I know who has tried it, hasn’t gone back. Knowing that before trying it can be kind of intimidating. Change is hard.

There are a lot of misconceptions about menstrual cups and if you have any questions I’d love to chat more about it. Submit your questions today and I’ll answer them on my blog. [SUBMIT HERE]

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Our Relationship With Pubic Hair

I’m eating hot wings and talking to my friend about pubic hair. We both think the same. It’s, you know, a woman’s choice what she does to her body. But I think of myself at sixteen. Head hung over Cosmopolitan, direct orders to rip hair-from-pubis, root deep, some unknown shame. I think of all the things I believed so headstrong as though

there were only

one

truth.

Dirty, clean, beautiful, tidy, proper, sexy, messy, old, young.

$65 dollars a month and a strange woman spreads your legs and applies hot wax to your labia majora and rips it out while she asks you about your weekend plans, flip over, spread your ass cheeks apart, warm and numb.

There are some nights where I sit and I look at my schedule and I look at my bank account and I ask myself if I can afford the time and the money to do this to myself. I think of the way it will make me feel. That moment when you leave the salon and you are completely smooth and slightly warm. This few moments where, really, I do love it. Knowing what it’s like to be slightly sea-creature. Slippery and anti-porous.

My friend and I agree that with age has come some better understanding. It happened the first time a man looked at me after I hadn’t shaved for a few weeks. And he said:

 

You look like

 

 

A woman.

 

And you wonder what all that fuss has been about. And you stop missing the grow out. The itching. And you stop spending the money. And then, that moment comes for you.

 

I look

 

Like a woman.

 

I am woman. I am me. I am in this body and this body is the body of a woman. And he is looking at me as though I am sexy even though, I think, perhaps I have been told

That the way I am is not right.

And yet.

There was that day, and it came where I found some in-between from what people told me I ought to look like and what I actually liked to look like.

It is not one or the other. To say pubic hair is feminine makes a statement against an industry that tries to tell women they need to look a certain way. It generates no disregard to women who continue to chose, and love to chose, a lack of hair.

Reasons I didn’t like pubic hair:

  1. It looks sexier when you have no hair
  2. It looks cleaner when you have no hair
  3. It feels cleaner when you have no hair
  4. You can’t wear sexy lingerie when you have hair
  5. Sexy lingerie feels weird when you have hair
  6. The hair gets in the way of having sex
  7. The hair gets in the way of oral sex
  8. I don’t like the way the hair feels
  9. I don’t like the way the hair looks
  10. I don’t want to be the girl who has hair

Reasons I don’t like pubic hair now:

  1. Sometimes I just feel like trying something else out.
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How To Deal With Flowback

The Optimist

I’ll close my legs and just lay here for a while, bonding with my partner. It will seep into the walls of my vaginal canal / up my cervix and won’t be an issue.

The Realist

I’m going to stand up and it’s going to go everywhere and if I had any fucks to give I literally just gave them all.

The Polite Waddle

I’ll cross my legs and slowly roll off the bed onto the floor, making sure that no fluids escape. Then I’ll carefully stand up and wiggle my way to the nearest box of tissues.

The Picasso

Stick fingers in vagina. Smear across your partners chest in a creative gesture.

The Simba

Stick fingers in vagina. Smear across your partners face.

The Sleep N’ Dry

Fall asleep and wake up eight hours later when you realize your legs are wet and itchy.

The Sleep N’ Dry UTI

See above, with consequences.

The Gentleman

You don’t have time to think about what you’re going to do. Your partner already got up and cleaned themselves off in the time it took you to catch your breath. They’ve offered you tissues, a towel, a fresh shirt, a bottle of water, and a standardized survey on how the experience could be improved next time.

 

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Learning You Are Capable Through Experience

When you’re a kid, you are capable in part because you don’t know better. Then you enter this nebulous where lesser adults walk around on stilts and Wah Wah at you, afraid of your inevitable pain and hurt. Eventually you relearn that you are, actually, capable. Then, if you have kids, the cycle repeats itself to some degree.

I am at my first ever job that provides health and dental insurance. Tomorrow I get to call the marketplace and tell them that the $100 bill they sent me is no longer applicable. I get to make appointments for massages and acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments and pap smears and birth control and dental cleanings and xrays.

Bye bye, baby

Because I’m changing insurance providers I’m also entering closing sessions with the therapist I’ve been seeing for the last year and a half. It’s eased in part by the fact that I had been ramping down our sessions with my new work schedule. Call it mental health weening lite. If you can work it this way, I’d highly recommend it rather than going cold turkey. Once I go off I’ll start the process of finding someone new.

First six months – weekly appointments

Next six months – bi weekly appointments

Last six months – monthly appointments

Further Introspection

Jason and I have both been focusing a lot on introspection the last year and looking at our own lives and where our own weaknesses and strengths are. It wasn’t something we could completely do for each other, even though we were, technically, doing it together. Now my therapist asks me how I think I have grown in the last year and I have real tangible answers for her. I am better able to articulate my concerns. I am less anxious overall. I put up with less bullshit. I let things go. I embrace negative emotions.

For the first time I can differentiate between “I want to do something” and “I understand how to do it and feel capable.”


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Weekly Update: Damn, Son.

Yoast says my SEO for this post is bad BUT YOAST CAN SUCK IT.

Elizabeth Friedland fosters children, as a single, working woman

Setting the bar so high for doing something good and hard and important. The older I get the more I see my ability for stretching myself grow. I can take care of myself and I can be there for my friends and I can get my work done and there is still something left over. A small accomplishment compared to this.

Portland: Hot as Balls / Glad I don’t have balls

Nothing else to say here, just really glad I don’t have testicles this season.

Our President, still not very good at pretending he’s not a scumbag

Here he is acknowledging Brigitte Macron’s body inappropriately. Trump kind of talks about women like, y’know, meat. It was a fine cut, wow. Grass fed. Beautiful. Sorry France.

General status update

Hair is longer nao. I curl for snek look. Sssssss.

Infidelity: a thesis

My on this day reminded me that a year ago I was in the heat of writing about infidelity! My thesis was about how women experience guilt before, during, and after infidelity in unique ways because of gender roles. Check out this post from July 13th, 2015 // What Leads to Infidelity?

Um, debt repayment?

I came up with a plan to pay off all my debt (~$10,000) before I turn 30! If I even make it 90% of the way there I’ll feel pretty accomplished. This does not include my student loans which are basically an inoperable growth that has suctioned itself onto my internal organs, slowly leeching away my ability to lead a productive life. But we’ve got progress.

What’s in and What’s out

In: Middle of the night sleep sex, middle of the night off-brand oreos, eating entire avocados cut up so you can’t directly see the amount of avocado you’re eating, rescuing bugs from the office and putting them outside, buying beer based on what the cheese counter guy says would be a good pairing, buying a $10 bottle of argan oil from amazon instead of a $50 bottle of oil from sephora jesus mother fucking christ.

Out: CRINKLE CUT FRENCH FRIES. $50 PICTURE FRAMES – THEY’RE JUST PIECES OF WOOD IN A SQUARE. MEN ASKING ME WHY IM NOT SMILING. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY. Sit down, let me tell you a story. One day your mother fell in love. Her and your father made love one night in a room full of candles and nine months later she held you in her arms and she cried on your newborn skin. She raised you. She taught you how to walk, how to read. She laughed when she discovered your favorite food was brocolli. You liked to watch the old shows in black and white and you dreamed about what your life was going to be like when you grew up. AND NOW HERE YOU ARE, ON THE SIDEWALK, SCRATCHING YOUR NUTSACK. I CAN LITERALLY SEE YOUR TEETH FALLING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH HOLE, AND YOU’RE TRYING TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH ME. IM SAD BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN INTO A GALAXY OF STARS AND THIS IS WHAT YOU MADE OF IT.

 

(Then I fall into deep dispair about the prison industrial complex and honestly I can’t so let’s just say the sadness is a deep complex sad spiral about drug use and poverty.)

 

/whistles.

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suggestivetongue: the newsletter

I started a newsletter.

Because if there’s anything that sums me up as a person it’s attempting to make somewhat outdated things cool again. Like fountain pens, typewriters, snail mail, and libraries. Saying that these are outdated makes my skin crawl a little bit, but you know what I mean.

I started a newsletter because I’m trying to close the gap just a little further between reader + writer. My newsletter will have exclusive content, random ramblings, doodles + drawings and behind-the-scenes looks at blog life.

They’ll be short and to the point and they won’t be trying to sell you anything. They’ll (hopefully) be short little informative bursts that make you giggle, sigh, or oooh. They’ll probably be really bad at first. So you’ll definitely want to subscribe right now.

Oh, and all my newsletters can be replied to! So if you have a question, a comment, or just want to say hi, you can just press reply!

I won’t spam you(!) You’ll get one welcome letter and one newsletter per month. That’s it. It’s kinda like a magazine but for free and you don’t even have to recycle it.

So, anyways. That’s my soapbox.

Newsletters are cool again.

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Lena Cup Review: Four Months Later

The Lena Cup Challenge

Four months ago I decided to try the Lena Cup, a highly rated and well-reviewed menstrual cup.

Now that it’s been a little while I wanted to jump back in and give some secondary thoughts and feelings on using a menstrual cup over tampons. If you want to read my initial reasons for giving a menstrual cup a try (see: I thought they were gross!) read my original post.

Lena Cup

It’s basically like not even having a period at all

One of the biggest inconveniences I experienced before using a menstrual cup was specifically related to blood itself. Going to the bathroom multiple times per day to deal with tampons.

For those who don’t use tampons (or those who don’t have menstrual cycles) tampons come in a variety of sizes. The sizes generally relate to blood flow. If you’re in a heavy-bleed month or if you’re in a heavy-bleed day, you’re going to need a bigger tampon. It’s going to absorb more blood which means you’re not going to quickly soak through it. There are also medium absorbancy tampons, light tampons, regular tampons, extra lite tampons, and all other varieties depending on the brand you choose to go with.

Riveting stuff.

If you know yourself pretty well, and your body is pretty predictable, you may be able to select the right absorbency pretty easily. Sometimes that isn’t the case.

Sometimes you choose a heavy absorbency tampon and then your uterus says just kidding and you have to pull a barely-absorbed cotton swab down and out of your vaginal canal. At other times, what was once a light bleeder, suddenly turns into a heavy bleeder, and your lite tampon suddenly soaks all the way through, down to your jeans, out through your chair.

Of course this is a logistical problem as well. You’re going to want to have a selection of tampons with you at all times so you can have what you need. It costs a lot of money and creates a lot of trash and is generally pretty unpleasant. Some women acknowledge this problem in advance and use liners of some kind (thin absorbant sheets that stick to your underwear) to absorb any likely spotting.

Note that I didn’t actually think tampons were unpleasant until I started using a menstrual cup. I used to be all about tampons! That’s because I was thinking about my options in terms of pads vs. tampons. Broadening my view to pads vs. tampons vs. cups changed things.

Long-Lasting and Flexible

The Lena Cup, like other menstrual cups, can be inserted up to 12 hours. If I wake up at insert it at 6am that means that I don’t have to take it out until 6pm. That means no fuss during my workday. When I get home I can dump it out, put it back in, and not have to think about it again until the morning.

Since the blood just all goes into one central cup, you never have to think about how much you’re bleeding. If it’s important to you to know how much you’re bleeding, you can begin evalutating how much collects over a 12 hour span, or less, if you prefer to dump it more frequently.

Some color fading was disappointing

Some color staining and fading happened to the Lena Cup in the first four months, which was disappointing. Even with proper cleaning, care, and storage, the it’s not the bright perky color it was when I got it. I’ve seen other menstrual cups make an all black version which I thought was funny but now kind of makes sense.

Lena currently only sells a variety of springy colors like pink and turquoise, and white, which must be a hot mess after three months. (But it doesn’t really matter.)

Lena Cup

Continuing to carry tampons with you, anyways

If your cycle isn’t super predictable and you don’t want to always have the cup on you, you may want to carry around tampons or pads as a backup system.

I always keep a few tampons of different sizes in my bag just in case someone asks me for one in the bathroom. It would suck to have to say no to someone who is coming to you in a desperate situation!

Four Month Conclusion

It’s a little mind boggling that there isn’t more widespread use of menstrual cups. I think a lot of people share the same stigmas that I had against them. That’s the primary reason I decided to try them in the first place, and it revolutionized pretty much everything.

Have you given the cup a try? What do you or don’t you like about it? I’m curious if using a cup has impacted your life in any significant way. Leave your thoughts in the comments!
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