The Way The World Will See Us

Me: The imposter syndrome is kicking in again

Therapist: Talk more about that, what does it feel like?

Me: I CAN’T DO IT, THEY’LL FIND ME OUT! I’ve been learning one way of doing things, but it’s the wrong way! It’s been the wrong way all along! I’ve tricked them into hiring me. I’m no good. I’m a no good cat.

Therapist: And?

Me: This big project is hard and scary. It’s big and hard and scary.

Therapist: You know why it’s big and hard and scary?

Me: Why?

Therapist: Because it’s a real job. It’s an adult job. It’s a big, real, adult, scary job task. And you’re doing it. You’ve been doing it all along.

Me: I need a progress bar. A little progress bar above my head. So I can look at the little aqua blue filling to see I’ve made it this far, I guess, I’ve made it all that way, I guess I can make it a litte further. 

Therapist: You can’t trick someone into thinking you’re better than you are.

Me: Are you totally sure, though?

Therapist: You know how to do all these things because you’ve been doing them, you’ve already been doing them, you’re a person that does them.

We go on a walk, I see some dandelions. I look over to them. Look at all those wishes. I imagine in a second, running down the hill. No, rolling down the hill. Maximum impact. I’ll roll them down all at once like a steam roller of wishes. And every wish would be the same. Later on our walk, Jason tells me that all he saw were weeds, and that I must have some special way of thinking.

I tell him not to put the plant in the car because it will be lonely.

I tilt my head at the cat and she tilts back.

I tell my therapist she must have an awfully long day listening to people, six or eight of us, all day long, a very long day. She gives me a funny smile.

Isn’t this just the way everyone is?

We’re working on writing a book, and I think of another one. I want to write a book about the way you see me and how it has made me see myself.

 

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Weekly Update: In one week I turn 28.5.

I got a new job. An 8-5 job. Baby’s first 8-5. Baby’s first full day. Baby’s first office. I buy a pair of booties and I write while I wear them. I write in just my booties. My brown suede booties. I tell myself I am professional. I’ll buy a button up. I’ll keep my phone in my bag until it’s time to catch the bus and when someone asks me what time it is I’ll look at my watch. Quarter to five. Quarter to six.  Press pause on me, hopping on transit, one leg on and one leg off, measure with string my angles, my legs, my leap. I am a girl in motion.

I’ve been accused of romanticizing things. I accuse myself. Je m’accuse. I am a professional. People ask me what I do and I say I’m “in” something. I’m in sales. I’m in marketing. I’m business. It’s like you’re fucking the shit out of your career. Boom. Boom. Boom.

I got a manicure the other day and I had never felt more in tune with the way my fingers articulated. The clickity clack or the way the pages turned or how my ring slid delicately up and down the shaft, knuckle to knuckle. I’ve been accused of sexualizing things (par tous) and this I admit. That’s what she said. Now my polish is chipped and my fingers chapped and everything smells of day old salmon. These are the beautiful things. Not the way you feel when you leave the salon but the way you  look at yourself after a hard week.

Saturday our cat turns one. She has changed my life. She is always there. My little constant. She doesn’t ask for much and she spoons with me like I’m cutlery. Maman de chat, papa de chat. Une famille.

Next month we go to Canada to see one of my very best friends get married. I’m trying to find a bridesmaid dress. I think that I might very well cry.

I am 28 and everything is happening all at once like a rainbow that comes out before it’s even stopped raining. Look at me, look at me, I contain multitudes.

 

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I’VE BEEN IN THERAPY FOR ONE YEAR AND I’M HAVING AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS

Going to therapy every week can be alarming. I’m still talking about this? It’s been a week! Going once every other week can be even worse. But… but it’s been two weeks! I haven’t solved this yet?

Imagine my surprise when I told my therapist how sick I was of complaining about the same shit every month when she told me i’ve been seeing her for a year.

year.

I’ve had relationships with people I was sexually and/or romantically attracted to that ended quicker than that.

Well, anyways, apparently I’ve made some progress. She said that when I started seeing her I said “I don’t really see myself as a career person” and now I have a well articulated five point plan for being incredibly successful. That’s what I like about my therapist. She’s like the best friend / computer algorithm you always wish you had. “You’re not ugly! Look at this photo I’ve saved from my database from last week! It has seventy likes!” 

She has good recall is what I’m saying. And in this particular moment I saw that I had made progress.

I realized that I judge progress in giant milestone chunks like “graduate college” “get job” “move in together” “get married” “have kids” “buy house”

Life, however, has tiny little flags along the way that ought to be celebrated. They also signify change and growth.

  1. Stopped feeling obligated to reply to business emails after hours
  2. Started giving fewer shits about peoples opinions of me when I don’t even like those people
  3. Realized it’s okay to not like people
  4. Decided that one day I wanted to get married
  5. Came to peace with the fact that I don’t always fold my clothes before putting them in my dresser.

You know, things like that. The baby steps. And I think the problem is that I think I’m a little holier than thou. Oh yes, I graduated from college. Puff puff. It was quite the endeavor. Pinky raise. Harrowing really.

Flash to me, EIGHT YEARS OF FEAR, CRYING, ANGUISH.

Everything that happened along the way, those were little milestones, little successes. They were progress. I just didn’t mark it as such until I literally had my diploma in my hand.

So, looking forward, this is how I judge my progress. Not based on how much money I have or what kind of job I have or what my relationships look like, but if I’m moving forward. At all. Even a little bit. If I’m growing better and stronger. If I’m making less of the same mistakes. If I’m making better, newer mistakes.

Do you have a question about sex, love, life? Submit now and I’ll answer it on my blog!

 

 

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Should You Take My Advice?

What is advice?

Advice is a recommendation about what someone should do based on a set amount of information.

When I give advice I combine (1) my knowledge about a situation with (2) filtered through my own bias and (2) the information given to me about that situation.

It’s really difficult to give advice without imparting your own bias! That’s because your bias impacts how you see the entire world. My goal for every post is to try and think about the situation outside of what I would do, and think about what that person could do or what would be healthiest to do.

How does advice work?
  1. Give the advice-giver as much information as you can about your situation and what you’re looking to receive from the advice. Include as much information as you’re comfortable with and any information you think might be relevant.
  2. When you read the advice, remember that it’s going to be biased, and based only on the information you’ve given the advice-giver.
  3. Take that advice into consideration. Ask someone else for advice. Remember that it’s just one person’s advice.

When asking for advice, the advice-asker usually has some idea of what they want to do.

SHOULD YOU TAKE MY ADVICE?

I don’t believe you should take advice. Advice isn’t a guidebook, advice is a set of suggestions. When someone gives advice they aren’t fully aware of the entire situation.

Advice may create a visceral reaction. There may be an instinctive pull towards one answer or the other.

The advice-asker might think this advice is wrong or this advice was helpful. Either way, the advice has done the job by assisting in strengthening your intuition or guiding you towards a more appropriate response.

The benefit of asking for advice often

If you’ve ever been on an advice message board, you might have noticed that a lot of people asking for advice have let their situation advance quite a bit.  For example, if they are in a relationship that is unhappy, they’ve likely been unhappy for a long time before asking for advice. A lot of the time people only ask for advice after they’ve already made up their mind about a a particular situation.

They know what they should do or they know what feels right or wrong, but they want someone to give them permission to say out loud how they feel.

It can be scary asking for advice before you need it because it forces you to confront and work through issues you’re having in your life. 

Asking for advice frequently can be useful if you remember that advice is not a set of guidelines. Use advice (or therapy, or counseling) to help guide you towards making better decisions that are all. yours. Confronting issues like this often and with heart can make you stronger, wiser, and happier.

Do you need advice about sex or love? Submit now at [Ask Suggestive] and I’ll answer on my blog. 

 

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Weekly Updates

Girl alone at Bar

There is something about going to bars alone that satisfies me on a cellular level. This bar is empty. I walk in and ask the bartender what I should get because I don’t know any of the beers on the list. I pick a table in front of the TV. The Mariners game is on which just feels fated because I’ve decided that I’m going to try and keep up with baseball this season. He gives me an order of fries and I start jotting down blog ideas. My friend arrives an hour later. We go see 1984 at a little theatre down the street.

There’s something that should bother 45 about being compared to Hitler or 1984. Sometimes the only thing that gives me any peace of mind is knowing how shit will go down. I make sure to write about it in my journal just in case.

We joke about getting a cabin in the middle of nowhere in case this all goes south, except it’s not a joke.

I’m reading again, it’s happening!

Are you into books & movies & television? Follow me @sloughavenue on Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress! Recent favorites include the graphic novel The Sculptor, which I read in one sitting, and The End of Everything which I also read in one sitting. Equally enjoyable was The Wonder and The Grownup. I’m all about the dark and twisty so if you’re looking for something that makes you feel good about humanity, you’ve got the wrong girl. (Which reminds me, I still need to see 13 Reasons Why. 

New posts are being masticated

Om nom nom. On the schedule(!!) our three year anniversary of cohabiting and our four year anniversary of dating! Each will get their own special little post. Have a question about living together (and/or) dating that you’d like us to answer? Let me know!

Don’t miss the latest posts on the blog!

How do I feel about “once a cheater always a cheater”?
Masturbation is healthy! Five reasons why!
No sex for FOUR WEEKS! On week three. Details inside.
My Summer TO-DO! Quite the to-do.
What does being unfaithful mean? What does it feel like? Readers chime in!
My LEEP Experience! Little cervix bits floating in jars, etc etc.

What I’ve been up to

Eating delicious things::

Loving on plants::

Hanging out in the sunshine::

Yeah, that’s my thumb. I’m embracing the imperfections.

xx st

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The Identity Politics of No Sex for Four Weeks

Sexual  identity is more than just your sexual orientation. Your sexual identity can also include things like what kind of sex you like, kinks or fetishes, or how frequently you have sex.

So what happens to your sense of self when certain parts of that identity aren’t being utilized? 

After my LEEP procedure my doctor said that I couldn’t have penetrative sex for four weeks. When the whole waiting period is said and done, that will be the longest time I’ve ever stayed abstinent.

A couple disclaimers: This isn’t a big woe is me because I don’t actually think four weeks is a very long time. It would be fine if someone did think four weeks was a long time, but I don’t. Four weeks goes quick. Also, my doctor didn’t say no sex for four weeks. She just said no penetrative sex for four weeks. There’s a distinction. But for me, sex almost always means penetration. So her saying no penetration was effectively saying no sex. There are a lot of other things to do, but it’s just different for me, and that’s okay. (Also with the amount of bleeding, pinching, and cramping, I’m not feeling all that sexy anyways.)

All of this got me wondering about identity

At a different point in my life, if I weren’t able to have sex for a long stretch of time (due to stress, anxiety, medical issues, etc) I would feel less than myself. I viewed myself as sexual and thought that to fulfill that identity I had to act out what a sexual person does. If I wasn’t doing sexual things all the time, I was, in some way, failing myself and the guidelines I’d set for myself and who I am.

At times, I would even go out of my way to try things that I wasn’t interested in doing or push myself outside of my comfort zone because I thought “huh, if my identity is this, I should say yes, because I’ll probably like it, right?” Big heavy yuck.

Be aware of false prophets. If anyone ever says “but I thought you were cool” tell them that cool is whatever the fuck you say it is. 

But people do this all the time right?  Women wonder if they’re actually bisexual if they’ve never kissed another woman. A guy looks at another guy he finds attractive and spends the rest of the day re-asserting his heterosexuality to balance it out. We have scripts for what a person of  identity does, and what being X looks like, and when we don’t live up to those arbitrary guidelines, we can start to feel off or less than ourselves.

Learning that my identity can be stable has been important as my life has become more fluid.

The reality is that we may not always be able to do the things that we define ourselves by. That’s hard. Especially if these things are deeply wrapped into our identity and who we are.

Sometimes we have no choice. We may develop a disability that in some way prevents us from doing the things that we used to define ourselves by. We may become sick. Our health may impede us. A writer may be unable to write for weeks at a time. A surfer may lose the ability to use his legs. This is getting grim, I know, but I’ve had the privilege in my young life to really not have many things impede me from doing what I want to do. I know that as I get older, that’s likely to change.

I don’t exactly have the answers here but I think it’s important to think about. When I let go of the arbitrary guidelines I’d set for myself, I found myself becoming a lot more chill. A lot happier. Some nights I might want to choose reading over sex and I don’t have an identity crisis about it. I might go weeks without wanting to write on my blog and I don’t second guess my ability as writer. And, one day, if I have to completely let something go, I know it won’t change who I am and who I was and what makes me, me. My life might just start to look different. And that might make me feel sad. But it doesn’t make me (less than) I used to be. It just makes me different.

How do you deal with feelings like this? Have you ever had to cope with a big identity shift, or even a short-term identity shift because you couldn’t do something or had to change the way you did something?


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My Summer To-Do List

I read the other day that people bullet journal as a form of treatment for their anxiety and I was going to respond but my fingers were all covered in ink and I was having a serious moment with my copic pen. I guess what I’m saying is I can relate. When I buy a new journal I feel as though I’ve attended church in my Sunday best. Writing whatever you want to write on actual paper can feel a little startling in a world that is rapidily breaking down into upvotes and downvotes and likes and dislikes.

When I write something on paper the only person who knows its there is me.

And my echo dot, if I recite it out loud. She told me she’s a feminist; I’m not concerned about any feminist overlords.

Similarly, list-making brings me to utter zen. Is this what people feel like when they get stoned? Like, really stoned? Because this Leuchtturm 1917 is going to make me come.

What I’m going to do this summer (also known as: “the 2017 resolutions that actually happen”)

  • Be a bridesmaid for the first time ever because of one my very best friends asked me and obviously yes.
  • Travel to Canada (because the wedding is in Vancouver and I love Vancouver, it’s like upside-down Portland)
  • Go camping so many times that I finally justify to myself that I no longer need to use the coleman sleeping bag that I was given as a child.
  • Buy one new plant and not kill it (there are only about three plants cats arent allergic to, so that will give me some exciting choices.)
  • Go to the nude beach so many times that when the summer is over I can say “when we went to the nude beach…” and my partner has to ask “wait which time?”
  • Go on at least one Sunday Park way ride (A Portland Special where they shut down neighborhoods to cyclists.) Sidebar: Naked Bike Ride.
  • Host more than one game night. At least one outdoors. With BBQ and beer.
  • Go on a slip and slide. I don’t know where or how. I’ve been in Portland since 2009 and I’m just now realizing that this is kind of a big city problem. Where do city kids slip and slide?
  • Dye my hair, I think. I’m really non-commital about this one. It was like getting my ears pierced, finally, in 2014. I knew I should probably try it eventually and I knew I’d probably like it but there was nothing wrong with my ears the way they were so it took a little convincing to try it out. Of course I love it.
  • Buy more watercolor paper. This should technically be on my shopping list. Sorry.
  • Go from June-September without missing a snail mail birthday card. If I missed your birthday, I’m sorry! I don’t love you any less. I mean, technically I guess I kind of do because some people did get cards and some didn’t. But it’s me, not you.
  • Find “How to Love” wherever it slipped and fell in our bedroom and start reading it every night before bed again. Hashtag relationship satisfaction hashtag cuddle vibes.
  • Volunteer. Maybe not an official volunteer position. Maybe just like volunteer to go get the beer when we run out.
  • Actually volunteer.
  • Wear sunscreen every day because skincare is important and I can still freckle even if I’m wearing 50spf.
  • Find a pair of flippity flops that I like (sidebar: get a killer pedicure.) Also my shopping list, sorry.
  • Go see Portugal, the man at our favorite outdoor venue, get drunk, eat fries, watch the stars from the grassy knoll and feel alive.
  • Go outside more, in general.
Whatcha doing this summer? j/c.

 

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Weekly Update: Five Things Going On With Me

(1) Little Button is turning one in just over a month and I’m having a serious crisis about how much I love this cat. The other day I collapsed on the floor. “Why did we get this cat KNOWING ONE DAY SHE WOULD DIE?”  I read some nietzsche and I’m fine now but, man. 

(2) Portland is doing this Spring Fake out thing that it does once a year where it gets really beautiful and sunny and warm for one day and then everything goes to total shit. Don’t move to Portland if you have seasonal depression or probably regular depression either. I’m a big fan of the dark and the rain and even I’m starting to reach my limit.

(3) Every time we see a small child on the street we look at each other with this look that, within it, holds the whole of the universe. For me it’s sort of a sneaker wave like “all of your eggs are going to die and you’re going to be alone forever” whereas for him I think it’s more of a “that kid is cute you should be an uncle so you don’t have to take care of it.” I feel like we’re both at that age where we’re having to deal with feelings about children that neither of us really want to think about.

(4) Next month is our three years of cohabitation and four years of dating. I have a few posts in the works where we talk about the easy things and the hard things.

Have a question you want us to discuss? Let me know! 

(5) I subscribed to Teen Vogue and you should too. It’s $5.00 for a full year subscription and the quality of the writing and the content has skyrocketed. If you can’t afford the subscription, add their website to your reading list and check in daily. It is intersectional, it is current, it is fresh, and it is beautiful.

What’s new in your world? I really want to know. You’re not fine Brenda. Just stop saying you’re fiiiiiine Brenda. Drop it like it’s hot in the comments!
Have a question? Want advice? Submit now and I’ll answer it on my blog!
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Three Millennial Blessings

(1) When we bought our first house we put a black lives matter sign in the dirt of the front lawn. We tucked three signs behind the shed in back for when the first was stolen. The neighbors were nice. They’d wave when you walked by and pretend to have some sense of what goes on in your life. But we lived on a busy street in a big city with small ideas.

(2) There was an article by a man who wrote under a women’s name for a week. He realized with dismay just how poorly women are treated. He had known instinctively, with such primordial knowledge, the “women’s struggle.” Of course he knew. It was like a fun piece of trivia but it made him sound irreverent. Did you know that a woman is assaulted every 90 seconds? It just wasn’t revolutionary until he too had experienced it first hand.

I supposed this should have bothered me, but lately things are blending together, fact and fiction. A man can write an article about how women don’t get treated fairly and receive twice as much compensation for it, but it’s just really good writing. He gets twice as much recognition, the incredible father who brings his child to school just once. We can’t say these things anymore. Not without saying not all men. Not without citing sources. (a) Men aren’t awarded custody as often as women are (b) Women are getting pregnant on purpose(!!!!) Hear the patriarchy’s latest reasonable discontent.

The chant of our generation can be heard in the quiet screams of women who no longer know how to gauge their pain.

(3) In my grandfathers desk is a stack of letters he wrote to his children and halfway down is a description of gender inequality he wrote in the 70s. He wrote it in pencil on yellow legal pad and it’s so faded I can barely read it. I want to wrap myself in the good things people say like armor and wear them about. I think these good people have always existed.  They are the pennies we throw in fountains. They just sit there, they just shimmer. Other days I want to wrap myself in the pain and the suffering like barbed wire. I want to walk through the city with the blood of their words dripping down my legs in silent protest.

 

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International Women’s Day, or: Oh God We’re All Going to Die

My first grey hair was discounted as blonde. My partner plucked it out of my head with triumph and I smirked. A week later, looming over me in his height, he gasped and took my head in both hands. A second hair was plucked. I studied it curiously trying to determine what was different about this hair than all the rest of my hairs.

I taped it into my journal and wrote “FIG 1. GREY HAIR” next to it in an accusatory kind of way.

The week after that I found two more when I was brushing my hair. I plucked those myself. Not to get rid of them, but to get a closer look. I was perplexed. This tangible sign. But of what? Was it a sign of my stress? Was I stressing myself grey? Was I getting old? Can you turn your hair grey by not getting enough protein? Can flat ironing turn your hair grey? I wasn’t angry at my hairs. It just felt like a part of somebody else’s body was growing out of my own.

I keep telling everyone that I turn 30 next year, which is true, but I actually turn 29 this year. It’s all semantics. I’m not afraid of my 30s and I’m not afraid of getting older. But it’s a curious process. You become accustomed to the version of you that you’ve lived with for so long. As if overnight, you change. I have smile lines now and I have one particular pore that I can actually see. People get mad at me when I say that but it was alarming. My skin feels different now, it demands more care. My vision went. I wear glasses when I realize everything is really blurry which is less often than you’d think.

I’m not afraid of getting older but I am afraid of dying. The dying is the thing you can’t predict. It could happen tomorrow or next week or a couple of years from now and the fear of dying is paralyzing. I always imagine dark. But then I remember that dark is a construct of life. The perception of darkness. I would not even have the darkness. But things would go on without me, wouldn’t they? And I’m not quite fine with that. It doesn’t sit right with me at all, frankly.

So there is this paralyzing fear and it is peanut butter and jelly with this sense of now. There is only the now. And it’s not until you’ve sat down and had a proper dinner with death do you really know that the now is a living and breathing thing. There is no past and there is no future. There is only now. And it’s been written on so many inspirational pinstagrams that all meaning has been removed. The now has reached semantic satiation. Now. Now. Now. Now. Now. What does now mean? Now does not mean we must fit a lifetime into a moment. It only means that a lifetime is a moment. A series of moments. Look at what you want your life to be when you are twenty years older and think of what you must do now to achieve that life.

I don’t want a skin disease and, despite my indifference with wrinkles, I’d certainly like to prevent the more aggressive sags. So I wear sunscreen. I wear it in the winter months. And I make this choice because my now is also my then. It’s all connected, don’t you see?

No, me either.

As soon as something happens we begin to forget it.

Each time we try to remember it, we rewrite a new version of what happened over the reality of what we actually perceived.

In my journal I will write I am not afraid of turning 30. I am not afraid of anything. And when I turn 30 I will look back and I will read this and I will think, I wasn’t afraid. And when I turn 40 and when I turn 50 and when I turn 60 I will forget how this moment felt. And I will open my journal and I will read I am not afraid of turning 30. I am not afraid of anything. And because I will have forgotten, all I’ll have is this. A line scribbled in a book. And I’ll think, she wasn’t afraid of anything. And that will be the truth.

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