Raise Quality, Reduce Quantity

I’m nesting.Not for kids or for a family or for the winter. For myself.

Ugh – yes, my late 20s, this is the reckoning. My boyfriend told me the other day that I have a hard time getting rid of things because too many things bring me joy. In addition, I’ve had trouble prioritizing in the past. Until we started dating, I still wore the same coat I wore in middle school. Even though I have started sporting a newer coat, the other still hangs in my closet. Because I anthropomorphize everything, every time I think of throwing it away, I get a brief but vibrant memory of the first time I put it on.

My cold fingers wrapping around the warm fabric cuffs, burrowing my nose down the collar,  mmm, it’s so warm, I’m just so warm. I’m walking through the esplanade to class. It’s raining.

Marie Kondo would tell me that I should thank this coat for providing me so many good years and throw it away. It won’t be of any use to anyone else, I don’t think. But progress has moved slowly around this home. I started with jeans that no longer fit me, too big or too small. These were, somehow, the easiest things to let go of.

As I tiptoe closer to a new decade I look at the things around me and realize how little I really need. It’s becoming more important to save for nice things that will last a long time and provide me with greater comfort.

There is no right way of adulting, but there are some standbys that I strive to achieve. Being on time as a sign of respect. Sending snail mail for important occasions. Figuring out how to navigate and conquer things no one ever taught me in school (how to have a career, how to do my taxes, what a retirement fund is, etcetera).

And, quality over quantity. Slowly but surely.

Some adult, and one adult, things of quality I especially appreciate:

  1. The Reliable Toy  – It’s a Hitachisurprise!
  2. The Perfect Sheets – Calvin Klein. Albeit, covered in kitty scratches.
  3. The Moisturizer Collection – First Aid, Caudalie, Argan Oil.
  4. The Water Bottle  – Swell. Keeps it cold, cold, cold.
  5. The Journal and Pen – Leuchtturm, Cross/Pilot.

What are some things you have kicking around the house that you have prioritized quality over quantity? How did you come to that choice (trial and error? lucky guess? read reviews?) Need a recommendation? Submit your questions to www.suggestivetongue.com/ask

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How To “Go High”

Michelle Obama said that when they go low, we go high. But what does going high look like, and how can someone who hasn’t viewed themselves as particularly politically motivated get involved in activism for social justice issues?

  1. Direct your anger at the right people – If you’re a member of a Women’s March group on Facebook right now, you might be experiencing first hand the upswing in heated conversation between white women and black women, or other women of color. A lot of white women were angrily leaving the group I’m a part of because they felt like they weren’t welcome anymore, as the conversation was beginning to shift to highlight inclusion. I read the phrase “this is about all women” so many times. If you find yourself getting flustered by other women, so much so that you feel like you need to articulate why you’re leaving a Facebook Group, stop to think about who or what you’re really angry at. You’re probably not angry at women who are trying to protest for their freedom to feel safe. You may be angry because you don’t understand or cannot fully appreciate the intersections of race, gender, class, and so on. You may be angry because you want it to feel simple. Women. All women. But the conversation is more complex than this and it always has been. If you are finding yourself angry because people are trying to do the hard emotional work of figuring out their place in this March, listen, watch, and direct your anger at the people who have made these conversations unavoidable.
  2. Remember the cost of emotional labor – If you don’t understand something (example: the difference between all lives matter and black lives matter) don’t feel slighted if your nearest black friend won’t explain it to you. It isn’t her job to explain anything to you, especially justification for why her life matters specifically in this context. If you’re unable to understand the difference between all and black, do a quick google search. Take on the effort required to educate yourself. There are a lot of black women (and people of all gender and race) out there who have taken on the work of explaining these issues without being asked. Finally, please don’t express how disgruntled you are if someone doesn’t want to take the time to explain something to you. “How am I supposed to understand this if you won’t explain it to me?” puts the responsibility of your education and your acceptance on someone who is dealing with enough. Sidebar: I’m happy to do my best to help. My blog is a labor of love in itself, meaning that I do it for free. Utilize it by asking me questions. If I don’t feel like I can properly answer the question I will connect you to people who can, or I’ll tell you that I simply can’t answer the question. 
  3. Consume as much news as you can – Now more than ever it’s critical to read more than one news source. Not only to help differentiate between what is or isn’t real news, but to help work out a clear perspective of what is really going on. A simple news headline can be deceiving. The way a reporter phrases a story can be deceiving. Reading the report in more than one instance helps pick apart what the story is really about. Avoid the comments, reading them or participating in them, because they are a waste of your time. Share articles that challenged you and explain why. If someone wants to discuss it with you, do so with an open heart.
  4. Don’t engage with bullies – Simply existing right now can feel exhausting. You might encounter dozens of people, or more, every day who get a kick out of making you feel shitty. Getting into disagreements with these people only opens up the opportunity for you to (go low) when you could (go high). Calling a bully names, telling them to shut up or go away, or engaging in pretty much any way is often going to result in their desired effect: upsetting and derailing you from more important work. Think about the things people are saying around you and use that as fuel to protest, make signs, find new organizations to follow & support. Give money if you are capable of doing so. The pace of change you’ll get from an internet flame war isn’t going to make you feel productive.
  5. Find what you can do and do it the best you can – No one can do everything. There is no perfect feminist. Pick a cause you support, and make that your cause. Maybe it’s healthcare, maybe it’s voting rights, maybe it’s immigration, abortion, birth control, prison abolition, whatever. Give this subject your heart. This doesn’t mean stop paying attention to everything else. It just means that you should acknowledge that you can’t do everything and you can’t be everywhere all at once. What gives you the most joy? What would mean the most of you, if you could make a difference there?

At the most basic, most obvious, go high means to rise above. Don’t lower yourself to bullying, to harassment. Don’t use “they’re a shitty person” as an excuse to be shitty back to them.

Think positively. Give kindness and compassion. And look forward because there’s a long battle ahead.

Do you have questions about sex, love, gender, sexuality, life, feminism, or generally just how to do better? Submit it to www.suggestivetongue.com/ask and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

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Update: Four Months Off Birth Control

I was sixteen. I was coming back from a camping trip when I had my first anxiety attack. I thought I might be dying. My heart was racing, I felt light headedness on repeat, and I was overcome by a complete sense of derealization. I knew I was in the car, I knew my friends were laughing, chatting, saying my name. But everything was playing in slow motion. When I spoke I said the words but what came out of my mouth didn’t belong to me. I was sweating and hot and full of a sense of dread. I tried to convince myself I was fine but my body was struggling to pay attention. I had several anxiety attacks in short succession after this day. My heart would race and I was convinced I was going to die. I left class early every day for a whole week. Finally, I went in for an echocardiogram.

Not much earlier I had begun taking hormonal birth control for the first time.

I didn’t want to correlate my anxiety to birth control because I wanted to be on birth control. Being sixteen, I was able to easily differentiate to myself the symptoms I was having from the pill I was taking. It couldn’t be the birth control, loud noises make my heart race. Bright lights make me uncomfortable. The sense of derealization goes away after a while. My doctor told me it was anxiety but after doing the echocardiogram I felt slighted. My symptoms felt so tangible and being told I had anxiety felt like a slight. It was as if they’d told me I was just a little stressed out. Maybe I should meditate more, take some vitamins, drink some water, go to my happy place. They sent me home.

The anxiety attacks continued so they told me to start taking GABA, a neurotransmitter to help me calm down. I appreciated the start of a connection to something more tangible, but either because the GABA didn’t work, or because I didn’t believe in it enough for it to be a placebo, the anxiety went on. Finally I asked for something more serious and they prescribed me Lorazepam. Lorazepam is also given to treat seizure disorders.. I cut my pills in halves or quarters because they replaced the derealization with a steady absence of feeling. This was, during most attacks, preferable to panic.

The first ten years I was on birth control I took Loestrin 24FE. It still rolls around in my head like a drug commercial. I’d read the pamphlet so many times, folded and stuck in that little pharmacy bag. After a few years, the anxiety attacks began to fade away, and then stopped altogether. When I was 26 I attempted to get my usual refill from our campus health center and they told me, for whatever reason, it was no longer available to me. They prescribed me something similar and sent me on my way. Whether it was my body changing as I moved into my late 20s or something about this new pill that didn’t quite agree with me, I felt the presence of new symptoms for the first time since I had felt that anxiety.

Birth control comes with a whole host of potential symptoms like weight gain, headaches, acne, anxiety, depression or moodiness, and decreased libido. A natural menstrual cycle can have all of these things on it’s own. What had followed me after the anxiety was high blood pressure. Tell someone that you’re a 20-something with high blood pressure and they might be a real dick about it.  I knew something else was wrong, but I butt heads with the idea that it might be my birth control.

As a women who values control over her own body and her own sexuality, birth control is important to me. The ability and accessibility of birth control is important to me. Having regular periods is important to me. Having a regular cycle is important to me. Not getting pregnant is important to me. My doctor suggested that I might go off of birth control to see if the pills were raising my blood pressure. I didn’t want to, so I asked for a birth control with a lower dose of hormones. She gave it to me and I bled for a month straight.

This isn’t exactly unusual when switching pills or going off pills or moving to a lower hormone pill but it felt like my body was trying to kill itself. Like I had cracked open and become a wound that might never heal. Instead of acting, I re-acted. I asked for another pill and I started taking it continuously, a choice that fairly effectively stops your period altogether. And then I started getting anxiety again. It wasn’t so much the dizziness and derealization of my earlier years but instead a sense of emotional instability. I was high and then I was low and I was happy and then I was sad and I was, more or less, going completely nuts. I could feel it. A buzzing sensation that resonated through my whole body and collected in my mind.

So one day I just decided to stop taking it altogether. And now it’s been four months.

  1. I immediately dropped ten pounds.
  2. I feel less bloated, less heavy.
  3. The buzzing, busy, emotional chaos went away within a week.
  4. My face started to break out. My back and chest started to break out.
  5. My cycle was totally erratic. I skipped my first period entirely, my next cycle was over 50 days long, the one after that was just over 30 days.

After the first month, my blood pressure went down.

I’m giving my body the opportunity to figure out what’s going on. I hope, really hope that it finds a sense of regularity on it’s own, without hormones. I can read my body fairly well, but there is some magic in knowing down to the day what’s going to happen, and when. I’ve spoken with other women who have made the choice to go off of birth control. From the few I’ve spoken with so far, freedom seems to be an important keyword. Birth control made me feel detached from my body – but I didn’t understand that sense of detachment until I felt connected to it again. Of course, freedom comes with birth control too. Do we have the choice to choose if we’re on it, or not? How freely do we make those decisions?

I’ve thought about getting back on a low hormonal option again, or even non-hormonal birth control. The IUD is very popular right now because it provides women with many many years (potentially enough to get you past the Trump years) of protection against pregnancy. I can’t explain it, and maybe it’s confounding, but this option doesn’t appeal to me either.

So for now, I enter the birth-control-free abyss. If anything, my body seems to be thanking me for it. Maybe yours would, too.

What kind of birth control are you on? What about your partner/s? If you’re in a non-monogamous relationship do you feel this puts extra or different responsibilities on you throughout the discussion of protection? Have you felt increased anxiety or depression or other negative side effects since starting birth control? Or have you been on birth control – like myself – for so long that you’re not really sure what it would be like without it? Leave your thoughts in the comment box, or submit an anonymous question about birth control, condoms, pregnancy, or women’s health to www.suggestivetongue.com/ask. This month we’re drawing a focus on women’s health. When we share our experiences we normalize what bodies really go through. This is more important than ever. 

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All that’s left is a small, partially charred hat that says “America.”

If Locke and Key and Oh Joy Sex Toy joined forces to write a book, it would be the story of a key, shaped like a clitoris, and a young women on the brink of discovering her sexuality. She unlocks the door – this door is also a metaphor, see – and falls, tumbling like Alice into a fantasy world of bullet vibrators and queer pornography.

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Like any good Joe Hill novel, there’s a bad guy, some kind of villain who keeps you up at night. In this case it’s Donald Trump, except it’s just Donald’s hair on the tip of a penis, and as you see the penis tip start to curl open to speak, it’s just the phrase “not all men” on repeat as the monster flops and twists in haste towards you.

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The Trump Penis Monster follows Alice through this fantasy world, bits of bile and filth dripping from the tip. Finally she realizes the only way to defeat this horrible demon is by getting herself off. She hides herself in a new, towering branch of SheBop and masturbates furiously.

The tip of the penis cracks open, the hair lighting on fire, the record of “not all men” fading off into the distance before the monster finally explodes. All that’s left is a small, partially charred hat that says “America.”

Alice picks it up, puts it on, and walks off into the sunset bare naked.

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Weekly Update: My Year at a Close

I make resolutions. Not to keep them, not to be perfect, not to engineer some better version of myself. Resolutions aren’t set in stone, they’re good intentions.

This year was terrible but I have to remind myself that it was, in most cases, terrible for other people. Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, they’re all people that touched my life at some point. But I’m not their wife, their daughter, I’m not their family, I’ve never met them, I haven’t even seen everything they’ve collectively produced. This is what is going to happen now. The learning to let go.

There was a lot of other shit too like remembering that nazis still exist and racism is alive and well and it’s okay to shoot someone who is different than you if you’re scared of them and a thing convinced of sexually assaulting women – among other things – being elected not–by–popular–vote into our highest office. To be a woman, to be black, to be gay or to be poor today means you’re just a little less safe. We know what that means, but we also don’t quite know the full scope of what it will mean next year.

A lot of bad things happened. But a lot of good things happened too.

Here are some of my favorites.

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  • For my Christmas present last year J got me a trip to Canada to visit one of my best friends. This February I flew out (much more pleasurable than driving) to visit with her and her now fiancé for a few days.
  • I started taking more photos and shot two weddings this year. I found a reputable place to rent lenses from and started shooting with higher quality equipment.
  • I started drawing, doodling, and journaling more this year. I’ve been slowly collecting a good standby of watercolors and pens that make drawing especially fun for me.
  • We went to France for nearly three weeks and traveled to places I’d never seen before like Omaha Beach on a Normandy D-Day tour, the Loire Valley to tiptoe through tiny towns, Versailles to explore the never ending gardens, and back to my favorite place in the world, Giverny, to walk the streets Monet walked and to see his garden.
  • We adopted our first kitty, a barely three month old kitten who we named Button. She is the cuddliest kitten. She is now about 8 months old and starting to look more cat than kitten.
  • I got The Fireman signed by one of my favorite authors, Joe Hill. A high point for me because being anywhere near people I admire is terrifying.
  • I worked a six month stint as a florist and learned how to care for plants and flowers, make arrangements and bouquets, craft boutonnieres, arrange terrariums, and more.
  • I surprised J with a 30th birthday trip to the coast where about a dozen of us enjoyed a two night stay in a cozy air bnb. It might become a regular spot.
  • I turned 28. An odd little year. Not quite thirty. Not quite twenty.

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A reader remarked on how few people comment on my posts the other day. I believe that people tend to read my posts in their email, scanning for bits that look interesting to them.  We don’t engage with what we read as much as it feels like we used to because there is so much material to consume. A goal of mine for 2017, among so many other goals, and good intentions, is to comment on all of your work more often. To think about what you’ve written and leave some thoughts.

In exchange, I hope that you will feel free to do the same here. More dialogue, more community, more thoughtful engagement with the things around us.

Off now. I’ve got a stack of books to read and a hot pot of coffee. I hope that this last night is kind to you and that you see good things in the new year. As always, thanks for being a reader.

xx st

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Colposcopy is to AHHHHH as Colonoscopy is to AHHHHH

Someone clipped at my cervix.

I had an abnormal pap smear. It’s not my first one. The doctor said that I needed to come in for my second colposcopy. A colposcopy is a pretty standard procedure. A doctor will slide a speculum into your vagina to open the walls. Then they will rub a vinegar solution on your cervix with what looks like a Q-Tip for giants. Then they will look at your cervix for the abnormal cells that came back on the pap smear. From that point, they’ll take a sample of the cells. My doctor took them from 10, 1, and 5, which sounded a lot like a tactical mission. Yeah, uh, we’re gonna go in to 10 and loop around to 1 and 5 for a clear shot of the central cervical area. [errr] yeah that’s right, we’re going to need three samples today, over and out. 

The last thing you want to hear from your doctor:

Her: So I’ll be counting to three, 1, 2 3, and on 3 you’ll cough, a real big cough.

Me: Why is that?

Her: So it hurts less.

Me: OH THANKS. THANKS. COULD HAVE LEFT IT A SECRET SANTA CLAUSE. LEAVE ONE UNDER THE TREE TO UNWRAP ON CHRISTMAS. MAYBE LET IT BE A LITTLE ELF SECRET.

So I’m laying there and I think I’m an expert at this because I’ve done it before. But what no one told me is that turning 28 means that you enter a special dimension where EVERYTHING HURTS MORE. Getting up, getting dressed, exercising, breathing, your menstrual cycle, pap smears, and getting pieces of your cervix mutilated by a stranger. I say stranger because she entered the room – and even though we’d met – she introduced herself all over again and had the same conversation with me that we’d had at our consultation.

I digress. I think I’m going to be an expert. It’s going to be over in a second like ripping a band aid off and I’ll reward myself with some ice cream anyways, something a little self-congratulatory. But something goes terribly awry.

Her: 1, 2, 3

Me: [passive aggressive cough]

Her: [repeats twice]

Me [cough, cough]

Her: Okay, now we’re going to need to apply pressure to the wounds to stop the bleeding.

Here’s where I think I can put my pants back on and go home. I’ll get my ice cream, sit down, enjoy a good four hour break and then fiddle around.

But the bleeding isn’t stopping. My stress hormone injectors suddenly go on red alert and dump all this epinephrine into my veins.  I’m breathing erratically and my heart starts racing which I’m guessing is poor timing for the whole bleeding issue. She says it’s a stubborn bleed so for the next WHAT FEELS LIKE TWENTY MINUTES BUT I HAVE NO IDEA BECAUSE IM IN THE STRESS DOME she is holding this giant Q-tip to my cervix while my ENTIRE UTERUS contracts to try and fend off the intruder. YOU ARE NOT A BABY. ENTRY DENIED. CRAMPING INDUCED.  (This cramping continued the rest of the day, by the way, and continued onwards into day two.)

At this point I decide I’m never having kids. She’s gently stimulating my wounded cervix with a soft Q-Tip and some woman down the hall is probably shoving an eight pound human through her vaginal canal. I can’t deal with this. I’m about ready to reach down and rip the speculum out. I’m getting claustrophobic. The nurse who has pronounced my name wrong EVERY TIME WE’VE MET is just looking at her nails. Oh god.

Little jars – the same kind you leave pee samples in – are sitting on the rolling table filled with bloody solution and little pieces of my DNA.

It will be over in a second, the doctor says. Don’t you wish you were at that beach? 

They’ve taped a photo of an ocean on the ceiling. I couldn’t think of anything more patronizing.

She finally pulls the speculum out of me. Where these dirty speculums go, I’ll never know. Somewhere, off in a room, down a chute, a pile of speculums.

They leave me alone with the jars of floating blood goop. I feel dizzy, disassociated, nauseous.

Regular pap smears are critical to determine whether or not you have HPV. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV, and it’s so common that most sexually active people will get it at least once.  If you have HPV and if the cells look abnormal, you may need to have a really unpleasant procedure to make sure everything is okay. If the pap smear looks at the very outer layer of your cervix, the colposcopy looks just a little deeper to get a better idea of why that pap came back abnormal.  In all likelihood, everything is fine. If you do have HPV, it will likely go away on it’s own. Men who get HPV will never develop symptoms. There are no HPV tests for men. Learn more about HPV and the HPV vaccine at cdc.gov.

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I want everyone to shout “Penis!” when I say go

I minored in sexuality in college. The minor was officially called Sexualities, Gender, Queer Studies, or SGQ if ya nasty. I took the general Gender and Sexualities course on our gym campus. It was a classroom four floors up, behind the locker rooms, gently smelling of Clorox wipes. We had a male and a female professor. On the first day they walked into the center of the room, twisted their feet front-facing, and calmly asked us to scream the word penis on go. After that we had to write a list of all the dirtiest words we could think of on the white board. It was our loosening period. Apparently it’s not easy to sit in a room with strangers and talk about sex.

I started this blog in 2008 but had been writing years before that due to the inscrutable desire to give myself arthritis. If I had to describe what I wanted from my readers, it would be that feeling everyone got when they shouted penis the second time.

The first shout was a warble. Are you going to shout? Should I shout too? How loud are we shouting, exactly? It was a nervous tick, a little laugh, the feeling of your skeleton being pulled aggressively from your skin. Nakedness.

The second shout was a roar. All the blood in your body heating up, rushing through your veins, and shooting out of your throat with a projectile “PENIS.”

Everyone looked around at each other with self-congratulatory smirk. But moments prior, they’d been kings. I don’t know what that feeling is. But if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be ownership. It can take quite a while, but sooner or later everyone realizes that their voice is theirs to use just the way they want to.

We are the amalgamation of everything around us but in this dubious mimicry we become unique.

A few weeks ago I decided a goal for 2017 would be to make it back on the top 100 sex bloggers list. These peers of mine write such wonderful things. They show up in my feed and they intimidate me. I’d forgotten I was one of them. Today I woke to find myself atop the list at spot #23 with no warning.

Today I am that feeling, the blood-rushing shout of PENIS in a room full of strangers.

I am a writer, I am a writer, I am a writer, I am a writer.

She jumps atop the table and shouts to absolutely no one. But it feels okay, anyways. Because she hears herself.

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My 2017 Resolution

I graduated High School in 2007 so next year marks some sort of sacred experience. That slow, crumbling moment when you realize that people never actually grow up. Your doctors are jocks. Your banker twirls her hair. The girl who just made your sandwich yells out your order the same way she used to steal your thunder in math class. Okay, maybe some people change. They come hoisting babies on their hips and dragging rings down the cafeteria floor, weak wristed, diamond heavy. They talk about how enlightened they are and how much they’ve changed. Are those the same Etnies shoes you wore to the homecoming game? Wait, nevermind, I don’t want to know. People approach me and say my name gleefully as though they’ve been waiting the last ten years to talk to me but simply didn’t have an excuse. I’ve forgotten their name. Everyone I approach has forgotten mine. A small hive gathers in the corner and talks about so-and-so and can-you-believe-it.

I’m a cynic, maybe this isn’t true. Maybe I’ve crafted this imaginary world in my head. Maybe there were never any boundaries and I made them up. Insecure, too unwilling to reach out and say hello. I didn’t have a clique, I really did like everyone, and I think they liked me okay.  Still, I can’t help but imagine. We’re all the same, we’re always all the same. We’ve changed but on the inside we still have those same fears we had ten years ago. Like me, like me, like me, like me, like me.

I’ve gotten better about being liked. When someone doesn’t like me my first reaction is no longer indignation. I don’t crumble to the floor, wondering what I’ve done wrong, trying to fix it. To fix it – to make everyone like you – you cannot be yourself. You have to be so many different version of yourself. A different version to suit every different asshole.

I’ve realized that how someone else feels about you is none of your business. It’s not your business at all.

What is your business is how you feel about other people and how clearly you articulate those feelings. Do they know, do they know, oh could they repeat it back to you? Shouting over your grave “you might be gone but at least I knew you loved me!” Grave digger, when you dig my grave, could you make it shallow, so that I can feel the rain? This is my resolution. One must always know precisely how I feel about them. To value and cherish and other such ugh words that remind you of what’s really important. And yeah I want to get money and grow my career and grow my relationship and la de da try new things and remember to work out in some such regular interval that I don’t hate myself for being such a sorry son of a bitch. But people. The people. Ringa linga ding dong.

This is what matters to me now.

I don’t really know how to do this. I think in your late 20s, early 30s, you have to re-learn how to do this. Maybe you’re figuring it out for the first time. I am like a friend robot just learning how to love. Hallo. Boop boop. I am friend. Deep doop. Like me. Insert happiness emoji. Positive interaction. Ring ring. Hello. I like your hair. Your face is well proportioned. You have a good skill. Good job on your skill. I appreciate your listening to me derp de derp. Is this working. Do you know. Can you feel me here aglow. I don’t know what I’m doing, but.

It gets a little easier every year.

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Stop Saying You’re Not Racist and Do Something

If people having to say they’re not racist bothers you but you can’t quite figure out why, try this.

Racism is systemic. It’s built into our country. Even if you aren’t explicitly racist, you’re probably still somewhat implicitly racist. That means that you have unconscious biases against people who are different than you. (We’re also implicitly sexist, we have ideas about what men and women look like and what they’re capable of doing.)

This doesn’t necessarily mean someone is a bad person. We’re given messages all the time and that impacts how our brain categories information automatically. What’s important is recognizing that we live in a country that really perpetuates this systemic racism. 

We feed into this idea that black men and women are hyper-sexual, or angry, or violent. When someone says “I’m not racist” they’re saying that they don’t truly understand what racism is or what their part in this system is. There are some people who are explicitly racist (see: nazis) and there are some people who are implicitly racist. I can’t think of a single person who is untouched by the biases of our world.

If you’re not explicitly racist please don’t waste your time trying to prove it to people by saying things like “I’m not racist.”

Go out of your way to make a difference. Go out of your way to change your implicit biases. Make friends who are different than you. Shut down people who say things that are offensive or hurtful to you or others. Read the news. Participate in rectifying the injustices of our country and our world.

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Today I am 28.

Today I am 28.

I imagine my therapist is exhausted with me. I want to know what other therapy sessions are like but all I have is my imagination (which looks a lot like my therapist having tea with the clients she likes more) and television (someone crying for sixty minutes before having sex with her provider.)

The theme for this year has been: in-between.

I am in the great in-between. I am not quite grown but I am not quite young. I am an adult but I have not quite yet adulted. I am making good decisions but I am not making great ones. I am myself but I have not finished loading. We are committed but we aren’t quite life partners. We are friends but we aren’t quite besties. I’ve done the job but I haven’t quite finished the work.

This is my great discontent. Loading… loading… loading… But you can’t rush the process. Too many people try and fail. This is how we hurt our friendships. This is how we lose our lovers. This is how we set fires to our careers.

Have you ever bitten into a half-cooked potato and pretended like you liked it because you were just so, so hungry?

Twenty-seven was good but only because it wasn’t terrible. Here we are again, in the great in-between. Every conversation, every moment, every success was just a step towards something. It wasn’t something. That might be my problem. Tra la la, life is but a process. You never wind up anywhere. Every little thing is a journey.

Oh bother, today I am 28.

I imagine twenty-eight as the year that the engine revs.

I imagine twenty-eight as the great happening.

I imagine twenty-eight as a book among a shelf of other books. One, two, three, four, all the way to one hundred, each book a year. Book twenty-eight is pulled slightly from the shelf with intention. And I push it back. I line them up, all one hundred books in perfect synchrony. I draw a finger along them with an obsessive eye to test their resiliency. This is the story of my life and it is finally ready to be read.

Today I am twenty-eight.

If I am not yet ready to claim my success, at least I can claim my endeavors. I wrote something. I read something. I loved someone. I made a difference. I grew one limb at a time and walked with one leg taller than the other until I figured out how to run. This was a year. The first full year of living. Umbilical cord cut swinging wildly in space with no tether and I have survived because today I am twenty-eight.

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