The Report 1.15.17

why more writers should talk about money

In the past few years, some writers have begun to more openly approach questions of class. The internet has seen a profusion of such pieces: A writer who is “sponsored” by her husband calls on other writers to be more transparent about where their money comes from. Another outlines the clear advantages that being born rich, connected, and able to attend expensive schools furnishes to becoming a successful writer. In another case, a woman who wrote a well-received debut novel details how she went broke after a single advance.

st says: I make no money writing this blog.

convicted of rape for removing a condom

Sexual assault is not just about saying “no” and being forced into sex. As writer Tricia Tongco noted in a May article for ATTN:, there are a couple ways someone can still be raped even after giving consent, and condom removal when a condom is expected is one example.

st says: In addition, it’s important to remember that consent can be revoked at any time.

good girls revolt cancelled

It’s a well-documented phenomenon that in Hollywood, women’s stories are often stifled. According to a 2015 report by the University of Southern California’s Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, not even a third of speaking roles in popular films go to women. In addition, female directors only accounted for 1.9 percent of the 100 top-grossing films in both 2013 and 2014, and these stats have not improved much in the last few years.

st says: We need to focus our attention on consuming and supporting women-created arts so men (and women) can no longer say “chick flick” with disdain.

ten steps to make your first BDSM playtime amazing

Both of you fill in a BDSM checklist separately if you haven’t already (best to grab one that is editable, check what it has on it, and add any specific things that you like that you want to get their take on (many checklists skew M/f, so if you like cock rings or ball stretching or cross dressing, make sure they are on the list).

st says: the BDSM checklist (see link) is pretty thorough. but it doesn’t touch on everything. take it with a pen and pencil in hand.

ivanka’s dangerous fake feminism

Ms. Trump’s clear ambition remains unobjectionable in part because she seems to require nothing of men. She affirms her status as a wife and a mother first and a businesswoman second. While she speaks to the challenges of combining work and family, she makes no demands that her husband “lean in” at home — maybe Mr. Kushner does do the dishes, but they aren’t Instagramming it.

st says: I’ve got hope for her yet, but her brand of feminism doesn’t speak for the majority of women. her father might just take her down with him.

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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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Introducing: Sexed Ed

Welcome to the latest, and hopefully greatest, or at least most bearable new segment on my blog. Sexed Ed. I just like it better than the sound of sex ed. It’s essentially the same thing, but just more, y’know, sexed.

I’ve broken down the year into twelve months. Which it already is, so I took the rest of the day off, feeling accomplished at having finished step one of my plan.

From there I chose twelve topics I wanted to discuss throughout the year in greater depth:

  • January – Women’s Health
  • February – Casual Sex & Dating
  • March – Men’s Health
  • April – Monogamy
  • May – Non-Monogamy
  • June – Kink
  • July – Intimacy Practices
  • August – Intersectionality
  • September – Communication
  • October – Menstruation
  • November – Trans Awareness
  • December – Gender Identity & Politics

A few things:

  1. Menstruation gets a whole month because no one talks about it and no one really knows anything about it and, frankly, I feel like we should re-learn the process together once a year anyways.
  2. Trans Awareness falls in Trans Awareness Month. Because I’m not Trans I’ll be providing basic information and linking to one Trans blog or author per post.
  3. Intersectionality will break down subjects like race, gender, sexuality, culture, socioeconic status and ability.
  4. Some of these groups will overlap and they’re not meant to be all-encompassing.
  5. Each post that falls within my Sexed Ed category will include a question box at the bottom. Readers will be encouraged to ask questions pertaining to the post which will hopefully lead to future, advice-column posts in the same genre. By all means, feel free to continue asking any other questions you might have even if they don’t fall within that genre.

I had mentioned last year that I feel like one way I can fight back against our supreme leader and nazi overlords is by writing. We’re at the dawn of a new year with new suits and potentially damaging changes coming. I’m talking to women, and minorities, but I’m also talking to heterosexual white men. You’re in a position where you could, if you wanted to, exist within a political landscape that reinforces your ability to live within a toxic masculinity. That’s not a safe space to be because it doesn’t allow you to think or feel like an actual human being. Your ability to be the kind of man you think is right, good, and just is on the line as well. Let’s talk about what all of that means and how to turn 2017 on it’s ass.

xx st

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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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Just because it’s not your fault, doesn’t mean it’s theirs.

Sometimes relationships end. It doesn’t mean that they have failed.

We have a habit of casting blame on where and when a relationship failed because we want it to make sense.

Imagine the end of a relationship as a tiny death. If you are in grief, you want someone, or something, to blame. We want to know how it’s possible that something so great could ever go away.

At the end of a relationship we often go through the five stages of grief.

  1. Denial – The relationship isn’t over.
  2. Anger – How could they give up something so good?
  3. Bargaining – Will you let me fix it?
  4. Depression – They won’t let me fix it.
  5. Acceptance – I have to let go.

Within all of these points you will find blame. For yourself (I must have broken it) or for them (How could they stop trying?). We enter into negative thought patterns about ourselves and about our partners. We cling to the hope that if we could find the one thing that we did wrong, we could fix it, correct history, move forward into some one destiny that allows you and them to be together, forever.

The reality is that sometimes it’s not as simple as one person doing one thing wrong. It’s not about a moment. It may not even be about a series of moments. Sometimes two people who were good together simply aren’t good together anymore.

We enter into a chaotic repetition. We love them in all of the ways we used to love them but those actions, those sentiments, they don’t work anymore. 

Sometimes, if we try our hardest to love, and it doesn’t work, we stop blaming ourselves and we blame them. It’s all we have left. It’s a simple equation.

If I have tried everything to fix this and none of it has worked, it must be you that broke it. 

Relationships aren’t so simple. They aren’t a series of numbers to plug in to get the right solution. We are madness, bright, beautiful, confusing, loving and messy. We are all of our experiences. We are all of their experiences. There are too many confounds to solve unhappiness with a series of potentially redeeming steps.

 

A relationship might die many times before it dies the final death. The death where each partner knows it’s over, knows it can’t be brought back to life.

We can’t protect against the unknowing reasons a relationship might end. But we all have the power to make our relationships stronger and happier now, before that moment comes. It may even prevent that moment entirely.

Imagine your relationship as a fire

Sometimes your relationship might burn bright and crackle and give off heat to others.

Sometimes you relationship might roar predictably throughout the night with little need for upkeep.

Sometimes your relationship might start to fade out, the flame growing dimmer, the heat diminishing.

When you notice this start to happen, when you feel the light begin to fade, don’t question the ability of the fire to heat. There isn’t anything wrong with your fire. It just needs a little help.

Give the fire something to burn.

The more we stoke the fire (of our relationship) the warmer (and happier) our relationships will be.

Have a question about sex or love? Submit at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

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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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Q: When is the right time to warn someone?

So I have a few sticky situations in my life that are related to trust in some challenging ways. One is where I have been triggered (abuse, control/emotional/surveillance) by someone with an iffy past that I otherwise like a lot. They did one bad thing, and it damaged my trust. But my mom is going to move in with him and I rely on my mom for housing while I pursue my graduate degree. If I don’t move in with them, I have to somehow afford other housing. His past is something that I feel like maybe I should tell my friends about, but that may add insult to injury as I repair my relationship with him (from the incident that triggered me).

The other situation involves friends trusting people talking about them behind their backs. Much more typical. My question: When is it the right thing to “warn” or “heads up” or inform someone of something? Or, is there a point where it is no longer the best thing to keep something from someone? Privacy and boundaries are important to me, and loose lips sink ships, but there are some things I feel like people need to be open about… some subjects I don’t think should be so taboo. Any other insight would be appreciated. <3

An important and complex question. You bring up a few specific examples and I think that’s really key. Every situation is different and there may not be a right way to tackle it. Even if you spend a good amount of time thinking through what you feel is a moral decision, it may still hurt someone else to hear it. You can only control what you do, what you feel, you can’t control how someone else reacts to it. Often times what comes across as a well-intentioned and even important message about safety can be turned away by someone already under the smooth-talking impression of someone less than savory.

What I do, or what I try to do, is be there for people. You may have knowledge about something they don’t have knowledge about. How can you articulate to this person that you’re there for them to talk to if there’s anything they need to say? 

I try to do this because I feel like the times I have attempted to intervene have been met with vitriol. Often times this is because they already know and understand the information that I’m giving them, but they’re not ready to hear it. Someone has to be ready to hear something to really hear it and act on it. We like to learn by experiencing things first hand. We see to believe.

What a warning can do is act as a kick-off point. If someone receives several warnings about a certain person and then experiences that behavior themselves, they may be more likely to take that behavior seriously. If you feel that this is well-known, often-repeated, or particularly dangerous behavior, I think it’s wise to share it with someone whether or not it’s going to be well received. It may make the difference.I also feel like the truth can make you an ally to that person. When the time comes where they need someone, you can be there to listen.

If I just have feelings or opinions about something and it borders on butting-into-not-my-business-land, I try to abstain as much as possible from saying anything at all. People need to learn and experience on their own. My experience with someone is not necessarily going to be your experience with the same person. I might ask probing questions to get them to think about what is going on, but I won’t dive in headfirst.

You have to trust your gut. If you’re not sure: there’s often nothing wrong with giving the information once, and then backing off when and if they make it clear that they’re not receptive. If you’re unable to give all the details (boundaries, privacy) sometimes heading in to a conversation about your general hesitations about a certain person or situation can say more than enough.

Have a question about sex, love, life? Submit at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask and I’ll answer it on my blog.

 

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Shop Local: Last Minute Gift Guide

My favorite thing about a gift guide is how they all seem to sort what men and women want SO SUPER WELL into the gender binary. What man wouldn’t want an artisanal pizza cutter? Nevermind it’s his fourth pizza cutter since he turned twenty-one; a sign of his ever-growing masculinity and ability to prepare on-the-fly man parties. Yo bro, don’t cut that pizza with a knife, I’ve got a  RECENTLY OILED ROTATING BLADE WITH A SEASONED OAK HANDLE. He winks at the camera and tosses his bottle cap up onto his wall where his magnetic bottle cap display catches it with a thud. It displays beer from all over the country but because he never goes anywhere it just looks like a mosaic of budweiser. Now that’s America.

For women, something a little softer. A pillow that tells everyone how you feel about the patriarchy and an enamel pin of a cat licking its own asshole. NEVERMIND THE FACT THAT BOTH THESE THINGS HAPPEN TO BE ON MY WISHLIST. And are, in fact, available at just a short stroll from my apartment. I digress, no such division of interests are offered on my blog this year. I’ve come to assume that everyone, even the (whispers) gender queer (unwhisper) like or don’t like things with same amount of glee or indifference.

Don’t feel the need to let your shopping list define your gender or sexual identity? What luck you have, reader.

SHEBOP THE SHOP BA DOP 

Support local female-friendly adult store SheBop with the purchase of an adult gift. Not all adult gifts are sex toys. How about a position of the day playbook to diversify your mission(ary.) Or a hardcore parody of The Walking Dead – where zombies are hungry for brains and sex? The fabulous Oh Joy Sex Toy (Volume three!) for the graphic novel enthusiast in your life. And what makes a great stocking stuffer? Uh, menstrual cups. Duh. Check out Moon Cup for all your not-making-baby needs.

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SLOAN: The store we don’t go in anymore

Want to window shop and accidentally max out your credit card? Look no further than Sloan Boutique. They say it’s affordable fashion for every woman, which I can’t verify. It seems like every woman might be wrong and it seems like affordable might be wrong too. Nevertheless, I walk in here to get a plain white t-shirt and their well-trained staff FILLS MY DRESSING ROOM BURSTING AT THE SEAMS with clothes they think I might want to try on. They’ve guessed my size (which might deter some) and chosen things for me that I would have never pulled from the rack myself, which means I like it more than I would otherwise. It’s basically like shopping with a friend who tells you that you look good in everything. Go in with tunnel vision. Grab the nearest scarf. Proceed to checkout.

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ZimZim: Invader of Space

Need stuff? Go to ZimZim. Notebooks, shirts, socks, cards, mugs, glasses, enamel pins, non-enamel pins, adult coloring books, aprons, things to hang your keys on (key hooks), and… wait for it, what always feels like Portlands largest selection of delicately handmade earrings. It always makes me want to go into the earring business because oooh these are prett–TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS. TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS. Worth it. (website)

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Gift Cards

Why? Here’s my formula for gift cards. I’ll use coffee shops as an example. Let’s say you want to go to a coffeeshop and you have a hierarchy in your head of how good they all are. If you’re going to a coffeeshop regularly, you’re probably going to choose one that’s a little lower on the ladder because you can’t totally justify a very expensive coffee drink every day. A gift card to that coffeeshop is going to feel like special because it allows someone to visit a spot they wouldn’t typically go to. You’re not buying someone coffee, you’re buying them an éxperience. For a gift card, I recommend Cheese & Crack.

 

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Speaking of Coffee

Spella Caffe roasts the best beans in town. You can now order some to ship. And you should, if you care about coffee at all. Which you should. They also provide a handy-dandy little set of brewing recommendations for each kind of bean.  (website) Literally never made coffee once in your entire life and think eww, coffee tastes funny? Well now is your chance to be less of a dweeb. What makes a great gift? Coffee. Accessories. French press! Pour over! Chemex! Don’t know these words? Basically you put coffee grounds in hole A and pour coffee on top of hole A and then drink out of compartment B. Shablam. You too can make coffee.

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Was there nothing on this list for you? Default to the worlds best gift and buy someone a book. Powells sells new and used. If you’re lucky enough to live locally, they also have a great little gift section, including the worlds largest collection of socks with llamas on them* (*unconfirmed.)

Jingle bells to you and yours xx st

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Girl Alone in Bar

The barista asks me how my coffee is from across the room. The mug is so small that the chill from my fingers has pulled the warmth of it in the time it took me to sit down, open my laptop, and connect to the wifi. I enthusiastically tell him that it is fantastic. He looks like he’s going to continue trying to talk to me from across the room so I put on my headphones. I down the coffee like a shot. The guy next to me stares. The guy across the room stares. I look down, wondering if there is something on my chest. I suppose it’s just my chest.

I’m listening to Childish Gambino and it makes me feel like a badass even though all I’m doing is sitting here, quietly, tapping my foot, entering numbers into an endless system of other numbers to make sure that the right numbers come out the other end. Accounting is the digestive system of the non-profit world.

My therapist tells me something that sounds a lot like “there is no way to write about sexuality without making yourself naked” and I laugh inside because that’s what I’m thinking, even though she says something a little more demure.

I ought to be a little more calculated.

I hear people write pitches or they make editorial calendars or they edit their posts before they post them or they have ideas and put them in idea journals. I can’t tell you the last time I read through and edited a blog before I hit submit. Usually what I do is write. I just kinda write. I have intentions about what I’d like to write on pieces of paper all around but they get pushed aside for whatevers hot in the myelin sheath.

Then I hit Publish, which is sort of self-congratulatory.

Oh, I’ve published a new blog post. I’m published. Then I go type my website into the address bar and click on the blog and read it there. Half the time I find a spelling error or a grammatical error or a word that’s used in completely the wrong context. I edit from there. (Sorry, email subscribers. You’re getting the unedited version all the time every of the times.)

I like to think this makes me more approachable or genuine but really it’s because, well, I’m lazy. I like to tell myself that if I went through proper channels, I would be a proper writer. Ah yes, I opened my WORD DOCUMENT today and I typed a DRAFT of a FINE PIECE OF WRITING hahahaha puff puff ERUDITE and now I’m going to SEND IT OFF TO MY REVIEW COMMITTEE before I publish it on my AWARD WINNING WEBSITE. Would anyone be fooled? Could I even fool myself? Who are these people who take themselves so seriously?

Experience shows that they’re the ones making money with their writing. Or, at least, they’re pretending they are. How much money did you get from your pitch that took twenty hours to write? I want to know because maybe I should be taking this more seriously.

I walk up to the counter and ask the barista if I can order more than one refill at a time. They look at me with pity. There’s a sign that says you can bring your own mug and I think that maybe I will. Like bring your own popcorn container day at the movie theater. Rotund families show up with garbage bags and shout FILL ER UP as butter flavoring seeps down their chins in a shimmery symbol of self-regret. That’s me, yeps. Yepperoni. My mug is my body and I’ve brought the main line, just plug-er-in.

It’s time to go. This cafe actually does turn into a bar at night and the list of beer is much too tempting. Halfway through my first pint I’d be too far gone to be of any use to myself.

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Q: How can I learn to be a more successful dater?

I have been single for nearly 8 years, and it’s been almost a year since I last had sex. I masturbate when I need to, and that’s that. This bothers me. I’ve tried looking for women, going on dates, going out with friends in social settings, etc. Nothing seems to work. I work full time during the week and go to the gym every day. In general I’m very busy, which I realize isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, despite this, I find myself very lonely. Tinder/Facebook/dating websites just aren’t cutting it. What can I do to have more success?

Everything I’m about to say is going to sound profoundly annoying, and I apologize in advance. I’m one of those wack jobs that thinks dating is all about positive mentality. That’s because dating is horse shit and online dating is horse shit and our culture of click-bait has turned every dating profile into a chance to sell some newer, better, made up version of yourself. If people don’t like what they see they can bail out. If they do like what they see, they might see five, six, seven others in the time it takes you to respond. We’re also a culture of flakes. We hella, hella flaky. It’s a simple equation but humans must be shitty at math. Say you’re going to do something + it’s time to do that thing = go do that thing. 

Online dating makes it super easy to just sit and fart on your hands all night jerking off to the sound of everyone swiping right on your fav selfie.

Online dating isn’t a place to just sit around feeling validated all day. Online dating is where people go to find genuine connections. At least that’s what we tell ourselves. But it’s hard. Because there is a huge supply of people who are looking for love and it can be hard to remember that even though there is a huge supply of people, there are probably a very slim percentage of people that you’re actually going to connect with on a level that leads to physical or romantic connection.

So here’s where the positive mentality comes in: every person you meet is an opportunity. There are no missed connections. Message everyone that looks interesting to you. If you see someone on the street that looks interesting to you, compliment them, give them your number, say hello. Instead of expecting each of these people to become the true, one, great love (or lay) of your life, expect them to become really, fantastic, beautiful moments. What are the odds that you saw this woman’s profile? What are the odds that you bumped into this woman on the street? What are the odds that she was before you in line? What are the odds that she is reading the same book as you? What are the odds? I dunno, humans are shitty at math. But I’d say they’re somewhere around so unlikely that you should probably say hello. 

Dan Savage has this line he pulls which I’ve stolen and partially pretended is mine. There are no failed relationships. We live in a society where the only relationships that get to succeed are ones where someone dies before the other one or maybe they both die together in a love grasp like they’re on the fucking Titanic or Jin and Sun from Lost. That’s a shame because there are a lot of good relationships that end way before someone actually dies. Some good relationships just end because they were only meant for a brief glimmer. A Lisa Frank moment, if you will. Bright and beautiful and then gone.

A cynic might take all of these little moments, all of these failed relationships, and say that they are flawed. That they must have bad luck. That they can’t seem to catch a break. I say you should twist that narrative. Just think of how many amazing people you’ve already met. Just because it didn’t turn into whatever we think a real “relationship” is supposed to look like doesn’t mean it wasn’t a valid experience. This is how you feel less lonely. By making connections everywhere.

And I’m a huge asshole because it’s really easy for me to say this in la-la-la-la-laaaaaaa land because I have a relationship. And I know, should I be single, that I would be writing in to my own blog with discontent and a stomach ache and a weird heart-disorder because nothing in the world hurts more than feeling alone. Or not being able to have sex when you’re really, really sick of looking at your hand. But all I have are platitudes. You have to learn to be happy with your own company, somebody out there is gonna love you, you deserve the best. It’s all true but it doesn’t really help, does it?

Being busy is good. Going on dates is good. Going out with friends is good. I generally find the best place to meet a potential partner is through friends. They’re pre-vetted for you and it’s likely you have some things in common. But online dating doesn’t hurt, either. Neither does respectfully, and quickly, approaching someone in person. Why not package them all up into your ultimate dating guide? Anyone and everyone is a potential date!

Here’s the final gut-punch, though. It sure seems like we only find love when we’re not looking for it. So to be completely contrary, do all of the above, but don’t expect to find anything. Just expect to have a good time. If you can leave a date with a smile on your face – or a really, terrible story – I think that’s the definition of “working.” Maybe not working in that you leave with the love of your life, or really great sex, but it’s working nonetheless. And if your date senses “this person had fun with me” instead of “this person is literally dripping loneliness and self-hatred all over me I think my pores are clogged I need to go home and exfoliate” okay you’re probably better off, right?

Have a question about sex or love? Submit at www.suggestivetongue.com/ask and I’ll answer it on my blog. Or, try to, at least. 

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