Shh-do you Sext?

By Susanna Lee

I love sexting.  Honestly, no sarcasm, I absolutely love it.  Nothing happening on my phone makes me nearly as happy as getting some late night sexts from someone I love.  Ah, who am I kidding?  I love sexting anytime, day or night.  If sexts were food, I’d eat them until my stomach burst.  If sexts were a pair of jeans, I’d wear them until they fell apart at the seams.  If sexts were a…well, I can’t think of another cute analogy, but I think you get the idea. Those naughty little things make me tingle, and let me know that I’m on your mind in a very specific way, even when I’m not right in front of your face.  They convey desire, and we all like the feeling of being wanted.   Maybe its willful ignorance, but I just can’t understand why everyone doesn’t love them.

One of my closest friends hates sexting, so I asked why.  She said “It’s just creepy.”  To which I asked, “Even with someone you’re seeing?   How is it creepy to say sexy things to someone whose genitals you’ve had in your mouth?”   Then she got honest and to the heart of the matter, “Okay, fine, maybe it’s not creepy, per se, but I’m just not good at it and I don’t want to look like a moron.  I mean what if I say something dumb, and he shows his friends?”  And there it is.  There’s a difference between really disliking something, and just shying away from it out of fear of novice status embarrassment.   Sexting is like any other skill set, it takes dedication and practice to master.  I want to help you find more confidence in your sexting game, so you can relax and really enjoy it, and I’ve put together a few cheat codes to take some of the time off your learning curve.  The visual aids are re-creations of my own most glorious sexting mishaps, to illustrate the points made.

1. Warning shot before beaver shot!   Always, and I mean ALWAYS, send a words-only text first, in order to gauge the appropriateness of your lover’s situation before sending out those rockin’ tits.  I’m not saying don’t send a hot shot to someone at Sunday mass (in fact, I would encourage it), but you don’t want to send a sexy surprise to someone who’s in the middle of getting fired.  Or just had an accident, or at a funeral, etc… Avoid creating a negative association.  You don’t want your lover to think about getting rear ended by someone without insurance every time he or she sees your hot ass.

2. K.I.S.S.   Keep it sexy, silly!   You wouldn’t interrupt in-the-flesh sex to ask about dinner with your parents on Thursday, don’t do it via sext either.  Finish what you’ve started, then worry about stuff that happens fully clothed.   Also involved in keeping things hot is the language you choose to use.  A little babytalk, uttered in a sexy voice with some bats of the eyelashes may be your thing in the actual bedroom, but tone does not transfer to text.  In text, your widdle, teeny puss-puss is a big, giant bonerkiller (as that specific phrase would be in real life, too, I just couldn’t think of another because I’m not a babytalker).  If you don’t like the words commonly used for body parts, do a tiny bit of research and find ones you can use without cringing.  Watch kink, read erotica, even Google it, but use adult words for adult things.   Also, don’t put pressure on yourself to reinvent the wheel with sexting.  You don’t have to say something to them that no one’s ever said before; they aren’t grading you, or judging you on your originality, so relax, and keep the mood more Barry White than Buffalo Bill.  Also, allow for typos, no one wants to sext with a spelling/grammar diva.  Give your sweetheart a break, it’s very challenging to text with one hand and not much blood going to the brain.

3. Brevity is the soul of slit.  Send short enough texts that they can be read without extensive scrolling, or being broken up into multiple clumps.  We all know that iPhone to Android (and vice versa) texts won’t be one smooth message bubble, and sometimes they arrive out of order.  That builds frustration, not heat.

Morning. Cute woman in the bed with mobile phone

4. Patience, Grasshopper…  After you send that pic, allow time for the recipient to *fully appreciate* it.  There is a definite vulnerability that comes along with sexting, so it’s easy to freak out and imagine the worst when you send a for-your-eyes-only pic and don’t immediately hear back.  The minutes feel like hours, and the imagination can be quick to turn your sweet beloved into a villain out to do no good, forwarding your nudie pic to everyone in their phone.   They aren’t.  They are looking at your picture while they do things to themselves that they wish you were there to do.  Bigger picture advice though: Don’t sext (or sex) someone you don’t trust.

5. Check your recipient, check again, and then, check again, again.  No explanation needed.

All tips aside, here’s the bottom line:  In sexting, as with tactile sex, the hottest thing you can do is enjoy yourself without inhibition.  Your partner does not care about perfection, I promise.  They aren’t focused on your typos.  So stop worrying, put on your big-girl panties (or take them off, rather) and hit send.


Breaking through Body Issues with Burlesque

“Burlesque?  That’s just stripping with a women’s studies degree.”

That was what I said in 2004, during a radio interview in Dayton, Ohio.  I had never seen a burlesque show, knew nothing of the history, and just formed my opinions based on hater’s logic.  I knew that my husband, whom I’d grown to distrust in the 2 years that we’d been married (we were still in a getting-to-know-you period, since we ran to Vegas and hitched up 3 months after meeting – a mistake which I will fully dissect in another article entirely), was into the burlesque/pin-up style of girl, so I felt threatened by it.

See, I was more hardcore, I used my sexuality as a defense, my in-your-face promiscuity was how I proved that I was okay, that I was a confident, sexually liberated woman who didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought.  I figured that if I was sexual, I was sexy, and that there was no value in subtlety and nuance.  I didn’t understand how that was hot, I had no use for the tease.  There was no mystery with me, I thought that being aggressively sexual was the most direct way to get the validation that I needed to convince myself that I was strong and desirable, much easier than dealing with the issues that caused the doubt, shame, and fear that I denied having, as though I could fuck the past trauma out of my head.  But enough about the inner workings of my messy head, which I could go on about for days, back to burlesque!

Cut to October 2006.  I’d just left my husband and I’d never felt less desirable.  Over the course of our 4 year marriage, codependency had unwittingly turned me into his mommy-wife, and my usual methods of swimming in a sea of meaningless sex until I felt better wasn’t working, because I didn’t even have enough self-esteem left to lock down a random drunken one-night stand, previously my specialty.  I was looking through a community class catalogue, saw the listing for a burlesque dance class, and decided to take the class out of vindictive bitterness towards my ex.  Whatever means to an end though, right?

I fell in love immediately.  I wasn’t some peeler prodigy, I was ungraceful and had to fight feeling silly to make my body move the way I was being taught.  But no one made fun of me, no one was a star, or a bitch, or a diva.  There was a camaraderie among us, I felt like one of the group, not the weirdo loner, which was my usual role in any group of women.  There really were women of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds.  It was so refreshing to be in this supportive, fun environment, so I kept coming back, week after week, gaining more confidence with each class.  I practiced at home, and actually felt cute doing it.  Our teacher announced that we would have a show at the end of the session, so we’d all need to choose stage names, and songs for our solos.


Solo?  No.  I was okay with the group number, I could hide among my new friends and go unnoticed, I wouldn’t have my clunkiness and chunkiness on focused display.  But a solo?  Alone onstage, without my security blankets, nothing else to look at but me.  That was terrifying.  My words are my strong suit, comedy was my wheelhouse, not dancing sexily and silently, but everyone else was rising to the challenge, all these women who had the exact same amount of training and inexperience, we’d been in this together so far, so I had to do it.  I figured that if it went really badly, I never had to do it again, and could pretty easily avoid anyone who’d seen the debacle.  If I tanked, I could write jokes about it, and good or bad, I’d get something useful out of it.  So I went for it, choosing “Little Red Riding Hood” by the Meteors as the soundtrack to my anxiety.  I choreographed my novice moves, rehearsing in front of friends, asking my best friend, Justin, (who had extensive dance experience from doing theater in high school, as well as being gay) for extra help.  We smoked joints and practiced box-stepping, straddling chairs, making stage faces, and cobbled together my costume.

Burlesque dancer in golden dress

The night of the show seemed so far in the future, until it was 2 days away.  That’s when time started really flying.  I felt alternately excited and death-row-dreadful.  I’d been a professional performer for over a decade, and had NEVER felt anything close to these nerves.  Admitting my body issues to myself was unavoidable, because all my fears boiled down to them.  If I messed up my moves, I couldn’t rely on my standup to save me, nor could I be content that the audience would be mesmerized by just viewing the natural grace and beauty of my body, because I didn’t feel I had any of that.  I wasn’t what I thought of when I thought about what a stripper looked like.  Strippers were tight and compact, I was fleshy and spread out.  I figured that my physicality was not what attracted any of the men I’d managed to land.   My worst fears were of the audience looking away, or even heckling, when I exposed my unappreciated body.  I imagined some douchebag yelling “Put it on!!”, and the crowd laughing at me, not with me.  I readied myself for this, for what I knew logically to be an unlikely event, but felt emotionally convinced would come to pass.

The night of the show, my hands were shaking too much to put on my own huge, campy false eyelashes.  First was the group number, and it went well, though I was so deep in my own head about my upcoming shimmy to the gallows, that I barely noticed the energy and excitement of the crowd.  I changed costumes too fast, gave myself too much unoccupied time with which to freak out, and then…IT WAS TIME.

I heard my name, and felt my feet move me to the stage.  My body started going through the motions, and I was able to focus on that.  The moment of truth arrived, it was time to drop my skirt (more specifically, to slowly rip apart the velcro, tease with a bit of upper thigh/hip, turn around, slowly lower the skirt to ass-framing level, then drop it).  I don’t think I was even breathing.  Then came the noise.  The loud, loud noise.  The sound of people cheering, clapping, screaming, whistling, all of it hit me in the face at once, and I fed off of it like it was what I’d eaten my whole life.  I didn’t use my manufactured smile once.  Everything came off perfectly, and I finished and went backstage shaking from the adrenaline and emotional release, drowning in all the positive feedback.  I’ve never felt a sense of pride and accomplishment like that before, not even the first time I did standup.  It felt like a victory on multiple fields, and I celebrated it all night long (and I mean ALL NIGHT LONG, as I had found enough self-confidence from the evening to land the attention of a gentleman caller who was super hot, super complimentary, and even bought brunch the next day).

Over the next 9 years, I delved pretty deeply into burlesque, developing my own style of spoken-word stripteases, producing shows, running a troupe, performing in festivals, traveling the country (and beyond, I was honored to be a headlining performer and emcee of the first New Zealand Burlesque Fest) and even teaching, which was my favorite part of it all.  I felt better about myself the more I helped other women feel better about themselves, not just showcasing my own bravery in refuting the societal norms of acceptable beauty, but ushering other women into their own.  Helping along this revolution of self-acceptance truly healed me.  And all without a women’s studies degree.

Top 5 Tips for Giving A Great BJ

Everyone has special skills, things we take considerable pride in doing exceptionally well.  Maybe you make the perfect margarita, or can parallel park perfectly on the first try every time.  Not me, those particular examples are personal weaknesses of mine.  I used to add too much tequila, and scrape my hubcaps against the curb nine times out of ten.  I’ve gotten better though, by taking the advice of friends who excel at these things, and practicing until I achieve a functioning level of confidence and comfort with both tasks.  I’m proud of my progress, and so appreciative of the help given to me along the way, that I figured it’s time to pay it forward by sharing a little of my own knowledge.  My area of expertise?  Oral sex.  Fellatio, to be specific.  If head quality was currency, I would be rich as hell, the Steve Jobs of blowjobs.  I really suck (much to the delight of my partners), and I want you to, too.  But from the feedback I’ve gotten, it seems as though a lot of you are shy and scared of doing it wrong, or badly.  So here’s a few basic tips I’ve compiled to help you swallow your hangups and go down like a champ.

1. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

First and foremost, understand that unless you bite (without it being specifically requested), you’re doing fine.  Push aside any nervous or self-conscious worries.  Now, I don’t personally know most of your partners, but I absolutely guarantee that if they were given the option of getting a imperfect blowjob or getting no blowjob at all, the choice made will always be to get some sort of blowjob, and really, any sort of blowjob.  You don’t need pro tactics to rock this party, because the mere act of placing your mouth on your partner’s genitals is, by nature, loving and incredibly intimate.  Head is a hug that you give with your mouth.  We all know the difference in getting sincerely embraced by someone who loves us, and the ol’ forced grab-squeeze-release of someone who’d rather not be bothered.  Try to focus on the pleasure you’re giving, not whatever hangups might be lurking (however, if your partner’s hygiene is the hangup, perhaps suggest a little bit of bathtime-for-two fun).  If the act itself turns you so far off that the affection motivating it isn’t conveyed, it won’t be fun for anyone involved.

Sexy woman with young lover closeup indoor portrait desire


2. Eye Contact

The right amount is essential.  A few short glances is hot, but an extended, unblinking gaze is creepy (sex is not a staring contest, unless that’s a specific fetish you’re exploring).  The right kind is also important.  This is the only time in my entire life that I will ever endorse the wisdom of Tyra Banks when I tell you to SMIZE.  Smile with your eyes as you look up.  Make eye contact, smile with your mouth (as best you can with something in it, doesn’t have to be your big birthday party/just got a raise at work/spiteful selfie smile), then get back to the task at hand.  By doing this, you’re sending a sweet message of “Hey Captain, I’m handling things below deck, so take a load off, stand on the bow and just enjoy the view!”.

Desperately Seeking A Relationship Disaster

I’m a relationship expert.  I’ve had so many relationships, how could I not be?  I’ve had a ton of bad ones, which is where the majority of my expertise lies, and a few good ones that I’ve managed to transform into disasters.  Now, I know that many of you are in solid relationships, the kind that make you feel loved, valued, and respected.  Spending your time enjoying life, doing things that expand your human experience, instead of worrying constantly, and tunnel-visioning everything onto your unrequited beloved?  Girl, I don’t know how you live like that!  So here’s a few tips, direct from my wealth of experience, to help you take your awesome pairing straight into the trashcan.  Now, I’ve used male pronouns, because my personal experience to this point has been with men, but these tips work with any gender and/or sexuality, so please plug in whichever words work best for you.

1. Care about Facebook:

Okay, when I want to tank a relationship, this is usually where I’ll start. I like to begin by throwing logic to the wind, and taking everything personally.  I consider every woman who likes his posts/tweets/photos a threat.  I’ll assume the worst about all situations, and expect that he’s probably sending dirty Facebook messages and dick-pics to all of them (to be a tiny bit fair to me, this fear is actually based on true history).  Now, you may think, “Hey, but I’m not doing that with the guys that like my stuff, why would he?”, so again, I’ll remind you, you must throw logic aside if you want to turn something you trust into something you fear, and what kind of maniac would rather spend their nights enjoying their partner, friends or self, when they could be nanny-watching another adult?

2. Listen to gossip:

After I see suspect things on social media, I like to escalate the story I’ve created in my head by actively seeking out sources of non-factual information that will make me feel even worse. Now, like my first tip, this one also requires shunning logic.  I never stop to think about the accuracy of second, third and further-hand information.  I forget all about the lessons we’ve learned from playing the telephone game, that the truth gets convoluted more and more with each mouth that chews on it and spits it back out.  Gossip is like a diamond, the bigger and more sparkly it is, the more the person possessing it wants to show it off.  I like to rely on gossip and social media assumptions instead of direct communication.  Having a conversation about my feelings and fears requires me to be vulnerable, which is frightening. Validating my suspicions with fiction leads to anger, which, when it feels justified, masquerades as strength.

3. Dig in:

If I feel like my sweetheart is pulling away, I like to really dig in deeper and hold on tighter. If one is holding a cat that doesn’t want to be held, letting it go will have far less painful results than squeezing tighter, but damnit, if I let go, I won’t be holding something soft and fuzzy anymore.  I like to think that if I can just hold on, eventually that cat will stop panicking and feeling smothered and really start enjoying my tight grip, and not scratch my face to ribbons.  What a Catch-22.  Now, if  I was more concerned with my own well-being, maybe I’d see this, instead, as tug-of-war and realize that if the other team is pulling away harder than I’m pulling towards, and I continue to hang on tight, I will only end up sitting in the mud, alone, with rope burns on my hands.

Vaginal Kung Fu

Warning: This is not for everyone. Seek out an expert if you are interested in learning.

There’s three things I’m afraid of: a mass bird attack, a mass zombie attack, and having a lazy pussy.  I realize that the first 2 are irrational fears, but muscle atrophy is a real thing, and the reason behind years of obsessive kegeling on my part. I’m not ashamed of it.  I think everyone has a vanity issue, I have one friend who will not leave her house with chipped nail polish, and another who is a slave to her eyebrows, carrying not one, but two tweezers with her at all times (I can’t imagine the emergency situation which would require double-fisted plucking in public, but I respect her preparedness).  When I was a teenager, I heard an undoubtedly exaggerated, and terrifying story about a woman whose uterus prolapsed, just fell right out of her body.  Like most urban legends, there was a disclaimer on the end of it…”she could’ve prevented this tragedy, if only she’d done her kegels…”, and from that day forward, I was a devotee of the ol’ clench-and-release.

We’ve all read articles about it, where doctors and other sexual health experts promote the benefits of strong vaginal (PC, pubococcygeus) muscles, explain how to kegel (tighten the muscles you’d use to stop your flow while urinating, hold for a few seconds, release, and repeat about a million times), and then tell you how easy it is to find the time to do it.  Because it’s such a discrete exercise, you can do it anywhere: behind the wheel in traffic, waiting in line at the grocery store, sitting with your family in church.  Anywhere you can daydream, you can kegel.  And that’s what I do.  It’s become something I don’t even think about, I just catch myself doing.  So when I was offered the opportunity to take a class on vaginal weightlifting for free, I jumped on it.

It was called Vaginal Kung-Fu, and from what I’d heard, was a sort of super kegel.  A kegel with actual weights involved.  But because the vagina has no hands to grip a barbell (mine doesn’t, anyway), the weighted objects are held in a small pouch, connected to a string, which is tied through a hole in the middle of a jade egg, which is held inside the vagina by activating the PC muscles.  It sounds a little complicated, and thus intimidating, and to make it more so, I was to do this in front of tv cameras.

See, my friend is a producer on a popular tv show, and his friend produces another show for the same network, which focused on unique jobs, one of which was teaching this class.  In order to film the segment, they needed to find women to take the class, who wouldn’t be put off by the thought of millions of people watching.  Being a comedian, exhibitionist, and charmingly shameless weirdo, I take any opportunity to be seen en masse.  I never turn down tv, regardless of what it entails.  Play a fake bride, getting treated like tattooed trash by some Beverly Hills wedding dressmaker who could’ve been Methuselah’s older sister, for a reality show only seen in Canada?  Sure.  Be a fake defendant on a daytime court show that general viewing public doesn’t know is fake?  Hell yes!  Anything.  If it’s on tv, I will do it.  Now, when the producer explained it all to me, he said that if I wanted, I could fake it, with a string tied around my waist, instead of actually having to insert the jade egg, but I didn’t want to miss the actual experience.  Given the opportunity to have fun vs pretend to have fun, I will choose the actual authentic experience.  And really, I’ve had tons of things and people inside me who weren’t worth half the value of a jade egg, so I was totally down for the real deal.  No faking it, I’m a method actor all the way.

The Naked Truth

One of the most common anxiety dreams that people have involves being the only naked person amongst the clothed masses, commonly at work or school.  In dreams, nudity is symbolic of vulnerability, being exposed for what or who we really are; unable to conceal our true nature.  I think this stems from the conditioning of culture, where we are taught that we must cover our natural state and avert our eyes from the flesh of our brethren, to be considered civilized and decent.  To be naked and unashamed is rare, and I say THANK GOD.

I’m kidding, calm down.  It’s just that I’ve spent years working nude, and have to say that if nudity was commonplace, if there was no air of cool mystery to it, if it wasn’t something that the majority of you found terrifying, I would’ve had a much more difficult time paying my rent without wearing a company-issued polo shirt and name-badge combo, and I’d probably still think there was validity to the idiom about no food tasting as good as being thin feels.  I’ve been a nude figure model and a stripper for years, and being professionally naked taught me more about the realities of confidence and attraction than the entire published run of Cosmopolitan ever could.  And now, I’d like to do my part to reduce your birthday-suit butterflies by sharing a few of the nuggets I’ve picked up during my time unclothed about how to feel better about being naked while not alone.

Perception is 9/10ths of the Law.

To begin, you must understand that our brains, filled with the sum total of our life experiences, are what attach feelings, thoughts, and judgments to those images that we take in with our eyes.  So though we may all view the same person, place, or thing, we all see something different.  My stripper friend, Tiffany, once quoted Anais Nin to me:  “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.”

Size and shape are nothing until we’re told how to feel about them, and with all of the mixed messages fed to us from all of the various sources (parents, friends, media and advertisers), body image is, at best, a clusterf*** of chaos.  With weight distribution, there is no baseline.  You wear 130 lbs. differently than I do, which is differently than my cousin does.

You can never control how another person sees you, because you can never control the experiences of their past, so it’s futile to spend your time worrying or being upset about it.  I learned this as a figure model at the Kansas City Art Institute.  I’d walk around the room on my breaks, mind blown by the differences that I saw on the easels.  One person’s drawing of a mountain of fleshy curves was another’s detailed shading of taut skin stretched over protruding hipbones.  The only person whose perception you can rely on, or even productively care about, is your own.

Yoga Sex vs Drunk Sex

Yoga makes sex even more awesome than booze does.  Already, this entire article sounds like a lie.  I mean, when I come out of the gate with such a grand unbelievable statement like that, it surely must set off your smarty-pants alarm.  With all the things alcohol does to help sex, lowering the inhibitions, acting as a social lubricant, allowing the logic center of your brain enough of a stay-cation that you can bend your perception of reality into pretending that the guy from the barstool next to yours, who is currently flailing around behind you like a Muppet, is the ex you still love…it seems a little incredulous to think that there’s anything legal that could possibly do more to benefit your sex life.  I get that. I too was skeptical.  But it’s been proven true, and here’s a few reasons why:

1. Stress kills the libido, and chaos creates stress.

Yoga calms your mind through attention to breathing.  Smooth, even breaths naturally bring tranquility to the brain.  Our drunk minds aren’t calm they’re just not functioning at 100%, giving you less than your normal amount of chaos to handle.  And sure, that sounds great, but think of your mind as a classroom full of kids.  Getting drunk is basically filling them with birthday cake, root beer, and pixie stix, and letting them bounce off the walls.  Now, of course, a few of them are going to puke and have to go to the nurse’s office, leaving you with fewer to deal with, which seems easier to keep control over; but just because there’s fewer of them doesn’t mean they’ll be able to focus on math any better.  Regulated breathing, however, is like teaching those kids manners and discipline, giving them the tools they need to be able to sit at their desks and read quietly.  Now, I’m certainly no teetotaler, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional sugar bomb, but having the baseline of tranquility makes for a way smoother school year.

2. Being fully present makes for greater enjoyment of an experience.

In yoga, we link our breath with our movements, creating a connection between them, keeping us present in what we’re doing, which, with a regular practice, extends into our lives beyond the mat.  Staying present and attentive during sex lets us fully experience what’s going on, notice what feels good and what doesn’t, which brings us a greater awareness of our own sexual desires, needs, and wants.  I won’t speak for you, but when I get drunk, it’s usually with the goal (conscious or subconscious) of disconnecting, taking a break from reality, and on more than one occasion, I’ve tried something new in bed while drunk, and woken up the next day with no recollection of how I felt about it, beyond a sore muscle or aching orifice, which usually makes me only more leery of trying said sexual feat again.

3. On the note of sore muscles, I’ll move into the myriad of physical ways yoga helps sex.

To begin, there’s flexibility and strength.  A regular yoga practice increases that power pair, which helps us be more comfortable in various sexual positions.  For example, a greater range of motion in the hips allows for a wider leg-spread in missionary.  Stronger quads and core lets you enthusiastically stay on top longer.  Downward dog leads to happier doggie-style.  And having more physical stamina in general never hurt anyone (longer rolls in happier hay).  Yoga also improves our circulation, increasing blood flow to the entire body, pink parts included!  Increasing the blood flow enlivens our tissue and nerve endings, making us more sensitive to the tickles, tingles, and other tremendous titillations that come from my personal favorite of our national pastimes.

Yes, being drunk can also increase flexibility, but temporarily, by numbing pain receptors, which explains my sore muscles the next day. The alcohol-related lowered inhibitions led to being careless with preparations, explaining the aching orifices.  I’ve never had more stamina when I’m drunk. And I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I’ve passed out during drunken sex on more than one occasion.

I think that in my attempt to draw comparisons, I may sound really judgmental, so let me clear that up: Since the first time I paired drinking and fucking, I’ve loved drunken sex.  But in a very in-the-moment, life-of-spontaneous-adventure sort of way.  Yoga has just allowed me to have more complete, lasting appreciation of my sexuality.  So I’m not saying we should stop living our beautiful, wild lives, I’m merely encouraging the addition of a bit of balance to the engaging madness that makes us the unique treasures that we are. More mind-blowing orgasms, less face-melting hangovers?  I’ll absolutely drink to that, namaste!

Trusting Your Instinct

I’ve never been one to trust my gut, follow my instinct, or listen to that little voice inside, and that’s how I found myself, at 26, saying “I do” in front of an official justice of the peace, the greatest Elvis impersonator I’ve ever seen, and a man I’d known for 3 months.  I didn’t marry an Elvis impersonator, I married a man I’d known for only 3 months, total.  I thought I was being romantic and carefree, disregarding societal norms and traditions.  As someone who’d had a million one-night/few-night stands, but only a couple adult relationships, I thought that the hardest part of being married was finding someone to marry me.  So when the opportunity came up, I grabbed it and ran, forcing solutions to any possible roadblock between me being alone, and me having legal proof that I was loveable.

At the time we started dating/got engaged, he hadn’t paid his rent for several months, so I insisted that he move in with me, rent free.  It’s not like having him there would raise the rent I was already covering, so what did it matter?  It was a small price to pay for the validation of being an integral part of someone’s basic needs being met.  He was unemployed, and couldn’t afford the rings, so I bought them.  Did you catch that?  I BOUGHT MY OWN WEDDING RING.  I also used my accumulated airline miles to cover our flights to/from Vegas, where I also paid for the actual wedding.  If that’s not romance, what is?

You’re probably thinking “Damn, the sex must’ve been mind-blowing, to turn you out like that!”, and I regret to tell you that the sex was nothing more than garden-variety.  It was fine, just fine.  Not great, not OMG, just fine sex, nothing to write home about.  But he was willing to only have it with me, and I thought that his lack of quantity of partners meant more than quality.

Now I wasn’t a total pushover, I did require him to get a job before we took our vows, which he kept until we’d been married for 2 weeks.  After that, he was unemployed for quite a while, long enough for me to max out my credit cards taking care of us, including keeping our social life active, because I really enjoyed spending time with our friends.  His and mine, they all got along, and we had great nights hanging out at our apartment with everyone, big spontaneous parties that were fun, truly fun.  I guess I was drunk so much that I didn’t realize that those were really the only fun times.  My marriage was like the boat ride in Willy Wonka: it started off exciting, but quickly became a seemingly inescapable nightmare.

Here’s the thing: I could’ve avoided the whole mess you’re about to read, if only I’d listened to my gut.  See, the night before the wedding, we got into a huge argument.  We were in our hotel, about to go gambling, something set him off, and all of a sudden, we were screaming at each other.  Right there in the hotel suite, in front of our wedding clothes and everything.  I left the room, heading down to the snack bar to catch my breath, to get some air that wasn’t hanging heavy with anger.  I was sitting alone at a big, round table, when I heard a voice say “Don’t do this, don’t marry him.”  It was a voice inside my head, but so calm and clear that it sounded like someone else.  I indulged in considering that option, and felt a wave of peace wash over me that was quickly chased away by worries and but-thens.   “But then I’ll have to admit that everyone who questioned us was right.”,  “But then I’ll have to give back the wedding gifts, and we’ve already opened them, and I don’t have the money to pay people back.” One friend had given us a bedding set from our wedding registry, and we’d already had sex on it, making it unreturnable, I assumed.  I chose ease over instinct, and here’s what happened:

After he quit his job, he very, very leisurely searched for another one.  By “leisurely”, I mean that he mostly spent his days playing video games, and circling a few want-ads in the paper.  I had to find another part-time job to cover our expenses, because what I brought in as a touring comedian and part-time artist’s model wasn’t enough to cover the living expenses for two.  I could easily take care of myself, but now I was married, and responsible for the welfare of another adult as well.  After several months, he landed another temp job.  Then lost it.  Then got another, keeping it for nearly 4 months before declaring it BS, and walking off mid-shift.  He then decided that he had burned bridges with all the temp agencies in our town, and since I was insistent that he financially contribute, our only real option was to move to a remote town in Oregon, where he would apprentice for his uncle as a cabinet maker until he had the skills to support us wherever we wanted to live.

We sold our cars, and I gave up my dream apartment to go live in a truckstop-town full of secrets, a Mayberry on meth.  His uncle was “sober”, meaning that he smoked a lot of weed, but only occasionally had a beer or 6.  I’m not blaming the weed or booze for his laziness, but the cabinets never got made, and our situation did not improve. There were no jobs for him to get, after he failed the drug test for the one supermarket in town that had an opening. I guess I’d never known actual misery before, and being aware of that, and the impossibility of getting out of it all only made it worse.  After having my life threatened by a confused and angry tweeker who wandered into the porn store where I was a cashier for $20 a day, 3 days a week (our only source of income, btw) we moved to a bigger city. My husband quickly got an actual full-time job, but our relationship never flourished, or even recovered to the level of previous discontent.  I tried several times to end it, but, not wanting to repeat what he saw as the mistakes of his 5-times married father, he refused divorce.  Whenever I’d suggest it, he’d pull out the dramatics, one time actually throwing himself on the ground and repeatedly punching himself in the head.

I was afraid of his rage, his yelling, I remember being on the phone with him while I was on the road working, him loudly shouting accusations about why I hadn’t called him sooner after the show, and being scared to move, scared to sit up in my hotel room bed for fear he would somehow know, and it would somehow make him yell more, even though he was hundreds of miles away, not actually physically present.

After a few years of taking my vows seriously, and respecting the sanctity of our marriage, I resigned myself to the idea that it was just easier to stay married, but spend as much time as possible away from home pretending I wasn’t, than it was to get out of it.

Eventually we broke up, while I was out of town.  I cried all the time during my marriage, but not once over the death of it, never regretting the end at all.  To this day, the only thing I do regret was not listening to the voice I heard in Vegas, that of my small but clear instinct, which could’ve saved me 4 years and 4 million tears.


Can a Relationship Be Recycled?

When it comes to bottles, cans, and men, I like to recycle.  I’ve believed that most of my relationships are like the 6-Million Dollar Man, they can be rebuilt, made stronger.  After a breakup, I usually leave the door open a crack, allowing for second, third, and a thirty-seventh chance at happiness with the same person.  I don’t think it’s a bad idea, though it doesn’t always end up being a good one.  But since I’m a pretty complicated combination of picky and eccentric, I like to really exhaust the possibilities with one person before I begin the arduous task of breaking in someone new.  Just like with a new therapist, the process of explaining myself, making someone understand what makes me tick, is long and hard, so I like to do it as infrequently as possible.  Now, I don’t believe that all relationships should be reconciled, abusive ones should be left as a smoking pile of ashes, but if you truly feel like your life is better with that special person in it romantically, there’s nothing wrong with exploring the possibility of a reunion. However, there’s a few things to do before jumping right back in, that help to set you up for as much success as possible (which varies situationally, of course.)

  1. Take an honest self-assessment.

    Ask yourself why you want to get back together.  Do you genuinely love and miss being coupled with this person, or are you just trying to avoid the painful process of grieving and healing?  Do you want to journey towards happiness together, or do you just not want the other person to move on before you have?  Think long and hard about whether you want this specific person, or just someone, anyone, to end the loneliness.  There’s no sense in getting back together just to be miserable.  A bad relationship will not cure loneliness, it usually just makes it worse.  No one likes being the single rider in line at the amusement park, but it’s easier to enjoy the ride alone than it is when you’re shoved in the roller coaster car next to some jerk who’s all elbows and armpits.  And think hard about whether or not the intimacy is even what you want with your estranged beloved.  The nature of a relationship is always open to evolution.  Do you need them in your bed, or would you be happy with them on the opposite side of your couch?   Imagine the person in a number of different roles, as a platonic friend, casual sex partner, dog walker, writing partner, or distant memory.  The great part about being independent is that no one else gets to dictate what makes you feel good, and it’s okay to be content with whatever you come up with that feels right.

  2. Talk it out.

    A relationship involves more than just you, so determining if it can be rebuilt isn’t exclusively your call.  Talk about everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, and do so with an open heart and mind.  You may not hear what you want to hear, but it’s important to be open to receiving the truth.  Discuss why it ended, and if those reasons are ones that can be worked through together, or ones that will recur and explode again.  Hash out what each of your ideal situations are, and if they’re ones that can actually mesh together.

  3. Build it together.

    Rebuilding a healthy relationship requires effort from both parties. When only one person works at it, it sets up an unfair power dynamic, putting the person who exerts no effort in the position of queen/king, and the other as a servant.  No one is exempt, and regardless of the reasons for the breakup, there’s work for everyone to do, even if it’s just finding forgiveness (which is actually the hardest thing for most people to do).  Be accountable for your part in it all, don’t refute the other person’s feelings, and be aware of whether or not they are extending you the same courtesy and kindness.  A strong relationship is born from a foundation of respect and trust, not denial and blame-shaming.

  4. This is new, go slow.

    Treat this as a new relationship, because that’s what it is.  Even if it feels like just a new chapter in the same book, it isn’t.  Breakups are periods of grieving, and grief changes us.  You are not the same person you were when you first got together with your partner.

  5. Take care of YOU. Pay close attention to how you feel at all times.

    Keep the communication open, and don’t be afraid to change your mind, if you realize that it actually isn’t what you want.  You truly are the only person you’re bound to for your entire life, so give yourself and your emotional health and security first priority.  For a machine to run most effectively, all parts must be in good working order.  You are responsible for keeping up with how the YOU component is functioning, so do what you need to do in order to keep your gears greased and turning.

Giving a relationship another chance is a beautiful and difficult feat, but so is self-preservation.  Above any other tips anyone could give is this: never let the former compromise the latter.



The Other Virginity: To Be or Not to Be

“If you’re confused, I’ll just say that it’s the most common one to be kept the longest (by non-Catholics).”

My parents never had “the talk” with me.  We never discussed sex, not the technical how-to, nor the philosophical meaning.  They were busy, preoccupied with their own chaos, so I gathered my information about it as I went along, from books and friends and friend’s older brother’s porn collections..  I figured out what I needed to know, but I didn’t realize that virginity was a thing that some people save for true love, or some semblance thereof, until I only had one virginal penetration point left.  You know the one…if you’re confused, I’ll just say that it’s the most common one to be kept the longest (by non-Catholics).   Now, since I am a true romantic at heart, I thought the idea of saving something for true love was really sweet, and decided to save my anal virginity for someone special.

For years after making that decision, it never came up.  I’m not sure if that’s because it was the 90’s, and backdoor play didn’t really come into vogue focus until post-millennium, or because I was mostly sleeping with guys after last call, who were too drunk to do anything that required effort (bc any drunken fool can fall into an open vagina, but a lady’s bum requires a considerable amount more finesse).  Then, when I was 25, I fell in love.  However, it was with a man who was…gifted…with very, very large equipment.  So I rethought my plan, and decided to wait until marriage, thinking that if this guy would be the one, I’d have an entire lifetime to work up to the feat, and if this man was not to be my betrothed, whoever was would surely have less manhood to work with, making the special act less intimidating.

Tinder – The First 48 Hours.

I’m kind of an insular socializer.  I tend to stick to the group of people I know, occasionally branching out to the people they know, but mostly just staying in my comfort zone.  But here I am, heartbroken for the millionth time, same guy as always, same story, too.  I know that the only way to change patterns is to actually do things differently, so I decided to try out Tinder.  I have a ton of friends who use it, and though none of them have formed solid relationships with the guys they’ve met, they’ve at least gone out with new people and gotten unstuck from their ruts, which is exactly what I need.  Now I’m not totally new to Tinder, but I’m pretty close.  I’ve had it on my phone 5 times, 4 of which ended in app deletion within 10 minutes.  It just hit me wrong, when the app would ask if I’d like to “keep playing” after I matched with someone, it always felt weird. The admission that the hunt for intimacy is just a game makes me sad, and then I’d feel bad for swiping left so quickly, so much so, that I’d lose any recognition that all these faces blurring together were actual people sharing the same city, sidewalks, air as me.  I thought it wasn’t fair of me to deny the possibility of a connection with someone just because I found their photo on a boat or mountain, or crouched in front of a graffiti wall (as though they had anything to do with it) embarrassing, and I’ve always deleted the app almost as fast as I’ve installed it, never giving it any sort of actual chance to grow on me.  So I decided to commit to 48 hours on Tinder, and reply to any and all messages I receive.  Here’s the diary of my first 48:

Hour 1:

I’ve downloaded the app. Can’t bring myself to open it. I don’t want to find a date on my phone, I want to find one face to face.  Maybe I don’t even want to find one at all.

Hour 2:

Ugh. Why does it have to say my age? I hate this. Changed my profile pics. Hard to find the right ratio of good-weird, cats to tits..

Hour 6:

Opened the app to find that someone “superliked” me. Closed the app, took a Xanax.  Didn’t realize “superliking” was a thing, that’s a pretty bold claim to make.

Hour 8:

Reopened it. Left swiping like there’s a pot of gold at the end. Dude in a business suit sitting in full lotus position? Left fucking swipe. Cop with tattoos superliked me? I hate this. Guy on a boat, guy on a mountain, guy on a jet ski proudly wearing wrap around shades, another guy on a boat, and another. All left swiped. And now they won’t show me any more matches. They say I have to swipe on someone to see more matches. Maybe if you gave me ANY acceptable choices, but this has been shit so far.

Hour 12:

My phone tells me I have a new superlike. I throw my phone.

Hour 12.25:

Curiosity is killing me. So many new superlikes, none of them fuckable. I swipe right on a guy who says he likes dark humor, and that nothing’s off limits. We match, whaddya know. I’m not going to reach out first, I’m not at all invested or intrigued, I just don’t want the machine to make me stop. Keep letting me play mystery date!!!

Hour 16:

Two bulging handfuls of matches, no messages yet.  I’m okay with this.  I’m finding it kind of therapeutic to embrace my pettiness without consequence, mocking the photos with wild abandon.  Doubting loudly one’s age, another one’s actual blood relation to the child on his lap, yet another one’s sincerity in general.  Score one point for the hidden benefits of this terrible, terrible social experiment.