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18th September 2014

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How (and Where) Do You Blog?

Lately I’ve been fascinated with writers’ and bloggers’ daily work routines, workspaces, and anything and everything that helps them Get Stuff Done. (I’m reading The New New Journalism and it’s full of info like this, FYI! You might like it if you’re similarly geeky.)

I thought I’d make a survey that other bloggers can copy and paste into their blog and answer the questions themselves. Please do! I’d love to hear how and where you work. If you do the survey, how ‘bout hashtagging it on Twitter with #HowIBlog so we can find it more easily?

And now, without further ado…

Do you have a workspace? What does it look like?

See above. I recently got a proper desk for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE (?!); previously I had always worked from bed, coffee shops, or with my laptop sitting on the kitchen table or on my lap while I sat in any random spot of my choosing. Now I have an actual area in which to work, and the exhilaration is intense!

I keep a variety of pens, markers and highlighters in a Museum of Sex mug that says “Sex makes me thirsty” in cute script. I have a black woven basket full of journalism reference books and all the other books I’m supposed to read this semester. Right next to my computer, I keep a to-do list that’s categorized into sections (each class I’m taking is a section, and “blog/writing” is its own category). I also keep two index cards, one for blog post ideas and one for story ideas I plan on eventually pitching to magazines, websites, etc.

There are lots of extra notebooks and index cards in my desk drawers so I’ll always have paper to quickly grab if I need to make a note of an idea. There’s a small bulletin board over the desk that I’ve loaded up with images that inspire me and make me happy (e.g. pictures of my current crush, my friends, and myself when I looked my cutest). And because I’m ultra new-age-y, I’ve also got a small collection of crystals that are said to enhance writerly powers. (Incase you’re wondering, they are as follows: sodalite for inner peace and endurance, carnelian for energy and humor, tiger eye for confidence and creativity, chalcedony for dissipating negative energy, rhodochrosite for compassion and creativity, jade for love and wealth, kyanite for tranquility and intuition, black tourmaline for luck and happiness, and citrine for wealth and clarity. Phew!)

Where do you go to look for ideas? Where do your ideas come from?

I read the news and keep an eye on social media, where I follow lots of folks who work and write in the same field as me. I subscribe to a few Reddit subforums that deal heavily or exclusively with sex, so new ideas and concepts are often brought to my attention there. I read books, articles and websites about sex. I spend a lot of time thinking about sex, journaling about it, and talking to friends and family about it, all of which brings up new things I might not have otherwise thought of.

What’s the process you go through to turn an idea into a finished post?

When I first get an idea, and I think it’s a good one, I write it down on my little ongoing blog ideas index card if I don’t have time to work on it right away or if I feel I need to think about it and flesh it out more before I get started on it. Then I mull it over for a few days or weeks, and usually the idea becomes more fully formed the more that I think about it. Sometimes I have epiphanies in my sleep, or while doing something mundane like washing my body in the bath or walking to class, because the repetitive motion kicks my creative brain into gear.

Sometimes, if I like an idea but can’t seem to unify it in my head, I’ll run it by a friend and see what they have to say about it. Explaining an idea out loud can help make it more coherent, and my smart, sex-positive friends always have interesting suggestions and perspectives.

If, however, I feel like an idea is ready to be made into a post right away, and I have the time to do it, I get started immediately. (This post was one of those!)

How long does it take you to write a post once you’ve got the idea?

I’ve always been a pretty fast writer – it’s one of my saving graces at journalism school, actually, where time management looms large – so I can get a post done in 45 minutes to an hour, most times. After that, I edit it, have a look at the preview of how it’ll appear when it’s on my blog’s homepage, make sure everything is A-OK, and then hit publish (or queue).

Reviews can take me a bit longer because sometimes I’ll get halfway through a review and realize I’ve forgotten to test certain functions or uses of the toy, and need to do additional testing before finishing the post.

How do you prepare your work environment (and yourself) to create maximum productivity and focus?

If I have the time and it’s feasible for me, I like to have a massive caffeinated drink before and during my blog work. Caffeine really helps stimulate my creativity and it gets me very excited about whatever I’m working on. Sometimes I’ll schlep my laptop to a coffee shop to work, partly so I’ll have close access to coffee and partly because the bustling atmosphere helps me focus. (Coffitivity is a useful tool for replicating this effect at home, if you’re interested!)

If I’m at my desk at home, I like to put on music while I work. Usually I go for something instrumental and minimally distracting, like Chris Thile playing Bach on the mandolin or the string quartet tribute to Death Cab For Cutie. Sometimes I open up sound effect websites, like the aforementioned Coffitivity or Rainy Mood, and either layer them with music or just listen to them alone.

I like my desk to be relatively clear when I work, so I can focus. Any clutter must be beautiful/inspiring clutter.

My “writing clothes” have to be super comfortable so they don’t distract me. In the summertime I wore a lot of oversized tank tops (I bought mine in a unisex size large so they’re basically dresses on me) because they’re comfy and unrestrictive, but now that it’s getting colder, you’ll more often find me writing in sweaters, leggings and shearling slippers. Basically anything that allows me to focus on my thoughts and my words instead of my body. And ideally something that allows for quick genital access if need be; wink wink.

What daily or regular practices do you do to improve your writing?

I am a huge fan of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way books, and in particular, the morning pages exercise she suggests. I don’t always have the time or energy to keep up with my daily morning pages, but when I do, I find that I’m so much more creative, decisive, and productive. It’s truly astonishing.

I write in a journal almost every day, just recording what happened in my life and how I feel about it, and I think that practice has improved my writing enormously, simply because the more you write, the better you get. Putting feelings into words can be a particularly challenging task, so in some ways, writing about sex toys feels like a walk in the park after that!

I also make a habit of reading books on writing (Bird by Bird and The Elements of Style are two recent ones I’ve enjoyed) and making sure to read a fuckton of other people’s writing – not just in the genre I write for (primarily sex-related nonfiction), but in lots of other genres too. The more you read, the better you write.

I also like to go for long, thoughtful walks – another Julia Cameron recommendation. If I’m stuck and can’t seem to “give birth to” a post or article (for lack of a better phrase), a walk often unsticks my brain. Sometimes I just keep walking until the issue resolves itself, even if that means I go for a longer walk than I normally would. Divine inspiration always seems to strike eventually.

What rules (if any) do you always follow when you write? What rules (if any) do you break?

I follow spelling and grammar rules to the best of my ability, unless I’m breaking them purposely to achieve a particular effect.

I always try to make my first sentence interesting and attention-grabbing. It’s my journalistic background.

I hold myself to a very high standard when it comes to being non-judgmental and anti-oppressive. I do my best to make sure my posts don’t contain anything that could make someone feel shitty about themselves, whether that’s due to feeling shamed for something they like in bed or feeling excluded based on their identity or anything else.

In reviews, I often break the “rule” that you have to include a plethora of technical information about a toy, like how it charges, how long the charge lasts, what the toy’s buttons or controls are like, how to clean and care for the toy’s material, etc. I tend to only include that information if it’s notable and I want to comment on it for one reason or another. I figure folks can always Google for that information and they’ve come to my blog to hear what I think about how the toy feels.

What other writers (of any genre or medium) do you admire, and why?

In the sex blogging realm: Epiphora for her hilarious and inventive descriptions of sex toys and their sensations. Lilly for her well-researched and sometimes delightfully ranty posts. Redhead Bedhead because her blog is a mishmash of mental, emotional, and physical approaches to sexuality (which is kind of what I try to do here, too). Emily Nagoski because she is soooo non-judgmental and her approach is scientific but compassionate.

In the world of nonfiction: I love Rachel Rabbit White's sex journalism. (I actually interviewed her for a first-year journalism school project where we had to talk to a journalist we admire. I was so shy and starstruck but she was very sweet to me.) I like Augusten Burroughs' dark, biting wit and interesting way of looking at the world. I love Gala Darling's bubbly, carefree tone and her take on self-love.

Fiction: J. K. Rowling and Veronica Roth (young adult fiction is hard and they get it right). Will Ferguson (hilarious, but dark and deep sometimes too). Emma Donoghue (read Room; trust me on this one). Stephen King (a true, great storyteller; I’m obsessed with The Stand and Under the Dome).

Other genres: I dig poetry by Charles Bukowski and Richard Brautigan. Stephen Sondheim is the best lyricist I know of, living or dead.

So? Are you going to answer these questions on your own blog? Make sure to use the #HowIBlog hashtag if you tweet your post!

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8th September 2014

Post with 8 notes

Sex Writing 101: Common Mistakes

I’m a journalist by trade, which means I’m a language nerd. Ask any J-schooler for a list of their pet peeves and I can guarantee at least half of them will be language-related. It’s just the way we are.

I used to be a review editor at a certain unethical sex toy site that shall not be named, and because I encountered the same mistakes every single day to the point of wanting to smash my head on my desk, I wrote a post for the website’s discussion forum outlining a few common errors I saw in reviews. I received a message from one of the moderators, basically telling me to cease and desist because it wasn’t my place to give writers suggestions on how to write.

Well, this blog is my place to do as I please, and today what I please is to list some common mistakes made by sex writers and bloggers. Let me know if you’re into the idea of more posts on sex writing, because I’ve got plenty of thoughts to share.

Without further ado, here are some frequent problems in sex writing…

1. Come vs. cum.

This one drives me fucking crazy, in part because it’s sort of ambiguous whether or not it actually is a mistake. Language is ever-evolving (a fact that someone always inevitably reminds me of whenever I complain about the misuse of the word “literally”), so it’s not technically incorrect to use the word “cum” as a verb or a noun in sexual contexts. Some dictionaries even mention that connotation of the word.

That said, I still think it looks incredibly unprofessional, like it originated from a 13-year-old’s MSN chat log or poorly spell-checked smutty fanfiction. So while it may not be a mistake to use the word “cum,” I think you should consider it carefully before you do it.

2. Discreet vs. discrete.

If you’re talking about sex toys or sex acts, “discreet” is probably the word you’re looking for. It means “modestly unobtrusive; unostentatious.” In other words, if your sex toy is discreet, your mom might be able to spot it sitting on the coffee table and not recognize it as a sex toy. Or she might be able to sit in the next room while you’re using the toy and not have any idea you’re using it.

"Discrete" means "apart or detached from others; separate; distinct." You could say that a vibrator has seven discrete functions, which is to say that each of those functions is separate and different from the others. It’s not a word that would come up too often in sex writing generally, but hey, now you know.

3. Hyphens in lists.

In sex writing contexts, this tends to come up when you’re talking about lube, just because there are a lot of hyphens in names of lube types. Water-based, silicone-based, oil-based. See? Hyphens galore.

If you’re listing a bunch of different lube types for whatever reason and you want to make the phrase a bit shorter and less clunky, you can do it as follows: “Water-, silicone-, and oil-based lubes.” I know it looks weird to have random dangling hyphens, but that’s how ya do it.

4. G-spot, A-spot, P-spot, etc.

With these sorts of words, the letter at the beginning is always capitalized, because it stands for something. (In the cases above, the letters stand for, respectively: Grafenberg, anterior fornix, prostate.) It’s an initial and initials are always capitalized.

5. Proper nouns, or not.

Be mindful of what is and is not a proper noun. Latex, silicone, phthalates, glass, steel; none of these are proper nouns so they don’t need to be capitalized (unless they’re at the beginning of a sentence or they make up part of the official name of a product). Most toy names (e.g. Pure Wand) and special proprietary materials (e.g. VixSkin) are proper nouns and should therefore be capitalized, as should (of course) names of people (e.g. Ernest Grafenberg) and places (e.g. the Museum of Sex).

6. Apostrophes.

This is, unfortunately, a huge problem for many writers of every genre, not just sex writing. If you’re not sure where apostrophes belong or don’t belong, read some grammar sites or books because this is super basic information.

Most especially, learn the difference between “it’s” and “its,” and know where to put possessive apostrophes (hint: only when something is possessed). There is no apostrophe in plural nouns; the word “dildo’s” should not appear unless you’re talking about something that belongs to the dildo (e.g. “the dildo’s dimensions”) or you’re abbreviating the phrase “dildo is” (e.g. “This dildo’s great!”).

That’s just a really quick summary of some of the mistakes I see most often in sex writing. What are some of your sex writing pet peeves?

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5th September 2014

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5 Things I’m More in Touch With, Now That I’m Single Again

#180136487 / gettyimages.com
God, I can’t believe that prior to my break-up this past weekend, it had been over three years since the last time I was single. I mean, wow, man. In high school I sort of conceptualized myself as a “forever alone” type, so it’s truly astonishing to me that I was in a relationship for that long – that someone actually liked me enough to want to be with me and stay with me.

But what’s even more astonishing is that I wanted to be single again, which is what prompted the break-up – and that I’m enjoying the hell out of it already. Yeah, I miss my ex occasionally, like when I see a movie he would’ve liked or when something hilarious happens to me that I wish I could tell him about – but the benefits outweigh the costs and I am loving the single life.

Here are 5 unexpected things I’ve been getting back in touch with, since my break-up…

1. My natural cycle.

Well, not quite yet, but soon. Yes, an exciting announcement: I’ve gone off hormonal birth control!

While I dig how it’s kept my periods regular and my skin relatively calm, I’ve never been crazy about pumping myself full of hormones, especially given that I’ve got a family history of breast cancer, a fact that doesn’t bode well when mixed with estrogen. And of course, birth control comes with a host of possible side effects, which, for me, included increased cramps, premenstrual irritability, depression, and sometimes suicidal ideation.

I’m looking forward to seeing what my ovaries and uterus will do when left to their own devices. A couple years before going on HBC, I was diagnosed with a benign ovarian cyst that really messed with my cycles, but it had shrunk considerably at the time that I started on the pill, so it’s possible it’s gone completely now – in which case, I might actually have regular periods! Hooray!

2. My natural vaginal aroma.

Uh, yeah, totally TMI. Sorry-not-sorry.

When I’m sexually active, I’m always worrying about vaginal smells, even though I consider myself body-positive and my partners have always told me not to concern myself with that stuff.

I mean, when I knew I was going to receive oral sex for the first time at age 16, I snuck away to the bathroom and gave myself a pre-cunnilingus scrubdown with DivaWash. And the girl told me I tasted slightly soapy so probably I shouldn’t have bothered.

Well, anyway. Now that no one’s face is down there regularly, I’m being less obsessive about keeping things pristine in that region. And it’s nice. I’m discovering that I actually don’t hate the way I smell. Maybe it’s the changes I’ve made to my diet and exercise routine lately, but the fragrance is actually kind of… sweet. Earthy. Natural. Lovely. Hmm…

3. Flirty energy.

Holy shit, this is blowing my mind.

I may have mentioned here before that my ex and I had an “arrangement” – a compromise between his desire for total monogamy and my complaint that the lack of flirtatious possibilities in my life was making me feel dead inside. (It’s possible that I’m a bit melodramatic.) We had negotiated that we were both allowed to flirt with and kiss other people, on a don’t-ask-don’t-tell basis. (That part wasn’t my idea. You might be able to tell from my blog that I always prefer to talk things out and be 100% honest, but the boyf just wasn’t into that.)

Well, despite this tiny negotiated degree of openness, I never felt quite right about flirting with other people while I was “taken.” I hated hiding it from my partner, and I felt like it was somehow dishonest to the people I was flirting with, too – like they’d believe it could go further than it actually could. Kissing was the hard limit; some folks tried to push past that boundary, thinking surely it would be okay, and I always had to stop them, even though it felt really unnatural to do so.

Obviously, all this guilt and concealment also meant that I couldn’t blog about my adventures, lest they be read by the boyfriend or by a relative or family friend who didn’t know about our monogamishness and wouldn’t have understood it if they did.

Now that all barriers to flirtation have been wrecking-ball’ed into oblivion, I can flirt as much as I damn well please. I haven’t really taken advantage of this fact yet – hell, it hasn’t even been a week yet – but just the option is making me feel giddy and enlivened. And if anything does happen, I can blog about it with wild abandon!

4. Being sexy in public.

By “in public,” I mostly mean “online,” because that’s the kind of person I am: an introvert and a geek. But I’m working on it.

Another thing my boyfriend didn’t like me to do was post naked or otherwise scandalous pictures of myself online. When you’re living in monogamy-land, this sort of makes sense, but every time I mentioned it to my poly friends, they’d be outraged on my behalf. “He doesn’t own your body!” they’d cry. “You can do what you want with your own tits and ass!”

I had really conflicted feelings about this, and I still do – but the fact remains that I do indeed hate the feeling of someone thinking they get to decide what I do and don’t do with my body. Sure, I understand why a monogamous partner wouldn’t want me to share my sexuality with another person… but I don’t consider my naked body to be an inherently sexual thing. Posting those pictures isn’t sexual for me; it’s an act of self-love, a confidence booster, a bold declaration of my womanhood and body-acceptance and unconventional beauty. It feels good, not illicit, and it feels like something I ought to be able to make my own decisions about.

Well, now that I’m single, I can. I’ve been posting as many (anonymous) naked pictures as I feel like posting. I’ve been enjoying the comments, guilt-free. Ohhhh yessss.

5. Being alone.

I don’t mean being single. I mean being physically alone. Being in a room that no one else is in. And not stressing that I “should be” spending time with someone. Just being.

The death knell of my relationship was when I realized that spending time with my partner had started to feel more like an obligation than a joy. It was another thing on my list that I had to do, like completing my sociology readings and emptying the dishwasher.

I have great love and fondness for my ex, but when someone is your Boyfriend-with-a-capital-B, it’s expected that you spend a lot of time with them. They expect it, and so do other people in your life. As an introvert, and someone with a lot of schoolwork and work-work on my plate, that got to feel like a lot of pressure. And the pressure to spend time with him sucked the joy right out of it.

Last night I was lying in bed reading a book, and I stopped and just thought to myself, “There is nowhere I’m supposed to be right now. There is nothing I’m supposed to be doing. There is no one who’s disappointed that I’ve decided to take tonight for myself.” And that realization was BLISSFUL. I sank down into the covers, took a long sip of tea, and buried my head back in my book. Mmm, heaven. Sheer heaven.

Look, I’m not saying the break-up didn’t make me sad. It did. And I’m not saying I’m never lonely, because sometimes I am. But by and large, I can see that this was the right decision for me. I’m thrilled with my life right now, even though I’m busy as hell with school and work and people keep asking me in hushed tones whether I’m “okay.”

I am more than okay. I’m reclaiming myself.

What was the best part of your last break-up? Got any advice for me on this journey of “finding myself” again?

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3rd September 2014

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Review: Pipedream Metal Worx XL Luv Plug

I loooove steel; it’s indubitably my favorite material for anal toys in particular. But there are some things you gotta know before you think about investing in a steel butt plug.

1. They’re probably not a great idea if you’ve never engaged in any kind of anal play before, because they’re heavy and immediately very noticeable. You might find the sensation a bit overwhelming; it’s like diving into the deep end without any swimming lessons. Try something small and silicone first.

2. They work with any lube, so use what you like. However, my across-the-board policy on anal lube is that I use exclusively thick, gel-like, water-based ones. I have yet to find a silicone-based lube thick enough to work for my butt, and despite the generalization that water-based lubes tend to evaporate quicker than other kinds, I find that types with a gel consistency last seemingly forever – or at least, long enough for me to get my butt jollies and then pop the plug out pain-free.

3. Be extra cautious when carrying or washing a steel plug, because it is bound to be HEAVY and you can do some serious damage with it if you’re reckless or careless. Don’t drop it in the sink, or you risk cracking your ceramic. Don’t drop it on your toes, or you risk cracking your bones. To quote Mad-Eye Moody: “CONSTANT VIGILANCE!”

4. Steel plugs must, must, must be designed ergonomically for the body, or they will be uncomfortable at best and agonizing at worst. Read reviews (like this one!) to get a good sense – though not a perfect sense, because everyone’s body is different – of whether the toy you’re thinking about buying is actually butt-friendly, comfortable, and seems to have been tested by actual humans at some point during the production process.

I was sent the Metal Worx XL Luv Plug and it’s okay but I have some quibbles about it. My butt has been spoiled by the best steel plugs in existence, the Njoy Pure Plugs, so my standards for steel plugs are high, but maybe that’s a good thing.

I just drafted a whole paragraph about how this plug is supposedly “extra-large” but isn’t actually that big, and how I suspected that the measurements on the product page must be inflated. But then I got out my tape measure, just to make sure, and apparently this thing actually is TWO INCHES in diameter, like it says it is. Holy shit. My vagina can’t even handle two inches of steel, let alone my ass. How is this witchcraft possible?! I guess the shape is so nicely tapered that it lets my butt smoothly transition from tiny tip to wide-ass middle. There is sometimes a little pain or discomfort if I don’t warm up properly by using a smaller plug for a while first, but it’s nothing crazy. (Definitely start with something smaller if you’re new to anal play, though. The Mini Luv Plug, for example.)

Basically all my problems with this plug are with its lower half, i.e. the neck and base. The upper half is fine – great, even. Properly sized, comfortably tapered, pleasantly heavy. Just fabulous, really.

But the neck… It strikes me as being too thin, even considering that butt plug necks are supposed to be thin to make the plug more comfortable and help it stay in better. This neck just feels so thin that it’s like I can hardly tell there’s even a plug inside me, once it’s fully inserted. It makes me wish I had just a little more girth to clench around. When I masturbate with a butt plug in (which I don’t do very often, but still), I like to have some sense that there’s something in my ass so I can imagine I’m being butt-fucked; this one feels almost imperceptible when it’s in because the neck puts no pressure or weight on the opening of my ass at all.

The base is the worst. It’s one of those terrible round bases that seems to have been designed by someone with no knowledge of the existence of buttcheeks. I can wear this plug comfortably if I’m lying down spread-eagled and my cheeks are wide apart (how d’you like that image?!) but if I’m walking, sitting, or doing normal human things, the (SHARP) edges of the base start to dig into my chubby butt. That feeling is about as far removed from “sexy” as I can imagine.

My other problem with the base is the sparkly clear crystal on the bottom. It’s very pretty, definitely an appreciated aesthetic touch, but it’s poorly designed. The middle of it is flat but the edges slope upward, so that if the toy is jostled at all while standing on its base, it tips over, usually resulting in it falling onto some part of my body in a painful way or rolling off my desk. Maybe other people don’t care about this, but dammit, I think a toy should be able to stand up on its own. If you can’t display it or stand it at the ready next to your bed, then what’s the point?!

I might recommend this plug if it were cheaper (as many Pipedream toys are), but it sells for $63 or more, depending on where you get it. For that price, you could have your pick of the small or medium Pure Plug, or spend just a little more and get the large. The Pure Plugs have a way better design than the Luv Plug, in that they feel super comfortable the entire time you’re wearing them, and they stay put when you put ‘em somewhere, whether that “somewhere” is your butt or your bedside table. You can also really feel them when they’re in – in a very, very good way.

It’s hard to go wrong with a steel plug, but the XL Luv Plug just doesn’t get it quite right. Better luck next time, Pipedream.

This toy was sent to me courtesy of Pipedream and PinkCherry. Thanks, babes!

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1st September 2014

Post with 9 notes

50 Ways to Get Through a Break-Up

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Hey babes. My relationship of three and a half years ended yesterday. It’s okay, everything’s cool, I’m alright with it and actually kind of relieved – but let’s be honest; even the most amicable of break-ups can be tough to deal with. Here, for me as much as for you, are 50 suggestions for post-breakup self-care and processing. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

1. Gather up everything that reminds you of your ex, stuff it in a garbage bag, and either put it someplace where you won’t see it or just throw it away.
2. Get yourself dolled up. Makeup, cute clothes, moustache grooming, whatever works for you.
3. Take a long, hot bath. Bonus points for Epsom salts, bath bombs, scented candles, and/or soft music.
4. Search the break-up tag on 8Tracks and listen to some sympathetic mixes.
5. Choose a movie you’ve never seen from Bill Hader’s list of his favorite comedies, find it and watch it. (Lots of them are available on Netflix.)
6. Get lost in a good book. (Some recommendations from me to you: the Harry Potter series, the Divergent series, O: The Intimate History of the Orgasm, Under the Dome, After Hamelin, Hello Cruel World.)
7. Work on a creative project, new or old. Blog, collage, choreograph, write, draw, paint, etc.
8. Cuddle a sweet and understanding person, pet, or stuffed animal.
9. Beat up your pillow.
10. Play a video game. (I like Animal Crossing games during emotional times because they don’t require much brain power and you can’t die in them, so they’re not stressful.)
11. Make a list of things you can do now that you’re single that you couldn’t do while in your relationship. Re-read it any time you feel sad. (Some highlights from my list: post naked pictures of myself online, go off hormonal birth control, make out with cute near-strangers at parties.)
12. Write in a journal about what happened and how you feel about it. (If you don’t like physical journals, try 750 Words or Day One or a blog platform that allows for private entries.)
13. Call up a friend. Talk to them. Make plans.
14. Do some beauty treatments: face mask, deep conditioner, pedicure, etc.
15. Go to the store, pick out your favorite chocolate bar or ice cream, take it home, eat it slowly.
16. Do a Netflix marathon of your favorite funny show.
17. Do a massive purge of unnecessary stuff/clutter in your room or home.
18. Delete your ex from all social media platforms and your phone’s contact list.
19. Make a list of qualities you hope your next partner possesses. Visualize that person and let the idea of them lift you up.
20. Get yourself a new sex toy (or dig out an old faithful). Masturbate your heart out.
21. Get a spa treatment – a massage, mani-pedi, facial, etc.
22. Exercise, even if you initially don’t want to. It’ll help, I promise.
23. Meditate. Sit comfortably, breathe deeply and slowly, focus on your breath, let all thoughts float by. Do a YouTube search for “guided meditation” if you find it hard to clear your mind completely (and don’t we all?).
24. Put your headphones on, turn on some music that makes you happy, and go for a long walk.
25. Take a nap.
26. Let yourself cry. It’s okay.
27. Go through old e-mails or letters and find a really flattering, cheerifying one. Read it. Print it out and pin it up if you want.
28. If you’ve got ‘em, read old journals from a previous break-up you went through. They’ll remind you that everything gets better eventually.
29. Buy a corkboard, pins, and a few magazines. Cut out any pictures that make you smile and pin them up where you’ll see them often.
30. Write “This too shall pass” on a part of your body. Glance at it often.
31. Treat yourself to a cheap cosmetic pick-me-up, like a new lipstick, rollerball perfume, or nail polish.
32. Flirt with someone, just to remind yourself that you can still feel those feelings.
33. Repopulate your sexual fantasies.
34. Ask a friend to remind you of the good reasons for the break-up any time they catch you moping about it.
35. Drink wine. In moderation. If you can.
36. Make a list of all your best qualities and look at it if you ever start to feel valueless or unattractive. (Ask friends or family for suggestions if you’re having trouble coming up with things.)
37. Do something you used to find comforting when you were a kid, like eating Kraft Dinner while watching The Simpsons, or curling up under a hand-knit blanket while reading the Gossip Girl novels, or whatever.
38. If you have any jewelry or other tokens from people who love you (not your ex), wear it to give you strength. Periodically glance at it as a way of reminding yourself that you’re loved.
39. Stretch, slowly and gently, for a good few minutes.
40. If you’re really not feeling up to going out and seeing people, call and cancel some of your commitments. It’s okay to take time for yourself.
41. Reorganize your workspace, or another space you spend a lot of time in, so it’s more beautiful and simple and makes more sense and feels more calming to you.
42. Take a friend to a location that was significant for you and your ex and make new memories there.
43. Drink a hot beverage, slowly and thoughtfully. (I like what Leo Babauta has to say about tea rituals.)
44. Rediscover a hobby, activity, or aspect of your personality that you set aside to appease your (now ex-)partner. See who you can be without them.
45. Discover some new music by searching tags of your choice on Bandcamp, 8Tracks or Last.FM. (Some chill recommendations from my own music library: Sucré, Josh Garrels, Robot Science, My Brightest Diamond.)
46. Take some cute (or not-so-cute, whatever) selfies. If you want, use an app like FaceTune to beef up their attractiveness quotient. Post them somewhere public if you feel like it.
47. Decide what you’re going to focus your time and energy on, now that you have more of both to spare. Pick stuff that matters and is important to you. (Volunteering? Art? School? Working on your novel? Becoming a more spiritual person? Losing 30 pounds? Traveling?)
48. Get real with yourself about any destructive habits you have when you mourn and try to pre-empt them. If you don’t eat enough when you’re sad, get some foods that you love, so you will eat. If you tend toward any kind of self-harm, put a mental health professional or crisis line or nearby friend on speed-dial. If you tend to withdraw, tell a friend to boss you into hanging out with them even if you say no. Do what you gotta do.
49. Do something you know you’re really good at, even if it’s kind of a dumb or useless thing, to help restore your confidence in yourself.
50. Give yourself a hug. Be gentle with yourself. It’s gonna be okay.

What are some things that have helped you through break-ups?

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28th August 2014

Post with 11 notes

10 Easy Ways to Make Yourself More Attractive

#480984175 / gettyimages.com

I think we’d all like to be a little hotter. It doesn’t have to be about other people’s approval or attention; sometimes you just wanna feel foxy, for your own benefit. Or sometimes your confidence needs a boost so you do want to attract external attention.

Whatever your reasons are – and it’s no one’s place to judge, so don’t let them – here are ten simple ways to make yourself cuter, more appealing, more intriguing. Go get ‘em, tiger.

1. Stand up straight. Check your posture in a mirror. Don’t slouch. Hold your head centered and straight on top of your neck. Practice with books balanced on your head like a debutante in an old novel if you have to. Do regular check-ins throughout the day to see if you’ve maintained your posture goals. Eventually it’ll become second nature.

2. Smile. I have resting bitchface and so do a lot of people. I get it: it feels unnatural to walk around with a smile on your face. But it doesn’t have to be a crazy grin, don’t worry. Just let a small smile play around the corners of your mouth when you’re out and about. This isn’t one of those “You’re obligated to smile because some dude on the street told you to” sort of things – it’s something you can do for yourself, if you want. A slight smile makes you seem more open, cheerful, relaxed, and approachable. If that’s an effect you want to achieve, give it a try.

3. Open up your body language. Quit crossing your arms. Roll your shoulders out and back. Look around you confidently instead of staring at your phone. Take big, easy strides. Fully face the people you talk to, and make good eye contact. Let your body be a billboard bearing this message: “I’m easygoing, friendly, and open to getting to know you!”

4. Cultivate passion. There are already things you’re passionate about; don’t be afraid to talk about them. And if nothing comes to mind (?!), find something to love boldly and deeply. Books, music, theatre, art, history, stationery, sex toys, sharks, woodworking, fitness, storm patterns, architecture, arboriculture, whatever. There are few things hotter than seeing someone’s eyes light up as they talk about something they love.

5. Wear clothes that fit you. Get some stuff tailored if you need to (and you probably do). Get rid of anything unsalvageably baggy or tight. (If you’re the type who holds onto clothes in the hopes of one day being able to fit into them, fuck that – live your life now, not later.) Put on a belt. Cinch your waist with a jacket or cardigan. Get your pants taken up so they don’t drag on the ground. You’ll feel so much more capable and confident when your clothes complement your body instead of hiding it or squeezing it.

6. Speak with conviction. Don’t be a mumbler! Speak clearly and at a volume that’s definitely audible but situationally appropriate (no yelling in the library, please). Say each word like you chose it specifically and carefully. Try to eliminate transitional, buying-for-time words and phrases such as “like” and “you know” and “um” (but don’t beat yourself up about it, because it’s hard). If swearing makes you feel tacky, give it up; if swearing makes you feel boss and badass, go right on ahead. Believe that your words and ideas are important and speak them accordingly.

7. Stay informed. Follow the news. Keep up with culture (the parts that you like). Learn new words. Read. Form educated opinions on things. You don’t have to be a genius, but some level of intelligence and awareness is almost universally smokin’ hot.

8. Do stuff. Get out into the world. Meet people, go on adventures, have experiences. Learn new skills, try new things, visit new places (in your city or in the world). Sitting at home and surfing the internet every night is incredibly fun and relaxing (I’m a geeky introvert; I get it) but it leaves you with not much to talk about and not much experience to draw from. Like Sarah Dopp says: “Make at least some choices based on what will make for the better story.” People who do lots of stuff are generally more interesting than people who don’t do much.

9. Improve your conversational skills. Read Dale Carnegie’s book and any materials you can find on active listening. Ask people about themselves. Come up with some interesting questions you can ask just about anyone, like “What are you passionate about?” and “What’s the last book you read?” and “What are your goals?” and really listen to what people say in response. Join the social skills subreddit for some extra help and support. Practice coming up with follow-up questions for when people tell you stories or mention things in passing, like “What did you think of that?” or “How did that go?” or “If you could do that over again, would you do it differently?” Try to remember what people have told you about themselves before, and bring it up the next time you see them: “So what ended up happening with your mom’s art show/your dog’s vet appointment/your job interview?” To state all this more simply: ask people about themselves and be genuinely interested.

10. Work on your self-love. I’ve written about this before, so have a read through that. I still wholeheartedly recommend writing or speaking positive affirmations about yourself on the daily and looking at Gala Darling’s writings on “radical self-love”. Phase haters out of your life, both the kind who hate on you and the kind who hate on people in general (e.g. tabloid magazines, YouTube commenters, overly negative friends). Remind yourself of your value daily, even if that means you have to shove your insecurities to the back of your brain in order to shine a little light on what you’re most proud of. Always always always remember that hotness is subjective, so even if you don’t like what you see in the mirror, there are plenty of folks who would – even if that seems absurd to you, trust me, it’s true, it’s true, it’s true.

What else can a person do to make themselves hotter/cuter/more likeable?

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26th August 2014

Post with 1 note

Review: Revel Body SOL

You might already know this, but there’s a tight-knit community of sex bloggers like me, and when drama happens in that community, it spreads fast and hard.

That kind of drama exploded around the Revel Body last year, when notoriously snarky sex toy reviewer Epiphora ripped it apart in her review and the company’s CEO threatened a lawsuit and left rude comments on the blog post. (Note to sex toy companies: when you send your stuff to reviewers, it will get reviewed – don’t act surprised when it does.)

All that said… The company seems to be better-behaved these days, and though I never got to try the original Revel Body, I enjoy the updated version. Well, sort of. Let me explain.

The Revel Body SOL, like its predecessor, uses “TrueSonic™” technology to produce its vibrations. This is a technology that’s based on magnets and causes the toy’s removable centre attachment to pulse back and forth as the magnets jostle it around. (Obviously this is an oversimplification. Hey, I’m no scientist.)

The vibrations feel really good to me – very rumbly, and reminiscent of jackhammer vibes like the Wahl and the We-Vibe Tango. My clit gets a good pounding with the Revel Body and that’s a sensation I typically dig.

There are a few problems with the technology, though. First off, you can’t apply pressure because it weakens the vibrations significantly. Secondly, it’s only the first three vibration speeds that actually feel rumbly; the ones above that are all progressively more and more buzzy, so I never use them. On the one hand, it’s good that the lower modes are so good that I never need to venture past them; on the other hand, if you’re going to charge $139 for a vibrator, then every single one of its settings should be excellent, not just some of them.

The Revel Body is also pretty loud. The attachments are called “QuietCore™” so you would think the toy would be, y’know, quiet. It’s not. Not at all. Do not get this toy if you need discretion; it will embarrass you.

While the lowest 2-3 settings of the Revel Body can get me off consistently with their delicious rumbliness, I find that it takes me a long-ass time to reach orgasm with it. (I should note that for me, “a long-ass time” equals “more than five minutes,” but still.) I think it’s because the jumps between the speeds are too big. I always end up getting to a point where one setting feels too weak but the next one feels too strong, so I keep getting overstimulated and have to back off, resulting in orgasms that seem to take eons. They’re worth it when I get there, but the journey itself can be annoying.

The silicone attachment can be swapped out for others. The Revel Body comes with three basic attachments: one is flat and slightly rounded, one is pointy/spindly like a little porcupine, and one looks like a concave target. The porcupine one is mildly irritating to my clit and the target just doesn’t feel direct enough, so I stick with the original, basic attachment 90% of the time. I think I would like the Niko attachment best, since it sticks out and could make better contact with my clit, but I don’t have it, so alas, I’ll never know.

The sphere-shaped vibe feels good to hold in my hand – ergonomic, comfortable – but sometimes the stimulation feels too broad on my clit, which is why I wish I had an attachment that protrudes more.

Overall, the Revel Body SOL is fairly unique and often pleasurable, but I’m not sure it’s worth $139 when you can get the Wahl for $22 or the We-Vibe Tango for $85. Both are just as strong as, or stronger than, the Revel Body, both have shapes and settings that get along with my clit better, and both are substantially quieter.

Thanks, Revel Body!

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23rd August 2014

Post with 7 notes

3 Reasons to Take a Scandalous Selfie

Ah, selfies. Such a polarizing topic. You either think they’re the epitome of narcissism or a radical tool against society’s demand that we hate ourselves. There doesn’t seem to be any in-between when it comes to this issue.

Sexy selfies are even more polarizing than the standard face shots. There’s a media circus of slut-shaming and fear-mongering every time a celebrity’s scantily-clad selfie is posted or leaked. Very little attention is paid to the idea that this sort of photo can actually be a positive, affirming thing for its model.

Before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way: yes, there are definitely risks associated with the existence of sexy selfies in the digital sphere. Hackers exist, as do vengeful exes, technology slip-ups, and other potentially problematic pitfalls. I don’t know a lot about digital security so I’ll refer you to someone who does: Violet Blue. Her book on the subject is invaluable. I actually haven’t even read it yet but she’s Violet freaking Blue so I know it’s a good resource nonetheless.

Now, with that in mind, let’s get to the good stuff: here are 3 reasons why taking a naked or nearly-naked selfie might be a good thing for you to do, if you’re into it.

To document your body as it is right now.

We all age. Our bodies change. They grow or shrink. Old scars fade and new ones appear. The changes are so gradual that you may hardly notice them until you compare in detail.

Maybe this is weird to think about, but how cool would it be to be 75 years old and look back on a picture of your naked bod at age 19? Document your body’s hotness, its quirks, its fleeting state of being. Bodies are ephemeral, but pictures are forever (if you keep ‘em).

To boost your self-love.

If you’re one of the many many folks who struggles with self-love, you might be thinking, “But GJ, looking at my body doesn’t make me love it more! Quite the opposite, in fact!” I feel you, babe. But hear me out for a sec.

Selfies give you almost total control over how you choose to present yourself. You can contort your body into flattering poses, tilt your face at a forgiving angle, squish your boobs together, flex your muscles. You can take dozens of pictures and use only the best one. You can prepare for the picture with all the makeup you want. And once the shot’s been snapped, you can slather it in Instagram filters and Photoshop fixes.

Some people think this is “false advertising” - and indeed, it may not be a great idea to use a contrived, doctored selfie as your dating site profile pic or modelling headshot, since those are supposed to be honest and true-to-life. But if the shot’s for your personal use, or you’re just going to forward it to a beau or put it on a social media site for funsies, it really doesn’t matter if it’s been tampered with. Who cares?

If you feel you can’t fully love yourself the way you look in real life, start by trying to love yourself the way you look in your sleek, perfected selfies. It could be the first step on your journey to loving the way you actually look.

To send to someone cute.

Of course, this is maybe the main reason why people take sexy selfies. The kids are calling it “sexting,” so I hear…

I’ve actually never sent anyone a naked picture of myself because I’m paranoid about them getting leaked, but the great thing is, there are so many flirty, foxy pictures you can take for a partner without even showing your bits. Take them in underwear, in a shirt your lover forgot on your bedroom floor, in a fancy piece of lingerie you’re trying on in a mall fitting room… The sky’s the limit.

Exchanging sexy shots can, of course, be a way of being sexual together even when you can’t physically be near one another. It can also be a fun way to explore your sexuality together if you’re not ready to have sex with someone yet, or not able to for whatever reason.

Do you take scandalous selfies? What makes them fun for you? Got any tips?

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22nd August 2014

Post with 4 notes

Review: Tantus Silicone O-Ring Set

This is sort of a mini-review, because there’s not a whole lot you can say about something as simple as O-rings. But I thought you’d like to know that Tantus makes O-rings now and they’re great.

They’re significantly stretchier than any others I’ve tried. They come in a huge variety of sizes, ranging from 1.2” to 2.5” in diameter. And they cost only $20 for the whole set of 6 rings. $20 is a pretty reasonable price for never again needing to worry if a particular dildo will fit into your harness.

(If you need a harness that will work with all of these O-rings, I heartily recommend the Aslan Jaguar!)

All in all, these O-rings are a very good buy for anyone who likes strap-on play in any configuration.

Thanks, Tantus!

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16th August 2014

Post with 3 notes

Review: Bondara Silicone Rechargeable Rabbit

My expectations for rabbit vibes are low, because the vast majority of them are laughably terrible. Most don’t get me off, don’t feel particularly good, and certainly don’t wow me.

The Bondara silicone rechargeable rabbit works fine, gets me off, feels pretty good, but doesn’t wow me.

Let’s start with the good stuff: it’s made of nice, body-safe materials. It charges via USB and holds its charge well. The controls are easy enough to understand (one button for on and off, one to flip through the settings).

This rabbit succeeds in an area where some rabbits fail spectacularly, which is shape and comfort. The shaft’s girth is just right at 1.5”. The G-spot curve doesn’t poke my vaginal wall or cause pain on insertion or removal. And the rabbit ears, miraculously, always sit in the right spot and stay put, never injuring my clit or wandering off course. This all sounds pretty basic but you would be surprised how many rabbits are completely unusable due to problems with comfort and shape.

The vibrations on the Bondara rabbit are strong and deep enough to get me off, which, again, should be basic but is seldom found among rabbit vibrators, which I find are usually buzzy and weak, even the higher-end ones. I think having two separate motors is too taxing so a lot of toy designers give their rabbits two mediocre motors instead of the one really good motor they might put into a regular vibrator. The Bondara one isn’t jackhammer-strong and won’t satisfy power queens, but it can make me come so I’m satisfied with the vibe strength.

The problem is that you can’t really control the vibration speed, nor can you control the clitoral and vaginal portions of the toy separately (which, IMO, should be a standard feature on rabbits). The various modes offered by the toy have good interplay between vaginal and clitoral stimulation, but they switch back and forth too slowly so they never build any momentum toward orgasm for me. For that reason, I stick to the steady-vibration mode, but there are only two, low and high. I can get off that way but I prefer more gradation in between speeds, so I can avoid numbness and overstimulation. And I would greatly prefer to be able to control both portions of the vibe separately, because my G-spot’s power preferences are pretty different from my clit’s.

Speaking of the G-spot - this rabbit’s internal curve isn’t anything to write home about. It touches my G-spot but doesn’t really dig into it the way I prefer. The internal stimulation is general and broad, not focused and precise.

So… This rabbit is actually a pretty good buy if you consider the fact that it’s only 24 pounds (about 40 American dollars). But I still maintain that if you want dual stimulation, most rabbits aren’t worth the trouble and you’d be better off buying a good dildo and a decent clit vibe, both of which you can get for about the same amount as this rabbit if you shop wisely.

Thanks for the toy, Bondara!

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