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I don’t think you quite understand the incongruity of shitty sex toy company Pipedream having bought out luxury sex toy company Jimmyjane. This is like if McDonalds bought out the Rainbow Room and started selling a deep-fried, mystery-meat bastardization of their filet mignon. This is a strange thing. This is a thing that should not have been allowed. And yet, it happened.

The Jimmyjane Intro 2 is, essentially, a deep-fried mystery-meat filet mignon of a sex toy. Pipedream took the bare bones of one of my favorite clitoral vibrators – the Form 2 – and made it cheap, battery-powered, awkwardly large, and even buzzier than before.

The Form 2 fit in my hand perfectly: small, smart and spartan. The Intro 2 is like the large-print version of the same toy – it feels unnecessarily big, to the point that I am always aware I am holding a sex toy and the vibrations can’t just melt into the periphery of my perception. This might make it a better choice than the Form 2 for people who struggle with hand dexterity – but for me, it’s just annoying.

But my main issue with the Intro 2 is the vibrations. I mean, it’s a vibrator; that’s always going to be the make-or-break factor. The Form 2 was buzzy-ish to begin with – moreso, certainly, than other blogger-revered clit vibes like the Tango and Siri 2 – but it had a rumbly base note that endeared it to my clit. The Intro 2 lacks that rumbly foundation, and is all buzz. That’s great if you like that, but I don’t. It numbs me out within a couple of minutes, leaving me to grumble gripes like “My kingdom for an Eroscillator!” and “Nah, that’s cool, I didn’t want to be able to feel my genitals or anything.”

imageThe Intro 2 also lacks my absolute favorite thing about the Form 2: a setting where the vibrations moved quickly back and forth between the toy’s two “ears,” creating what Jimmyjane termed “sensation in stereo.” To me, this setting felt more like oral sex than other toys that actually try to mimic oral sex; the vibrations flippity-flopping from one ear to the other were like the side-to-side flicking of a firm tongue. This setting’s been phased out in the Intro 2, and it really bums me out.

And we need to talk about the one button on the Intro 2, because it makes me want to throw this vibrator into a fire. Whereas the Form 2 had an elegant three-button control system (up, down, and change mode), the Intro 2 only has one button, via which you are forced to cycle through its multiple modes and speeds one by one. If there’s a particular setting or speed you love and want to get back to, you have to get through all the other ones first. No vibrator should be designed this way. Give me intuitive vibrator design or give me death.

It is, in some sense, exciting that Pipedream is trying to make fancy-ass Jimmyjane toys more accessible to lower-income folks. Not everyone can afford to spend $80+ on a luxury vibrator, and I get that. But even at a low price point, there are options that far outperform this buzzy, cumbersome facsimile. If you want a decent, rumbly clit vibe for under $50, try the Jopen L2 or Sensuelle Point. If you can afford to save up for something pricier but really excellent, grab the Tango for $79 ($71 with my discount code GIRLY10); it’s rumblier and more intuitive than anything Jimmyjane’s ever made, pre- or post-Pipedream buyout.

Babes, your clit deserves better than the Intro 2. Just like Jimmyjane deserved better than to be bought and rebranded by a company like Pipedream. Give your clit a happier ending than Jimmyjane got, please.

Thanks to Peepshow for sending me this toy to try!

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My best friend Bex and I are on the same wavelength about practically everything. We like the same sex educators, the same porn stars, the same restaurants, the same pop songs, even occasionally the same boys. We agree on just about every issue; it’s what makes us #BrainTwins.

So I wasn’t surprised when, last October, we discovered we both wanted to start a podcast. It made perfect sense. Like it was destined to happen all along.

In the months that followed, two things happened in my friendship with Bex: we became a whole lot closer, and we talked more and more about the podcast we wanted to co-create. It began to take shape in our many conversations about sex-related media we loved and hated. Our favorite stuff was the deep-dive, sex-nerdy shit that got into the nitty-gritty of sexuality the way we did in our own conversations with friends. We loved Tina Horn’s kink philosophizin’, Epiphora‘s blasé snarkiness, Sinclair Sexsmith’s profound discussions of D/s, Allison Moon’s goofy sluttiness. We dreamed of creating a resource for sex nerds that was silly, authentic, informative, and that went beyond the “sex 101” stuff plastered all over the internet.

In one of our many brainstorming sessions over Skype, Bex came up with the name: The Dildorks. (‘Cause we’re dorks and we like dildos. Get it?!) I coined the tagline: “Dorky discourse on sex, dating, and masturbating.” And then, with trepidation and with love, we recorded our first episode.

We were blessed to receive contributions from some super talented people: our art is by Amy and our theme song is by Protodome. I am so excited about this project because of all the cool folks I get to work with – most especially Bex! ♥

You can listen to our podcast in an on-site player, download the file directly, or subscribe to us on iTunes. I hope you’ll join us for this episode and all our future ones!

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Writers have written about writing a lot. Just about every famous author has been grilled about their writing hacks, and many bloggers (including yours truly!) have pontificated on our craft. Ryan Holiday says writers do this because “it’s a way to work and practice their craft even though deep down they know they’re putting off a harder version of it.” In other words, we write about writing because real writing is emotionally precarious and damn difficult.

So, given the oceans of ink that’ve already been spilled on the topic of writing, I’m sure none of my suggestions for writers are new or revolutionary. But the following tips work for me, and I’ve shared them with many a young writer who’s sought my mentorship. I hope they help you, young grasshopper!

1. Write a lot, in a lot of different genres. As with anything, you won’t get good until you practice. Put in your 10,000 hours. Young, cocky writers often think they’re already good and have already found their voice, even if they’re just babies in the grand scheme of things – and I know this because I used to be one of those young, cocky writers. I thought the portfolio of work I submitted with my journalism school application in 2012 was the best stuff I’d ever written. Now I read it and it makes me cringe!

There are so many different types of writing, and each can hone your skills in different ways. I don’t regard my journaling as “real writing” so much as emotional processing; however, it’s still a vital backbone to all the other writing I do. And although most of my writing is hardboiled nonfiction, I’ve sharpened my wordsmithery by writing fanfiction, poetry, 50-word stories, and even corporate copy. Any opportunity to stretch your writing muscles is bound to be useful. Stay curious, keep challenging yourself, sidestep stasis at all costs. Write, write, write, and write some more.

2. Read a lot. Almost all writers suggest this. It’s a boring thing to suggest. But it’s important.

I don’t think you need to have your nose in a book all the time to be a good writer, but I do think you need to read something, consistently. I don’t read a lot of fiction anymore, because that’s not the kind of writing I do; most of my reading is longform feature articles online and nonfiction books. But when I do pick up the odd work of fiction, I notice a change in my writing almost immediately. I’m more focused on prosody; my voice becomes temporarily influenced by whatever writer I’m reading. And that’s a good thing, so long as you’re reading diversely, because the more tricks you pick up from reading other writers, the sharper your own voice will become.

Read analytically. Read for structure, word choice, imagery, pacing – whatever skills you’re trying to polish in your own work. When you find a line or a paragraph or a chapter that really works, ask yourself why you feel that way about it. Try to replicate the effect in your own writing, so you can add it to your toolbox. Don’t be an outright copycat – although, Austin Kleon says all good artists steal, so maybe copycatting isn’t totally evil.

3. Do your morning pages. Three longhand pages of stream-of-consciousness writing, done immediately upon waking, every morning. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but morning pages are miraculous. They make me more clear-headed, inspired, and productive. Esmé Wang likens them to clearing cobwebs. To me, they feel like I’m pushing all the bad writing and ugly thoughts out of my system first thing in the morning, to make room for good writing and beautiful thoughts. Don’t knock ’em til you try ’em; I thought morning pages sounded pointless and weird, too, until I tried them and saw what they do for my brain.

4. Avoid clichés. George Orwell said you should always “take the time to invent fresh, powerful images” rather than relying on commonly-used idioms/metaphors/similes that everyone has heard before. I’m inclined to agree: the power of a metaphor is in the image or feeling it evokes, and if we’ve heard your metaphor a dozen times before, we’re less likely to see it in our mind’s eye and feel it in our body.

The exception is if you’re subverting a cliché, or employing it in a novel way (e.g. using the phrase “beating around the bush” to describe someone jacking off onto someone else’s pubic hair!). It’s rare to stumble across the perfect opportunity to flip an idiom on its head, but it can be done, often to great effect.

5. Write what hurts. If there’s a notion or story that gets your heart thrumming and your gut roiling every time you think about writing it down, then you need to write it. Be brave and write the hard stuff. If [x] makes you feel something, you’re in the perfect position to make your readers feel something about [x], too.

I will say, however, that I think the best writing comes from calm reflection on intense emotions. You probably can’t do your best writing from the (literal or figurative) battlefield, because you’re busy fighting that battle. But if you wait til you’re back home in your nice safe bed, and then do the brave work of revisiting those battlefield memories so as to write about them, you should be able to recapture those wild highs and lows from a more settled place. That’s the sweet spot for emotional writing, I think: a cool head and a hot heart.

6. Have a ritual. So much of productivity is about tricking your own brain into performing better. Of course, you could just will yourself to write, but that’s not always easy. You’re better off using the power of Pavlovian conditioning to trigger your creativity whenever you need it.

At home, I’m usually too lazy and distractible to write, so I do the bulk of my writing at coffee shops. Schlepping my laptop to a café is, itself, a signal to my brain that I am about to get to work. I settle in with my coffee, muffin, and headphones – always sitting in the same window seat, if I can help it – and the ritualized familiarity kicks my muse into gear. Hone your own writerly rituals so that they best serve you: think about food, drink, music, environment, even the clothes you wear. It all matters, if you say it does.

7. Maintain your momentum. Get a shitty first draft written before you worry about editing or fact-checking any of it. It’s far more important that you carve out the basic shape of the thing. If you get stuck on a particular point, just skip it and keep going; you can come back to it once you’ve written through the rest. Use placeholder text if you can’t come up with the exact right metaphor right now or can’t remember the exact statistic you want to cite. Once you luck into that juicy creative flow, your goal is to stay in it for as long as possible – because that’s the zone in which you get shit done.

Journalism school taught me this skill. Sometimes we’d have same-day deadlines for news articles: I’d do research and phone interviews all morning, and then I’d have an hour or two to write the actual story. There wasn’t time to agonize over the construction of every sentence. I learned to whip up a first draft at breakneck speed, and then go back in and fix things later, once the story’s basic structure was mapped out. The hardest part about writing is the part before you find your momentum, so once you’re in it, stay in it. Fuck details; stay the course.

8. Do it because you love it. Writing, as a career, is not lucrative or fruitful – unless and until you throw so much passion at it that the passion converts to skill, and the skill converts to success. Most people never get to that point, because they’re expecting something (money? overnight fame? an instant book deal?) that never comes.

If you write, you have to do it because you love to write. Or at least because you hate doing it less than you hate doing most other things. The actual act of writing has to be fun for you – or if not fun, then at least gratifying. We humans are happiest when we pursue goals for their intrinsic rewards (e.g. the joy you feel when you write) rather than extrinsic ones (e.g. the money and fame you hope writing will bring you). If you write for the love of it, you’ll have already succeeded before you even click “Publish.”

9. …But don’t devalue yourself. When some writers talk about the importance of loving the craft, they make it sound like some high-minded endeavor, in which money should never be a consideration. If you were a real writer, this line of logic goes, you wouldn’t care one way or the other if you got paid to write.

This is a nice idea, but the reality is that we live in a capitalist society, and all of us (yes, even writers!) need to earn a living. Writing is a skillset, and if you write well and people enjoy your writing, you deserve to be compensated for that. There’s something to be said for building up a portfolio of pro-bono work before you start charging, but at some point or another, you should start getting paid for your work. Don’t be afraid to ask for money, or to ask for more. Don’t be afraid to say no when publications offer to pay you in “exposure.” Don’t be afraid to assert your worth as a writer and as a person. ‘Cause dammit, writing is work, and work costs money.

10. “Operate like the world is already listening.” Know how no one at the party wants to listen to that person who talks like they have nothing worthwhile to say? The same is true for writers. You’ll enthrall an audience much quicker if you write like people are already enthralled by you. I don’t mean you should write with egotism or self-aggrandizement; I just mean you should write with purpose and with confidence, like you would if your audience was huge and gleefully gorged on every word that dripped from your pen.

From the beginning, I wrote this blog as if hordes of sex nerds were already reading it, because that’s what I wanted. And sure enough, now I’ve got that sweet, substantial, sex-nerdy congregation I always hoped for. Think about who you wish was reading your stuff, and then write stuff that those people would like to read. They’ll find you. And in the meantime, write like they already have.

 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

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I’ve gotten into erotic audio in a big way over the past year. It fills a need I didn’t even know I had. When I watch porn, the sounds are vitally important to me: moaning, dirty talk, even the ambience of wetness on skin. It’s such a crucial part of my experience that if a porn scene is muted or the background music is too loud, I’ll turn it off; it has no hope of getting me off.

So of course audio porn is the ideal erotic medium for me. And I’m a tad obsessed.

My tastes in erotic audio are diverse, encompassing multiple creators in multiple styles – but today I’m gonna talk to you about the Grey Knight. He’s one of the more popular creators in this genre, at least in my social spheres: fawning links to his audios show up pretty frequently in my Twitter stream and on my Tumblr dashboard. He’s all over Spotify and YouTube, he’s got a podcast, and his Patreon community is thriving. Dude’s branding and output are off the damn charts.

That’d be impressive enough to me, but the audios he creates are worthy of all that attention, and that’s even more impressive. His work spans several different styles, kinks, and approaches, so if you’re attracted to men (in reality or even just in fantasy), you’ll probably be able to find something in his catalogue that excites your ears and your junk.

A current favorite of mine is “You’ve Got a Mouth On You.” It combines several of my biggest kinks: giving head, being instructed in how to please a partner, and Daddy Dom/little girl roleplay. Throughout this audio, the Knight gives the listener (his “little girl”) moment-by-moment directions on how to suck him off, all from the perspective of a kind, nurturing Daddy. There’s a lot of growling and moaning, but those instructions and encouragements take center stage in this one. Unf.

I also really enjoy “Treat,” a sweet, vaguely Halloween-themed (as in “trick or treat”) cunnilingus-based audio with a DD/lg dynamic. It’s really hard to pull off oral sex in audio form without sounding like a pig at the trough, but the Grey Knight manages it. This one’s peppered with verbal encouragement, some mild chastising for wearing a skirt that’s too short (!), and satisfying moans.

Beyond your standard sex and kink fare, the Knight also does some more out-there fantasy roleplays: vampires, impregnation, police interrogation, even pirates. I’ve mostly been listening to these audios on Spotify, where there’s very little room for keywords and trigger warnings, and I wish that wasn’t so. It would be easier to choose the perfect audio for my current mood if I could know in advance what tone and potential triggers each one contained. Most of the time lately, I’ve felt like being dominated in a sweet, nurturing, coddling way, and while the Grey Knight has a lot of DD/lg audios along those lines, it’s not always easy to find one in a hurry.

I like the Knight’s voice, but I do think he comes across as a little smarmy and even dorky sometimes. That’s kinda my jam – think nerdy, domly math professor – but it might not be yours. If you like his voice, though, you’re in luck: there are hours upon hours of it available online. Sometimes he switches up his timbre or accent to achieve a particular character or archetype, often to great effect. (Y’all know I’m a sucker for voices and impressions.)

Unlike some erotic audio creators, the Knight’s recordings rarely feel too scripted or too loose – they strike a good balance between those two extremes, maybe due to his experience working in radio. The yarns he spins feel structured and well-paced enough that I don’t lose interest, but there’s still usually an improvisational feel to the things he says. Just like real dirty-talk during real sex with a real dom, you get the sense that he knows what he wants to achieve and where he wants to take the scene, but he’s also going to go with the flow and do what feels right in the moment.

To say the least, I have jerked off many times while working on this review. And that’s the highest compliment I can give to a maker of erotic media. Check out the Grey Knight’s audios if you want to try something new, enjoy an ambient fantasy, or just walk around the city with a slutty secret in your headphones.

 

Heads up: this review was sponsored, but as always, all words and opinions are my own!

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Unrequited love is the woooooorst.

Oh, I certainly get the appeal. I see why it’s played up in movies, music, theatre, and TV. Unrequited love is dramatic, romantic, captivating, titillating. It keeps you on your toes, on the hook, on the edge of your seat.

But what those fictional portrayals don’t quite capture is just how bad it feels to love someone who doesn’t want you. It’s not all giggly-eyed banter in school hallways and pretty-crying in the bathroom mirror. The real pain of the situation is so much worse than that. And I say that as someone who’s spent many a night sobbing in bed until my eyes were so bleary I couldn’t see and my voice was too hoarse to form the words “Why doesn’t he love me?!” anymore.

When you get your heart bruised or broken, lots of people offer you advice. “Laughter is the best medicine,” they’ll say, thrusting a Mel Brooks DVD into your hands. “Time heals all wounds,” they’ll mumble with a shrug as they pass you a bowl of Häagen Dazs. “Everything happens for a reason,” they’ll chide, tossing you a pillow to punch to a pulp. And you’ll beat up that damn pillow, less because it helps your heartbreak and more because all this unsolicited advice is inciting your wrath.

With that in mind, I’m offering you six strategies which, used in tandem and in order, have helped me enormously when oblivious cutiefaces have stomped all over my heart. You don’t have to take this advice. You don’t even have to read this advice. But if you’re tired of living in a whirlpool of tears over someone who doesn’t break a sweat over you – if you’re tired of feeling swathed in lovelorn lethargy and you want to actually get some shit done – then give these tips a try. They’re not revolutionary or new, but they are effective.

Dump out all your feelings. Emotions are like trash. (Okay, not always, but go with me for the sake of this metaphor.) You can try to throw them in the kitchen garbage pail, slide them down the garbage disposal, toss ’em out a window – but unless you firmly, physically remove them from your space, you’ll never be completely sure they’re actually gone from the premises.

So take out the trash. Grab a journal and pen, and write out every single thought or feeling or idea or dream or fantasy you’ve ever had about the object of your affections. Write until your muscles ache – and then switch to typing if you have to. Look for sore spots – any particular concepts or memories that make you feel especially miserable and dejected – and unpack them until they can’t be unpacked any further. Resolve all your thought-loops of anxiety, worry, insecurity, sadness, and anger, so you can finally set them to rest.

You can do this verbally, too, by talking out loud to a friend. But I find journals are more patient and less judgmental.

Forgive them. If you still harbor any bitterness toward your love for not loving you back, you need to nix that shit. The forgiveness process might take time and reflection (boring, but effective), or you might be able to do it quicker with some empathy and the ability to put yourself in their shoes.

For example: when I get frustrated that a crush doesn’t like me back, I always mentally revisit times that someone has liked me and I haven’t wanted to date them. Maybe it was a lack of physical attraction, maybe some doubts about our compatibility, maybe a sexual attraction that just didn’t lean romantic enough, or maybe it was just the headspace I was in at the time. Whatever the case, there was nothing I could have done to conjure feelings for my unrequited admirer; it just wasn’t going to happen. That’s the type of reality check that makes it painful-yet-possible for me to forgive a crush in the present for not loving me back: I know they can’t help it. Because I couldn’t help it either.

View them through the lens of someone who doesn’t love them. You might have trouble viewing your amour with any objectivity, but guess what? Your friends can view that person accurately. You should take advantage of that power.

Ask your friends to tell you about the flaws, faults, and failings of the person you love. They might only have petty things to report – “One of her boobs is bigger than the other!” “He gets crumbs everywhere when he eats!” – but they might also have some bigger complaints to lodge, that they’ve been holding back for fear of offending you in your smittenness. For example, I’ll always be grateful to the friends who pointed out that a longtime crush of mine actually treated me badly, dismissed my ideas, and took my affection for granted. I hadn’t noticed these things at all because I was so wrapped up in my squeaky-clean image of him. Thank god for third-party neutral observers.

If you don’t want to reach out to friends to ask about your love’s flaws, or if none of your friends know the person you’re trying to get over, you can also try to unearth this information yourself. Journal for a nice long time about all the ways your love has slighted you, mistreated you, acted out, fucked up, and fallen short. Normally I don’t advocate focusing on people’s failures, but right now you need to be shaken out of your “I love them, they’re perfect!” mentality.

Publicly decide you’re getting over them. When I say “publicly,” I don’t mean you have to announce it on your blog or blast your Facebook friends with the news – that’s a bit much, even for me. But you should tell at least a couple of close friends that you have decided to get over your crush. To some extent, they can keep you from sending sad drunk texts, creeping your love’s tweets at 2AM, or taking a “casual stroll” through your crush’s neighborhood. You’ll feel more committed to your recovery mission if you’ve told your plan to people you respect.

But this attitudinal shift isn’t just important for your friends to know; it’s important for you to know, too. Once you’ve decided to get over your crush, you’ll (slowly, incrementally) stop mentally highlighting everything they say or do as worthy of your notice. You’ll scroll past their tweets like they were anyone else in your timeline, write about them in your journal only when they’re actually relevant to your day, and wait until you have a moment free to answer their texts instead of hammering out an instant reply. Treat them like a non-crush, and they’ll gradually become one. Mental categorization is more important than we realize, and that includes the mental category of “person I love.”

Destroy all mementos. Fuck, this is really hard to do! I am an appallingly sentimental person, and I cling to physical tokens obsessively if they remind me of a person, place, or time in my life that was important to me. But let’s be real: if you claim to be getting over someone, but you still own objects that remind you of that person every time you see them, you’re half-assing the task at hand.

“But Kate!” you might be screeching as you read this, “Why do I have to get rid of the endtable my crush made for me/T-shirt she gave me/stuffed animal he won me at the carnival?! Those things came from the person I love, but they don’t remind me of them!” Only you can know if that’s really true. If an item is useful to you, or genuinely makes you happy, and its tragic origins don’t come to mind when you glance at it, then it might not be so bad for you to keep it. But you have to get really real with yourself about this, and get rid of anything that makes you even borderline-sad.

If you truly can’t bear to let go of some of these objects – maybe because they’re expensive, one-of-a-kind, or you think you might want them years down the road – then put them in a bag (Gala says you should write “DON’T!” on the outside) and give that bag to someone you trust for safekeeping. It’s okay if your mementos stay in your mom’s garage or your best friend’s bathroom closet; having them out of your space will be good for you.

Go out and live your life!! They say the best revenge is living well. I say the best “revenge” is not feeling like you need revenge. Living well because you want to and deserve to live well – not because it makes you appear a certain way to a certain someone.

Throw yourself into your creative projects. Go to parties and events. Make new friends and new professional connections. Go on dates with other cute people, if you wanna. Learn new skills. Spend time with people who love you. Watch movies that make you howl with laughter. Go for walks in the sunshine. Make lists of goals and then get started. Dance your ass off surrounded by sweaty happy people. Start saving for a vacation. Get your hair done or buy some new clothes. Write a book. Make collage art. Roll down a hill. Write a gratitude list every morning. Listen to music that makes your heart pound with glee. Figure out what would make you happy and then go do that.

We make ourselves miserable when we wait by the phone, endlessly hoping our crush will get off their ass and finally notice us. Relying on other people to make you happy is emotional masochism. Make yourself happy, even if you’ve never really done that before and aren’t sure where to start. Just try a whole bunch of different things and see what sticks. Get out into the world, make things, do things, have experiences. Wash the bitter love from your system with as much hustle and joy as you can muster.

Keep going. Nothing worth doing is instant or easy, but it’s still worth doing.

 

What are your best strategies for when you love someone who doesn’t love you back?