Links & Hijinks: Boners, Biting, & Rolled-Up Sleeves

• Hey. You can find meaning without monogamy. “People will accept or reject you for reasons that have nothing to do with you at all,” writes Alana Hope Levinson. “I know that sounds depressing, but it can also be liberating.”

• It’s okay if you don’t like making out! You just have to find partners who feel similarly, or are willing to compromise on this issue.

• This post is from 2013 but I only just discovered it: Sinclair Sexsmith shared tons of helpful info about biting during sex.

• Here’s the only article about Rachel Dolezal worth reading.

• My friend Caitlin wrote about her experiences with mindful masturbation and made me want to do some too!

Why do some people fake their orgasms?

• “A woman’s orgasm shouldn’t be the goal of sex,” argues Jessica Schreindl, because defining orgasm as a goal makes sex into a high-pressure, patriarchal performance for everyone involved. I agree that orgasm shouldn’t be demanded or pushed for, if the person or people involved don’t want to have one – but for me personally, orgasm is an important part of sex and I very much appreciate partners who’ll give me one when I want one!

• This article about piss play is beautifully written. I adore Katie Sly’s work!

• “I want you to consider the possibility that the more chill you seem to guys, the less likely you are to find a guy who loves you for exactly who you are right now,” suggests Heather Havrilesky in an Ask Polly column that tugged at my utterly un-chill heartstrings.

• You can help relieve a partner’s PMS symptoms by talking to them and being supportive.

• Here’s the always-charming John McDermott talking about why dating-related slang like “ghosting” and “cushioning” normalizes bad behavior. I’m not sure how I feel about his argument – I think it’s useful to name behaviors like this so we can identify them, call people out on them, and explain why they’re unacceptable – but it’s nonetheless an interesting thought experiment in how language shapes our actions.

• Katie Tandy wrote a stunning piece about using kink to heal from trauma and it made me cry a whole bunch.

• The ever-clever Alana Massey on One Direction, non-toxic masculinity, and why teen girls love boy bands as deeply as they do. “When you’re part of a fandom, you’re never really alone if you don’t want to be,” she writes, reminding me of so so so many life-affirming experiences I have had in the throes of various obsessions with bands, movies, TV shows, musicals, books, and actors.

Should boners be frowned on at nudist colonies?

• Yo, Planned Parenthood isn’t just for women. I am tired of the anti-feminist rhetoric which says any effort that only benefits women isn’t worth undertaking (women are people! women are valuable! women are a huge percentage of the population!) but it is nonetheless worth noting that Planned Parenthood helps a broad range of people.

• There are still people using Craigslist to find sexual partners, apparently.

Forearms are hot and therefore rolled-up sleeves are hot. (I have been saying this for years!)

• My friend Tynan wrote about how sex doesn’t have to be a priority in your relationship, so long as your priorities line up with your partner’s.

• Fuck “stealthing.” WHY ARE (some) MEN LIKE THIS??

Science misunderstands female desire and this contributes to our cultural idea that women are less libidinous than men. The truth is much more complicated! (In summation: “Women like having sex. They don’t like being socially punished for it.”)

• Suzannah Weiss went to a nudist resort and it helped her learn better boundary-setting skills. Amaze!

• Consensual non-monogamy has its own unique benefits that you can’t get to the same degree from monogamous relationships. Interesting!

• Here’s why some straight men have sex with other straight men.

• Alana Massey wrote about consumerism as a coping mechanism in the era of Trump. Yikes.

• “I’m sitting covered in cum on Christmas Eve in my mom’s basement with a wire hanging out of my ass; I’m a pervert.” Gotta love a good story of masturbation gone awry.

• I love writing that combines sex, gender, and fashion! Here’s a piece on the iconic imagery of a woman wearing a man’s dress shirt after sex.

• Here’s a primer on tentacle porn, incase you were wondering.

The history of artificial insemination is a long and storied one.

• Why do men like to have sex with the lights on? Gosh, I have such a crush on John McDermott: “I’ve done it in all grades of lighting… Blazing morning sun, a pitch-black cave, beneath the soft glow of a streetlamp…” (Incidentally, one time I was making out pre-sex with a Tinder hookup while my bedroom’s overhead light was on, and he said, “Is there a lamp you could turn on instead? It feels like a hospital in here.” Thanks, pal.)

Can a robot be a pickup artist?

• Gala wrote about why her divorce was a blessing. I’ve never been married but this reminded me lots of the final ~4 months of my last serious relationship: the crushing certainty that I needed to end things, but the absolute terror every time I contemplated doing so. In retrospect, I wish I’d bucked up and done it earlier!

• Let’s replace the dick pic with the dick code. (There’s also a vulva code. Here’s mine.)

On Love That Doesn’t Last

I thought about relationship longevity when my college boyfriend asked me to stop wearing antiperspirant with aluminum in it.

“It can give you breast cancer,” he said, “and you already have a family history of breast cancer, so you’re especially at risk. You should switch to one without aluminum. Please.”

I ran a quick risk-reward calculation in my head. Possible eventual breast cancer, in a medical system that knows how to treat it and will do so at no cost to me, versus a few decades of visibly sweaty pits. It seemed to me it was a risk worth taking. Plus there was that other matter… “I probably wouldn’t even get the cancer until my forties or fifties,” I responded, reasonably.

“So?”

“So why do you care? We probably won’t even know each other by then.” My words hung in the air. We peered at each other curiously. A stand-off.

“I care about you and don’t want you to get cancer,” he said, finally, answering exactly zero of the questions I’d implied.

I thought about relationship longevity when a friend asked me if I’d be with my boyfriend forever, and I scoffed, “God, no.”

She was shocked. “But you two always seem so happy! Is something wrong? Are you going to break up?”

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “No! We’re very happy. I love him a ton. He’s my favorite person on earth.”

I watched the confusion stagnate on her face.

How do you explain to someone that love can be good even if it’s brief, in a culture that adamantly steers us away from that knowledge? How do you prove that what makes you happy now won’t make you happy forever, nor should it have to? How do you unlearn the trope that love’s only love if it lasts?

I thought about relationship longevity when one of the kids on the improv team I coached made a Facebook status: “I love my girlfriend sooooo much and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her!” He couldn’t have been more than 15 years old.

Was it cynicism that made me roll my eyes, or just realism?

I cast my mind back to when I was 15. I thought I was in love with the purple-haired girl who’d recently dumped me. She was my first girlfriend, my first kiss, and my first break-up – yet I believed with my whole heart that she was irreplaceable, unrepeatable. I could marry that girl, I wrote in my journal, and it felt true, and maybe it was true; who knows.

When friends asked me why I was so fixated on this girl, the point I returned to again and again was: I could never get bored of her. Our conversations were so sharp and quick, our brains so well-matched, that we could debate and joke and argue forever and every moment would feel fresh.

Now her purple hair is black, and her eyes are sadder, and I can see that our hearts were as bad a pair as our brains were a good one. She wanted adventure; I wanted domesticity. She wanted independence; I wanted reliance. Sure, she never would have bored me, but I’m not sure that’s an altogether good thing.

I thought about relationship longevity when I met Bex. No friendship had ever formed so easily, quickly and solidly in my entire life. One day in November 2015, we were casual acquaintances who vaguely knew each other from Twitter and a bloggers’ retreat. The next day, we had had a threesome together, talked about sex and dating and flirting for hours, and become best friends. “Friendship cemented!” we crowed at each other over mac and cheese, and it wasn’t a joke.

If Bex had been a romantic interest of mine, instead of just a pal, friends would have told me to slow down. They would have said, “Whoa, that person drove nine hours to be with you on New Year’s Eve? Isn’t that a little intense?” They would have said, “You’re staying in that person’s house for five days and they’re letting you borrow their dildos? Isn’t it a little soon for that?” They would have said, “Hang on, you’re starting a podcast together? How do you know you won’t get into a fight and break up?”

But none of it scared me. None of it felt uncomfortable or rushed or ill-advised. Because I just knew. I knew we were meant to find each other in this weird world, I knew we were best friends in the truest sense of that phrase, and I knew we would be friends for a long time.

Sometimes you just know.


Wearing his shirt.

I thought about relationship longevity when I first met my current friend-with-benefits – because I wanted us to never be apart, and I don’t think he knew what he wanted.

Our first meeting was dazzling and disorienting. He talked about himself a lot but every word charmed and fascinated me. We talked for three or four hours over beer (me) and wine (him) and it felt like no time at all. I could’ve listened to him talk all night. And I would’ve, too, if he hadn’t gotten tired and wanted to say goodnight.

As is my M.O. as a shy person, I hadn’t opened up enough for him to see the real me – so he didn’t know we were meant to be friends. He showed me both his outsides and his insides, but he only saw my outsides, so he didn’t know our insides matched. He didn’t hear the jokes that cropped up in my head seconds before he made them, the emotional reactions that crossed my heart before they crossed his face.

When I went home and journaled my first impressions of him that night, I wanted to call him “the twin of my soul,” but that felt melodramatic, embarrassing, even in the privacy of my diary. That phrase floated around in my skull every time I saw him thereafter, though. Did you know you’re the twin of my soul? I thought but never asked.

It took months for me to relax around him, so it took months for him to see who I really was. But when he did, he knew too, I think. “I get the sense that you and I are going to be in each other’s lives for a long time,” he said to me once, slowly, as we sipped coffee at a diner. Harsh afternoon light filtered in behind him, and I shielded my eyes, but couldn’t conceal the grin that split my face. Finally, he understood. The twin of my soul.

Review: Sili Saddle

I’m conflicted about the Sili Saddle. It is, as its name suggests, silly. And yet it might also be useful for lots of people. People whose genitals are different from mine in many ways.

The product’s website describes it as a “super-soft non-penetrative manual vulvar stimulator.” It was apparently developed by a woman who had vulvar irritation and couldn’t have her genitals touched in the usual ways without pain. “It’s great for gentle solo stimulation and enhances partnered intimacy, acting as a soothing yet stimulating barrier when skin-on-skin friction is uncomfortable,” the product’s website explains. “It works beautifully as a non-vibrating pleasure pad for sensitive vulvas.”

This is a fantastic idea, and serves – I’m sure – a niche market that has always existed but has rarely been acknowledged. I know there are people who are reading this right now, eyes wide and mouth ajar, thinking: This! This is what I need!

I’m happy for those people. However, if you’re looking at this product and feeling mystified – a non-vibrating, flat disc of squishy silicone with a ridge along the underside?! – here are some other uses I’ve found for the Sili Saddle, as a person who doesn’t have recurrent vulvar pain or irritation:

Warm-up. Sometimes, if I start masturbating without getting myself turned on through porn or other means first, my clit is too sensitive to be touched right away. I can lay the Sili Saddle’s raised ridge over my clit, put my palm on its flat side, and move it around for some super gentle, indirect clit stimulation. I do this with lube if I want some slippery-slidey friction, or without lube if I’m more in the mood for anchored pressure. I don’t think I could have an orgasm this way unless I had gone several days without coming, was very turned on, and had maybe smoked a bunch of weed – but if your clit is more sensitive and your orgasms more easily induced than mine, you might like using the Sili Saddle in this way.

Orgasm deprivation. I could see the Sili Saddle being useful in a kink scenario where a dominant partner was purposely denying you sensation. “You’ve been so good that I’m going to let you touch yourself,” they’d say, and your eyes would light up – but then they’d slap the Sili Saddle onto your bits and add, evilly, “THROUGH THIS!” Then they would watch with devious amusement as you tried to eke an orgasm out of this toy. Ah, the delicious cruelty of it all!

Strap-on cushioning. When I worked at a sex shop, I heard customers complain all the time that strapping on during sex can result in uncomfortable friction and impact against the genitals of the wearer. My shop didn’t carry the Sili Saddle, but I wish it had; I could’ve sold dozens! The soft silicone of this toy is ideal for absorbing the impact of thrusting, so you won’t feel bruised after a thorough strap-on sesh. Furthermore, that ridge along one side can provide some gentle clit stimulation for the strap-on wearer that’ll add to their enjoyment.

Vibration mitigation. If you have, say, a Magic Wand, and you find it sometimes (or always) feels too intense, you can use it through a Sili Saddle to help manage those sensations. This is different from using the vibe through clothes because a) the Sili Saddle is thicker, so it subdues the vibration better, and b) it has that ridge, which sits against your clit and focuses the vibrations while softening them. I love using my Sili Saddle and Magic Wand this way when I’m getting warmed up ‘n’ turned on, especially because it keeps the vibrator from numbing my genitals before the party even gets started.

PIV padding. As someone who often sleeps with scruffy cis men, I am familiar with the perils of scratchy dude-pubes against my sensitive clit. If pubis-on-pubis contact during intercourse is uncomfortable for you, whether due to pubic hair, pressure, or some other factor, you might wanna slide a Sili Saddle in between and see if it improves things. For me, this is more of a “decreasing discomfort” thing than an “adding pleasure” thing; if I want to amp up my pleasure during intercourse, I’m likelier to grab a We-Vibe or a small handheld clit vibe.

As you can see, the Sili Saddle can be used in many ways and would, I’m sure, be an invaluable tool to folks with super sensitive and/or irritated genitals. However, that’s not me, so I doubt I’ll use mine much after I’m done this review.

It sure is pretty, though.

 

Thanks to the folks at Sili Saddle for sending me their product to review!

Trust Your Body & Say What You Mean: A Sweet & Salacious Tarot Reading

The older I get, the more I appreciate people who perform emotional labor for myself and others. These skills are undervalued, underemphasized, rendered almost imperceptible by this culture which says emotional labor isn’t labor at all. Anyone who makes that claim simply doesn’t understand how much they have benefited from the emotional labor performed for them by people in their lives. If they saw it for what it was – if they recognized it while it was happening, instead of breezing past it in an entitled huff – they would be in awe. They would be grateful.

I feel this way about so many people in my life who perform emotional labor for me regularly: the friends who sit with me calmly when I’m sad, the partners who remember which small things upset me and which small things bring me joy, the therapist who puzzles through my motivations with me, even the baristas and waiters who remember my usual order. They are all giving me an exquisite gift made from compassion, intuition, and mindfulness. I do not take it for granted.

I feel this way about Carly from Tiny Lantern Tarot as well. Our reading last year opened my eyes to many worrisome patterns I was perpetuating in my dating life; Carly helped me see these issues by reading my cards, drawing on her knowledge of me, listening to my questions and concerns, and simply being present with me. (Carly uses both she/her and they/them pronouns, so I’ll be alternating between those in this post.)

This past week I went back to see Carly for another reading – specifically, a reading about my sex life, which Carly calls a “pussy fortune.” (They’re quick to point out, of course, that this language doesn’t resonate with everyone and there are many other things you could call a sexy tarot reading. My pun-brain is whirring… A “pre-dick-tion”? A “whore-oscope”? A “get-off-ecy”?!)

I’m a sex-nerdy, kinky, non-monogamous queerdo, so if I’m going to open up to someone – in either a personal or a professional capacity – I need them to be cool with all those things, or even involved in those communities themselves. Carly totally gets all of that, and I feel 100% comfortable unpacking sex/kink/poly things with her. If you are similarly inclined and live in or near Toronto, I would highly recommend booking Carly for a reading; their knowledge of and comfort with these areas of sexuality sets me deeply at ease.

She made me a cup of coffee and we settled onto the couch in her little turquoise office. We discussed some questions I’ve been wondering about: 1) How can I adjust my approach to dating to attract more people into my life who I’m emotionally and sexually compatible with and who want to date me? and 2) What areas of sexuality should I explore next, in my personal life and in my work? (Sex is inextricable from work for me. My sex life fuels my sex writing; my sex writing fuels my sex life. I cannot discuss one without the other.) I watched as they shuffled their gently glinting black-and-gold cards and laid them out methodically on a navy chest repurposed as a table, and we began the reading.

It was a long reading, full of thoughtful silences and the internal whir of one “aha!” moment after another. One of my favorite things about Carly’s readings is that she leaves long, comfortable silences in between sentences and cards. As a journalist, improvisor, and podcaster, sometimes silences make me panic – they’re “dead air” and that’s bad, right?! – but they are incredibly useful in a setting like a tarot reading. Sometimes I need a good ten or twenty seconds to absorb and process something one of us has just said – to turn it over in my mind and look at it from all angles – and it’s in those long pauses that I connect the dots, find the common threads, reach revelations. In everyday life, we so rarely get the opportunity to take a breath, think, and decide at our own pace what we want to say next. Carly holds space for their clients in ways both figurative and literal, and it is such a gift.

They pulled many cards and we discussed many facets of my dating life, sex life, and work life, so I won’t go into detail about all of it – but here are a few key concepts that have stuck with me in the intervening days…

Listen to your body. Trust your body. Let your brain take a backseat. This message came up in multiple cards. It’s something I frequently struggle with, as an anxious weirdo who over-intellectualizes and over-analyzes sex. Sometimes my body really does know best, and that’s hard to accept; I want to be able to conquer all problems with sheer brainpower! But my body is at least as smart as my brain, and I need to let it do its thing.

This has come up in my dating life a lot lately. I’ll force myself to go on a first date (and then sometimes a second or third date!) with someone because they seem like a good fit for me, logically. But my body knows different: my shoulders get tense as I enter the plan in my calendar, my eyelids feel heavy as I force myself out of bed the morning of the date, and I’m fraught with anxious nausea as I slide my shoes on and head out the door. There is a difference between good-nervous and bad-nervous, and I can distinguish between the two if I silence my brain-chatter and listen to my body. Nine times out of ten, my body has a better sense of whether someone is good for me than my brain does, and I should heed that more often.

This lesson also plays into more established relationships. It’s been over a year since I found out my ex-FWB was chronically abusive to other partners of his, and I keep reflecting on all the warning signs my body noticed that my brain decided to ignore. I didn’t feel good around him, I never got excited to go see him, and he often said creepy things that grated on me – but I kept assuring myself these were small things that ultimately didn’t matter, since the sex was good and he was, on the surface, “nice.”

Contrastingly, I recently had sex for the first time with a new beau who I believe is actually nice, and afterward, he breathed in my ear, “I have a good feeling about you.” I had a good feeling about him, too – in my body, not just my brain. Our bodies are wiser than we give them credit for.

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. One of the cards Carly pulled for me this time, the Seeker of Feathers, also came up in our last reading, which I gather means I haven’t learned its lesson yet. This card is all about honesty, assertiveness, telling the truth, even when doing so is hard. I think most of us could stand to get better at this.

Sometimes I tell dates I like them and want to see them again when I kinda don’t. Sometimes I tell dates I’m cool with us keeping things “chill” and “casual” when I utterly am not. Sometimes I tell dates I’m “not sure what I’m looking for” when I actually know I’m looking for a committed primary partner.

Sometimes I tell partners I don’t care that I didn’t have an orgasm, when I actually do care. Sometimes I tell partners what they’re doing feels great, when I actually know what would feel better. Sometimes I tell partners our sexual incompatibilities are solvable, when I’m actually frustrated to catastrophic levels with one crucial mismatch or another.

I get myself into trouble when I lie, distort the truth, or omit pertinent details. I end up going on dates with people I barely like, making out with people I’d rather just cuddle, having sex with people to whom I should’ve said “good night” hours ago. To be clear, these experiences are consensual; they just lack the passion and enthusiasm and “oh yes”-ness that I consider vital. If there isn’t mutual excitement in a romantic and/or sexual interaction, why am I even there? What is the point?

I told Carly about how I struggle with letting people down, even when I know I’m not feeling a connection. She reminded me that dating is inherently risky and most people know that. There is always a risk of rejection, sadness, conflict, disappointment. That’s just part of the deal. I don’t have to protect people from that. Trying to postpone those feelings often just worsens them in the end. “Stop going on second dates with people you know you don’t want to keep seeing,” Carly advised me. Okay. I’ll try.

Consider your intentions. One of the cards Carly drew – the Ten of Feathers – was meant to represent how others observe or interpret me, and it indicated a fall. Chaos. Mental health struggles, addiction, loneliness, fears.

I felt a rush of embarrassment when they explained this to me. I flashed back to Kat Williams advising against being a “car-crash blogger” – a blogger who only writes about bad things that happen to them, in an effort to get clicks and sympathy. I often write about difficult stuff – but is that what I want to be known for?

As I blathered about this internal crisis, Carly reminded me that having a public image laced with conflict and chaos isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And I realized they were right. I’ve received so many nice notes from readers telling me that my writing about soul-crushing experiences – unrequited love, rejection, insecurity – helped them understand and get through tricky situations of their own. This was a nice reminder that I should consider my intentions with regards to my work: writing sad stuff isn’t necessarily bad, it should just be something I deliberately choose to do, if and when I do it.

We also talked about how I should be more deliberate and intentional in my dating life as well. If I’m going out on multiple first dates a month with new Tinder suitors, I should ask myself: why? What am I hoping to get out of this? Am I actually having fun, or am I just doing this because I feel like I’m “supposed to”? If I’m having sex with a lot of people, is it actually as fun and exciting as I want it to be, or is it just exhausting? Am I pursuing romantic relationships because they’re what I’m “supposed to” want, or do I actually want them?

These are all questions for which my answers tend to oscillate, but the important thing is that I’m pondering them at all. Things get messy when I wander into new endeavors with no idea what I’m really doing – whereas, if I know exactly what I’m hoping to get out of an experience, I’m likelier to have a good time and get what I want.

Just like last time, I left Carly’s house feeling inspired, emboldened, and amped up. Their perspective, advice, and the simple act of listening to me had helped me shake loose some areas that had felt stuck. On the subway ride home, I stared at the notes I’d scribbled in my journal, and it felt like I was looking at a road map to a more satisfying sex life.

If you want to book a reading with Carly – which you should, ’cause she’s fucking terrific – you can make arrangements to come see her here in Toronto. They also occasionally travel to other locales; follow them on Twitter for updates on that. Carly also writes a tarot advice column called Ask a Feelings-Witch, to which you are welcome to submit questions.

I’m never entirely sure how I feel about witchy, magical practices – whether I believe they actually help or they’re just made-up silliness – but what I know about tarot is that it bridges a gap between the magical and the practical. The cards tell you some things, and you can connect those messages and lessons to the events of your own life, in ways that are often shockingly illuminating. Whether you believe tarot is a mystical practice imbued with the supernatural, or merely a secular window into your own psyche, I think it can be a helpful tool. After all, if you ask me, all the best things in life have a little ambiguous magic in them – and the wisest people are those who are open to mystery, to the unexplainable, to being surprised by life.

25 Things I Absolutely Must Do This Summer

It is, at long last, warming up here in Toronto. I have been Googling “When will it get warm?!” for months, so I’m thrilled, obviously.

While Canadian weather leaves a lot to be desired, it does make me especially grateful for new seasons when they appear. I am always making dreamy lists in my journal of the adventures I hope to go on when the weather changes. Here are 25 activities I endeavor to embark on in the coming months…

Drink a mint julep on a patio. Mint juleps are my summertime boozy go-to. They are so refreshing and decadent when it’s balmy outside. Last I checked, you could get a good julep at Clinton’s during the warm months. I also keep hearing good things about Bar Isabel, and I love the classic cocktails and cozy vibe at Northwood. Here’s to lots of cold drinks on sunny patios this season!

Read lots of books. Speaking of patios: there are few leisures more pleasurable to me than sitting on a café patio with a big iced coffee (or mango smoothie) and a fascinating book. I’ve got plenty of good ones to work through this season: Love, Sex, and AwakeningThe Remedy, and I Love Dick, to name just a few!

Make out on a sunny hillside. Look, no summer in Toronto is complete without kissing a cutie in Riverdale Park at sunset. It’s one of the prettiest views in the whole city, and being there with someone I adore always fills me with a sense of renewed hope and optimism. (The Chester Hill lookout, pictured, is also a great spot for makeouts if a picturesque view is your idea of romance.)

Swim naked. I spent several evenings this past winter making out naked with cuties in the heated pool at a sex club. Being naked underwater just feels primally right somehow, when you’re in the right environment and headspace for it. Hopefully I’ll be invited to some lascivious pool parties or beach days this summer. Or maybe I’ll just invite a handsome suitor into my bathtub with me. Whatever works.

Buy a great new lipstick. Summer is traditionally when I rock my brightest pinks and weirdest purples. Having a new lipstick to wear can give you a whole new lease on life. I love going shopping with fellow femmes, trying out a zillion shades on the back of my hand, and buying the one that makes me happiest.

Go dancing. You can really do this year-round but there is something particularly hedonistic about summertime dancey nights: you can wear a short dress or tiny shorts, adorn your face with a healthy sprinkling of glitter, and boogie til you break a sweat. Clinton’s has frequent themed dance nights, and there’s also the Queer Slowdance and so many other spots. I want the unmatched exhilaration of moving my body to beats well into the wee hours!

Get a tattoo. I’ve gotten new tattoos two summers in a row, and maybe I’ll continue that streak this year… I have some ideas percolating but I’m not totally sure yet. Hmm!

Host a party. My get-togethers are usually simple affairs involving pizza, cider, sex gossip, and maybe a few rounds of Use Your Words or “Which Would You Rather Bang?” But low-key though they might be, they’re still nourishing to my soul. Laughing with good friends on the reg is so important that you should pre-schedule it if that’s what it takes to make it happen.

Go on vacation. My main trip of the summer will be for Woodhull, but I’m going to try to get away at least one other time as well. Maybe I’ll go visit friends in Hamilton, Kingston, or Montreal. Maybe I’ll trek down to New York to see Bex. Wherever I end up going, I think it’s critical to escape one’s home for at least a few days in the summer, just to shake things up.

Stay up all night. This is a habit I picked up during high school, when my loosey-goosey summertime schedule enabled me to fuck up my sleep patterns all summer with no repercussions. Now that I’m an adult with responsibilities (not to mention an aging body), this is less possible – but it’s still doable if I time it right. Here’s to watching sunrises from rooftops with babes I adore, and fuelling my jangling brain with coffee that makes my teeth chatter when I smile.

Go on first dates. You can spark new romances any time of year, of course, but they feel particularly salacious and fresh when it’s warm out, I find. I plan to hop on Tinder, OkCupid, or SwingTowns and find some new cuties to romance. Even if none of your rendezvous lead to anything beyond one date, you can still make the most of those dates and have a fun time. Getting to know someone new is an exercise in empathy and communication skills, at the very least.

Celebrate Pride. There are certainly valid criticisms of Pride – its corporatization, its predominant focus on cis gay white men, its tumultuous relationship with police. I still love it, or at least the idea of it. It’s tradition. I love putting on a ridiculous outfit, slathering myself in sunscreen, and shimmying down the street with other rambunctious queers, shouting proud slogans and singing silly songs. I love taking up space as a queerdo and insisting on our importance in this world.

Get breakfast at a diner with someone cute. Grabbing an all-day breakfast after a night of bangin’ (or just platonic hangtimes) is one of my favorite simple joys. Eggs, toast, homefries, coffee, sausage, bacon, and good conversation. What’s not to love?! (My favorite spots for this are 7 West and the Detroit Eatery, but you knew that already.)

Go to an outdoor movie screening. Toronto always has plenty of these in the summer, at Yonge-Dundas Square and in Christie Pits Park and various other places. One of my fondest summer memories is laughing my ass off with a bunch of strangers at a public Anchorman screening years ago; I dressed up like it was the 1970s and we chorused our favorite lines at the screen. Communal movie-watching is so fun!

Try something new sexually. I first received oral sex one balmy July night in 2008, and I lost my PIV virginity on a sweaty evening in May of 2011, so I guess summers are entangled with sexual “firsts” in my mind. Maybe this’ll be the summer I finally get fisted, or go down on someone who has a vulva, or fuck on top of a grand piano, somehow…

Go on a long walk. I love exploring my city when it’s warm enough that I can do so without a coat. Podcasts or songs keep me company in my earbuds, and I go wherever my feet want to take me. Walks always calm my mind and sate my body – and I often have flashes of creative brilliance mid-walk that lead to fantastic blog posts, articles, or songs!

Visit a nude beach. I’ve never been to Toronto’s clothing-optional Hanlan’s Point Beach, and I can already hear my local friends groaning their dismay as I type that. Surely this is the summer when I finally make the trip! Being casually naked around other people is so good for your body image and self-acceptance.

Devour a TV show. In summers past, I’ve gorged on How I Met Your MotherThe OfficeThe L Word, and various others. It may sound trivial, but immersing myself in a fictional world always leaves me fulfilled and inspired. Each new lens through which you view your life gives you new tools and new ideas. I am always trying to broaden my horizons in any way I can, even if I do so by becoming temporarily obsessed with fictional romantic storylines!

Journal at sunrise. I don’t know why all my thoughts feel so much more poignant and important if I have them while the sun is coming up, but they do! I like sitting on a rooftop, café patio, or hillside as the day begins and meditating in my journal about whatever’s bothering me or whatever I’m grateful for. I always feel so cleansed and productive afterward.

Pose for gorgeous photos. Sometimes I think I hear the voice of Future Me whispering in my ear from decades ahead; she always tells me to appreciate what I have now. Part of that, I think, is appreciating what I look like now, because – shallow though this may sound – I’ll never look this young again! I’m lucky enough to have lots of photographer friends; maybe they’d like to indulge me in snapping some sunny glamor shots sometime this summer.

Go out for ice cream. This doesn’t have to be a date, but gosh, it’s cute when it is. You get to debate the best ice cream flavors and make fun of your date’s questionable tastes. You get to giggle at them when they get melted ice cream all over their lips, and then maybe kiss it off ’em. You get to banter wittily, or sit in comfortable silence, while crunching your cones. Like many food-related dates, it’s more about the ritualistic glee of it than the food itself – although, let’s be real, Baskin-Robbins’ peanut butter chocolate ice cream is a damn fine treat.

Wear high heels. I normally hate doing this, but hey, summer is the time for it. Even if I just end up gallivanting to the corner store or local café in my Sofft T-straps or Zara wedges, wearing heels in summer still feels crucial somehow.

Seek out new music. Spotify’s various music-discovery tools make this super easy, so I have no excuse! I love having specific soundtracks for particular times in my life, both because new music makes life feel more exciting and because it can act as a sensory time capsule when I listen to it again months or years later.

Get together with old friends. I have several pals who go to school in other cities but come back into town each summer, and I love catching up with them when I can. We go see improv shows or outdoor theatre productions, get dinner or drinks, and reminisce about old times. It always feels so necessary and uplifting!

Experiment with different identities. Summer is always the time when I try new perfumes or clothing silhouettes, push the limits of my personality, and consider launching bold new projects. The more relaxed climate lends itself better to identity shifts, somehow. I’m looking forward to seeing who I become this year.

What do you hope to do this summer, my loves?

 

Heads up: this post was sponsored, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!