Freelance Friday: Baby Blog + Time Log

What my blog used to look like when I was just starting out!

Freelance Friday is a new regular feature where I’ll be answering your questions about my life as a freelance journalist, blogger, copywriter, and all-around sexy scribe. If you have questions for this feature, feel free to leave ’em in the comments, or email me!

Q. I want to hear about the very beginning! The baby blog! Mistakes you made, what you wish you knew. What you surprised yourself with.

A. When I started Girly Juice, I was depressed, bored, and scared. It was March 2012 and I was six months into a gap year between high school and university. I had recently decided to return to school to study journalism, but was terrified I’d hate it or wouldn’t be good at it. In the meantime, the months stretched ahead of me, blank and unyielding. Most of my friends were away at school in other provinces, so I spent most of my time alone or with my then-boyfriend. Aside from a few hours of part-time work each week coaching high school improv and doing customer service for a catering company, there was nothing to do. So I started a sex blog.

I made the mistake, initially, of assuming I had to be someone else to be successful. I tried on the voices and styles of other writers I admired in the sex niche: Epiphora‘s sardonic sass, Sinclair Sexsmith‘s erotic esoterica, Lilly‘s no-nonsense guidance. I think artists of all types have to learn through imitation, but that can’t be all that you do. I think it took me about four years of blogging here twice weekly to really find (or create) my voice. It’s hard to say what I am as a writer, exactly, but I know I’m not any of those people I longed to be like when I began.

In the early days, I blogged according to my whims, not according to a schedule – but frequently, nonetheless. I wrote three or four or five posts a week. Blogging was all I could think about. I had so many thoughts and ideas and feelings about sex. It was like that stage of a new relationship when all you want to do is tell them everything about yourself and learn everything about them. I wrote posts, promoted them on Reddit, wrote posts, promoted them on Twitter, wrote posts, told friends about them, wrote posts, tested sex toys, wrote posts, daydreamed about what my blog could become one day, wrote posts, wrote posts, kept writing posts. I loved it to death, and still do. There has never been a time when I’ve considered quitting. I can’t say that about anything else I’ve ever done in my life.

What I wish I knew when I started, and what I would like all beginning bloggers to know: your voice is valid, important, and worth spending time developing. Helpful content does better than personal content, but if you build an audience who love you, they will love your personal content too. You are not obliged to give out any more information than you want to; sharing part of your deepest heart doesn’t mean you owe the world all of it. Make friends with other bloggers as soon as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask them things, run your ideas by them, and collaborate. Brainstorm content based on what you think your ideal reader would like to read, not what your chosen topic supposedly dictates you have to stick to. Keep transforming, growing, challenging yourself. And make at least some of your choices based on what will make for the better story.

Q. How many hours go into daily blog work? Do you count sexcapades as part of your work, or are they just fun and you write about some of them?

A. I once went to a job interview for a copywriter position at a hip young advertising startup. The stern dude interviewing me scanned my résumé and asked, “How much time do you spend working on your blog?”

I ran a quick mental calculation, knowing at the same time that he wasn’t really curious about numbers – he wanted to know where my focus would be, if he hired me. Whether I would be hunched over a slick Mac in his exposed-brick office building on a Wednesday afternoon, writing copy for a cooking blog client while secretly pondering dildos and floggers. “I spend about 10 hours a week on my blog, but obviously, if you hired me, I would only do that on my own time,” I told him. I thought it was a ridiculous question. You wouldn’t ask a weekend golfer if his games would cut into his office hours. You wouldn’t ask a foodie if she’d be playing hookie for restaurant openings. Smart, responsible professionals know how to compartmentalize.

That ad agency didn’t hire me, and I wonder if they thought 10 hours a week spent on blogging was 10 hours too many. I’m not sorry, either, since that’s about when my blog started to take off and make me decent money.

These days, I’d guess I spend closer to 15 hours per week on this here blog. There’s writing, researching, editing, formatting, scheduling, marketing, corresponding with retailers and sponsors, testing toys, taking photographs, managing my website’s backend, updating pages and old reviews, making affiliate links, keeping track of my earnings, and maintaining my social media presence. Not all of these things feel like work, but they are, nonetheless (which is why I laugh when well-meaning strangers find out about my job and ask, “So you just, like, get paid to masturbate?!”).

I don’t consider sexcapades part of my work because I don’t pursue them for work reasons. I can think of few things more depressing and artificial than seeking out sexual partners purely for blog fodder (though I applaud bloggers who are able to do this happily and well, I am not one of them). If I was sleuthing out sexual experiences to write posts about, I would look for difficult or strange experiences – but instead, I mostly just try to find good ones. If an experience inspires me to write something, that’s cool, but it’s never my main goal – except for that time I sat on a cake.

Got questions about the #FreelanceLyfe or what it’s like being a sex blogger? Ask ’em in the comments, or send me an email!

9 Invaluable Tools I Use As a Writer

I am so nosy about other writers’ tools and processes. It’s a glimpse into genius, a map toward emulating the creative weirdos I admire most. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “If I just buy the perfect pen/notebook/writing software, I’ll suddenly be brilliant!” but behind-the-scenes rundowns on other writers’ tools also remind me that we all start with the same basic supplies: something to write with, something to write on, and something to say. If they got to where they are with just those three things, I can get to where I want to be, too.

In that spirit: here are the 9 tools I use most often as a writer. I’d love to hear about your faves in the comments!

Large hardcover ruled Moleskine notebooks. These are my favorite for daily journaling, as I’ve told you before. On their creamy pages, I document my days, process my feelings, make gratitude lists, brainstorm dreams and goals, and connect the dots of my various patterns and neuroses. I would not be able to function as a person without journaling, let alone function as a writer. But my journals are useful for more than just word-vomiting my feelings: I also refer back to them when writing about personal experiences. They’re a time capsule of feelings that felt intense at the time but may have faded into forgetfulness in the intervening weeks/months/years. Plus they’re real fucking pretty.

Pilot Precise V5 pens. I’ve been using these for god knows how long. They are just perfect. I love them. They play well with Moleskine paper – neither leaking through nor requiring excessively long to dry – and they feel luxurious and fancy but aren’t overly expensive. Please bury me with a few of these pens strewn throughout my casket. I’ll probably still need ’em in the afterlife.

Post-it notes. I use these for to-do lists. As much as I’d like to have the zen focus to mentally set myself goals at the beginning of the day and then just get ’em done, I am much more motivated by physical reminders of what I’m trying to achieve. So at the start of a big work day, I usually write my most important tasks on a post-it and stick it to my computer so it’s always staring me in the face. And then I get to feel like the goodest good girl as I check things off the list. Score!

My iPhone’s Notes app. Simple, yes, but always useful. This is where I keep the blog post ideas that come to me while I’m away from my computer. I also take notes in there when I’m testing sex toys I’ll be reviewing, because it’s not always ideal to have to type notes on a laptop while jerking off. (I like my Macbook too much to get lube all over it! …most of the time, anyway.)

My Macbook Air. AH, SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND YOU. I bought this last year after lugging around my old Macbook Pro for years. The Air is so much smaller and lighter, ideal for my purposes as a writer who does much of her work at coffee shops and other out-and-about locations. I thought it might not have enough power to do all the stuff I need to do – edit podcasts, for example, and occasionally edit videos – but so far it’s handled all I’ve thrown at it with aplomb. (Including, sometimes, the aforementioned lubey fingers.)

Evernote. I started using this note-taking and organization software in journalism school and it continues to be useful on the daily. I can keep digital “notebooks” about individual projects (blog posts, writing assignments, podcast episodes) as well as more general notebooks for other, non-work things (travel, lists of goals, gift ideas for loved ones). I find it most helpful for huge, complex assignments requiring multiple interviews and lots of research, but it really helps me organize everything I ever work on.

Google Drive. A friend turned me on to Drive years ago when I complained that I kept losing my writing progress when Word would crash unexpectedly. When you write in Drive, not only does it auto-save continuously, but you can also access all your stuff from any internet-enabled device. I keep my sex spreadsheets on Drive, as well as my income spreadsheet, any active pieces I’m writing, and any file I want to have access to on several different devices. What’s more, upgrading your Drive storage to 100 gigabytes costs just $2 a month, which is a steal. I keep everything on there!

Spotify. I am always listening to Spotify. I am listening to Spotify as I type this. ALL HAIL SPOTIFY. It’s a music streaming service but also music organization software: you can make playlists, share them with people, discover new artists that are similar to the ones you already love, and so much more. I have a playlist called “I’m a Writer” which I typically groove to while I’m writing; most of it is minimally distracting instrumental music that keeps me energetic and focused.

WordPress Editorial Calendar. THE BEST PLUGIN! I’ve been using this for about a year and it fills me with such glee. Its drag-and-drop interface allows me to see upcoming blog content at a glance, laid out in a calendar format, so I know exactly where the gaps are and can fill them in accordingly. I can also move stuff around with ease, incase I decide that no, the world actually isn’t ready yet to read those 3,000 words about an obscure kink of mine, or whatever. If I had to marry a WordPress plugin, this is the one I’d choose!

What are your favorite tools for writing? Geek out with me!

10 Years of Moleskine Journals!

The other day, I was lovingly stroking my stack of Moleskine journals – as one does – when I noticed that the first one was dated June 2007. Oh my god, I thought. Have I really been writing in these things for TEN YEARS?!

Apparently so. I bought my first Moleskine in a local bookstore when I was 15, influenced by bloggers and Flickr friends whose nerdy glamour I revered. My first entry muses, “I paid $22.95 plus tax for this notebook, so I hope the price will be returned to me in the form of emotional and historical investment.” While Moleskines are still probably overpriced (the type I use goes for about $24 in Canadian bookstores today), I do think they’ve been worth their weight in gold to me, for the experiences I’ve documented therein.

The thing about fancy notebooks is that they make you want to write in them. (Once you get past that scary, first-blank-page, don’t-wanna-fuck-this-up feeling, at least.) When you shell out for pricey stationery, there is a certain sense of obligation to actually use said stationery. The smooth, creamy paper used in Moleskines is a joy to write on (especially with my pens of choice, Pilot V5s), and that tactile pleasure is what initially cemented my journaling habit. The sensual joys of journaling introduced me to its psychological joys soon thereafter: I’d always feel better after an exhaustive journaling session, even if my hand ached from writing.

I wanted to collect some excerpts from my decade of journals, but there are just too many good ones, so I decided to limit myself to excerpts about sex and love. (That’s still way too many, to be honest with you.) Here are some oft-embarrassing musings from my past ten years in Moleskines…

June 14th 2007. I read somewhere that if teenagers don’t fall in love at least once during their formative adolescent years, they may completely lose the mental capacity to do so for the rest of their lives. I used to find this merely interesting, a notable thought that was nonetheless nothing to worry about. I was always positive, growing up, that I would acquire a perfect boyfriend shortly after entering high school – as if every girl was paired up with a boy in grade nine because those romantic relations are expected of teenagers. Now that I’m actually in high school, I know it’s not like that. Not everyone has someone by default.

Many of my friends are desperate for boyfriends. They feel they would be happier with a boy in their lives. Oddly, I have no interest in high school boys. High school boys don’t bring you soup when you’re sick, or stroke your hair, or take you out for romantic hillside night picnics, or ask you to marry them. They like computers and the Beatles; very few of them like Sondheim or blueberry scones.

I guess I’m desperate for a boyfriend too, but not the kind my friends want. I want to spend my nights with a mature adult male who can talk culture and isn’t afraid to tell me I’m beautiful and he loves me.

June 19th 2007. Just had a thought: is it at all possible that I am a full-out lesbian? The feelings I have for women are so very different from those I have for men, possibly even more intense. It’s hard to tell, though, because it seems to go in phases. One week or month I want the tenderness, soft lips and pussy; the next, I want roughness, hard muscles and cock. And yes, I realize that girls can be rough and guys can be tender, but that’s often not how it goes in my head.

February 27th 2008. Half the class was away in English, so we opted to have a class discussion. It moved to the all-consuming, omnipresent topic of love/crushes/relationships. Mr. M. asked us to visualize the person we most wanted to be with, and then asked: “WHY do you like this person so much?” (No generic answers allowed.) Julian talked about deep blue eyes; Kaiya talked about mystery and intrigue; Giordie talked about immense comfort; I talked about never getting bored of E___, never getting sick of her, even when I fucking hate her I still want to talk to her, and it’s like there’s this endless ocean of future conversations and experiences stretching out ahead of us, waiting to happen. I need to stop talking so highly of her, because it’s only reminding me of all the things I can’t have – but I can’t help it, she’s the only person I feel this way about, the only person I’ve EVER felt this way about.

July 23rd 2008. It’s rather terrifying how grown-up I’ve become. Like, I’m no longer a virgin (in a sense). When I think or say that, it just feels like I’m pretending. Like I’m in some story, a soap opera maybe, where the sex is good and the stakes are high.

September 18th 2008. I often wish I had some interesting identifiable sexual fetish to match my sexually open-minded nature – but I realize, I do kind of fetishize being begged for sex. (Maybe we all do? Maybe it’s just part of the human condition to want to be wanted?) This is why I can never decide if I’m a dominant or a submissive – I like to be taken fully, but I also like to hold the keys to my own castle, and to be seductively coerced into giving them up.

Like the other day on my porch, when I was pinned against the doorframe, and D___ kept getting closer and closer, and began fondling my breasts, and I tried to get her to stop for the sake of potentially nosy neighbors, but she just couldn’t keep her hands off me (so hot). When it wasn’t my breast, it’d be my waist or hip. After a while, I told her maybe she should get going, and she replied, coolly and confidently, “Or I could have sex with you.” I kind of knew, even before I knew, that I was going to say yes.

November 5th 2008. In drama class, we did a Method Acting exercise involving envisioning an object that brings up intense memories of joy, and I chose my rippled glass dildo, which proved to be embarrassing when Mr. B. asked me what my object was. I lied and said “a love letter” to spare myself from total humiliation.

March 14th 2009. I’ve been thinking a lot about polyamory lately, and considering whether I’d ever be interested in delving into that lifestyle. It intrigues me in theory, but I’m pretty sure that if I ever actually entered into an open relationship, I’d become intensely jealous very quickly. I mean, I’m not even attracted to D___, but I get jealous if she blows me off to hang out with her MOM. It’s totally absurd, and makes me question my ability to be poly.

But at the same time, I feel like, once you agree that your relationship is open, you’re kind of giving yourself permission to be jealous, and telling yourself that it’s okay, it’s natural, and it’d best be ignored.

For years I’ve been reading this blog called We Sleep Together, which is written by a geeky, sex-positive guy in an open marriage. He just seems SO happy, and so does his wife. He goes on dates, getting to have the thrill of meeting and being with someone new, and every time he gets home from an external sexcapade, he tells his wife all about it, and often the story turns them both on so much that it prompts sex. They have threesomes and stuff too. It honestly seems like a pretty sweet life, but obviously it’s all hinging on good communication.

December 20th 2009. This has officially been the weirdest day of my life… I found out that T___ had sex with D___ (!!!!) after my caroling party the other night. No use dwelling on this now but I was SO pissed at D___ because she KNEW that was an asshole thing to do (T___ didn’t, necessarily). I spent much of the day, after that little revelation, teetering between hysterical laughter and full-out weeping. Called Max, burst into tears, took the subway home, ate a brownie, Max held me a bit.

About 15 minutes after I got home, while I sat checking my emails with a brownie in hand and a tearstained face, there was a knock at the door. It was T___. He said, “I really like you. I gave up drugs for you.” I thought he was joking, pulling a prank, trying to embarrass me… I kept saying, “Really? Seriously?” He said, “Do you want to go out with me sometime?” I said, “Yes! Yes.” I hugged him tight. He said, “Are you doing anything right now?” I said, “Just eating a brownie and crying…” Then I said, “Let me get my coat.”

Then T___ and I walked out into the cold. I was so disbelieving that I became incoherent and felt like I was going to puke and/or have an asthma attack (he kept asking, “Are you okay?”). We walked to a café. I said, “I feel like I should call Kaiya… but that would be rude.” He told me to go ahead, so I did, and said, “Umm, I am on a date right now… with T___,” and she freaked out.

January 16th 2010. Why am I doomed to be dumped on the 15th day of winter months by bisexual genderqueer brown-eyed Jewish improvisors who love drugs and don’t deserve me?

Spent much of the morning moping, playing ukulele songs, lying in Max’s bed inhaling his comforting scent, emo-tweeting, eating, and just generally being a drain on society. I am wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday and slept in – it seemed somehow blasphemous to cleanse myself just yet. I will tonight though – lunch at Bubbie and Zaidie’s tomorrow. Pretending to be cheerful and well-adjusted. Hooray.

People were commenting on the relationship status switch on T___’s Facebook profile. They all seemed to assume that it was ME who had dumped HIM. “You don’t deserve that,” etc. One girl even offered herself up for him to “confide in” if necessary. He replied that he’s alright, he hopes I’m doing okay, and he’s going to take a break from “relationshipping” for a little while. I kind of wanted to punch him. What a fucking martyr.

March 6th 2010. Sexuality stuff I’m pondering lately: I am definitely attracted to men and boys in a romantic way. I look at someone like V___ and concoct fantasies about cuddling, kissing, holding hands, spooning, him opening doors for me, buying me lattes, calling me, saying my name, smiling at me, etc. Thinking about sex with men, however, almost always leaves me cold, unsettled, unnerved, and even afraid. I have occasional moments where I crave it (or think I crave it?) but 98% of my sexual fantasies are about women.

I can imagine having sex with a woman and feeling comfortable and safe doing it. I wouldn’t be very scared if I were to go down on her or vice versa, if I were to fingerfuck her or vice versa. The task of making another woman come does not seem hugely daunting, terrifying or invasive, the way the prospect of heterosexual relations does.

But I have no desire to do any of those gooey, romantic, relationshippy things with women (with the exception of an occasional boyish/butch lady). So I’m pungently unattracted to penises and going on dates with femmes, but potently attracted to clits, labia, and snuggling with boys in coffee shops. It would be a really difficult life to be a heteroromantic homosexual. I hope I’m not. Ahhh, confusion!!

May 18th 2010. Secret confession: throughout my relationship with T___, I continued to have very explicit sexual fantasies about V___. I told T___ this, during a conversation-bordering-on-argument about how he doesn’t get jealous and how that pisses me off. He didn’t care. Maybe he would’ve if I’d gone into detail… like about how most of these fantasies have to do with blowjobs, VERY uncharacteristic for me.

I’m kind of embarrassed that I just wrote down on paper that I basically want to make V___ come repeatedly in my mouth… but at the same time, it made me think about it, and want it (still). Ugh.

January 22nd 2011. I looked at pictures of V___ today – new cute ones from a trip he took with his girlfriend – and my heart didn’t snap in two. In fact, I felt pretty detached. It was like the pictures were from a quantum alternate reality, a potential life I never led where V___ was my boyf, but I wasn’t especially sad about it. I think, to get over a person, fully and totally, you have to be convinced that the two of you are wrong for each other, and you have to allow yourself to be distracted for a little while – just long enough that you have time to regroup, to rediscover what your heart feels like without the weight of dissatisfaction weighing down on it – and then you can get your life back and cut the cord that’s tethering you to these old issues and this old person.

What I have learned about unrequited infatuation, primarily, in all my field research, is that a little bit is a deliciously exciting propeller of euphoria, but a lot is a troublesome weight to bear. The trick is to avoid progressing to the “longing” stage – you have to keep it fun and light and happy, by maintaining the belief that it’s OKAY that it’s not going to go anywhere. Once you start blaming yourself for the painful stagnancy, or hanging your hopes and self-worth on the fictional attainment of this person, you are wading into dangerous territory. Though, of course, escaping from that sort of situation is easier said than done.

May 16th 2011. E___ AND I HAD SEX and I decided I needed to journal right away, to process my thoughts. Congratulations, journal – you are officially my number-one confidante.

It was like nothing. It was like a dildo pushing inside of me, speeding up and slowing down sometimes. I didn’t feel anything break; maybe I don’t have a hymen after all. It lasted maybe 3 or 4 minutes – I didn’t mind his lack of stamina, though he was very apologetic and offered to go again (I said no, politely).

I don’t feel that anything has really changed. Those weird “violated/used” feelings I had feared are here somewhat, even though I know they’re irrational as fuck. I feel overwhelmed. I feel worried that I didn’t enjoy it more than I did (although first times are supposed to be awful). I feel heteronormative. I feel like I want to talk and talk and talk about how penetrative sex is basically how I imagined it but didn’t really Feel Like Sex to me – it felt like I was lying there and something happened to me and afterward I got all confused and conflicted and speechless and wide awake.

There is a naked man in my bed and I am no longer a virgin. I really don’t know what to make of this.

November 2nd 2011. Here’s what’s interesting about allowing myself to have small, transient crushes on people outside of my monogamous relationship: The feeling of infatuation tends to refresh anything it comes into contact with. That flutter of crushness brightens my mood and further motivates me to put more time and energy and love and passion into my relationship. Limerence is a massive renewable resource with no drawbacks, so long as it’s understood and accepted from the beginning that nothing will come of it.

March 26th 2012. Tonight I had the brilliant idea to start my own sex toy review blog. Immediately registered “Girly Juice” on Tumblr (after finding that “Sugar Cunt” and “Lady Juice” were both taken) and began scheming and dreaming. So far I’m only working with EdenFantasys to acquire stuff to review (they mailed me a book of spanking erotica today for free, YAY!) but I’ll probably branch out to other stores in due time. Could be my summer project!

January 28th 2013. I have severe doubts about my ability to stay monogamously committed long-term, and yet I haven’t encountered any situation in which I had an opportunity or even a temptation to cheat. I talk about needing the freedom to kiss and flirt with other people but I don’t actually do it, I just feel good about being allowed to. Sometimes I think I’m bored of sex with E___ but then we have sex and I’m reminded that our sex consists of things which matter to me and make me come and leave me satisfied, such that I don’t really ever have a desire to fuck other people because I just know they wouldn’t be as sexually compatible with me as he is – maybe they wouldn’t like giving oral, maybe they’d hate my labia, maybe they’d want marathon sessions with acrobatic positions, maybe they’d be perplexed at my needing clitoral stimulation to get off.

But if I don’t want to fuck other people, and I don’t particularly want to date or pursue other people, then the only remaining options are E___ or being single, and since he’s nice to me and we have good sex and we go out for nice dinners and he keeps me warm in bed one night a week, I see no reason to pick singleness over him even if I no longer have any burning desires for any aspect of him anymore.

Maybe this is what long-term relationships are supposed to feel like: somewhat static, more like a room’s wallpaper than the things in the room. There are people who seem constantly challenged and delighted by their partners, ecstatic every day even after years, but I have to wonder if those people are faking it.

June 16th 2013. I have a lot of complicated thoughts and feelings around the idea of sexual monogamy. I HATE the whole concept of my body being “possessed” by someone just because we are in a relationship. It grosses me out to think that there are expectations and limitations placed on what I can and can’t do with my own body on my own time. Why is it okay for me to be naked in a body image workshop but it somehow becomes problematic if I’m naked on GoneWild? People can jerk off to the mental image of my body either way. Hell, they could do that even if I always remained clothed.

There is something to be said for emotional fidelity, in that sharing your life and your deepest self with someone can take a lot of trust and sometimes you only want to share that depth with one person at a time. But I don’t see why that should be mandatorily connected to sex. Sex is touch and fun and pleasure and exploration and it doesn’t always require commitment or emotional intimacy or love or anything. Sex can just be sex. And since it is something I do with my body, it’s strange to me that our culture mandates I can only do it with the body of the one I’m emotionally committed to. Ugh.

August 29th 2014. I have to rip the band-aid off and break up with E___. I have to. It’s awful to both of us that I’ve let this drag on so long. I’m not happy; my head and heart aren’t in it and I don’t have the time or energy or desire for a relationship anymore. It has to end. When am I going to do it? Soon. It has to be soon.

September 11th 2014. One of my professors is totally foxy in an older-man sort of way. While listening to him talk about courtroom publication bans tonight, I couldn’t help but fantasize about him giving me stern instructions while smacking my ass with a paddle and slowly inserting a lubed butt plug as “punishment.” It feels good to want people again, to experience desire, to imagine possibilities.

April 3rd 2015. B___ told me two things I already knew about F___: that he has a big dick, and that he’s on the submissive side. That’s not a great omen for our potential sexual compatibility but I’m also still kinda unclear on how subby I really am. Sometimes I wonder if it’s one of those things I enjoy in fantasies but wouldn’t be that into in real life. In any case, during our drunken interview last week, he mentioned to me that he is “orally inclined,” so we’d at least be compatible in that way. (And let’s be real: that’s more important to me than dom/sub stuff anyway.)

Max and some others have suggested to me that it would probably be best to just come out and ask F___ whether his intentions are romantic or just friendly, but I’m scared to make things explicit because I really do like having him as a pal and it feels nice to have made a new friend, and I don’t want to mess that up. I really don’t know how people date out in the real world. Is it normal and expected to have casual friend-hangouts for a while first? Is cuddling in a bar a normal-ish thing to do with a platonic opposite-sex friend? These questions sound stupid when I write them out like that but I genuinely don’t know. There are so many variables.

August 9th 2015. It is 7:05 and I am meeting C___ for coffee at 8!!!!!! I tweeted earlier about being sad that I’m so so celibate, and he asked me a clarifying question about the tweet, and I cackled like a loon and thought about how funny it would be if that dumb tweet led to us meeting up. And then I took a nap, and when I woke up, I had received a DM from him, just as I had in fantasies I’ve had about this possibility, and we chatted back and forth a bit and eventually decided to meet for an evening coffee tonight. OMG, OMG, OMG. I texted feverishly with friends while choosing an outfit, doing my makeup and cleaning my room in preparation for possible imminent sexytimes. I don’t know how casual dates/casual sex work at all. I’m very freaked out and very excited and ahhh!!

LATER (past midnight)… We met up and ended up talking for ~4 hours. He is sweet and smart and charming and makes me laugh. A lot of what we talked about was movies and sex and nerdy shit. He is more-than-passingly familiar with my blog and my tweets. He is also cute and significantly older than me and talks a LOT but it’s all interesting. He said we should hang out again sometime. OMG, OMG.

August 30th 2015. Holy shit… Last night. LAST NIGHT!! H___ had told me he’d be working and would have to arrive at the party late, but it turned out his work ended ahead of schedule so he was already there when I got there. I walked in wearing my floral-print AA skater dress with babely hair and makeup and he turned around from his seat at one of the tables and said, “You look gorgeous.” It was exactly what I wanted to hear at that moment.

I’d been invited to perform so I clambered onto the tiny stage and played “Addressee” + “Jump Your Bones” for the extremely appreciative, supportive crowd. I explained how “Addressee” is about my frequent inability to tell if someone is flirting with me… Afterward, a bunch of people came up to me and complimented me on my music… Then H___ was like, “Can I compliment you now? Now that everyone else is done complimenting you?” He told me he likes that my songs are so honest, that it’s “arresting” and “disarming.” He gives really good compliments, and I told him so.

In response to my song, H___ told me, “For the record, I am always flirting with you.” (!!) He kept trying to get me to dance, because dancing is fun and whatever, but dance-club party atmospheres make me feel really anxious and weird… We got around to talking about his ex and my ex and my weird ambiguous situation with F___, and he said he doesn’t like wasting time on people who are ambiguous (not in a mean way, just matter-of-factly and sympathetically to my situation), and I said, “Well, just to be clear, I’m really into you,” and he seemed surprised but happy and told me he’s into me too, but that he hoped I wasn’t just saying that because of being drunk (I wasn’t).

And then – like the universe was standing up to applaud our bravery – the Carly Rae Jepsen song “I Really Like You” started playing, and because H___ and I have a shared love of Carly Rae, our heads whipped around and he said, “Okay, let’s go,” and we sprinted to the dance floor and got down to fucking “I REALLY LIKE YOU” just after admitting we really like each other. Holy shit.

January 17th 2016. Last night I had an impulsive late-night sex-date with L___. I was apprehensive and unenthused about going over there because I’m just not attracted to him and that has become increasingly obvious lately. But I think some part of me feels like I should take sex where I can get it. Like good sex is a rarity, especially for someone like me, and I shouldn’t turn my nose up at it. That’s such bullshit and not true and I deserve better than someone who doesn’t turn my crank, but good heavens, these deeply internalized beliefs are so hard to unlearn sometimes.

I was already feeling vulnerable and insecure and inadequate and unsexy in general, and should’ve known better than to do something like kink that would require even more vulnerability. But alas, live and learn. I went into L___’s bedroom and he started spanking me, and it seemed like he was going harder than he typically does, and eventually I started crying. Not brief sobs of sexy pain – actual crying, with tears and shuddering breaths and a deep sadness. I could feel L___’s uncertainty about how to proceed, but he asked if I wanted more and I said yes. I just felt so sad. And it felt like all of my obsessive, anxious, self-doubting thoughts were being whipped out of me, like I was being punished for them, but it wasn’t working.

L___ cuddled me and told me I’d been a good girl, and that was a nice gesture but it still just didn’t feel right. He isn’t the right person to be my daddy dom. I don’t have the romantic feelings I’d need to have in order to want to please him, to be a good girl for him, to change my behaviors and habits and patterns to make him happy. It’s like, he’s saying the right things, but he can never be the kind of person I wish would say those things to me.

February 12th 2016. So yesterday was completely wacky. Bex left at noon and I spent the whole afternoon and early evening feeling kinda gloomy, because of “Bex-drop” but also because I wanted C___ to invite me to hang out again but didn’t want to initiate this myself for fear of seeming “un-chill.” But then at night, I was lying in a bubble bath, half-heartedly trying to masturbate while unable to stop thinking about blowing C___, and I happened to have brought my phone into the bathroom with me, and I impulsively decided to send him a DM saying I had been thinking about going down on him and would 100% be down to do that again sometime soon. After some hemming and hawing about location, he eventually invited me over. I got dressed, did my makeup, and got on the streetcar. It was cold as fuck outside but I was motivated.

When I got there, he was all freshly showered for me and smelled good and we went into a cozy room where he had dimmed the lights and put on an internet radio station of “ambient groove” jams. We sat on the couch, talked a little, made out a bunch, and then I got on my knees between his legs and blew him. YUP, still as good as I remembered. He told me later that he could’ve come in like 15 seconds, but we were both trying to savor it. I know I have written this about 800 different ways here in the past few days, but he is honestly my Ideal BJ Recipient. I told him to let me know if he wants one any time and that was an honest offer.

After, we decided to go to the brew pub for some beer and food. It was really nice and date-like and I felt very heart-eyes-emoji toward him. We talked about sex and video games and our careers and music and all kinds of stuff. He indicated (without saying so, really) that he doesn’t have romantic feelings for me and doesn’t want me to catch feels, and I said, “I have caught mild feels but I have made peace with that,” and he said he knew. Sigh. I know he’s never been destined to be my boyfriend or anything, but I’m very struck by how much he’s almost my ideal partner on multiple levels so it’s still a bummer. Oh wellz…

July 24th 2016. This morning C___ had set his alarm early enough for us to sit and have coffee and hang out a bit before he had to go to a brunch date with some new girl from the internet. It continues to hurt my feelings that he is seemingly so desperate to get into a relationship but inexplicably doesn’t consider me a contender to fill that role for him. But regardless: we always have a good time together, and I adore being around him.

Because my days are so empty now, and because I’ve been so depressed lately, I mentally sort days into “days I’m seeing C___” and “days I’m not.” This is ridiculous and unhealthy for so many reasons. I should have more in my life, so it doesn’t feel like he is the centre of it. And I should feel this way about B___, if anyone, because he’s the person who actually has romantic feelings for me and wants to date me, not C___.

With B___, I sometimes (okay, often) find myself wanting to skip the small talk and get straight to the sex, because he irritates me less when we’re banging instead of talking. With C___, I hang off his every word and want to ask him all the questions in the world so I can absorb his opinions and wisdom. The sex is great, but so are the makeouts, the cuddling, the just being near him, the conversations, the solemn silences as we listen to meaningful music together, the being on our phones in the same room, the aimlessly deconstructing our respective romantic lives, the casual being around each other while the mundanity of life plays out. His very presence captivates and uplifts me no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

January 26th 2017. This trip has been hard because, as per usual, travel stresses me out and also I am wont to experience “C___-drop” after seeing him. It’s gross and makes me feel bad. I only want/need/love him when I’m depressed and/or extremely anxious; that’s when my brain reverts to believing he is the source of all my comfort and the solution to all my problems. It is embarrassing to have done all these months of processing and “getting over him” and to find that it can all unravel, or seem to, so quickly and suddenly. But I need to remember that healing is not a linear process; there will be setbacks and backslides and fuckups and falters. I am doing my best and it’s okay if sometimes that’s not very good.

May 3rd 2017. I am soooo New Relationship Energy-hazy. Nothing fucking matters. My emails and deadlines and unreturned texts are utterly insignificant and I will get to them when I get to them. All I want to do is flirt and fuck and cuddle and touch and talk about Feeeelingz and smile at each other like a couple of goons. It’s ridiculous. Somebody save me from this silliness. Except actually don’t; I’m happy.

Frequently Asked Questions From Five Years of Sex Blogging

I’m amazed to say that this blog is five years old today. If my blog were my child, it’d be telling simple stories in full sentences, singing and dancing, and doing somersaults. If my blog were my spouse, we’d be exchanging wood-related gifts this year (I like to think I’d buy it a NobEssence dildo and it’d buy me a wooden bathtub caddy so I could journal in the bath). But my blog is a blog, so instead of doing any of those things, I’m gonna answer some of the most common questions I’ve been asked about sex blogging in the past five years. It’s been a wild journey…

What are your top-5 desert-island toys?

This is always changing, and I’m sure my answer will be different in a year or even a few months. But right now, these are the five toys I would keep if I had to get rid of everything else: the Fucking Sculptures Double Trouble, the Magic Wand Rechargeable, the We-Vibe Tango, the Njoy Eleven, and the Liberator Jaz. (If you’re a sex-toy purist and don’t think a piece of sex furniture should count as a toy, feel free to swap out the Jaz for the Vixen Creations Mustang.)

What’s the weirdest toy you’ve ever tried?

When I bring someone to my bedroom for the first time, and show off my toy collection, I’ll often take out the Magic Banana and have them try to guess what it’s for. They’re almost never correct, and it’s hilarious. Also on my weirdest-toys list: a scented vibrator, an oral-sex simulator comprised of twirling tongues, a dildo made specifically for blowjobs, a glass dildo shaped like a hot pepper, and a pair of BUTT PLUG SHOES.

What’s the worst toy you’ve ever tried?

The Lelo Ida repeatedly made me scream in pain and utterly distressed my then-partner. After finishing my review, I triumphantly threw the toy on my bedroom floor and didn’t pick it up for months afterward, because every time I looked at it, I was filled with such disdain that I didn’t even want to lift it to a less degrading position. Also, there was the time a glass egg got stuck in my vagina

What’s your favorite toy?

For years, that title belonged to the Eroscillator; then it shifted to the Eleven; now the Double Trouble is firmly my favorite. When I ask partners who know me well to fuck me with a toy, they don’t even have to ask which one to grab. When I travel, I leave my Dub Trubz at home because I’m scared to death of an airline losing it, and sometimes I even make arrangements to borrow sex blogger friends’ Double Troubles at my destination. I’ve been asked, more than once, about the DT, “Why don’t you marry it?!” Our love is a deep, sweet, and enduring one.

What made you want to start a sex blog?

When I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had interests and talents in a lot of disparate fields – music, theatre, writing, sex ed, audio production – but none of them particularly called to me as my Career. So I took a year off to gather my thoughts before committing to a post-secondary program. During that year, I applied to lots of jobs, one of which was a sales associate position at my local feminist sex shop Good For Her. They didn’t hire me, but in the process of applying, I did some research to beef up my sex toy knowledge and stumbled upon sex toy review blogs like Epiphora’s and Lilly’s. I thought, “Hey, I could do that!” and thus Girly Juice was born. Later that year, I decided to go back to school for journalism, my passion for writing having been reignited.

How do you make money from your blog?

Lots of different ways! Sometimes companies pay me to write sponsored posts about their product or business; sometimes they pay to advertise in my sidebar or on my social media; and I also make commissions when readers buy products through my affiliate links. (Want more info about any of these income streams? My policies page‘ll give you the lowdown.) This blog has also led to other opportunities for me, like writing assignments and speaking gigs, which bring in some money.

What do your parents think of what you do?

They are totally, 100% fine with it. Which is fortunate, since I currently live with them and it would be awkward to have to make up excuses for all the boxes of sex toys I receive in the mail! Neither of them read my blog regularly (in fact, I don’t think my dad has ever even seen it), but they both completely approve of my work and are proud I’m doing well at something I feel passionate about.

So are you only on this [date/online dating platform] to gather fodder for your blog?

People ask me this on Tinder or OkCupid sometimes and it always throws me for a loop, because, hey, sex bloggers are people too; we have social and sexual needs, like most other people! While I do often write about my romantic and sexual experiences, I don’t seek out those experiences just to have something to write about. I seek them out for the joy and adventure they add to my life, same as anyone else.

How many sex toys do you own?

Depending on how broad or narrow your definition of a “sex toy” is (e.g. does sex furniture count? Do impact-play pervertables count? Do leather restraints count?), the number is currently somewhere between 150 and 200. The full list is here, although I’d guess I’ve given/traded away about a quarter of that stuff, so my toybox list is longer than the actual contents of my collection.

Do you need vibrators to have an orgasm?

Nope. About 6% of the orgasms I’ve had so far in 2017 have been achieved with fingers only. And I do occasionally come from partners’ mouths or hands. But I find I achieve orgasms more easily, quickly, and consistently when a vibrator is involved, so I use them most of the time. Not doing so would feel to me like stubbornly refusing to wear glasses because they’re “not natural,” even though they improve my quality of life.

Don’t your partners feel emasculated if you use toys with them?

In all my life as a vibrator-lovin’ slut, I’ve only had partners raise objections to my vibrator usage twice, ever – and in both cases, it was more a logistical issue than an inadequacy issue (less “Your vibe makes me feel replaced” and more “Your vibe feels weird on my dick” or “Your vibe is getting in the way”). Truth be told, I don’t tend to bang the type of person who would take issue with a vibrator, and whenever anyone does, it kills my attraction to them pretty quick. Good partners just want to give you pleasure in any way they can. All my favorite partners have understood intuitively that sex toys are a tool they can use to make me feel good, not an external force that takes over their job.

(FYI: a survey of college-age men, cited in the book Becoming Cliterate by Dr. Laurie Mintz, found that ninety-five percent of respondents either had incorporated a vibrator into sex with a female partner or would be interested in doing so. This stat is in line with my own experiences of using vibrators with male partners.)

How did you become so confident in your sexuality?

I’m surprised by how often I get asked this! I’m pretty open about the fact that I’m not always confident about my sexuality: I have a lot of sexual anxieties, I sometimes struggle with kink-shaming myself, and I’m still shaking off culturally-induced guilt about “not deserving” pleasure or orgasms. But when I have made strides toward sexual confidence, it’s usually been because of the influence of my many sex-positive friends and mentors. Surrounding yourself with people who hold the attitudes you wish you held is an enormously powerful thing to do.

Have you ever tried the Sybian?

Yup. I didn’t like it. Too buzzy and broad for my tastes. Here are some pictures of me eating pizza while sitting astride Epiphora’s Sybian.

So you just get sent whatever sex toys you want, for free?

Not really. Sometimes I request certain toys I want and companies send them, but more often, companies offer me a toy that needs reviewing and I can either accept it or decline. There have been many times when I’ve desperately wanted a toy and had to buy it myself because no shops/companies needed that particular toy reviewed or were willing to send it to a reviewer.

So do you just masturbate all the time?

I masturbate about 5-6 times a week, on average. (Gosh, it’s very satisfying that I have an orgasm spreadsheet now so I can actually calculate stats like this!) Most of those are “leisure wanks” rather than “work wanks,” because I can’t always be arsed to risk ruining my orgasm with some random toy I have to test. But I do try to test toys I’m reviewing at least 5 times before writing my review, so I’ll be able to paint an accurate picture of the toy.

Do you ever get sick of sex toys?

I work at a sex shop part-time in addition to running this blog, so you would think that I would… but nope, still love ’em! Sometimes I get tired of answering the same questions over and over again, fielding the same old misconceptions, and advocating for my right to be treated with respect as a Woman Who Does Sexy Things Online, but the work and the toys themselves don’t get old for me.

How long do you think you’ll keep writing your blog for?

I’m five years in and don’t feel remotely like I’m running out of steam – I still have new blog post ideas practically every day, and am still rabidly curious about sex, kink, and relationships. I’ll stop writing this blog when it stops feeling fun, but I can’t imagine why that would ever happen.

 

Thanks for sticking with me all these years, babes! I love you and I’m so happy I get to write for you.

The Bipolar Blogger: Productivity Tips From a Manic Mess

“I have cyclothymia,” a friend casually mentioned over dinner, halfway through an anecdote about his therapist. “It’s sort of like a milder form of bipolar disorder. I have mild manic phases and mild depressions but nothing too serious.”

It would be a cliché to say a lightbulb went off for me, or alarm bells sounded in my head, but both of those well-trod metaphors feel entirely true. I had a ping of recognition. A sudden, crystalline revelation: That is what I have. That is why I’m like this.

I didn’t quiz my friend for additional details, but in a therapist’s office a few months later, I dropped the word on the table between us like it was a treat I’d brought him. Cyclothymia. We examined it, talked about it. I explained how my storied life had been punctuated with depressive spells, yes, but also episodes of unpredictable juicy joy. When previous therapists witnessed my gleeful, giggly monologues, they’d often say, “Is it possible you’re having a manic episode right now?” and I’d always laugh it off. This isn’t a mental disorder, I’d think, about those hyper-productive, ecstatic interludes. This is just my personality. I’m a happy, positive person.

In the years since then, though – and in the wake of two recent therapists who can’t agree on whether I have cyclothymia or bipolar affective disorder, type 2 – I’ve come to accept that these ups and downs are part of my personality and are also a mental illness.They’re a part of me, and I try to honor them more than hate them. They make my life harder, my emotions wilder, and my art better.

Blogging and journalism, my main vocations, appeal to me in part because they’re compatible with my mental illnesses. As an independent freelancer, I can set my own schedule, and arrange my obligations according to where my head’s at. Of course, sometimes a deadline unavoidably lines up with a depressive spell, but I do my best to avoid snafus like this. Below are some productivity tricks I’ve picked up from nearly five years of blogging while bipolar… for better or for worse.

Drink up from the rain, as Nellie McKay would say (or “catch water while it’s raining,” like my friend Brent says). When I’m manic*, I often want to work for 10-12 hours at a time, writing blog posts/sending emails/pitching stories/cleaning my room/whatever – and while that’s a long stretch to put my body and mind through, usually manic-me can handle it without complaint. So as long as I’ve still got the energy and desire to continue, I usually do. Might as well.

*I’m using the words “manic/mania” interchangeably with “hypomanic/hypomania” in this article for brevity’s sake, even though technically my mental illnesses are mild enough that my hypomania never crosses into full-blown mania. More on this distinction here.

Queue stuff in advance. After a manic episode, I’ll typically have more content than I know what to do with: two or three days of hypomania can easily yield five or six blog posts for me. While mania can imbue you with an urgent need to get your work in front of readers’ eyes ASAP because it’s all so damn exciting, it’s smarter to rein yourself in and queue up some of that content for the days, weeks or months to come.

I publish new posts on this blog twice a week, and that steady schedule is super helpful to my bipolar brain. I use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin to map out my future content. I’ll slot in two posts a week, and rearrange them so there’s enough variation in subject matter and format from week to week. A hypomanic episode can inspire enough content to last me for weeks, so that if a depressive spell comes on, I’ll be able to take a break from working without interrupting my regular blog schedule.

Batch-process tasks. This is a term and concept I learned from the Blogcademy. The idea is that you get more done if you group similar types of tasks together. So, instead of writing one blog post at a time, then shooting photos for it, then queuing tweets to promote it, I might write 2-3 blog posts at a time, or shoot photos for several posts in one session, or spend a whole afternoon queuing tweets for upcoming posts.

This principle is compatible with my bipolar brain. When I’m manic, it can be hard to pry my attention away from the task at hand – so if I’m writing rabidly, I might as well brew another cup of tea and write another post, and another, until I run out of steam. Batch-processing is easier when I’m depressed, too: it takes a lot of mental energy to switch from one task to another, so if I can muster enough strength to take out my camera and set up a photo, it won’t be too hard to set up another photo afterward. It’s a simple principle and it works!

Have start-of-day and end-of-day rituals. While my writerly rituals are pretty much always the same, they feel like uplifting self-care practices when I’m depressed and calming, grounding rituals when I’m manic. In the morning, I make a cup of tea and drink it while sitting in front of my SAD lamp and catching up on my emails and tweets. Once I’m feeling awake and ready to start my workday, I make a list of 3-6 things I need to get done that day, and start on the one that feels most pressing and/or most fun. This helps me ease into the day feeling nourished and purposeful.

My end-of-day rituals aren’t as solidified yet; maybe if they were, I’d spend fewer manic days hunched over my laptop for twelve hours. But when I’ve been working for way too long and need to force myself to take a break, I’ll often smoke some weed (the resulting blurry brain makes further work unlikely), take a hot bath, crawl into bed with an engrossing book, or settle in for a luxurious masturbation sesh. Admittedly, sometimes my manic workaholic ass ends up in front of my laptop again before the night’s out, but I mostly try to respect these arbitrary boundaries I set for myself. In a perfect world, I’d have evening plans with friends or beaux most weeknights, as those would make it compulsory for me to step away from my computer and back into the world.

Keep a filing system for unused ideas. When I’m manic, I have ideas galore – so many ideas that I couldn’t possibly make them all into fully-fledged blog posts right away, though I may want to. The important thing is to make a note of all those great ideas, and to do it in a way which maintains the juiciness those ideas held when you first thought of them. If a blog post comes to you in a flash, don’t just jot down the title and expect yourself to remember the rest; include details, examples, sample sentences, so your note will retain the fire extant in that white-hot idea.

My massive backlog of yet-unused post ideas helps me both when I’m up and when I’m down. Manic Kate might feel brilliant in an unfortunately unfocused way, unsure what to do with all that raw energy pulsing through her brain – in which case she can glance at a list of old ideas and instantly have specific new assignments to work on. Depressed Kate, meanwhile, might be on deadline for an article but lack the clarity and chutzpah to even think of a topic – in which case she can pull out her notebook of old concepts and choose whichever one feels doable.

I jot down ideas in notebooks, the Notes app on my phone, or scraps of paper on my desk. When Manic Kate gets excited about hyper-organization, I use that impulse to methodically transfer all my idea-notes to a central repository in Evernote.

Work on what feels doable and/or exciting. I find my hypomania is best harnessed if I write the thing I’m most excited to write, which is often different from what I’m “supposed to” be working on. The blog posts of mine that have gotten the best response from readers – like Blowjob-Friendly Lipsticks For Every Budget and You’re Vanilla, I’m Not, But I Love You – were brought into the world in obsessive flights of mania. The manic energy with which they are imbued is probably what made them so good.

For similar reasons, if I try to write something light and peppy while I’m depressed, either it’ll come out lacklustre or I just won’t be able to do it. So when I’m feeling that way, I try to view it as an opportunity to work on boring, mechanical tasks – answering emails, organizing my editorial calendar, putting affiliate links into post drafts, sending out interview requests, and so on. Or sometimes I’ll wade into my sadness and write something heavy and emotional, if I can muster the energy.

Know how chemical stimulants affect your body and brain. Sometimes when I’m manic, I’m tempted to drink tons of coffee, because it helps me ride the wave of mania and get even more done than I ordinarily would – or so I think. In reality, the combo of coffee + mania often sends me off the rails into unfocused zippiness that makes it hard to actually get anything done. Similarly, if I drink alcohol while depressed, it usually just depresses me further.

But sometimes, boozin’ while manic can slow me down just enough to enable good writing (I wrote Nude, Lewd, Screwed, & Tattooed while quaffing white wine at my kitchen table), while caffeine can sometimes counteract the physical heaviness of my depression so I can get work done. I also find weed helpful in both states – it can cheer me up when I’m sad and calm me down when I’m manic – but I don’t have much follow-through once I’m high, so it’s not a productivity booster for me (with the exception of CBD-heavy strains).

Take care of your physical health. When I’m manic, I’m at risk for eye strain and back pain, because I end up spending all day in front of my computer, pounding out blog posts. There are apps and tools which can remind you to take a break every so often, and I’d do well to use ’em! I’d also like to implement a system wherein I’ll keep a post-it note somewhere on my workspace that says “How are you feeling right now?” to remind me to notice my body. If I’m manic and get hungry, thirsty, achy, or burned out, I might not always notice until I take a moment to specifically assess how my body is feeling. And then I can make self-care decisions accordingly.

I also try to keep ingredients in the house that are easy for me to throw together into meals, because both depression and mania can sap me of my desire to cook and eat. And when I do take meal breaks, I try to make them actual breaks: I’m not allowed to work while I eat, and I’ll typically put on a funny video or podcast to give my brain a brief vacation.

Fellow folks who deal with bipolar disorder, depression, and/or (hypo)mania: what are your productivity tips ‘n’ tricks?