Links & Hijinks: Blowjobs, Dopamine, & Carmen Miranda

• Girl on the Net wrote about rediscovering the real joy of sex after stressing yourself out thinking that sex “should” be joyful. I love pieces like this which acknowledge the sometimes unglamorous realities of sex, which many people feel broken for experiencing.

• Here’s some men talking about their sex toys. There’s lots to like about this article, but I particularly lost my shit over this line: “Men can orgasm at the drop of a hat, generally speaking (at least if it’s a particularly sexy hat — I’m thinking a Carmen Miranda fruit hat, that big wide-brimmed one Beyonce wears in the Formation video, one of those ones that has a beer can on either side).”

• Is mocking a man’s small dick on par with the body-shaming experienced by women? To me, the answer is “obviously yes,” but this article is still worth a read, if just for the absurd story therein about two Instagram models whose post-breakup drama played out online in the form of passive-aggressive dick snipes.

• “I can’t stop thinking about penetration” is one of the best opening sentences I’ve read in a while. Here, the Establishment’s Katie Tandy writes beautifully about penis envy and power dynamics.

• The great Alana Hope Levinson’s thoughts on “the cuckboi” made me shriek with laughter. “The cuckboi understands that there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, unless you’re eating pussy.” TOO GOOD.

• On the loquacious raving and “intrusive thinking” that happens when you have a new crush: “When the object of your desire isn’t around, and therefore you lack that dopamine rush in your brain, you might feel like you’re in withdrawal. So, you may try to achieve small dopamine rushes from talking about your crush to your friends.” Gawd, I am so guilty of this. Sorry, friends.

• My bestie wrote about why they love blowjobs*sigh* Why am I not blowing anyone right now?! (Well… this post was prewritten and queued up in advance, so I guess it’s possible I am blowing someone right now, as you read this. Who can say?)

• Bex also wrote about sex ed, sex-positivity, and meeting people where they’re at. I love this. I’ve only been working in sex toy retail for two months but I already feel like I’ve learned so much about these concepts from working on the “front lines.”

• This piece on anxiety and productivity is haunting and important. Read this if the current state of the world makes you anxious and so do thoughts of resisting, standing up for what matters, making change.

Trans kink porn is important! God, this article reeeeeally made me want to watch The Training of Poe…

• Depression may actually have a positive evolutionary purpose. Certainly puts things in perspective! “This framing of depression as a space for reflection is empowering, and lends a degree of agency to the person being pressed down,” Drake Baer writes. “Like anxiety, depression might be trying to tell you something.”

• A “boyfriend dick” is the kind of dick you could see yourself settling down with. I must say, though, I prefer the more gender-inclusive phrase “good dick,” which really says it all! (Incase it wasn’t obvious: the concept of a “good dick” is very subjective. Please don’t worry about whether your dick is good or not. If you keep it clean and use it respectfully, there are lots of people who would consider it a “good dick,” I promise.)

• What happens when best friends control each other’s vibrators?! (I think me and Bex should try this sometime.)

• Maybe we need to reject body-positivity and embrace body-neutrality. I love this idea! “Neutrality is the freedom to go about your day without such a strong focus on your body,” says one of the people quoted in this article.

• JoEllen wrote some spot-on guidelines for having good, ethical casual sex.

• This piece about Trump and BDSM argues that consent education, and the communication skills one can learn through practicing kink, are more critical than ever in our current political climate. Interesting stuff.

• I loved this short piece about pain, mindfulness, and transcendence. It spins a whole world out of a few moments of intense (consensual) pain, which is indeed what those experiences feel like to me sometimes.

Playground Diary, Part 2: Macarena, Mollena, & Mac & Cheese


Where I left off, Bex was patiently waiting for me to put my makeup on for Playground prom. (Applying silver glitter eyeshadow can be a fairly involved process, as you might know.) We put on our sparkly dresses, grabbed Greek takeout, and shoved it messily into our faces while riding the subway back to the hotel. (We classy.)

The prom was sooooo much fun, and I say that as someone who normally hates anything involving a club-y or dance-y atmosphere. Usually that sort of vibe gives me massive anxiety and introvert exhaustion in short order. But the entire Playground Conference was set up to be a safe(r) space, and there were so many friendly faces everywhere I went, that I didn’t feel nervous at all. I danced my ass off with lovely humans the whole night: we literally stayed until the DJ said goodnight and they turned the lights back on.

Some prom highlights: Shrieking with excitement when a Justin Bieber song came on. ♥ Rogue (who is more outgoing than me, and therefore more capable of interacting with strangers) asking the DJ to play the Macarena on my behalf, and then getting to Macarena real hard with a bunch of other enthusiastic weirdos on the dance floor. ♥ Remembering midway through the evening that I had a paddle in my bag, and letting folks use it on each other. ♥ Laughing so hard at a cute boy’s Christopher Walken and James Spader impressions that I had to immediately announce “I have a huge crush on you,” which caused him to kiss me. ♥ Shrieking along with the high notes in Senorita. ♥ The total acceptance with which Lavender was greeted when she decided the dance floor was too hot and took her dress off.

There was to be a sexy after-party when prom ended – after all, post-prom is the time to lose your virginity… or, um, have a kinky orgy in a hotel room… – but I was too tired to party any more, so I ended up going home to sleep in a handsome man’s bed. (No, really. Just to sleep. I was tired as fuck from all that dancing!)


After creeping home in the morning to shower and get dressed, I subwayed back to the hotel just in time for JoEllen and Stephen‘s talk on sex and depression. There was a remarkable feeling in that room: it felt like the crowd was hungry for the information being shared. Like all of us who’ve suffered from depression, and who have struggled with our sexuality as a result, were dying to both hear about others’ experiences in this regard and share our own. It’s true what JoEllen says about sex and depression, that it’s a difficult topic because it’s the intersection of two taboos – and that’s also what makes it so intensely freeing when you do get to hear about, and talk about, that intersection.

That session was fantastic, but also quite heavy, as you might expect. So when I received an invitation to a hotel room cuddle party immediately afterward, I accepted on the spot. Cuddles with sex-positive cuties are an excellent treatment for the sads. We took the elevator up, and our cuddle party devolved into a sleepy sex-pile. (I mean… It was a sex conference. Did you really expect our cuddles to be chaste?)

12224521_1132535596757421_182425694_nWhen the owner of the aforementioned hotel room had to check out of it, we were faced with the task of finding a new location for what had become an emergency threesome. I hesitate to write too much about the fun and funny fuck-times that ensued – I’d rather keep it in reserve for Tell Me Something Good or more private settings – but let’s just say it was gooooood.

Threesomes, and group sex in general, make me nervous as hell in theory. It feels like there’s so much that can go wrong, so many ways that one person can feel like a third wheel or that everyone can feel awkward and uncertain. But luckily, that hasn’t been my experience with either of the threesomes I’ve been in. I guess I know some good people!

We finished up and got on a streetcar back to the hotel, where we arrived just in time for the final keynote with Mollena Williams and Herr Meister. It was a really wonderful ending to the conference because it was so low-key: instead of being a structured speech/talk, it was really just a dialogue between Mollena and her Master about their relationship. I think it was exactly the emotional cooldown we needed to help us transition back into “real life” – almost like non-sexual aftercare.

In her closing remarks, Samantha suggested mac and cheese as a viable self-care strategy for dealing with con drop. Bex and I took that idea and ran with it. After hugging folks goodbye – and returning the threesome-location key we’d borrowed – we returned to 7 West for massive quantities of comfort food. We ended up talking for 4 hours or more, just debriefing about the weekend, and it was truly the perfect conference wrap-up. ♥

Thanks so much to Samantha Fraser for making the Playground Conference happen, and to all the folks who traveled from near and from far to attend it. It was ridiculous amounts of fun and I feel so grateful to be a part of this community. Love love love!

How (and Where) Do You Blog?

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

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

And now, without further ado…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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