Tag Archives: Advice

Stop Being So Fucking Condescending (Polyamory edition)

I identify as polyamorous (check Wikipedia if you’re confused) and there are few things that I find more irritating or upsetting in my personal life than having to tell someone that I’m poly. Actually it’s not the “coming out” that I hate it’s the follow-up conversation that I hate because almost without fair I am immediately told some condescending things that make me want to scream.

In an effort to make my life just a bit more bearable I’m going to give a “typical” response that I get to saying, “So I’m poly.” and then I’m going to follow with my own response.

“You haven’t met the right person to settle down with.”

Oh my god, stop. Please just stop right now. Stop it. Before you go any farther I want you to think about polyamory. Think about the idea of being in a poly relationship. You know that emotion you feel when you try to picture yourself being in a poly (or even open) relationship? That feeling of confusion and discomfort? It probably feels like you’re trying to jam a square peg into a circular hole. Well that’s how I feel when I think about being in a closed monogamous relationship. Trying to imagine myself being in a monog relationship is just like you imagining yourself in a poly relationship but the difference is that your relationship has been declared “normal” by your society.

Furthermore this has nothing to do with me “settling down” with anyone. I can settle down with two people or six people or HOW EVER MANY PEOPLE I END UP BEING IN A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP WITH.  This is not swinging or cheating or whoring it up or about “shallow” relationships. This is me having sincere and real and true emotions/attractions to people and being honest about it.

And let’s  talk about the fact that you’re telling me this is a phase. Ultimately this is one of the most painful things for me to be told. At it’s most basic level you are stripping me of my legitimacy to say that I know who I am by telling me that I am incorrect. So let’s just leave this bullshit in another room.

I will not deny that there is a possibility that I will end up in a long-term, committed and monogamous relationship. As a matter of fact I am open to this potential future, I just don’t think it’s likely at all. Like most aspects of human emotion/attraction/sex/romance/life I do believe that there is a spectrum between polyamory and monogamy and I think it’s possible for us to travel along the spectrum throughout our life.  Consider this for your own life. When you ask me to be open to a potential future in monogamy I will ask you to be open to a potential future in polyamory. Just as I might meet a person who I will end up being monogamous with you might end up meeting people with whom you share a deep love with and you need in your life as romantic partners.

So next time I or someone else brings up the fact that we’re poly please don’t be a condescending dick about it. Accept it as that’s who this person is then do research if you’re confused (I’m making a list of resources that I’ll link to when it’s done.) The important thing is that as a poly person we’re frequently told that our relationships are wrong or not valid/legitimate or creepy or abusive and we have enough shit to deal with besides yours.

A Letter To My Allies

(Use of word “faggot”.)

Dear Allies,

Thank you for supporting me being honest about my sexual orientation (pansexual) and gender presentation (nonconforming to the expected male presentation). For me your support seems like a no brainer (I mean, come on, why should you care if I enjoy giving blowjobs and wearing velvet dresses?) but I recognize that some of you have had to overcome a lifetime’s worth of teachings about how homosexual sex is gross and men wearing dresses can only be viewed in terms of comedy so that’s pretty nice of you. Good job on being nice to me about issues that do not actually impact you.

With all this being said there is something I think we should go over.

Allies, sometimes y’all are really irritating. Sometimes I’m tempted to throw up my hands and say, “Enough! I’m done with straight people and done with people whose sex and gender and gender presentation all match society’s expectations! You can all go fuck yourselves for all I care because I am done interacting with you lot.” However not only is this impractical it’s also unproductive. I’d much rather change society than moving to an isolated mountain where you all can’t get to me; which means that I need to teach you what I makes someone a real ally to me.

Here are the ground rules that I expect from my allies:

  1. Don’t Tell Me How I “Should” or “Really” Identify: The labels I use are ones that I feel most at home in, that I feel best represent me. If you’re Straighty McStraight-Straight from Straight St. then I don’t want to hear your opinions on what labels I should be using. You could have a degree in Gender or Queer Studies but if you’re straight I’m not going to let you tell me my identity. Once you know how it feels to live my life that’s when you get to talk to me about my identity/labels.
  2. I Get To Reclaim Slurs, You Don’t: I have a friend that calls me a faggot and I call him faggot as well. If almost any other person called me a faggot I’d probably punch them. My friend and I use such language to each other not only because we know that we both feel safe but because our use of it becomes a “Fuck You” to anyone who has used it as a slur. If you want to use the word faggot around me then talk to me about it first. It may be that I’m comfortable with you using it but I’d rather have you ask then assume. Furthermore if your friend uses a slur as a label that still doesn’t give you permission to use it casually around me or to apply it to me. I respect your friend’s identity but we are two different people.
  3. When I Say “Stop” You Stop: This really should be a given but from my own experiences it isn’t. When we’re talking about gender or sexuality and I get uncomfortable I can shut this motherfucker down. It doesn’t matter if we’re joking around or having a serious conversation, I retain my right to unilaterally stop a situation that makes me feel triggered or unsafe or hurt. Frequently it will have nothing to do with you and everything to do with my own psychological discomfort so know that it’s not personal.
  4. Don’t You Dare Come Into My Safe-Spaces: When it comes to sexual orientations and gender presentations the majority of the world is probably a physical and emotional safe-space for you. In response to this I need to go to spaces that are intentionally created to be safe for people like me. These spaces are safe because people like you aren’t in them. Again, it’s nothing personal but I need the opportunity to be with people like me. You know, like how almost anywhere you go you’ll find other straight and gender-conforming people just like you.
  5. I Am Not Your Punch line: Please, for the love of all that is holy stop trying to make jokes about my identity. Society is full of these jokes and not only do I find them not funny but I find them actually painful. Throughout our relationship I’ll let you know what I’m comfortable with you joking about but unless I say it’s ok please shut your mouth.

Got it? Good.

I know, I know, these four rules seem so utterly basic that it seems almost silly for me to write them down like this but that’s the sad part. This sad part, this utterly tragic part, is that these seemingly obvious rules are violated in my life on a regular basis. On a regular basis I find my identity questioned or my safe-space violated by people who are trying to be my allies and that’s just not cool.

If you read this list and thought, “Oh good! I’m an ally of Samuel and I’ve done none of these things!” then I need you to think long and hard about all of our past interactions. I’m surrounded by wonderful allies but I’m hard pressed to think of a single one who hasn’t broken at least one of these rules at least once. Now that I’ve shared this with you please be mindful. Please remember that sometimes I’m too afraid or too hurt to speak up so you need to take a level of responsibility for your words.

Of course we all make slip-ups. Sometimes we don’t even know that we’re hurting one another but it’s important that we have these conversations to make sure that there’s as little hurt going on as possible. Allies, be aware of what those you support tell you they need or want. Be mindful that sometimes it’s painful or embarrassing or frightening for some of us to tell you that you’re being a shitty ally so don’t assume silence is approval. When you feel that you need to ask questions then ask them (Try to be respectful about this part.) and honor the answers you get.

Thanks a bunch.


Samuel A. Zaber

NSFW/18+: e[lust] #45


Photo courtesy of CreativNooky

Welcome to e[lust] – The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at e[lust].  Want to be included in e[lust] #45? Start with the newly updated rules, come back April 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

~ This Week’s Top Three Posts ~

Bringing Toxic Sex Toy Facts Out of the Attic

How Do I Get My Wife to Dominate Me?

I Need This

~ Featured Posts (Molly’s Picks) ~

Speaking the unspeakable


All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

Thoughts & Advice on Sex & Relationships

Easy Come Easy Go: A Look at Orgasm Control
I came before I was ready
Relationships and age difference
PolyAnna’s Musings: Different is Good, Right?
Seriously Proud Queer
Spanking Kink of the Week
How to Be Good in Bed
A Thousand Small Unhappinesses
What’s in a Number?
The Absence ofHow to Tell if a Man is Gay
Stop Shitting on the Bottoms

Sex News, Interviews, Politics & Humor

It’s Not Misandry, You’re a Douchebag


Catalyst: How it Inspired

Thoughts & Advice on Kink & Fetish

Caning: To count or not to count
Slavery and Social Death, by O. Patterson
His Eyes Hungry. His Body Pleads: Use Me!
Toilet Whore
And then, I apologized.

Erotic Fiction

Wicked Wednesday: A little bit of confusion
The Moment
Waxing Lyrical
The “L” word
Lolita Twenty-Thirteen, Part Three

Erotic Non Fiction

Girl on Girl
The Moment I Felt Owned
Tasting Her
Acting on Instructions
Final Cruise
A Lazy Sadistic Orgasm
I had 8 days of sex.
An hour together 
Cheerful Disappointment
What is Erotic?
The Coin Flip
Playing with Adam
A Trip to the Hardware Store
Fall From Grace


A Somewhat Different Eroticon2013 4~part Post


The Dark Place

Why I Really Intensely Want to Talk About My Depression

Since starting this blog I’ve written three posts that specifically address my depression, referenced it a few times and Tweeted about it quite a lot. The truth is that for every time I’ve mentioned my depression on my blog or Twitter there have been been like fifty other times I’ve wanted to bring it up. Almost every time I’ve wanted to bring it up I’ve quickly shut myself down. Quite honestly I was afraid of being seen as a whiner or a complainer who was trying to get sympathy for myself. (There’s a very strong part of my identity that’s pure Vermont Yankee who would rather suffer with a stiff face then admit to any turmoil or pain.)

But there are times when I’ve let my Yankee facade down and talked about my depression online and I’m a bit confused as to why. Rather, I was a bit confused because after a few days of contemplation (read: several hours on public transit between Northern Vermont and Amherst, Massachusetts) I think I’ve discovered a new knowledge about my relationship with depression and why I’ve felt strange urges to publicly talk about.

I grew up hearing that depression was natural, that it wasn’t taboo or strange. At home and at school I was told that mental illness wasn’t supposed to be stigmatized and that with support depressed people could work through their pain. Nice but not very useful since I was given very one dimensional descriptions of what depression actually was. Oh sure, it was feeling sad and whatnot but when examples were given they were so extreme and tended to follow the same linear pattern. First a person had some sort of traumatic event (Death of loved one, extreme bullying, shark biting off arm) and then they were very depressed (Self-harming, hospitalized, basically catatonic) and then someone (Friend, professional, fairy godparent) helped them and they were fine. A to B to C and home in time for supper.

When I began to experience depression (A time that I date to around age 12, if not earlier) my depression wasn’t caused by one specific event. On the whole my childhood was quite nice and if I had a slightly different brain chemistry or something I wouldn’t have become depressed. My depression also didn’t look like the depression that I heard about. There were no books I could find or class talks held that described feeling general self-hatred, anxiety, pain, the ability to go from happy to crushingly sad in the same time that it takes a Kobayashi to eat a hotdog. When my depression started I simply couldn’t recognize it. And that really, really sucks.

It wasn’t until I was around sixteen that I realized that I had something going on that needed a professional’s help. Even then I didn’t want to admit that I was depressed. I had accidentally learned that depression had to be caused by trauma and to claim I was depressed when there was no obvious cause felt like weakness or asking for attention. I’ve been through three kick-ass counselors and one amazing psychiatrist in the past four years and with each of them I’ve said something along the lines of, “But I’m not depressed. I’m just being a whiny little baby.” Their replies were supportive and made a point of telling me that I was wrong (Though in therapy speak. They didn’t just go, “You’re WRONG, Samuel.”) All of their help was wonderful but we were trying to overcome more than a decade of me telling myself that I couldn’t have depression because it didn’t fit with my model of what depression was.

I wish I had been exposed to a greater representation of how depression can manifest itself and what can cause it. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m blaming the adults in my life for teaching me a limited version of depression because I hold no ill will towards them. The issue is that there isn’t a varied representation of depression out there. That’s why I want to share my personal experiences with depression.

Depression is awful no matter the form it takes but not being able to recognize your depression because your mind has only one model makes it all the harder to begin to treat it. This is why I get so excited when I see people with depression taking their stories to a public forum. It’s damned important for these stories to be shared and I beg all people with a history of depression who are at a place where they can talk about their experiences to please do so. We need to make the public aware of all the various types of depression that exist (I suspect that this is something that would be useful to many other mental illnesses or disorders but I only feel comfortable talking from the point of view as someone with depression.)

I wish, I truly wish that I had been exposed to more people’s stories when I was growing up. The trouble is that I can’t go back in time and teach pre-teen Samuel that his depression is valid and real. What I can do is share my own stories in an effort to help the pre-teen Samuels who are here now and who will come in the future.

Your Friend Told You They’re Polyamorous and You’re Confused

Dear Samuel,

My dear friend (who we’ll call “Samuel” because that’s his name) told me that he’s polyamorous. The thing is that I’m pretty sure he’s European, what should I do? Should I show him his grandparents’ Ellis Island certificates or play along with his delusion that he’s from tropical islands? Help!




Well Samuel, you stupid little twit, the word  you’re thinking of is “Polynesian” and that’s quite different from what “Samuel” actually said. So why don’t you grow a pair of ears, you miserable excuse for a human, and sit down so I can explain to you what your friend actually meant.

Considering that your friend and I are the exact same person I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what he was talking about. Your friend is using polyamorous to describe the fact that he can feel romantic and/or sexual attractions to multiple people at the same time. Samuel feels comfortable acting upon his various attractions even if he’s currently involved with other people. You need to understand that Samuel is not cheating as he has not entered into any relationship with the expectation that it will be monogamous. To achieve this Samuel places a premium on constant communication to ensure that all participants are informed and feel safe/comfortable.

Here’s some basic advice:

First of all it is not your place to question the validity of Samuel’s, fuck this I’m going to use first person pronouns, of my relationships. If I am in six relationships (long term relationships with two people, casually hooking up with three, just starting to date one- obviously this is hypothetical because in what universe can I get one date, let alone six) then I am in six relationships that mean as much to me as your one relationship. What I feel for each person is genuine and sincere and it is not your fucking place to tell me otherwise. If we’re close friends and you feel that there’s something wrong with one of my relationships because it just doesn’t seem healthy then please express your concern but the fact that my relationships might look different than yours means jackshit.

You might have some questions with terminology. Who is my boyfriend? Who is my make out buddy? Valid questions and they deserve valid answers: I’ll tell you who is who. If you’re confused then you can ask, “Hey, how do you refer to Steve? Or Belinda?” Be polite and I’ll be polite in return. It’s probably not a big deal but you’ll make it one if you obsess over it.

In trying to answer all the questions that I felt people would want answered I realized that what I really cared about was respect. Please respect my relationships and my feelings. When I act upon my attractions it’s because they’re sincere emotions that I truly feel. Furthermore I do my best to keep communication at the forefront of my relationships. Also, it’s not really your business. I mean, as long as everyone involved is freely consenting and know what’s going on then you can’t really complain. So fuck off?

If you have any questions about polyamory please ask. I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities and provide resources that I’ve come across.

Etiquette: Bringing Others into a Dom/Sub Relationship

The other day I was listening to the Sex Nerd Sandra podcast when one of her guests talked about her experiences with a slave who came into the sex toy shop where she works. She describes how a man entered her store and presented her with a letter that she was to open and then read to him. The letter was a shopping list of what he was supposed to bring home (apparently this was the first time he was told what exactly he needed to buy) but also included several very mean things that the woman had to read out to him. After the woman said that this was the most uncomfortable she’d ever felt while working in a sex toy shop Sandra talked about how this sort of behavior is unfair to people who don’t know that they’re getting roped into a fantasy. She went on to describe how the shop where she works gets these sort of situations but that these can be successful if the dom/master will call before the sub/slave arrives to give the shop a heads up.

I was actually horrified when I listened to the story and kept hoping she was going to say something about how this was a hypothetical situation. My horror is not with the master/slave or dom/sub relationship but by the fact that this woman was brought into the dynamics of a relationship without her consent. I’m sure we can all agree consent is extremely important, particularly when we enter into the intimate world of sex, (Actually I tend to say that communication is even more important as you can’t have complete consent without communication but let’s make that a different post.) and for a culture that puts so much emphasis on consent why do we sometimes bring people outside of our relationships in without their consent? It probably sounds like I’m over reacting here but my anger and annoyance isn’t geared towards this one incident but rather was reignited by hearing this story.

When I first began exploring more sex-positive subcultures I kept running across stories like this in forums or advice columns or articles or just general conversation. The nice thing was that a year or two ago these stories died down. To hear this woman’s experience after a nice quiet period was really troubling, especially since I thought that this was basically over. Me writing a blog post on this subject probably won’t have any impact but I’m a Blogger And So My Opinions And Ideas Are Worthy Of Being Shared With Everyone From Solomon To Jack the Ripper.

The blunt point of what I want to say is that consent isn’t needed just from the people who are placing their genitals into each others orifices (or whatever it is that you like to do) but from whoever is going to be involved; this includes anyone who is involved in your power dynamics. The one area that I feel less strongly about this is when it comes to people who get their jollies from the danger of almost being caught. It’s one thing if you’re sneaking into semi-public places to have sex (the dorm laundry room or a some shrubbery in a not too crowded park) but when you want to involve someone else you better have their consent.

One popular theme that gets brought up in erotic stories involves the subordinate partner answering the door to a plumber/electrician/mailman/etc. while wearing nothing or with a collar on or some other humiliating device their dominant has thought up. I feel it’s one thing if it’s along the lines of the sub is wearing a short skirt with no underwear (Trust me, I’m not just thinking of female identified people here.)  as I tend to place this more in the category of “flirting with almost getting caught” but to go further is a whole different ball(gag) game. The advice that I’m going to give is something that I haven’t had personal experience with and it will need to be adapted depending on where you live; however, I think it can provide a useful starting point for people who might want to incorporate this element of humiliation into their play. The dominant can call or e-mail ahead to whoever is coming over to your place. Here’s a suggestion script or e-mail that I wrote up:

Hello, [YADDA YADDA MY STOVE NEEDS MAINTENANCE YADDA YADDA] Just so you know my partner and I have a relationship where we explore power relations/kink/humiliation/whatever-you-think-will-get-the-point-across. My partner might answer the door while wearing “X” and I wanted to give you a heads up. There’s nothing specific I need from you but I wanted to make sure you/whoever-is-coming-over won’t feel uncomfortable with what they’ll find. Obviously if this is an issue than I’ll make sure my partner isn’t home/is wearing all their clothes.

I think it goes without saying that you will know your own situation better than I will so please take this as a rough suggestion.

If you have friends with similar interests in your local community then they can be a great resource. Ask if they know people who’d be comfortable making house calls and make sure you let them know if you find people who are open to this. Local messaging boards or really any kink forums can be another tool. Finding forums online that address your region may be challenging (Fetlife could be a good place to start looking.) but finding them can be a lot of help.

One of my favorite examples of dom/sub in public/incorporating others is an anecdote from a friend at my previous university. His face flushed with happiness, he came into the suite to announce that he’d been walking through the student center when a dominant came by walking their subordinate on a leash. My friend approached the dom and after commenting on how cute their “puppy” was asked if he could pet it. Permission was given and my friend left with his day made. What I like about this is that this particular couple brought their relationship public (Yay for kink visibility!) and welcomed participation from others but didn’t force others to engage in it. (I also really like this demonstration of how power play doesn’t only mean one person in boots flogging a naked person like our media likes to portray.)

Consent, consent, consent, three words that I never get tired of hearing. Bringing others into your relationship can be fun and exciting but should always include consent. Let me know of your own experience with this subject and if you feel there’s anything I got wrong.

Snakes: I Hate Them

For most of my life I characterized my relationship with snakes as being one ruled by fear.

Recently I’ve started to realize that my relationship is much more complex than that one word. The snakes that I grew up with are little garder (garter? garden? I’ve never been entirely certain in what these snakes are called and for my entire life I’ve been too ashamed of my ignorance to ask.) whose biggest threat to me are harmless bites that, I’m told, are no worse than thick-ish sewing needles. The closest that I’ve come to fearing a snake, to feeling that my life was at risk, was when I traveled with my mother through Belize from jungle mountains to tiny keys. In the jungle we were told to be wary of ferdilances (I have no way of knowing if this is the correct spelling. No, I do have a way of knowing but Google-ing the correct spelling would involve pictures showing up and I can’t handle that.), snakes so venomous that if bitten we would die before we could get airlifted from the research station to the hospital. We’re not talking about snakes that will only attack if they have no way out but snakes that are so entirely single-minded in their hatred of me that if I was to pick them up by their head, the standard way of successfully handling poisonous snakes, they’d drive their fangs through the top of their motherfucking head in an attempt to kill me. Yes, these bastards are willing to kill themselves for a chance of making me turn up my clogs. The point is that I grew up around snakes that didn’t inspire fear in my heart and have no real reason to fear them.

A more accurate way of phrasing this is that I’m not afraid of all snakes but rather that I am firmly and utterly committed to being entirely against snakes. I despise them, loathe them, hate them and my revulsion is so strong that I have overt physical reactions to thinking about them. (There is one good thing about my anti-snake feelings: afriend I’ve known since childhood told me that when we are walking in tall grass my almost catatonic reaction to seeing a snake gives her advanced warning. You’re welcome, I’m glad my pain helps you.)

Throughout most of my life (even once, maybe twice, last year) I told people that I could trace my snake emotions to one specific moment. My family has been raising chickens for years and when I was young our chicken coop had a hatch allowing us to reach in and retrieve eggs without needing to enter the coop itself. When I was three or four (if this ever really happened I was probably closer to seven or so) I reached in but found more than an egg. Curled around the solitary egg was a baby snake who had dislodged its jaw and was about to swallow the egg whole. It’s very unlikely that this happened to me (many of my memories are similarly unlikely and are only supported by my own belief in them…) but for most of my life I took it as a fact. As far as I was concerned this memory was fact and it was to blame for all my later snake related annoyances. My initial reaction of shock and horror from that little snake was so intense that I was to be forever prejudiced against snakes.

While that memory may be false there might be some truth in the idea that early shock and horror turned me against snakes. My early memories of snakes are characterized by being shocked by sudden appearances of garder/garter/garden snakes. The majority of these memories are centered around the gap between the kitchen door and our little back porch where the snakes liked to snooze. Except this might be an entirely ridiculous notion that doesn’t deserve much respect. After all my friends grew up in similar circumstances and have more typical reactions to snakes. Their experiences range from being completely on board with snakes to not wanting to touch them but as far as I know none of my friends experience locked limbs, shakes and hyperventilation during discussions of snakes. Even writing about this is making me incredibly paranoid and it’s taking all my willpower not to look over my shoulder to check for a snake sharing my bed.  (My willpower is not as strong as my distrust for snakes and I just checked. I’m safe but you can never be too safe when it comes to those devious little shits.)

Why write this? I’m throwing myself into a mini-panic attack for what reason? Yes, my own vanity does like the idea of writing about myself for my blog but there’s another reason.

I am sick and tired of people assuming that I my distrust and anger at snakes is rooted in fear of them. (We shall ignore Mr. Freud as I am not afraid of the phallus, rather I am an ardent admirer, enthusiast and supporter of the phallus.) They tell me in slow and comforting voice about how snakes are actually nice guys and they’re more afraid of me than I am of them and other such shit.  See the stupid thing there is that they’re trying to apply logic and reason to this.

Look, when I shower I constantly need to look up and make certain that there are no boas or adders sneaking around the showerhead. How many relaxing showers throughout my life have been ruined by me becoming suddenly convinced that there are snakes up there? Too many. Does that sound like something that reason and logic can address? No, no it doesn’t. I can’t even dangle my feet over my bed without realizing that a snake could strike out from beneath my bed frame (Thankfully my current bed is just mattresses and no frame so any snake that’s beneath my bed is crushed and dead which is awesome.) Speaking of beds: Why worry about snakes on a plane when you can worry about SNAKES IN YOUR BLANKETS. I don’t just worry about venomous snakes or muscle snakes that will choke me to death but harmless snakes as well. If it’s a snake then I’m going to become obsessive in my fear of it and that’s that.

If you’re watching a movie with me and a snake shows up on screen just pat my shoulder. Don’t tell me that it can’t hurt us because I’m not worried about it hurting us, I’m worried that it EXISTS PERIOD. I don’t give a shit that it’s a fictional snake, the keyword is snake and that’s all I care about. Stop trying to explain to me how I’m safe because I’ve passed beyond any point where that helps. Your concern is nice but you’re not helping me and actually you’re probably just going to make me pissed off and that’s not helpful. Anyhow your attempts to use reason and logic in this situation will be less successful than a 16th century Puritan converting a kangaroo.

There are things you can do that will be helpful to me. Not pointing out snakes to me is a good start. Patting my shoulder and saying nice vague things in a soothing voice are also useful. I’d appreciate you not laughing too hard at my expense and please try not to get mad at me when I shriek or freeze up, I’m not doing it on purpose and it’s not an attempt to annoy you. I think what this really boils down to isn’t so much how people try to help me but the idea that they know my revulsion better than I do. Don’t tell me that I am afraid of snakes and here’s exactly why I’m being illogical. You do that and I’m going to bite you.

Also, try to get me to touch a snake and I’ll break your arm.

Advice: Staying Warm While Waiting For The Bus

Dear Samuel, 

Long time reader, first time caller! Love the blog! It’s great! Quick question- Waiting at the bus stop is becoming horrendous in this cold weather. Any tips, you good-looking son of a bitch?

Love, Samuel Z.

Great question and one I can totally relate to, Samuel!

Winter is here and for those of us living in the colder urban environments this means that standing at the bus stop is really a pain in the tuchus. Of course winter doesn’t just mean cold waits but also inclement weather that can delay buses. What does a delayed bus mean? Longer waits. Whoop-de-fucking-loo. Here are some of my great suggestions:

  • Exercises to keep your blood flowing. My favorite is to ride an imaginary bicycle, although with my bad knees I can’t do this for long. Jumping-Jacks are also good.
  • Urinating on yourself may seem like a good idea at the time but soon that warm liquid will freeze and then your thighs are frozen shut.
  • Use what resources you have. If you’re in a three-sided shelter like we have in Amherst than maximize its efficiency by pushing it over and positioning the entrance away from the oncoming wind.
  • The more people waiting for the bus the better. Huddling for warmth is good but get as close to the center as you can. During this time of year I carry a blue permanent marker with me so that in times like this I can color my hands and face and tell people I’ve got hypothermia. Their sympathy means that they’ll put me in the center so that I don’t die.
  • Stay positive. Instead of thinking that the bus is late because the universe is punishing you for cheating on your French quiz in Sophomore year, think that it’s late for a good reason. Maybe they ran over someone you really don’t like. Imagine the bus crushing your least favorite celebrity (Jack Nicholson) or relative (Ken).
  • Super cold? Fake a heart-attack so an ambulance is called. Once they’ve picked you up tell the paramedics that you left your health insurance information at your apartment. They’ll pull up at your apartment, you run inside to “get your health insurance information” and then you lock the door. Free ride home!
  • Take this opportunity to learn new things about your body. If there’s a willing partner you two can stay warm by engaging in a frisky exploration of the other’s body. Why limit it to just you two? Invite everyone waiting with you to join in! (This is how my Great-Aunt Hortensia met her second-, third-, and sixth-husband.)

Stay warm out there!


Well that’s all I’ve got. Anyone got anything to add? Leave a comment below. And if you’d like me to answer a question from someone who isn’t me feel free to e-mail it to me: hypatiaofvermont@gmail.com

Literary Pretensions: Naming Characters

In Sophomore year of high school my teacher made a very valiant attempt to get us engaged in Great Expectations. At one point she brought up the point that Charles Dickens gave his characters names that suited their personality. My best friend leaned over and whispered to me, “I hate it when authors do that.” Because I had such fucking awesome self-esteem as a teenager I muttered something about agreeing with him and vowed to never put care into my characters’ names again.

Four years later and I don’t agree with teenage me (I’m 20 as of six days ago and so I can now say things about Teenage Me. Fuck yeah adulthood!) In fact, when done thoughtfully I think that naming characters can be a great deal of fun. By my own pretentious reasoning I believe that there are two categories of good names.

  • The Onomatopoetic:  Names that sound like their character’s personality. Referring back to Great Expectations we have the clerk Wemmick whose name (“whem-iK”, I made up this phonetic spelling) with its hard ending sounds a bit like the clicking-clacking that I associate with his precise and sharp nature. I like subtle onomatopoetic names that don’t sound too much  like their character but are just enough to set the mood. This seasoning should be used carefully, if it’s too strong than it’ll overpower the character just be stupid.
  • The Easter-Egg: It’s fun when you’re reading to suddenly happen upon a pleasant surprise that the author’s hidden into the story. Of course, it’s also good fun as the author to think up and put together these treats. There’s the simplistic option like naming a happy character Cheery Peterson but I turn up my nose at the one. You might as well be bludgeoning the reader over the head and it’s a bit of an easy cop-out on actually describing the character. Names that have hidden meaning are my preferred poison. I think that JK Rowling is quite good at this style of name giving. There’s Minerva McGonagall but I think even that’s a bit too easy. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore is one of my favorite in terms of layered meanings. I’ve read a few breakdowns of his name and the HP-Lexicon has a good page on Dumbledore. To summarize from there we have Albus (White [A white wizard is a frequent name or identity for a good wizard]) Percival (A Knight of the Round Table who was associated with the Holy Grail, also the name of Dumbledore’s dad) Wulfric (Anglo-Saxon for “wolf power/ruler” and a 12th century hermit) Brian (The HP-Lexicon suggests this is a reference to The Life of Brian and is meant to make fun of how grandiose his other names are. I haven’t come across any other solid suggestions besides this one.) Dumbledore (This one is fairly well known as JK Rowling did mention in an interview that she picked this Old English word, “Bumblebee”, as a reference to the seemingly balmy old Dumbledore walking around and humming to himself). Wasn’t that fun? I think that was fun.

Let’s face it, I’m no expert on writing but I am a reader who knows what they like, a writer who knows what I find fun to write and a complete and utter word nerd.

Anyone else have any strong opinions on the names of characters? (I was about to say, “not that I have a strong opinion on something so trivial” but then I realized that that was complete bullshit.)

Etiquette: Why Asking “Are You a Top or Bottom?” Might Not Be the Greatest Move You’ll Ever Make (Unless of course you lead a very sad little life)

A person with a penis* has sex with another PWAP and the next day it’s casually brought up in conversation. “Oh, are you the top or the bottom?”, someone asks.  And then I begin to cry with anger. I was originally going to write this post about how straight people sometimes ask really intimate questions to queer people as if it’s not intimate because we’re different. “Who’s carrying the child?” “How do you masturbate?” “Are you on testosterone? ” “Were you abandoned by your father/mother as a child?” Yes, not every straight person thinks that they can ask anyone who isn’t straight and/or cis-gendered intensely intimate questions about their bodies/sex lives/history/mental-health/life-in-general, but which queer reading this can say that they’ve never had a question like this asked at them by a straight person?

You, put your hand down, you’re lying.

Sorry, maybe you’re not lying and maybe this is only prevalent among the various communities I’ve lived in.

This post was going to be about straight people asking PWAPs who have sex with other PWAPs if they’re the “top” (the penetrator) or the “bottom” (the penetratee). After writing the title of this post and saving it as an empty draft I meditated on the idea for a few days** and realized that I had more to say than just that. The subject I wanted to tackle was more than a nosy question, it was the whole TOP-BOTTOM-NO GREY AREA dichotomy that I was annoyed with.

Asking someone if they’re the giver or receiver in the sack is a pretty personal question. If your relationship with someone is close enough that you two talk about your sex lives then this question could be fine. If you’re co-workers, or casual acquaintances or friends who aren’t at the Let’s-Share-Every-Detail-Of-Our-Sex-Lives-And-Bowel-Movements stage then maybe let this question rest. By also run the risk of getting a very confusing sports answer when asking an acquaintance, “Are you the pitcher or the catcher?”

Moving on from the Appropriateness-Of-Questions issue I’d like to address why the question in general bothers me. It’s a really fucking presumptive question. Think about it for a minute. The question isn’t, “If you were going to engage in anal sex would you have a strong preference for one role or the other and please explain,” it isn’t even, “Did you have anal sex and if you did than which role did you preform?”, it’s “YOU ENGAGE IN ANAL SEX AND DID YOU TAKE IT UP THE BUM OR DID YOU GIVE IT UP THE BUM. AND BY IT I MEAN THE PENIS.”***

Not every PWAP who has sex with a PWAP is going to do anal. According to a study put out by the Center for Disease Control 2.9 percent (with a standard deviation of .3 percent) of the 61,865 men, aged 15-44, who “sexual activity with same-sex partners in lifetime”**** between 2006 and 2008 engaged in anal-sex. If I’m interpreting this correctly (And someone please let me know if I’m not. I’m not a professional statistician or professional CDC report reader.) then the majority of men (using the CDC’s definition) would respond with, “Neither,” when asked if they bottomed or topped. As a society we seem convinced that PWAP who have sex with other PWAP are going to do so anally. The idea of an effeminate twink bottoming enthusiastically for a straight-passing dude is super ingrained in our cultural mind. What about frot? Or is it frotting? I don’t really know. Frot is a form of sex that can happen between two PWAP but it doesn’t include anal penetration (Don’t worry, that link takes you to the Wikipedia entry on “frot”.)

And why do we have to have such a cemented idea on roles in anal sex? What about “switches”? Some people find joy in both giving and receiving penetration, ya know. To say that you must be one or the other really limits people’s creativity when it comes to exploring what makes them feel good. This idea that PWAP only have anal sex and only get to have position their entire sexual lives must be rolled back, if only because it’s limiting for those engaged in sex.

Also, don’t ask questions that are too intimate. Let other people bring up the topic before you start asking them if they’d rather have their Tricky Dick up someone’s Watergate or if they’d want someone’s (or some people’s) Prince Philip going into their Buckingham Palace.

*Maybe this penis is a biological one that this friend was born with, or maybe it’s a plastic one purchased from a shop, or maybe it’s a different type of penis. Maybe this friend identifies as male and maybe they don’t. That’s really not important right now. For the sake of brevity I’ll be using the acronym PWAP in place of “person with a penis”.

**Reality television, job hunting, West Wing watching, walking around town lost all count as meditating, got it?

***Maybe it isn’t that aggressive but I’ve got a scenario in my head where the person asking is a highly confused woolly mammoth who speaks loudly and in broken sentences when confused.

****Trust me, I’m really not thrilled with how the CDC presented their information. The section regarding anal sex in same-sex female couples? There isn’t one. And how are they defining “male” and “female”? There doesn’t seem to be anything about intersex individuals or different gender identities. If I could find data that wasn’t so… traditional, is that the word I want?, then I would have used that data. Anyone who has a report that’s more inclusive should send it along to me, please and thank you.