Sex and the Ivy

Quit gawking. It’s just sex.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elle May 28, 2008 @ 4:58 am

Read this for context.

I talked to Susannah Breslin today about what it’s like in college nowadays and what I think about what others think and how I handle all the shit that’s thrown at my blog and views on sexuality. Mid-interview, I verbalized for the first time something that I didn’t realize until recently. I don’t care anymore what people think.This hasn’t always been the case. I used to care what my friends thought, then I cared what my readers thought, then I cared what agents and producers and capitalist goons thought. And I’ve always cared what reporters and other bloggers thought. (But maybe that’s because I give more credit to those who write.)

Now? Hm. I pretty much only consult with Patrick and Kennedy about what I write, which is essentially consulting with myself (since I live at the former’s apartment and speak with the latter on a near hourly basis). I don’t get upset when commenters hate on me, or when other bloggers hate on me, or when I realize I am completely un-marketable and most likely going to be poor for a very long time.

I think that’s the point. Having no options, that is. I wrote a sex blog for nearly two years and during this time, not only did I write explicitly about sexual acts and depression and all my fuck-ups but also, I had a crazy ex who leaked my naked photos on the Internet. I mean, I’m not marketable in love and not marketable in the labor force and not marketable in civilized society, really. And when you begin to realize that you are the antithesis of everything acceptable or American, that your Ivy League resume is chock full of life experience but nothing more, that the only people who will love you are the rare ones who forgive first impressions, it’s then that you stop giving a shit and start living the way you want to live.

Because here is the thing: there is so much shit said about me on the Internet that I couldn’t wake up everyday worrying about it or I probably would’ve offed myself by now. I have no option but to stop caring and when I stopped caring, I realized something incredible: I don’t have to care. Whether someone thinks I’m a slut should make no difference to me. Why is that something I should cry about? Why should any of us care what anyone else thinks? It’s both hilarious and sad that in order to love myself fully and completely, to be totally comfortable with the decisions I make, it took everyone else hating me and deriding my choices.

Also? I may be a whore by societal standards, but I am not an attention whore. I go to Harvard for chrissakes. Do you think I don’t realize that the only reason anyone gives my blog the time of day is because I am a living, walking, subversive abomination that they expect to crash and burn? Do you think I’m so deluded as to believe that most people are cheering me on? I may be egotistic, but I’m not quite that naive. So I realize that the majority of “attention” I get is negative. Why in the world would I court that? Google Adsense profits of an incredible $1/day? I don’t think so. It’s not about money. It’s not about all publicity being good publicity. It’s about I can so I will.

Here’s a summation for the critics: this is just how I am and this is just how I’d be, whether or not you’re reading. I don’t care for your attention anymore than you care for my whoring. The difference between us is a matter of liberation. I can fuck whoever and live however I like and feel fine about it all at the end of the day. But even those who despise me find it hard to look away or to bite their tongue or to not personally intervene and yell “NO YOU ARE WRONG”. Think about that for a second, and tell me: which one of us is captive?

To All The Men I Wouldn’t Fuck

Filed under: Men, Sex — Elle May 21, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

(A more accurate title might be, “Sorry I didn’t sleep with you last summer!”)

Anyway, remember that time I was abstinent? Yeah, it happened. April of last year. When I realized the guy I was into at the time was a cheater, compulsive liar, and probably a sociopath. (This was the same guy who later published nude photos of me.) After I compared stories with the OTHER girl he was fucking, I started screening his calls, quit believing in romance, and decided to let my hymen grow out. I was so angry (not heartbroken, not sad, but PISSED OFF) that I was determined to not repeat this mistake. So I took an absolute approach. No sex ’til love, I said. What I really meant was, “No sex until I fucking feel like it again, assholes.”

I moved to New York at the end of May, and my phonebook started filling up with numbers despite minimal effort on my part. It was summer in the City and everyone was feeling frisky. Yet despite feeling pressure from guys in the double digits, I managed to remain unpenetrated (and thus, appear totally game-less in New York magazine) for the first two months of summer. There were hot models and blogworthy exploits and everything, but I kept my legs SHUT. Trust me, temptation was in the air.

Not really.

Had I wanted sex bad, I probably would’ve had it, but I was still completely wary of anything with a dick. So I did what seemed reasonable at the time: I put dicks in my mouth. This was the summer of the grand blowjob. I have never before, nor have I since, given so much head and been so good at it. Seriously, I wish I had transcribed some of the post-orgasm reviews. But despite the fact that I blew so many people that I would need to refer to my Word document of hookups to tell you how many penises I sucked, this slut drew the line at third base. Why? Spite. I didn’t say no to sex and yes to oral because of some misguided notion of what “real sex” constitutes. I was just angry at men and I liked saying no. I liked the power that came with refusal almost as much as I liked the power of being able to clamp down my teeth at whim. Defiance for the sake of defiance has always been how I roll. Couple that with a mad desire for revenge and the result was a stubborn bitch who’d lick your balls but wouldn’t engage in either extreme of kissing or fucking. I drove guys crazy.

Anyway, I didn’t care. I didn’t give a shit about any of the dicks I sucked which is probably why I can barely recall half the men who were attached to said dicks. In the end, I broke my abstinence streak after four months with a former fling. He was someone familiar and safe and good. He was someone I used to really like, who I suppose, in one way or another, reminded me that there are men worth loving and fucking, and even if I hadn’t stumbled on the one I wanted to love yet, there were certainly others — unattached, decent, respectful others — who I could fuck in the meantime.

That being said, this was a guy I probably shouldn’t have slept with (because he once upon a time stomped all over my heart), as evidenced by this entry from my private journal the day after the de-revirgnization:

30 July 2007 @ 02:08 am
had sex last night. first time in four months. cannot really tell my blockmates or they will kill me. the end.

I didn’t tell them until weeks into the school year. Which probably speaks for itself.

So despite the vow on the blog back in April, I didn’t start having sex again because I fell in love. I had it because I felt like it. For whatever reason, the person (an old flame) and the occasion (a boozey birthday bash) felt like the appropriate circumstances under which to bid my short-lived abstinence streak adieu. Frankly, it was really immature in retrospect to react with vengeful abstinence after being deceived by some guy who really won’t even matter in the grand scheme of things. And my weird use of my vagina as some deranged tool of evening up the cosmic forces? Really weird. And deranged. What I did was every bit as fucked up as withholding sex until accumulating a certain number of dates with a guy. Or until getting a ring on my finger. Simply not wanting to have sex is one thing, but downright refusing it across the board on the basis of an ignorant and stubborn adherence to a rule (in this case, a self-made rule) is another. It reduces sex to a bargaining chip. And that’s not what it should be.

In my life, there have been plenty of guys who I fucked on the first date (for example, the one I’m currently involved with). There are some guys I didn’t fuck until the tenth date and only then because I wanted to know if there was reason to stick around for the 11th. And then there are the guys from New York, the ones from the summer of the blowjob. They were the ones I blew but wouldn’t fuck, who got no real explanation beyond “Someone was mean to me and now you have to suffer for it.” Well, this is your explanation M, J, N, B, M, and whoever the hell else there was. I’m sorry I wouldn’t let you stick it in, not even “just the tip.” If I could go back in time, I’d probably accept your valiant effort to make me cum via a series of thrusts. But hey, the likelihood of a time machine being invented is roughly equal to the likelihood of your success at triggering cunt spasms, so let’s just cut our losses and agree that things are what they are. I may have not fucked you, but at least I swallowed.

Of Werewolves and German Lovers

Filed under: Dating/Relationships, Men — Elle May 14, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

Patrick is not my boyfriend. He is this great, new person in my life but I am not in any rush to define what we are, now or ever. My friends don’t understand this. “Oh, but he is!” they say. Or “Whatever, don’t even try to deny it.” Really, guys, he’s not my boyfriend. He and I have had entire conversations about how he is not my boyfriend. In fact, if one more person who ought to know better calls him my boyfriend again, I might just have to get a t-shirt that reads “Please remove your label from my relationship.” Because to me, Patrick is Patrick and I’m not really interested in labeling him otherwise.

The problem with “boyfriend” is it suggests some natural progression in romance. You go from “boyfriend” to “fiance” to “husband”. You go from “dating” to “a relationship” to “engagement” to “marriage.” If you’ve been involved with someone for years and you have no plans to get married, people get confused. If you’ve been living together for years and you have no plans to get married, people get confused. If you decide to have children together and still don’t get married, people just write you off as “everything that is wrong with damn liberals these days.” Our society is unable to understand relationships beyond linguistic and legal boundaries, and that’s a problem. And then there’s the implication that there’s supposed to be some uniform set of attributes romantic relationships are supposed to share. My best friend Jason sleeps over at his boyfriend’s place every night. I sleep over at Patrick’s place every night. Therefore, he must be my boyfriend. My girlfriends bring their significant others to social events. I brought Patrick to my friend Tara’s birthday brunch. He must be my boyfriend. Except he’s not.

Certainly, our relationship shares some of the attributes of other people’s relationships, but nothing we do is exclusively what boyfriends and girlfriends do. If he weren’t around and Kennedy were in the country, I’d probably just drag her out to events I wanted to attend, but that wouldn’t make her my girlfriend in the romantic/sexual sense. And what about the things Patrick and I do that no one else does? What people forget with labels is that they fail to capture the uniqueness of individual relationships. I can’t be comfortable calling him my “boyfriend” because in my mind, it reduces our time together to a very limited spectrum of activities. This isn’t a condemnation of other people’s relationships. If you want to call your significant other “boyfriend,” “husband,” or “snuggly-poo,” that’s really up to you. Those terms (especially the last) probably carry a different connotation for you than it does for me. In my opinion, “boyfriend” doesn’t do justice to who he is to me. It sounds stagnant and limiting.

This is not just a problem exclusive to romantic relationships. It took months of delving into each other for me to really appreciate my best friends Jason or Kennedy fully, and at the end of it all, “best friend” seems like such an inadequate term. I wish there were some other way I could describe what they mean to me, because platonic labels, too, are limited. I hate that I refer to them as my best friends, simply because those words do not come close to conveying what I actually mean. But even with them, if I say “This is my friend, but also so much more,” people might understand. With Patrick, if I say “This is the person I sleep with, but also so much more,” the immediate response would be, “Is he your boyfriend?”

Part of the trouble is that “boyfriend” connotes exclusivity, and people seem to really like marking their territory (must be the history of imperialism or something). It’s not just “This is the person I fuck and do xyz with.” It’s “This is the only person I fuck and do xyz with.” It’s alarming to others that I’m not boxing Patrick up and calling him mine because forgoing the term “boyfriend” implies that there’s the possibility he might run off with some other girl or something. Okay, so he might. But if he wanted to do that, then labeling him “mine and only mine forever and always” really isn’t going to prevent that from happening. And I’m not exactly Miss Confidence either. I’m full of insecurities — ask anyone who knows me, Patrick included — but I’ve just come to realize that being able to say he’s my boyfriend is not going to resolve any of those issues.

In lieu of other people’s labels, I have better names for him. And he has many for me. They only make sense in the context of us, but isn’t that the way all things should be? Besides, it’s pointless to call him something when he’ll most likely be something else entirely to me in a matter of months. Maybe I’ll fall head over heels for Patrick this summer and get as close to him as I have with Kennedy or Jason. Maybe at some point, I’ll get sick of the cumbersome series of words “the guy I’m seeing.” Or maybe it’ll be him I get sick of during Week 6 of my 13-week European adventure. Maybe the sex will become boring and the dog will become annoying. Even if I decide that perhaps I don’t need him to pick me up from the airport or move me into my dorm come September, I still wouldn’t want to define what we were. Perhaps the biggest problem with the term “boyfriend” is that when you’re not together anymore, that person becomes your “ex.” That’s what they’ll always be from then on. And even though I’ve only known him for a few months, I think he deserves more than to be left with only two options for what he wants to be in my life.

This is not enough to do justice.

Filed under: CK, Dating/Relationships, Men — Elle May 5, 2008 @ 1:16 am

In a profile of me for her creative writing course, my friend called me the “girl alone in the riot-proof dorm.” That’s what the past year has been for me: solitude, safety, self-sufficiency. It is everything that seemed impossible less than two years ago.

Contentment is harder to express than the depression or rage of my nineteenth year. How do you say “I am happy” in any way but just that? Pain is common, universal, widely felt, and mulled over. Happiness is fleeting and even if everyone’s had a taste, no one really remembers it or knows it beyond the moment. We recall the details and circumstances, but not the feeling. There are just the moments and impressions.

Sunday morning. Early March of this year. I woke up in a soundless riot-proof dorm from nine and a half uninterrupted hours of much needed slumber. I tapped at my laptop and drew my curtains, finding an email from Patrick and unexpected sunniness in the process. The sun blinked back at me, demanding musical accompaniment, so I put iTunes on shuffle and made my way to the bathroom, taking a route littered with wrinkled clothing, unread books, and half-empty cigarette boxes — pieces of a scattered life. Sometime between the scent of jojoba on my cheeks and the opening strains of a Weakerthans tune, I jolted awake when I took in the full extent of my surroundings. Standing there amid my mess of a room, I realized that I had finally cleaned up my mess of a life; that I had done even better than I could’ve ever expected and found a comfort in my own skin I would’ve deemed inconceivable a year ago.

This clarity comes every once in a while, far more frequently this year than last. Some mornings, I will wake up so inexplicably content that I remain flat on my back with eyes stretched wide to take in the cars and morning joggers beyond my window. Everything else can wait while I celebrate this small moment. I like to think of these instances as an expression of my gratitude, as an appreciative reminder of what I have: the ability to be alone and happy. For the girl who used to find it a challenge to merely emerge from her bedroom, this is a veritable triumph over the melancholic ailments to which she was enslaved.

And now, May is today, and I hardly ever spend the night in my riot-proof dorm anymore. Most mornings, I wake up next to a man and his dog. There is no window above my head. The light of dawn streams into his living room but his bedroom remains cloaked in darkness. My Aveda cleanser sits in his bathroom cabinet and he keeps his hardwood floors uncluttered, save for vague evidence of my presence like the occasional earring separated from its twin.

Like my hard-earned felicity, he too is not something I can verbalize. How can one adequately express the experience of someone else? How do I do justice to the hours between dawn and waking, to the broad expanse of his chest, to morning showers with his soapy hands in my hair, to the weight and feel of him through cotton and denim? There are slivers and glimpses, and together, they pile up into impressions. This is the most I can hope for: impressions that come close enough but not quite. Impressions just close enough to extrapolate from and misinterpret or maybe to understand, hopefully to understand.

There are entire nights spent on his living room floor, the two of us face-to-face with me on his lap and his dog splayed out beside us. For minutes at a time, we look. There is looking and more looking and nothing but silence and the occasional peculiar facial expression. Sometimes, after we have maintained prolonged eye contact to the point of absurdity, he will make a cautiously affectionate remark such as “I really enjoy spending time with you.” When it comes to words, I don’t expect anything more from my stoic German. Enjoyment is concession enough. Invariably, one of us will concoct some sort of prank or ridiculous scheme. We are never up to any good, not on our own and certainly not together. More often than not, we will dissolve into laughter at the prospect of carrying out our ludicrous plans aimed at confusing and provoking ludicrous people. That’s what we spend most of our leisure time doing: plotting and giggling. I make this six-foot-something man giggle.

He’s been asking every once in a while how “that piece” is going. He knows that I’ve been having a hard time writing, that I’ve been working on something about him but I cannot manage to finish it. I have been sleeping beside him for weeks yet I cannot bring myself to contemplate what he or this means to me. It is not a conversation I’ve had with him, my friends, or anyone else; it is not even a conversation I’ve had with myself. And until a few nights ago, I wasn’t able to articulate why I was encountering so much trouble.

I’m afraid of getting you wrong, Patrick. I’ve told you before that I am constantly afraid of getting people wrong. That’s why I feel compelled to ask my first subject over and over if it’s okay to put his coarse curls and careless habits down into words. He has always told me to write what I want without worrying what he or other people might think. You say the same thing.

But how can I tell you what you mean when I can’t even tell myself what you mean? Maybe, what I am really scared of is not getting you wrong but getting you right. I don’t want to write about you because it is too much, because words might give you meaning that I have yet to grapple with. And I am not ready for that. Not quite.

There was one morning when I woke up crying in his bed. It wasn’t long after I’d come back from seeing Kennedy in Germany. She was doing fine when I got there, meaning she wasn’t 1) institutionalized or 2) suicidal, which were both improvements from the previous week. When I left Heidelberg, I felt immensely better — even hopeful — about my best friend’s mental state. But for whatever reason, I dreamed of her shortly after and I woke with an image of her pushing me away. I was visibly bothered and he wanted me to talk about it. Usually, I appreciate his willingness to listen but on this particular morning, I hated him for it, for his inability to leave things unsaid. Because here is the thing: I am so used to getting upset over stupid, superficial things that I don’t even know how to get upset over real, important things anymore. I don’t want to cry over pictures of me on the Internet because that would mean I’m weak. So I don’t want to cry over my best friend being incredibly depressed and lost because that too would mean I’m weak. Even if what it really means is that I’m human. And he seems to think I’m human, the silly boy.

Human, in fact, was the last thing I felt like being that morning but I made the mistake of telling him something that led to something else and then everything tumbled out after, little bits at first and finally, entire pieces. I told him about resentment and fear and love and fear and loss. I told him about loss. What I lost. What she lost. What I want so badly that I’m afraid she won’t give. I told him about what it means to be family, what it means to be friends. I told him that sometimes there is no difference, that it is my sister I’m afraid of losing.

He said things and I nodded and I was fine and then I wasn’t and I turned away. I was trembling and naked against the morning.

“Come here,” he said. He touched me, pulled me to him, his voice so soft, my throat so hard. That was all it took. That is all it takes. “Come here,” he always tells me in moments like these and I cannot help but break.

“Hey,” he said again. “Come here.”

So I did, and for a moment, I felt human. When I sobbed, I shook.

Lena, The Student

Filed under: Academics — Elle May 1, 2008 @ 7:03 pm

Since I had my last sections and lectures of the semester today, I feel totally free to reveal the following:

* Some people check their email during lecture. I do that too. But also, I cyber, which is why I have that creepy smile on my face.

* When I get really engrossed in a book and the professor directs us to a selection in it, I will often spend lecture finishing the book instead of paying attention to the professor. This is possibly the geekiest form of distraction ever.

* Section is fantastic because there’s such a diverse selection of guys I can fantasize about. Like the one who barges in fifteen minutes late every week from practice all panting and sweaty; or the cute one who makes cute points in his cute accent; or the stuttering, German philosophy-citing one who definitely thinks he’s smarter than the TF. Oh, and the hot TF. I definitely fantasize about him too.

* I know you judge me for my pink laptop but I don’t give a damn, fuckers. It’s not my fault you’re a conformist.

* If I seriously have no idea what is going on in a course, I purposely choose a seat outside the line of a TF’s vision and lock my eyes to the coursebook. No one ever really gets called on unless they want to speak, but I do this just in case I actually land in a section in which there are no overeager handraisers. Who am I kidding? There’s always a Harvard kid who gets jittery if he hasn’t heard his own voice in the past five minutes.

* See me furiously typing away as the prof covers a coup d’etat, two wars, and a crusade in one hour? That shit is boring. I’m obviously working on my memoir.

Of course, seeing as how I’m a junior, I’ll be in classes again in four months. So maybe I shouldn’t have written this. Oh well, what do I know about being a student anyway? I’m hardly ever on campus since I sleep in Boston and run off to New York at any given chance. As my friend Zac said, “Lena Chen isn’t actually an enrolled student at Harvard. She just hangs out on campus for a few days straight once every 3 or 4 weeks.”

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