Sex and the Ivy

Lena’s Super Awesome V-Day Giveaway

Filed under: Dating/Relationships, Love — Elle January 29, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

TIS THE SEASON TO BE LONELY! Or… not. If you’re single, you may want to tackle every happy couple you see around Valentine’s Day, and I don’t mean in an erotic kind of way. Luckily, you can satisfy all those urges without the messy emotional entanglements of a relationship or the obligation to spend two months’ salary every year for no reason. Public (sexual) servant that I am, I’m giving away a host of eco-friendly, ethically made, all-around-awesome prizes from my gift guide and all you have to do is read this really long spiel and answer some questions (which are only vaguely related to the long spiel, so skip it if you like):

Two weeks before I first went out with Patrick, I met up with a guy named Paul Janka, a Harvard grad best known for writing a guide to getting laid in New York. It turned out that this “guide” was more like an e-book. And by “e-book”, I mean “PDF file”. As for Paul, his seduction strategy apparently consisted of booze, diligence, and a generous interpretation of the word “no”. Nonetheless, I thought he would make for an interesting column; Paul thought I would make for a good conquest. In the end, neither of us got what we wanted. I got much closer to being assaulted than I ever did to selling the story, and I left his apartment wondering exactly what kind of hell my love life had become for me to subject myself to sadistic experiments like this one. Anyway, I volunteer this information not just because I volunteer information about every aspect of my life, but because it demonstrates precisely how dire my romantic mindset was at the time. I was resorting to gimmicks to keep my love life interesting. It’s like what happens when a television show on its way toward a slow death decides to start airing “special episodes”. Paul was a special episode.

I was pretty sure Patrick was going to be a special episode too. At the time, I’d pretty much given up on dating altogether, or at least taking dates seriously. Guys were just around to keep life interesting, and sex was just a reason to get dressed up on weekends. (And by junior year at Harvard, I realized that I didn’t even really need to get dressed up to get laid.) I was starting to date and fuck like a freshman again, or maybe just like a man, and I kind of loved it in this really cynical way. That’s why I had no qualms about ditching Valentine’s Day for a trip to New York with a newly single gal pal. That’s why I figured I might as well go on a date with a known douchebag while I was in town if it meant a potential byline. Expecting nothing from no one was, after all, far better than not seeing a sex scandal coming because you fucked the wrong asshole (see: January 2008 of my life).

The same weekend I met Paul, I had brunch with my friend Julia, who is the Gawker poster girl for the Overshared Life. Talking to her confirmed all my suspicions about why my love life had gone awry. Julia, like me, found that her blog was a death warrant for any blossoming romance. Even if a guy were the first to be interested, even if they had fantastic chemistry, even if the initial dates were perfect, his interest waned immediately when he learned of her online reputation. In Boston, I was dealing with near-identical no-mances. For women like us, it seemed like the possibility of love was laughable at best.

My non-blogger friends, on the other hand, hated my pessimistic attitude. They told me that rejection was a blessing in disguise since I wouldn’t be settling for someone too insecure to date a sexually confident woman. They assured me that I deserved someone who would be willing to handle the complications that came with dating me and that I would certainly be meeting him in the very near future. (Like maybe as soon as grad school! Yay?) But seriously, I wasn’t expecting life partnership here. I just wanted one normal romance that didn’t begin with a drunken introduction and end abruptly after a Google search. At this point, it’d been two years since I started my blog and my longest relationship since then was a two-month affair that led to eight months of stalking and naked photos splattered across the Internet. So what was a Carrie 2.0 to do but to resort to pessimism? Not only was I scaring off my Mr. Bigs, but the guys who I did go out with scared me. It appeared that girls like Julia and me had two options: 1) men like Paul Janka or 2) perpetual singledom. After my brief brush with date rape, I was ready to opt for the latter.

Then a couple weeks after my trip to New York, I found myself at dinner with a guy I mostly remembered for his inability to keep me awake during statistics. Patrick was eight years older, German, and a Ph.D candidate in my department. He also happened to be the most attractive person who’d ever been in charge of my grading me. Over the previous year and a half, my best friend Jason and I took three classes with Patrick, and though I’d like to say that it was because I found him impossibly charming, I was mostly just fulfilling sociology requirements. Nonetheless, I silently rejoiced every time I was assigned to his section, especially after I realized my piece of eyecandy was a rather efficient and helpful teaching instructor and not merely a hot guy with a funny accent. To Patrick, however, I was then just a sleepy student. Statistics, which I got a C+ in, was a particularly harrowing experience. I recall Jason pinching me a lot in that class … and really not much else.

By the time Patrick and I finally went out, it’d been over two months since I last saw him and even longer since he graded one of my mediocre papers. The prelude to the actual date was fairly undramatic. Following a thinly veiled public declaration of my affection, initial contact was made over email and the date was suggested over text message. Well, actually, I suggested hooking up over text message. But Patrick, for some crazy reason I’ve still yet to figure out, thought that dinner would be more acceptable. I was pretty much thinking, “Yeah, this really isn’t necessary. Can we just fuck?” I somehow suppressed the urge to reveal this thought and along with it, my slutty nature. It would certainly be revealed soon enough.

I immediately gloated to Jason who called me crazy more than once and insisted that I was completely misinterpreting the situation and  going to make things extremely awkward with a former TF who we actually might want to take classes with in the future. Basically, Jason had the mindset of someone who wanted to get into law school. I had the mindset of someone who wanted an interesting story to tell at post-grad cocktail parties. I was already getting started by telling every friend in close proximity about the TF fantasy-turned-reality and spent the day feeling rather smug about myself, despite a looming deadline for some mediocre paper I had not yet written. I probably would’ve taken out an announcement in The Crimson if possible. After all, it’s not everyday you get to fulfill a crush three semesters in the making.

Yet somehow, about an hour before the actual date, my excitement over going out with and potentially fucking my former TF turned into total trepidation over going out with and potentially fucking my former TF. What the hell was I getting myself into? I knew next-to-nothing about Patrick, even less about what to expect out of the evening, and I was pretty sure that Jason was right when it came to me totally misinterpreting the situation. By the time I got off the train to meet Patrick, I was ready to get right back on. In fact, I felt a mild wave of nausea, then panic, followed by paralyzing fear. Um, I had a date in five minutes and I was on the verge of an anxiety attack. After taking several deep breaths, I called Jason and told him, “I can’t do this. I’m about to hyperventilate.” Jason, ever so reasonable and probably fearful of jeopardizing his letter of recommendation by association with a whore whore slut, suggested calmly that I tell Patrick I was sick and then go home. Discouragement was exactly what I needed to snap out of it. “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” I declared. “You’re totally useless. I’ll call you when the date is over.”

About 30 seconds after the exchange with my truly unadventurous best friend, I found myself face-to-face with Patrick who looked considerably taller than I remembered and was dressed in decidedly un-academic clothing. He looked hot, and not even in a scholarly kind of way. Given our previously limited interaction and his non-American background, I didn’t have any idea how to read him. Maybe he thought that I’d be an easy lay, but then again, he always seemed so proper in class. No, it was more likely that his intentions were genuine, which was almost endearing. Here was a semi-awkward foreign grad student too culturally unaware to realize that asking out a former student is a mildly scandalous affair. Poor thing. Also, I thought: he so does not know about my sex blog. It occurs to me in retrospect that I was being extremely condescending, but in all likelihood, I probably employed every defense mechanism available to stay calm and feel in control. Surprisingly, as soon as we got into a cab and started talking, my anxiety dissipated along with my theory that Patrick was awkward with women and clueless about American prudishness. We compared frat life at Yale (where he did undergrad) to the final club scene at Harvard and discussed the “athletic” rivalry between our schools. Patrick actually seemed normal, and my stomach seemed calm. It appeared as if I was not going to puke after all.

Dinner was at a South End establishment with live music and dim lighting, the key facilitators to close-up conversation, which is like the foreplay to foreplay. It was a relatively grown-up venue given my recent romps in fraternity houses and dorm rooms, and I realized early in the evening that I felt uncharacteristically nervous. Typically on dates, I acted self-assured and liked to challenge guys by teasing them or being playfully argumentative. With Patrick, however, I couldn’t muster up my usual feistiness. I was so used to viewing him as an instructor that it seemed inappropriate to treat him like a peer. For the first time in a long while, I actually felt flustered. Patrick, on the other hand, was completely at ease which only disarmed me further. When I failed to look him in the eye while clinking glasses, he said to me, “You know what that means, right? Seven years of bad sex.” I almost choked on my drink. My TF just the word “sex” in a reference to me. Thankfully, my nerves were nothing alcohol couldn’t fix. I rarely drank but on this night, I happily chugged glass after glass of wine. Liquid courage along with Patrick’s disarming attitude made for surprisingly entertaining conversation. I was regaining my confidence and ten-fold at that. Two hours and several courses into the date, I put my hand on his knee and leaned in closer. I wanted to kiss him and was too drunk to even be subtle about it.

All in all, the turnaround from initial email to his cock in my mouth took about 24 hours. We had sex that first night. And again the next night. And then he went away to New York for two days, picked up the pair of flats I left at  a West Village repair place during that miserable Valentine’s weekend, and returned them to me first thing when he got back, not even stopping by his apartment beforehand. I spent spring bouncing from my Harvard Square dorm to his place in Beacon Hill and summer bouncing from Kennedy’s Heidelberg flat to his home in Osnabrück. When September came, I paid a full month’s rent for a sublet I never moved into. I cancelled it and have been in Beacon Hill ever since.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t like we went out and it was happily ever after that, not unless your fairy tales include Internet sex scandals advanced by overzealous online stalkers or unprecedented emotional outbursts from yours truly. The path toward cohabitation has hardly been a smooth one, but slowly, I infiltrated Patrick’s life and apartment to the point where breaking up would have been both awkward and inconvenient. And now, here we are today: me, Patrick, Hamlet, and two suitcases of my stuff under the bed! It’s more than I ever could’ve hoped for. And to think, all I wanted on our first date was to get laid.

I write all this because a year ago, I really, truly didn’t believe in the possibility of love (at least not for myself) and it wasn’t just because I was single during Valentine’s Day. My blog was a legitimate barrier to meeting guys, and as the nude photo leak and subsequent breakdown suggested, it was perhaps a barrier to, um, life. Maybe if my friends were different people, they would’ve told me to shut it down instead of insisting that I was lovable, blog or no blog. Maybe if I were a different person, I would’ve listened. I’m glad I didn’t, not just because my friends were right, but because I would’ve always thought from then on that the only desirable version of myself was the sanitized version. The fact that I’m now happily playing house with the Adorno-spouting, bulldog-owning German of my dreams indicates that there is hope for pretty much ANYONE out there. If I can finagle a boyfriend with my reputation and dismissive attitude toward dating “rules”, then love is a possibility for everyone.

Basically, this was a really long and corny way of saying that I know how much it sucks to be alone on Valentine’s Day, even if the holiday is largely a fabrication of the jewelry industry. So ONE of the two grand prizes is reserved for a reader who’s single. Of course, this is totally an honor code thing but I trust that you guys will tell the truth. (And who is really screwed up enough to deny the existence of a significant other anyway?) Now let’s get to the good (i.e. free) stuff:

GRAND PRIZES (TWO WINNERS!)
Njoy Pure Wand with Good Clean Love Almost Naked Organic Lubricant

OR
OhMiBod Naughtibod with Yes Water-Based Organic Lubricant

FIRST RUNNER UP
Stuff Made From Stuff Computer Hard Drive Clock
AND
Good Clean Love Weekend Getaway Oil Sampler Pack

SECOND RUNNER UP
Stella Marie Soap bundle with Mango Glow, Grapefruit Moon, Lavender & Eucalyptus
AND
Good Clean Love Passion Candle

THIRD RUNNER UP
Twin Syndrome Custom High Rise Panty

HONORABLE MENTIONS
CPR Gear Tee
AND
Just In Case Red Compact

To enter the giveaway, send an email to elle[at]sexandtheivy[dot]com with the following information:

1. Your name, age, occupation, and relationship status
2. How you found out about the giveaway
3. Your preference in sex toy if you win (for anatomical reasons, the Naughtibod vibrator is only compatible with ladyparts but the Pure Wand dildo is unisex)
4. An answer to ONE of the two following questions:
a) What is your craziest first date experience?
b) You are talking to someone who has not gone on a date in months. Every time they meet someone, they get their face spat on, their heart stomped on, and their nether regions infested with an itchy sensation. Why should they continue to believe in love?

DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 10TH AT 12AM EST

Entries will be judged on creativity and entertainment value (seriously!). Winners will be chosen and tiebreakers will be broken during a sleepover by a committee of my depressed, single friends who will only cheer up if you infuse them with HOPE a la Obama. (Oh, wait, he’s “change”, isn’t he? Whatever.) Oh, and I’m totally not kidding about this. You will actually stand the best chance of winning if you can make my jaded pals laugh. They were so damn hopeful on my behalf last year that the least I can do is return the favor now. Happy early Valentine’s Day, and stay tuned for the winners!

Sex and the Ivy’s 2009 Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elle January 28, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

Ditch the Victoria’s Secret and put down those diamond earrings; sustainable undies and vintage gems are way sexier and more original to boot. Ethical consumption might seem like an oxymoron, but it’s not just a trend for Americans with guilty consciences. The consequences of free trade on the environment and workers (many of whom live in the developing world) are far-reaching and destructive. Consuming ethically means acknowledging that while we can’t account for the supply or production chain of all products we consume, we try to the best of our ability to buy things that are good for the Earth, good for our bodies, and good for our soul (meaning that we approve of how they were made).

Ideally, we’d give up presents altogether for holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s which mandate unnecessary consumption to an appalling extent. But seeing as how that’s unlikely, I’ve written up a guide to sex- and earth-positive gifts, most of which are made by independent designers themselves or workers paid a living wage. Plus, tomorrow, I’ll be announcing the details for a giveaway of several featured products, including the Njoy Pure Wand and OhMiBod’s Naughtibod!

FOR THE LOVEMAKING, WAR-HATING PROTESTOR

WeVibe
The first-ever vibrator that can be used during intercourse, the We-Vibe was invented as an alternative to the poorly designed, cheap, and sometimes toxic sex toys on the market. Made from 100% medical grade silicone, the flexibility and innovative shape of the product allows for simultaneous clitoral and G-spot stimulation. After testing one, I can testify that the small device packs a powerful punch and is surprisingly comfortable even during penetration (though sadly, my We-Vibe is no longer functional thanks to an encounter with a European outlet!). Powered by a rechargeable battery, it is also made in strict adherence to health and environmental guidelines.

Yes Pure Intimacy
Yes, “the world’s only certified organic intimate lubricant”, is formulated from plant-based ingredients that nourish rather than irritate your most intimate areas. Made ethically so that it won’t stain your conscience or your bed sheets, Yes is also the only approved paraben-free product on the market for breast cancer patients who can’t use the traditional drugstore options. Check out their website to see how Yes stacks up against brands like Durex and K-Y Jelly. Their water-based formula ($34), one of the prizes in my giveaway, is safe to use with all condoms, while their oil-based lubricant ($34) doubles as massage oil.

JimmyJane
JimmyJane just released the new pink version of their waterproof FORM 6 massager ($185), pictured right, which won the prestigious IDEA Award from BusinessWeek and the Industrial Designers Society of America. Fully submersible and bath-friendly, it’s one of the only vibrating massagers in the world that is both rechargeable and waterproof. In honor of Valentine’s Day, they’re giving away a pink FORM 6 on Facebook. To enter the contest, go to their Facebook page before February 11th, become a fan, and leave a comment about a favorite product (or dream product) from JimmyJane.

Good Clean Love
The “cleanest, truly natural, water-based personal lubricants on the market”, Good Clean Love is as pure as you can get. The water-based formula ($16) is infused with real herbs and flowers to create a deep scent and blended with aloe vera and seaweed for a smooth, long-lasting glide that responds to your natural lubrication. Safe to use with condoms and toys, it’s also 99.9% vegan with no animal products or animal testing. You can win a bunch of products from their line in my giveaway!

Just In Case
Made with a mirror and a hidden condom compartment, these discreet condom holders from Just In Case double as sleek compacts. The company, which is run by a mother-daughter team, donates a percentage of their profits to AIDS research and women’s health charities. Ten percent of every sale of their special JUST IN CASE® YouthAIDS RendezVous Red compact ($20) goes directly to YouthAids, an HIV/AIDS education andprevention initiative of the global health organization PSI. In the upcoming giveaway, you can win one too!

GothFox
Hoping to turn your bedroom into Amateur Night? Drop her a hint with an item from GothFox’s range of nipple pasties ($14-35) which include heart-shaped, feathered, and rhinestone designs. Each pair is hand made to order, tassels included! Even if you’re not dating a burlesque dancer, the company promises that these “will look fabulous either onstage or in the bedroom.”

Urban Fox
Victoria’s real secret? Appalling labor practices. Luckily, the makers of Urban Fox have come out with a line of sustainable undies ($35-40) which should leave your booty unconflicted. Made from soft bamboo and organic cotton fabric, these vintage-inspired, locally-produced creations mimic classic pinup styles. As UrbanFox says, “Being green and being sexy are not mutually exclusive.”

FOR THE PUNK ROCK PRINCESS

EveryLittleCounts
“Love Songs Vol. 1″ is LA-based fashion label Every Little Counts’ newest collection, a nostalgic tribute to classic love songs. Released just in time for Valentine’s Day, this limited edition line is a wearable mix tape featuring favorites like “Feel Like Making Love” (left) to “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” ($32 each). Sex and the Ivy readers can get 10% off with the promo code “IVY”.

OhMiBod
Founder Suki Dunham told me that she started OhMiBod two years ago with the goal of making the “first socially acceptable vibrator by making [her] products women friendly and approachable.” The smaller version of OhMiBod, the Naughtibod ($69) is travel-friendly and purse-sized but its orgasmic potential is just as impressive. Though best used with iPods and iPhones, it’s also compatible with other MP3 players, laptops, home stereos, CD players (old school!), and even electric guitars! With a dual end cap, you can enjoy the Naughtibod even when your iPod’s out of juice. I’ll be testing one and giving another away to one of two lucky grand prize winners!

The Virgins
One of my favorite bands, The Virgins, are storming the Great Scott stage in Boston with their amped-up tunes and electro-pop madness on Saturday, February 7th. Thanks to the reader who gave me the tip-off, I’ll be in attendance, and so should you. For an early Valentine’s gift, get tickets ($10) here.

FOR THE ANTI-SWEATSHOP FASHIONISTA

Sublet Clothing
Conceived by two designers who met through a sublet, Sublet Clothing offers locally-produced garments made from organic cotton and bamboo (a fast-growing, sustainable resource). Written up by fashion mags and green bloggers alike, Sublet demonstrates that sustainable can be glamorous. The Becca top ($89) pictured above is available online or at Camilla boutique in Brooklyn.

Mollie Dash
Independent jewelry makers like Mollie Dash offer an important alternative to consumers who don’t want to support a jewelry industry that obtains its precious metals and stones from industrial mining, which causes severe environmental damage and exploits developing world workers. Mollie, who works from her studio in Brooklyn, uses “discarded, thrifted, donated, and yard sale-derived materials” and limits her use of new stones to create her line of one-of-a-kind eco-friendly jewelry and keychains ($14-100+) like these made from skeleton keys. Written up in New York Magazine and NYLON, her work is sold online through her website, her Etsy shop, and Clothespin (an indie sample sale site that also stocks Sublet).

Latish Angeline
Originally started for an event benefitting an animal rescue organization, Latish Angeline Designs has come a long way from dog necklaces. Nowadays, designer Natalie lives in the oldest wildlife refuge in North America, where she makes feathered hairclips ($20-22), better known as “fascinators”, inspired by the variety of exotic birds around her home.

Twin Syndrome
The product of a one-night-stand between a corset and a leotard, Twin Syndrome’s high-rise undies ($20) can be worn under lowrise jeans to avoid inadvertent crack-attacks or under slinky dresses for a smooth look. With a rise that goes past the natural waistline, the look is way more pin-up than granny. Sex and the Ivy readers can get 25% of their purchase price refunded if they quote “SEXANDTHEIVY” in the “Note To Seller” box when they buy. Plus, I’m giving one pair away to a reader!

Wonderwear
After she quit her job at an environmental nonprofit, Monica started Wonderwear, selling creations like this adorable “Love at First Look” heart scarf ($32) hand-stitched from felted wool, fleece, and upcycled snaps. Every piece she produces is one of a kind and made from upcycled/recycled material.

FOR THE ASS-KICKING, NAME-TAKING FEMINIST

Moonlight Bindery
Inspired by the collection of papers she had amassed over the years, Katie started Moonlight Bindery and designed high-quality handbound books and photo albums out of repurposed material. Her New Yorker journals ($37) are created from actual covers of magazines and are filled with 100% recycled paper from the family-owned French Paper Mill. Sex and the Ivy readers can get free shipping by mentioning “SEXANDTHEIVY” in the “Note To Seller” box.

FOR MEN AGAINST “THE MAN”

London Particulars
Hand-fashioned from vintage watch movements, these cufflinks ($60) from London Particulars are made by a husband-wife team inspired by the steampunk aesthetic. Quirky and one-of-a-kind, they’re perfect for the sleeves of gentlemen rebels and fathers alike (my friend just purchased one for her dad!). Sex and the Ivy readers qualify for free shipping on all London Particulars jewelry.

CPR Gear
American Apparel meets New England sports in this new line of athletic apparel made with both fashion and fan in mind. Boston-based CPR Gear (which stands for the Celtics, Patriots, and Red Sox) calls itself “the heartbeat of New England”. Lightly printed on label-less tees, these vintage style shirts ($32) look as good at the stadium as they do at dinner. (And for the ladies, shirts are cut in a more slimming and flattering shape!) I have three of these shirts for winning entries in my giveaway.

Stuff Made From Stuff
Using actual computer hard drives as the basis for his creations, designer Allan takes apart and converts them into these quirky clocks ($32+). By obtaining materials through donations or dumpster diving expeditions, Allan hopes to reuse other people’s discarded items to “postpone the life of retired modern gadgets”. All hand made by the designer himself, the clocks are a perfect addition to the desk of your favorite tech geek. Sex and the Ivy readers qualify for a 20% discount the entire month of February and can win a clock in my giveaway.

Njoy Toys
Recommended to me by a reader, the Pure Wand ($110), like all Njoy products, is designed to be gender-neutral and is made from recycled medical-grade steel by Chinese workers who are paid a living wage (in yuan). Co-founder Greg DeLong told me that the Pure Wand is “equally effective for both g-spot massage and prostate massage” and has “garnered quite a reputation for helping to induce female ejaculation”. Currently the top-selling dildo at Babeland, it’s the perfect gift for enlightened boyfriends who appreciate prostate-induced orgasms. The other grand prize winner will get be getting one of these in the mail! (I’ll also be testing a Pure Wand out myself.) Not a winner? Snag one of these babies or any Njoy product for 10% off by mentioning “SEXANDTHEIVY” on their website.

FOR THE DOMESTICATED-BY-CHOICE (BUT EDUCATED-IN-CASE) HOMEMAKER

Gleena
Gleena (Russian for “clay”) offers up beautiful, nature-inspired porcelain pieces like these dessert plates ($35). Handmade in Rhode Island, Gleena products have been featured in publications like Food & Wine, O, and Body + Soul. Unfortunately, orders won’t be filled until after February 17th as the woman in this one-woman operation is currently off on a romantic holiday.

Everyday Housewife Aprons
Don’t just kiss the chef; clothe her! Fashionable cooking attire isn’t easy to come by, but these sexy aprons from Everyday Housewife are both functional and feminine. Joan personally makes each and every one of these aprons from high quality, designer fabrics and offers them at an extremely affordable price ($25-30). Previously featured on Good Morning America and HGTV, they’ll be next appearing in my kitchen.

FOR THE ANIMAL-LOVING BEAUTY JUNKIE

Stella Marie Soaps
Unlike what’s offered at the grocery store, handmade soaps don’t contain detergents that irritate your skin and pollute it with chemicals. Stella Marie, named after owner Kim Gonzaga’s two grandmothers, offers products like this Choc-o-rotic (Chocolate Mint) Massage Bar ($4) which are both skin-friendly and delicious-smelling. According to Kim, her products are 98% natural, save for cosmetic grade fragrance and skin safe dye.

Alchemic Muse

These handcrafted olive-oil based soaps, like the Chelsea Garden Spa Soap ($6) pictured left, are as tantalizing to smell as they are to look at. Using ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter, owner Karen creates her completely vegetarian soaps in small batches. The Mini Candy Trio (limited edition for Valentine’s) is already nearly sold out.

A Retrospect

Filed under: Blogging, Life — Elle January 10, 2009 @ 6:27 am

I’m starting out 2009 the way I started out 2008: in the beautiful Alps, minus one sex scandal, plus one gorgeous man and his cute pup.

If you asked me last January how I felt about the upcoming year, I probably would’ve kicked you in the face. I was naked on the Internet (literally and figuratively), lying to my mother, and dating out of spite. I spent the holidays calling police departments in three different cities and crying hysterically in airports. In what can only be accurately described as a “total breakdown”, I killed Sex and the Ivy, retreated from campus, and ran off to Switzerland with two of my best girlfriends to have recuperative sex and ponder my lack of future career options.

Then for six spectacular months, I lived in constant elation (because I was falling in love with Patrick) and constant fear (because I thought my best friend was going to off herself).

Now, I’m cohabitating in a Beacon Hill one-bedroom with less closet space than my previous dorm. I’ve shed the 20 pounds I gained in freshman year, but not my freshman year friends, who have long outlasted the fairweather acquaintances from my partying days. My flakiness as a student has me on academic probation until fall, but my mom is — against all odds — not freaking out, since I’ve finally come clean about the last two years of my life. And now that Wall St. has been virtually wiped out, my friends are actually jealous that I have an entire extra 12 months to figure out my life, since it’s not like going corporate is an option for anyone anymore — sex bloggers or not. But though I might seem incredibly unemployable according to my Google search results, I still managed to land a completely legitimate non-profit job that I happen to love. Who would’ve thought that graduating later would actually be a sanity-saving move? Who would’ve thought that I actually developed marketable skills from my blogging experience?

Like I wrote back in March, about a month after Patrick and I started dating, “I’ve moved on.” I grew up and grew out of the blog that defined so much of my time at Harvard. In some ways, I’ve grown out of Harvard. When I return, I think I’ll feel much less like a student and much more like a person who studies (and hopefully there will be lots of studying, since I do need to graduate). Despite the occasionally traumatizing consequences, I’ll never regret my decision to write this blog, because now I have undeniable proof that writing is worth it. I wanted my experiences, fuck-ups and all, to resonate with people. I wanted to not feel so alone despite being the only Harvard kid I knew to admit that I sometimes hated this place we were supposed to be so proud of. I wanted to be sure again, the way I was at 8, at 12, at 16, of what I wanted to do in life.

Freshman year, I was a small fish from a small pond, too naive to be anything but impressed by the money and prestige of my Ivy League peers. I drank straight from vodka bottles and forgot myself in a riot-proof dorm in the Yard. Every day since then has been about remembering. Thanks to the two years I devoted to this blog and the year I spent not writing it, not only do I finally recall the girl I used to be, but I think I now know who I want to become.

“I’m Just Not That Into Your Lack of a Ph.D” Or Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Relationship Experts

Filed under: Dating/Relationships, Uncategorized — Elle January 9, 2009 @ 2:45 pm

A few weeks ago, a friend sent out a mass email asking people if she should buy this book. She was completely frustrated by the hot-and-cold treatment she’d been getting from a love interest, and He’s just Not That Into You was kind of a last resort to get over him. I did not react well to the prospect of my friend consuming anti-feminist trash. If you’ve never read the book, here are some choice excerpts:

- “I’m not advocating that women go back to the Stone Age. I just think you might want to be realistic in how capable you are of changing the primordial impulses that drive all of human nature.”
- “We did an incredibly unscientific poll where we polled twenty of our male friends (ranging from ages twenty-six to forty-five), who are in serious long-term relationships. Not one of their relationships started with the woman asking them out first. One guy even said that if she had, ‘It would have spoiled all the fun.’”
- “Just because you like to lead doesn’t mean he wants to dance. Some traditions are born of nature and last through time for a reason.”

This is like The Rules for my generation. Too young to remember The Rules? Yeah, me too. I was 8 when it was published, but luckily, nothing has changed since then. Here are some of the authors’ “time-tested secrets for capturing the heart of Mr. Right”:

- Don’t Stare at Men or Talk Too Much
- Don’t Meet Him Halfway or Go Dutch on a Date
- Don’t Call Him & Rarely Return His Calls
- Don’t Accept a Saturday Night Date after Wednesday
- Don’t See Him More than Once or Twice a Week
- No More than Casual Kissing on the First Date
- Do The Rules, Even when Your Friends & Parents Think It’s Nuts
- Don’t Discuss The Rules with Your Therapist

In other words, be an unavailable, frigid bitch!

Note that The Rules was published in 1995 and He’s Just Not That Into You was published in 2004, which is indicative of how little has changed in the past decade. Not only were both books bestsellers but He’s Just Not That Into You is being released as a movie next month. This means that 1) the quack authors are further profiting from women’s insecurities, and 2) that they’ll be reaching even more people with this film.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll continue to say this as many times as necessary for people to get the message:

Anyone who claims they’re an expert on sex or dating probably isn’t someone worth getting advice from.

This sentiment comes from someone who has been pegged as an expert on sex and dating (even though I’ve made my many relationship follies quite public). For the past two years, I’ve fielded countless email requests for advice. I’ve never felt entirely comfortable receiving these notes, and for the most part, these requests go unanswered. Why am I not more eager to give my “expert opinion”? Well, first of all, I’m 21, and secondly, I’m not even opinionated enough to register with a political party (or maybe I’m too opinionated, whatever). But more importantly, I just don’t have the answers.

Frankly, I’m often in need of sex and relationship advice myself, and for that, I go to real experts. These real experts don’t call themselves “experts”; they call themselves counselors or therapists, because they hold legitimate occupations that require demonstrated skill. “Expert” isn’t an occupation. It’s a made-up marketing term for people with no real credentials.

If you can barely operate a microwave, you probably have no business writing a cookbook. Likewise, if you have no psychology background and wind up separating from your husband (like a certain co-author of The Rules), then you have no business telling other people how to date, not fuck, and marry. It’s preposterous that millions of people accept amateur relationship “advice” from sexism-spouting laymen, but will balk at the prospect of therapy. We have standards for open heart surgeons, rocket scientists, etc., so why don’t we have standards for those who teach us how to navigate our interpersonal relationships?

That’s the only piece of advice I’ll be offering anytime soon: Don’t fall for the quacks. Consult a professional whose viewpoints are based on empirical studies and not on gimmicks designed to move bookstore inventory.