America's Smartest Girl

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portland, oregon
America's Smartest Girl, Nicole Georges, channels her powers for good as she drums up answers to the world's most complicated questions.

Romance, Career, Health, Pets, Finance. Send questions to Nicole via twitter (@nicolejgeorges) or addressed to her via No suicidal inquiries. Please limit all questions to 150 words or less.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting Harsh, Embracing Western Medicine.

Dear Nicole,

First, I want to let you know that I admire you very much and think you are super cool and rad and beautiful. Second of all, I am confused about my feelings and what I should do in my love life! I have been with my boyfriend for a little bit over a year and although I love him and our relationship is fun and fulfilling emotionally, sex-wise it's not cutting it. I'm kind of bored and before we were together, I was a girl who changed partners a lot and I kind of want that. We've talked about an open/poly-amorous relationship and he does not want to do it at all. I don't want to break up with him but I'm just not that happy with that--plus, we also have an hour or so distance between us that makes for a mostly weekends relationship, which I am tired of as well. Also, I am a queer girl who has never had sex with a lady, but want to and have been thinking about it more and more. I think maybe I should just not be such a wuss and end our relationship but also I am afraid of being alone forever and no one loving me. And also I like him a lot and when we are together, we have a lot of fun and happy times--I think I said that. What do you think I should do?

Sex-crazed and confused

Dear Sex Crazed,

Sounds like you want to break up.

But you're hesitating and you'll feel guilty about it for a minute, so
Let's pretend there's another option for a second....

You can go one of two routes in this situation:
1. give it the old college try .
Do you want to be in a long term monogamous relationship? If you do, then i say take the reigns and put some more effort into your sex life with this dude before you totally kick him to the curb. Suggest something you want to do. Give him encouraging pointers. See what he's up for. I give this method One Month. If he's not game, and does not show improvement within a month, then dude is toast.

2. Goodbye, Dude.
My first instinct is to tell you to break it off with this dude.
Sex is important. Especially within the first year, it's one of the main things differentiating this dude from your best friend.
Also, what is up with dating for a YEAR with all that distance between you? If neither of you feels inspired enough to bridge the gap and be around each other for more than a weekend at a time, then what is the point? What are we getting at with this?

It's only been a year. you're not very old.

You don't need to be in a lukewarm marriage at this point in your life.
He is never going to be comfortable with polyamoury, and the longer you stay in a sex-free monogamous relationship, the longer you are going without having the awesome sex you deserve, and the further and further you get from having sex with a lady.

You could die tomorrow, so find a relationship that satisfies you for today at the Very LEAST!

p.s. You will not die alone. I can feel , psychically, that you are not very old.

p.p.s. You are preventing this guy from finding the monogamous, vanilla woman of his dreams by holding on to him in your vein attempt to escape loneliness. Be Fair.

Dear Nicole,
my friend just transitioned (ftm) & I really hate his new name. should I tell my friend his new name sucks & is really a pet name used in bed?!

- Sad Tranny NYC

Dear Sad Tranny,
Don't tell him!
He probably labored over this and thinks it's a truly awesome name, and you will just hurt his feelings.
In the meantime, suggestions:

-Perhaps saying this name enough times will desensitize you to it's heinous qualities.
Just say it : Fluffy Fluffy Fluffy Fluffy.

-Have hope, friend.
There have been documented cases of people changing their name more than once when they found that a certain name wasn't their style.


-Take Matters Into Your Own Hands.
What if you found a great nickname for your friend and tried to get it to catch on?
A pet name, like "sport" . then other people might hear you call him that, you can refer to him when he's not around,("Hey Did You Hear What Me and Sport Did This Weekend?" "who's sport?" "Oh Sorry, That's What I Call Fluffy") and maybe it will catch on and that will replace the name Fluffy.
Good Luck!

Dear Nicole,
if i use a feral cat i found in the feed the raccoons that live in my i automatically a "dog-person"....or am i just into lookin' out for my own?
-Cabin Fever in Portland

Dear Cabin Fever,
You are definitely a dog person.


Dear Nicole,

My vagina itches. Really itches. Sometimes it's all I can do not to take a Brillo pad to my dearly betrayed lady parts. And who's responsible for this? Me, it's sad, itchy owner. Seems that the food the rest of my body craves turn my junk into a sourdough factory. It's not like I have a terrible diet--I don't eat meat or many processed foods. I'm sweet on leafy greens and legumes. I chew spelt on the regular. Shit, I go on double dates with keifir and yogurt.

Despite this not-so-terrible diet of mine, it turns out that the food I'm most romantical with--sweet, cold Hamm's in a can--is just the food that make my mons all itchy-scratchy. Not cool, Hamm's, especially when I've been so loyal to you. All your other friends have either switched to microbrews or left you for jobs and families and shit. But I'm still here, listening to you bitch about Pabst.

So my drink of choice makes my vag itch, yes, but the remedies aren't all that heinous. I mean, shit, there are worse things in life than shoving raw garlic in your hole and douching with yogurt, right? Things like sobriety. So, my question: how many cloves is it cool to shove into the darkness at once? And once at capacity, how long do I keep that shit marinating? Also, is there any substance I could substitute for my beloved Hamm's that would lessen the yeast effect? Please don't say water.

Itchy in NC

I forgot to mention that I wear really tight pants and don't want change that either.

Dear Itchy,
So you want something in your life to change, BUT you don't want to make changes.... Interesting Perspective!

Get ready for an onslaught of hippie yeast infection recipes on the comment board (spare me,Portland );

BUT here is MY advice:
go to the store and get some Monistat.
there is nothing worse than a yeast infection. NOTHING WORSE. (except for a UTI i guess...)

If walking around with the dental floss leashes for twelve pieces of garlic in your junk isn't doing the trick and is getting tiresome, there is nothing wrong with going to the pharmacy and getting some medicine from modern times.
It's cool to be Of The Earth, but it is not cool to feel irritated 24/7 because you have cheese coming out of your vagina. seriously!

After this is cleared up, you need to make some changes, lest it come back with a vengeance!

You have to drink something with less yeasty sugar.
If you need something with less sugar, try vodka like Monopolowa.
It is delicious.
If you need to look punk, drink whiskey. Get a flask. Very Punk.
You'll need less to get drunk (which your body will appreciate) and you will look very hard.
Wear cotton underwear.
As for your pants? i don't know what your gender deal is, but could you sacrifice and wear a short skirt for a while? Just a few days. You can wear it with some cotton leggings or something.
If that is too womanly for your tastes, I say invest in a onesie. That being a one piece outfit, sort of like a mechanic would wear. One that is loose enough that it doesn't further infect your crotch. Not only will you look cute and be a walking conversation-starter (do NOT tell people you're wearing it for yeast prevention), but you'll be giving your crotch a break.

when you're at home, chill out in pajama pants. Put on your skin tight outfits only when you leave the house.

That's my advice.
The doctor has spoken.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sisterhood is Powerful, and offering to Kick the Ass of Other People's Enemies.

Dear Nicole,
Without delving into the ridiculous drama surrounding my ex-boyfriend and myself, I'll give you a brief summary of what's been going on: After being friends for about a year, my ex and I developed feelings, dated for 9 months and were totally in love and great together. He broke up with me about two-three months ago and a month later, him and my best friend were together. I know the best option would be to have dropped both of them, but my relationships with them were too strong and I have major soft spots for both of them, so I've kept them both in my life. It hasn't been easy, but I'm attempting to deal.
The problem is I started sleeping with my ex again a couple weeks ago; we hooked up a couple times, stopped, and two days ago we were hanging out and ended up hooking up again. I know this is completely wrong, unhealthy, stupid, everything, but he's the one initiating all of this and I get the feeling he's regretting breaking up with me for her, at least a little bit. I expect you'll tell me to stop this from happening again, but my big question is Why am I feeling no remorse for what I've been doing? I don't feel bad at all, and that's what's been bothering me the most about the situation. I'm sworn to secrecy with all of this, so I have no one else to ask this advice of.

No Conscience in Cleveland

Dear No Conscience,
Dude. So, your ex boyfriend is dating your best friend? And now you're cheating with him on her? ...?....!?

Have you ever heard the term Frenemy? A frenemy is someone disguised as a friend, who actually does not have your best interests in mind and will secretly tear you down while being ruthlessly friendly to your face.
You , at this moment, are a frenemy to this girl. So you need to cut it out.
Cut out pretending to be her friend. It’s not serving either of you.

Here is why I think that you feel nothing: You’re engaging in the old Eye for an Eye act. A song as old as time. You obviously have resentment towards this girl that you have not let go of, and now you’re getting your sweet revenge for their bad boundaries by having Even Worse boundaries. VERY anti feminist.

I'm sure it feels validating to get attention from someone who once dissed you, and to feel like you're better than your friend because he is Choosing You Over Her, but You are not Karma’s right hand man, and you don’t need to get your hands dirty by hurting someone else.

And on to your partner in crime:
How does this dude get off scott-free in the situation and get to throw it in BOTH of you, while simultaneously tearing you apart from each other? That makes me want to breathe fire. Not feminist. No girl solidarity happening here, just letting dudes create a wedge and scarcity dynamics between you. Not necessary.
Being supportive feminist allies in a patriarchal, misogynistic society is So Much More Important and soul nourishing than getting some sloppy seconds from your piece-of-shit, amoral EX boyfriend! Seriously. You have to know this.

I think there are healthier people in the world you can hang out with, and there is a path of least drama that is well worth taking if you want any mental relaxation in your life.
Life need not resemble and Avril Lavigne song.

Hi Nicole,

Recently, I've started to notice things about myself that really didn't occur to me when I was younger. Mainly, how easily influenced I am by other people. I’m in university studying pre-med, but I don't really know why I decided to, or if I really want to. I'm really creative and pretty good at art but I didn't pursue it because I figured that I wouldn't make enough money doing it, and that In order to be really successful at it I would have to be better than I was. Everything from my likes to my dislikes has been influenced by my family or my friends. I don't really know anything about politics, current news or art history; I can't dance, play an instrument or even swim. I feel like I have nothing going for me and I want to change that, and try to discover who I am. I just don't know where to start. I'm having a total and complete identity crisis. I was hoping you could give me some suggestions on how I could get to know myself better, or reinvent myself so I am my own person.

Thanks for taking the time to read this

dazed and confused

Dear Dazed and Confused,
It seems like you need some headspace.
I wonder if, during the summertime, you can do something totally radical that you’ve always wanted to do?
Make a list of what you know makes you happy, or what you’ve always wanted to try. A literal, piece of paper list. Tack it up somewhere. Over your desk or on your refrigerator. Look at it every day. Add things to it as they come to mind.

If it were me, I would go do an internship at a farm or an animal refuge for a month (where you live there and work for free), then go visit a couple of friends out of town, then go and spend some time alone on the coast or in a cabin or on a trip. Three months full of solid reflection and nourishing inspiration. How does that sound?

If you need more time than the summer has to offer, Then I would like to remind you that No one is going to die if you leave school for a year. You can always re-apply if you leave and decide that it is actually your heart’s desire. Some people may be momentarily disappointed , but you may find a completely different, fulfilling, and nourishing new trajectory for your life, (plus the skill of bravery from standing up to your school or parents) which seems like a worthy trade off.
Wouldn’t it feel so much better to return to school on your own terms, knowing that this is something you are consciously Choosing after weighing all the different options for yourself?
Good Luck, and I hope you have a summer full of adventure and swimming lessons.


hey nicole,

so there's this girl who's out to get me. i don't get it. we used to be good friends and then one day, she stopped talking to me completely. i asked her what was up and she said she didn't want to tell me. so i said "alright, if that's the way you feel" and left it at that. we haven't talked for months. then the other day, at my friend's birthday party, she stuffs cake all over my face and hair. in front of all my friends and everyone. what is her problem! (i even asked her this after she caked me and she laughed in my face and left the house.) i honestly don't know what to do. i can be the bigger person and just ignore it, but i also don't want her to mess with me anymore and i want her to leave me the fuck alone.

signed, fed up with high school drama bullshit.

Dear Fed Up with High School Drama Bullshit,

When reading this letter, I imagine the scenario kind of like a movie. And in the movie that is your life, I wish that when she started in on the cake shoving, that you responded by punching her in the face. But in real life, that would get you safer-spaced out of town in a heartbeat.
What you COULD do is practice some offense based self defense. Write her an email and say “I don’t know what your problem is, but you need to leave me the fuck alone.”

When you see her in public you don’t need to punk her out, but you do need to vibe that you need her to stay away from you. If she comes up to you, you have a right to say “Stay away from me. I am not into you.” If she doesn’t stay away from you, I think you should say it louder I ALREADY ASKED YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM ME. PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE. . , or just leave.
Is there a friend you have who can be your ally? Someone who can have your back if they see her messing with you? Not in a violent way, but if you need to leave a situation, or you need someone as a witness, they can be there to help out, and to give you a hug if you're feeling upset. I recommend it!
Good luck, and please know that I would be very willing to kick this person’s ass for you.

Dear Nicole,
First, I just want to say I think yr advice column is the best there is. My situation is basically this. I currently live in an area far from Portland, OR, but I am making it my goal by January 2010 to move there. I have visited there twice, as I had dated someone there years back, and I fell in love with it. Could you possibly please assist me in any way with the best way to score a job in the non-profit social services field, and a place to live, whether or not I bring a friend or two from here out there with me when I/we move? I feel like this might be tricky, trying to land a job and an apartment when I essentially live on the other side of the country. I have moved around a lot in the past, and it's always failed, due to NOT going out there with a job nor a stable place to live, and I don't want to make that same mistake again. I'd appreciate any and all help you can give, and, again, I think yr advice is pretty much always right on target, so that's why I'm coming to you.

Depressed, Lonely, Cold, Tired, Cranky, and Poor in Not Portland


Here is my real, practical advice:
Move here and sign up with a temp agency. You can probably afford to work part, or ¾ time in Portland and still totally thrive. While you are temping, send resumes to non profits; but mainly, start volunteering at a non profit that you like, so as to get your foot in the door. See if you like them, and get them to like you. The next time a job opens up, you will have displayed your dedication and good work ethic , and will have a much larger advantage in the company than if you were a random Portland transplant off the street looking for the same job.
There is something here called CNRG that is a list serve you can get on which posts non profit job openings and calls for volunteers.
As far as housing is concerned, I think you may have a hard time finding something from cold calling craigslist people. What you need is someone on the ground here in Portland to give you a heads up when living situations arise. In addition, I would consider looking up some rental agencies and keeping in touch with them about your situation, asking their advice, and seeing if they can find you some good apartments or houses before they get on the general, rat-race market.
Good luck!

*image at top of page from LTTR

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting Catty.

Heyyy Nicole.

So about 6 months ago I got out of a pretty serious sometimes-long-distance relationship. It took me a few months to get over her, but now that I am, I'm so ready for something new. The bad news is that, being only 18 and graduating high school this spring, it's been difficult to find cute girls who aren't way older than me that I have to lie about my age to! Last weekend, though, I had coffee with a pretty cute bi girl that I know through my school's GSA that graduated last year and is going to the local university. During our conversation, the topic of crushes came up and she said that she had had a crush on me during high school. I said that I did too (not sure why; I didn't really), and after that the night kind of turned into a date.
My problem is that I don't think I'm that into her, and she keeps texting me saying things like "how was your day?" and "whatcha up to?". I don't want a girlfriend before we've even kissed (which she has never done with a girl, by the way)! But at the same time, it's kind of nice to be pursued and to know that I probably will get some action out of it. I just don't want the emotional attachment. Should I go through with it? Should I just drop it? Should I wait another nine months until I'm in college (the same college that she's going to...)?


Dear Anon,

I think you should drop it.
It will only make you feel bad that you don’t share the feelings and level of seriousity that this person obviously has attached to you.
It would be best for you to find “action” with someone for whom this could be a little more free wheeling and less loaded (i.e. her first lesbionic kiss).


Dear Nicole,
my friend recently false advertised something as a "cat are collective". I really liked the idea, being a cat artist myself, and got really excited. When I went to check it out it was nothing but a dance ensemble. WHAT? Dance is art too.. but come on! So, I told her I would consider making an actual cat art collective.. with all mediums and she never responded to the proposal. Was this bad? I dont' want to start any wars.. but if I did start one, would you join?
Cat Warrior

Dear Cat Warrior,
1. I think that when you brought the word ACTUAL into the conversation, you stepped on some toes. Sounds offensive. I advise and apology.
2. I would not join a cat art collective. If it were a collective of cats on their hind legs who wore berets and worked on paintings all day, then MAYBE; but as it is, i have a hard enough time mastering the face of the feline alone without having to Share or work around other Humans.

Dear Nicole,

I have a few problems in my life right now. The first problem is that I can't stop being attracted to people I don't like very much, like big burly mountain men, manarchists, and blond stumptown baristas. The second problem is that I can't stop sleeping over ten hours every night! The third problem is that I can't stop going on the internet when I'm supposed to be doing other stuff, like right now. Which I guess says something about my fourth problem, which is that I need to do a lot of stuff that I can't seem to do. Could you come up with one solution, because I don't have a lot of time in my life to devote to self-improvement.

Can't stop doing stuff, Portland

Dear Can’t Stop,

1. Try going out on a date with one of these people you don’t like very much. I'm totally serious. If truly, you don’t like each other in real life, then perhaps the experience will leave you with the lasting gift of an Awkward Memory which you can access the next time you're faced with a burly Stumptown manarchist.

2. Maybe your body needs ten hours of sleep a night right now. Eat at least one serving of dark leafy greens a day, and try waking yourself up in the morning with an Emergen-C packet in your water dish.

3. Have entire Computer Free Days , where you do every bit of work you can possibly do that does not involve a computer. Don’t open it when you wake up in the morning, don’t check it at noon. Only after you get every scrap of work done are you permitted to glance at the world wide web. Hide your computer under your bed if need-be, or put a sheet over it with a note that says DON’T FUCKING TOUCH ME.

4. Other than that, schedule internet breaks into your daily schedule, and stick to them.
A sample would be: 10-11 a.m. work on term paper 11-2 p.m. research dog care 2-2:20 check myspace 2:20-3 eat Linner

Good luck.


Dear Nicole,
I just recently started a band. My first band ever! Two of the three other bandmates have played together before and are very familiar with each others style. The third person in our band is new to our circle and is very talented. All their styles kind of clash, but when they jammed (they because I just sing and watch.. and refill beers)they sounded amazing!
Within an hour they had their first song written.. (is that good?).

Anyhow.. a few days later (after what I thought to be a successful practice) my long term grumpy friend of course said she didn't know about the new girl, said maybe she was "a little too much". I found her "little too much" actually to be an asset.

The complaining girl has a history of complaining about everyone so I didn't take it to heart. The thing I want to know.. is, how can I keep her on track? I told her is she wasn't comfortable with the girl that she should address it with her to prevent future awkwardness between us all, but she won't. SO! What do I do? I don't want to be an amazing band where one person is talking shit about the others the whole time.. that vibe potentially could ruin the whole experience. On the other hand, I could take if for face value.. that she really is never satisfied with anything or anyone.. and let it go. I just am confused as I have never been in this situation.

Signed, Band Mate in Bend

Dear Bandmate,

I would never want to be in a band with somebody who I knew would complain about me to our fellow bandmates from the get-go. That sounds like a recipe for drama.
Your bandmate sounds like a bad combination of Debbie Downer plus a coward. If this is a sign of what is to come, I say Get Out Now. You are all taking creative risks, and if one person is going to be a catty shithead about it, it ruins the fun for everyone.
Plenty of bands need singers, I say find another.
in case you don't want to follow my advice, and decide to stay in this situation, avoid drama by cutting her off. "I can't talk about our band mates behind their backs. Sorry. Talk to her about it." is all you need to say.

Hold Your Horses

Hold your horses. The column will be up tonight or tomorrow morning. At The Latest!


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

NJG on WK Radio This Friday!

Hi there. I am going to be on WK Radio this Friday from 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Giving live advice.

But i need your help!

If you would like to ask a question on the air, please send me your name, your phone number, and the topic of your call. I will call you on Friday and we can talk about your problems!
Email advice at nicole j. georges dot com

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Iceberg Lettuce, Alaska, and a Nymphomaniac.

Hi Nicole,

I'm a gay girl who lives in a sizable but not huge town in central Kentucky. I've been out for two years. I'm 21.

Pretty much all of my friends are straight.

I have close friends, lots of casual friends, and many acquaintances. I feel like my social network grows each and every day. I'm a friendly, amiable person. I go out all the time (to parties, shows, etc.) and I'm sociable. I meet new people. I get along with people well.

But a lot of the time I just end up falling for straight girls because that's who I am around the most.

I want a girlfriend or just some kind of experience. I've drunkenly made out with a friend twice and that's all I got.

All my friends tell me that I either need to a) make friends with "the lesbians" and/or b) go out to the gay clubs and bars more. The thing is, I don't have the time to make a bunch of new friends. And I think it's kinda backwards to try to become friends with someone just based on their sexual orientation.

They tell me I'm an awesome person and I'm cute and that I deserve to have a girlfriend or hook-up or whatever. They say I don't put myself out there and I should just go up to girls and start making out with them. I tell them that I don't have that much confidence and even if I did I'm afraid of committing sexual harassment in that situation.

And of course I feel lame and left out when everyone else is hooking up and getting boyfriends and girlfriends and I'm going home alone again. I can't help but be intensely jealous.

Is it just a waiting game? Or do I need to throw myself into the culture? Is it possible to get a girlfriend without being friends with lesbians and going out to gay bars all the time?

Frustrated and Waiting

Hi Frustrated and Waiting,
Okay man. Let me break it down for you:
1. It is NOT backwards to make friends with people based on something that you have in common. Don’t be ridiculous. That’s how humans get along , their commonalities. In this case, it’s sexual orientation.
You hanging out with only straight people and wondering why you don’t have a girlfriend is like me going to Outback Steakhouse and wondering why I wasn’t served tofu. Your drunken straight girl makeouts? The equivalent to an iceburg lettuce salad. No nutritional value! Unsustainable as food! You don’t need it.

2. If I were you, I would try to find a gay function in my town via the internet. Make Myspace friends with a lesbian in your land and let her lead you to a potluck or a book club or a dyke show.
OR , go to anything labeled “feminist” and you will find your people. Seriously.
Do not listen to your friends who say to just “walk up to someone and make out with them”. That is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.

3. Go to a gay bar. Bring a friend who could not be construed as your date. An obviously gay man would be my choice for this. Look friendly. Talk to people as a team (it will take the pressure off), buy somebody a drink. Mingle!
Make eye contact and try to send heart fluttering vibes the way of someone you think is cute.
Sneak a note into someone’s pocket telling them that you want to have coffee with them. Something!
The worst that could happen is they suck or they’re not interested.
No problem, just bid them farewell and return to your friend whom you came with.
In conclusion,
I find it is very fulfilling to hang out with people who have core similarities to myself. Be it vegetarianism, punk, or an understanding of queer culture. You will be surprised how different it feels to be around a pack of lesbians than a pack of straight dudes, FaW, I guarantee it.
Give it a shot and Go get what you deserve. Tofu, greens, fisting and all..

hi nicole,
so my ex and i ended on not so great terms (yelling, slamming doors, etc) and we also had a rocky relationship that should have ended ages before it did. We haven't talked in 3 months. I have a new gf, that I'm really happy about.
the question: her birthday is coming up in a week or so... do I send her a simple card to let her know I still care and maybe we can be friends in the future? Or do I let it die and move on?? Thanks!

Hi there, Door slammer.
I think you should send a very simple note that says someone along the lines of “I hope you have a really nice birthday. Sincerely, so and so”. I don’t think you need to get wordy or mention the hope of friendship some day, just let her know that you remember and that you are a person in the universe who still cares.
Good luck!

Dear Nicole,
I moved to a new town recently and have been going on internet dates like three times a week. I am not finding what I want. I’ve left a wake of one night stands, And the only guys interested in dating me are the ones I never want to see again. Have I cursed myself into nympho-dom?

Dear E-Maler,
What is your goal in online dating? If it’s to get laid, then I think you’re doing a good job. But from your letter, it appears that you’re not looking to get laid by the greater metro area.
It seems like you want a date.

If you’re looking for a boyfriend, then Slow down!
You are not obligated to have sex with someone just because they are cute and available

First order of business:
STOP SLEEPING WITH PEOPLE ON THE FIRST DATE. In order to figure out someone’s potential , you need to talk to them. I think conversations will flow more easily and honestly WITHOUT a dick in the mouth of either participant.
So Slow Down. It’s not going to fall off if you don’t use it, and if it’s the right person, you have the rest of your lives (or you know, the rest of the relationship) to fuck each other’s faces off.

RELEASE THE BEAST. I’ll bet that after going on three dates a week for however long, you have a solid Little Black Book of sex partners. There has got to be at least one person in there who would be stoked to have you as their Friend With Benefits. You could sleep with this person once or twice a week (without sleeping over or giving them the wrong impression) just to take the edge off, so that you don’t feel like a blood thirsty vampire gazing upon an exposed neck when you’re on a first date with somebody totally hot and likable. It will also let you focus on the person’s personality on the first date, which is way way more important for boyfriendship than their ass riding abilities.

Good luck. And don’t catch anything.

You can have great sex with someone you hate. Keep that in mind. Doing it with someone straight away will not tell you anything about their ability to be your boyfriend.

Dear Nicole,
What do you do if your ex-boyfriend offers to buy you a plane ticket to Alaska to visit him & you’ve always always always wanted to go to Alaska, like since high school, but you’re pretty sure you’ll have to put out for said plane ticket once you get there and the last time he visited it was nice pretending to be bf/gf again, but also weird and you promised yourself you wouldn’t sleep with him anymore, still you really really want to go to Alaska, should you go or not?

Dear Nun-nook,
If you promised yourself that you wouldn’t sleep with him anymore, Then you should not go to Alaska.
Think of how much better (and less like the movie Pretty Woman) it would feel to plan a trip to Alaska with a friend whom you do not feel sex pressure or emotional strain with. Empowering! Fun! No emotional damage necessary!

p.s. I would also advise you to make clear to this person that you can’t sleep with him any more because you are not dating and it makes you feel conflicted. Instead of having the specter of a false and loaded relationship hanging over your friendship, you can have honesty and clarity and start something new and more light hearted with him. Consider.


What percentage of Lesbians do you think engage in fisting?

Please comment your response. We are taking a poll.
You are also welcome to note the following with your answer:
-Whether you have large or small hands and
-Whether you have ever actually engaged in this activity we call Fisting.

I am being totally serious. Thank you for your help with this matter!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dog Models, Pubic Lice, Kin, Mental Illness, and Feminity.

Hi Nicole!

I have a dog question. There is this dog that lives in my neighborhood, that gets walked around a lot, and it is the most beautiful dog I think I've ever seen. It is very unusual looking. It's body and shape resemble a large greyhound, but it has really really silky long hair all over it's body that flows like a pony's and glints in the waning summer sun. In my head I call this dog America's Next Top Dog Model because it is so gorgeous and has a great, confident stride.

What breed is this dog? I don't know how to Google this because I think the phrase "dog that looks like Gisele Bundchen" would not give me the results am looking for. I don't want to ask the person walking it because I don't want to bother them.

What do you think?

-- Tyra Mail

Dear Tyra Mail,
I believe the dog you are referring to is an Afghan.
Afghans remind me of the model Iman.
Good luck in your dog watching career.


Hi Nicole,
I feel like I should start off by saying that I wouldn't really call
myself a dog lover. I like dogs a lot, and my family had a wonderful
border collie for much of my childhood. However, I have a tendency to be
on guard around dogs, and I find myself easily frightened by them.

Recently, I have had multiple terrifying (for me) incidents with a
neighborhood dog. So one morning I went out for a short run, and just as I
crossed Killingsworth this bonkers dog, a medium sized black lab, starts
tearing after me, barking with all his might. I starting panicking and ran
up a strangers driveway as fast as I could. I cowered in the backyard for
several minutes, trying to decide if I could jump over a fence to escape.
I tried to inch back out the driveway to see if the dog was still there,
and as soon as he saw me he started barking again. I felt like he was
screaming "I'm gonna get you lady! I can't wait til you come down here so
I can tear your head off!" Finally I heard a truck coming and ran out
while I thought the dog couldn't see me. I survived the rest of the run
unscathed and didn't return to that corner.

Then, that evening I was riding my bike home from downtown, more than
twelve hours after the first incident. And as I turn down my street, who's
there? The dog! I freaked out and started pedaling as fast as I could. I
decided to try and call animal control, as this dog had obviously been
outside, unleashed, for the whole day. But when I tried to call there was
no one available at 10pm, and I forgot about it by the next day.

Another week passed and one morning, as I was riding to work, I pass the
corner where this dog lives, and he's out with his owner, who is walking
him off-leash. I look over for a second, and the dog starts barking and
once again tears after me. I once again started pedaling as fast as I
could. I also screamed a string of obscenities, and when I finally outran
the dog I shouted "you better fucking control this dog or I'm going to
fucking call animal control!"

Since then I have mostly avoided that corner as I do not want to have
another run in with this dog. I have horrifying visions of being attacked
and knocked off my bike. I did ride by once, though, and the dog was in a
tiny fenced-in area no bigger than 4"x5", and he barked his head off at

More than anything, though, I'm worried about the welfare of this dog. Why
is he so nuts? Is he being treated ok? It really doesn't look like it.
Would you recommend calling animal control, or trying to knock on the door
and talking to the owner? I once lived next door to some aggressive,
abused pit bulls and I have always felt guilty for not calling animal
control on their owners. I want to do the right thing for this dog, and I
also don't want to feel afraid to go down my own street! What do you think
I should do?

Depressed for Dogs

Dear Depressed for Dogs,

First off, let me say that this dog shouldn’t have free run of the streets. Forget the fact that he’s chasing human beings, he could run into the road and get hit by a car for goodness sakes!

How to get him inside?
I think you should take some kava, take a bath, smoke a joint, listen to reggae- whatever it is that makes you feel relaxed. When you are at your most peaceful and right-with-the-world, I want you to write this note: “Hi there. I am writing to request that you not let your dog off-leash. I have been chased by him several times, and it is frightening! Thank you for your help. Sincerely, scared neighbor.” Do not add any threats or accusations. Just the facts. If nothing comes of it and you see Cujo McKillingsworth on the loose again, call animal control and let them know what’s going on. I know from personal experience (ahem) that they will visit your neighbors and give them a talking to.

As for you-
I’m going to choose an unpopular path here called “Blame the Victim”.
I can sense fear. You can sense fear. DOGS can sense fear. When you see a dog and go tense and start booking it, the dog sees you as either a playmate to be chased, or PREY to be chased! I know it seems totally counter-intuitive (and don’t sue me if this doesn’t work), but you need to stand your ground and make yourself stronger and bigger than the dog. Say “NO!” very loudly. Not like a freaked out whiner, but like a big strong animal. “NO! GO HOME!” and point away from you. Put your bike in between you and the dog. Do not lunge at the dog. Do not look him in the eye. Just stand your ground and let it know that you mean business. You are a pack leader!

You are stronger than the dog. Worry not.


p.s. do NOT bite the dog. Even if you are on a power trip from being pack leader.

p.p.s. don't SLAM your bike in the front of the dog if you put it in between the two of you. Just matter of factly stand behind it and act powerful. Or in front of it. You are powerful! Don't let a dog trip you out.

Dear Nicole the Awesome!

Three years ago I found out that I have a half-aunt, a half-sister of
my dad, whom nobody living in the family knew about. My dad and his
brother met her and talked for awhile, and took some pictures, her
face is so much like my grandpa's it's astounding. She grew up in
Portland during WWII, got married, had kids and eventually moved to

But that's not the question.

Fast forward two and a half years, I got a job downtown that requires
lots of walking and thus, people-watching. I started seeing this guy
around town who also looks tons like my grandpa. I've seen him around
about four or five times and am 99% sure he's one of my cousins.

So what would be the protocol as to approaching a maybe-cousin? I've
thought about walking up with a picture of my grandpa and barrelling
"OMG ARE YOU MY COUSIN LOL?" or approaching cautiously and asking,
"pardon me, are you related to so-and-so?" The situation is so
bizarre, I don't know how to approach him and placate my curiosity.

More Family than Previously Thought

Dear More Family than Previously Thought,

Once, when I lived in Kansas City, my friend Danielle was approached by a man in the coffee shop. He grabbed her and said (verbatim) “I don't know if you'll claim me, but we's cousins! Look, we got the same face!” and he pointed from her face to his own. Turned out they were not cousins, and we all got a good laugh saying “Hey Danielle, I don't know if you'll claim me....” for the next three years.
That said....
I think you should approach him!
Say, “Hey, this is going to sound weird, but are you related to So and So?” if they say no, then you can say “Ohhh. Sorry to bug you. You just look so much like him!” No need to delve deeply into your family tree. If it is your cousin , then Huzzah! You can have a reunion right there in the street!
There’s no harm in asking.
Good luck!

Dear Nicole,

What do you know about STIs? Don't worry, this isn't a "do-I-have-herpes" letter; please keep reading. I'm a gal who's been with a gal for almost two years. The last time I went to the gynecologist and she asked if I was sexually active I said yes, I have sex with a gal. She said, "Oh, good, then, we don't need to test you for anything." I said something like "WTF?" but unfortunately had nothing more articulate to offer. Then she launched into a story about how some doctor she knew didn't test this lesbian but then it turned out she'd had sex with a man before and therefore had chlamydia! Bad, irresponsible doctor.

Anyway. I know there are STIs you can get from oral sex and maybe other kinds of lesbian encounters. But what exactly are they? I want to go into the gynecologist's office armed with information this time. I looked online but could only find information about gay men. My girlfriend hasn't been tested for anything because of a similar experience. Can you help a health-concerned queer girl out?

Proactive Patient

Dear Proactive Patient,
Oh brother.
If I had a dime for every lesbian I know whose doctor tried to talk them out of STI testing , I’d have at least a dollar. Maybe even two! This sort of b.s. happens all the time, and I genuinely feel for you.
In my experience they see that I have sex with women, take a quick look downstairs and try to send me out the door. You must be persistent and insistent! Lesbians demand equal access to heinous disease diagnosis and care! We can be riddled with germs too, you know!
I basically had to arm wrestle my way into an HIV test the last time that I was at the clinic, but was so happy afterwards to not have gone with their head-in-the-sand, “you’re PROBABLY okay” philosophy , and instead know for a Fact that I’m not spreading germs across the land.
According to,

Lesbian women are at risk for many of the same STDs as heterosexual women.

Lesbian women can transmit STDs to each other through skin-to-skin contact, mucosa contact, vaginal fluids, and menstrual blood. Sharing sex toys is another method of transmitting STDs.
These are common STDs that can be passed between women: Bacterial vaginosis, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Trichomoniasis “Trich”, Herpes, and Syphilis. Less common, but still available, are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, and my favorite.... Pubic Lice!!! (the symptoms of which were “itching, and Finding Lice”)!

Take that to your doctor, my sapphic friend.


Dear Nicole,

I was wondering if you had any advice on dealing with the stigma of having a mental illness. I try to avoid the topic with most people at all costs but at the same time feel I am only perpetuating the stigma by acting as if it is something to be horribly ashamed of. It's not that I haven't dealt with this type of thing before. I am a gay, genderqueer, young mom, in a fairly small town, who is mistaken for a teenage boy quite often. I have never been afraid to be open about these things and let judgments and criticisms of others roll off easily. I am manic depressive and unable to keep "normal" forms of employment due to panic attacks, severe anxiety etc.

I am a musician and performer and when I meet new people and have that normal, "So, where do you work?" "What do you do?" get to know you conversation, I find myself responding with, "I'm working on music and looking for a new job and blah, blah, blah." Because in most cases if I were to say "I don't work due to a mental illness but I am on public house/assistance so I can focus on parenting, music and managing my head space and meds." due to the extreme stigma of mental illnesses, I would most likely be looked at as ingenuine and unreliable.

A good example of the kind of mentality I want to learn to deal with, without people getting freaked out or scared away if they learn of my disabillity, is how shitty it is when people use the word "gay" as a derogatory term. I mean really. How is it any different to say something is "retarded" or "lame" or to call someone who is flaky, eccentric etc. "a total schizo" or "bipolar."
I am painfully shy but also a very passionate musician and performer. I don't want to miss out on creative opportunities because people might define there interpretation of me by my illness, rather than getting to know ME. I also want to do the best I can to fight the stigma and set a good example and inspire others to speak out. I deal with all of this on a very regular basis and was wondering what your approach would be.
Curious Queer Parent

Dear Curious Queer Parent,
It is none of people’s business how you keep a roof over your head. If they ask what you do, be honest. “I’m a musician and a mom.” Once you have deduced that said inquirer is not an a-hole, you can tell them the parts of your story that are more sensitive, including your mental health status.
I say wait only to keep yourself safe.
If someone is having to ask this kind of introductory question, they are obviously not a great friend yet, and so do not necessarily need to know your life story.
As for the stigma and invisibility, I have a couple of suggestions:
-I think it’s important to stage interruptions if people are using language that is problematic for you (i.e. Schizo, bipolar, etc). “Hey, I’m not sure if you thought that through, but it’s actually pretty offensive to use the word Schizo so liberally. Some people actually ARE schizophrenic and it could be hurtful.” Or throw in a lie, “My brother is schizophrenic. It’s actually pretty hard for me to hear you throw that term around so casually.” Or just out yourself “Hey, I’m not sure if you knew this, but I have mental illness . It’s pretty intense when you toss around terms like that. I just wanted to let you know. It makes me really uncomfortable.”
-If you’re up for it, it could be important to be an out musician with mental illness. Through lyrics or talking at shows. Through zines or the things you make available at your merch table or website. Encourage dialog with fans who may be facing similar conditions.
You are a face for your mental illness, but you don’t need to be defined solely by your mental illness. Give people a chance to see it in context of a person who is an excellent musician, mother, and ally. Not the other way around.

Hi nicole

i've known someone for about 9 months now and i'm more attracted to her now then anyone i've ever met. that has never happened. and i'm no spring chicken. if i reach the "just friends" part of a friendship with someone, i'm fine with that. but this time it breaks my heart. she's amazing. inspiring. hot. we have so much in common. talk on the phone for hours. people have asked me if we're dating. she always asks me to go to her events/performances that she's in. and she always supportive and comes to mine. when we first met it was abrupt and there was an attraction. but she soon told me i was too feminine for her. and i'm not writing this in lingerie and heels - i'm more middle of the road. that was 8 months ago. it's so tempting to spill the beans to her. but i do not want to alter our friendship because it's so unlike any other. she fills a gap that no one else could. it's the age old question of what the next move is. to take the leap and risk to put my feelings out there and see how she responds. or just accept things the way they are and be ok with that. don't want to be rejected twice.

once bitten, twice shy

Dear Twice Shy,
First of all, I like that you referred to yourself as "no spring chicken", and also made it clear that you weren't writing me wearing a teddy and high heels.
But as for your question,

What a tragedy! I’m so sorry to hear about you situation.

At this stage I think that truly y’all are Just Friends.
If she wanted something more than that she would have made it known. That is my gut feeling on the situation.
I write this as someone who been on both sides of unrequited-love-infected friendships, and someone who, for the life of me, cannot get it up for people whose gender expression is too close to my own.

Are you looking for love here, or are you looking for honesty? If you’re looking for love, I don’t think it’s going to happen.
If you’re looking to move on, consider:
Do you need to tell her in order to move forward with the friendship? To have it out of the way? All cards on the table?
If I were you I would say it over coffee, or have her over for dinner or cards (just to be poetic).
In your shoes, this is exactly what I would say (but probably if I said it there wouldn’t be spaces in between the words b/c I’d be speaking so fast):
“I want you to know that I have a crush on you and I wish you had a crush on me too, but I don’t think that you do. I want to be your friend. I think you’re great. I just wanted to get this out of the way so we could have an honest friendship with no weirdness in between us. Okay. Phew, I feel nervous. “

But. If you can get over it on your own, I say do it.
Less processing.

Good luck.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hot For Teacher, with guest star, Prof C.J.

Guest Columnist Professor C.J. weighs in on the teacher student relationship.

Dear Nicole,

Im a freshman in college and signed up for a queer theory class in the women's studies department. First I was just excited and a little nervous about the reading and being the only freshman in a classroom full of seniors. Then a girl walked in and my face dropped, shes absolutely perfect! Totally surpasses any cute girl that might have caught my eye before. She has gorgeous tattoos and a cute haircut and wears keds and pulls out a copy of "Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity" and is all around completely what im looking for, I swear its like love at first sight. One catch, she turns out to be the teacher!

I've been in the class for a little over a month now and dont know what to do. I find myself doing silly things and imagine what kissing her is like and if her feet get cold under the covers while shes lecturing us on Foucault. I get all hot and bothered when she asks me a question and smiles at my answer. She's relatively young, 27 or so and is a graduate student at the school. Nicole, what is the appropriateness of the situation? I feel like I would be very much her type, should I go for it? If so, how? Or are student-teacher relationships still a big no? Is an 8 year age gap still too large at my age? After all, Lindsey Lohan and Sam Ronson are like 10 years apart, right? I mean, i've always liked the idea of having an affair with a professor.

Hot For Teacher

Dear Hot For Teacher,

A student once confessed a crush on me via e-mail. I was surprised but
also not surprised, and I was also flattered, and momentarily a little
freaked out, and I was also extremely relieved that she did not tell
me until she had dropped my class. Verily I say unto you:

Do not. Confess. Your crush. To your teacher. At least not now.
Whether she is appalled or overjoyed, such a confession will fuck up
her entire semester. She has to perform every class with you sitting
right there in front of her. (Teaching is a performance art, believe
me--and the moment you become self-conscious in front of a classroom,
you lose it.) As soon as you drop that bomb, it will forever alter the
dynamic between you, and that will infect the way she teaches the
entire class.

Let's think about this. In your worst-case scenario, she turns you
down and you feel like a dumbass and she feels awkward and embarrassed
and you should probably drop the class.

In your best-case pegasus-and-rainbows fantasy scenario, the teacher
has weak professional boundaries and no qualms about dating a
teenager, and both of you have to finish out the class hiding your
relationship so she does not get in trouble. This might sound hot, but
it is not. It is more like acid-reflux-inducing. Because if your
illicit love is discovered, she will at best be scoffed at by her
graduate student peers and the subject of endless snarky cracks both
to her face and behind her back (as I saw firsthand with an otherwise
likable grad school colleague who, at age 27, dated one of his
freshmen, to collective disgust), and at worst might raise the ire of
her supervisors and perhaps even cause her to lose her graduate
teaching assistantship, which is not only the source of her income to
pay for grad school but also the foundation of any hope she has for a
career in higher education.

I know that sounds dramatic, but it's all possible. It is never good
to start off one's teaching career with a relationship with a student.
Only old tenured dudes can get away with that.

And anyway, keep in mind that it's way cooler for a 19-year-old to
date a 27-year-old than vice versa.

Lastly: Although I can't guarantee it will win her heart, the
guaranteed way to win her favor is to be the Best Student Ever.
Utterly kick ass in that class. Do all the readings and take notes and
speak up in class (but don't dominate! listening well and responding
thoughtfully are even more important!) and ask good questions and
write smart, well-proofread, well-researched papers. Even if she
doesn't fall in love with you, you will benefit from being an awesome
student, the whole class will benefit from having a more engaged and
well-read classmate, and both these things will make her totally

From the Road....

Dear Readers,
Hello there. I write you from the road, as I am currently on a book tour with sts and Katy Davidson. I have asked my tourmates to join me in the advice business. We advised after much whiskey, from a Red Roof Inn in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Dear Nicole,

i love my girlfriend and am fiercely dedicated. however, lately she's been suffering from complications of a lifelong health disorder that is usually no big deal but recently reared its ugly head for the last few weeks and I've been her bedside companion for pretty much the full stretch (evenings, weekends - i do have a busy daytime work life after all!). dude, i am so tired of illness and despair! i want to breathe fresh air and ride my bike and laugh and be excited to be alive! how can i manage to stay devoted to my sick sweetie and get out and be a part of the world without feeling guilty?

Diabetic Downer in Delaware

sts: Schedule Time for Yourself. Your sweetie will understand b/c she will see the change in your eyes when she’s happy to see you genuinely full of life, and it will hasten her healing process. Occasionally you should throw her in a wheelchair and take her to Gaycation. Just the early hours before it gets too crowded. A half hour tops. Maybe you could take the lift so she can designatedly drive you home. Maybe you could have a shot of whiskey. I also want to affirm that your feelings are healthy and normal and if your girlfriend loves you, she will support you taking a few nights off for yourself.

Katy: that was pretty brilliant. So quick. I agree.

Dear Nicole,

I had always considered myself "bisexual" (ugh, why is that such a bad word.), but like many a queer girl (j/k) found myself practically married to a bio-dude for several years (like 4). Eventually bio-dude really wanted to tie the knot and I was like WHOA I LIKE GIRLS TOO AND I CAN'T BE WITH YOU FOREVER and since having THE WORST BREAKUP EVER, have only dated women. A couple of months ago, I met a really nice BIO-DUDE. We hung out a few times and he turned out to be really cool, nice and handsome. On our first "date", he told me he was basically seeing someone in a faraway country and had plans to move there in a few months to be with her for a few months which made me think it wasn't really a date. But on our second "date" one of the first things he told me was that his long distance girlfriend and him were in an open relationship. Then he spent the night at my place but nothing happened. On our third date, we spent the entire night making out while listening to records. BUT DIDN'T HAVE SEX. There was also alcohol involved and he has since decided to try and be sober for awhile.

Now he still lives in small-town Olympia, while I have moved to slightly larger Portland and I don't plan on returning. Only problem is that due to some prior work commitments, I return to Olympia once a week and spend the night with him even though we haven't known each other that long and I could stay with about a million other people I am technically better friends with--he has insisted I stay with him even going so far as to GIVE ME A KEY (!). But we sleep in the same bed and it's nice and intimate cuddly style BUT WE HAVE NEVER MADE OUT AGAIN. What the F, Nicole?! Did I set sail on the friend-boat or has he had a change of heart due to the fact that oh you know HE'S MOVING TO BE WITH SOME OTHER GIRL or did making out with me drive him to sober up and take off those beer goggles (OK, that's just my low self esteem talking)? I just want to fool around knowing I won't be in Olympia much longer and he won't be in the U.S. for too much longer. But I don't know how to bring it up without alcohol frankly. Do I need to get him drunk on Kombucha? Do I need to stay away from boys? I don't want to give him back his key because its fun to cuddle, but sadly I would like more.

Going through hetero adolescence again

Sts: move along is what I say. Turn the page. Nothing else to say.

Katy: I’m kind of shaking my head at the whole thing. Also, I completely zoned out for a third of that. He’s leaving. Just let him leave.

Sts: don’t cuddle him. What’s the use?

Katy: You can put that I agree.

Nicole: Yeah. Me too.

Dear Nicole,

Does existence precede essence, or does essence precede existence?

San Francisco

(while doing fake yoga): fuck. (Laughter). That’s a great question.
I don’t know what to say.

Sts: they were created simultaneously.

Katy: Boom. So Wise.

Sts: I am 35. When you get to be this age...

Katy: I’ve got a few years to go

Dear Nicole,

When I first moved to Portland in the early 2000s, nearly everyone I met was vegan or vegetarian, which was great because I am a longtime vegetarian hailing from a not-so-veggie-friendly southern town. As time has worn on, nearly all of those people have gone carnivorous. This depresses me. It makes me feel like some of my friends were never actually doing it for moral or ethical reasons, rather just because it was the cool thing at the time. It makes me wonder what other elements of their moral/ethical fiber are so easily changeable. These days, I meet so few vegetarians that when I do, it is a major bonding point. Then when these people almost inevitably hop on the beef train, I feel somewhat betrayed. I generally try to play it cool, but lately its really getting to me. Is there anything I can say to make my friends think twice about taking the plunge into Baconville? I don't want to lose their friendships over it, but its hard to just stand by and watch all these former vegans wolfing down bacon cheeseburgers like there's no tomorrow. What's your take on this situation?

Meat Is Still Murder, Right?

Dear Meat Is Still Murder, Right?

Sts: Is there anything that anyone could’ve said to you to keep you from eating meat?

Katy: I don’t know. If they handed me the vegan brochure again...

Sts: I don’t think there’s anything you can do to stop ppl from eatin meat and sometime you have to grow up and mature and realize it’s a personal choice not a political choice from people eventually.

Katy: WISE! Wise! You’re so good at this!

Sts: I don’t know any vegetarians either. Nicole’s one of the only ones.
I guess my question is ,I don’t understand how ppl go from having consciousness to not. Eating meat feels like eating a human to me... But I know and love many ppl who eat meat I don’t judge it I just don’t understand it. It’s probably how straight ppl feel about gay ppl , they just don’t understand it.

Dear Nicole,
My partner and I have been together for over a year, are living together and definitely in it for the long haul. This is my first long term and frankly "real" relationship I've had. We've forced each other to stop our promiscuous tendencies and bitchy games (mostly) because we're oh so gosh in love.

This is all great, but after the puppy love has faded and you know all those dumb stories about each other, what now? Neither of us are going anywhere and we both know that and I think that's kind of made us both lazy.

Still, I want to know even more about them, I want this to keep going and keep learning together. Are there things I could actively do to give our pairing a boost?

Young and Inexperienced Portlander

sts : read my zine, So You Think You Can Three Way.
Role play that you’re each other’s parents, and... what would they do?
I say, don’t look to your partner for entertainment. When you look outside your relationship for entertainment value , you find that your partner is a nice place of respite from the world.

: Wise. VERY Wise.

Sts: never look to your partner for your main source of entertainment, you will always be disappointed.

Katy: dude. I am SO vibing you right now.
She is so tapped in. Just on it.
There’s a central theme to all you have to say. Which I think it exciting. BE YOURSELF. I’m being completely serious. Dude.

I’m summarizing sts’s advice for any question at all :
Be yourself. Don’t forget who you are.
Things will stay exciting with your person if you have any chemistry at all.
IF you stay true to yourself. And don’t get completely lost in someone else.
Which is admittedly fucking easy to do.

Sts: the flip side of that is that ppl who’ve made the commitment to live with each other have to ACTIVELY seek hot situations b/c they won’t present themselves by living with each other.

You have to actively search.
And actively create.

Katy : I’m basically sts’s hype man.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm not technically doing anything relaxing, but it is currently calendar crunch time mixed with a trip to San Francisco and the last week before tour...

This week i didn't post any advice. If you send me really excellent questions, we can talk about sustaining relationships, teacher- student boundaries and MORE very soon.

Thank you very much.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Harshing All Kinds of Mellows

Dear Nicole, can a person be in love with someone they've never met, only emailed, texted and spoke on the phone with? Also, how long does it take a person to fall in love with another person? Is there any data on this? I might be in love but it seems impossible. If so, do you have any ideas about what my deal might be?
Thanks for your help.
Absolutely Cuckoo.

Dear Absolutely Cuckoo,

No. You cannot be in love with someone you've never met. Sorry, internet romancers.

Please humor me and imagine someone you know who might be good on paper but is SO ANNOYING in real life. Maybe they photograph well and can talk a good game, but you know that they are hideously destructive or codependent or have really really bad breath. This could be your long distance lover!
Do i think you should give up on love and be a miserly curmudgeon?
But i do think that we should differentiate so as not to build a cardio house of cards.
Your heart is important and should be protected with something more sensible than dirty texts and myspace comments.

I diagnose that you are In Like with this person, and maybe even Infatuated with them.

You want some data on the difference between Like and Love? Here you go, straight from (it gets a little flowery, but we're talking about love so i think you'll be okay):

Infatuation vs. Love

Infatuation is instant desire - one set of glands calling to another.

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It takes root and grows, one day at a time.

Infatuation is marked by a feeling of insecurity. You are excited and eager, but not genuinely happy. There are nagging doubts, unanswered questions, little bits and pieces about your beloved that you would just as soon not examine too closely. It might spoil the dream.

Love is the quiet understanding and mature acceptance of imperfection. It is real. It gives you strength and grows beyond you - to bolster your beloved. You are warmed by their presence, even when they are away. Miles do not separate you. You have so many wonderful little films in your head that you keep replaying. But near or far, you know they are yours, and you can wait.

Infatuation says, "We must get married right away. I can't risk losing them."

Love says, "Be patient. Don't panic. Plan your future with confidence."

Infatuation has an element of sexual excitement. Whenever you are together, you hope it will end in intimacy.

Love is not based on sex. It is the maturation of friendship, which makes sex so much sweeter. You must be friends before you can be lovers.

Infatuation lacks confidence. When they're away, you wonder if they're cheating. Sometimes, you check.

Love means trust. You are calm, secure and unthreatened. They feel your trust, and it makes them even more trustworthy.

Infatuation might lead you to do things you will regret, but love never steers you in the wrong direction.

Love is an upper. It makes you feel whole. It completes the circle. It fills the empty space in your heart. Love is elevating. It lifts you up. It makes you look up. It makes you think up. It makes you a better person than you were before. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you don't have. If there is no love in your life, whatever else there is has a lot less meaning.

In other news,

Think of the pheremones! Have you ever dated somebody and thought they were okay, but then your smells didn't match up? That is nature trying to tell you that something is awry.
What if their hair smells like barf to you? You don't even know it, because you've never met.

As for your deal? Maybe your deal is that you're stressed out by seriously dating people in your area, and you're looking for a little recreation (which this person seems to offer).

Enjoy yourself, be open to the idea of learning more about them and considering together where this should go, but don't put your eggs in a cyber basket or close yourself off to options at home.

(Also, get some references. Ask around, see if you have any mutual friends or acquaintances by which to judge their suitability for companionship)

Dear Nicole,
I have a friend who has chosen to maintain a friendship with an ex of
mine who royally and horribly hurt me.
The friend and Wet Brain (my
ex) were not friends (had never even met) prior to our dating, and
didn't hang out besides briefly with me about two times while we dated
(which thankfully only lasted three months).
My friend has mentioned to me how hot she thinks W.B. is.

While all my friends have had no problem avoiding Wet Brain,
this one friend has kept a connection open and it
feels crappy to me. I don't think she's dumb enough to date WB,
so I guess my gripe is with loyalty, a dubious concept anyway.
What do you think?
Haver of Feelings

Dear Haver of Feelings,

I have my own opinion on this matter, but took it to the Elderly streets of Portland to get some wisdom from people 70 years old and above.
Marc and I rephrased the question for ease of communication. Also (and don't be mad) we changed the gender of Wet Brain so that the seniors could focus on the problem and not sit aghast at the gay factor.

Nicole and Marc: "Hey guys, what if your friend had a horrible break up with someone- they cheated, weren't very honest, something like that. Most of person A's friends don't talk to person B ("Wet Brain") anymore; But one friend still does. What is the etiquette?"

Mavis- So you don't want to be friends with either of 'em?

Marc- No, no!

Mavis- Nothing.

Walter- I suppose it depends on what they did.

Henrietta- Show love and respect, don't turn your back on 'em. You can't control someone else. Just because you found out they did wrong, you can't mistreat em. You don't know both sides of the story!

Mavis- Depends on what they did. if they were cheating and lying about it, then they deserve to be ignored.

Henrietta- Sometimes you think you know a person, and you don't know htem. If they did somethin' real bad, like murder someone, i wouldn't be in their face, but I don't wanna mistreat 'em. You can know someone real long and not know 'em.

Estelle- Be polite, say hello, don't snub him. Depends how big of a jerk he was.

Marc- what if he was real bad? what if he stole money from her?

Estelle- Stole Money? Oooh Boy. Call the Sheriff!

Confidential from NG to Haver of Feelings: Don't let your feelings of betrayal transfer on to someone who has otherwise been a good friend to you in this situation. If you are around her and she says something about them being hot, I think it would be fair to pipe in that it's painful to hear that regarding the person who wrecked your heart. Otherwise, you are lucky to be rid of this person, and you seem to still have a lot of great friends around so focus in on them. If your friend starts dating Wet Brain, THEN you have a reason to cause a ruckus. Otherwise, stay still!

Dear Nicole,

My heart recently broke itself, and I therefore find myself on a quest to mend it as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Would you say that a relatively shallow rebound relationship is a decent way to mend said heart? What if the likely co-participant in such a relationship is a new addition to a group of friends to whom my heart's breaker and I belong?

(do I really make up a name for myself?)
"pea-brained in portland"

Dear Pea Brained in Portland,

"A cure for a break up is a hook up"

so says Silver from the newest incarnation of 90210.

With that logic in mind, I say go for it.
If the person is a NEW edition to your friend group, all the better.
But, seeing as it is a rebound, be sure to keep it shallow so as not to incur any casualties.


Dearest Ridiculously Awesome Lady,

I've adored PDX forever, and last month I took my BFF to experience its majesty.
She fell in love too and we made plans to move there with two other friends (we range 16-19).

My friends' families had money, and they could move right away while I'm really poor.
They knew I couldn't move soon but said "oh girl, we'll make it happen! we'll get an apartment for a bit, wait for you and then all get a house".
Yet all three of them started conspiring without me knowing while my friend and I were still in town, and signed a YEAR lease on a 3-bedroom apartment without me.
My 'bestie' didn't inform me until a week before her flight there. They're all there now, chilling with drag queens, seeing Gogol Bordello and setting up house while I'm looking for a job.
I felt horribly betrayed, but they sent me an apologetic "sorry, we should've told you! we just didn't want to hurt your feelings because we have more money than you!! you can sleep in the living room, we love you! GET OVER IT." email.
They had to act or they wouldn't have found a place, and I'm still going to live there. But they didn't TELL me, so I still feel hurt about the miscommunication!
It's not like they said they got me Soy Delicious and ate it, it's like they said we could all leave our parents and obtain housing together and.... ate... it. I'm in Missouri filling out applications and selling everything I own, while they're already in my dream city that I introduced them to in the first place!

Am I being petty and jealous and childish, or were they just being dicks?

~midwestern meltdown

P.S. you are pretty much the most ideal superfox in the whole world ever, inside and out. Keep being unbelievably badass.

Dear Midwestern Meltdown,

Keep your chin up, friend!

Maybe you're a gang of street toughs or something, but I am going to assume that for most of you, this is the first (or close to the first) time you've lived outside of your parent's homes and had to actually negotiate being renters. Am i right?
I want to use that as an excuse for your friend's behavior. They encountered a stressful if possibly uncomfortable situation (that being that they all had the resources to move before you, their friend, did) and took the path of least resistance, the path of least communication!

I just reread your letter and wanted to make clear to you that most places ask for a year lease. It is very standard, and if your friends have little to no rental history, it may have been their only choice. Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em! These ladies need a home too! They are three different humans who all took your advice and wanted to live in glorious Portland, Oregon, and had no responsibility to wait for you, as sucky as that might sound.

If you want to keep these people as friends, and you want to be able to know them once you are in Portland , then it's time to process on through.
Express your feelings, take the high road, don't be a dick, and use "I" statements.
That being where you express your feelings and don't lay blame. As in : "When you make a group decision behind my back, it makes me feel betrayed."
So you're stating a behavior, and then your reaction to it.
It's not pointing fingers, but it is letting them know what about the situation gets your goat. If they're good friends, they'll take it to heart and maybe next time they'll pony up and talk to you about an uncomfortable situation.

In the meantime, don't let those assholes get you down.
Get another job, get some money, and come to Portland! There are plenty of places to live and things to do.

It's nice of them to say you can live on their couch.

Good luck!

Special Guest: Tara Jepsen

Dear Readers, This week we are surely blessed to have San Francisco Dreamboat Tara Jepsen answer a question for y'all!
Tara Jepsen, Ass of Largesse
Disabler of Smoke Alarms
Loner, Partner, Loaner of Partners (permanently)
Porky Pigger
What more could you ask for?

Dear Nicole,

I recently started super crushing on my ex girlfriend's good friend and confidant. He feels the same about me, but this situation is made complicated by the fact that said ex is nowhere near being over me. Needless to say, she feels betrayed by her friend for perusing "her woman" and both my new love interest and I feel very guilty for hurting her, but don't feel like we can deny our feelings for each other.

How would you handle this situation in a mature and healthy way? Also, should I be suspicious of new love interest's behavior...I don't think he is being a very good friend to her by perusing me either. Or should I simply understand that he is probably a better lover than friend?

Yours Truly,
Torn and Wary

Dear Torn and Weary,

It would help to know how long you gals have been broken up, and I'm going to guess about 3-6 months.

In my experience, the majority of the Inappropriate (because of friend and ex connections) Romances of the World are ill-conceived and acted upon too quickly, and lead to substantial loss. Most seem to happen in your 20's, before your heart has been relentlessly trampled by other developing hearts and alcoholics, and the bone-deep understanding and acceptance of your solitude hasn't set in yet. When I say "solitude" I just mean that it is just you making your way, it's not noble or terrible it just IS. Solitude brings stability and empowerment and ultimately a reliable skill set for being a healthy/loving/reliable partner.


I do find that most people absolutely love the feeling of inevitability (in this case, that you MUST be with her confidante), and passion is stoked by its forbidden quality. What a bunch of Catholics.

My recommendation is that you don't leap into anything. I would take time, gather information, get to know this guy better. It does not scream integrity or kindness that he wants to pursue his good friend's ex. I would not have sex with him or get too close for about three months. Just to really get a feel for him and your connection. If it's real and special and you are going to be together, you will have years and years to spend screwing and living and loving and you will value the process of entering the relationship thoughtfully.

There IS the rare instance of true love. You could be an amazing match for each other and it could be that the circumstances are crappy but worth wading through to build something with this person. I would still spend time getting to know him so you can decide if it's worth hurting your ex and potentially not even ending up with the dude anyway.

I would act out of kindness, not guilt, toward your ex. Think of how you would feel and how you would like to be treated in her place.

Have fun, and also think of your long-term fun and joy goals.


Episode 3! Condoms & Finger Bangs

Featuring Special Guests Lucas Taylor and Beija Georges, produced by Winner. In which i mispronounce someone's pun-laden name as Condominium instead of Condominimum, and talk for a really long time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cavemen and Nonmonogamy

Dear Nicole,
I have a tendency of creating complicated situations with women. I also am known for being a bit of a player and a total slutbag. However I think this stereotype is unfair.
Is it because I'm a woman and I just happen to not be socially retarded?

Depending on how sentimental I am feeling, I have been in/out of love with many.
Currently I am dating a girl long distance non-monogamously and I am completely head over heels in smitten with her.
However, recently I met someone here. I've been sleeping with this other girl in Portland. I'm not sure whether I did this to distract myself from my aching heart or if I genuinely want to date this person. It's hard to spend a lot of time with someone and not get attached. Portland girlie knows about my long distance sweetheart and says she will stay out of our way when my sweetie comes to visit in October. I know it might be wrong to do this to Portland girl, so should I quit being an asshole and tell her we should just remain friends to avoid any future heartbreak? And what of my long distance sweetie? Should I take a break from girls altogether?


promiscuity city

Oh non monogamy, how i loathe the web you weave.

Hi Promiscuity City.

Let's talk.
That reputation of yours didn't happen on it's own, and it didn't happen overnight. Tis no stereotype based on the fact that you can talk to a crowd. Lots of people have social finesse and not all of them are called Players or "Slutbags". If i put my psychic glasses on , I'll bet that you got this reputation by "creating complicated situations", i.e. drama, and not being clear with people (i.e. telling many people that you're in love with them!).

The only thing worse than a Player is a Player with no mirror.
"Why would people call me that? I'm just following my heart!"
Your heart isn't the only one beating in the room!
There's got to be some consideration for the people you're dragging in there with you.

The good news is,

Today is the first day of the rest of your life!
We are going to discuss your options as a new, responsible (yet still Socially Adept) individual!

There are two routes you could take here, Promiscuity City, and if you play your cards right, your hands will technically be clean by the end of all this.
Don't make it weird!

1. You can keep seeing Portland Girl.
(high drama route)

2. You can break up with Portland Girl.
(low drama route)

On one hand, she's in charge of herself and as long as you're clear (one thousand percent clear) and not feeding her lines of garbage about the depth of your relationship (ahem) , then you are allowed to say "I told you so" if she gets her feelings hurt by girl afar. You're getting away on a technicality.

Don't lead her into thinking she could usurp Girl Afar as your primary if that is not the case. This means no sighing heavily while staring into her eyes, moaning about how torn you are and how confusing this all is!

HOWEVER, On the other hand....
This is your new , low-drama life, and it requires some introspection.
It would be be not only kinder, but also the route of least drama and despair if you cut the cord now. She's not your soul mate, you probably wouldn't be dating her if the Girl from Afar lived here, so it would be kinder of you to let her go and find someone else who will think the world of her.
If you can psychically see that the result of this relationship will be a heart break blood bath, then it is up to you to take the reigns (no matter what she says about it being okay) and grind this coach to a stop.

Then you come out with your hands clean, and you have some time alone here in Portland to consider how you got your reputation, all the while getting your attention needs met (sort of) by someone from afar.

(note: you might be saying "Nicole this is harsh. people can casually date, you know, without it being a 'blood bath' " and i say to you, true true! However, this person, Promiscuity City, seems like perhaps they are not adept at handling these situations with grace and tact, and thusly i advise them to take the side door and leave the party before it gets out of hand.)

Dear Nicole,
The next time my boyfriend's super-religious dad says women should be subordinate to men, should I throw a bowl of beans in his face? How would you handle this?

Leering in Los Angeles

Choose your battles wisely, Leering in Los Angeles.
This is not the one to fight. You're not going to change his mind, and you have a choice if you have to see him at all. If you can manage eating dinner with Dad from time to time, i would let his comments roll off with a simple:
"That's an interesting perspective. Hmm. " and/or a blank stare.
" Thanks for your opinion. "
Then you can silently seethe and curse me for putting you in this situation.

Though this will make you seethe in the moment, it is ultimately better than yelling at someone who's not listening to you and creating static between yourself and the family of your boyfriend.

If he gets to you too much, and you find your blood pressure is out of control every time you get home from family dinner,
then you have the choice to opt out of such dinners, and offer to only see Dad on important Holidays.
Your boyfriend can cover for you. "Oh, Leering is sick." or, "She couldn't make it".
All the while you're at home listening to relaxing music and cross stitching a Labris or Women's Symbol, sighing aloud and thinking "I'm so glad I'm not dining with a cave man right now!"

Dearest Nicole,

I'm a girl and have started to venture into the world of dating other chicks. At the end of the date, how do I know who pays for the meal? When I go out with guys, they always end up paying (at least on the first date). I went out with a new girl yesterday and it was a little awkward. I offered, but we decided to split. Should I always just offer to pay? Or does it depend on who asked the other person out? Ideas?

Anxious Dater

Dear Anxious Dater,

Let whoever wears the pants pay!

Just kidding.

Okay. I consulted some bonafied lesbians about this last night.
Aubree advised:
"If they don't offer to pay within the first minute of the check being there, then be prepared to split the bill."
true, true.
If someone is planning on paying for a date , then they are waiting for the check and want to get to it before you. Oh, chivalry!

Always be prepared to split the bill. Bring money. Pull out your wallet when the check comes, even if the other person pulled theirs out first.

Common courtesy says, if they buy dinner one night, you should pay (or attempt to pay) the next time.
Don't take anything for granted.

And if they pay for dinner, you'd better be ready to put out.
Especially if you had something expensive.

.... Kidding! Just Kidding!

Dear Nicole:

I've been with the same young man for a couple years. There is one
problem-- he has never given me a gift of any kind. No birthday gift,
no anniversary gift, no Yom Hashoah gift. No gifts at all, aside from
the occasional surprise carton of soy delicious. He knows I would
LIKE gifts, and doesn't ever make me feel petty for wanting them. He
has some weird extreme specific phobia/anxiety about giving gifts. My
psychologist tells me I am ascribing way too much importance to these
absent gifts, and my friends say gifts are important and that I should
dump him for this.

I would like to know your professional opinion on the subject of gifts
in romantic relationships.

Yours truly,

Dear Giftless,

I like gifts.
I like getting gifts, and more importantly, i like GIVING gifts!
How else to express your deep feelings for your boyfriend than to make him a present? Words are overrated.
ack, what a joyless life i would have with only rations of ice cream as a substitute for a handmade stuffed animal or lovingly crafted cell phone plan?
Personally, I , NJG, would be bummed if i had to devote my life to a giftless marriage.
But we're talking about you, Giftless.

Well, how important are gifts to you?
Does he have other attributes that make up for his gift anxiety?
The Gift of companionship?
The Gift of kindness?
The Gift of handsomeness?

Is he a one of a kind that you would feel completely stupid for breaking up with based on this, or is it indicative of greater problems or inflexibility in the relationship?
Like, if you had kids would he not give them presents?
If he decided he was Hug-o-phobic would you then have to go without hugs?

Maybe to you gifts are a way to show love, and if you are not receiving gifts, then it feels like you are not receiving love. Everyone has these things. For some people it's cooking as a way to show love, for some it is physical affection. Express how much you like his other qualities (The aforementioned gifts of companionship, kindness and handsomeness) but that this is as sensitive an issue to you as it is to him, and it hurts your feelings!
If you're not getting the thing that you need to feel loved, then you need to sit down and hammer out if there's something else that he can do to replace that warm feeling, or if he can compromise?

Maybe he can go to a psychiatrist and have some immersion therapy where he gets sent to the North Pole and has to hear from Santa's elves the joys of giving, all the while hammering together old fashioned wooden toys for every boy and girl in the world.

Everyone sacrifices for love some times.
It's not like you're asking him to send you pieces of his own body for Valentines day, you just want a present.

Love, Nicole

p.s. In the case that you are Jewish, the North Pole seems like a weird place to send him, but i can't think of another place where joyful creatures create gifts all day. I apologize.

Dear Nicole,

What do you do when you get in a rut or get depressed about artwork, etc?


- Too Many Projects at Once

Dear Too Many Projects at Once,

I stop calling my friends back and work twelve hour days until it's all done.
Then i go and party for a couple of days, after which i lock myself in my house again.


p.s. also you could go through your archive of things you've accomplished and try to inspire yourself and remember that you do good work and that it is worthwhile and that you've come really far!