America's Smartest Girl

My photo
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, July 29, 2008

Of Chickadees, Lesbians, and Success

Hello Nicole G.,
I need advice!
Should my new tattoo be a Ruby Throated hummingbird, or a Black Capped chickadee?
I was going with hummingbird until this morning, when I considered the trusty, hardworking, and always well-dressed black-capped chickadee, a bird which I have loved since childhood!
I'm so glad you have an advice column. It is such a relief to be able to consult a true know-it-all like yourself!
Big D

Dear Big D,
Of course you should get a Black Capped Chickadee tattoo.
Though hummingbirds are a nice sentiment and perhaps close to your heart, they're not as aesthetically appealing as B.C.C., whose colors are more basic and timeless, and whose fraternal twin the Grossbeak is tattooed on my own arm. So you already know he'll look good!
Take a look at these two: It's no match!

Dear Nicole,

What is your advice for achieving success in comics, zines and the related arts?
-mindless in minneapolis

Dear Mindless,

I think that success in a creative field requires a mixture of talent, tenacity, and perseverance.
Also, you have to be a shameless self promoter. This last part is the hardest to swallow.
As you can imagine, if you do anything long enough, people are bound to catch on.
Persistence pays.
Don't inhibit yourself.
Find work that inspires you, not intimidates you. Don't let anyone else's talent freak your mind out.
Don't listen to Debbie Downers or wet blankets.
Show your work to cheerleaders along the way, not nit-pickers or DoubtingThomases.

Also, IS there such a thing as Gaydar? How do you tell if a person is gay or not? I have never been able to do so with any success and it's caused me much embarrassment when asking for dates.
-M in Minneapolis

Dear MiM,
I am writing this from the assumption that you are a man looking to date women. Am i right?
If you find yourself asking out a girl and she denies your request based on her sexual preference, then Great! At least she's not denying you because of your breath or taste in footwear, right?

There is such thing as Gaydar, and it is a skill that you're either born with or you learn.
Indeed, you have to figure that out before you go asking girls on dates.
How to learn? Here are a few tips to get you started:
Short hair does not a lesbian make!
-First thing, you need to ask around. Somebody knows the girl you want to ask out. Can you dig it up from them?
-Try to bring it into conversation. Though i usually advise against mentioning exes straight away, i do think it could be a good opportunity to trap her into an anecdote about her dating preference. "Yeah, I lived with my ex girlfriend for three years before realizing she had a mannequin fetish!... so...anyway, have you ever lived with anyone you've dated? "

-A secret clue to sussing out dykes is by looking at their fingernails. Probably if she is gay she has no fingernails. This is not true for all lesbians, but is often the case. Why? Because they need their hands for lewd and lascivious acts. If you come across a High Femme with a manicure, or someone who's a complete bottom, them all bets are off. But MOST lesbians i have ever come into contact with have very short and unglamorous nails.

- You could try lesbian immersion to start honing your own gaydar, or to make a lesbian friend who will identify members of her clan once y'all are out on the town.

Dear Nicole,
I've been dating this girl for a few weeks. we agreed that it's not a "relationship" and both seem okay with this when we talk about it. HOWEVER ,i get the impression that she wants it to be more. For example, we have been hanging out just once a week, but lately she's been wanting to hang out more than once a week and encouraging me to call whenever i feel like hanging out. how do i bring this up to her, since we talk about it without having to say "I don't believe you."
- Judge Joe Brown

Dear Judge Joe Brown,

You have to go with your intuition on this. Does she want more than what you have to offer? She could argue her stance until the cows come home, but you know somewhere inside, from your interactions, what is really going on. If you are hanging out and she starts giving you lovey-dovey doe eyes, then i say it's time to leave. It's best to cut it off now before you end up hurting her feelings. It's the noble thing to do. It also frees her up to find someone willing to give her the things that she needs.

If you are not so bold and brave, or just aren't sure what she wants, then i say Make some firm boundaries.
This relationship can't progress without your aiding and abetting. If you start talking to her every day and seeing each other 4 times a week, then you are in some deep denial about it not being a "relationship". However, if you hang out once a week and make a boundary around that (i.e. Don't call her very often, and be clear and direct about how much interaction you can deal with) then it doesn't seem like so much trouble.

Dear Nicole,
When dating, how much of an age difference is too much?
Oldie but Goodie

Dear Oldie,
it truly depends on the maturity of both people. But i say, if you're 32, don't date a 21 year old. Just sayin'. Not that i know you, or that you are 32. ahem.

Dear Nicole,

how can i get myself motivated to:

a) exercise! i hate it. I'm a Sagittarian and I'm supposed to love it, but i don't. and it's summer aka hot so i keep taking naps when i should be going for walks. ugh.

b) work on my art every day. i need to graduate with a thesis show and stuff ain't getting done on its lonesome! how come it's so hard to get started doing what i LOVE doing the most sometimes?


Dear Sag,
I am a fellow Sagittarian, you know, and so I'm feeling you on these problems. But i also have some viciously diligent Capricorns in my chart, and so i have some grindstone advice to work it out.

a) Become accountable to someone. Find your most motivated friend. Someone who won't flake, and who is excited and steadfast, and make exercise fun. You guys could have a weekly or twice-weekly meet up where you do an aerobics video together, go for an hour long walk, or go to a water aerobics class at the local Community Center.
I say, pick two days a week and just fucking do it.
I found that i needed some exercise once i started working exclusively from home, and a gym was not in my price range or dreamscape. In response to this, i started teaching an aerobics class called Homorobics. Because i know that I'm a workaholic and so having something that seems like work will get me to do it more than the motivation of just helping myself. What motivates you? I swear, dude, get a couple of people together and have weekly Richard Simmons nights for a month.Get some of his tapes from the thrift stores or the library. You'll feel better.

b) I give to you, The Master Schedule. The Master Schedule is a grueling workday created by my friend Alec Longstreth. It is often used in times of extreme need and deadline. Set aside a couple of days this week and try it out, but be ready to shut out the rest of the world!
8-12 work
12-1 lunch break
1-3 work
3-5 break: post office, email , etc
5-7 work
7-10 break: dinner, movie, etc.
10-12: work

When I'm not doing the Master Schedule, I still structure my days kind of like this. On Sunday nights i get out my planner and my white board and I plan the week (you can also just do this the night before, right before you go to bed, on a piece of paper) in advance. I write down what my hours are going to be each day and what i am going to dedicate each chunk of work time to. I give myself realistic amounts of time to do things like email or meals, and then I stick to it!
It is a nice feeling to know that you've worked your entire scheduled day. Then you can relax for the night without having it nagging on you.

Here's an example of one of my day-to-day schedules:

9-11 Invincible Summer (draw comics)
11-12 Lunch Break
12-4 Pet Portraits (listen to David Sedares book on tape)
4-6 Dinner Break & Email
6-8 Book Proposal (draw comics)

I want to note that I listen to books on tape or to podcasts whilst doing tedious stuff.

Dear Nicole,
When I moved into my house, my Sloth-like Roommate asked me to give him two months notice before moving out. A year later, I stumbled across an amazing two bedroom apartment with five closets and ceiling fans and a landlord who said I could paint the entire place salmon so it'll be like living in a womb cloud, so of course I'm moving. I didn't give my roommate the desired two months notice but I offered to find someone to replace me in the house. Sloth-like Roommate doesn't want a stranger, Craigslister, etc. He wants me to pay this months rent AND forfeit my deposit, but I never signed a lease so I don't think I'm legally obligated and I'm all, Bish plz. Can I move out while he's a work?

--Concerned in Carrboro

Dear Concerned,

Congratulations on your new apartment. It sounds dreamy and I'm sure you're excited to move in.
In the meantime, you need to deal with business at your old home.
You were clear on the Sloth Man's policies when you moved in. I don't see why the beauty or womb-like qualities of your new apartment would in any way negate that verbal agreement. So, you don't win me on that one.
If i was your roommate, I also would not want to live with a random stranger that The Person Leaving found on craigslist. No fucking way.
Though you are not on the lease, you are morally obligated as a responsible human being. Whether this guy is covered in sloth moss or not.
the general accepted time period (and time stated on most leases) for giving notice is 30 days. If you have given him at least 30 days to find a new roommate, then i do not find you financially responsible. If you have given him less than a month to find a new roommate, then yes, you need to be prepared to pay the extra rent until that 30 day time period is up.

Dear Nicole,

What should I do when people direct their misdirected
anger toward me? I'm talking about motorists who look
like they'd like to run my pedestrian self over,
postal employees who are so full of rage they look
like they belong in an institution (other than the
post office), online freaks who take uncalled-for
swipes at folks on blogs and in emails, women who give
dirty looks that they mean for me to see, and so
forth. Even though I know that these crazy-ass
incidents have to do with the rage-aholics and not me,
it still hurts when people are rude or
contemptuous--but I don't want to respond in kind and
yell back, or whatever. So what do I do with my hurt

Yours, Katie

Dear Katie,
I am both the right person to ask and the wrong person to ask about this question.
I'm going to imagine myself in each scenario and tell you what I'd do:
  • Motorist who wants to run me over: I would glare, mouth "Fuck Off" at them or roll my eyes
  • Raging Postal Employees: If they're behind the counter then I'd try to take a few breaths and empathize with their situation. Try to lighten things up with some conversation or a compliment or something about what a great job they're doing considering the stress of the post office/lines of people. If it's your personal letter carrier, I would ask if there's anything I did to make him angry with me, and explain that it felt that way based on his disposition whenever i saw him. In my life, i have natural contention with letter carriers on the street based on my crazy barking dogs, and so i try to Over Do it and kill him with kindness so that he sees me as a friendly human being and not just the keeper of the hounds.
  • Online Freaks: I never ever read comments for blogs that are about things I care about. Because those comments can be really hurtful and they don't' mean anything. It took one random , bored, socially inept asshole approximately 30 seconds to write and post that comment. It's not anyone who has any bearing on your actual life, so you can't let it get to you. If possible, don't' even read it. Fuck them. and their stupid comments.
  • Women who give you dirty looks: i would either try to give them a surprised looking smile (eyebrows up) which might snap them out of it if they're unconsciously giving you a dirty look, or i would say "Do you need something?" , "What." or "Stop Staring at Me" depending on my blood sugar level at that moment.

Please know that those people have their own personal bad energy and you can't let it into your bubble of good vibes.
I'm sorry they hurt your feelings.
Fuck them.

I gave up romance for career and notoriety. Now, over 10 years and many successes later, I‘m ready for romance once again. How do I go about it before I slip and fall into “Eccentric Bachelor” status?

-Lonely on Top

Alas! Lonely on Top!
I am surprised that people aren't crawling all over you FROM the notoriety you've gained over these past ten years! Isn't that was notoriety is for?
I know this is anonymous, but i also know that you are handsome and talented.
If you have been 100% shutting out romance for an entire decade, then the dating scene has probably gotten the memo and left you alone on purpose. It's time to start ringing the bell! "Town Whore! Open For Business!" Clang clang!
Okay. Maybe romance isn't the same as yelling "Town Whore!" out your window, but you know what I mean. Spread it around. Tell some of your most gossipy friends that you are on the make. Suss it out. Go to a dance night.
Looking into my crystal ball, i can see that you are a homosexual man. Though this is foreign to me, I have known homosexuals who've had great success on and other man dating sites. It couldn't hurt to set up a date with a stranger. Even if you hate him, it gets you back in the practice of dating and starts putting dating , love-seeking vibes into the air.
Basically, Lonely, what we're talking about here is using "The Secret". Writing a wish and putting it under your pillow. Putting on your finest duds, getting some mouth spray or minty gum, and going out on the town.
Good Luck!

Dear Smartest Girl in the World,

I have been traveling for months, and I don't miss home at all. In fact I don't want to go home,(although I promised a friend that I would.). Where should I move? or What should I do?


Traveling Upon Roads That Lead Elsewhere

This is a hard question, filled with many smaller questions!

Forget about your promises, what feels right? Is there a place that you've visited recently that felt right at home? Or somewhere that is calling you? Even just a random job somewhere that you know you could get.Where are the majority of your friends? I don't know where you should move, but I know that people like San Francisco, and I've always had a lovely time in New York. Maybe you need a new home for a while.
Why not move to the coast or get a caretaking job for the season until you figure it out?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Loneliness, Bargain Boning, and Vibrator Addiction

Dear Nicole,
what is the best way to make friends in a new city?
-lonely in illinois

Dear Lonely,
I moved to Portland when I was 19, with my boyfriend and my best friend. The things I'd do then, the kinds of friends I wanted to make, were entirely different than what I'd do now, but here's what we did: We had a show at our house. In addition to bands, we had wrestling on mattresses, a pie eating contest, and a compost drinking contest (in which we juiced the compost that had been sitting on our counter for the past two weeks). We made tons and tons of fliers and passed them around town. The three of us had actually experienced extreme discomfort in our new city when attending someone else's house show, but bringing the people into our own seemed like a completely rational idea, and introduced us to people who would become our friends and roommates for years to come.
since I know that you, the reader, are not a nineteen year old punker, I give you my very best advice.
1. Sign up to volunteer somewhere that you imagine your people might go. In Portland the Independent Publishing Resource Center or Reading Frenzy are great places to get a staff volunteer job where you come across different faces from the zine and independent press community and can suss out potential friendships from there.

2. Myspace. Ask your pre-existing myspace friends if they know anyone from that town or can give you pointers on where to go. You'd be surprised how many people have either grown up in your town or have friends there.

3. Go to some small shows. Just to get a feel for who's out there. I like to have something to do at a show. Otherwise I feel awkward and useless. So if there's a table to sit behind or some baked goods to sell, i'll do it. Then, the people come to you! Don't do all the work of going up to people.

EVEN BETTER, if you have a friend who's coming through town with their band or project, go to their show and glom on to them. They probably know people in that town that are up your alley. This worked for me when i moved to a small farm town near Chico, California. Old Time Religion came through, and even though i knew their members only minorly and wasn't even sure if we liked each other, it was like oxygen to see pasty pacific northwesters in this sunbaked college town environment.

4. Invite some people over for scrabble.

5. Get a job somewhere with a lot of lesbian foot traffic. If someone were moving to Portland I'd suggest getting a job at Powells, Stumptown, or New Seasons, because all of those places have built in communities of interesting employees (also, they are the only jobs in Portland i can think of with benefits and living wages). Is there a place comparable in your new town? Even if you don't want to work there for the rest of your life, it can help you suss out the crowd.

I wish you the best of luck.

Dear Nicole
what are your thoughts on "vibrator addiction"? is it an epidemic in the lesbian community?

Good Question!
Unfortunately there isn't a universal answer to Vibrator Addiction. I have a friend with a fierce attachment to her Hitachi Magic Wand and used it daily for years. She started dating someone who also had a Wand, but who could not use it within two weeks of having sex with a human, lest she was unable to orgasm. SO. my friend thought this was a good idea and also limited herself; but one day realized "Wait a minute, using the Wand makes me hornier and i can STILL have an orgasm with a human, even if i used it just before they came over. Why am I limiting myself in solidarity with my partner? Our bodies are completely different!" SO. What robs one man of clitoral human contact is the feedbag of another .
The decision on whether or not to feed your own vibrator addiction is completely, 100% personal. Can you come with a human being while still using your vibrator? Do you have to lug the vibrator into your bedroom in order to climax with a date? If so, do you Mind doing this ?
There is no rule that says your climax needs to be 100% organic and human produced, but it is a much better party trick to be able to come from having sex with a human being than with a vibrating power tool. So, considering the joy that vibrators undoubtedly give to a great majority of the lesbian population, I can't call it an epidemic. But, like all things, it is wise to consider the ramifications and make changes thusly.

Dear Nicole
why is gay sex so darn expensive? do you have any advice about bargain boning? how can i reduce the amount of money i spend on lube, sex toys, porn, etc.?
-Broke in Boston

Dear Broke in Boston,
Gay sex. hmm. It is expensive.
Though through my extensive research, I've found that gay sex is less expensive than birth control, fancy condoms, and living in fear of unwanted pregnancy every month.
Strap On Harness: $80.00
New Dildo: $99
Having Gay Sex: Priceless
The good thing about sex toys (to me) is that you can make an investment and it pays for itself over and over again.
I would suggest that you have a Sex Toy Swap party, but you know that no one is going to bring a VixSkin dildo there in your size. And if they did, would you want it ? The false skin technology is so soft and seemingly porous that it would almost seem like you were accepting someone's actual discarded penis, only way less sanitary. I imagine a sex toy swap party would be full of dolphin shaped novelty dildoes, cylindrical vibrators and giant sized buttplugs that defeated their ambitious owners.
A fun party, but not christmas for your cunt.
I'm less into the idea of bargain shopping or making your own sex accoutrements, and more into thinking of ways to make money to afford them.
Maybe you can have a bake sale to earn money for your new sex toys, or get a man off of craigslist to watch you have sex for money. Heck, maybe you can have sex with a man off of craigslist for money! Or try selling something on ebay, like locks of your hair or your own used sex toys. There's got to be a pervert out there who'd buy that giant buttplug off of you.
As for porn, i'm not sure if you're a Glass of Wine Watching Fag Porn By The Fire kind of person, but if you're looking for cheap thrills, you can find them on There are no pop up windows or viruses (that i've ever seen) and you can search gay or straight porn for free. The clips are about 1-6 minutes long, and you're at your computer. So it's not a night on the town, but it will do in a pinch.
Good luck to you, Broke. And let me know if you think of any creative ways to afford your sex products.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Of Men and Beehives

Dear Nicole,
How do I get sketchy men on the bus to notice me?
-Helpless in Hillsboro

Dear Helpless,
Good question! The answer's simple. If you want to get the attention of ex-cons, motorcyclists, and other desirable men on the MAX, try getting a visible tattoo! Nothing says "Let's Party" like a visible tattoo. I can't tell you how many homemade chest tattoos I've been shown against my will by inky hopefuls who want to bond over our "pieces". Be ready to see bare chests, hairy backs, and countless forearms. But watch out for roving hands of admirers who can't help but paw at your Ink!

Dear Nicole,
I have a beehive hairdo, and struggle with whether or not to wear a helmet when cycling. What to do?
-Fear of Flat Hair in Phoenix

Dear Flat Hair,
I have struggled with this question myself, and would like to share with you an exchange I had with lifelong friend Nate Backous, bicycle enthusiast. "Nate", i said, "I'd rather live a short live with big hair than a long life with flat hair." to which he replied,
"But how good will you look if you're drooling and you can't feed yourself?"
So, my bouffanted friend, Don't fear the reaper, Fear the feeding tube.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Questions from the Vaults

Dear Nicole,
I just got out of a long term relationship. In addition to being sad, I've become anxious about living alone, and I'm having a really hard time sleeping without another person in the bed with me. I haven't done it for such a long time. I get anxiety attacks and can't fall asleep like i used to. So far i've been staying up late on the internet until i get drowsy. any tips?
-Heartbroken in Humboldt

Dear Heartbroken,
My number one tip for feelings of safety, security against not only strangers but also ghosts is to Get A Dog.
A dog will spoon you, sense spirits, and bark at prowlers.

#2. Never watch scary movies.
If you are just getting reacquainted with sleeping or living alone, I say cut out any and all horror films until such a point when you are either mentally unstoppable or you have a new partner or bunk mate.

#3. Never watch The News.
This is the same as watching a scary movie. Unnecessary vibes of scariness coming to you, probably after dark, as you sit in your newly empty house. No Thanks.

In addition to these three tips,
I would like to offer you my personal sleeping regimen.
This is the Nicole Georges deluxe routine for a good night's sleep. Deluxe just for you, HIH.

1. Run a bath. While it's running, do some jumping jacks and sit ups. Don't fuss, just do it.
2. Take a long bath while listening to Loveline or a book on tape.
3. Get in bed and watch one late night show, preferable Sex & The City or King of the Hill.
4. Switch off the t.v. and pick up a book. Read one to four chapters.
5. Masturbate using a high powered vibrator. A couple of times if you'd like.
6. After you're done, invite your dog onto the bed, turn off the lights, and go to sleep.

Though my friend Karat claims that all her sleep books advise AGAINST watching t.v. in bed, i dare them not to fall asleep using my routine. I offer an open invitation to the authors of said sleep books- come over. We'll take a hot bath together, watch some Sex & The City, then spoon up to the dogs as we descend into the most restful night's sleep they've ever imagined.