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, 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.