Friday, September 19, 2014

And the Band Played On | Writer's Block

I have started drafts for four posts... and then I saw something shiny and inspiration left me.

Hopefully this will pass, because I keep writing, just haven't quite put something together that feels finished enough to publish. I thought admitting my block was better than radio silence.

What do you do when writer's block hits you?

Sorry, peeps. I'm working on it. Back to regular schedule soon. I am off to the ballet with Capricorn.

Additionally, I never created a writing nook for myself. I set up with my laptop in a number of places, but without a real sense of it being my space - do you have a spot to call your own that makes you feel focused? Maybe I should invest some thought in that.

xoxo,

Jean

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

14 Unanswered Questions in Life

Perhaps you would call them Rhetorical Questions. I call them the things that will keep you awake at 4am. And I haven't come up with a decent answer yet, but in case you want to give it a try:

1. If the Universe is ever expanding, then what does the Universe reside in? Um. Oh, boy. Just stop before you hurt your head. Honestly, I think this one keeps Hawking up at night.



2. Why is all the rum gone? I don't know, Johnny Depp. I just don't know. Perhaps you sleepdrink.

Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Carribean, Why is all the rum gone

3. Turn down for what? Because it's 8:15am and your shift starts in 45 minutes. That's why (ok, that's a decent answer)

4. Why can't I remember ever falling asleep? I don't know. It happens slowly and then all at once, just like falling in love.

5. What is art, or porn? It's that thing. You know. You know it when you see it. Stop asking.

6. Explain the mutually-inclusive relationship between slut-shaming and porn site usage? People like to make women feel bad about being sexually liberated and sexy.... and then go pay to watch women be sexually liberated and sexy as long as they get to watch in private and people don't see them or know that they did it. Yeah, I don't get it either.

7. Where do we go when we die? No one knows. Joel Osteen doesn't know. Neither do mediums. No one, for sure, knows. So please don't give your money to anyone who pretends to be able to give you a concrete answer to this question -- we're all just guessing and hoping for the best.

8. Why are we here? I don't know. But I know it's not to buy Justin Bieber tickets, so everyone please stop that and he can go back to Canada. Let's just be nice to one another.


9. Is my Magic 8 Balls right about THIS particular question? Statistically, maybe. But no, not really. Who know's? If they were correct sometimes I'd be a model with a magical seahorse and married to Taylor Hanson. Sometimes our wishes not working out is for the best.

magic eight ball, classic childhood toy

10. Should I buy stock in ________? Do your own research. The stock market guru Warren Bufffet suggests buying stocks from companies you like. But be warned, I thought wind energy was a cool idea and now I own 200 shares of bullshit. No one really knows. Proceed with caution and keep your portfolio diversified.

11. Will the Cubs ever win another World Series? I'd like to point out that we Americans have pretty arrogantly named our major baseball event for the year the "World Series" even though only teams from North America are allowed to participate (i.e. The Toronto Blue Jays). So, let's just stop asking this question and focus more so on how this is a dumb name for the championships of baseball. And we should stop getting our hopes up, the Cubs suck and we can't pretend anymore.

12. Why can't I put on mascara without opening my mouth? It just feels right. Stop watching me.

13. Why the hell would anyone buy an  iWatch? We didn't need pet rocks or ceramic clown figurines, but some people felt the need to buy those. Some people just don't make sense.

14. Are true crime shows giving people better ideas as to how to cover up crimes and therefore creating more opportunities for successful serial killers and other illegal acts? That depends on the level of accuracy truth shows like CSI or Criminal Minds' scripts are written. Or on the editing of Crime documentaries, as they may leave out important details or processes in crime solving. So, without knowing all the variables, you probably shouldn't try to pull off that great bank heist you dreamed of as a kid. Just be cool.

Now I shall attempt to sleep and not think of these questions. Especially #1 -- for a silly list, that one still bothers me. I used to think about it when I was 7 years old, couldn't come up with an answer, overload my brain and have to read Nancy Drew books until I made myself exhausted enough to sleep. I was a weird kid.

Night night,

Jean

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What Kind of Woman Owns A Sex Shop?

Have you ever wondered what kind of person opens a sex shop? Through the wonderful women of The Urbaness, I was able to meet and interview Searah Deysach of Early to Bed, Chicago's first women-owned sex shop. She was charming, intelligent and took every question I had (and incoming store customers) seriously. My question on what kind of a woman owns a sex shop was answered: An awesome one.

Searah Deysach, early to bed, sex toys



Read the article on The Urbaness here. Or, scroll below for the unedited version...

Q: So How Did You Get Started?
I was in grad school (Art) and I didn’t feel healthy. I wanted to do something I had passion for and I always wanted to be a business owner. I liked talking about sex and it was at a time when there was dialogue about sex and sexuality going on with women – Sex and the City had just ended. I had very little money to start, but I just went for it. At first we didn’t have a lot of product. But we were able to add more toys within the year and keep growing.

Q: You always wanted a sex shop? Was your family supportive?
Yes, my mom worked here for a bit, while she was transitioning into retirement!  It didn’t last too long, but it was great for our twitter account. (Follow Early to bed at @Earlytobed)

Q: You said you like talking about sex, is that a big part when dealing with clients?
Yes! People can treat us like therapists. Women feeling comfortable was always important to me. Now we get all kinds of people in the shop and it feels good to help them. There are older women in their late 40’s-50’s who viewed sex toys as taboo, are shy but are interested, and it’s great to make them feel comfortable, answering questions they have and treating their interest with respect.
I have also started getting women whose doctors have sent them here for lube or health reasons. They might be scared and nervous at first, but we listen to what they’re looking for and try to put them at ease. I had an 80 year old woman who came in looking for lube that her doctor had recommended. She was very nervous at first but my staff listened to what she needed and helped her find a product that worked for her, making her feel comfortable in the end. That’s a great part of running Early to Bed.

Q:  I think it’s great you’re able to help people one-on-one. Do you ever do events?
Yes we do. Education is important at the store because I was frustrated at the lack of information about sexuality and sexual health available when I first opened. During our first month we did a workshop on erotic writing. We do a pretty wide variety of topics, everything from health-related topics like “Look at your Cervix” to ones that focus more on kink or masturbation techniques. 

sex toy store, sex toys, sex Chicago

Q: Do you get special guests or celebrities in for events?
Sometimes we do! We’ve had some famous people roll in like Tristan Taomino, Midori and Ducky Dolittle. That part can be a little stressful, because you want to be able to pay the people who come in to do talks and workshops, and not charge a lot, but I feel like we have to do events no matter how stressful because the need is there. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.

Q: How about outside of store?
I do most of the store’s outreach. A lot of lectures on human sexuality at college campuses, community, social services stuff. I talk about topics like sex toys and masturbation even online dating behavior.

Q: It sounds like you’re doing a lot to help people feel more comfortable and be safe. Ok, tell me about the horror stories!
*Searah laughs* Men gave resistance at first. I think they were unsure if they could come in, like it wasn’t for them. I always wanted it to be a safe place for everyone, but we are a women-oriented store, so at first we had few male toys. Men would come in and be hostile, didn’t feel served. Or some would talk a lot about their penises. We have expanded our male toys a lot, but it still happens. It’s like if there isn’t a wall of pussies, they don’t know where to look—but we have a lot of stuff for them!
We do get a few crank calls. We don’t do phone sex, and we take the questions we get serious, but sometimes it’s difficult to know if it’s a creepy call. When we first opened a man kept calling asking if we had male latex catsuits and sometimes pregnancy porn. We do our best to stay professional, our policy is not to react in a bad way, but be direct if it’s a person calling for the wrong reason.

Q: Last question, since it’s something I hear a lot lately, what does “Sex Positive” mean to you?
You treat everyone’s sexual needs as a good thing. Promoting sex as a good, healthy thing.  The idea that we need to put people into boxes or categories fucks people up. And people think sex positive means having sex all the time – it doesn’t. Virginity is fine.  I don’t think sex positive means sex aggressive, like you are always in the act. It means people have information and choices about what they want to engage in. 

Readers, what do you think? Should the interviews become a part of the blog? Searah was pretty great, I got lucky.
 

Hugs and Kisses,

Jean


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What Would Your Warning Sign Say?

Have you heard the quote: If you had to wear a warning sign, what would it say?
 
warning label, warning sign, secrets, confessions

That question sucks. Few of us want to admit what our biggest issue is. But self reflection is important. So, what is your worst trait? The thing you know exists about yourself, but you don't know how to change it, or maybe you don't want to change it.

Mine is simple: I can't ask for help. There is a part of me that must figure things out. I cannot bother another person to help me because a part of me believes I shouldn't -- they'll say no, or lose interest and I'll have to deal with that painful revelation. So I don't ask in the first place. Also, I must be self-sufficient, because people come in and out of our lives so I have to fix it all on my own. It can make things very difficult for me and the people who love me.

So, in a new twist of things, I set up a survey to let my readers share what their warning sign would say. Completely anonymous and free from judgment. Here's what they came up with:

1. Selfishness.

2. Sharp tongue that cuts to the truth.

3. I'm afraid of following my passion.

4. I try hard to gain someone's love and then once I have it I try less hard, knowing they are mine, and try to gain new approval. Makes me feel accomplished. Fuck

5. I have a hard time setting boundaries and cutting toxic people out of my life, even when I know I'm being used or mistreated. I'm a people-pleaser. And maybe part of it is that I want to show people, even awful people, that there are people who will care about them even at their worst, and maybe one day they'll stop being such an asshole.

6. I'm jealous of everything. I don't share.

7. I'm mean and I wish I could change it. I think of mean comments and pick people a part. I feel bad later.

8. I ask people for help all the time and I never take their advice. I think I do it for the attention, but I do whatever the fuck I want regardless of their help.

9. I cheat on my wife because it makes me feel attractive to have girls want me. I get really into a new girl, enjoy it for awhile, do the lovely stuff, fucking, and then lose interest. I drop them. My wife doesn't know I don't think. The girls whinge, but I don't want a relationship with them. I should stop but it makes me feel too good.

10. I have a shitty job. I haven't done anything about it and I fucking hate it and have no money. I just want stuff given to me.

11. I'm really lazy most of the time.

12. I hate my parents.

13. I'm scared of everyone and everything so I don't go out alone. I will stay home lonely instead of trying something by myself.

14. I don't eat a lot when I'm with my boyfriend or friends and pretend to eat really healthy. but will order large pizzas and eat the whole thing by myself. I love to do it. I'm not fat, but I know it's messed up. I don't plan on stopping unless I gain weight.

15. I am pretty sure my girlfriend is cheating on me so I have been stealing money from her for over a year. Just a little at a time. I love her and want her to stay, but if she leaves I know I will be ok financially.

16. My girlfriend and I are lesbians but I still really like guys. I pretend not to because it upsets her.

17. I let people walk on me. Some people don't deserve your love but I keep hoping this time will be different. Eternal optimist.

18. I only like helping pretty people at work.

19. I am bad with money. I will be 35 years old next month and have no savings.

20. I hate fat people. I work out really hard and eat good. I don't understand how they let them get like that and give up. I can't respect the laziness.

21. I don't like kids. I love my pets so much I can't stand when people say it's not like having a kid. I don't want a kid who will grow up and be needy and cost money. My dogs are amazeballs.

Well, there we have it. Some of these were surprising to read. I didn't set up this survey to judge anyone, but I think it's fascinating the things we know about ourselves that aren't "normal" or proud of. It feels good to say it out loud sometimes. To everyone that participated -- THANK YOU! Whether you want to change, or just wanted to say it for therapeutic purposes, I hope it helps.

Night night,

Jean

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Apparently They Hate Me In Kansas

dita von teese, peach quote, not everyone will like you, sexy
Dita said it best. Be the best peach you can be.
One of the first things you'll discover in marketing is the root word: Market. People of Kansas, WTF? (I'll explain later)

You need to know, who is your market? Your audience. Even if we like to think of ourselves as purely writers and artists, marketing matters because we want to reach people.

 Apart from the cold, hard, money-hungry strategy, there's a more emotional lesson to learn: Who do you appeal to, and who isn't going to like you. Because not everyone is going to like you, no matter how hard you try. Those are the people you must not engage and walk away from.

Sound familiar? I feel like this is something parents tell us as children, and at one point we may have believed them. But as soon as you're working on something you are passionate about, we seem to forget this lesson. We hate the idea that someone disagrees with our thoughts, our art, with us. The childhood lesson is lost, and through the anonymous magic of the internet, our haters' voices are stronger and meaner.

But it is a good thing  that not everyone will like you: because you should remain you, not a vapid people pleaser. Edges and opinions people disagree with spark commentary, middle-of-the-road waffling bores people.

You shouldn't twist and conform to appeal to everyone--that's how politicians get elected and then verbally crucified for being ineffective and disingenuous *cough OBAMA cough*. Or how we make fun of Miss America contestants for their non-answers to simple questions.


I'm writing this because I see many bloggers I know revamping their content to try and attract new readers. While it's good to grow, if you are rewriting yourself to attract a different readership, your content is probably not as true to you, and therefore less marketable.

As a woman blogger who writes about sexual health, or plus size content, I get a few "You must be an ugly, insecure, daddy-issue having whore. I can't believe you write about that."

It hurts my feelings in the moment I read it. But then I realize I put out something that inspired someone so much they felt the need to take time to write me. So, ha, I won. You read my work. I'm not sure what happened to you to make you such a judgmental troll, but Jesus loves you. I'm sure your mom does too, perhaps you should call her.

So, to my blogger friends: Don't change. Be weird and bold. Ruffle some fucking feathers. Because people will love your content. They will identify with your words and pictures and the stories you paint, nothing needs to be watered down. It's your house -- if they don't like it, they can leave.

For some reason, much of my displeasure commentary comes from Kansas. So, to the state of Kansas -- let's be friends, bro. I'm lovely once you get to know me. Promise

Hugs and Kisses,

Jean

P.S. Once upon a time in a moment of great sadness, as one of my articles was ripped apart and I was called every mean name you can think of by people who I didn't know, I actually emailed the Bloggess and asked her how she handles the hateful trolls who cast shade her way. I find her blog inspirational, because that lady is fucking amazing and quirky AND funny, which is sadly a mix that is sure to rub some uptight people the wrong way. Yet she does it with grace.

You know what? She emailed me back. She took time out of her day from writing and loving Hailey and driving Victor and their army of animals crazy to write me a lofty email about how I should delete negative comments, go with the positive, and know my blog is my house and I run this how I see fit.

So, Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. Thank you for being as genuine and kindhearted as you are funny and sharp witted. You're a great woman.