Week 6: Why I Prefer Guy Friends and When Guy Friends Don’t Prefer Me

Day 51 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Overlooked

I’m 75% done with the challenge and from this vantage point, 66 days without sex seems like child’s play. The first four weeks were the hardest in terms of temptation, but now I feel like I could go a year or even a few years without sex. I think it’s more about adapting to a new lifestyle than sex itself.

Giving up sex is like giving up blueberry PopTarts—when I don’t actively think about not having it, it’s easy. But the second I taste that hard sugary icing and dry crust, I’m already thinking about the next time I’ll tear open a silver pouch of my favorite kind of processed crack.

I haven’t so much as kissed anyone in the past 51 days. Without any romantic activity, the only guys I see regularly are my coworkers and pre-existing group of friends. I’ve had a handful of dreams about male colleagues, and I must say, I’m pretty proud of my self-control even in Fantasyland.

Dream Connie and a coworker were on a tropical trip. Sun was hot, sand between our toes, throwing glances in the cool Caribbean shade.

We were kissing and I looked up at him.

“We can hook up a little bit,” I said, “but I can’t have sex with you.”

He said that was fine, and I went into work the next day with an unfounded appreciation for his soft lips and respect for women’s boundaries.

I told my work best friend about the dream, to which he replied: “Oh no, is he on the list too now?”

We give each other a hard time about our dating antics. At the peak of our Roaming Wild days, we made a bet that the other person would be the first to marry. Loser pays a month of the winner’s mortgage (neither of us are close to buying). He has a girlfriend now, so I’m really rooting for them to work out.

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My best friend at work is a guy. My best friend in life is also a guy.

I’ve always tended toward male company, but haven’t been able to articulate why. I used to say girls were catty, but it’s the drama I hate, and I’ve found plenty of girl friends who avoid that like the plague.

I found some clarity this weekend after comparing my interactions with two distinct friend groups: 3 girls on Friday vs. 2 guys on Saturday.

I realized I like hanging out with guys more because roasting one another is a cornerstone of male friendships.

Nothing is nicer than a merciless verbal takedown of someone you love in the name of good fun—I live for the mix of embarrassment and amusement on a friend’s face when I get ‘em good. The clap of a high five after I’ve kicked someone right where it hurts, a one-liner as scathing as it is true. It’s what I imagine a baby’s laughter sounds like to people who like babies.

It’s easier for me to break the ice with guys because it feels natural for me to shit on people or joke about something crude. I feel in my element, without the need to soften my words or brighten my demeanor.

It’s harder with girls.

My female friendships are primarily based on emotional support and validation, and while I have plenty of hilarious girl friends, rarely are we the butt of our jokes. By contrast, my guy friends can offer just as much thoughtful conversation and consolation, so it makes sense why I prefer the more dynamic relationships.

I just can’t imagine walking into a room of girls and openly addressing the density and/or promiscuity of their respective mothers. It’s probably a character flaw that I think that’s ever okay, really.

In all seriousness, it comes down to comfort level. The best friendships are when you don’t have to try to be yourself.

I’m various levels of myself with a lot of people—I’m most myself with a few.

To be fair, preferring guy friends is also a control thing, at least among those outside my inner circle. At the end of the day, if my personality falls short, a guy friend who is somewhat attracted to me has more of a reason to stick around than a girl friend. A sick, but true assessment.

Good Charlotte put it best when they said, “Boys will laugh at girls when they’re not funny.”

Attraction has a way of blinding us from the vices. It’s the same social buffer that ushers two mildly compatible people into a relationship, and greases the squeaks long enough for them to drive miles into the sunset before realizing it’s actually an engine problem.

Maybe it’s a fear of abandonment, but I like knowing someone else has a stronger inclination to hang out with me than vice versa. I like power, especially the power of choice.

I harbor a deep resentment toward appearance-based attraction, though I’m guilty of it. I most dislike when people can’t be honest about their motivators.

Me stroking the stubble of a guy whose personality and face I once loved: “If we didn’t look the way we did, we probably wouldn’t be here.”

I respect that he agreed with me.

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I grabbed lunch with the guy I asked out last week—“asked out” in a very literal sense. There was no implication it was a date, just food between friends. His reciprocated interest would have tipped the scale in my favor, but when he showed up 15 minutes late in a graphic T carrying a stuffed backpack, I was sure it wasn’t a date.

We ordered brunch plates at a newly opened tap house in the Seaport, more of a mountain cabin transplant with dark chairs, thick wooden beams, and soft gold lanterns along on the wall.

I was comfortable talking to him about work and places and politics. I didn’t feel jitters, as I did with guys online, but maybe because we were grounded with mutual friends and there was no pressure for things to “work out.”

Our interactions were not put to a test, no checklist of qualities to make it to the next round. We had already accepted each other as people. We were friends.

It still feels wrong to say I like him because I don’t think I know him well enough.

I want to separate who he actually is from who I think could be in my life.

As the waitress kept checking in on us, I was a bit disappointed about how I had no effect on him. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, what an indication would have looked like.

But that’s one of the things I liked most about him, how unnecessary I feel to who he is as a person. I hope he doesn’t need me, or anyone for that matter.

The first time we made eye contact was at a happy hour. We saw each other from across the room, and before we had talked or even introduced ourselves, I sensed it. He’s fond of me, I thought.

Looking at him now across the table, I didn’t sense attraction, and I haven’t seen it since we first met. Attraction is how drawn you are to someone. Chemistry is what actually happens when you interact.

I think a lot of people are willing to overlook chemistry when both have agreed to stay attracted.

My ease in being around him made me question whether I actually liked him as more than a friend, or if I was chasing his attraction. He has a great smile when he laughs.

We left the restaurant and as we were walking to the T, I knew it wasn’t just friends because I thought I wouldn’t mind holding his hand.

 

Week 5: On Being an Outsider and Watching Gay Boys Make Out

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Day 43 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Excluded

I’m at a hotel party hosted by my old college professor. We’re a few blocks away from an annual writer’s conference that draws out over 12,000 attendees every year. The hotel room is filled with educators in boxy glasses, poets in beanies, and too many liberal arts degrees. Of my professor’s network, I’m the only one not currently enrolled in an MFA program or teaching or buying a damn bookstore in Baltimore.

It’s awful being in a room with your own kind and feeling like an outsider.

My professor introduces me to another a previous student of his who recently completed his MFA at NYU. He has stubbled cheeks and an impressive mustache.

“So what do you do in Boston?” he asks.

I recite my job summary the way I would confirm my address at a dental office. I have no pretty bows to wrap up how my life fits into itself, or why job has nothing to do with writing. I feel bad for leading mustache man down a rabbit hole of failed dreams. There’s a social contract not to make others feel bad about your life not panning out and for others to nod kindly at whatever you say.

“I’m figuring things out,” I say. I take another sip of my bourbon, really hoping this mouthful will the merciful one that knocks me out. “I still write on the side,” which is technically true, like how your sirloin steak is on the side of your veggies.

“What do you write?” he asks.

It feels weird to label what I do. Erotic blogging? Slut journalism?

“Creative nonfiction.”

I exhaust my relevancy in a minute, and my poet friend jumps in to talk to mustache man about faculty members they’ve had, specifically ones I’ve never heard of. I excuse myself and my half-empty bladder to the restroom.

I’m drying my hands when my professor comes by.

“You talk to [mustache man]? I was trying to hook you two up.”

“Yeah.” I ask my professor instead about another writer who was at his reading.

“He’s married,” he says. “His wife is a writer, too.“ He tells me they’ve been married for so and so years, and cuts their dating history short when he notices I’ve stopped listening. “But if I had to pick someone who could successfully…“

I smile and take it as a compliment.

The bourbon has yet to serve me my last waking breath so I return to the party, but linger in the corner to check my phone.

There’s a guy I’ve been texting, and I have this unreasonable infatuation with him. We’ve known each other for almost a year but have only interacted in person a handful of times. We met under casual circumstances, so he has no reason to believe I like him as more than a friend.

I don’t think he has a preference for me, and if he did, he has the social awareness not to go for me the way others do—he’s not the type to let his tail wag at the smell of food.

I find myself thinking about our future, though we’ve never been on a date. I know how familiarity will feel with him: being on our computers in bed, remembering what’s in his bathroom drawers, asking him for help. We would have a sensible and emotionally manageable relationship.

I don’t want to sleep with him—I want to be associated with him, and for people to look at us and think, “that’s a strong pairing.”

I drink the rest of my bourbon and pull up his name on my phone.

Would you like to get dinner sometime?

This is the only guy I’ve asked out in the last year since deleting all my dating apps. It feels judicious.

***

I’m at a gay bar later in the night. My poet friend’s classmate is getting eyes from a guy behind me. He’s leaning against one of the walls covered in sports memorabilia and giant black and white portraits of women from the 1900s.

“Don’t look now,” I tell her friend, “but the guy in the baseball T thinks you’re cute.”

“Does that mean colored sleeves?”

It takes one rum-and-coke drink order for me to return and find them kissing. It’s all skinny arms and the ruffling and flattening of boyish hair.

They hang off each other’s bony shoulders like they’re clinging to a buoy, as if holding on to someone, anyone at all, makes them safer than the rest of us.

I can’t stop watching them kiss. Despite being in the middle of a dance floor, it’s not grotesque or trashy. In between making out, they smile at each other like they need the breath and the extra moment to appreciate the face so close to them. It looks kind. They look happy.

I’m being called honey as men excuse themselves around me. A drag queen in a vibrant fuchsia dress is being peppered with kind words. There’s an inclusive energy among the distinct friend groups at the bar.

Without warning, I’m imaging the venue being sprayed down with bullets—the framed pictures on the walls with fresh holes, the choreographed ducking and falling of bodies to protect ourselves. The playlist pounds on over a clash of voices like an unrehearsed opening night, the orchestra of fear.

I stay low and still, inches away from the face of someone else. We breathe the same sweat, and our cheeks stick to a floor covered with simple syrup and lemon rinds. We hear nothing at all, yet sense the drying of mouths and the enlarging of lungs.

Maybe we kiss to feel safe, or at least look at each other to be kind.

 

“Hey, I think I’m going to call an Uber.” I lean into one of my friends who is dancing in a tight circle. A remix is playing and everyone is smiling and on their feet.

***

I’m alone in my hotel room. The bed has two feet of walking space around the edges. It’s positioned directly in front of the bathroom, which has a toilet that runs all night unless I use the ice bucket to refill its tank.

I’m tipsy. The bed sheets are starchy and hard, and I think I’m allergic to something because my legs have been itching at night.

I lean over to the bedside table and grab my phone. I start unbuttoning my shirt, revealing more of my necklace, more of my chest. I take exactly two pictures: one on my back and one on my side where the single ceiling light throws a flattering shadow.

I don’t have any recipients in mind. Sometimes, I just like to look at myself to appreciate the times I do feel pretty, and to validate my loneliness being a choice. In pictures like these, I try and see myself how guys do when I look at them.

I see a girl who knows exactly what she’s doing.

I see a girl who’s asking for very different things than me.

Next week here!

 

Week 4: “I’m Not into Asian Guys” and Why I’ll End Up with One

Day 35 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Torn

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the Rooster, but the only dick pic I received last weekend was this bedazzled cock from my mom:

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I’m pretty in touch with my Asian-ness. To ring in new beginnings (again), I attended a family-style dinner in Chinatown last Saturday with an Asian professionals group I found in Boston. Afterward, I grabbed drinks with college friends I met through Asian-interest Greek life.

Had I not grown up in rural Kansas, maybe I wouldn’t have joined an Asian-interest sorority. At 18, it was the first time in my life I could walk into a room and look like everyone else. It was a major culture shock to transition from a hometown that was 0.6% Asian to a university that was 25% Asian.

While I finally blended in with my peers, my taste in guys didn’t transition as smoothly. I grew up liking white guys by default—there were really no other choices.

My high school boyfriend was Crest Whitestrips white. We shared many of the same foundational values, but we were from two different worlds. I thought I was destined for city life, one diploma away from leaving my hometown and never turning back. He was president of the Agriculture Club and wore cowboy boots out of practicality, not style. I toured his family’s farm and, for fun, he taught me how to pitch hay. He also let me pet his goats, and that’s not an innuendo. It was like a gimmicky episode of The Bachelor where they attempt to do cute activities together but really they’re just making out in random places like barns in Kansas.

We got along, loved each other even, but we both knew it wasn’t long-term. Neither of us could provide the lifestyle the other wanted. The only lasting thing from that relationship was my inclination toward white guys.

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I barely knew any Asian guys before college. Aside from two guys from my online Chinese class in high school and a handful I met at a summer leadership camp at Stanford, pretty much all the other Asian guys I encountered were family. Because of that, I felt a sense of kinship when I did see Asian strangers, and expected cordial interactions because of our “shared blood.”

I maintained this mindset from childhood through high school graduation. By the time I actually met Asian guys in college, it felt incestuous to pursue any of those relationships romantically.

After a house party my first week of college, a brother of one of the Asian frats walked me back to my dorm. It was a sexually confusing time where I found him attractive, yet I also felt related to him. Ignorant and overly transparent me decided to tell him, “I’m not into Asian guys.” I thanked him for walking me home, and spent the next few months fawning over one of the only white guys in his fraternity.

Fast-forward a semester to a less racist me: I started hanging out with an Asian guy who friends said had a good reputation on campus. Guys and girls alike deemed him handsome. I wasn’t initially attracted to him, but I fell prey to the peculiar physical magnetism that transpires from enjoying someone’s personality.

I liked him so much, my tastes changed to suit him. On the whole, I was still more physically attracted to white guys, but he was the major exception, my special case.

We started dating and I brought home to meet my parents a year later. My mom and I waited for him at the airport in Kansas City. He stepped off a plane from New York in a clean black jacket, dark jeans, and studious glasses.

I hugged him and introduced him to my mom, whom he called, “ah yi” or a respectful title used for an older woman or aunt-like figure. They continued to speak in fluent Mandarin.

I had never brought someone home—friend or more—who could fully communicate with either of my parents without my translation.

We went to Ruby Tuesday’s for steaks afterward and he spoke openly with her about his flight, his family, his food—my mind was blown. I had one ongoing conversation with both of them, without breaks to explain phrases or mime out words I couldn’t translate. Everyone was on the same page. It felt easy.

Dating changed drastically for me after that relationship. He and I never explicitly talked about it, but our cultural similarities served as a lubricant for our already compatible personalities. There were unspoken norms, such as intense academic devotion, the binding obligation to care and provide for our parents when they grew older, and balls-to-the-walls aggression when fighting for the check at dinner.

These singular examples were only a snapshot of our upbringings and the countless experiences we shared before we even met.

For those who have never played the original Sims, there was an option to toggle your character’s personality traits. You had a set number of points you could distribute to qualities like Neat, Outgoing, Nice, etc. If you made your character very Neat, it would compromise how Outgoing were, and so on.

I subconsciously judge my dating prospects in this way. I have lower standards of physical attraction for Asian guys because I know there’s a cultural compatibility that better looking non-Asians are unlikely to have. I think we all weigh our options in this give-and-take way. The best relationships happen when both parties understand which personality points are most important to them.

For me: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my Asian parents.

After college, I tried dating a handful of half-white and half-Asian guys to balance my physical and cultural needs. But none of them spoke Mandarin, so I may as well have dated a hot white dude. After my third failed “relationship” with a halfie, I threw up my hands and resigned to a steamy case of Jungle Fever. Contrary to popular belief, you can actually return from going black—it’s really a matter of preference, but you do you.

Korean/Irish Daniel Henney, for research purposes.

It’s hard for me to explain, but compatibility goes beyond speaking Chinese to my parents. It’s not to say I can’t find all the same qualities in a non-Asian. It’s a matter of convenience and the likelihood of finding these traits in a person. It’s small stuff that doesn’t make or break a relationship.

In the simplest sentiment: I want to be with someone whose life movie has the same background music as mine.

Currently, I’m living a silent movie. Things are black and white. There’s not even a sex scene (still going strong!), so it’s pretty much a dud at the box office. I hear music, but it’s not my soundtrack. All the same, I’m simultaneously mouthing the words to a song as a lead and watching myself as moviegoer, wondering if in the next scene my solo could  turn into a duet.

Next week here!

Week 3: Community vs. Companionship

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Day 23 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Overwhelmed

This past week is the perfect example of when I would use sex to unwind. #literallyfucked #politicallyfucked

I feel like I was so engulfed in political and professional stuff that I didn’t have much time to think about my love life. I did cry over a boy, but I’m not sure former presidents count.

I love getting worked up about current events—though I’m no political pundit, I really appreciate when someone is in tune with the world around them. I admire when a person cares about an issue that doesn’t affect them personally and invests in a cause to support someone else’s wellbeing.

Last year, I was talking to this guy about the upcoming election and asked, “Are you big into politics?”

He said, “I don’t like politics, but I like policies.” I swear I’ve never had to suppress such a raging lady boner. Hands down the best (unintentional) pickup line of 2016.

On Saturday, I attended Boston’s Women’s March and the solidarity among strangers was incredibly uplifting. I felt safe and empowered and thankful. Afterward, my group of friends headed to a nearby restaurant to share stories and laughter over fried chicken sandwiches and hot cider.

In many ways, I live a life devoid of loneliness.

From grade school through college, and now in the real world, I feel there are always people looking out for me. I’m grateful to be insulated by a strong social network and community of friends. It’s enabled me to feel supported in my personal pursuits, and secure during times of emotional distress.

But in my privileged and popular social life, I feel pangs of hunger—an ache of sadness that even the most thriving and loving community cannot cure the desire for companionship. 

It’s always the small and superficial things that get me. Over brunch, one of the girls talked about travel plans with her boyfriend. On the subway home, my two engaged friends pondered afternoon plans of movies at their apartment.

I walked home by myself from the station and picked up a chocolate bar on the way. The sweetness makes me happy. It’s funny how I can literally be surrounded by 175,00 people and still feel alone. Or how I can be sitting across the table from someone I don’t connect with and find more belonging in solitude.

As much as I want a life companion, my expectations of compatibility with another person feel impossibly high. If I break up my qualifications among multiple people then I can find the right DNA, but it’s never all in one person.

Why isn’t it enough for me to have good conversation with one person, and be physically attracted to someone else? Why have I bought into the idea that complete satisfaction must come from a singular source?

I think it has to be a convenience factor—you find one person who is good enough, and sacrifice on the things that don’t matter. But I think it all matters, and that’s probably why I’m still single: I’m selfish.

I am unwilling to commit to someone who I don’t think is good enough, yet in my noncommittal arrangements I still want to pick and choose the aspects of a committed relationship that benefit me (namely cuddles).

That’s not how relationships work, and I know that. So that leaves me caught in a limbo of high expectations vs. settled satisfaction. I don’t want to be alone forever, but I also don’t think I will be truly satisfied by someone who doesn’t meet my standards.

My friends tell me I’m picky, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for someone to be:

  • Smart
  • Funny
  • Attractive
  • Kind
  • Disciplined
  • Athletic
  • Ambitious
  • Socially Aware
  • Rational
  • Hardworking
  • Thoughtful

Because at some level, I think I am all those things (add Vain to my list). And I have tons of friends, both single and taken, who are all those things. So why is it so hard to find that one person?

I miss physical contact. I find human touch really comforting, so even having someone hold me or rub my back in a nonsexual way would have been nice this weekend. I texted a friend/old friend with benefits to catch up sometime. I wasn’t seeking sex, but I did think about how we used to nap together after eating. I’d tell him I was too bloated to move around and he’d say that’s okay we can sleep. And we would.

After the Steelers lost, I consoled one of my guy friend saying, “I’ll cheer you up.”

And I definitely meant it in a bad way, so I had to follow up with “…is what old Connie would say.” *insert a million angel emojis*

I changed my work desktop background to Antonio Brown because I’ve been sexually frustrated. Since I’m not hooking up, I think it’s restored some gratification in just looking at someone, and not doing anything. Like how a kiss used to feel really special before you experienced all the other bases.

If Antonio Brown played baseball instead, I’d allow him to score a home run. That’s just the frustration talking. Unless Antonio Brown is reading this right now, in which case: Please contact me March 8, 2017, and not a day sooner.

Next week here!

Week 2: Familiar Faces and Bodies

Day 15 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Disconnected

I miss familiarity. It’s not just about the sex. It’s the comfort of being around someone who knows my idiosyncrasies, like how I always want a glass of water afterward. Someone who is not surprised by my birthmarks and has seen my guard down, all bare-skinned and suggesting things with just my eyes.

Even in a strictly physical sense, it’s reassuring knowing the compatibility of someone’s body with mine—the muscle memory, learned tempos, and perfected chemistry. A one-night stand satisfies the bare minimum, but a longer arrangement has the perks of intimacy that are worth the risk of emotional attachment.

I miss comfort. The moments before and after sex when a guy asked about me, knew the pain points in my life, and told me about his day. It was a good setup—brushing my teeth and coming back to a warmed bed, ducking under the covers, and shocking him with my icy hands. We’d fool around to the point it was no longer playful. The best sleep followed the most exhausting nights.

Tangled limbs, deep breathing. In the middle of my sleep, I would roll around in soft and heavy blankets. My arms and legs would poke out to catch bursts of cool air. And I’d scoot over too far to feel patches of hot skin in what felt like the least lonely place on Earth.

I believe my most recent hookups cared more about me more as a person than as a body, which is nice. They’ve all been in contact with me this year but not about sex. It’s likely a combination of them rooting for my success and not needing me as much as I need them.

A few friends have asked how I’m holding up. I definitely feel more temptation than last week, with Friday being the hardest day so far. I grabbed dinner with some friends and we took a few shots of lemon-whatever at the bar. I got home and plugged in the string lights above my bedroom door, which triggered memories of gathering the dirty laundry off the floor and waiting for the “I’m here” text.

Friday was a prime example of my most vulnerable state: inebriated, socially enticed, and eager in an empty house. Usually, at this point of the week, the backlight of my phone illuminates my face as I text a few regulars. And the night is determined by the first to reply.

This past Friday, I looked up at the string lights from a crisp and cold bed. The bulbs were still the multicolored ones I used to decorate for Christmas. I closed my eyes and thought about the times the lights had witnessed.

It was my idea to take videos one time. The string lights were bright enough to expose, but dim enough to leave a little mystery. “For later,” I told him.

I was tempted to watch one on Friday. I told him to delete the pictures of me from his phone once, to which I watched him comply with no protest. I wasn’t sure if this would be a violation of his privacy, though he never asked the same of me. I didn’t end up watching them, but I didn’t delete them either.

***

“That was really the last time,” he said. That could have been his catch phrase.

He handed me my shirt from the floor of his backseat. We were in his driveway. I parked my car at his place and he drove us to a steakhouse nearby for dinner. You could see my handprints on the fogged windows. I tapped his shoulder.

“It’s like that scene in the Titanic,” I said.

“I’m serious, we can’t do this anymore. I’ve been feeling so guilty lately.”

“You choose to feel guilty.”

We dressed ourselves and moved back to the front seats. He kept the heat on and the music low.

“I thought it was fun. You didn’t have fun?” I stroked his leg over the denim.

“Of course I did, but we shouldn’t. I don’t want this to affect our friendship. I still want to be able to hang out without it being weird.” We had an unspoken agreement where I would bait him, and he would voice concern, as if that somehow made our actions less reprehensible.

“I’m going to want to do stuff with you when I see you.”

“Me, too.” He brushed my hair back. “But we have to be good.”

“So basically, we can’t see each other as much.” I waited for his argument, but he just put his hand on my knee.

He always had a way of touching and almost examining my body. He needed to be aware of the state of things and have a sense of control. If things were off, he’d correct it. He brought me food on nights I stayed late at the office. He fixed my laptop before we watched movies together, and pushed me to go to the doctor’s for regular checkups.

It was pitch black besides the lights on the dash. I started crying. He pulled me into a hug over the console. I breathed hard into his chest, as I had times before when he comforted me about the pain he caused.

“You know I’m still here for you,” he said. “If you have car problems, or it’s late at night and you don’t know who else to call, I’m here.” He wiped tears from my face.

That was actually the last time.

Next week here!

Week 1: Why Puberty Made Me Tell Penis Jokes

Day 8 of 66 Days of No Sex

Mood: Optimistic

First week down without incident! Of the immediate changes, I stopped taking birth control a few weeks ago and tossed a guy’s toothbrush from behind my bathroom mirror. My room is messy as usual and I have little motivation to tidy up since I’m not expecting company.

I started my period last Friday, which would usually bum me out for “wasting” two free nights, but it was a needed weekend to catch up on laundry and reestablish a routine after the holiday break.

I didn’t have any strong urges this week. Returning from a two-week vacation, I was pretty busy with work, which helps stave off the boredom lust. There are a few categories of non-horny lust: for-old-time’s-sake lust, de-stress lust, you’re-already-here-might-as-well lust.

For example, I had a late flight into Boston last week, leaving less than 12 hours between collecting my suitcase and starting my workday. As I rolled around in bed trying to pass out, my hand instinctively inched toward my waistband from the sheer stress of dealing with tomorrow. I was dead tired, not the least bit in the mood, and eventually fell asleep on my hand after a half-assed attempt of phalange foreplay. That’s de-stress lust.

But this week was less about hormones, and more about how I interact with guys casually. I was especially cautious this week about Rule #2 (no propositioning for sex) by steering clear of any gateway flirting.

My closest call was when I was eating chocolate pretzels and drafted the following Snapchat:

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The intended recipient was someone I’ve hooked up with before. I was picking out emojis and asked myself: Do I actually think this is funny/share-worthy or am I trying to provoke a come-on, to which I will shoot down in the name of new year new me? After deciding the latter, I deleted the Snap. It was a thinly-veiled attempt to feel better about myself. Though it didn’t violate any rules, it felt skeezy to send like I was lying to myself in some way.

My sense of humor in general has very sexual undertones, as anyone close to me can testify. I tried to think back to when I wasn’t this way. I don’t recall being perverted as a kid, but I can remember being this way before my teen years. I think the turning point was when the girls around me started growing into young ladies.

Flashback to a 10-year-old Connie, sallow and bony, with a butterfly clip parting my hair to the side. I was in 5th grade, and some of the girls in my class started wearing training bras. One by one, my friends were inducted into an exclusive club, memberships verified by boys snapping the elastic bands on their backs. I thought it was a matter of time before it was my turn.

But puberty for me was like waiting for a lost package in the mail and watching everyone else receive deliveries from Amazon Prime. I was the shortest person in my class and the only Asian among mostly white people. Let me break down why this is an important detail:

When a white girl is in her teens, she looks 25.

When an Asian girl is in her teens, she looks like a slightly younger Asian boy.

Graced by neither curvy genetics or a heavier build, I was doomed to a flat chest and non-existent fanny. Entering 7th grade, I still wore an undershirt and ducked into bathroom stalls to change my top. I had asked my mom once before if I could start wearing a bra, to which she glanced over her newspaper and replied: “Why? You don’t have any boobs.” It wasn’t until later that year when she found me crying, and gave me set of my sister’s hand-me-downs.

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Even after I joined the big girls club, I still fixated on my physical shortcomings. While my classmates stressed over pop quizzes, I was suffering from major PTSD, Prepubescent Titties Stress Disorder. When asked what I wanted to be in 10 years, I would say an interior designer or a lawyer, when secretly all I wanted to be was a B cup.

And my foreignness in the context of my 4,000-person hometown in rural Kansas was only magnified in mainstream media. Country songs didn’t sing about girls with black hair and small eyes. Hollywood’s leading ladies exemplified the Western standards of beauty—blonde hair, skinny noses, and long lashes. I knew few celebrities beyond Lucy Liu who embraced an alternative version of attractiveness.

Throughout high school, I genuinely believed, in terms of physical desirability, Asians were inherently inferior to white people.

I was a straight-A student, constantly praised for my work ethic and academic diligence. But I didn’t need teachers and classmates telling me I was smart—I knew that. I needed someone to tell me I was pretty.

My fear was that if I wasn’t a classic example of American beauty, if I didn’t have the attributes that made women sexy, guys would never see me in more than a platonic way.

So I figured if I had a mature mind and spoke in adult ways, that people would have no choice but to treat me like a woman instead of a girl. Thus, Penis Jokes Chan was born.

Along with my new sexualized identity, I developed a pretty uppity attitude in high school, using my brainpower as grounds to feel better than others. If I couldn’t blend in physically, then I would stand out intellectually. My way of masking my low self-esteem was to bludgeon people with overconfidence and my sensationalized individuality. Yes, that meant I listened to tons of Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy.

I think some of my residual insecurity influences how I behave now, especially in our current social media landscape. I take selfies to feel validated, I Snapchat boys to fish for compliments.

A good friend actually called me out on using a cleavage picture with this 66 Days challenge. I told him I wanted a provocative image to be associated with this kind of project, but maybe on a level I’m unwilling to admit or acknowledge, I was paying homage to my 10-year-old self who never overcame the fear of being undesirable.

If I grew up with bigger boobs, perhaps I’d have a tamer sense of humor and would overcompensate for other aspects of my life, but those are daddy issues for another day.

Next week here!

Why I’m Not Having Sex for 66 Days

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The Reason

Imagine the best brunch buffet you’ve ever eaten after a regrettable night of drinking. Except the bacon and eggs is sex, and the hangover is the first few years of post-college life.

Sex has proven to be one of the highlights of my life recently, the thing I look forward to as a cure-all. I fuck when I’m lonely or in love. I fuck when I’m emotional or numb, depressed or playful, stressed or euphoric, high-spirited or pissed. When life is volatile and ever changing in ways I didn’t expect after graduation, sex is what I can rely on as a constant.

Outside of sex, I believe myself to be a smart, reasonable, and moral person. But in the past year, I would say 95% of my sexual encounters were a result of poor judgment. Not necessarily in an inebriated sense (though some were), but in my choice of partners and our respective situations, my expectations of the relationships, and primarily my dependence on sex to fill voids beyond my libido.

With this unhealthy history and the New Year upon us, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try giving up sex, even for a little while.

This happens to be the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese calendar, so I think it’s a sign I need to face the majestic cock and recalibrate my love life. Call it what you will: a dick diet, a fellatio famine, a cock cleanse.

I will not have sex for 66 days.

 

Why 66 days?

According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. It can fluctuate from 18 days to 254 days, but I wanted to set a realistic, yet challenging goal. Plus, 6 is Satan’s number and can symbolize the hell in my loins.

To put things in perspective, I have sex as often as the average person drinks socially—sometimes during the workweek, typically during the weekends, and aggressively during times of stress.

I may fall short or far exceed the 66 days. I really have no idea what to expect. I tried to give up alcohol for 2 months once, and lasted about 3 weeks. We’ll see.

 

The Rules

  1. I will not have sex. This prohibits sex in the widest definition of the word. Doesn’t matter which donut hole, no cream filling or free tastings in this bakery, capiche? I know there’s a lot of grey area between kissing and oral sex—see Rule #3.
  1. I will not explicitly or implicitly proposition others for sex. This rule’s in place because I admittedly have weak self control and love the chase. With this challenge, I want to actively abstain from sex and behave in a way that’s in line with that mission. I feel it would be cheap to chalk my success up to rejection from others if I did proposition them. So no more late night invitations to come over and “sleep”, ill-intentioned winky emojis, Snapchat foreplay, or any other tricks to spark sexual interest EVEN IF it doesn’t result in sex. Rule #2 is basically: I will not be a tease.
  1. I will be honest. I promise to be as transparent as possible about my love life for the next 66 days, using obvious discretion to respect the privacy of any potential partners. You guys will be the first to know if I slip up! A major reason I wanted to do this challenge is because it holds the real me accountable. My Fuck Yeah Connie Tinders posts were in superficial fun, where I played the role of the unapologetic, presumptuous single girl on a quest for man blood. I want this project to be 100% real with my genuine thoughts and experiences (sorry, won’t be naming it Fuck No Connie’s Abstinent).

 

The Results

The last day will fall on March 7, 2017, and I will have either failed or succeeded. Along the way, I’ll be giving weekly updates on my progress and any revelations from this challenge. I also want to open up conversations about a few other things on my mind, including:

  • intimacy vs. involvement
  • female masturbation
  • the utility of friends with benefits
  • the gender gap in foreplay

By the end of the 66 days, I hope to be more mindful about the role sex plays in my life.

I want it to be as hot and exciting, as it is purposeful and prudent. I think this challenge will be a good reflection on what sex really means to me. It’s common to talk about a hookup with friends, but it takes a more concentrated approach to understand why I put myself in the situation, my true intentions and expectations, and how one instance can alter my mindset for future relationships.

I’m pumped for these next two months. To recap my first day, I am proud to say I did not have sex yesterday. One for one, totally KILLING it!

 

Next update here…Week 1!

 

I’m Not a Cow

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I love Sundays. Time to reflect on the week ahead, the life ahead. I’ve been reading Blaine Harden’s “Escape from Camp 14” about one man’s journey from birth inside a North Korean labor camp to freedom and enlightenment in the outside world (I highly recommend this book!). The protagonist Shin describes his fellow prisoners as he planned his escape, and this line really stuck with me:

“They were like cows, he thought, with a cud-chewing passivity, resigned to their no-exit lives.”

Even in the free world, many of us remain complacent about lives that don’t do us justice. We function in a way that guarantees our short-term sustenance, like a cow filling its belly to sleep well for the night. And the longer we lead these comfortable lives, the harder it is to imagine starving temporarily to feast like kings. It takes persistence to endure the long haul. It takes sacrifice to see a world beyond what we know.

Of course, it’s hard to imagine—we haven’t experienced it yet.

Our inability to envision better days does not, and should not, undermine our will to work toward something greater. Even in its obscurity, it’s a chance to improve life as we know it. Early explorers didn’t think to themselves, “We shouldn’t embark on this voyage until we know exactly what the New World looks like.”

We’re in a great place to be chasing better days because there’s a 99.9% chance our journey won’t cause us to die from dysentery. Let’s count our blessings here.

Stepping back from lollipops and daisies dream-chasing, I get we have bills to pay. We have rent due. The big O they told us about in sex ed actually turned out to be Obligation to pay off student loans. We have foundational needs that make us chew the cud until our jaws ache.

These are aspects of life—not life itself. 

Another poignant part of the book: When Shin is on the brink of making a run for it, he has an “if not now, when?” moment. Then he takes off in a dead sprint.

When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be an inventor or scientist. In junior high, that changed to an interior designer, and in high school, a lawyer. I’m two years out of college, and likely my aspirations, both professional and personal, will change in the coming months. But wherever to my sights are set, my commitment is to hunt with an insatiable hunger. We’re in the age of execution. Less “I want to be…” and more “I’m working toward….”

Our enlightenment won’t be as drastic as that of a labor camp escapee from the reign of a wicked, brown-eyed Pillsbury Doughboy. We have the privilege of scooting along in our lackadaisical ways with no threat of punishment, and also no potential for reward. Windows half-open, stomachs conditioned to be full before dessert, this is comfortable living.

But feed cannot substitute internal fuel—our unquenchable human desire to achieve and create, to help others and stand for something, to be great and remembered.

The fence cannot replace the horizon.

We are not cows. We were not meant to merely survive, but to live and live famously.

 

It’s Okay Not To Be Passionate About Your Job

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I work in the fast-paced, high-demand world of biopharmaceutical recruiting. On a daily basis, I connect professionals to companies where they will discover and develop game-changing medicine and technology. These are the bright minds eradicating diseases that plague strangers to dearly loved ones, the thought leaders curing sicknesses that threaten even their own bodies—somehow, they got stuck talking to me.

On top of being immersed in a compelling industry that has a direct contribution to human welfare, I work for a company with a conscience. Our core values were chosen by popular vote in a company-wide, open forum discussion, which was pretty cool. The leadership is inspirational and I have the privilege of learning directly from my CEO on a weekly, if not daily basis. I’m appropriately recognized, and have been promoted twice within my first year, which is LinkedIn profile gold and every millennial’s professional wet dream.

My direct managers are brilliant mentors who have a personal investment in my success—and it doesn’t hurt they share my weird sense of humor. On a deeper level, I believe my coworkers are people who do the right thing. I actively look forward to seeing them everyday, at the many company-hosted social events and self-planned Sunday brunches.

Honestly, I have it good. I’ve been given second chances, accolades for my progress, and now high-level responsibilities I didn’t think I was prepared to handle. My projects are a source of pride and accomplishment, both as an individual and as a collective. I’m presently challenged and guided on a tangible path for advancement. My job is ultimately to help people lead better lives. Between the hours of 9am and 5pm, I find myself smiling a lot.

Would I say I am passionate about my job? Not at all.

Passion implies a deep and intrinsic enthusiasm for something, a manic obsession and inextricable part of who you are. You think about your passion every day. You dream of it awake. Even when life has taken you in a different direction, you are inclined to your passion like a moth to a flame, even when it doesn’t make any sense.

It is not a choice to have a passion—your passion chooses you. It can be impractical, inconvenient, and downright stupid to love what you love. But all the drawbacks are worth that high feeling, that warm hug of belonging that says, “This is what I was meant to do.”

My job is not my passion.

I don’t know when careers were deemed one size fits all solutions to cloak us with complete life satisfaction. It’s ambitious to expect a job to provide your bread and butter and authentic emotional fulfillment. As much as we would like, happiness is not covered in the standard healthcare plan. When I signed my offer letter, I committed my hard work, not my heart.

We don’t peruse the produce section for a decadent dessert, so why are we disappointed when our workplaces aren’t a bountiful source of paradise’s hottest commodity, Passion with a capital P?

I don’t mean to present passion and profession as mutually exclusive—many have succeeded in making their passions their careers. It’s possible, but not realistic for everyone. More commonly, I think people learn to find passion in their careers, which is an excellent use of synthetic happiness, a feeling you create when you don’t get what you want. Think of it as a cup of joe brewed with equal parts optimism and gratitude.

What I have for my job is not passion, but investment. I tanked my first few months at my company, earning myself what felt like a permanent position at rock bottom. I told my manager I would not leave until I figured it out. No matter how hard I was struggling, no matter how many hours I clocked, no matter how often I left the office after sunset and cried in my car, I would succeed.

Along with support from my colleagues, my investment and my stubborn rejection of failure have earned me a newly positive career outlook. In terms of actual enjoyment, I could love or hate my job—it would have no effect on my work ethic because my need for success outweighs my need for happiness.

Employers should prefer invested employees to passionate ones. My commitment to my company is immune to bad days and personal vendettas. Because what motivates a passionate employee when their enthusiasm wanes? This is the same reason arranged marriages have lower divorce rates than love-based marriages.

Feelings are ephemeral, and leave passionate employees dangerously susceptible to abandonment.

While there are aspects of my job that are rewarding, I’m much happier compartmentalizing my profession as separate from, even opposite of, my passion. Some days, it feels like an elaborate prank that my career relies on my oral communication skills—I’d laugh if the irony weren’t so cruel. Dramatics aside, it’s not a woeful or negative thing to work a passionless job. I perceive it as a neutral.

In the same way you don’t find love with every person you date, you won’t find passion in every job you work. I think the experience is worthwhile because, hopefully, you come out better on the other side. And even if it doesn’t reach the zenith of whatever it is you’re seeking, there are still happy days.

I don’t need passion in my job because I know it exists elsewhere. I know exactly where it lives: in my notebooks, in scribbles on receipts at the bottom of my purse, in drafts in my mind.

I’m not passionate about my job now, but this could change—the way natural love can grow from mere attachment. My current job may be shaping a future interest. It may be a necessary checkpoint or detour to a final destination where I find passion when I least expect it.

Until then, I am content with doing what I need to do. I work 40+ hours a week in a passionless job, and that’s perfectly okay.

On Parisian Tragedy

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On the night of the Paris attacks, I bought a $60 pair of New Balance sneakers and ate a whole tray of frozen lasagna because I didn’t know what else to do. I shouldn’t say “else.” The horrific events rocked every news station and social media outlet, yet even a tragedy of that magnitude didn’t really affect my Friday night. I sat in my pajamas and watched Breaking Bad until midnight, as I would have if Paris had glittered from the lights of The Eiffel Tower instead of ambulances.

It’s no doubt I was disgusted. When extreme acts of cruelty shatter the lives of countless strangers I’ll never have the chance to meet, it offends me. I’m also brought to terms with my own humanity and privileged sense of security. I live a good life and while I’ve felt sad and scared before, I’ve never known true fear and danger.

My upbringing has insulated me from any kind of prolonged distress, so in the wake of chaos I seek solidarity to make things “okay” again: inspirational stories and songs of the heart, a newsfeed filled with French flags, and anecdotes that highlight humanity prevailing. I want to have good intentions and be part of this movement. I want not to feel alone.

At the same time, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just another well-wisher voicing genuine empathy that also happens to clear a moral conscience—as if there is an appropriate amount of sorrow to dole out for the featured natural disaster or man-made catastrophe of the week:

(Lives lost) / (Miles away from location) + (Personal connection to affected community) = Appropriate sadness level

Sad emoji. Angry emoji. Peace sign.

Maybe I grieve publicly to establish myself as an engaged citizen of planet Earth, subscribing to a little voice that says, “If you have a heart, it should ache right now and people should be aware of it.”

I don’t want to exaggerate my feelings. But I am uncomfortable—and not just from the layers of processed cheese and pasta I consumed last night out of boredom and confusion about whether the world is good or bad.

I’ve decided it’s not black and white, but a gradient of gray—contrasting enough to represent the superheroes, the villains, and the faceless civilians the cartoonist didn’t bother to detail. I am a two-dimensional bystander whose actions are independent of the plot, so removed that I couldn’t change the course of the story if I tried. I’m in the background of the scene where the superhero stops a train from speeding off doomed tracks. I’m in the panel where the villain makes a clean getaway, leaving behind a cityscape in flames. In both of these scenarios, I am doing nothing.

Sometimes, I wish I were religious so I could offer a prayer to those suffering. I want to contribute something greater than the isolated thoughts that bounce around my head and seldom materialize. Yesterday, I was desperate for someone—or something—to come forward and protect us from ourselves.

This feeling is what I call Gray Discomfort: the muted heartache and helplessness following a tragedy that doesn’t have an immediate impact on you despite its grave and far-reaching consequences. The feeling is distant and in the room. You don’t want to overstep, yet you’re dying to speak out. And you watch the disaster unfold behind a thick layer of glass that both protects you from harm and prevents you from healing. Paralyzed by isolation, you reach out with clean hands and a heavy heart, never being close enough to touch.

It’s like watching someone cry. I never know if it’s acceptable to ask if they are okay or pat them on the back. No matter the reason for their tears, I always feel extreme guilt. I’m ashamed to have the capacity for happiness when it’s painstakingly apparent they do not. I want to internalize their emotions and share my peace, but I don’t know the first thing about their problems let alone the solution. The standard condolence is “I’m here for you.” But am I, really?

I was a few hours into the 5th season of Breaking Bad when Netflix asked me if I was still watching. I let the words sit on the screen for a bit because I was distracted by my laptop: one tab for updates on the body count in Paris and a few tabs for online shopping.

The two options on the screen were “Continue watching” and “Exit.” When I think about the tragedy in Paris, I want to close my eyes and pretend the events of last night were an episode that never made it to air. That’s not how the storyline goes. Time to revisit the editing room.

Unfortunately, we can’t rewind the past. As a distant supporter of the Parisian community, I can’t offer a shoulder to cry on. However, I can offer my eyes and ears. Tragedy is not easy to face, but that is no excuse to turn a blind eye.

The news tests our faith in humanity and I understand those who believe the world is mostly cruel. But regardless of whether we see the glass as half empty or half full, we need to look at the glass.

When it comes to global crises, I feel helpless the majority of the time. But the very least I can do is stay informed, even if I don’t think I can make a difference now. Complacency is born from ignorance, which is why we cannot look away when things head for the worst—not now, not ever.

In our couch-sitting, lasagna-eating inactivity, we still have an obligation to be in touch with reality as terrible as it may be. There will be times we want to cover our eyes and look for an exit, but for the sake of understanding and progress, we must always continue watching.