On fun-sized advice

Why do I feel like I don’t deserve to be happy?
Because you hold false beliefs about the nature of happiness.

Do you think ebola will become a pandemic?
No. As much as it appeals to our secret desire to witness Armageddon, humanity isn’t gonna be decimated by some scary African uber-virus. Don’t worry. We’re all gonna die regular, boring vanilla-flavored deaths from either heart disease or cancer at some point in the next few decades.

Which is the repository of more bad ideas, christianity or islam?

It’s the same repository.

I generally don’t get along with people who wear bows in their hair.
I generally don’t get along with people who make spurious correlations about other people’s fashion accessories.

Do you think there’s really a difference between cheating and ethical non-monogamy?
Of course there is. Even you think so. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have felt the need to stick “ethical” in front of non-monogamy.

Is it normal for every girl to be convinced she’s pregnant after she loses her virginity?
Absent any legitimate concerns of potential pregnancy (broken condom, late period, etc.), that kind of reaction is usually an expression of religious guilt. It shouldn’t be normal, but I’m guessing you come from somewhere extra-Jesusy.

Is it morally sufficient to tolerate homosexuals?
Ew. What a gross question, and no, it is not morally sufficient to merely tolerate homosexuals. Your type of begrudging tolerance implies that there’s something wrong with being homosexual, and there’s not. Acceptance and inclusion without prejudice is the minimum requirement for moral sufficiency. If you can’t fully accept that there’s nothing wrong with being homosexual, then your beliefs still represent a moral failure.

I can’t break up with him because it’ll hurt him so much. I’ve never purposefully and knowingly caused someone that much pain.
You are not responsible for his emotional state. One more time for the cheap seats: YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS EMOTIONAL STATE. You are being held hostage by your boyfriend’s fragility. That’s disgusting. If you want out of the relationship, get the fuck out. Don’t make his weakness yours.

What’s the difference between hope and expectation?
The difference between hope and expectation is the difference between gambling and taking a risk.

On misogynistic terror threat lemonade

Anita Sarkeesian had to cancel a lecture at Utah State because some psychopath threatened to murder a bunch of people if she spoke because “feminists ruined his life” and other head-in-ass dribble like that. And apparently Utah’s open-carry policy prevented the police from doing firearm searches of the attendees. This is just so many levels of fucked up.

Actually, this is turning out to be a pretty great story, and Anita Sarkeesian is playing her hand beautifully.

Here’s the fucked up thing: Anita gets death threats all the time. As a woman trying to bring a feminist message into gamer culture, she’s a constant target for harassment, and she’s given any number of public lectures under threat of violence. What was different about today is Utah’s conceal-carry gun laws.

No matter how much USU or the police assured Sarkeesian of her safety, they still couldn’t prevent people from legally bringing concealed firearms to the venue, and after the overt threat of a mass shooting at the event, she was able to leverage her cancelation into a national story. It’s really quite impressive.

I’m glad that she canceled the event, and I’m glad that this story is getting so much attention. Up until today, only a handful of gamers and feminists even knew who Anita Sarkeesian was. This is going to elevate her profile to the national stage, freshly dipped in righteousness, with a galvanized message about how much we all need feminism in a culture so obviously steeped in misogynistic violence.

And the cowardly twerp who wrote the death threat? I’ll bet a thousand bucks right now that he’ll be spending the holidays (and likely the next few years) in federal prison. The FBI is damn good at finding little neckbearded fuckboys who think they know how to mask an IP address, especially when there’s the added pressure of national publicity.

It started out fucked-up, but I have a feeling this story will have a happy ending.

On reframing bisexuality

Oh, fuck. If I know I like men and women, how do I decide who to settle down with in the end?

I know this question is just an expression of your immaturity, but it annoys the shit out of me when people frame bisexuality as a false dilemma between genders. It’s not.

Go fall in love. Go get your heart broken, and then go do it again. Find out what it takes to be in a long-term relationship regardless of either of your genders. Learn about yourself. Figure out the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to live.

Go do all that shit, and when you’ve finally grown up a bit, when you’ve wrapped your head around the wonderfully messy and messed-up complexity of interpersonal relationships, when you’ve come to terms with how little control you actually have over your romantic destiny in the first place, maybe then you’ll realize how ridiculous it is to reduce major life decisions about potential life partners to something as ultimately inconsequential as “penis vs vagina.”

On fun-sized advice

Why do I have it in my head that if I’m not famous, recognized as an expert, or popular in my peer group, I haven’t lived an important life?
Because you’re a product of consumer capitalism steeped in celebrity culture.

Define normal, please.
Normal is just a median range, a statistical average, but in common usage the word is a culturally loaded modifier that contextually reinforces dominant ideologies (e.g., normal relationships, normal clothes, normal sex, or normal food.) The actual definition of “normal” is much less important than how you let it define your world.

I consider myself to be a hedonistic nihilist, but a friend insists that the two philosophies are not only incompatible, but are in fact polar opposites. What would you say?
Your friend must be confused. Existential nihilism and classical Epicurian hedonism are different schools of thought, but they go together quite nicely. They’re the philosophical equivalent of peanut butter and jelly. (Or peanut butter and chocolate, if that’s your pleasure. Not that it matters.)

Is there such a thing as casual heroin use?
There’s such a thing as experimental heroin use, perhaps even occasional heroin use, but the word casual implies drug use that is both controlled and non-problematic. Given heroin’s ridiculously high potential for physical dependence and the lifestyle typically associated with its users, I’d have to say that genuinely casual heroin use is a damn near impossible feat, especially over time, and even more so if needles are involved.

I am getting an abortion in a few days. Though I know it is the best decision, there are moments when I can’t breathe. Please, Coquette, I will take any words of wisdom you have.
The waiting is the hardest part, but everything will be okay. Moments of anxiety and apprehension are to be expected, and they’re perfectly understandable. Remember though, you didn’t just make the best decision. You made the right decision.

I just got out of a pretty serious relationship. Hurt, but ultimately OK. Problem: before the relationship, I enjoyed having casual sex with various people. It was awesome. Now, however, I find the vast majority of people fairly gross. How do I get past this and start having fun again?
Time. It just takes time. Your heart is still sore from breaking, but don’t worry, you’ll have fun again. (And for the record, the vast majority of people have always been fairly gross. You just have a selective memory from the last time you were single.)

Do you think you’ll ever be too old to be an L.A. party girl?
Definitely. The mid 2000’s were my peak party years. This decade is for slowing down with a very select group of friends. (I don’t mind getting older. I’m good at it, and I appreciate the perspective.)

On Bill, Ben, and Sam

Opinions of Sam Harris and Ben Affleck on Bill Maher the other night? Every time I see a comment in support of Ben Affleck a little part of my hope for the human race dies. Why was Ben Affleck on there at all? Waste of air!

Ben Affleck was there to promote his stubble… I mean, his latest movie… and to his credit, Ben is usually much more well informed and articulate than most of the Hollywood fameballs Bill Maher uses to round out his panel.

I like Ben, although I happen to disagree with his sanctimonious reaction to Bill’s overly simplistic characterization of Islam. Both of them should have shut the fuck up and let Sam Harris finish a goddamn sentence, because Sam was the only one bringing anything of substance to the table. Sam Harris made the most salient point of the show when he said the following:

"Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy. They’ll criticize Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984, but when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us, and the crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where criticism of the religion gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people. It’s intellectually ridiculous."

The problem with Ben’s hostile response, however good his intentions, is that he immediately proved Sam’s entire point. By insinuating that Bill Maher and Sam Harris were racist bigots, Ben elegantly demonstrated exactly the kind of liberal failure Sam was describing.

Sam Harris was right. He is right. “We have to be able to criticize bad ideas,” he later said, and “Islam at this moment is the motherlode of bad ideas.”

Again, he’s right, and a solid line has to be drawn between rational criticism of contemporary Islamic theocracy and the kind of ignorant bigotry against Muslim people we too often see coming from the xenophobic Fox News contingent. It’s a huge distinction that Ben Affleck and all the people applauding him continually refuse to acknowledge.

On a woman’s choice

I haven’t told the father of the fetus I’m carrying that I’m pregnant. I know he’ll pressure me to keep the thing and I can’t imagine how angry he’d be if I aborted it. Is that justification for not telling him? We’ve been friends for so long and I’d hate to lie to him, but I don’t want to have a baby.

You don’t want to have a baby. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the only thing that matters. You don’t have to tell him — now or ever — and there’s no need for any justification. This is your choice. Not his.

(You probably will tell him at some point in the future, but don’t worry about that right now. If he won’t support your decision, go do what you gotta do first. Your health and well-being are the only priority. His opinions on the matter don’t even make the list.)

On normal happy people

Do normal people exist? I don’t mean heteronormative people—just people who are emotionally stable, have no underlying neuroses, and aren’t secretly in a world of pain/self-doubt. Are those people real or are they a universally accepted fiction?

You’re not asking if normal people exist. You’re asking if happy people exist. The answer is yes, of course they do, but people aren’t static. Neither is pain and self-doubt.

Happiness (or normality or stability — whatever you want to call it) isn’t a permanent gift granted to a select and steady few. It may be found more easily for some than others, but it’s all still just a transitory phase.

Every emotional state, stable or otherwise, is impermanent. It’s all a shifting, flowing, ever-changing hot mess of pleasure and pain, neuroses and normative behavior. Happiness is fleeting, but then again, so is suffering.

Yes, there are plenty of people out there today who are emotionally stable with no underlying neuroses who aren’t secretly in a world of pain or self-doubt, but they weren’t all that way yesterday, and it won’t all be the same people tomorrow.

Your path to being among them is in recognizing that it’s not some country club that you get to join by virtue of any birthright or accomplishment. Happiness isn’t something you achieve. It’s something you discover, and it’s a discovery that can be stumbled upon again and again, depending largely on your ability to be mindful in the present moment.

On fun-sized advice

Is it normal to be nervous about life?
Yes. (The trick isn’t to not be nervous. The trick is to not be normal.)

Long-distance love or local getting laid?
What is this “or” you speak of?

I need a watch as a status symbol (don’t judge, it’s a work thing). Any recommendations?
Recognize that you have no status, realign your priorities in life, and choose a watch that fits your personal style.

How can someone use drugs such as coke and molly recreationally without getting addicted to them?
How can someone use a swimming pool recreationally without drowning?

Do you want to have kids someday?
Not nearly as much as I want people to quit asking me this question.

Is accepting money for a green card marriage unamerican?
It’s illegal, but who gives a shit? Fuck the system and don’t get caught. That’s about as American as it gets.

Where is the line between having needs and being needy?
You cross the line from having needs into being needy the moment you start believing your needs are someone else’s responsibility.

Did you watch SNL’s season opener? Do you think it has finally starting to fall apart? It was so painful to watch.
Something was up with the technical direction of the show. The jokes were there, but the timing was consistently off by a fraction of a second, and it was enough to poison the comedy. Don’t worry. They’ll find the flow again.

What is some advice for someone who is single and in their mid 20’s, when it feels like everyone is getting married/moving in together etc?
Chill. What you’re noticing is the first iteration in what will become a pattern that repeats itself every few years. Some of the relationships will last. Most won’t, so don’t be in a rush to couple up, especially if it’s for no better reason than all your friends are doing it.

What’s worth fighting for?
Fighting is easy. Ask yourself what’s worth suffering for instead.

On the hunger

Have you ever lost the hunger? You seem like someone who consumes everything and delights in it all. But have you ever lost it, for even a period of time? If so, how did you get it back? Is the hunger of discovery and experience something that can be taught or practiced without being born with it?

I lose the hunger all the time. Right now, for instance. August left my body sore and my soul polluted. I’m spiritually exhausted, and the strength it takes to recover borrows from the hunger.

It’s not all that unpleasant. It’s not much of anything really, a sort of constant state of anhedonia. Nothing tastes. Nothing touches. Words come out of me, but I don’t recognize them. I’m just here, making a bunch of gestures and signs, interacting with a world I can’t feel.

It’s okay, though. I’ve done this many times. I’m comfortable with the ebb and flow of my emotional well-being. It’s a delicate sine wave, the amplitude and frequency of which I’ve learned to observe from a distance without needing to control it in the moment.

I have enough perspective to recognize the balance. I know better than to course correct with chemicals or consumerism. I don’t wanna fuck up my curve, because I know the hunger comes back.

It’s not up to me, but it always comes back. The trick is in giving up that control, in fully accepting that it’s not up to me, in knowing that nothing is or ever was up to me in the first place, and that it’s all gonna be okay, even if it’s not.

I’ll let you know when I’m hungry again.

On being easy

Some advice: if you fuck on the first-date, he probably won’t come back for a second. If the sex was hot and he does come back enjoy becoming fuck-buddies, because by fucking on the first-date, you’ve essentially told him by your actions: “I’m easy and definitely not the type of girl you’ll be wanting to take-home or marry, because anyone who I find attractive and who picks up the bill, I’ll let fuck me.”

I’m glad that you read my twitter, and I can appreciate the brass balls it takes to offer someone like me unsolicited advice, but honey, not only are you in way over your head, you’re also wrong about life.

I fuck who I fuck when I fuck because I wanna fuck, and I don’t give a flying fuck whether the people I fuck think I’m the marrying type. That doesn’t make me easy. That makes me hard.

I am the one in command of my own sexual virtue. I am the one who defines that virtue. No one else gets a say in it — not you, not the world, and certainly not some guy I allowed the privilege of fucking me on the first date.

Everything you believe to be true about sexual virtue is a tragic lie instilled in you by a misogynistic, patriarchal culture that is fundamentally terrified of female sexuality, and that bullshit needs to be systematically unlearned. I’d feel sorry for you if you weren’t making yourself part of the problem by spreading around this kind of ignorant, regressive poison.