You know what they say about free advice, or perhaps at least what Alanis Morissette said about it. You probably also know what they say about opinions. Regardless of the reputation that advice has, it’s worth looking at, tearing apart, and perhaps taking a cautionary bite out of to see if you want to swallow or spit. No judgment.
Asking for a Friend… is Noise and Color PDX’s brand, spanking new advice column hosted by Jey Tehya (that’s me). People love advice columns. I get it, I do too. There’s something addictive and very safely voyeuristic reading about a stranger’s troubles, spilling their most embarrassing vulnerabilities all over the place. Sometimes you relate to them and think, “Thank God someone else asked.” Other times they’ll leave you wondering, “Who the f*&K does this?” Either way, it’s generally entertainment gold.
Advice can also be a much-needed tool to help better manage your own life.
We’re New at This. Be Gentle.
Do you think Abigail Van Buren (AKA Pauline Phillips) knew she’d end up being everyone’s wise “Dear Abby” guru dishing out proper etiquette and social grace tips for 44 years? Or that Dan Savage knew he’d be credited for coining the term “pegging” after running a “Savage Love” contest? Hell, no! Or at least I don’t think so.
I’m not saying I’m Dear Abby or Dan Savage. I’m not. However, Dear Abby had a modest career background at best when she began tackling her advice column in 1954, and Dan Savage was managing a video store… Hey, I worked at Blockbuster when I was an undergraduate. And I’ve already published thousands (yes, thousands) of blogs and article under a variety of names. That puts me at least at pegging-coining status already, right?
What’s it All About?
The beauty of a newborn advice column is that you get to decide what it’s all about. I come packing an advanced degree in writing and five published books under my belt (the latest of which was dubbed by Kirkus Reviews as erotic, neurotic, bleak and sexually graphic), so there’s little you can put into words that will shock me. Unless you’re the author of the Italian book A Game We Play. Then, yes, you shocked me a great deal. I’m still traumatized.
However, you probably want to know a little about the person you’re asking or reading advice from. I’m a native Oregonian born in Central Point and I’ve been living in the Portland area off and on for the past twenty years. The “off” parts include one year each in South Korea, England and Costa Rica. My actual, real, mortgage-paying job is “writer.” It’s solely how I pay the bills. I also teach yoga and weightlifting at a local gym early in the mornings.
I’m half-Cherokee, half-white, tribally enrolled but am 100 percent “white washed.” On a good day, someone may speak to me in Spanish are tell me, “You look something.” I’m also in a lifelong management of an eating disorder (a little blend of anorexia and exercise-induced bulimia), will check the “bi-sexual” box of a data sheet if forced to pigeonhole myself, and am married to a Gujarati Jain from Mumbai. Diversity all over the place.
Just the Tip(s)
Since we’re just taking our first wobbly steps together and there are no itchy questions to answer yet, I’ll leave you with some of my best life, love and wellness tips that I’ve learned the hard way over 35 years:
- Teaching others healthy sexual habits includes more than safety (although that’s a biggie). Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or other adult leading someone in their journey of sexual knowledge, don’t forget about self-pleasure and masturbation. Especially if you’re educating girls. Identifying the penis is pretty easy. The clitoris? It’s the only part of human anatomy whose sole job is to provide pleasure—and a sadly large percentage of women can’t identify where their own clitoris is.
- Wellness isn’t a destination, and a “diet” shouldn’t be temporary. We all have diets, and they feature a wide range of healthy and unhealthy habits. Try every day to treat your whole body well, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (no matter how you may define spirituality). You’ll rarely do it perfectly all the time, and that’s okay.
- Drink a glass of green tea every day. Just do it, it’s not going to hurt you. Green tea has been linked, for centuries, to positive health benefits from preventing arthritis to delaying dementia. Is it guaranteed to work? Of course not! But what’s the harm? Plus, if you drink a cup of tea before starting your usual morning coffee grind, it may even help wean you off the caffeine overload fix a little.
- Talk kindly to yourself. Seriously. I personally began seeing an eating disorder specialist after a yoga teacher told us, in savasana, to think of five things we loved about ourselves. It’s clichéd, but true. I couldn’t think of a single thing. I’d thought that speaking badly to myself and about myself would help “push me,” kind of like a mean coach. Instead, it just helped push me right into an eating disorder. You’re the only person in charge of how you speak to yourself, so choose wisely.
- Just always use a condom. Or a dental dam. It’s so obvious, we all know it, but every single person I know who’s single and sexually active had admitted to me to semi-frequently engaging in unprotected sex. Stop it! I grew up in the peak of the HIV scare days, so it was drilled into me to always assume that the person I was having sex with had every imaginable STI unless: 1) we had agreed to be sexually exclusive; and 2) I had seen their recent STI report in writing. Even then, it’s a gamble.
- Stop apologizing unless it’s necessary and you mean it. You’re not British. (Unless you are, in which case… sorry?).
Questions—on anything? Send ‘em this way at firstname.lastname@example.org! Sometimes all you really need is a non-biased stranger instead of your gossipy friends to provide a new lens for analysis.