10 Weird Jobs I Had Before Became A Sex Columnist

 

My good pal Kate recently wrote about some of the weird and wonderful jobs she’s had and it’s inspired me to share some of mine. I worked part time throughout the later part of high-school and university (and beyond!) and while the jobs themselves were for the most part pretty normal, I still have a lot of  “interesting” stories.

1. Body Shop sales clerk.

I worked at three different Body Shop locations throughout university, but the one that made for the best stories was the Toronto Eaton Center location. Our store was located on the bottom floor of the Eaton Center — a busy, sprawling downtown mall, dubbed by many “Toronto’s armpit.” Smack dab in the middle of downtown and next to multiple subway stops, when it came to people watching at my former job, there was rarely a dull moment. A few of the highlights:

  • The store had a large makeup section with lots of mirrors. On a Friday or Saturday evening, it wasn’t uncommon to see people come in and do their entire face. After seeing what people do to makeup testers I will never, ever use them — not even on my hand, if I can help it. Shudder.
  • The store also had a large sink intended for sampling shower gels and soaps. One day a man came in, filled the sink, dunked his head in the water and proceeded to wash his very long, filthy hair. Then, instead of toweling dry, he stood up and shook his head like a dog, spraying water everywhere before casually sauntering out of the store.
  • Maybe it was the ubiquitous smell of fruity soap or the fumes wafting in from the food court, but something about being inside The Body Shop compelled customers to tell you all about their bodies. From bikini waxing mishaps, venereal disease symptoms to a man who needed something for what he called his “XXX parts” (very itchy recently shaved balls), I saw and heard things that can never been unseen/heard.

2. The sketchy designer jeans store. 

My first job when I moved to Toronto was working at a store that sold Diesel Jeans (and other brands du jour) on Yonge Street. The store was called Soul and when I saw the help wanted sign, the wide-eyed eighteen year old me thought it was destiny (I mean, I love Soul music. So, what could go wrong?) In retrospect, I’m pretty sure the whole operation was a drug front. We rarely had any customers and every two weeks they’d pay me with cash out of the till. I didn’t mind because they gave me a sweet discount on a pair of Parasuco sparkly denim flares (the jeans had a shimmery silver sheen that made them sparkle in the sun. Like glitter. Oh dear.) In my defense, they made my ass look amazing.

3. Ghostwriting erotic fiction.

When I first started freelancing, I scored a gig creating content for an SEO company that specialized in the adult industry. For several months I wrote a series of “real life” blog posts as “Ginger,” a law student turned cam-girl with a penchant for sex in public places. It was fun & hilarious & weird (and I would totally do it again). FYI, SEO strategy is infinitely more interesting when your keywords are things like “ass cheeks,” “rim job” and “money shot.”

4. The Hungarian deli.

For a very brief period in 2003, I decided to embrace my Eastern European roots and apply for a job  at the Hungarian deli near my house in Toronto. The manager looked like a Slavic stereotype straight out of central casting. Olga wore a white butcher’s coat, a hair-net and a grim expression that made her seem utterly terrifying. Even more terrifying: learning to operate the meat slicer. I was too tentative, which lead to a lot of thickly sliced Tziganskaya (which even I know is a total abomination). I never got called for a second shift.

5. Candy Girl.

My first real job in high school was working at a movie theater downtown. I was initially hired to work at the concession stand. However, I never quite mastered scooping popcorn (notice a pattern here?) so, I was promptly moved over to the bulk candy station. The owner — an older, red-faced man that had a voice that sounded like he’d swallowed a bucket of gravel and washed it down with a whisky chaser – had a mental block when it came to remembering my name so he just called me “Candy Girl.” He told me, “I hired you because you put on your resume that you know how to use a computer.” So, when things weren’t busy, Old Gravel Mouth would bring me up to his office where he’d dictate emails. They were always addressed to a woman named Tammy, who wasn’t his wife.

6. Flight Attendant.

So, yeah. That happened. After graduating university, I thought it would be really cool to get paid to travel. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t (at least for me). I spent two months in an aggressive training program learning all about airplane safety, watching videos of airplane crashes, and doing simulated crash drills that always took place at 4am in empty airplane hangers. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly help with my then un-diagnosed anxiety disorder. I did one flight before turning in my resignation. However, if you need help dragging a body from a burning wreckage (we practiced!) or zip-tying an unruly passenger to their seat, I’m your gal.

7. Coat check.

In third year university, I spent a winter working at the coat check for a high-end night club/cigar lounge. Oddly enough, this is one of the best jobs I ever had. I made an hourly wage, plus tips (usually about $100-$200 a night). The clientele was a lot of pro sports players, C-list celebs and other high-roller types. The money was good and the people watching didn’t disappoint. Annnnd, at the end of the night they’d give us free sandwiches. I’d always leave work with cash in my wallet and a handful of sandwiches stuffed in my purse, that I’d eat for lunch & dinner the next day. Because, #studentlife.

8. Peddler of fancy old lady clothes.

Home for the summer after second year university and desperate for a job, I spent a few months working at a boutique that sold high-end designer clothes. From ten seasons ago. The clothes were brand new, they had just been in the store forever. The rest of the stock looked like it was pulled from the wardrobe department of The Golden Girls. My manager reminded me of Kris Jenner, only more evil and with a raging cocaine habit. She would frequently yell at me because she didn’t think I was selling enough. (IT’S NOT MY FAULT THAT I CAN’T MOVE THIS PAIR OF SUN-FADED SHOP WORN YELLOW VERSACE JEANS, SUSAN.)

9. Managing a Co-Op residence.

This is by far the worst job I ever had. You can read about it here. And yes, I still have nightmares about the van and the never-ending demand for toilet paper.

10. This job.

Being a freelance writer that mostly writes about sex and relationships is weird & wonderful & I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I get to interview porn stars, travel to nude resorts and share my feelings with the internet, all in the name of work. I like to think that all of these other jobs in some way prepared me for what I do now, which often involves writing and speaking about things that make other people feel uncomfortable. “Itchy balls” guys of the world, I solute you.

What’s the strangest or most memorable job you’ve had?

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A Good Mattress Can Help Your Sex Life

 

This post was brought to you by ChooseMattress.com. Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip.

I found a sex related topic I haven’t written about yet: mattresses! I never considered the impact mattress comfort had on my sex life until I moved in with my ex-partner. I went from sleeping on a reasonably comfortable spring mattress to spending my nights atop of an Ikea foam mattress that I’m pretty sure was designed by Satan himself. Every morning I’d wake up with a sore back and achy muscles. I have a back injury and when my back doesn’t feel good, my libido suffers. When we finally made the switch and invested in a super comfy mattress, it had a positive impact on our sex life. (It’s amazing how much sexier you feel when you’re no longer living in a real-life version of the sofa bed episode of Seinfeld.)

So, without further adieu, here are a few pointers on how to choose the right mattress so your sex life never has to suffer.

Comfort

When choosing a mattress for sex, comfort is one of the things you don’t want to mess around with. Anyone who’s ever had the unfortunate experience of having sex on a futon only to wake up the next day feeling like their body was put through a trash compactor, knows exactly what I’m talking about. The last thing you want is to strain your body while making love (this is especially true if you already have an injury like I do.) Some mattresses will strain your knees, buttocks, or hands, and other areas of your body that offer support during sex. When these are strained, you will get tired out more quickly and may even wake up to body pain. Look for a mattress that’s comfortable and supportive so that sex can be as pleasurable as possiblesomething that’s more difficult to achieve when you’re worried about your mattress giving you shin splints.

Noise

While most people have differing preferences when it comes to noise during sex, I think most of us can agree that there’s nothing sexy about a creaky, squeaky mattress. This is especially true if you live with other people and want to keep things, um, discreet. Instead, aim to create an environment that allows you to focus on your partner with minimal distractions. By providing comfort and discretion, a quiet mattress will help increase performance and pleasure for both of you.

Bounce effect

To maintain rhythm and endurance you’ll want to make sure your mattress offers sufficient bounce. A rigid base may not offer this. When you don’t have enough bounce, your partner will feel like they’re being pressed into the mattress — and not in a good way. So, make sure you find a mattress with sufficient bounce for maximum pleasure.

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Edge support

When choosing a mattress to bolster your sex life, you also need to think about edge support — the encasement around the frame that spring mattresses require to support the springs. A good mattress will offer sufficient edge support to ensure safety and comfort, and will be designed to accommodate weight and pressure, without collapsing (I’m not sure what that would look like, but it doesn’t sound fun). Instead of worrying about stuff, a  good mattress allows you to focus on what’s important: great sleep and satisfaction from sex.

So, there you have it. If you’re shopping for a mattress with sex in mind, these tips should help. Think about it: the average person sleeps for one third of their life (if you sleep approx 8 hours a night and live for 75 years, that’s 25 years or 9,125 days that you spend asleep). You owe it to yourself to create the perfect refuge and playground for you and your partner(s) with a good mattress.

Sometimes Life is Best Summed Up in Bullet Points

 

I feel like there’s a million things I want to share, but none of them necessarily warrant a full post. So, for the sake of clarity and because it’s Monday, here’s my life summed up in bullet points.

  • You know that feeling when you’ve been working on a huge project for a long time and then you stop working on that project and think, “I’m going to have so much free time! Yay!” but that totally doesn’t end up happening? That’s been my March in a nutshell (hence, today’s blog graphic created by me). On March 5th I finished the second draft of my book. I envisioned I’d spend the next few weeks off soaking in mineral pools (this is less than 10 minutes from my house), leisurely blogging and watching Black Panther a second or third time. Instead, the past few weeks have been a mad scramble to try and accomplish all the errands that fell to the wayside while I was focused on writing. Productivity is awesome, but I’ve yet to have a good soak or get a pedicure or see Chadwick Boseman again on the big screen and frankly, it’s starting to bum me out.
  • Speaking of writing, a couple of you (including my writing coach) have encouraged me to write some erotic fiction on the side. I’m toying with the idea of launching a Patreon account to do exactly that. Show of hands: who would be interested in receiving based-on-real-life erotic stories to their inbox every month?
  • In January I went on a press trip to Hedonism II in Jamaica, which I followed up with a couple days of solo travel exploring the island. I haven’t had a chance to write about my experiences yet, but there’s a ton of photos on my Instagram. Technically, Joe and Hammer are still there. Joe says, “when it’s time to come home, we’re going to walk into town, hop in a Fed Ex envelope and hope for the best.”
  • My goal for April is to finally get my learners license (again — last time I drove was when I was 19). The plan is to re-learn to drive and eventually get a vehicle. While I’m not looking to buy a BMV 5 or anything like that, I’d really like something small and efficient like a Smartcar or even a Vespa for zipping around town. Apparently, you’re supposed to ask the Universe for the things you want. I hope by mentioning it here, I’ll write it into being.
  • My enamel pin obsession continues. I recently ordered the holy trifecta of pins: Erykah, Lauryn and Pac. My jean jacket is getting very, very heavy.
  • I’m planning on including more travel themed blog posts and city guides on Skinny Dip. So far I’m thinking: Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Tulum, Negril (Jamaica) and Victoria, BC (my hometown). Which would you like to read first?

Leave a comment and share what you’ve been up to this month!


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Tips For When You’re Literally Living in Your Mom’s Basement

 

We’ve heard the stats. There’s now more adults living at home than ever before.

(As I mentioned in a piece I wrote for the Huffington Post last year, a Pew Research study found that as of 2014, for the first time in more than 130 years, adults ages 18 to 34 are more likely to be living in their parents’ home than with a spouse or partner in their own household. According to their research, this turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in millennials who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35, but also by larger economic issues.)

I am one of those adults.

A few years ago, my Mom helped me turn a ground level storage room into a bedroom and work area. I’ve since learned a little bit about subterranean living.

(Technically, my living space is “garden level.” My Mom always likes to remind me of this. However, I think a  lot of these tips apply to anyone who is living in a small and/or less than desirable living situation.)

Whether you’re living in Vancouver, Barrie or somewhere else in basement-living-land, these lessons and tips are for you.

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1. Surround yourself with things you love. Just don’t go overboard.

For me this means books, books, books and more books, plus a few carefully chosen tchotkes that I’ve collected over the years. If I’m having a bad day – and even when I’m not – it’s nice to look around and see things that bring me joy. With that said, I’ve learned that it’s important to reel in the collecting, unless you actually want to feel like you’re living in a literal bookshelf (hey, maybe that’s your thing though! No judgement!) Personally, I prefer a more minimal space so I’ve had to learn how to balance the desire for “things” with keeping the space as open as possible.

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2. Color is your friend.

I used to think that the only way to do small space living was by being as neutral and monochromatic as possible. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy a nice pop of color here and there. Experiment and find what makes you happy. (FYI these Mexican pompoms (above) give me life and are perfect for brightening up a room – whether that’s room is in Cambridge, Ontario or Tulum, Mexico)

3. Warm bedding is key.

Winters on the west coast are damp. Heck, summers can feel pretty damp too. This innate chilliness is intensified when you’re sleeping in a basement or ground level space. But it’s nothing that a warm duvet can’t fix. I prefer natural duck down, but there’s lots of synthetic options that are great too. PS. Sheepskin throws are also great for adding a cozy vibe to your space.

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4. Indulge in a few luxury touches.

Sure, you’re likely living with your family to save money but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge in a little luxury. No, I’m not suggesting that you go out and drop your last five grand on a Cartier serving tray. I’m just saying that adding a few touches that make your space feel special (whatever that looks like to you) is good for your mental health. I’m a big fan of art that brings back good memories (like my Jaguar print by Emma Ruben that I brought back from Tulum) and the gold & mirrored accessories I found at Target.

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5. Edit your possessions ruthlessly.

My space is small — especially my closet — so I’ve had to adopt a “one in, one out policy” when it comes to new possessions. Just because you love something doesn’t mean it has to be in your space. If you have access to storage, pack away everything that’s not essential. Yup, that’s my actual messy closet and yes, I do buy striped t-shirts in bulk. Thanks for asking!

6. Never go to bed angry.

I don’t know what your situation is, but if you interact with your family on a daily basis this rule is golden. Living with other people isn’t easy. If you can let it go (sometimes it’s just not worth the argument), do it. Otherwise, talk it out and apologize if necessary.

7. There ain’t no shame in your game.

Okay, that’s only partly true. I’m super self-conscious about the fact that I live at home (especially after spending so many years living on my own) but most people are really supportive when I tell them. Sure, dating while living at home can be a bit awkward at times, but it’s not that big a deal. This is just temporary. If anyone you’re dating has a problem with your living situation, they’re not right for you anyways.

What are some of your favorite tips for living in a basement or small space?

On Traveling, Toronto and Ghost Towns

 

If the city of Toronto and I had a relationship status it would be, “it’s complicated.”

November 11th, 2017 marked the 6th year anniversary of my move back to the west coast and yet, whenever I meet anyone new, one of the first things they always ask me is, “do you miss Toronto?”

After years of having to answer this question, I’ve perfected my answer.

I miss my friends. I miss eating at my favorite Nicaraguan restaurant. I miss the diversity and being able to get almost any kind of food, any time of day (like 24hr Jamaican takeout). I miss walking down Queen St West on a sunny day. Sometimes I miss the nightlife (although I doubt I could still keep up with my old party schedule). But do I actually miss living in the city? Not really.

When I moved to BC, I traded the excitement and conveniences of big city life for a more balanced lifestyle. Things are better for me here. I’m healthier, I’m less anxious and I’m generally happier.

I haven’t been to Toronto for a proper visit in 6 years and don’t really feel sad about it.

After years of going back and forth to see my family, I’d rather spend my money traveling to places that I haven’t been before. Besides, it’s cheaper for me to fly to LA than it is for me to go to Toronto — and you know how much me and Joe the Intern love The California.

(Besides, people should come visit me. We have the warmest weather in Canada. And beaches. And fresh sushi for days. I mean, it’s pretty fucking rad here.)

This is what I tell people, but the truth is more complicated.

Toronto gave me a lot of things. Wonderful friendships. Love. Awesome professional connections. Assertiveness, drive, ambition and the ability to hustle.

However, Toronto was also the site of a lot of soul crushing, worst-moments-of-my-life, heartbreak. My last two trips there were bitter sweet. I had a wonderful time catching up with friends, but it also felt like memories and reminders were around every corner.

Toronto isn’t the big, bad, concrete jungle that a lot of Canadians make it out to be. It’s a great city. Really. But going back there is emotionally complicated for me. I know I’ll eventually come visit Toronto, but for now I’d rather travel to places where I don’t have to deal with the same kinds of uncomfortable feelings.

I used to wonder if my aversion to Toronto was all in my head, until this past October when I missed my flight home from Cancun (police incident on the freeway) and found myself in T.O for an unexpected ten hour layover.

I thought of calling one of my close friends to stay with her, but she now lives in Newmarket and it wouldn’t be worth the long drive. Instead, I went to apply for a hotel voucher from the airline. Half an hour later, I was settled into a grim airport hotel where everything was a faded brown hue, including the stained carpet.

Maybe it was the jet lag or the shock of finding myself removed from the high-voltage colors of Mexico, but when I pulled back those beige filmy curtains and looked out the floor to ceiling windows of my hotel room, I was struck by something.

This is not my home anymore and I don’t want to be here.

The feeling was so intense that it contributed to my decision to decline a work opportunity that would bring me back to Toronto the following week. On the flight home the next day, I felt a huge sense of relief as soon as the Pacific Ocean came into sight.

This is all to say that it’s okay to know what feels like home and what doesn’t. It’s okay to protect your emotional well-being. Don’t feel guilty about any of it.

That isn’t to say that the city of Toronto and I aren’t on speaking terms.

Between four red-eye flights to the Caribbean over the past four months, Toronto and I have cobbled together a new relationship of sorts. It involves groggy 4am breakfast sandwiches at Tim Hortons, followed by a lengthy browse through the Jo Malone duty free shop (aka heaven) — a ritual I now look forward to every time I pass through YYZ.

There’s lots of friends to hug, babies to meet and new homes to celebrate, so I know I’ll eventually make it back to Toronto for a visit sometime in the near future, but for now “complicated” works for me.

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