Carry Your Tools

Our ideas, our creativity, our skills, our passions are all worthless if we do not carry with us the tools to use them. They will continue to be nothing but passing thoughts and dreams if we don’t make something concrete out of them. And the first step to creation is recording.

I try and always carry a pen and small pad of paper with me. This simple act allows me to record things I want to blog about or stories I’d like to write or phone calls I need to make or things to buy at the store. For example, one page of my notebook says:

  • Call Dr. 9/26
  • Blog – Keep notepad w/ you
  • Pg 17/18 Blog
  • Air freshener
  • Search “Georgia” and “Hinesville”
  • Subscribe and Save
  • Get bees
  • Magic particle charge? unique element?

Of course, I don’t always follow through with these notes. I have pages littered with blog post ideas that I have not written. My follow-through is probably close to 5%, but that is better than the 0% it would be if I didn’t record my thoughts.

Maybe I’m old-fashioned or something, but I prefer a pen and paper over using my phone to record thoughts and ideas. My phone turns into a distraction for me too easily and I am way less likely to review my notes on my phone, but when I pull a notepad out of my pocket after getting home it is a reminder to turn written words into action. I guess that is really what writing things down is, it is the middle ground between thought and creation. An idea needs to be recorded in order to be manifested, and manifested ideas are necessary to improve the world.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Begin Again, Again

It was only a few weeks ago that I mapped out a 3-month plan with a variety of fitness, financial, and other goals. I was pumped and ready. I was going to finish off my 37th year since birth strong as fuck. But, as is often (always) the case, things didn’t work out that way. I struggled to get things started or meet my early goals and then Hurricane Florence kicked me out of my home city for a couple weeks.

So, here I am, almost four weeks into my new plan and my progress is basically zero. There is really only one thing to do.

Begin again.

Probably the most important concept that I’ve retained from my on-again, off-again, always-a-struggle meditation practice is the idea that you are successful as long as you begin again. So, I will begin again, hopefully a little bit wiser and a little better prepared.

Last time I set goals for myself I was way too damn ambitious. I set goals like I was at my strongest instead of where I actually was. It was basically like a marathon runner taking months off of training and then deciding to pick up where they left off. Of course I struggled, of course I became discouraged, I was planning for someone that no longer existed.

This time, I hope I am setting better goals. Specifically, I’m getting back to basics and focusing on habit building instead of quantity. I have two daily goals for the next four weeks: meditate every day and run every day. If I meditate for one minute every day then I am 100% successful and if I run 1/2 a mile every day then I am 100% successful. I’m going to try to do more than that but some days I might be able to muster little more than a half-ass jog to the end of the block and 60 seconds of trying to count my breaths.

Besides those, I have two weekly goals that include doing yoga once and participating in a group/social exercise at least once. I’m even allowing myself to count both of those in one session if I do a group yoga session. I think these goals are manageable and next month I can start thinking of adding something new (maybe intermittent fasting or lifting weights) or adding a quantity goal for meditation and running.

Really, I just need to realize that there is no rush. It is better to succeed at slow progress than give up on large goals. This is something I struggle with in all areas of my life, I want things to happen quickly, I’m anxious to be active and accomplish things and I overwhelm myself. I set myself up for failure.

Hopefully, not this time but if I do fail then I will simply begin again.

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

PJ Answers All: Step-Parents and Addressing Hurricane Flobags

First, I got another anonymous question this weekend from Sarahah. If you want me to give you my thoughts or advice on any subject feel free to send me a message on Sarahah, fill out this SurveyMonkey form, or contact me through more traditional means (see end of page) and tell me that you want it addressed anonymously. Oh, and the incomplete archives with about 100 questions and answers can be found here.

This may be different than your normal questions, but still curious as to your opinion (if you have one). What do you think of step-parents being called ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ by their stepchildren?”

Thanks for the question! To be honest, I have never given this much thought. My birth parents are still married and I haven’t been in a position where this affected my life directly. Though, two of my best friends birth parents are no longer together and so are some of my cousins and other friends. Homes are increasingly diverse, which may be a good thing.

Because this involves language there might be regional differences, but to me “dad” and “mom” are more of an emotional relationship than a biological one. You can “father” or “mother” a child and the word becomes a verb instead of a title, but you can’t “dad a child” or “mom a child”. To me, father/mother is mostly about biology.

So, I might find it a little strange (but really none of my business and not terribly important to me) if a step-child called their new parent “father” or “mother”. But it makes perfect sense to me for them to call them “dad” or “mom” as long as those words reflect the emotional relationship between the two parties.

I really can’t say when the relationship warrants that kind of terminology. I imagine it happens more commonly and quickly in families where the step-parent enters into the child’s life early on. For example, a close friend of mine’s mother remarried when he was in elementary school. His step-father, not his father, has always been his dad. But if my parents were to divorce and get remarried I would probably never call my step-parents mom or dad. Oddly, I do call my in-laws mom and dad.

I think it really depends on the relationship and it is something that should not be forced. I mean really, no title or relationship should be forced. A child isn’t going to love or respect and adult more because they are punished for not making specific sounds out of their mouths when conveying an idea about that parent. In fact, it’ll probably make the child resent the adult.

Thanks again for this question. I like giving thought to new things and this was definitely an issue that never crossed my mind.


Alright, I’ve got another issue on my mind that I wanted to address.

As some of you know, I live in Wilmington, NC and we are currently in the direct path of Hurricane Florence. Yesterday, I posted a quick Facebook post about my decision to (probably) stay and the reasons for that decision.

Unfortunately, some of my Facebook friends tried to talk me out of it. I know they had the best intentions but it comes off as condescending as fuck to try to convince someone that they are wrong, particularly when you imply that they are stupid or haven’t thought things out. I’m a 36-year old, college educated, entrepreneur, combat veteran who spent over two years travelling by bicycle without guaranteed shelter, access to water, electricity, or food. I have also lived in the South for nearly half my life. I love my life and don’t enter into decisions that may risk it lightly. So, you are a dick if you want to publicly shame me on my Facebook wall for my decision. If you really care or are curious about my thought process you should send me a private message. I fucking hate publicly posted unsolicited advice, particularly from people who, despite claiming to be libertarians, think they know my situation and what is best for me better than I do.

Okay, now that that is out of the way.

I am still undecided on whether I am staying or going. A lot is going to depend on what the storm does in the next 24 hours. Regardless, my partner is leaving tomorrow morning with the animals. So, what is my thought process? Let’s lay it out. I think there are four basic scenarios… I feel like this might be a Prisoner’s dilemma type of situation, I should make a four-square chart. Anyway here they are from relative worst to best:

Storm is Really Terrible, I Stay: This is basically the worst possible scenario. As much as I’d like to stay and help my fellow citizens, after chatting with some experts I realize that I won’t really be in a position (nor do I have the tools) to help. I may even be a liability. Even if I end up being perfectly fine I will be stuck away from electricity, water, and additional food for maybe weeks. I have a bunch of reserves but that would suck ass. I also might die (but I think that is actually way less likely than people realize).

Storm is No Big Deal, I Leave: If the storm is mostly a bust with limited power loss and no major road closures then it could be very wasteful for me to leave. Any minor damage that our home has could turn into major damage if nobody is around for a week to address it. A small leak in the roof can turn into a small leak, floor damage, destroyed furniture, etc. if it isn’t taken care of quickly. Of course, it isn’t really possible to know the extent of the damage the building will take.

Storm is Really Terrible, I Leave: This would suck but leaving would be the best call. I would likely be stranded away from home for an extended amount of time, my house may suffer considerable damage, and there may be property loss. We have insurance but this would still suck. At least I would be safe at my in-laws and able to still work.

Storm is No Big Deal, I Stay: This is the best case scenario. If the storm ends up veering away from us (probably North) and we end up with nothing but weak-side winds from 100 miles away then the damage will be light, services will be quickly restored, and I will be home to fix the house and protect it from looters.

So, there are my options. I still don’t fucking know what I’m going to do. As of this post (8:35am EST, 9/11/2018) the storm is projected to center on Jacksonville, which is about 40 miles northeast of me. If it continues to slide north with projections north of Greenville on Wednesday morning then I’m likely to stay. That’ll put me just on the southern edge of the likely 2-day path. If it slides further south towards Wilmington again then I am going to leave. Really, the only tough decision is if the forecast puts it in the same general vicinity that it is now because it could easily either be No Big Deal or Really Terrible.

I guess all I can do is prep the house and wait and see.

 

 

Gentlemen, You Are More Than Just Your Dick

I haven’t spent much time on dating websites or apps. They were starting to become pretty common and popular when I lived in DC but, aside from a short-lived OKCupid account, I missed that trend. During that time I also solely identified as straight and had not really explored or accepted my more nuanced sexuality. That means I’ve never really looked for a male partner online.

Well, recently that has changed. With my partner’s support, I’ve started using AdultFriendFinder and similar sites to find more open-minded couples and singles in our area. I’m not looking for sexual partners per-se, but I am looking for non-judgmental friends that won’t judge me if they find out that we define monogamy a little more physically loosely than others. Originally, I was worried that all we would find were people that wanted to fuck but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find a wide variety of people who want a wide variety of things on these sites.

I guess I’m not alone in my desire to not feel alone.

Overall, it has been a pretty positive experience with one major issue: the guys.

I realize that these sites are primarily for swingers but getting inbox full of dick pics and “Hey, wanna fuck?” is something I haven’t experienced (though, I’m sure 99% of my female friends have). This brings me to the purpose of this blog, to ask a question and to give some advice.

Question: Is this dick pic, monosyllabic message method actually work?

I have a hard time believing it does but it is so prevalent I wonder if I’m wrong. Maybe it is the relatively low cost to the men to do this. Maybe it is insecurity on their part and they are looking for some attention, any attention, or any validation that they are attractive or sexy. So, instead of being more vulnerable by showing their faces or personality, they just put a series of poor-quality cock pics they took with their phone.

And it isn’t even just the messages. Entire profiles are nothing but two dozen dick pics, as if we need to see it from every angle in every light in order to make a decision.

“Man, I was totally against a threesome with that guy until I saw dick pic #87, something about the way the cock looks in that mirror with the dirty bedroom in the background really put things in a new light. Let’s fuck”

I know that when I was prone to send dick pics unsolicited in the past it is usually, though not always, because I’m feeling lonely and insecure. So, I turn to something unnecessarily shocking and hope to get attention. I really can’t apologize enough for my shitty behavior in the past. I don’t know if I am still friends with any of the women I acted this way towards, but my god I am so sorry. It is never acceptable for me to use my insecurities and weaknesses in a way that violates the consent of others. I wish I could change the past.

Is that why these guys do this, or is it because they actually and truly think their dick is special and their best asset. Which brings me to my comment/advice.

Gentlemen, you are more than your dick and it is not your best asset.

Listen, I know it is absolutely exhausting and time-consuming and risks your ego to put your face and personality in your profile, and to send actual thought-out messages that show you read the profile of the person/people you are interested. But I truly believe that it will yield better results. Is your current method working?

Big dicks and dick pics are a dime a dozen online, it really isn’t that special. What is special is someone who shows that they are a real person with interests and sends an actual articulate, well-thought out message. If a couple’s profile says, “We’re looking for like-minded people in our area to build a friendship with,” then a dick pic, a “let’s fuck” message, and a blank profile probably won’t get a response. And you do want a response, right? Or are you just on these sites to try and feel powerful by waving your dick around.

Have a little pride in more about yourself than something you have zero control over. You are a multi-faceted person and turning yourself into nothing more than a sausage who can string 4th grade level sentences together is dehumanizing. Show the world that you are complete.

I imagine most people looking for a male partner are less concerned about our phalli than they are about our personalities and whether we are respectful, kind, and compatible with their desires. Yes, it is riskier and makes you more vulnerable to show a high quality picture and fill out the profile, but if you are paying ~$100 to use the site shouldn’t you put some effort that might get results?

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe sending out a dozen dick-pics a day gets you what you want more effectively than I realize. But as someone who is now on the receiving end of those dicks, I am deleting most of them and only responding to the people who show me they think with the head between their ears.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Icelandic Agavemoon – Day 1

As some of you know, my partner and I spent last week camping around Iceland. Iceland is a place that has always interested me and it was kind of a dream come true to visit. This trip was the best in my life, it is nice to still have some “bests”, even better than my first Burning Man (though it is difficult to compare and contrast the two).

As the experience has marinated in my mind I have been struggling with how to share this experience. There were a lot of events and reflections that made this trip so important to me and it is difficult to figure out how to blog about it. In the end, I decided to use the writing technique I did with my book and just do it chronologically. When appropriate, I will go on tangents about my thoughts on a particular subject. Oh, and you can find some of our pics on our Instagram pages (@peterneiger and @anna_kale_27). We are still sorting through the pics on the camera but you can get an idea of what we saw/experienced via Instagram.

First though, here is a list of things that we were really, really happy that we had with us.

  • High quality waterproof hiking boots
  • Waterproof camera
  • High quality cold weather gloves
  • A highway map
  • High quality cold weather sleeping bag
  • A Jackery (or other battery storage for the phone)

Several of those items were quite expensive but they are lifetime investments. I’m going to hike a lot of trails, sleep in a lot of cold places, and take pictures in a lot of wet places. I don’t think you need high quality, expensive stuff to adventure (just like I don’t think you need an expensive bike to cycle cross country) but they are good investments if you plan on a lifetime of wandering.

And here are some things that we wish we had/knew:

  • Camping utensils (we own them but forgot them)
  • A basic knowledge of the language
  • A more hardcore vehicle for Highland exploration (more on that later)
  • An Icelandic/English dictionary for grocery shopping
  • A car phone charger (again, we have several but forgot them)
  • A travel credit card or a chip card with a PIN. You can’t buy gas with a credit card in Iceland unless you have a PIN and most credit cards in the states use a signature instead.

Day 1 – Saturday, August 25

We landed in Reykjavik at about 6am. Well, technically we landed in Keflavik but everyone called it Reykjavik. Due to the time zone change and our day-long layover in Boston we had only slept about 2-3 hours and that sleep was shitty plane sleep. Oh, but we did see the Northern Lights from the plane, so that was cool.

So, we were tired but the sun was up and we were ready to roll.

Our first stop, SADcars to pick up our rental, a beat-up grey Jimny that would prove to be a loyal, if somewhat frustrating, companion for the next 8 days. Once we had our vehicle we really didn’t have any solid plans. We had two reservations, one for a hostel on August 26 and one in Reykjavik on our final night, but other than that nothing was set in stone. Our “plan” was to simply head north for a bit and then east and then along the southern border. That would allow us to see the touristy stuff on the Golden Circle and explore a bit. Camping is available everywhere so we didn’t worry about finding a place to sleep.

The drive into Reykjavik was the first time that I really felt like I wasn’t in the US anymore. The different road signs, words I couldn’t pronounce, and the general friendliness of drivers was foreign to me. Luckily, we had a paper map, our phones showed our GPS location despite being in airplane mode, and all the signs in Iceland are pictures and most are pretty intuitive.

Unfortunately, “most” is not the same as “all”. Once we got downtown we were bombarded with signs that varied slightly and were difficult to interpret. What does a sign with a single red line across it mean? How does that differ from two red lines? These are all questions that we should have answers to. Which brings me to my first Iceland lesson:

Lesson 1: Familiarize yourself with road signs before arriving in country.

(I took a shit ton of notes, including several pages of lessons. Some of these are unique to Iceland but I think most of them are applicable for all international travel.)

Eventually, we figured out how to drive and get around without killing anyone. I am a big fan of roundabouts and stop lights that give a yellow warning before turning green. Traffic control in Iceland is pretty awesome. Hunger was hitting us so we grabbed some breakfast at basically the only vegan friendly place that was open before noon (not a lot of breakfast restaurants in Iceland) and then went to the grocery store to stock up. Grocery stores were our best friend because they were cheaper than restaurants and being vegan limited our options. Luckily, we have two years experience traveling without modern appliances and we know what food to stock up on.

Being vegan actually made the trip easier for us because it acted as a filter to all the options. Every decision we make goes through a number of filters based on our tastes, preferences, finances, convenience, ethics, etc. Our veganism is ethics based so we can quickly cut out any restaurants that don’t have vegan options. Then we factor in where the place is located and what options are available.

Of course, decision making involves both binary filters and degree filters. Binary filters are simple “yes/no” filters that allow us to reduce options. Do they have vegan options? No, then it is gone. Degree filters, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated because it requires weighing options relative to each other. One place is 7 miles away and the other is 8, which do we choose? There isn’t enough information to really make an informed choice because things like menu options and price matter. So, do you go to the place 8 miles away with 10 vegan options or the place 7 miles away with 8 vegan options? It all depends…

Anyway, being vegan cut out a lot of the headaches because we could focus on the 3-4 all vegan restaurants that were available in Reykjavik. I was actually really surprised how vegan friendly Iceland was though. Almost every restaurant had an explicitly marked vegan option or two and the prices for vegan food were on par (or sometimes cheaper) than meat options.

After we had full bellies and a carload of food we headed north. We tried to find some allergy medicine for me because my body was acting weird but we couldn’t find any. We later learned that medicine can’t be sold in grocery stores or gas stations, only in pharmacies. It was kind of weird not to find that in a grocery store but find underwear hanging on the walls and lube prominently displayed at the cash registers with the gum and other impulse buys.

The roads we choose were pretty sparse and we picked them based on how scenic they looked or what random experience might be along that way. Due to this technique we found the town of Akrans that had some cool lighthouses that you could climb up. After that we headed out to Glymur Falls to hike up a few miles along cliffs to watch water obey the gravitational pull of the Earth. It was an amazing site and the pictures we took don’t do any of it justice (this is a regular occurrence in Iceland).

Up until this point we had not really ran into tourists. That would change in the future when we discovered there are basically two types of tourists in Iceland: Boots and Buses.

Bus Tourists tended to be older, stay in hotels, and take buses all around the Golden Circle. They shuffled off the bus, walked a few feet to a beautiful site, took a picture, and then shuffled back onto the bus. We knew that a location would be crowded and that we would leave fairly quickly when we saw a bunch of buses.

Book Tourists tended to be younger, camp out, and wander off the normal paths. They hiked along random trials, pushed their way through the rain to reach a glacier, and were mostly found in the southern parts of the country away from the Bus Tourists. These were our people.

By time we got to our hiking stop point it was starting to get late. We cracked open a couple beers, drank them and rested for a bit, and then we hustled down the mountain. We had passed a campground on the road earlier that day so we headed back there where we set up our tent, paid our fee (about $15 per person, which was pretty standard), had sex, and then went to sleep.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

A Couple of Questions

Wow, it has been a long time since I received any Sarahah or SurveyMonkey questions. I’ve got a couple so I figured I’d answer them real quick. If you have a question that you’d like to submit anonymously you can send it via Sarahah or SurveyMonkey. There are no questions that I won’t answer (as you can see if you review my previously answered questions).

Dear Peter, I really found your blog post yesterday pretty interesting. I think I came from a similar background as you, I never really saw naked bodies and I felt like my body was odd and ugly. My question is, have you ever had anyone ask you for nudes (in a non-sexual way)? Would you share them if they did?

Hi person! It definitely sounds like we grew up in a similar environment. I hope that you are healing from the pain you may have felt in the past. To answer your first question… yes, sort of. I’ve had people ask for sexualized nudes before but I don’t think I’ve had anyone specifically ask for me to share my non-sexual nudes. More often it is a mutual sharing situation that I instigate, which is weird because I consider myself somewhat shy. I guess this is another reason where I am more comfortable letting my freak flag fly.

If asked, I would probably say yes. I can’t see any reason why I would say no. I’ve put non-sexual nudes in this blog before and I wouldn’t mind sharing more recent pics. I would hope that by doing so could make someone feel better about their body and give them an opportunity to share safely if they wanted.

I guess there is a risk that someone might use my non-sexual pictures in a sexual way, though I don’t think awkwardly angled selfies with flaccid penises is particularly erotic. I don’t think that would really bother me too much. While I would find that behavior to be against my ethics, I know everyone has their own ethical standards that aren’t the same as mine. Everyone is just doing the best they can 🙂

 

Hi Peter, I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of BJ Miller who is an end of life expert. This interview with him is one of my favorites of all-time. Cheers! https://tim.blog/2016/04/14/bj-miller

Cheers!

I have  actually heard of BJ! I actually listened to his TedTalk many years ago before I was more actively interested in end-of-life care. I am gonna revisit that TedTalk and listen to the Ferriss podcast. Thanks for the recommendation and reminder!

That’s it for now! I plan on starting my blogging about Iceland tomorrow, unless something else random pops into my brain 🙂

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”

Are nude pics okay?

My partner and I spent the last 8 days in Iceland. It was a phenomenal experience and I will be blogging about that in more detail soon. But first, I want to write about something that I reflected on somewhat deeply this week. (Therapy has really got me thinking more deeply about “why” I do things, feel things, fear things, etc.)

Nude pictures.

In Iceland there were many opportunities to be naked. In fact, nudity isn’t against the law there and the culture seems fairly body positive. Of course, it is fucking cold there so not a lot of people were naked (read: nobody). But, despite the cold weather, I found a few opportunities in waterfalls and hot springs to shed my clothing and hang out in nature au naturel.

During these moments sans clothing I took some selfies and other pictures, just like I would if I had clothing on. Unfortunately, I realize that these pictures can only be shared privately and before sharing something like this I believe in getting full consent from the recipient. Luckily, I have a few friends who have consented to receiving uncensored pictures.

In our society nudity is, unfortunately, tied very strongly to sexuality. It is very difficult for us to separate the two, something that isn’t really a problem in some other cultures. I’m sure some of you are thinking right now, “he sends nudes? Is this some kind of sexual voyeurism/exhibitionism thing?”

No. It isn’t. Voyeurism and exhibitionism is something that I have experience with and could blog about, but that is not what sending nude pics really is. Seriously, it is pretty difficult to find much sexual about a guy taking an awkward selfie in a hot spring. Do you know how unflattering the selfie posture is when sitting an hunched over? It definitely is not sexy.

If I wanted to send or receive pictures of a sexual nature then it would involve getting another level of consent from the recipients/senders. I have no problem with pictures like that but I think it would be immoral to use a person (through sharing or receiving) for sexual gratification without getting the consent of that person. To me, the Harm Principle or Non-Aggression Principle is not a strong enough standard for this interaction.

So, if I’m not getting my rocks off then why do I send pictures and why do I ask my friends if it is cool if they receive them?

Because it feels intimate. I grew up in a household that was body shameful and it feels really good to have friends who accept me for me, and that includes the nude me. It is nice to not need to censor myself or hide part of myself or wonder if I’m offending someone with a picture I send them. I want to celebrate beautiful adventures and moments in my life with my friends without running to put pants on. And I feel really blessed to have a handful of friends who are comfortable with me sharing myself so openly, so raw, so exposed.

That doesn’t mean I ask every close friend of mine if I can send nudes. Some of my friends I know well enough to assume they will be uncomfortable with it (I guess if we are friends and you think I’m wrong then correct me). It also isn’t the case that every friend I’ve asked about this has said yes. Many have said no or stated that they are only comfortable with a certain degree of nudity because of their preferences or the restrictions from their partnership and some have even asked that I include their partners for transparency sake. Basically, the degree of comfort varies between individuals/couples. I always respect those boundaries and am not offended or hurt by someone telling me that they aren’t comfortable with seeing all of me. I totally get it. Not everyone views nudity as representative of a deeper emotional bound.

There is a second reason that I like sharing pics that is a little less personal and more political. I think we should normalize nudity and increase the amount of non-porn, non-movie star, non-model bodies that are seen. I’ve had (and still do) some significant body image issues because I didn’t really know what the average body looks like. There is something freeing about seeing and sharing our nude bodies with friends and acquaintances, it breaks down pre-conceived notions and makes us seem more real.

As important as sending nudes is in my life I never expect pictures in return, though it happens sometimes and it feels nice to be trusted with a similar vulnerability that I share. I’m always honored when someone responds to my sharing with sharing of their own, or unexpectedly asks if they can share a picture of themselves with me because they feel strong or attractive or are experiencing something beautiful sans clothes or would like some attention. With apps like SnapChat it is much easier to share without long-term consequences, to be momentarily exposed and have that disappear after a few seconds. Some of my friends prefer that ephemeral representation while others prefer something more concrete and we exchange via text or email.

I recognize that the way we show love differs from person to person. One of the ways I show that I value a friendship or feel that it is deep is that I open myself up in a visual way. Other people show how valuable our friendship is through time spent together or gifts or phone calls or a thousand other things.

One of the things I find beautiful about the world is how we can all carve out unique ways to show love and ask to be loved. And one of those ways that some of us try to show that we care about someone is to ask, “Are nude pics okay?” and then set up the boundaries from there.

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a Snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?

Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger
Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”