Raise the bar (bell)

by Natalie Dee

If I have bars in my pierced nipples, can I easily get them changed to rings? I love my piercings, but the bars seem to be making it harder for them to heal. It’s like the ball part of the bar is just pressing into my skin, leaving little red dents, and I’m afraid the longer I let them be like that the more likely it is there will be some sort of scarring or permanent damage. —Sam

It doesn’t sound like the ball is your problem, it’s the length of your barbell. When you get pierced, whatever area you get pierced is going to swell up a little. This may be why your barbell seems too small.

Changing your jewelry is not a problem, although it’s usually better to wait until you’re healed up. I would recommend that you contact your piercer and let them know you’re having this problem, and they’ll be able to help you pick out more comfortable jewelry that’s a better size.

They will also be able to replace your jewelry for you, so you don’t go and get yourself infected trying to put your new rings in your unhealed nipples. Make sure you’re doing your aftercare to the letter, too, in case the swelling is due to you not keeping things in good shape.


I’m planning a Halloween party with friends and want to include some coworkers that I enjoy chatting up at the office. Several of my coworkers are fun to hang out with, and one is particularly cute, but many are a pain to deal with on a daily basis. I really don’t want them (especially my supervisor) to feel welcome to drink my drinks and eat my eats in my home. How do I invite some folks but not all without looking like a jackass? —Bea

Make a guest list of people you want to invite and ask them for their home phone numbers or personal e-mail addresses. Then you can call or e-mail them when you’re not at work. See, the best way to invite some people over and not others is to keep it covert. Don’t let everyone in the office know that you’re having a party unless you want everyone to come.

It would be unprofessional to do your party planning at work anyway, so even if you did want to invite everyone it should still be taken care of on your own time.


I’m a 33-year-old freshman in art school and I have this roommate that makes me have very violent thoughts.

She is 22 and her room looks like a Care Bear ate a box of crayons and then barfed all over. She jingles down the hallway cuz she wears her diary key on her ankle. She sits in a fold-up playpen in the living room so she can play cute-animal videogames while playing with her chinchilla. She also wears a felt hat with cat ears on top.

Any time I ask her something she either has this 14-year-old attitude or she complains with this horrid whiney voice. I want to throw her from a speeding train.

I’ve been in my place for four years and she moved in about two months ago. How do I get her to move out?


It doesn’t seem like she’s doing anything wrong to me. I mean, sure, she might be a little weird or immature, but those are just personality flaws that you would have known about before she moved in. The way her room is decorated, the way she dresses, what she does in her spare time, these things are pretty inconsequential, and they shouldn’t really bother you that much.

As for her attitude and whininess, she’s probably just reacting to your obvious dislike of her. If you don’t like living people who are immature, maybe you shouldn’t agree to live with someone 11 years your junior. She shouldn’t have to move out suddenly because you made the wrong decision.


I think my boyfriend “Jack” is gay. If you were to look at him you’d see the very Christian, very Republican, very George W. Bush-admiring man that I love. But now I have doubts about his feelings.

Once before I noticed Jack went to Gay.com and I asked him about it. He said he went to the site to tell the men they were sinners, so besides being upset he would do something like that I let it go. A few days later I came home and saw a pic file on my computer labeled “Jack” and I thought it must be a photo of him. Wrong. It was of some guy masturbating. I deleted it from my desktop.

Yesterday I came home from work and kicked him off my computer so I could do some work. Jack offered to help me with something; he fiddled with the program and when I turned my back I saw him close the window and move a picture file labeled “Jack” to the recycle bin.

I know if I confront him he’ll deny it unless I have a picture. Besides, he’s so uptight and Christian I think he’s throwing himself deeper into denial. Porn I can understand—it’s normal to want to see photos of naked people. But of a guy?

Jack is affectionate and kisses me everyday and he sleeps over a lot, though we are not having sex (we’re both waiting until marriage). What should I do? Does this sound like he’s gay? —Emily

It’s really not my place to say whether this guy is gay. Sexuality is not a straight or gay, black or white thing. There are infinite variations in between.

Maybe he is gay. Maybe he’s straight and just bi-curious. Maybe he’s 100-percent straight and is afflicted with that disease that all those Christian Republicans have where they’re fixated on what other people are doing in their bedrooms.

The fact of the matter is, if you’re concerned about what he’s doing on the computer when you’re not looking, you owe it to yourself to talk to him about it. Only then will you make any progress in finding out what he’s thinking about.

Natalie Dee is a Columbus-based artist and writer whose work can be seen at nataliedee.com. To Ask Natalie, e-mail asknatalie@nataliedee.com

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