Shared posts

20 May 14:00

#Occupotty 2: Return of Occupotty, The Debate That Never Ends - #Occupotty 2: Return of Occupotty

by Marcy Cook

shutterstock_278801180

This serves as a follow-up to Marcy Cook’s earlier piece on #Occupotty.

The bathroom debate won’t go away. I’m scrolling though Twitter, tea in one hand, warm cat on my lap, and I read another piece describing awful transphobia toward a seven-year-old girl in Canada. Cisgender people somehow think that trans people are a danger to them in bathrooms; it’s an idea that drives past ignorance and into the desert of bigotry, but it’s an idea uninformed politicians don’t want to shake.

It is trans women that are often seen as the big danger in bathrooms because we’re in “a women-only space?” Thanks for pointing that out, buddy; you think we don’t know that? I panic every time I use the women’s bathroom. Every time. If I can, I just wait until I go home – but that’s not always an option.

“But men like you shouldn’t be in a women’s bathroom, you’re a-” Hey armchair pundits, trans women are women, all medical science acknowledges that; and while I appreciate your bigoted privileged point of view as a medically untrained non-expert on… oh no, wait, I don’t appreciate your point of view on this subject at all.

Let me quickly explain how wrong and how dangerous bathroom policing is from my perspective as a trans woman:

Trans people are massively outnumbered by cis people. We commit such a tiny amount of crime that it’s preposterous how attacked we are by lawmakers all over the world. It’s based in bigotry, not in fact. If we were to legislate based off fact, pure statistical data, the laws would be designed to control cisgender men.

Trans women go to the bathroom to pee. We’re not there to macramé, play with LEGO, or even to sexually assault other women. We just want to use the facilities and get out. Ideally without getting yelled at, spat at, or beaten.

Trans women on HRT (which is not all trans women, but the majority, from my understanding) do not have the sexual drive, or – for the most part – physical functionality to sexually assault anyone! Some prisons use testosterone blockers in their water supplies to keep prisoners calmer. Imagine that at a higher dose, with added estrogen, too. Trans women don’t think like men; and when on HRT, even if they have the right physical configuration for penetration, they can’t always function like men, either. It takes time and emotional connection to warm up the engine, if it turns over at all. There is a reason transgender porn stars usually come off hormone treatment a while before a shoot; it allows their engine to purr. So anyone thinking that a trans woman is a danger to other women is incorrectly prescribing male thoughts, male sexual drive, and male sexual abilities onto trans women.

The whole idea is a false syllogism. “Trans women were once men, therefore they will think like men, and as such they will act like men.” Nope, it doesn’t work that way; a trans woman has, from the moment of her creation, the brain of a woman. So no, we don’t think like men.

Trans men are in a whole other situation; if they don’t pass, using a male bathroom can be very dangerous, because they are surrounded by men who could physically or sexually assault them. Remember, the men making these bathroom laws don’t think men have any self-control. Don’t think it’s easier for trans guys, because it’s really not; but I’m talking from my experience and knowledge here.

Kids need to pee too, and this also includes trans kids. Young trans kids don’t get what the big deal is, they don’t understand the bigotry and unreasoned hatred of adults; all trans kids know is they are stuck in a world that singles them out and seems to distrust them. Read this story of a 7-year-old girl in Edmonton, Canada. Her classmates are happy, other parents are happy; the only conflict is with the school, which is refusing to allow her to use the girls’ restroom. I read this line and nearly dropped my cup of tea on my cat: “The student, confused by the debate surrounding her gender identity, has told her mom she wants to die.”

She’s in the second grade, and she doesn’t know why she can’t use the same bathroom as her friends. “Wait,” I hear the our armchair buddies saying, “they already created a bathroom for her, so what’s the big deal, you SJWs are never -” Sigh. Yes, the school re-assigned a single stall bathroom as gender neutral, but was that good enough? Is it right to force a single kid in an entire school to go and use a specific bathroom for them? What do you think separating out a kid like that does to them in a school? Well you have the answer to that: she wants to die. Trans kids are labelled as “other,” as untrustworthy and as dangerous. Welcome to the perpetuation of high unemployment, suicide, and murder. This is in Canada, too; aren’t we supposed to be the progressive country in North America?

Not only is the bathroom debate based on incorrect crime statistics, with no factual basis, on a false syllogism, it’s outright bigotry that is bad enough to literally make a seven-year-old want to die. When will we move past this?

Marcy (@marcyjcook) is an immigrant trans woman and writer. This includes Transcanuck.com, a website dedicated to informing and helping trans Canadians. She also has a nerd job, too many cats, is a part time volunteer sex educator and has an ongoing sordid love affair with Lego. Those last two are not related… probably.

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

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19 May 15:39

New York Meetup May 23, with special guest Kate-from-London

by JenniferP
Kristen

I wish ALL social events were planned in this way! Special shout out to the "safety" notes, pronoun default, and introverts/shy folk note at the bottom.

New Yorkers, Rose Fox has planned a meetup in Manhattan on May 23. It’s an amazingly comprehensive event description and plan, so check it out below the cut and join them if you can.

Yours in envy,

Jennifer

=====
NYC Awkwardeer Meetup, Saturday May 23

SPECIAL GUEST: London Awkwardeer Kate!

Coordinator: Rose Fox (they/them), rose sploosh tocotox splat net (replace onomatopoeia with @ and . to turn this into an email address).

THE PLAN

2 p.m.: Meet at Washington Square Park on the lawn between Holley Plaza and the Arch, at the spot marked by a blue picnic blanket in this map:
https://goo.gl/ExVR0b
And more or less behind the orange construction vehicles in this nifty photosphere (click and drag it to look around):
https://goo.gl/JTlMph

Nearest transit and directions: A/B/C/D/E/F/M to West 4th Street, north (uptown) end of train, exit onto 6th Avenue and Waverly Place, walk one block east on Waverly to Washington Square; N/R to 8th Street, north (uptown) end of train, exit onto Broadway and 8th Street, walk one block south on Broadway to Waverly and three blocks east on Waverly to Washington Square. Enter the square through the giant white marble arch and walk toward the fountain; we’ll be in the patch of lawn to your right, behind the benches (and probably back under the trees a bit for some shade).

Access: The park is wheelchair-accessible. There are wooden park benches nearby for those who prefer not to sit on or roll onto the grass.

~4 p.m.: Decamp to Argo Tea Café, 75 University Place at East 11th Street.

Nearest transit and directions: L/N/R/Q/4/5/6 to Union Square. There are a million exits from that station and the layout’s confusing, so it’s hard to specify one, but aim for exits that say 14th Street or Union Square South, or take any exit because it’s easier to find your way around aboveground. Once outside, get to the southeast corner of 14th Street and University Place (where Strawberry is, next to Forever 21 and Whole Foods) and walk three blocks down University Place.

Access: Argo is wheelchair-accessible and has a wheelchair-accessible unisex bathroom.

~7:30 p.m.: Dinner at a nearby restaurant to be determined, depending on the size and dietary restrictions of the group.

ADDITIONAL INFO

Safety: Don’t touch anyone or their stuff without their permission. Don’t harass anyone. Don’t block anyone’s exit. If someone states a boundary, respect it. Don’t use slurs or start arguments for the sake of arguing. If you repeatedly or aggressively act like a jerk, we can and will ask you to go elsewhere. If someone is a jerk to you or near you and you need backup, let Rose know and they will help you out.

Respect: Actively practice courtesy, kindness, respect, and empathy. Please default to using “they” for anyone who doesn’t state or display their pronouns. At least one attending person has a pretty severe scent allergy, so please refrain from wearing sprayed-on or dabbed-on perfume, cologne, or floral essences. If you see someone who appears to be in distress, quietly ask “Are you okay?”–and if they say yes, respect that and leave them be.

Rain plan: Meet at Argo at 2 p.m. and stay there forever.

How to find us: Look for a Rainbow Dash stuffed toy waving a rainbow flag; there may also be a sign that says “DON’T FORGET TO BE AWKWARD”. For the park and Argo, just show up! If you want to join us for dinner, please be at Argo by 7 p.m. If it’s 4ish and you’re not sure whether to go to the park or Argo, or if you get to either place and can’t find us, email Rose, who will check regularly for messages. (FOCA members, PM Rose Fox in advance to get their phone number.)

Things you may want to bring: your own homemade name/pronoun buttons or tags, sun protection, drinks and snacks for the park, a blanket and/or cushiony thing to sit on at the park, a craft project to fidget with, a board or card game (preferably more cooperative and/or silly than competitive), cash (preferably not just twenties) for buying snacks from vendors in the park and splitting the check at dinner.

Coordinators will supply: name/pronoun tags and markers, unscented sunscreen.

Expected costs: The park is free! We’ll probably be a big enough group at Argo that you won’t need to buy anything in order to hang out with us, but if you’re able to get a tea or a muffin and support the venue, please do. At dinner you pay for what you order; if we can’t get separate checks, this will be calculated as base price * 1.33 (to cover ~9% NYC tax + ~24% tip). The name/pronoun stickers cost about $2 each to provide, so if you feel like donating to cover the cost of your sticker or someone else’s, that’d be awesome.

Expected attendance: at least four or five people, and the group may get large and/or merrily noisy. Introverts, please feel totally free to drift into and out of the meetup, listen more than you talk, sit nearby and read a book, or whatever else helps you manage your interaction points. Shy folks, if you’d like to strike up a conversation with someone and aren’t sure where to start, a great icebreaker question is “What’s made you happy lately?”.
=====

Thanks!


18 May 14:45

Why I'm totally ok being the 40-year-old at the music festival

by Ariel Meadow Stallings
Kristen

The photos on this post are wonderful. concerts aren't my jam, but this does make me want to look for D'oah fest...

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
My goal is to be this amazing guy in a couple decades! All photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

I went to my first large outdoor electronic music festival in 1996 when I was 21. The event was called "FutureSoul Festival" and I spent a significant portion of the weekend rolling around in a sleeping bag on the grass, trying to keep my brain from exploding from what's known as "candyflipping." By the time I was finally in stable enough condition to dance, I got in about an hour of flailing before the cops showed up and shut the event down for lack of appropriate permitting.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

In the decades since, I've attended dozens of music festivals in various states of inebriation and ridiculousness, not just in the US but abroad… the Glastonbury in the UK, Love Parade in Berlin, Roskilde in Denmark. One of my all-time favorites that I attended for years was Shambhala in British Columbia. Man, those were some good festivals. Dancing your ass off surrounded by a sea of sweating people in the open air? Camping with friends and stumbling in and out of tents that shivered with bass being blasted a half mile away? Good times in my 20s, and good times in my 30s.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Miraculously, here I am, almost 20 summers after my first big music festival… building my summer yet again around a festival, this time, Oregon's Beloved Festival. This time, I'm 40 years old. 40, you guys. It's time to confront that I may be the equivalent of the old guy at the club, and why I'm totally ok with that. Here's why.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Dancing outdoors is still the best

Yes ok fine: in my early 20s music festivals were as much about getting fucked up as they were about dancing. The reality of my life is this, though: I LOVE DANCING, and I love dancing outdoors best of all. While there be some aspects of any music scene that are best enjoyed in your youth, I would argue that "moving your body to music" should never EVER be considered one of them. For those who truly love dance (and I love it so much that I used to capitalize the word Dance, because it was Very Sacred and deserved Special Emphasis), there's no age limit on that. Some cultures are better at recognizing this than others, and mainstream American culture is still working on it.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Depending on the festival, I'm in great company

Certainly this is where picking the RIGHT festival starts to be the most important factor. Shambhala was my jam for years, and then suddenly it was some combination of it being too coked up and me being too old. Picking the right festival is extra complicated because of course festivals shift year to year, but when a friend in her 40s told me a few years ago about Beloved in Oregon, I was hopeful. I looked at pictures of previous years and could see that the attendees came in a range of ages. Sure, the bulk were 20s and 30s, but children and The Olds were also well represented.

Photo by Ziporah Lomax
Photo by Ziporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Having attended now for three years, I can say that I don't even feel old at Beloved — culturally, the event does a great job of having day music and workshops for folks who want that (who often skew a bit older) and then late night music for those who want that (who usually skew younger). Last year, I found myself getting down on the outdoor dance floor with a guy who's dance style reminded me of something — turns out he'd been raving in London in the late '80s (old school!) and had lived in SF in the mid-90s (like me) and his dancing was totally that SF style I remember so well. Plus, he was even older than I was.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Not high? Doesn't matter

At 40, I am no longer that person gurning half-naked on the dance floor, stumbling around with dilated pupils. Now I'm the person who offers that person a sip of water helps them find their friends on a blanket. During my gurning years, I had hundreds of high encounters with kind strangers who kept me hydrated, made sure I was safe, and helped me out. As the older, less high person at the music festival, it's my turn to pay back the kindnesses paid to me back in the day.

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

The people-watching OMG

Yes, dance (with a capital D or not) is still very important to me, but without a doubt my second-favorite thing to do at music festivals is watching people. I live in a dense urban Seattle neighborhood known for its hipsters and gays, so I get some decent people-watching in my daily life… but there's no denying that people are decked out and in rare form at music festivals, and the people-watching gets elevated to some next-level shit. Eavesdropping, too!

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

Be a living example that life doesn't end at 29

If I worry that mainstream American culture doesn't have much to offer when it comes to examples of older folks having fun dancing, then isn't it my responsibility to be the change I wish to see? Look, young friends: you can be 40-years-old, reasonably successful and competent, have a family and run a business… and still manage to get out on the dance floor every once in a while!

At 40, I celebrate different things on the dance floor than I did when I was 21… but it still feels important to celebrate. I don't go to music festivals to regress or pretend I'm younger than I am (I looooove sleeping at music festivals omg I'm like the best rested day-dancer everrrr), but it feels important to be both very adult, and very committed to getting down and celebrating. At music festivals now, I'm responsible about eating well, sleeping well, taking care of myself, AND enjoying myself. I was still learning those skills in my early 20s, but now I know how to do all these things! Isn't adulthood awesome?!

Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax
Photos from Beloved Festival by Zipporah Lomax

My kid gets to learn stuff

I've written about how much I love bringing my son to Beloved, but as he gets older, going to music festivals with him is getting even more awesome. Sure, dancing with him is great, but I also love people-watching with him, and music festivals give us an amazing opportunity to have very natural, early conversations about substance use and abuse. I'm a firm believer in harm reduction, and while my kid's only 5 and likely won't encounter friends using substances for another 5-10 years, I love that we can have conversations NOW about why that bug-eyed girl is rolling around in the dirt, and if that sweaty and crying guy in the ripped pants looks like he's having fun.

My grubby son rocking his noise-cancelling headphones
My grubby son rocking his noise-cancelling headphones at Beloved in 2012. Photo by Stephanie Kaloi.

This is also where picking the RIGHT festival to go to is critical. I wouldn't take my kid to a festival where everyone's top priority was getting fucked up. In part because it wouldn't be much fun for him, but also because it's disrespectful to the other attendees. Beloved Festival makes it clear that children are welcome, while also having a late-night dance floor that's clearly intended for adults.

CC White at Beloved by Zipporah Lomax
CC White at Beloved by Zipporah Lomax

And yeah, ok: the music is awesome

I can't believe I'm saving this for last because of course it's most important: music is fucking awesome, and hearing new music at festivals is the best. A few years ago, after hearing her sing at Beloved, my son became obsessed with C.C. White, a singer who rocks a niche known as "Soul Kirtan." Toddlers love repetitive music, and devotional soul music (it's a thing!) hit a sweet spot for him that I never would have thought to introduce him to. Last summer, I danced my ass off to Odezsa, who I'd never heard of (despite their being from Seattle). Why? Because I don't go out as much as I used to, duh! (Too busy sleeping!) Dancing myself into a sweaty pump to Odezsa for two hours was a high point of my summer, and their music carried me through a dreary fall.

Look, I totally get that music festivals aren't everybody's jam, and that for some of us they stop being fun. Hell, I wrote a post called I left the music festival because it was too loud! But for those of us who are able to find music festivals, at the right time, that fit and feel good? Age ain't got no limit on celebrating that.

Tickets are on sale now for the Beloved Festival, August 7-10 2015. Maybe I'll see you there this summer?

Recent Comments

  • ForeverGrateful: Go too Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival, or any Terrapi music festival. You won't regret it. Located in Harrodsburg, KY. Impossible … [Link]
  • Lydia: Of course, nothing says journalistic integrity like leaving snarky comments anonymously. [Link]
  • Teresa: you seem fun. [Link]
  • Antandra Music: Haha! This article is spot on. I'll be 30 in July, and I feel like I'm just getting started even … [Link]
  • Bradley: This is absolutely awesome and on the mark. As veteran and one of the elder statesmen of the past two … [Link]

+ 18 more! Join the discussion

19 May 03:43

To missing friends. The ones lost. The ones in hiding.

by thebloggess
Kristen

A very important reminder, that we miss you when you go missing.

Even if the one thats missing is yourself. I always love how Jenny describes anxiety and depression, in a way that makes me feel like "I thought I was the only one...."

Tonight I miss people.  I miss friends who I’ve lost.  I miss friends who still exist, but are too terrified of life to say hello.  I understand it.  I miss me too when I go missing.  But I’m still here – deep down- under the shell that protects me when life gets too rough.  I’m still here when my head tries to tell me I’m nothing.  I’m still here under it all.  And you’re here too.

You’re here even if you think no one would know if you were gone.  You’re here in the hearts of people you would never suspect you had impacted.  You’re here in memory and in reality and in the echo of every person you ever touched and taught.  You are magnified in ways you never knew.

Many years ago Victor took me to a tropical island.  It was a dark time for me and a reminder that you don’t get to pick the times when parts of you go missing.  It rained more than it didn’t.  My anxiety and depression magnified.  I got sick and I ended up in the hospital in another country.   When I think back to those days I have dark memories with a few bright spots.  I remember standing in the pouring rain, looking out into the horizon.  I took a picture because I knew I wasn’t me enough to appreciate it at the time.

I found that picture again tonight.

throughtherain

It’s beautiful.  And dark.  And if you look through the rain you’ll see that it’s amazing.  You just have to have the right eyes.

You have to learn to see what’s hidden beneath.

You have to remember that we are so much more than our broken minds sometimes recognize.

I see you.  I remember you.  You echo in me.  I miss you.  But you are not missing.  You are here.

18 May 14:45

Small Safety Reminder Time

by JenniferP
Kristen

All the nopes!! Good tips and reminders!!

My friend told me a creepy story this weekend. A clean cut man with a clip board knocked on her door and asked her questions about one of her neighbors. He asked my friend if she knew the neighbor, and when my friend demurred because something about it felt off – “I just moved here, don’t know anyone that well” – he pulled out a picture of the neighbor from a manila envelope and was like “are you sure?” My friend held fast and eventually he went away.

She asked the neighbor (who she does know) about it later, and the guy is a stalker. Fun!

So, safety reminder time:

  • Just because someone knocks on your door it doesn’t mean you have to open it or engage with whoever it is. If you’re not expecting anyone, and they sort of catch you out as being home, “It isn’t a good time!” + ignore.
  • People who have some legitimate reason to be there will show you an ID, and (esp. for utility company) if you say “Mind if I verify that?” will be okay with you looking at their ID, writing down numbers, and hang out without protest while you call the company. Someone who gets squirrely about this is bad news.
  • Stalkers like to glean information anyway they can. Don’t give out information about your neighbors and/or coworkers to strangers. We are socialized to tell the truth and to be nice, and that’s hard training to overcome especially when someone catches you off guard, but “I don’t know” and “Why don’t you leave your information” are good stock phrases.
  • If you live in a multi-family housing situation, be a mensch about security. Lock doors and gates. Don’t randomly buzz people in. Walk downstairs and greet the pizza delivery person, don’t prop the gate or door open or let strangers into the building.
  • Creeps will often manufacture very good reasons they need to get into the building. “Your downstairs neighbor knows me, I’m early, can you let me in to wait for her?” or “I’m friends with your neighbor, and she said she was leaving a key out, but I can’t find it, and my cell phone battery is dead, can you help me find it” = NOPE. You don’t have to let anyone in. “Sorry dude, there’s a diner down the street where you can wait. What did you say your name was?

Signed,

A woman who used to be plagued by a dude who would drive to her house in order to look into her windows and jack off (true story!)


08 May 11:45

I’m starting to loathe Mother’s Day

by Julia Renee
Kristen

Reminder that Mothers Day isnt a happy celebration for everyone...and for a variety of reasons.

By: lindsaydeebunny – CC BY 2.0
By: lindsaydeebunnyCC BY 2.0

It's not because I don’t appreciate my mother, my sister, my aunts and grandmothers (because they’re awesome and superheroes), and not even because it generally means that we have to spend mornings with one family and afternoons with another family (even though said families are 50 miles apart). Mostly, I loathe Mother’s Day because it is a reminder that I am not and likely never will be a mother.

I’ve started becoming a recluse on Mother’s Day weekend. I’m of an age where it’s assumed I am a mother and am generally given a cheery “Happy Mother’s Day” by every retail clerk with whom I come into contact (yes, even though there are no children with me). The issue is that I am not and I, in my over-abundant need to be truthful, feel uncomfortable allowing it to slide with a simple “thank you.” But I don’t really want to break into tears and shout that I don’t deserve this particular salutation.

If I were one to characterize myself as “child-free” perhaps I could go on a rant about sexism, ageism, and the societal norms involved in assuming I’m a mother because I’m of a certain age or I can quote Anne Lamott, and state that “Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path.” But the poor schmuck behind the counter at Target who is just trying to be nice doesn’t deserve that any more than I deserve to feel shame because I am not a mother.

But I’m not there yet. I’m not at that point where I’m content in the knowledge that I won’t have a child of my own. I’m still blindly hoping that I’ll get pregnant by a miracle. In the meantime, I’m trying to acknowledge all those feelings that come up and deal with them as they appear, which includes the gratitude for my family for acknowledging me for my role as “aunt.”

It’s rough, though, because mourning the loss of what isn’t, and will likely never be, is something that’s hard to explain to others, and harder still when it’s been going on for years.

Until I can get to the point where I can appreciate my childlessness or see the Universe’s higher purpose for not giving me children, Mother’s Day will be difficult. In the meantime, I can only hope that I can continue to hold my tongue when some well-intentioned retail worker wishes me a Happy Mother’s Day.

Either child-free by choice or not, how do you deal with being told "Happy Mother's Day" when you're, um, NOT a mother? Awkward…

Recent Comments

  • divamezzo: This past Mother's Day I had a random guy in the neighborhood who was doing something with his car call … [Link]
  • Alanna: I'm sorry that you get hurt so often by the unintentionally insensitive. I do have to say though, that as … [Link]
  • christin: Update: I was just telling my patents about this thread, when my father laughed and said, "Look at what I … [Link]
  • beccaboo4407: This past Sunday was the weirdest Mother's Day I ever had. When I wished her a "Happy Mother's Day", my … [Link]
  • Jen: Update - everyone got chocolate! Now, let's see if we get another one for Fathers Day. [Link]

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The post I’m starting to loathe Mother’s Day appeared first on @offbeathome.

05 May 22:30

Why You Should Care About Lesbian Safer Sex (And What To Do About It)

by Christy Duan
Kristen

Public service announcement!

shutterstock_214876132If sexual health isn't relevant to your interests yet, it should be.
06 May 13:00

My Hashimoto's Crash Course: Another Piece To The Panic Puzzle?

by Jen
Kristen

Responsible research for the win!!

Note: this may get SUPER boring if you don't have anxiety and/or you're not interested in thyroid conditions.

Also: I'm not a medical professional or even close to an expert, so always consult your doctor and do your own research before starting or changing any medications, treatments, or supplements.

***

Late last year I decided I wanted to really tackle my growing agoraphobia, so before I got too serious with exposure therapy, I asked my doctor to run a bunch of tests. (It's always smart to get checked out before you start any new treatment - even non-drug ones.)

The tests revealed I had a "shocking" vitamin D deficiency - which I expected - and also Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which I did not.

At the time I told you guys the good news, I was pretty dismissive of the Hashi's, calling it, "essentially sluggish thyroid, which is easily treatable" and claiming it had nothing to do with my anxiety. Several of you immediately cautioned me in the comments, explaining that it's far more than that, and has potential anxiety implications. So before I started any meds, I went looking for the best book I could find on the subject, and eventually decided on this one:

Hashimoto's Root Cause, by Izabella Wentz


I bought and read it in a matter of days, taking copious notes, and then took to the web to research more of what I'd just learned.

In a nutshell, Hashi's is an autoimmune disease in which your body begins attacking your own thyroid. As the thyroid is destroyed, it obviously can't produce all the thyroidy goodness your body needs, and a host of symptoms like fatigue, cold intolerance, weight gain, etc, can pop up. Apparently Hashi's can be hard to catch, so I'm lucky, in a way, that my test results were clearly positive. (The most conclusive test looks for Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, which is what your body produces to attack your thyroid. If you have any those, you probably have Hashi's. Easy-peasy.)

Most doctors consider Hashi's an easy fix: you just supplement the body with synthetic thyroid - Synthroid being the most common - and plan to increase that dose as the thyroid is slowly destroyed by the body's own immune system. Since no one really knows WHY your body suddenly has it in for the thyroid, all you can do is essentially treat the symptom, and of course you'll need to be on the synthetic thyroid for life.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course - these drugs save lives -  but Wentz's book delves much deeper, searching for that "root cause" and positing that, if you find it, you can actually reverse thyroid damage and potentially avoid a lifetime of ever-increasing Synthroid doses.

I should stress that the author is NOT anti-drug, and heartily recommends Synthroid or other medications as a first step in any Hashi's treatment regiment. Wentz is a pharmacist, and frequently explains things from the molecular level, which can be both daunting and extremely technical, but I kind of love that.

I can tell you that Wentz's recommendations are flatly overwhelming, though, ranging from a dizzying array of both prescription and supplement options, to further test recommendations, to diet plans that made me die a little inside. (Or, ok, die a lot.) It's complete information overload, but coupled with her in-depth explanation of what exactly your body is experiencing with Hashi's - and the host of seemingly unrelated symptoms that go with it - it was also pretty encouraging. Suddenly my life-long history of GI issues is making sense! And hey, get this: anxiety and panic disorders can definitely be directly related to Hashimoto's.


Mind = blown.


(Here's a post on Wentz's blog about it.)


Armed with better information, I returned to my doctor and discussed treatment options. Given that my thyroid numbers weren't all that bad yet, he allowed me to hold off on Synthroid for 6 more weeks, and instead focus on fixing my severe vitamin D deficiency, which I'd learned can have a major effect on thyroid function. Based on my research I also began taking Selenium, and we decided to check my iodine levels for possible supplementation of that, too.

Quick note on iodine: Long considered the go-to thyroid supplement, I was surprised to learn there's quite a controversy among doctors regarding iodine, as some [like Wentz] believe excess iodine actually *causes* a lot of the Hashimoto's here in the U.S. (Whaaaa?) In other countries it's usually an iodine deficiency that causes Hashi's, so you can see how that'd get confusing.

All I can say is, do your homework, and talk to a knowledgeable doctor. If you do decide to supplement, definitely get your iodine levels checked first. It's a simple urine test, so no excuses! (Mine turned out to be on the low end of normal, so I supplemented briefly, but then stopped after 2 weeks.)

Ok, so! Ready for the good news?

After a little over 6 weeks on vitamin D and selenium, my D levels were back in the normal range, I felt more awake & energetic, and my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) improved by half: coming down from 6.05 to 3. (Normal range is roughly from .3 to 5, so that puts me back in range.) My doctor was especially pleased to see my T3 come down almost a full point, since he tells me that's the more adrenaline-like of the Ts, and so more likely to cause panic issues.

I still have those pesky Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, which means my body is still attacking my thyroid (and I still have Hashi's), but even those reduced from 194 down to 148.

Encouraged, my doc and I agreed NOW we could start Synthroid. The lower T3 meant I was less likely to have a panic reaction, and the drug will help with my Hashi's symptoms and potentially even allow me to lose some extra pounds, which Doc is keen to see. [Insert grumbling here about responsible doctors and their persistent demands for better health. I mean, REALLY.]

It's been just over a month now, and I'm happy to report that the Synthroid hasn't caused any noticeable uptick in anxiety - though there's also no miraculous wellspring of energy or weight loss, either. Heh. I'm on the smallest dose possible, though, so we'll reassess my levels in another few months and see if I need more.

I'm posting all this because some of you asked, but also because I hope my story encourages you guys to ask more questions, do more research, and maybe even order some tests through your doctors. Hashi's is most common in women over 30, so if you have the symptoms, get the test. (And make sure it's the antibodies test, not just your TSH level!) This could be one more piece of the panic puzzle for some of you, and that alone makes it worth a dozen blog posts, in my book.


Closing thoughts (ie the slightly less boring stuff):

John told me last week that one of the things he's most admired in me the past 7 years has been my tenacious search for answers. I refused to accept that I started having severe panic attacks - literally over night - for no reason. I refused to accept the "No Diagnosis" on my hospital charts. I've never stopped looking for a root cause, never stopped seeing new doctors or trying new things.

Some of my efforts were a disaster, like my 2-year foray into bio-identical hormones, and some brought me blissful relief, like this new spine stretch that combats computer hunch, and lets me go up to 2 months between chiropractic visits. (I can literally halt minor free-floating panic with a simple shoulder stretch now - which took me years of needless suffering to learn.)

I've met so many people who've given up, saying they're just "the anxious type" and resigned to a lifetime of Xanax. Xanax is a godsend, don't get me wrong, but I'm convinced panic and anxiety should never be a life sentence. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'll still be struggling to ride the Hogwarts Express in ten years, and maybe I'll never get on a plane again, because I'm just too scared. Maybe I'll never see Tokyo Disneyland.

But I'm tenacious, dangit, and I refuse to accept that.

So here's to all my fellow rebels out there, spitting in the face of panic and daring it to do its worst.

And then doing responsible research and talking to our doctors and therapists.

'Cuz we got this.
04 May 15:00

CONTINUE? Y/N: A Short Story

by Kendra Fortmeyer
Kristen

This was riveting to read.

Previously by Kendra Fortmeyer: Mermaids at the End of the Universe: A Short Story

 

She has one job, and it is to offer the hero a flower. She says, “Would you like to buy a flower?” and if he says yes, she says, “That’ll be 1 p,” and if he says no, then she says nothing.

She is lucky to have options. Her friend, Village Girl, simply says, “This is a nice day, isn’t it?” and across town there is a man who just holds his head in his hands and says, “oh no no no no no.”

All the heroes buy the flower in the end. She watches them run by again later, parties in tow, the blond girl in the back clutching the flower in her fist. She wonders what it would be like to be that girl. She wonders if the blond girl has options, or if her life is just take the flower or don’t take the flower. Fight and run and die this way.

 

She is a pert young thing, with comically large breasts and a green dress. She has a fan following on the internet. They call her Flower Girl. There are theories: the game designers meant to make her a playable character. She has lines of dialogue buried in the code. Once, someone posts a video that they claim is FLOWER GIRLS INTRO BATTLE SEQUENCE!!! but closer examination reveals it to be the blond girl, Serafina, in a clumsily Photoshopped green dress.

 

Waiting for the hero is the Flower Girl’s favorite part of her job. It makes her feel like she is on the edge of something beautiful and important: a blooming of endless possibilities. Then the hero appears, and she is forced to remember that this is all there is:

Would you like to buy a flower?

and

That’ll be 1p.

Read more CONTINUE? Y/N: A Short Story at The Toast.

03 May 03:30

John Made Me Cry Today, And He Doesn't Even Know It

by Jen
Kristen

This is the sweetest note and sentiment....

John's been sick this week, so it's been kinda quiet over here as he sleeps and sniffles the days away. (I would say it's "just" a head cold, but given the sonic boom quality of his rapid fire sneezes, there is no "just.") He always insists on sleeping on the couch when he's sick, and growls angrily if I get too close to "the contagion zone," no matter how hard I roll my eyes.

Today John started to feel slightly human again, so I tried to convince him to sleep in the bed for the afternoon. "I'm not even in there," I said, "You won't get me sick! Just go!" In answer he scowled, and in a tone of utmost exasperation, said this:

"Do you know how often I wish I could take things for you?" He motioned to my corset. "The painful periods, the times you're sick, the anxiety attacks? Do you know how often I ask God to give me those things, instead of you? So no, I'm not sleeping in the bed. I'm not getting you sick. I'm taking this one."

Then he sneezed, and flumped back down on the couch, and completely missed all these tears.

I love you, Sweetie. Feel better soon.
17 Apr 22:40

the-inspired-lesbian: If you don’t live with mental illness, don’t make assumptions about what is...

Kristen

THIS so hard....

the-inspired-lesbian:

If you don’t live with mental illness, don’t make assumptions about what is and isn’t a symptom.

Depression isn’t always sitting in a dark room, crying. It’s forgetting important things like appointments and due dates. It’s living in a messy home. it’s forgetting to brush your hair or teeth. It’s failing an assignment you are 100% capable of doing. It’s finding the negative in every situation, even the most positive ones. It’s questioning why anyone wants you. It’s not allowing yourself even one mistake. it’s being exhausted when you haven’t achieved anything for the day. 

Anxiety isn’t just stressing or being nervous. It’s losing the ability to breathe. It’s aches in your body. It’s cancelling plans with people you love. It’s taking the longest route because you know it will have the fewest people. It’s questioning everything. It’s your stomach always dropping. It’s your mind constantly making up “what if” scenarios and scaring you. 

PTSD isn’t just violent flashbacks. It’s getting angry and upset or reacting to something without realising why it’s happening. It’s not trusting anyone. It’s avoiding things people never think of as negative. It’s nightmares while you sleep and while you’re awake. It’s felt in every inch of the body. 

Anorexia isn’t just failing to eat. It’s physical and mental pain. It’s looking in the mirror and finding only negatives. It’s thinking all day about food and being scared of it. It’s never feeling good enough. It’s complete self destruction. It’s crying because people saying “just eat it” makes things worse. 

Mental illnesses are often romanticised or dulled down to just one or two symptoms. But mental illness impacts a person in every way. If someone has a mental illness and they’re doing something you can’t understand or they’re not doing their jobs, don’t call them lazy or dramatic or useless. Understand that mental illnesses may be housed in the brain, but the illness spreads throughout the body and into every aspect of life. 

22 Apr 14:45

Joining a freakshow to really feel human: My life as a bearded burly carny lass

by Little Bear the Bearded Lady
Photo by Samuel S. Grahn
Photo by Samuel S. Grahn

Hi. I'm Little Bear. If you haven’t heard of me, I’m a bearded lady. This is due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Sure, I could shave (wax, laser, thread, sugar, pluck, etc.) if I wanted to. But I don’t want to, so I don’t.

I perform both solo as a singer of opera and show tunes (often incorporating burlesque), and as a member of Seattle-based modern sideshow troupe, Wreckless Freeks. And if the thought of a bearded lady who takes off her clothes, sings on stage, and lies on beds of nails brings to mind the term “attention seeking,” you may be right. However, I have not always been so candid in admitting so.

You see, with “normalcy” comes a sense of entitlement. People with the decorum to not put themselves on display like a pinwheel will freely, and lazily, arm-chair diagnose me, trying to find The Big Reason™ why I feel the need to degrade myself. This arises particularly often when I speak out about being harassed, objectified, shamed, and policed, under the ideology of “you’re asking for it.”

But if I’m not asking for it, why not just BE NORMAL? "Come on, Bear. Put your clothes back on, shave your face, pull your hand out of the raccoon trap, and stop looking for attention. You’re 32. Time to grow up."

Sometimes I will waste my breath attempting to explain the difference between embracing yourself and degrading yourself. And sometimes they will bounce back, sliding in a quick “narcissist” or “special snowflake” accusation before they disengage. In the end, nothing is resolved. Just two Rock’em Sock’em Robots throwing buzzword punches at each other before the game gets boring and the trolls move onto bigger and better conversations.

So, I realized that perhaps I’d been going about this all wrong.

Before I so shamelessly sought attention for a living, I was a pretty introverted 20-something living in sleepy small town Florida. I shaved my face, neck, and chest daily, praying to the Endocrine Gods to not let my 5 o'clock shadow creep in while in public. The only audience for my singing were the tiles in my shower. I undressed away from any mirrors, pretending my body didn't exist until it was rightfully concealed under tent-y clothing.

In September of 2013, after a very long dormancy period of love, I entered a long distance relationship with a progressive Seattleite guy who relished my uniqueness, and encouraged my individuality. By March, I packed 30 years of my life into a suitcase, and flew 3200 miles away to be near him. In April, emboldened by the lax and colorful nature of this exciting new city, I stopped shaving my face. In June, I took a step further, and entered my then-scant wisp of a goatee into a local Beard Competition (yes, that's a thing). I couldn't have known how much my life would change that day.

It was there I was approached by an imposing group of men who introduced themselves as the circus sideshow troupe, Wreckless Freeks. "A sideshow needs a bearded lady," they proposed, and really, that's all it took.

"Degrading" and "exploitative," never entered my mind, mainly because it didn't have TIME to. The understanding that I would be trained as I go along, learning different feats at every show, was established before any images of me sitting in a cage with nickels being tossed at me could be conjured.

In fact, with the exception of my boyfriend (who remained supportive throughout all of this), no one really ever treated me as dimensional and kind as the Freeks do. A funny and beautiful thing, it is, when it takes joining a freakshow to really feel human.

Word got out at a party that I sang opera, and soon I was being booked for singing gigs. With every gig, I grew bolder in theme, color, and costume (more quality, less quantity). My first performance was very adult-contemporary cabaret with me in an little black dress doing the hackneyed "this next song is a special one…" between tracks. These days, it's not unusual to find me on stage in clownface, glitter and topless in black tape pasties. It's all very Klaus-Nomi-does-drag-Pagliacci.

Somewhere in between then and now, one of my troupe members showed up to a solo show and decided I need to sing with the Freeks, STAT.

Today, I am a graduate of "prospect" status, and a full fledged Wreckless Freek. I can lie on a bed of nails while having 90lbs of concrete blocks smashed on me with a sledgehammer, get up, dust myself off, and dive right into a rendition of "Nessun Dorma" without blinking an eye.

For every creep who calls me "gross" on the street, there's a fan wanting to shake my hand and take my photo. Regardless of whether or not I seek attention, the fact is: I GET it.

The truth is this: You can't be a performer and not get some sort of high from applause, from spotlights, from, "OMG can we get a photo?" It's an amazing feeling, and you know why? Because at one point in my life having anyone notice my beard would have made me cry. Today, people reach out and touch it (with my consent) and tell me I'm brave, beautiful, and awesome.

If being an "attention whore" is the end result of my quest to not hate myself? I'll take it.

Am I "asking for it?" If you mean respect, happiness, love (yes, he's still here, being supportive), and success, then yes, I am.

Because it doesn't matter that I have a beard.

It doesn't matter that I take my clothes off.

It doesn't matter that I have things stapled to, thrown at, or broken on top of me.

This is my happy place. This is my bliss. And I am as entitled to and deserving of it as anyone else.

Recent Comments

  • Janey: I think you got it right when you note the difference between people throwing coins at you in a cage, … [Link]
  • Elphaba09: Thank you for the link to your article: I greatly enjoyed it. The fact that you realize that you are … [Link]
  • Little Bear the Bearded lady: <3 [Link]
  • Little Bear the Bearded lady: Elphaba, I'm just floored. What a wonderful response. Thank you. And great Maguire quote, too. it's … [Link]
  • Beth W: Those ignorant folks don't realize that the worst attention-seeking behavior is the subtle stuff. I went through an attention-whore phase … [Link]

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The post Joining a freakshow to really feel human: My life as a bearded burly carny lass appeared first on @offbeathome.

20 Apr 14:40

The Best Portable Vaporizer (so far)

by Jaime Lutz
Kristen

I am delighted that the Sweethome took on this challenge.

vaporizer

After testing ten different vaporizers, we found the Crafty produced the freshest-tasting, best quality vapor when compared to the competition. It’s intuitive to use, and was also the easiest to maintain and clean of any model we tested. Plus, it packs some useful design features like vibration and LED alerts to signal when its ready to go.

15 Apr 11:45

Learning how to prune my everbearing raspberries

by Chris Wolfgang
Kristen

Simple, and excellent advice! I got the summer-bearing so I just chop everything down in the spring and wait for it to come back again, but this looks simple enough to follow!

Raspberry Bushes
By: Luke JonasCC by 2.0

A few summers ago, I planted some everbearing raspberries in my backyard. It took a year or two, but the canes are now consistently putting out a bumper crop every summer and fall. Woohoo! But the backyard is pretty small and bramble patches aren't good for optimizing crop size anyway, so this winter I decided it was time for a first pruning.

The tricky thing about everbearing raspberries is that, unlike summer-bearing raspberries that produce one big crop in late summer, these bushes give two smaller crops per year. You can pretty much prune summer-bearing raspberries all the way to the ground in the winter, but if you want both crops from the everbearing, you have to know which canes to cut to the ground and which to prune back carefully and by how much.

IMG_2386
Happy raspberry patch, all thinned and pruned.

Armed with the internet, I set to work on my tiny patch. Here's what I found out:

In late winter/early-ass spring, look for the canes with gray, peeling bark. These guys won't ever fruit again. Cut them all the way to the ground so they don't take up space. You'll easily be able to see the difference between these dead canes and the smooth, reddish bark of the ones that will fruit again in the summer.

IMG_2385
Dead cane versus live cane.

Once you've got rid of all the obviously spent canes, it's time to eyeball the smooth canes that remain. Cut any to the ground that look small and weak or are simply too close to a much healthier cane. Thinning the canes this way ensures that the remaining canes get all the plant's love. Hello, enormous raspberries.

But you're still not done! After you've thinned the weak ones from the herd (horticulture is brutal), it's time to prune off the very tops of the remaining canes. You can usually tell where the cane has fruited the year before. You might even be able to tell that the cane looks a bit shriveled toward the top but then looks young and healthy further down. Lop the fruited, shriveled part off — in my case, this was just a few inches each.

IMG_2384
Pruned down to new growth — see the green wood there?

Do you Homies have any other raspberry knowledge? Maintenance tips, trellis plans, family-secret recipes? I want to know 'em all.

Recent Comments

  • Chris Wolfgang: You won't be getting any early raspberries this year, but fingers crossed you get some new shoots for fall! Potted … [Link]
  • Chris Wolfgang: Well, you're both right! Mine are three years old, and last year we had our first really good crop. … [Link]
  • Chris Wolfgang: Hi, y'all! I'm actually in Omaha, Neb. Pretty much the middle of the country. Raspberries have a super wide range, … [Link]
  • Kristin in Alaska: We're buying a house with a high tunnel, in which she grew raspberries! Here's hoping they come back! … [Link]
  • Emerina: We have a blackberry patch that started with one single blackberry cane and has blossomed over the past few years. … [Link]

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08 Apr 14:45

Monogamists say the darndest things: The top 4 responses to coming-out as a throuple

by Briana
Kristen

Reaction 3!!!! UGH.

By:  – CC BY 2.0
By: CC BY 2.0

The three of us have all been in a relationship for about two years. We're out on Facebook — not that we're lewd about it, but we certainly don't hide the fact that we are all together. We all say "I love you." We all compliment one another as pretty. Yet it still happens that people in our lives, usually casual friends, suddenly discover that we are in a throuple. I think it may be that we as humans refuse to an extent to see what doesn't fit our schema for The Way Things Are.

And then, usually because we want to be honest and let some person in — to trust them as friends instead of just acquaintances — one of us will say: "We all love each other."

And The Way Things Are goes out the window for those people.

In their shock, however, the majority of people we've told have said hurtful things, effectively shutting down what might've been a constructive conversation. Some of the rudeness stemmed from ignorance, and some of it was actually well-meaning.

That said, I hold strongly that these reactions are mostly made in panic, shock, or confusion. I would like to go over them. I hope that people who have been here can find some solace in this, and that — if any of you are ever on the receiving end of a coming-out — this entry prepares you to hear as openly as you can.

Reaction 1: "If I didn't know you, I'd judge you for it."

While judgment is the speaker's Constitutional right, it's really the first clause of the sentence that's a problem. "If I didn't know you…" is offered out like a gift — special treatment because to the speaker we are human beings instead of a statistic. All of the statistics are people, too, though. Every polyamorist is a human being. But the speaker is holding out this gift of friendship, as if to say "I forgive you because we're friends," and all we can think is: I don't need to be forgiven.

All of this is not to say that we cannot understand someone disagreeing with our choices. By all means, if the speaker felt strongly enough about our relationship to lose respect for us, he or she is welcome to say so and terminate the burgeoning friendship. We know it's a junction — that's why we wait to bring it up, instead of mentioning it to everybody and their brother — and if that's where we part ways, that's okay. What's not okay is telling us that you'll go easy on us, against your leanings, as a sort of favor. We don't want that sort of acceptance. No one would. The speaker is not being the better person. The better person would just say something like, "I can't accept those choices," and move on.

Reaction 2: "Who's the home-wrecker? Are you the home-wrecker?"

None of us were home-wreckers, actually. Sure, there are probably throuples or other polyamorous situations that may have arisen out of such situations, but ours most definitely didn't. Every step in this direction was a choice we made: not home-wrecking, but home-making.

Reaction 3: "That wouldn't be my choice."

Maybe it's not clear how rude this is to say. What if I confided to the same person that I didn't want to have any kids? Sure, s/he could say, "That wouldn't be my choice," but what would be the point? It's not that person's decision. They can have as many children as they want; my choices have no bearing on their choices. Further, if I tell some other person that I don't want any children, I think they would understand that I was simply confiding a fact — not looking to be shamed for it.

We're not trying to intimidate anybody or make a statement. We're just being ourselves and, when someone takes our honesty as an opportunity to police our lives, we regret trusting that person enough to speak up at all. That's a lonely place to be.

Reaction 4: [relentless flirting, propositioning, or otherwise disrespecting/ignoring our significant others]

Just because we are in a relationship with more than one person doesn't mean that we are sex-fiends, or that we have no regard for commitment, or that we have no standards. In our case, we are a closed throuple. It is still possible for us to cheat, and it would be just as devastating to us all. In fact, it might be more devastating. Now there are two people to hurt with infidelity instead of one.

Now maybe it's clearer: we're not flippant about love or sex. In fact, we have PLENTY to lose if we're not careful. Maybe people think that it's impossible for us as significant others to feel jealous, because we are polyamorous, but that's not true. We can and do get jealous, and hurt, like anybody else–just not about the relations within our triangle. It's not funny when others treat us like we're fair game because our commitment is not like theirs. It should be enough that we are committed, and others should do their best to respect it.

Those are the basics. None of this is meant to raise anybody's hackles about their freedom to opinion, just to give a perspective that many people understandably don't have. Maybe it will help someone to walk in our shoes before they talk about the path we've taken.

Recent Comments

  • Briana: Aw, what a sad thing... It's oft discussed between us three, how difficult it would be for any two of … [Link]
  • magdelina: Wow, I really feel lucky to live in such a liberal place. I live on a tiny southern gulf island in … [Link]
  • Briana: Thank you. Yes, I agree: increasing visibility is the best possible thing. We're coming out of left field with these … [Link]
  • Briana: Oh my goodness, that's awful. I would never intentionally make someone in a monogamous relationship feel like their love was … [Link]
  • Twilytgardnfaery: I really hope that the changing discourse surrounding homosexuality translates into broader acceptance of poly soon. 1, 3, and … [Link]

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07 Apr 17:00

Spring Cocktail Recipe: Rhubarb Basil Cocktail — Drink Recipes from the Kitchn

by Elizabeth Passarella
Kristen

Yes please!

Pin it button big

With warmer weather inching its way into New York, I felt inspired to make a fresh spring cocktail. Well, I did some experimenting, and while my first inclination was to use strawberries, I found piles of rhubarb at the farmers market — and came up instead with this lovely pink concoction.

READ MORE »

02 Apr 16:47

Links & Sundries

by JenniferP
Kristen

The Dude Social/Sexism Fallacies are so so good! I experienced almost all of them.

Commenter Dizzy, aka SPC Snaptags, has compiled and elaborated upon the Dude Social/Sexism Fallacies we were generating in the comments the other day, and added her own:

1.3 It is acceptable for me to put a down payment on your vagina without telling you that’s what I’m doing. It’s unacceptable for you to accept my gifts but not pay the price, which I didn’t tell you about

This has happened to me, and it is not fun. There were a number of times, particularly in the Army, where a male I thought was my friend would offer to do or buy something from me. It was usually something inexpensive or unimportant. Often, it would be something like a cup of coffee. I assumed he wanted to do something nice for me as a friend; he thought I understood that, when I accepted the coffee, I owed him sex. (I wish someone would phrase it like that—I’d love to negotiate what $1.98 of sex is).

Then, at some point, when he believed he had put in enough time and money and wanted his return, he would be furious when I refused to pay. To me, there was nothing to pay; if we were entering some kind of financial relationship, I expect to be told the costs up front. Trust me, if I had realized I owed Specialist Creepbag $1.98 of my vagina, I would have bought my own goddamn coffee.

I really like what Jennifer Pastilof is doing over at The Manifest Station with her “Dear Life” series. People write advice letters, Jen matches the letter writers with authors she knows, stuff like this happens. Thoughts: 1) Letter Writer, your cold feet are trying to save you from a miserable life. Stay cold! 2) “Sometimes you have to just put yourself in motion: do the right thing until it changes you,” is a hell of a line.

Two Chicago Events are coming up:

1) April’s Awkward Meet & Geek is on April 15 at Geek Bar Beta.

2) I’m reading at That’s All She Wrote, April 19. Venue is Great Lakes Tattoo, 1148 W. Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL.

 


01 Apr 15:00

FURIOUSLY HAPPY. And scared. And back to happy again.

by thebloggess

If you’ve been here long enough you know I’ve been working on my second book for the last three years.  I’ve carried it with me every day, adding a paragraph here, deleting another there, reworking a sentence for the eleventieth time because I want it to be perfect, always feeling like a loser because Stephen King and cocaine set unrealistic expectations about how easy it should be to write a book.  If you know me in real life you’ve seen me lugging around a giant manuscript and scribbling furiously in it when inspiration strikes.  You may have asked me why I don’t just use a laptop and then nodded in what you hoped passed for understanding when I explained that I was afraid I’d lose everything I’ve written when the robot revolution happens and computers become self-aware and refuse to humor me anymore because I wasted their potential watching videos of baby hedgehogs in bathtubs.

When I was deciding what to write about for book two my first thought was “SPARKLY MALE VAMPIRES WHO ARE PRETTIER THAN YOU versus ZOMBIE FAINTING GOATS, IN THE BATTLE FOR BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH’S HEART”.  Then Victor was like, “What are you, crazy?” and I thought, Well, sort of.  And that’d probably be easier to write about since I have slightly more experience dealing with mental illness than I have dealing with goats.

And so began a terrifying and incredibly daunting task of writing a very funny book about a very terrible thing.

This book was hard. I wanted to be honest about my struggles — and that means opening up about things I’ve never really discussed before. And it was hard. But luckily, I had help. From you.

When I came out so many years ago about my depression and anxiety disorder I was afraid you’d all run away screaming. But you didn’t. Instead, thousands of you said “Me too,” and “I thought I was the only one,” and “It’s not just me?” You gave me the strength to be honest about my flaws and the support to realize that I was more than the broken parts that make up me. And you did something else you might not even realize…

In the years since I started writing about mental illness I’ve received so many letters from people who were affected by this community, but there were special ones I kept in a folder that I named “The Folder of 24.” – It was called that because it contained 24 letters from people who were actively planning their suicide, but decided to get help instead. And not because of what I said…they did it because of you. Almost every single one explained that what convinced them that depression was lying to them was the amazing response to my posts. They could look at a single person like me and think it was still a rare illness or something to be ashamed about…but when thousands of strangers shout out into the darkness that they are there too, it makes ripples. And those anonymous strangers saved lives without even knowing it. If you ever left a comment or a kind word you may have been the cause of someone’s mother or daughter or son being alive. Being thankful to be alive.

When I was on tour with my last book I’d sometimes talk about the Folder of 24 and how that folder is the best reason I’ll ever have for writing. And then something strange happened.  After a reading people would lean in close and whisper “I was 25.”

There were so many 25’s.

This was what I went back to whenever writing this new book got too hard. Because I knew that to truly write about what it’s like to struggle with mental illness I’d have to go deeper and talk about things I haven’t written about, for fear that everyone would back away if I talked about self-harm, or mania, or the personality disorder that pushes me from “normal” crazy to something a bit scarier.

I wrote and deleted and rewrote passages, and I’m still afraid of how people will react. I’m in the exact same place I was seven years ago…afraid to share but unable to tell my story without laying it all out. And so I’ll do the same thing I did before. Because I don’t have any other choice but to be myself, and hopefully you’ll still be here in the same wonderful way you have been.

I hope you’ll come with me on the next step of the journey. I hope you’ll see yourself, or someone you love, in these pages and learn to love them better. I hope it shows people that laughter and joy can come from chaotic bizarreness. I hope you know how much you’ve helped me to become my own 25.

This is a humor book and I’ve been told that it’s funnier than my last. Most of the people who’ve read it don’t have mental illness. Certainly none of them have my specific diagnosis, but they still loved it because I think everyone can relate to the ridiculousness we bring on ourselves, to the fact that laughing at a dangerous, terrifying monster is the only way to make it small and easier to hide in your pocket.

I think everyone can relate to the fact that a ton of bullshit happens every single day and the only way we can battle that bullshit is choose to be furiously happy whenever we have the opportunity. That means different things to different people, but to me it’s about making clothes out of live ferrets, making the best of it when you get kidnapped by an actual funeral, and occasionally balancing your taxidermy raccoon on the back of your cats to create a Midnight Raccoon Rodeo in your kitchen when you’re having one of those weeks where you’re afraid to leave your house.

It also means celebrating the fact that I HAVE FINISHED THE BOOK.   AAAAAAHHHHHH!  Sorry.  Just happy.

Step two was choosing a book cover, but my last book cover had a dead mouse on it and that level of sophistication is pretty hard to top. How do you get a book cover that captures the celebration of being broken in just the right way? My suggestion was to use a model who literally went from being road kill to being the star rodeo rider during my recurring bouts of insomnia.

Any you know what? I think we nailed it.

furiously happy

(That’s Rory, by the way. He’s in the book.)

I hope to God you love it.

Rory and I love you.

PS. Want details on when it comes out and where to order it right now? CLICK HERE.

PPS. Thank you.  Again.   Seriously. You made this happen. (Which I guess sort of means it’s your fault if you hate it. Just saying.)

27 Mar 17:10

Your Beautiful, Feminine Period Stains Are Against Instagram Guidelines

by Jia Tolentino
Kristen

I don't normally read the Jez anymore as I like my blood pressure to remain normal, but they link to Rupi Kaurs words regarding this image (part of a larger project) and they are beautiful.

Rupi Kaur, a Sikh poet living in Canada, posted the above image on Instagram early this week—and swiftly got hit with one of these:

Read more...








27 Mar 14:30

Appreciate a Female Comic Friday: Cameron Esposito

by Barbie
Kristen

All the Cameron, all the time. Please and thank you.

I don’t even know where to start with how much I love Cameron Esposito.  She is hilarious.  She is out.  She has a fabulous sense of humor and applies it to the serious challenges that queer folks deal with in a way that makes it feel funny and more bearable.

Did I mention that I’m obsessed?  Here is some of her awesome standup work (content note for street harassment):

And here is one of my favorite videos of hers, part of what we can only hope will become an infinite buzzfeed series. Now go watch everything she’s ever made. You’re welcome.


Filed under: Humor Tagged: #cameron esposito, #female comic
24 Mar 14:45

My family includes my "platonic wife"

by Andrea Parrish
Kristen

Pods!

Our "Pod."
Our "Pod."

When I first was introduced to the idea of polyamory, I was the first one to admit I had the same thought that many people new to the idea do — that it was basically all about the sex.

A decade later, I've been slowly discovering what I consider my truth of polyamory, and it can quite neatly be summed up in one phrase: I'm dearly in love with my platonic wife. She is the Christina to my Meridith, the Horatio to my Hamlet. Or, as she would put it, the uber-smart and snarky Cortana to my Master Chief (pre-stalker levels, anyway).

Our little relationship "Pod" is made up of: Peter (my husband) and me, who got married (quite publicly!) five years ago, and have been together for just over seven. I'm pansexual, and he is heterosexual. Jeremiah, who is gender-fluid and bisexual, and I have been together for just over two years. Kira, the platonic wife in question, is sapiosexual, and we have known each other for about seven years; she and her heterosexual husband have been married for about two years, and their two kids are five and four years old. There are three houses, four cats, and a dog shared between the seven of us.

Whew. Confused yet?

platonic wives

I actually met Kira just a few weeks after I first met my husband Peter; I had found her blog when I was Googling Peter, and may have possibly dug through the entire archives in a night or two. They had been friends for several years beforehand. Thus, when I walked into a dinner party and saw her sitting there, I promptly made a fangirl embarrassment of myself. She very kindly looked past that.

In the years since then, our relationship has grown from friends-of-the-same-person, to friends, to best friends, to platonic wives. Those seven years have included two births (one of which I acted as one of the doulas), a few deaths, several marriages (she was the Matron of Honor at mine, I was the officiant at hers), the normal ups and downs of relationships, home buying, and life. We do not live in the same home (they're about 15 miles apart), though she did help me and Peter buy ours. There's a lot of reasons for this, mostly it comes down to sharing homes just hasn't worked out — and may not ever, even if our Pod has been known to dream of it now and again during a game of Dungeons and Dragons.

So why "platonic wife" instead of "best friend" or "really close friend"? Really it comes down to the fact that I consider her as important and as "legitimate" of a relationship as my relationships with my husband and partner. She and her husband are very completely sexually monogamous. A part of honoring their commitment to one another while being honest about the depth and closeness of our relationship is a big part of why we use the term "platonic wife."

There's also the not-insignificant fact that while our relationship is not sexual, it is romantic. This is not to say that there isn't a sexual craving… we are both attracted to one another, and we both openly admit that sexual intimacy can be a big part of a relationship. However, it’s out of respect for all of our boundaries that we just don’t.

This meme sums it up pretty well.
This meme sums it up pretty well.

Romantic intimacy can be shared in other ways. She sends me Valentine's cards and writes me incredible love notes when I'm having a rough day, I try to randomly surprise her with coffee when she's having a rough day. We do cuddle a bit now and again on the couch, we share shoulder rubs, we talk constantly. She spends hours painting my nails, I spend hours programming her website and keeping it running. If anything were to happen to her and her husband, it would be without a moment's hesitation that I would raise her kids as my own.

Another big part of it is using the terms we choose to make a very small, but important statement about respecting relationships of all sexual and relationship orientations. Asexual individuals have the rights to be respected as having just as deep, meaningful, powerful, and important relationships as those of us that are not. Couples living apart together are no less committed than couples that live together in the same place. She's monogamous, and I'm not — but that doesn't mean our bond is any less strong.

A good relationship isn't all about sex, and neither is a good marriage for everyone. I do consider sex an incredibly important part of the relationships I have that do include that facet, but this one just doesn't.

So not shying away from using marriage terminology, to me, makes a statement about what can make a good relationship — a strong, respectful, and deep bond between individuals that make the choice to be in a relationship, full stop.

Related post

Recent Comments

  • Debbie: Ditto! At first I was like wtf? But posts like this have really opened my eyes. I don't think I … [Link]
  • Briana: Great post. For a while my relationship with other-husband was platonic, and it was very uncomfortable trying to feel as … [Link]
  • Briana: I understand this. It takes a lot of work to make a relationship with two people work. Some people imagine … [Link]
  • Kira: Well, Andrea said pretty much everything I was going to say, so to repeat in my own unique but redundant … [Link]
  • Jess: Thank you for your responses! I'm going to read them over and over until I figure out better what my … [Link]

+ 11 more! Join the discussion

23 Mar 14:45

Coloring books for grown-ass adults

by Megan Finley
Kristen

I took up coloring during weekend away trips to cabins with no internet or tv. Super fun as a group and super relaxing!

color me drunk coloring book

A while ago we talked about crafts you can do with a group, and Offbeat Homie Emma mentioned coloring:

So if you're open to low-skill based things, coloring is a GREAT way to let your mind wander and chat without having to be too focused. I'm thinking of starting a coloring book club for my neighborhood.

And I was like "mind-fucking-blown." I'm crappy at every craft ever, but coloring… dudes, I'm awesome at that AND it's something I can do while I have a glass (bottle?) of wine. And then I stumbled upon this:

Color Me Drunk: A Drinking and Drawing Activity Book. It's a coloring book that encourages you to drink!? Yes please. Obviously I purchased it right away.

But wait! My adult coloring finds get better. Check these out…

Thrill Murray (coloring book)
Thrill Murray (coloring book) — I also bought this guy for a certain someone's birthday.
Indie Rock Coloring Book
Indie Rock Coloring Book
Unicorns Are Jerks: a coloring book exposing the cold, hard, sparkly truth
Unicorns Are Jerks: a coloring book exposing the cold, hard, sparkly truth
Dinosaurs With Jobs: a coloring book celebrating our old-school coworkers
Dinosaurs With Jobs: a coloring book celebrating our old-school coworkers
The Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book
The Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book
The 1990s Coloring Book: All That and a Box of Crayons (Psych! Crayons Not Included.)
The 1990s Coloring Book: All That and a Box of Crayons (Psych! Crayons Not Included.)
Graffiti Art Coloring Book
Graffiti Art Coloring Book
Mer World Problems: a coloring book documenting hardships under the sea
Mer World Problems: a coloring book documenting hardships under the sea
Coloring Books for Grownups: Dia de los Muertos
Coloring Books for Grownups: Dia de los Muertos
The Fetish Coloring Book
The Fetish Coloring Book
Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace: a body-positive coloring book
Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace: a body-positive coloring book
Between the Lines: An Expert Level Coloring Book
Between the Lines: An Expert Level Coloring Book

A friend of mine uses that last coloring book to manage her anxiety. Oh the joy of coloring for adults. What coloring books have you gotten into? Bonus points for letting us know what kind of coloring utensils you use (which markers don't bleed, which pencils don't break, etc).

This post features offbeat affiliates, meaning that if you buy something featured, you'll be financially supporting this site's mission of bringing awesomeness to readers everywhere.

Recent Comments

  • probablyreading: "THIS!" to the Art Therapy anti-stress colouring book! As Jane notes, it's available in the UK and a US edition … [Link]
  • teddybErin: Probably my favorite coloring books I've seen are the ones full of vaginas. The "Cunt Coloring Book" is just fabulous … [Link]
  • Alanna: Yup! US stores (near me, anyway) accept them too. Jo Ann Fabrics is the same, provided that you're using one … [Link]
  • Erinnyes: I need all of these! So bookmarking this page for future purchases. I have a classic Japanese scene … [Link]
  • Erinnyes: I bought that for my landscape architect husband... but I think I'm having way more fun with it than he … [Link]

+ 27 more! Join the discussion

20 Mar 15:00

Aunt Acid: Advice on Job Hopping

by Aunt Acid
Kristen

"Ask your inner child what she always wished you would do as a grown up. Ask your gut what she craves and fears. Ask your id, your superego, your shy, awkward, repressed tween. None of them gets to drive the car, ultimately, but they all have to ride in it. Every one of their opinions is worth hearing."

RELVANT

Feel free to ask Aunt Acid a variety of questions at advice@the-toast.net. Previous installments can be found here.

Hi Aunt Acid,

I need your advice please. I am 37 years old and am in my 8th office job. I've always left my jobs because I think the grass is greener on the other side. For me it gets to the point where I feel bad waking up every morning to go to work. There were only 2 jobs out of the 8 that I really liked a lot, and I had to leave both -- one of them I left cause the place was not making money, we were even getting paid late, and the commute was 2 hrs at times. At the second job I loved, the plant closed, so they laid everyone off. All the other jobs I've left because of low pay, not challenging, not being acknowledged, and 1 boss from hell. 

Tomorrow I'll have been at my current job for 2 years. I love my boss and loved the first year working there, but then things changed. They hired more new people, including a coworker who wants to be a stand-out that I can't stand. And then there are sales reps who don't seem to like me because they say I'm not like my boss, who babies them and doesn't question them.

I swore to myself I would stick it out at this job no matter what happened. But here I am again...thinking of looking for another job. I'm soooo tired of job hopping, but these awful feelings of not wanting to go to work and just obsessing over what to do at work are driving me crazy. Please help me! I like what I do, but the people there don't mesh with me. I want to stop job hopping 'cause I do it every time something goes not as I envisioned. What can I do??? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

--No more job hopping

 

Oh, my friend. The first thing you might want to do, besides take a deep breath and maybe a hit of something, is tell yourself that you are not alone. Not by a long stretch.

Read more Aunt Acid: Advice on Job Hopping at The Toast.

17 Mar 20:53

"This is the thing: When you hit 28 or 30, everything begins to divide. You can see very clearly two..."

Kristen

This is so perfectly true!!

This is the thing: When you hit 28 or 30, everything begins to divide. You can see very clearly two kinds of people. On one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find … themselves and their dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. Then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. … they mean to develop intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than when they graduated.

Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal.

Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? … Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”

Now is your time. Walk closely with people you love, and with people who believe … life is a grand adventure. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.



- Relevant magazine (via charliebravo)
18 Mar 14:45

The diary app that changed my relationship with myself… and my therapist

by Caroline Diezyn
Kristen

Tags for your journal!!

Photo courtesy of dayoneapp.com
Photo courtesy of dayoneapp.com

Day One is a diary app for your phone and desktop, and it's changed my relationship with my therapist, myself, and by extension, everyone I know. How does keeping an electronic diary make this much of a difference in one's life? It's got a single sexy feature that's just a straight-up self-care-strategizing, mood-monitoring game-changer. Let me explain…

As an angsty teenager, I loved to journal. I spent hours writing in spiral-bound notebooks in multi-coloured ink. I would write about the drama that happened that day at school, complain about how I really didn't want to get up early for volleyball practice, and write out song lyrics that were captivating me at the time.

Eventually, when my family got dial-up and the internet began to take complete control of my life, I moved my babbling to DeadJournal (the goth version of LiveJournal — seriously). Then, I kind of stopped journalling altogether. It wasn't because I wanted to, really. DeadJournal pretty much died, tumblr hadn't hit its stride yet, and I didn't really want to keep a notebook anymore. What if someone found it and read my nonsense and horrible secrets!? Like an overconfident kid disavowing their teddy bear, I thought I had outgrown journalling. But eventually I realized that I missed having a place to gossip and whine about what's going on in my life without the fear of making my friends hate me. So when I got an iPhone, I looked at diary apps.

The one I settled on is Day One, and it does so much more than a notebook or blog ever could. I can put a lock on it, so that no one could ever read my entries. I can use the desktop app if I want to type out a long entry, or I can jot down thoughts on the fly on my phone. I can attach images, add a location, show the weather details, and it can keep track of what you were listening to when you were writing. It even has a step counter. But the most useful tool of the app was one that paper journals could never really provide: tags.

On the Offbeat Empire sites, we love tags. They're a great way to find everything to do with "body image" or "living rooms" or anything in between. On Day One, I can add tags to entries based on anything. I can find every single entry to do with that one person I dated, or any entry that mentions school. Even more useful, especially to the medical professionals in my life, is that I can track symptoms. So when the tag "sad sack" revealed itself at a specific point in my menstrual cycle over eight months, and when the tag "rageface" seemed to always appear with another tag, my therapist and I had a concrete way to approach my concerns.

Now I know that I should look out for my mood around that time in my cycle, or when I can anticipate being triggered, I'm extra patient with myself instead of asking "WHY DO I FEEL LIKE CRAP?!" I'm more cognizant of my interactions with everyone, knowing that I'm probably feeling more sensitive than usual, so that I don't react without thinking things through. This has changed everything from how I organize my month, to what I do for self-care, to which meds I use.

My therapist was stoked to see that I had over half a year of data to show her when I came in asking about strategies on how to cope with mood changes. Obviously, you could use a notebook, a system of sticky notes, and a calendar, and do this all by hand; but for me, the on-the-go techno-ease of Day One is the only thing that will keep me committed to tracking this stuff.

What are your mood-tracking hacks? Do you go old school with paper and pen, or have you found an app even more useful than Day One?

Recent Comments

  • Ruth: Same. I was so connected from 2003 until 2013/14 where it sort of petered out. Since I got a fullctime … [Link]
  • Ruth: I have Day One and my therapist wants me to use it more. I should... like get on that. … [Link]
  • risa: Thank you for this. I had just been rereading some of my old journals and finding old epiphanies that were … [Link]
  • Jane: I still use livejournal the way Caroline uses this app, and oh yes, tagging is so awesome. And easy choices … [Link]
  • Angie: thought this sounded cool but it's not for Windows. :( I still post private entries to LiveJournal occasionally, though. [Link]

+ 15 more! Join the discussion

18 Mar 11:45

How to host a large dinner party in a small space

by Miss Moneypenny
Kristen

Sharing for this bit on the end: "One of my favorite things about the evening, though, was that at the end, in order for everybody to be in a relaxed posture, we had to touch each other some how. At most dinner parties, there's often calculated non-contact, or very limited contact. But the space made us have to throw legs over each other, or lean on shoulders, and so on. In a culture that doesn't use nonsexual touch nearly enough, it was very nourishing for many of the people there"

unnamed-2

Last November I threw a potluck Friendsgiving, in lieu of Thanksgiving. I'm a grad student, friends with grad students, in a college town, and because so many of us can't make it home for the holiday, it's important to recognize and develop our own tribe. To recognize and develop our own rituals.

friendsgiving in a small spaceWhat made it a little tricky (and very nerve-wracking up until) is that I share a one-bedroom apartment with a platonic friend where I live in the living room. It generally works out really well — nothing a little creativity or communication can't get around. I also do pole dancing, so I have a pole that is pressure-mounted to a support beam in the ceiling. In the end, though, there's really not a lot of space. I was worried that we wouldn't fit, or that we wouldn't be comfortable, or that the pole would get in the way, etc.

Because of space constraints, I had everybody sit on the floor. I threw down blankets and borrowed coffee tables from friends, essentially turning it into an indoor picnic. I moved the pole to the middle of the room and hung Christmas lights from it. This made the space more intimate, and drew the energy down closer to the floor, which I think was really helpful.

And I also asked friends to pitch in. This is where the Quality of Tribe counts for a lot, and it really made the Friendsgiving feel like a family. We needed forks and knives and plates and the aforementioned coffee tables. Everybody was more than happy to help.

friendsgiving

Also when it came time for the party itself, nobody cared that we were drinking boxed wine from mismatched coffee mugs, or that none of the blankets or tablecloths matched, or anything. You just have to trust your tribe. (Also, we hit all of the dietary constraints: gluten-free, vegan, Crohns, you name it.)

unnamed-1

One of my favorite things about the evening, though, was that at the end, in order for everybody to be in a relaxed posture, we had to touch each other some how. At most dinner parties, there's often calculated non-contact, or very limited contact. But the space made us have to throw legs over each other, or lean on shoulders, and so on. In a culture that doesn't use nonsexual touch nearly enough, it was very nourishing for many of the people there.

Recent Comments

  • Kaaate: I love the idea of sitting on the floor at coffee tables to eat at a dinner party! I'm … [Link]
  • Kaaate: I appreciate the mention of sensory issues. I developed a bit of a sensory issue in my late teens. … [Link]
  • Elizabeth: Me too! If only our living room were larger! [Link]
  • L: I think people are to nervous about getting up close and personal with each other, like the post said, non-sexual … [Link]
  • deena: I want to do a sit-on-the-floor-picnic-Shabbat-dinner!!! [Link]

+ 2 more! Join the discussion

12 Mar 14:30

How To Make Oatmeal in Jars: One Week of Breakfast in 5 Minutes — Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

by Faith Durand
Kristen

Need to do this!!

Pin it button big

I know you are always looking for healthy, make-ahead breakfasts, and I keep coming back to my all-time favorite: steel-cut oatmeal. With a little forethought and a few Mason jars, you can make enough steel-cut oats for a whole week in just five minutes.

The result? Monday through Friday, you have a jar of wholesome oatmeal all ready to go. Pop it in the microwave at work and breakfast is served! Here's how I do it.

READ MORE »

02 Mar 18:26

What’s Next In College Sexual Assault Policy Reform? The Case For Emergency Contraception And Post-Exposure Prophylaxis

by ddpguestposter

This is a guest post by Kailah Carden. Content note: This article is about campus sexual assault, however it does not contain any descriptions of assault.

Thanks to student activists, our country is paying unprecedented attention to the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. Students across the country have staged protests, filed Title IX complaints, and the Office of Civil Rights in the Federal Department of Education is currently investigating over 85 schools for non-compliance. As a result, institutions of higher education across the country are currently rewriting their sexual assault policies.

While the national attention and policy work is a welcome rupture in the status quo, the dominant discourse has been almost exclusively on reforming disciplinary procedures to hold perpetrators accountable. As a result, survivor’s health needs in the wake of sexual assault have been overlooked. Biomedical interventions, specifically, emergency contraception (EC) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) — both FDA approved medication, that when taken after unprotected sex can prevent pregnancy and HIV respectively – must be included in the ongoing policy discussions on college campuses to ensure unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection are never part of the burden carried by students who survive sexual assault.

Clear and enforceable protocols on sexual assault management are necessary for all college health centers. In order to adequately serve survivors of sexual assault, colleges and universities must develop sexual assault protocols that include EC and PEP and (re)train all health care providers on these updated protocols. Training should not only include basic biomedical information, such as when to prescribe EC and PEP, but also a comprehensive overview on what sexual assault is and how it may impact different communities, with specific attention to gender, sexual identity, gender identity, race, and ethnicity. In addition to developing protocols, college health centers must have mechanisms in place to measure and enforce compliance.

Structural changes are also necessary to ensure access to EC and PEP. The majority of young, female survivors of sexual assault present to emergency departments between 8pm and midnight. Health care providers must be available to students on campus on nights and weekends when the majority of assaults occur. EC — available over the counter without a prescription — should be available for sale on all campuses twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, perhaps in existing convenience stores or stand alone vending machine.

Further structural barriers identified by researchers include high co-pays for HIV testing. All costs associated with care for a survivor should be reduced or eliminated by colleges and universities. Cost should never be a factor for a survivor making decisions about their health. Making EC accessible over the counter, reducing co-pays for HIV testing, and subsidizing all costs associated with care for survivors are feasible and cost effective steps for all colleges and universities to take as compared to the economic and psychological cost of unplanned pregnancy and HIV infection.

In addition to structural changes, colleges must invest not only in updated policies but updated health education. College students must be educated on the basics of pregnancy and HIV prevention for general sexual health. In a population where 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault it is necessary to educate all students on EC and PEP, because they will undoubtedly know at least one person in their college career who will need these services. Proactive education on sexual health is an integral component to utilization of EC and PEP and must be comprehensively instituted on all college campuses in order for these interventions to be effective.

Biomedical interventions such as EC and PEP have the potential to tremendously reduce the burden that sexual assault survivors carry, and must be included in the ongoing conversation on sexual assault on college campuses. Students who have survived sexual assault have a federally protected right to equal access to educational opportunities under Title IX. As colleges and universities update sexual assault policies they must not overlook the importance of the physical health of sexual assault survivors as integral to complying with Title IX. Thanks to EC and PEP no survivor needs to face unwanted pregnancy or HIV infection as a consequence of their assault. It is the responsibility of all college health centers to make sure these resources are immediately available to all survivors.

Kailah Carden is a Master’s Candidate in the Educational Studies program at Tufts University. Kailah completed her undergraduate degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Community Health at Tufts. Her research interests include feminist and queer theory, knowledge production, and systems of power.


Filed under: Rape Culture, Reproductive Rights
18 Feb 22:27

Following in Her Footsteps: Happy Birthday, Audre Lorde!

by lucysmall
Kristen

I need to print out this quote from her and say it to myself everyday in the mirror.

Most glorious day, it’s Audre Lorde’s birthday!

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) was an amazing intersectional Black feminist, poet, lesbian, and activist superhero. Her legacy continues to inspire young feminists driving us to be more thoughtful, more intersectional, and to act out our convictions in meaningful ways. Disrupting Dinner Parties derives its name from a passage from Sister Outsider, specifically her essay entitled “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.” Wondering how best to live out Audrey Lorde’s legacy? Here are some ways to do that:

I’ll close with the passage from which we derive our name:

‘I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.” I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever. Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.’ -Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider, “‘The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.’


Filed under: Education, Empowerment, Queer-LGBTQIA, Race and Racism, Sexuality
18 Feb 01:00

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Chewbacchus, The Mardi Gras Parade For Geeks

by Eris Walsh
Kristen

All of this article is delightful.

Face of Booze

This post originally appeared on the She Geeks blog in two parts: “The Mardi Grad Parade No Geek Should Miss” on February 5th, and “Chewbacchus Part 2: The Parade-ering” on February 11th. It has been republished with permission.

[Editor’s note: Unfortunately this year’s Chewbacchus has already come and gone, but there’s always next year—and if you keep reading, there’s plenty of awesome parade pictures to tide you over!]

It’s Mardi Gras season here in New Orleans, which means tourists, traffic, king cakes, endless renditions of Mardi Gras Mambo, and (of course) parades. If you’re a geek in New Orleans celebrating Mardi Gras and don’t go to the Chewbacchus parade, you’re doing it wrong. Period. No excuses. Seriously, even Peter Mayhew himself rides in this geek parade.

It is now even more officially official then the last time I officially officiated my official statement. #All-Hail pic.twitter.com/zVN63diiJi

— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) February 3, 2015

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve heard me go on about Chewbacchus before; well, here’s where I explain exactly why this relatively new parade has been growing by leaps and bounds every year and has a distinctly cult-like following (more on the cult thing later). Read on as I go on an exclusive tour of the parade’s “den” (where many of the contraptions are created and stored), introduce a brand new sub-krewe, and give you guys a sneak peek of some of the awesome, hand-made stuff you’ll see rolling down the parade route:

Chewbacchus Figure

Before we get into the meat of this, let’s make sure everyone is on the same page. Mardi Gras parades are a big deal here; many of them are very old (Rex, for example dates back to 1872), but sometimes it seems like a new parade/krewe pops up every year. Wikipedia explains krewes best:

A krewe (pronounced in the same way as “crew”) is an organization that puts on a parade or ball for the Carnival season. [...] Krewe members are assessed fees in order to pay for the parade or ball. Fees can range from thousands of dollars a year per person for the most elaborate parades to as little as $20 a year for smaller marching clubs. Criteria for krewe membership varies similarly, ranging from exclusive organizations largely limited to relatives of previous members to other organizations open to anyone able to pay the membership fee. [...] Parading krewe members are usually responsible for buying their own throws, the trinkets thrown to parade spectators according to Mobile and New Orleans tradition.”

The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus (IKOC) is one of the more inclusive parade krewes. Their dues are exactly $42.00 (because of course they are), and absolutely anyone can join. You pay your dues, throw on a costume, show up, and march. It’s truly that simple. According to their website:

“The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus is a Mardi Gras parade organization for the most revelrous Star Wars Freaks, Trekkies, Whovians, Mega-Geeks, Gamers, Cosplayers, Circuit Benders, Cryptozooligists, UFO Conspiracy Theorists, Mad Scientists, and all the rest of Super Nerdom.

We also have a special place for Fantasy fandom within the Krewe under the auspicies of the Mystic Krewe of P.U.E.W.C. and a contingent specifically devoted to Horror… the Krewe of the Living Dead.

This glittery behemoth of a unicorn is the work of the Mystic Krewe of P.U.E.W.C.

This glittery behemoth of a unicorn is the work of the Mystic Krewe of P.U.E.W.C.

The Mystic Krewe of P.U.E.W.C. (which stands for “People for the inclusion of Unicorns, Elves, and Whinebots in Chewbacchus”) and Krewe of the Living Dead are examples of sub-krewes. Humans have a tendency to clump together based on common interests, and Chewbacchus is no exception. Sub-krewes can be highly organized and independent entities who exist year-round (often doing charity work, throwing their own events, and participating in conventions) like the Doctor Who themed Krewe du Who, or remain loose gatherings of people who simply come together for Mardi Gras and march in the parade in themed costumes, like E.T. themed sub-krewe, The Rolling Elliots.

The Space Commander Chewbaccacabra, Ryan Ballard, describes the Chewbacchus parade as…

“…a mobile, drunken Comic Con in many ways. There’s gonna be a range of fandom out there, represented, and you know, there’s sub-krewes for basically every fandom you could ever imagine. And if there’s one missing, somebody’s gonna make a sub-krewe for it.”

(He means it, too. One of the other sub-krewes new to Chewbacchus this year is the Krewe of Sharknadeaux. I cannot make this shit up, people.)

They literally let their nerd flag fly.

They literally let their nerd flag fly.

I was granted a tour of the IKOC den/workshop/homebase, inside of Castillo Blanco, yesterday. This is where a lot of the parade contraptions are housed and worked on. Chewbacchus is a walking parade, meaning they don’t have huge floats pulled by tractors; rather, they have handmade, cobbled together, contraptions that are either pulled, peddled, or pushed along the parade route by the people who made them. With the exception of a select few remote controlled/battery operated contraptions (like a full scale, remote controlled TARDIS), everything is powered by hand or by foot. There are a lot of bicycles, tricycles, rickshaws and shopping carts being re-purposed as nerdy people movers, floats, and (the all important) beer dispensaries. The “bacchus” part of Chewbacchus was not a mistake. In addition to being a play on the more traditional and popular Bacchus parade (which rolls next week, if you’re so inclined), Chewbacchus is all about bacchanalian (or bacchanALIEN) revelry, so many of the contraptions you’ll see rolling down the parade route are, in fact, working bars/kegs.

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 4.34.11 PM

Bar-2 D2, everyone’s favorite beer droid, has become a Chewbacchus staple, and I’ll give you three guesses as to what the Blue Sun Beer Barrel is being pulled by (Hint: She’s the smoothest ride from here to Boros). Other stuff to look out for:

Borg

This is just a tiny portion of a huge contraption that will be lighting up the streets and assimilating the masses.

Look for this work of art on the back of another piece. These people do not half-ass things.

Look for this work of art on the back of another piece. These people do not half-ass things.

The new Golden Wookie Idol, that is (of course) also a bar.

The new Golden Wookie Idol, that is (of course) also a bar.

I mentioned earlier that Chewbacchus has an almost cult-like following. I wasn’t kidding. The parade’s theme this year is actually The Cult of the Sacred, Drunken Wookie. To celebrate, the IKOC had itself officially registered as a religious entity, specifically a satirical Space Cult. Seriously. Several members have been ordained and will be performing several wedding ceremonies and vow renewals at their ball on Saturday after the parade. Some people may be taken aback by the idea of a parade krewe becoming an official religious organization, but when you get to know the people of Chewbacchus and get to know their (in some cases) obsession with this krewe, you realize that it really was part of the natural progression of the organization.

Wookie Shrine

This ever-growing shrine is a permanent fixture in the den and houses throws and props of old with idols that have been mailed to the krewe over the years.

It is of note that this funky krewe of creative women and men are not simply reaping the benefits of their status as a religion, they’re also making sure to give back to the community. Per my guide, IKOC Cultural Ambassador, Martin Childs:

“This is the first year of our new service sub-krewe, The Charitable Sisters of the Wook. All of our members here, many of modest means, have put together over 300lbs of collected canned goods for Second Harvest [Food Bank], as well as we had a charity raffle, and it was well over 500$ in one evening that we gathered.

In addition to housing many of the parade’s contraptions, a work shop, a practice stage for their bands, and the Sacred Drunken Wookie shrine, Castillo Blanco also includes The Space Sanctuary. Not only is this magical room absolutely gorgeous (I just wanted to lay down and stare at the ceiling for hours), it’s also where you can find the fully functional, salt water, float tank. Yep, you read that right. They have a full sized, working, sensory deprivation chamber in their den. Top that, Rex!

One day, I will do this to my bathroom, and you will never ever see me again.

One day, I will do this to my bathroom, and you will never ever see me again.

Now, you cannot have a Mardi Gras parade without throws, and Chewbacchus has the best throws of all the parades (hands down), but don’t expect to catch any beads. Just like their contraptions and costumes, all the throws from Chewbacchus are handmade by the krewe members. Every single thing you walk away from this parade with was made by someone in the parade, and these are some insanely creative nerds! One of the themed throws this year is the Build Your Own Bandolier throw. Basically, you catch a blank bandolier with some velcro on it, and then collect custom velcroed blocks from as many sub-krewes as you can to affix to your bandolier. It’s bloody genius, is what it is.

Build a Bandolier

 

his fuzzy bandolier block has already made its way onto the shrine with a King Cake Baby in Carbonite and Yoddha.

This fuzzy bandolier block has already made its way onto the shrine with a King Cake Baby in Carbonite and Yoddha.

There are plenty of throws that aren’t specific to the bandoliers as well, like this Rib of the Sacred, Drunken Wookie (painstakingly crafted by dedicated members who were willing to sacrifice their time to eat a bunch of BBQ ribs for the cause):

Sacred Wookie Rib

While at the den, I also had a chance to meet up with some of the members of new sub-krewe, Krewe du Groot, and snag a peek at some of their throws. They might be brand new (formed only 3 weeks ago), but this small krewe is bringing out the Hadron Enforcer of big guns when it comes to creative throws:

Grooter Tail

Baby Groot

(Insider Tip: An undisclosed number of these are random, re-purposed cassettes; you should absolutely try to play them.)

(Insider Tip: An undisclosed number of these are random, re-purposed cassettes; you should absolutely try to play them.)

>>> Next Page: Picture of The Parade-ering