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:
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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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I took up coloring during weekend away trips to cabins with no internet or tv. Super fun as a group and super relaxing!
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…
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).
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"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."
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.
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.”
Tags for your journal!!
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?
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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"
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.
What 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.
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.)
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.
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Need to do this!!
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.
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.
Source: Al Jazeera America.
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.
Source: The Rainbow Project.
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.
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!
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.’
All of this article is delightful.
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.
— 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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
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:
(Insider Tip: An undisclosed number of these are random, re-purposed cassettes; you should absolutely try to play them.)
It is 2011, and I am at a literary award after party. There is no statue in my hand, but there is a vodka martini. I think it was number three. Maybe four? And the title of the book on everyone’s lips that night was not the one that had taken home the top prize two hours earlier; it was “that new mommy porn book.”
“Have you read it?” people asked each other. “Is it respectful? Is it clever?”
People danced around the topic, not wanting to speak ill of the author or the kink scene, but I, four (maybe it was five?) vodka martinis in, finally said “It’s bad, okay!? It’s got bad wordcrafting, bad punctuation, and bad BDSM! It’s dangerous. Someone is gonna read that sh*t and do that sh*t and land in the hospital because they didn’t get brought into the community through the community. Some poor girl is gonna let herself get stalked by a creeper who does not understand consent and she’s gonna die. The only damn good thing about the book is the great f*cking cover! But the rest? Kink Colonialism.”
Colonialism: The imperialist expansion of Europe into the rest of the world [...] in which a dominant imperium or center carried on a relationship of control and influence over its margins or colonies. This relationship tended to extend to social, pedagogical, economic, political, and broadly culturally. (From “Key Terms In Post-Colonial Theory.”)
In layman’s terms: Colonialism is the act of entering and subjugating a culture, then appropriating aspects of said culture to take back to the “Empire”/mainstream for display/use sans the original cultural context. This also carries insinuations of the mainstream/empirical culture being ‘dominant,’ ‘correct,’ and ‘the best,’ framing the invaded culture as ‘wrong,’ ‘Other,’ ‘weird,’ and in need of correction or saving.
And in Fifty Shades’ case? I won’t make assumptions about E.L. James’ sex life, but it seems as if she grasped onto a dangerous Orientalist view of the BDSM lifestyle and plopped it into standard romance narrative.
This isn’t much of a surprise when you consider the source material: Fifty Shades is famous for being a serial-numbers-filed-off Twilight fanfiction that hit big. The fact that it’s revamped fanfiction is not the issue here; the issue is that Fifty Shades, being based on an extremely problematic novel whose consent issues (amidst issues of racism, exoticism, etc.) are sky-high, has compounded the consent problem.
Because of the quality of both the writing and the kink, I though that Fifty Shades would eventually wither. The novelty would fade, and eventually the people who were honestly interested in the lifestyle that had been appropriated would move on to better-written BDSM romance books (The Sophie Scaife series by Abigail Barnette, who also writes the excellent and expository “Jenny Reads 50 Shades” blog; Phèdre’s Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey). From there I hoped the interested readers would do research, attend info sessions, workshops, playparties, and eventually find themselves a nice, healthy, fulfilling kinky relationship.
But here we are, four years later, and now there’s a movie.
This means that not only the reading public will be perhaps, to their detriment, internalizing the messages of Fifty Shades; there’s going to be a whole new viewing public as well. And that raises the question:
If and when one of those people reading or watching Fifty Shades gets hurt, who will be to blame?
Can, for example, Jian Giomeshi’s alleged victims sue E.L. James or her publisher Random House? He did name-drop the book in his first official statement after the allegations.
Before I began my career as a writer, I was a substitute teacher in high schools. During free reading periods, I talked to each and every student about the book they were reading – which character they liked best, what drew them to it, etc.
I once spoke with a young woman reading Twilight. I asked her if she was enjoying it and nodded along as she spoke, and straightened to go. Then I stopped, turned back and said, in a whisper, “Listen, I’m sorry. I know you’re clever. I just want to point out that this sort of romantic stalker thing in real life is dangerous. If a guy does this, you should–”
“Report his ass? Duh,” she interrupted. “This is fantasy. I know the difference.”
That conversation has remained in the forefront of my thoughts since. If we know that consent-play is fantasy, and we know non-consent situations are dangerous, not sexy, then why all the romance novels, films, and stories about the The Highland Bandit’s Kidnapped Wife and The Italian Millionaire’s Bound Pet and Doing As He Says, and the thousands of Daddy-dom erotic GIF blogs? The big question here is:
If we know non-consent is bad, why is it so damn good?
Why do we love these fantasies? My pet theory about it is this:
People read and write these sorts of stories to either consciously or unconsciously explore those fetishes that might otherwise make them feel unsafe to explore in real life. The reader can imagine being tortured sexually or forcefully seduced and is allowed to take pleasure in it. At least in the west, we come from a culture of permission, where “no means no” and issues of consent are extremely pervasive and important.
But when you delve into the world of fantasy, that changes. People fantasize sexually because they are looking for a thrill, a danger to court, or a new sensation to experience, or a new scent and taste, or a new sort of stimulation. They fantasize because they are not comfortable or ready to enact these fantasies in real life, or are not in a position to be able to do so.
And dubious or non-consent fantasy narratives tap into what I would call a very visceral and adolescent fantasy about early acknowledgement of sexuality. People of all ages, genders, and sexual identities who are on the cusp of their emergence as sexual beings struggle with the dichotomy of recognizing that they are sexually desirable and/or desire sex, but at the same time are romantically and sexually inexperienced.
Non-consent fantasy narratives allow the writer/reader to experience the rewards of being sexual without the stumbling block of inability and inexperience. In these fantasies, they get to be passive, and are still wanted by the other party, without the possibility of the humiliation of rejection or an inability to seduce. Non-consent fantasy narratives tap into that primal, primary fantasy of early sexuality and allow us to celebrate our own bodies and take pleasure in them without any real-life repercussions or shame.
In a way, in these fantasies, the forcible confinement and fantasy-rape is the ultimate compliment – we are wanted so badly that the dominating partner literally cannot help themselves. There’s a thrill in the fantasy of someone being so overwhelmed with lust or passion for you that they can’t hold themselves back; the fantasy of being chosen out of the crowd, the one special person, for no particular reason beyond just being you – to have a dark prince charming look at you and say, ah yes, here is the special one. There’s something freeing in the fantasy of being able to give up control, to just be pleasured, to trust your partner to be concerned about your pleasure, to throw off society’s slut shaming, Cosmo’s 101 tips, to not have to think or plan or worry. To just be given sex, and for it to rock your world, and know that the other person wants you just as you are. There is something endlessly appealing about being wanted.
I also believe that it’s from the desire to be wanted, to be deemed special, that the impulse to create a Mary Sue in fanfiction stems. I think this is probably especially true in younger girls just starting to explore their own sexuality and romance, girls getting their first crushes and learning what it means to want someone emotionally and sexually. Where better to fixate a first, foal-wobbly desire than on someone fictional? Someone safe? Even if the character they want isn’t the safe one? Especially if they aren’t the safe one?
If we understand why consent-play is steamy, the question that we writers of that genre must ask ourselves it this:
What do we owe the readers of our non-consent fantasy stories?
Firstly, do we owe them anything at all?
Well, yes. I think we do.
Poll a hundred women from the age of sixteen up, and ask where they first read stories involving sex. I will bet you dollars to donuts at least half of them will say they borrowed a mother’s/aunt’s/friend’s Harlequins and Mills & Boons. There are a lot of people learning about romance, desire, and sex from what we write.
And that is a glorious, privileged place to be. I think romance novels are fabulous mostly because the female characters in them have agency to desire, have fantasies, and pursue their own romantic, emotional, and sexual satisfaction. That is a great message.
But we also need to be aware of the other messages our work can send, too.
We don’t owe instruction manuals, or pages of boring explanations; but we do owe readers of non-consent fantasy an acknowledgement within the text that the sex and relationships happening on the page are, first and foremost, a fantasy.
We owe them accurate play scenes, well researched, so that if one of our readers tries to recreate it, they won’t end up in the hospital. We also owe them realistic and honest portrayals of kink culture, whether they’re our own kinks or not. And if a character is going to endanger another character, then we owe our readers to make it clear in the narrative that what that character is doing is unacceptable, wrong, dangerous, illegal, or potentially deadly.
We owe our readers actual discussions of consent or non-consent within the book. We owe it to them to model what consent negotiation looks like. We owe them sex scenes where the negotiation happens before sex starts, and mid-kiss, so they can see what it looks like when desires shift, and consent must be re-obtained. We owe them characters who negotiate boundaries happily and confidently, who speak up when they’re uncomfortable, who are concerned about their partner and who ask, verbally, for permission to continue, and who own their own bodily agency. And if we have a character who is refusing to seek consent or who is going to continue without it, we owe it to our readers to make it clear in the narrative that this is not acceptable behaviour.
We owe our readers realistic sex scenes which include the use of condoms, dental dams, and sex-safe lubes, safe words, and safety precautions. And if our characters are engaging in unsafe sexual practices, we owe our readers the acknowledgement that these sexual practices are unsafe in the text.
And frankly speaking, if you, non-consent fantasy writer, think that being responsible while writing your non-consent fantasy narratives is boring, or will drag down the book, then I’ve got advice for you:
Our job is to make anything sexy: monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, cowboys, race car drivers, and millionaires. If we can tap into the thrill of being wanted, if we can make rape, confinement, coercion, pain, and trickery sexy, we can sure as heck also make discussions of consent and safe sex sexy, too.
We owe it to our readers. And we owe it to ourselves.
J.M. Frey is a voice actor, SF/F author, and fanthropologist. She also writes SF/F erotica under the pseudonym Peggy Barnett. Her first full-length erotica novel, “Lips Like Ice” is now available from Circlet Press. You can follow her at @SciFrey or @EroticBarnett. She is represented by Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary.
ALL THE SCHEDULES!!
I've always been a day-planner type of person. In the current iteration of my life, scheduling has taken on a whole new meaning — it's not only relationship maintenance, it's been providing a rubric for compromise and communication in a super-busy, polyamorous, multi-household family. The idea first struck me after reading The Offbeat Home & Life post about Family Meetings.
We do ours a little differently, and it has proven invaluable. Here's how it works:
Long before we had additional partners, micro-farms, or businesses, P and I developed a scheduling system after we moved in together. Between trying to combine social schedules, bill paying, and general household chores for two young adults, a few big things got missed and dealing with those consequences wasn't exactly pleasant. To try and fix it, we bought a giant whiteboard, made a 35-box grid on the top ⅔ and gave it a prominent place in our main living space.Once a week, we made it a point to sit down together to make sure that the whiteboard calendar included everything that had come up the last week from bill due dates to social engagements. There’s also a space on the board for shopping lists and random notes and, because it’s magnetic, we can attach letters or pieces of paper to it. Everything on that calendar then got copied over to my Google Calendar, because I prefer to work in digital.
When we brought new partners into our little poly "pod," the scheduling meeting gained additional importance because including those partners in the meeting became an expression of their importance in our lives. It is both practical — a chance to check in, make plans, make sure everyone was on the same page; and a sign of respect for those partnerships — showing in action the fact that everyone is equally respected.
About seven years in, this is what our once-a-week Scheduling Meeting looks like:Those of us with heavily intersecting schedules, usually P and J and I, all get together over dinner on Sunday nights — on the occasional evening when we can't get together, we put a call in on speakerphone or get together on Gchat. We come armed with our smartphones, the giant whiteboard calendar, and our own notes about any scheduling items that have come up over the week.
We each start with an "opening statement" of our wants, needs, and desires for the upcoming week and anything big upcoming in the next few weeks. This would be something like "I want to make sure to have a date night with J this week. An overnight would be nice in the next couple of weeks, and there are requests to watch kids on Tuesday and Saturday. I have a late night at work on Wednesday, so J, if you could drive P to his meet-up, that would be awesome. The cherry trees are crazy full of fruit, so I would also like to set aside a day or two to pick and process what we can."
Once everyone's put their statements out there, we work our way through the week. The things that match up are easy. When things don’t match up, we try to talk things out and work out a solution that meets everyone’s desires as best as possible. We try to plan ahead for commuting together as often as possible, date nights, big projects, and especially things as mundane as “I seriously need a night to catch up on laundry.”
During the week, if things change, we each address things individually as they come up with the people affected. Generally, the scheduling meeting takes 20-30 minutes at most. Everything goes on the big house calendar and shared Google calendars. Then it’s back to eating dinner, playing video games, or otherwise relaxing.
The big calendar on the wall serves well when P’s dad and stepmom come in to the house, as they can tell at a glance what’s going on and who’s probably where that day. Everyone’s got access to at least most of the digital calendars as well for planning ahead, which cuts down on the “are you available on X day” questions; the conversations are instead usually things like “I see you’re free Friday evening, want to grab drinks?”
First and foremost, it's about holding everyone responsible for their own schedules and lives. The idea of “your schedule, your business” sounds simple, but seriously, it’s a challenge. It’s easy to unthinkingly obligate a partner to do something with you, or to off-hand say “sure, we will try to make it.” It can also easily feel like you’re being evasive when you’re saying to someone used to scheduling off-the-cuff “I’d like to make it, let me bring it up in the scheduling meeting and I’ll get back to you.”
Second, a functional scheduling meeting means respecting each other enough to actually communicate and then follow through with what we say we will do. The scheduling meeting isn’t set in stone — life happens. When life happens, telling the people it has an effect on is important. Date nights can and do get cancelled or moved. Sometimes friends are having a rough night and need some company. Work goes late. Whatever happens, we try to see communicating that as a sign of respect — and knowing what’s on your calendar for that week helps a LOT in figuring out who you should tell first.
There’s also the additional layer that scheduling off the cuff after work drinks or hanging out is a lot easier if you actually know your calendar is clear for that day, instead of having to call everyone to ask if you had anything planned (or worse, accidentally stand someone up).
Third, when it comes to relationship maintenance, there is almost nothing better than a quick business check-in. Sharing lives can get messy, emotional, complicated, and exhilarating (and sometimes all in 20 minutes). It’s extraordinarily nice to, once a week, have a time set aside for the exclusive purpose of figuring out the logistics. It’s easier to sit down, relax and enjoy an evening on the couch together, or a long bike ride, or coffee out with a friend, if you’re not stressing out about if you missed the mortgage payment or wondering if your husband/wife/partner/friend remembers that work dinner tomorrow.
There are a not-insignificant number of people that will try to pull the passive aggressive “but if you caaaareeeedddd you would say yes RIGHT NOW” or “It’s disrespectful of your autonomy to have to check in with five other people just to go out to drinks!” That’s usually a sign to me that that person may not be a great fit for our group, or at least doesn’t understand the moving pieces.
It’s gotten significantly easier to learn that asking someone to respect the scheduling meeting isn’t imposing on them, it’s asking them to respect the things that I find important. If nothing else, setting that boundary enforces priorities and self-care, and those two things make everyday life a heck of a lot easier.
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Now I want to do an awesome small-themed bathroom too!
When I went looking around for ideas for our tiny upstairs bathroom, it seemed that my only options were 1: seashells, 2: minimalist spa, 3: things on clearance at a big box store. I wanted something that made me happy, but I also wanted the bathroom to look clean and be easy to clean.
I've been obsessing on BBC's Sherlock since season one, and so I figured, this is my place, why the hell can't I have a BBC Sherlock bathroom? So I did…
I wanted to do a subtle Sherlock theme. I also wanted to use pieces that were original. I found this print from photographer Jorge Maia because it reminded me of Sherlock's opening credits.
I had these plaques from a thrift store, and they were just waiting to have something done to them. I thought I would do a play on the usual inspirational quotes art, and just take words that are specific to the Sherlock 'verse, and toss them up there.
We had never put up wallpaper before. SCARY! At least we only had a tiny space to try it. And now that I am over the fear, I will absolutely use it again! While I wasn't springing for the crazy expensive wallpaper from the show, I was happy with how this turned out. The reclaimed shelf and the silhouettes were both purchased on Etsy.
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Influence on queer identity: Haircut, lascivious smile
Weightlifting inspiration: Squats, swimmer's press
Kida, Journey To Atlantis
Influence on queer identity: Look at her
Weightlifting inspiration: Deadlifts
Carmen Sandiego, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Influence on queer identity: Hair lustrousness, general butch-y swagger, boots
Weightlifting inspiration: Bent-over rows
Queen Beryl, Sailor Moon
Influence on queer identity: Cackling, imperiousness, redheaded deviousness
This chart is just wonderful.
My wife is bipolar. For her, that means a life full of mediocre, less-than-positive contentment. And that's all when she is at her absolute best. When she is having an episode of either mania or depression life is awful and she doesn't want to live.But we are working on understanding it. We are working together with individual therapists, a psychiatrist, a couple's counselor, a bipolar support group, and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family classes. We are working, individually and collectively, on understanding her abilities and limitations.
I use the word "limitation" in a neutral, guilt-free, shame-free way. Limits are defined as "the final, utmost, or furthest boundary or point as to extent, amount, continuance, procedure, etc." So let's stop putting stigma and negativity on that word when it is empowering to remove the shame and acknowledge that we all have limits.
My wife recognizes her exact limitations — learning what she can and cannot do, and in the process learning what she can and cannot handle.
For example, she currently has a very prominent job at an institution of higher learning. And she is consciously leaving it. In leaving her prestigious, well-paying, highly-praised, highly-important position on campus, for a less-prestigious, less-well paying, less-praised-but-still-equally-important position on another campus, she is making a supremely mature decision.
As I mentioned before, I am in a NAMI class for family members of people with severe mental illness. In a recent class, we went over this worksheet:
We discussed where we were on the chart as family members/caregivers. I'm bouncing between 2.5 and 3 in regards to the emotions section.
Then we talked about where we thought our family members with mental illness were. According to me, she is all over the charts depending on whether or not she's in an episode or stable. But when she's stable she's right there with me around 2.5
It was a great conversation once I got home, to have with her. We agreed on where we were but it was empowering to have the resource and the conversation.
Thanks to NAMI, she has words, and a diagram, and a physical piece of paper to hold, that helped her recognize where she was, where I am, where we are together, and where we are individually. And it was wonderful.
This conversation that we had, (and these conversations that NAMI provides us with the tools for having) along with this "positive demotion," create excellent opportunities for us to be in a place, physically, mentally, individually, and as a couple, that we will be healthier and happier.
Self realization, self actualization and empowerment FTW!
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I am disappointed. Phylicia Rashad is a legend. She is graceful, beautiful, and a wonderful, Tony award winning actress. She played a black woman on television who was sophisticated and sharp, and who broke down feminism for the masses. She’s my Soror, and I like to think of her as my TV auntie, too. A lot of people do.
But Phylicia let me down. In an interview posted on Tuesday, Rashad is quoted as responding to a question about Bill Cosby’s alleged acts of rape by saying: “Forget these women. What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated. I don’t know why or who’s doing it, but it’s the legacy. And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”
On ABC news this evening, Phylicia elaborated on her statement. “…that was a misquote. What I said is, ‘This is not about the women. This is about something else. This is about the obliteration of legacy.’ ” Girl…. same difference.
By “these women” Rashad is referring to the at least 27 women (including three who came forward just today!) who have said they were drugged and raped, or almost raped, by Bill Cosby during his heyday.
Phylicia is asserting that the existence of a massive, decades long conspiracy where dozens of women from different circles falsely report having eerily similar assault experiences at the hands of the same man is so much more likely than a reality where Bill Cosby raped these women, that we shouldn’t even give the women’s stories a second thought. We should forget them. Now Phylicia, you know that don’t make not a lick of sense.
What we are seeing here is not new. It is a rerun. Black America, denied positive representation on everything from the Supreme Court to our television screens, finally got a piece of what we’ve been craving…. only to find out that the black man embodying our wishes ain’t shit and that success for him is not actually a triumph for black women. But, desperate for that representation, for the preservation of legacy, we decide to side with him anyway- as even inspirational women like Maya Angelou did during the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas. We place the responsibility for his tarnished legacy at our feet, and the feet of those he has hurt, instead of at his. This time we have the chance to do better.
Phylicia Rashad had the opportunity to say that the progress of black people in America does not have to happen on the backs of black women, and does not require us to be trampled and gagged into silence. She had the option of defending The Cosby Show, its critical contributions to American culture, and what it has meant to black people, without defending legacy of a man who is almost certainly a serial rapist and who has not even stepped forward to defend his own self. She didn’t take those opportunities, but we can.
Phylicia Rashad, ma’am, I will not forget these women. This is about them, and they will continue to be heard.
No one would ever try to argue that Disney love stories are realistic portrayals of the ups and downs and trials and tribulations of relationships. Their fairy tale happy endings are what make them so endearing, but they definitely don't set proper expectations for dating in the real world. A prince is probably not going to come wake you up from sleep with an enchanted kiss while woodland creatures serenade you. But, there are some relationship lessons I have recently realized Disney imparted on me — and they're the least likely of all.
Let's see what Disney characters can teach us about healthy multi-partner relationships…
Grand Duke: The prince sire! Swears he'll marry nobody but the girl who fits this slipper.
The King: He said that, did he? Ha ha. We've got him!
Grand Duke: But, Sire, this slipper may fit any number of girls.
The King: That's his problem. He's given his word, we'll hold him to it.
The fact that the slipper may fit any number of girls doesn't necessarily have to be a problem if the prince decides he'd rather be polyamorous. In Cinderella, the Prince's plot revolves around the pressure he's under to find a wife and have children. But just like the glass slipper doesn't fit every eligible maid in the kingdom, monogamy doesn't fit every person, either. Having an open or polyamorous relationship doesn't mean that the Prince couldn't also raise a family with one or more committed partners. Of course, given how jealous the stepsisters are, it's important to acknowledge that…
"I am not a prize to be won." -Jasmine, Aladdin
In polyamorous relationships, everyone is going to get hurt if there's competition or possessiveness between partners. Jealousy is a symptom of needs not being addressed between partners, and shouldn't be present in a non-monogamous relationship. Polyamorous relationships can have many iterations, and sometimes they can include a main or primary partner with other partners, too — but no one should enter a polyamorous relationship with the idea that they'll eventually "win" a partner completely. That's disrespectful to everyone involved. And after all…
"You know how men are: they think 'no' means 'yes' and 'get lost' means 'take me, I'm yours." -Meg, Hercules
Meg from Hercules understands the importance of trust. She has a lot of difficulty opening herself up to Hercules, and it's because her trust has been broken in the past. In a polyamorous relationship, trust and boundaries are the most important aspect. Respecting a partner's "no" is paramount — as it is in any situation! Open and honest communication and setting clear boundaries are the only ways to make sure that everyone can get their needs and desires met in a respectful way.
What lessons about non-monogamy can you glean from Disney movies?
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Keep those pups safe this winter!
It's wintertime where I live. In case you're like me, and you are trying to avoid canine cabin fever for as long as possible, here are some tips to make sure your pup is happy and healthy during the winter walking season.
Dog paws are not impervious barriers to winter cold, chemicals, and other nuisances. Snowmelt chemicals can cause paw irritation and toxicity if the dog licks their paws, and cold sidewalks can cause chaffing and cracking. Dog paw protection is a must for winter walks…
For my dogs, high quality boots were a necessity. I like the Grip Trex by Ruffwear (and am currently trying out the Summit Trex model to see if it keeps snow out of the boot better). I've also read many positive reviews for the Muttluk's All Weather or Fleece-lined dog boots. Yes, $40-70 bucks is a lot to spend on dog boots but they are a worthy investment. I've put my dog's Grip Trex boots through three winter seasons and besides protecting my pups' paws flawlessly, they still look brand new. Cheaper alternatives aren't going to do the job and probably won't last as long.
Dog boots tip #1: You've really got to get the right size so the boots don't come off easily but are still comfortable. Measure your dog's feet according to the manufacturer's instructions several times to ensure accuracy. And definitely check out the seller's return/exchange policy before purchasing in case you need a different size anyway!
Dog boots tip #2: As with any new pet accessory or device, you have to introduce boots slowly and positively. Not many pups are going to be overly thrilled about having boots on for the first time in their lives, but (in my experience) they forget about their footwear disdain when they discover how much more comfortable they are outdoors.
While you're introducing your dog to the wonderful world of dog boots (or if your dog just really isn't going for shoes), there are several things you can do to keep your pup's paws as comfortable as possible in the meantime!
Depending on how cold it gets where you live, or if you have a short-haired, elderly, young, or ill dog, a dog coat is also a great investment. There are some pretty hardcore coats on the market from brands like Ruffwear or Hurtta that will set you back $40-90 and some less impervious dog sweaters from other retailers like Target or Petco for about $20. A wet coat isn't going to do your pup much good, so if your area experiences severe weather during the winter, opt for a more expensive, waterproof winter coat. If you're just combating the cold and can avoid rain/snow/sleet all of the time, a cheaper dog sweater might cut it.
Cold, dry winter air is as rough on your dog's skin as it is on your skin! Ask your vet if an omega-3 supplement could help keep your dog's skin moisturized and healthy during the winter months (and beyond!). Lastly, it's a good idea to wipe off your dog's legs and underbelly after walks just like paws. You may even want to bring a towel with you during walks to remove snowmelt products or snow/ice from your dog's coat and feet immediately.
Although hazards for off-leash dogs exist in abundance year-round, winter poses some particular risks for un- or under-supervised dogs. Toxic substances like snowmelt chemicals and antifreeze abound, and if your dog is zooming around off leash, you may not notice her gulp some rock salt or take a lick of an antifreeze spill. Chucks of ice, asphalt liberated from the street by snow plows and sticks are also items your pup shouldn't ingest but might if left to her own devices. So play it safe and keep your dog on leash.
Clipping a leash to a neck collar is not an optimal way to walk your dog at any time of year because it puts strain on the dog's neck, leading to breathing problems and eye issues as the result of increased intracranial pressure. It's also, like, the least efficient way to control your dog's position in space, which can really be an issue in winter when ground conditions aren't ideal. Opt for a front-clip harness like the Easy Walk harness and carry a small bag of dog kibble with your to keep your pup by your side during distracting events.
No amount of gear and preparation will wholly protect your pup from winter hazards, so keep walks short by breaking your usual walking time into two or three shorter components that are spaced out over the day. Monitor your dog for signs of real discomfort, frost bite or hypothermia. Frostbitten skin will most common occur on extremities like the ears, tails and toes and can look pale or red, painful or numb, and swollen. If your dog is exhibiting shallow breathing or disorientation, get your dog inside immediately and check for a slow pulse — these are all signs of hypothermia and your dog should be taken to a vet ASAP.
What are YOUR suggestions for walking in a winter wonderland… with your pup?
So many things in this piece
When I was seven years old, my grandparents began a squatter’s garden over empty city land.
They had already dug up our entire backyard and planted it with Asian vegetables. They killed the lawn and my mother’s flower patch. They razed my sandbox. Wearing wide straw hats, and smocks sewn together from fabric scraps, they tore up the land from our back steps up to our tall white fence, littering it with tarps, planks of scavenged wood, and plastic containers to collect rainwater.
It wasn’t a likable garden. Our neighbors in this white, lower-middle class suburb in Winnipeg, Canada built high fences, but the barriers couldn’t keep the smell out. At night, my grandfather buried fertilizer peelings, eggshells, and coffee grounds; he didn’t wait for it to break down, he just put it all straight into the ground. Our yard smelled like trash. It looked like trash. It seemed a surefire way to attract rats. Except if there were rats, my grandfather would have mentioned them; the only thing he liked better than eating things was killing things. He liked to watch nature documentaries to speculate on how each animal might taste.
Worse yet than the smell, though, were the vegetables that grew in that garden. The pat tsoi, spoon vegetable, Chinese celery, and heaping piles of mustardy greens that my grandparents tended ended up on our table every night in fibrous, tangled piles, uncompromisingly bitter. The recognizable vegetables—zucchini, pumpkin—didn’t turn into pies or cakes. The pumpkin was boiled in huge chunks, skin still on, to be gnawed on. The zucchini grew huge. Bigger zucchini fed more people but they were chalky and full of seeds. My mother wrapped them in newspaper and kept them in the basement.
What I really would have liked them to plant were well-ordered rows of white-people vegetables: potatoes, carrots, or lettuce, neatly hoed with a seed-packet marker at the end of each sprouting. I wouldn’t have minded a curly wall of pea tendrils, some peas.
That was not what the garden yielded.
YES! For alternate gift guides!
I love gift guides but, honestly, I find myself using them most often for the sources they draw from so please allow me to just go ahead and tell you about the spots I’m using for ideas this year:
Kickstarter at MoMA – That neat stuff that was on Kickstarter but you might have since lost track of? Here it is! Also see: the whole gifts section. (I’ve been eyeing that Bubble Necklace for a few years now. Not a hint. Ok, yes, it’s a hint.)
Good Gift Games at The Morning News – An annual curated list of tabletop games by Matthew Baldwin and one of those things I look forward to every year. I know the guy in person and can vouch that all these games have been well tested over rounds of beer with good people at good pubs. I’m going to throw my support on the Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game and also call up a past game that is a most-played in my house: Forbidden Island.
Cool Tools: Mark’s Picks and Under $10 – Have somebody on your list who is a Maker or very practical or just plain hard to shop for? Cool Tools will have a suggestion for that one thing that they might not already know about. Among the most well received gifts to family that I’ve given have come from past Cool Tools recommendations including a craft assistant setup for a model-making family member and guitar tuning devices for my part-time rock star husband. (If said giftee just likes knowing about neat things they might love the Cool Tools book, which I fully admit to becoming engrossed in myself, it’s huge like a coffee table book and packed with information like a catalog.)
Brit+Co Shop – Among the many awesome things in this shop I’m particularly in love with the Gold Leaf Valet Kit with Lovely Indeed, the customizable wood burnt Cheese Board with Design*Sponge and the wooden Pop-Out Ornament Cards. See also: the whole Tech (Bluetooth Camera Shutter Remote for an iPhone!) and Merrymaking Color Block Muddler!) selections. Full disclosure and blatant self promotion: this winter I have my own collaboration with Brit+Co for a set of mini gingerbread house mug topper cookie cutters which, as of me typing this,
should be back in stock to purchase on Friday 12/12/14. Update: The DIY Kits have sold out, thanks to everybody who purchased one!
What are your favorite sources for the difficult to shop for?
Sharing because now that TAMORA PIERCE has talked about her top favorite books ever, I must read them!
No big deal, just a huge YA author and one of my personal idols showed up in the TMS comments section this week. But first; your brilliance!
Once we learned we were able to edit that horrible Barbie book ourselves, commenters wanted to photoshop it to improve it. Forget pillow fights; Ciella to the rescue!
After the Barbie writer responding (not excellently) to the backlash against her book, Lady Commentariat was all: “run c://digging_myself_in_deeper/foot_in_mouth.exe”
In response to the Barbie Facebook page’s official apology, Russell Jones suggested: “Next up: The Barbie I Can Be A Brand Content Specialist Book.”
After the Rosetta went to sleep, Kris Smith and brainmist re-wrote a song just for the tiny machine (and also now no one can say that I have an anti-Kris Smith For Favorite Comments agenda Kris Smith).
Speaking with WWE Wrestler Mike Foley about his new movie I Am Santa Claus, Munich Marvel felt very passionately about Foley’s feels. “Ah, no, if anybody should enjoy Chritmas it’s Mick Foley! He loves Christmas… no seriously, he loves it. If he wasn’t married to his wife, it would be something like a Thanos/Death situation except with Mick and Christmas.”
Finally, earlier this week I wrote a piece about Tamora Pierce and then Tamora Pierce showed up and was all over the comment section. I feel like we have been blessed by a YA angel.
So mote it be.
(image by Minuiko)
I’m sad about last night for a lot of reasons. And if you are human, and allow yourself to be so, then you probably are too. Maybe it’s the verdict that upset you, or the destruction afterwards, or the long and difficult path that has led us here and has shown us we have so much further to go before we get to the place where we want to be…a place where kindness and compassion and vulnerability are the things which can be lauded and seen and encouraged and felt. Or maybe, like me, you’re upset about all of those things and you feel too defeated to want to care anymore.
But if you’re like me, you can’t switch those emotions off. It’s so much easier to turn those feelings of vulnerability and hurt into a shield of rage. Rage feels powerful and strong. It feels good. And rage is important. But not at the cost of compassion. If, like me, today you woke up weary and wanting to become numb, or turn away, or lash out angrily at everyone involved then I feel you. But I encourage you to keep compassion at the forefront. Remember humanity. Remember that your words and actions make a difference. Remember that the majority of us are so much better than the worse things we see in the news, and that so many of us are leading a quiet revolution to be kind, and compassionate, and to listen to the hurt, and amplify the things that will make a positive difference in our world. It’s a quiet revolution that will never be covered on CNN. It’s a movement of people who redirect anger to kindness. Who listen even when it’s painful. Who take the hurt of others on ourselves and feel it so that we can become better people. Who wade into horrible online threads and inject compassion and reason because we know that it can become contagious if done the right way. Who hope that reason and empathy will somehow lead to a place which is safer for our children and grandchildren.
Yesterday someone sent me this photo and it’s stayed with me, and it helped. If you’re like me, maybe it’ll help you too.
“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant? ~ Henry David Thoreau
I don’t usually write about serious things like this because I think of this blog as a place for us to get away from the crazy bullshit of the world. A place to laugh and heal and be ridiculous. But sometimes healing comes in different ways and I need to write this so I can let go of some of this angst and refocus on what positive things I can do next. Like donating to the Ferguson Library, which has served as a quiet sanctuary for so many children and adults.
Tomorrow we’ll be back to ridiculous cat pictures and possibly a story about an alligator in my toilet. And tomorrow we’ll still feel compassion for the people who are struggling, and will continue to do our best to enact positive changes in our own ways.
I hope to God both of those things are true.
For sweet and pretty games
These are the games for iPad that I find particularly relaxing and keep around to replay after enough time has passed that I’ve forgotten how to solve most levels.
This is a stunningly beautiful and simple game that plays with Escher style geometry and has a slightly spooky story. For iOS, Google Play and Kindle Fire.
This is a short and exceedingly sweet game about what a dog dreams about. An especially stylish version of a point and click style adventure. For iOS, Google Play and Kindle Fire.
Find the Line
In this game you slide a few lines until they compose a picture and watching the lines dance through their patterns, which work as hints, is beautiful and mesmerizing. One downside: while the game is free the distributor has put video ads between each level and you cannot pay to make the ads go away. Bummer. Just in iOS.
Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake
A cartoonish and funny puzzle game with a surprising amount of levels. I thoroughly loved this game and the levels are satisfyingly tricky while the story is well developed. For iOS, Google Play, Amazon Apps and Steam.
Tiny house! If only DC had trailer parks
Photo courtesy of Redfin.com
The past few months my fiancé and I have spent a lot of time discussing our living arrangements for after the wedding day. We currently live in a trailer park and at first it never crossed our mind to stay here any longer than necessary.
We looked at buying a house, or moving into a condo; but both of those options left us with little cash to travel and so they were ruled out.
We looked into renting an apartment but the majority of places would not take in our furry babies, and so they were ruled out.
And after several discussions we made the intentional decision to stay in our trailer park, and we are SO STOKED.
The problem is that most people can't get over the fact that we are "living in a trailer." So I would like to, on behalf of all proud trailer park residents, set the record straight on this super-awesome alternative living space…
A trailer is basically a tiny house that is pre-built. There's no need to spend months planning and designing — it's already done.
We did spend some time in an apartment in the past, and I'm not sure if I can handle sharing walls again. We can finally play our music a little bit louder, we can have a few more people over for our monopoly tournaments, and we don't have to worry about disturbing our neighbors.
Our very own yard that allows us to plant our own veggies, gives us space to enjoy the outdoors, and a place for our dogs to have their own space.
We are currently paying less than half of what we used to pay for our apartment, for twice the square footage! (Did I mention we also get a yard?)
For two people just starting out in the world, there are not a whole lot of bonuses out there. But in our trailer we have skylights, hardwood floors, in-unit washer and dryer, dishwasher, tentacle bathtub (yes, we did steal the tentacle bathtub idea from Offbeat Home — actually most of our décor ideas) and a whole lot more that I never imagined we could afford.
Our trailer is exactly what I always wanted my home to be — it is cozy, comfortable, cost-efficient, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, with a kick-ass kitchen, and our neighbors are some of the nicest people I have ever met.
I love my trailer, and my trailer park life. So can we please move on from the stigma and start looking at all the awesome bonuses of this offbeat living space?
Who else rocks a trailer home? What are your favorite things about your trailer park life?
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I recently needed to fill a particularly expensive prescription. The first pharmacy I visited, a big box retailer with a reputation for low prescription drug prices, quoted a price of $800.
A few moments later, I found the exact same prescription from a pharmacy just down the road for less than $300.
The market for prescription drugs in the US is ridiculously inefficient. Fortunately, companies like GoodRx.com are creating tools that can help you find the best prices online, making true price comparison fast and efficient.
GoodRx works by pulling in price feeds from most of the top pharmacy chains in the US, allowing you to search and sort by drug, delivery form, dosage, count, and pharmacy type. It’s trivial to compare prices for brand name vs. generic, and the website automatically sorts the results by price.
If you create an account on GoodRx.com, you can save searches for later reference, which is handy. Prices change daily, so it’s worth re-checking prices before refilling your prescriptions.
Once you find the best option, you can print out a “discount card” that contains GoodRx’s Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) information, so the pharmacist can find the GoodRx quoted price. (They’ll also mail you a card for your wallet if you request one.) Every time you fill a prescription using GoodRx’s group information, they make money via referral fees, so the service itself is free to use.
Out of curiosity, I had the pharmacy quote prices using the GoodRx rate vs. my major health insurance company’s negotiated group rate. GoodRx won by $150.
A quick search on GoodRx.com saved me over $500 in less than a minute. If you live in the US and need to fill a prescription, search here first.
– Josh Kaufman
-- Josh Kaufman
Super neat "must have" if we have a fireplace some day!
The Texas Fireframe is the best way to burn ordinary logs in your ordinary fireplace (that is, no pellets, no gas, no installation, no electric fans) and not have most of the heat go up the chimney. Going by the catchphrase/slogan, “The Physicist’s Fire,” this improvement on the fireplace grate permits an arrangement of the logs that forces the heat into the room. In fact, I can put my hand into the fireplace over the fire and hold it there for thirty seconds or more, but I have to lean in from the side, because the heat coming into the room is so intense that I can’t stand directly in front of the fireplace.
Unfortunately for the manufacturer, this thing — made of cold steel — lasts practically forever. In fact, I’ve used the first and only Texas Fireframe I ever bought for over thirty years. Still works as well as it did the first winter I had it.
Check out the diagram of how it works at the website, and you’ll probably have an “Of course!” reaction. It’s definitely a cool tool.
-- Bob Leedom
$95 to $215
Excellent resources and very timely
Thanks to danielle for uploading this photo to our Offbeat Home Flickr pool
What are some fictional books to read about happy marriages? Stories that are fun and good to read, and also feature realistic and healthy couples.
The only one i can think of is The Time Traveler's Wife, which is slightly weird in the beginning.
Here are some suggestions before I open it up to the Homies…
In Offbeat Bride's collaborative recommended reading list for books about marriage and relationships, there were two novels:
Your turn, Homies! What are some good books that feature realistic and healthy couples?
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