Shared posts

18 Jun 14:18

It costs nothing to be kind. Probably.

by thebloggess
Kristen

RELEVANT TO MY DAY

People always say “It costs nothing to be kind” but technically it doesn’t cost anything to be a real asshole either, so I’m not sure why we’re bringing financials into it.  It does, however, cost money to hire lawyers after you stab people you don’t like in the leg so maybe that should be the phrase everyone should remember.  Then again, if you bottle everything up and continue to be kind to people who are being real dicks you’re going to end up in some pretty heavy therapy or in a lot of bars drinking your resentment away and I can tell you that neither of those things are cheap.  Really they should just change the saying to “Life is already expensive.  There’s no need to make it worse by being a dick to people.”

It doesn’t quite sing like the first line, but it’s more accurate.

17 Jun 16:54

Mad Max: Fury Road Concept Art Shows the Origins of the Movie’s Badassery - So shiny.

by Dan Van Winkle
Kristen

YAASSSSSS

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00026

Not to be confused with the other source of Fury Road‘s badassery, Charlize Theron/Furiosa, but this concept art for George Miller’s hit sequel by Peter Pound gives a window into where the look of the film began. It’s all about as awesomely over-the-top as you’d expect and demonstrates what did and didn’t change in the transition from concept to masterpiece on film.

Take a look at some of the art from the movie that Pound has posted to his website and enjoy it in all of its shiny and chrome glory:

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00049 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00050

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00035

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00048

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00040 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00043

Fury-Road-pics20052015_00006 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00011 Fury-Road-pics20052015_00012-1

1299269020541249313

(via Geek Tyrant, images via Peter Pound)

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15 Jun 22:43

If Disney Made Comic Shops, It'd Look Like This

by Jen
On Saturday John and I went to check out the grand opening of Gods & Monsters here in Orlando, claimed to be the second largest comic and toy shop in the U.S.

 So you know this is gonna be gooooood.


Gods & Monster is located in what used to be the Festival Bay Mall. The mall never took off, though; it had something like 30% occupancy for years, despite it being big, pristine, and beautiful. So, last year the owners revamped it into Artegon Marketplace:
 

 It's kind of like an upscale Flea Market, with rows of metal-caged stalls rented out to local artisans:


Plus there are still some big department stores on the edges: a sporting goods place, some restaurants, etc.

Even this has been dead, though, and the times John and I've gone to browse it was a complete ghost town; too depressing to stay long. I think the shop keepers have been banking on Gods & Monsters (which kept pushing back its open date) to bring in the crowds.

From what we saw on Saturday, I think that's a good bet. 

Ready for the photo tour? 

Here we goooooo!


The front registers greet you immediately to the right as you step inside, and the "Arkham Dispensary" theming is flat-out incredible.


Barred windows, Riddler graffiti - and check out all the security cameras and spot lights pointed at you on the upper right. 

[Hit the Read More for the rest; lots of photos ahead!]


Through one of the windows you can glimpse a vault door in the back:


We worked our way down the right side of the main floor, which flows around these circular comic book displays:

Creepy.




Looking back towards the entrance:
Lots of great art overhead - and all hand-painted!

In the very back there are two food/drink counters with a Blade Runner theme, lots of lounge-type seating, and a game playing area complete with free board games to choose from.

Eventually they plan to serve alcohol here. (See the booth seating to the right? Very cool.)

Here's a shot of the entire food & gaming section, taken from the far left:
 
That's going to be a noodle bar at the far end, to fit with the Blade Runner theme. Overhead there are lots of star lights and those fun cascading bar LEDs.

(For the grand opening they had a bunch of extra tables set up for local artists - you can see one in the foreground there.)

Further down, the seating switches to more of a Skyrim/Game of Thrones vibe:


I love how they've given the booths a sense of privacy with those low walls.

More great theming: these dragon sconces have color changing light crystals:


There's a lot to look at everywhere you turn in Gods & Monsters, but I was especially drawn to all the overhead art designs. This LotR (or is that WoW?) silhouette had a shimmering light effect behind it that was just stunning:


Coming up the center of the main floor, we found a bunch of high-end shelving stocked with more collectible figures than I even knew existed:




The way they're displayed - no boxes, no clutter - it feels more like you're in a friend's badass nerd cave than an actual store:


More goodies in a lit glass case:

 


Those are just a few of my favorites; there were plenty more to drool over.


There are huge support columns around the store, and each one has a different theme with some fantastic props:


That's Pyramid Head's head up there, and I think those glass pendants had Edison bulbs in them.


Mad Max:

Indiana Jones & Jurassic Park:


Terrible shot, but that's Aquaman's trident under Superman's cape:


And my favorite:


Check it out: you've got the Infinity Gauntlet, Spidey's web, Thor's hammer, Hawkeyes's arrows, Cap's shied, and Gambit's playing cards. SO COOL.

(Did I tell you guys I saw Age of Ultron in the theater? 'Cuz I did. Earplugs, yes; panic, no; bragging, YES. :D)

Coming back towards the front of the store, here's possibly the prettiest overhead art section:

It even has color-changing LEDs tucked behind some of the cut-outs, making it EXTRA colorful.


Below this is a custom decal counter, where you can order any of a gillion nerdy designs in your choice of colors.

Back to the center, there are plenty of tempting toys, even for non-collectors like me:

A whole line of Doktor A's Mechtorians.

 I was THIS CLOSE to buying this vintage style Toucan Sam:

Only $20! (Maybe I should go back and get him. Hm....)

Oh, this was a fun find: Remember this art from my last roundup?

I didn't know Ant Lucia even offered decals & glasses!


And finally, coming full circle (square?) up the left side of the store, there's the art gallery:


That's right, you guys. This place has an art gallery. Woot!


Not only that, it's filled with some fantastic art:


There are even 3D pieces, from crocheted dolls to wall sculpts, like this:



All told, I'm incredibly impressed with Gods & Monsters, and I hope it becomes a staple for local geeks and tourists alike. (It's not too far from Disney, so worth the detour if you're planning a trip.)  I love that they've created big, beautiful areas encouraging folks to linger and play games, and once the store gets their Noodle Bar & liqueur license, I can see it becoming quite the hub for geeky hangouts.

I'm also looking forward to going back when it's not quite so crowded, so I can do some more shopping. :)


Best of luck to you, Gods & Monsters!

And I hope the rest of you enjoyed the tour!
 
12 Jun 14:45

Feel like a spellbinding witch queen with Rituel de Fille makeup

by Offbeat Editors
Kristen

"Historically-inspired makeup scratches an itch I didn't know I had."

In to it! Now I need to try some!

photoretouch-cropped

Hi, I'm Caroline, and I'm addicted to spellbinding make-up. Let me show you my new favourite.

Rituel de Fille is a make-up brand founded by three sisters who were inspired by the magical side of natural ingredients, and the ritualistic, ceremonial power of pigment. If that evokes the image of three Macbethian witches, you are not far off: this make-up is perfect for bringing out your inner witch queen, no matter who you are.

Rituel de Fille formulates and produces all of its products in-house from the ground up in a process more like potion-making: every single ingredient is there with specific purpose, making their formulas as unique as spellwork.

Rituel de Fille makeup

Let's talk about these shade names, shall we? The Forbidden Lipstick line is moisturizing and super-pigmented, and its shade names include Hex, Shadow Self, and Written in Blood. The Enchanted Lip Sheer line includes Blackthorn and Bloodroot.

Despite how exquisitely dark these sound, the lip colours in both lines come in a range from the most delicate pinks to the brightest oranges to the darkest reds, as well as violet and even green. The coverage is superb, and the colours rich, perfect for sealing letters vowing love (or revenge). The sisters had this to say about the versatility of their shades for all their products:

Due to subtle, careful base shade balancing, the dense concentration of pigment, and the lush textures that allow for easy building up and sheering out, our colors are suitable for all complexions. Even our most distinctive, editorial hues are designed to flatter while making a powerful statement.

inner-glow-cream-blush-campaign

Speaking of complexions, Rituel de Fille has seven stellar shades of Inner Glow Cream Blush that apply smoothly and allows you to really build depth while contouring. The gorgeous gold bronzer, Spellbound, is perfect for adding mystique to your summer makeup looks.

ash-and-ember-eye-soot-campaign

How have I resisted talking about the packaging thus far? You'll want to keep Rituel de Fille's beauties on display because the packaging is just as beautiful as the product. I mean, look at the Ash and Ember Eye Soot collection. Decorate your eyes with infinitely versatile shades with names like Love Spell, Serpent de Mer, Seven Sisters, and Obsidian. They blend easily and can be layered from a sheer whisper to a bold, spellbinding look.

And in case you were as enamoured as I was with calling eyeshadow "eye soot," you'll probably be pleased to know that this name is a very conscious decision on Rituel de Fille's part. They draw inspiration from more ancient methods of self-adornment and cosmetics compounding used for beauty and ceremony, like "the simplicity of combining soot and oil to make kohl while still creating modern makeup that holds up to high standards of application and wear." Historically-inspired makeup scratches an itch I didn't know I had.

All Rituel de Fille products are 99% natural, and handcrafted without parabens, phthalates, synthetic dyes, or synthetic fragrances. They never test on animals, and only source their raw materials from companies that are also 100% cruelty free, so you can be confident that their makeup is as in-tune with the natural world as you are.

unnamed

I've had a lot of fun playing with this makeup and feeling like a witch queen. Now it's your turn — scratch makeup itches you didn't even know you had, and get your spellbinding witch queen look on!

Recent Comments

  • JenGin: Just got it in the mail tonight! Already in love! [Link]
  • Rita M.: Those are some amazing names. I always fall for the way makeup can advertise and have fun with the glory … [Link]
  • Jen.M: How was the staying power of the lip sheer? I like the idea of building colour ... The bittersweet and … [Link]
  • JenGin: And purchased! I can't wait to try it out! [Link]
  • Caroline Diezyn: Right!? *emoji with hearts for eyes* [Link]

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10 Jun 11:45

Bisexual in a straight marriage

by beccaboo4407
Kristen

This article makes me feel lucky that I had more dating experience and life experience before getting married.

By: Christopher Wilde – CC BY 2.0
By: Christopher WildeCC BY 2.0

I didn’t realize I was bisexual until I was about halfway through college. I called myself an ally, and gladly spent my time learning more about the community and how I could fight for justice. During my junior year, I went to an LGBTA conference, and decided to wander into a session about bisexuality. It suddenly hit me that the session was about me.

Even though I had been immersed in gay culture for that past few years, I couldn't shake my conservative upbringing. It had been so easy to assume being gay was a choice because I honestly could choose between the two. Walking out of the session, I wanted to cry at how much my old thought patterns still dictated my life.

This was also just over three years into dating the man that is now my husband. It took me a week to talk to him about my epiphany. Coming out to him was as strange as coming out to myself. I ended up speaking in so many circles that it took another conversation about two months later for him to realize that I was actually trying to come out to him. He had questions. I had questions. The biggest question was if I still wanted to be with him, or if coming out was also me realizing that I wanted more dating experience with other women.

Given my current marital status, it’s clear that I decided that I wanted to be with him. Now, almost a year into our marriage, I still don’t know how my identity fits into our life.

We have tried to figure out how to not ignore my sexuality. We make jokes about our various crushes in the movies we see. He is supportive of my lady fantasies. We donate to local LGBT organizations, specifically those involved with youth. I’ve been working to get a GSA network going at the school where I teach. We talk about our gender neutral parenting strategies practically on the daily, just to feel like we’ll be ready for it.

I came out to our immediate family and our closest friends about a year after I came out to my husband. But it’s not something that really gets brought up. I’m with a man, and we look like a very typical heterosexual couple. But despite being as out as I’ll ever be, I feel like a part of me is erased.

The hardest thing is when they forget. I make some offhand remark about how gorgeous Scarlett Johansson is, and they all give me strange looks for a second, before recalling the conversation we had years ago. I knew intellectually that coming out would be a continual process; I just didn’t realize how often I’d have to remind people.

I’ll probably always feel a little like I somehow "cheated" by marrying a man. I’ll always feel like I have no right to complain because of all the privilege my relationship grants. We will always be a work in progress.

In the meantime, I’d ask all of you a little favor for me and all my other bisexual Homies. Don’t assume that every couple that “looks” straight is. Bisexual erasure is a real thing, and until we get to a point in our culture where it doesn’t matter who you like, we’ll always be stuck proving that we belong in the QUILTBAG.

Recent Comments

  • Julia-Gulia: I'm so glad this article was posted and that there are others out there. My husband is bisexual and I'm … [Link]
  • Ruth: I am bisexual and it was a slow process for me to realize and accept it about myself throughout my … [Link]
  • Maya: I'm in a similar situation, so thank you SO MUCH for this article! My cis male straight boyfriend and I … [Link]
  • KC: My future husband is bi. Although he dated a few guys throughout college, my parents didn't meet him until we … [Link]
  • Katy: Offbeat Editors: Thank you so much for publishing this, it has been really nice to read these stories in the … [Link]

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01 May 09:00

American Weigh Digital Scale

by mark
Kristen

a cheap scale

I needed a scale to weigh the powdered supplements I take (powders are cheaper than capsules). I bought the AWS 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale in January. It’s about the size of an iPhone and measures up to a limit of 100 grams in 0.01 gram increments.

I also bought a 100 gram weight ($7) to calibrate the scale.

The first thing I did was weigh some coins. A Nickel is supposed to have a mass of 5 grams (here’s a page that lists the mass of different coins). All the Nickels I weighed had slightly different masses. Same with Pennies and Half Dollars.

I also weighed Bicycle playing cards. Each card has a mass of about 1.75 grams. I weighed all 26 red cards: 45.51 grams. The black cards came in at 45.57 grams. The four Aces had a combined mass of 7 grams on the nose. Would the Tens weigh more, since they have more ink than the Aces? I measured them: 7.03 grams. I tried a different deck. Aces: 7.03 grams. Tens: 7.03 grams. (I’d love to weigh these cards on a 0.001 gram scale!)

scale2

scale1

scale4

scale3

scale5

-- Mark Frauenfelder

American Weigh 100g x 0.01g Digital Scale
$10

Available from Amazon

08 May 09:00

pStyle Female Urination Device

by mark
Kristen

I might have to get one of these...the go-girl IS more complicated to use!!

I have used the pStyle female urination device for over two years. Initially you might think it is gross but I think it is fantastic and I’ll explain why. If you are a guy you have no right to judge or snicker since you don’t have to completely drop your pants to pee while out in the wilderness.The pStyle is a plastic trough that allows girls to pee standing up without dropping their pants.

I carry mine in a little mesh bag with a small squirt bottle of water for rinsing. I keep it in one of the side water bottle pouches on my backpack and one in my glove box.

  1. Before you say this is gross, remember urine is sterile (unless you have some nasty infection).
  2. Imagine not having to drop your pants to pee in the jungle, avoiding getting your butt bitten by insects in the process.
  3. You don’t have to go on a trek to find cover as far away just to pee. In many places cover doesn’t exist.
  4. They come in a rainbow of colors.
  5. You don’t need toilet paper to pee. When done you just pull it forward and out if your pants and it acts like a squeegee. Then you simply rinse with the little water bottle and put away. Your fingers never touch the pee or any nasty bits.
  6. Imagine not having to hold it for long periods for lack of privacy.
  7. You will finally really know how easy guys have it.
  8. You can now tell people “I just don’t pee, I pstyle!” Or “I’m stylin with my pstyle!”
  9. Two years ago a woman I was with on an Amazon trip fell in the river, pants down, trying to pee off the side of the boat. All could have been avoided with the pstyle.
  10. I’ve been doing field work/trips for a long time and just want to make you aware of a product I find very useful and wish I had discovered sooner.
  11. I have researched other types and styles of these devices and I think this is the best. Don’t bother with the other kinds (Go-girl, lady j, etc). They are too soft and flexible so you practically have to drop your pant to get them in place and use them anyway. For me its a p-style or nothing.

I am completely serious about how much I like the pstyle. I have given one to my sister and other field biologist friends and while skeptical at first, they love it after trying it in the field.

-- Margy Green

pStyle
$8

Available from Amazon

02 Jun 18:30

You Never Knew You Needed Custom Mickey Ears... UNTIL NOW

by Jen
Kristen

SQUEE!!!!!

I've just come up for air after binge-browsing the most amazing online Dizgeek nirvana, you guys: Recycl EARS.

Jess, the genius behind Recycl EARS, first started making custom Mickey ears for her family for Star Wars Weekends back in 2011. The response was so great, though, that she eventually started selling some online.

Fast forward 'til now, and Jess has about ten bajillion custom ears in her Facebook gallery, each more squee-worthy than the last. I'm about to inundate you with some of my favorites, and believe me when I say: this IS the short list.

Since it all started with Star Wars, let's begin with these beauties:


That tiny BB-8 is how I first found Jess; someone tweeted that pic and a link to her Facebook page, and it was love at first sight.

Jess first sketches out each design, then hand paints and cuts each little piece of felt. She also hand sculpts and crafts any 3D elements, like Darth Maul's horns up there.

Those are all her relatively traditional ear shapes, though; Jess also does crazier stuff, like THIS:


X-wing fighter Mickey ears!! And of course my heart belongs to the full-size BB-8.

But this next one, THIS is my favorite Star Wars one:

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Oh, but we're just getting started. Calling all Whovians!


Jess sculpted those little shoes, you guys. SO CUTE. And the matching TARDIS ears were a custom set for a wedding! Can I get a "D'awwwwww?"

Avengers ears, assemble:

And you better believe there was much Kermit flailing when I found THIS:

The little proton pack!!! ACK. Someone come scoop me off the floor, please.

More Nerd-gasms ahead. You have been warned.

Rocket-EARS!

And Firefly, too?!
 So shiny, you guys. SO SHINY.

And now, my favorites scene from Frozen, in ears form:

"It's so cute! It's like a little baby unicorn!"

(See the rest of the carrot, hanging out the back? Bwahaha!)

I love how creative Jess' designs are, like this table of spaghetti for Lady and the Tramp:

In AWE. Srsly.

You'd think I was posting her entire gallery here, but in reality I've barely scratched the surface. Head over to the RecyclEARS Facebook page for so much more, and get ready to lose some serious time.

I'll leave you with my favorite of Jess' Wonderland ears - because BREAD AND BUTTER FLY:


And the upside down teacup! And Cheshire lifting his ears! And flouncy Queen of Hearts goodness!

So good. So. GOOD.

Jess' ears are all made to order, and her lead time right now is about 5 months, so order early. Most of the designs in her shop average between $69 and $94, depending on complexity. Head over to her site to order, or follow RecycEARS on Facebook or Instagram to see all of Jess' new custom work. (Trust me, it's addicting!)

And finally, thanks to Jess for allowing me to post so many of her photos here. She's a total sweetheart, so I recommend saying hi if you get the chance!
01 Jun 11:45

A slice of paradise: Our small lake-side cabin in Wisconsin

by Offbeat Editors
Kristen

CABIN PORN ALERT

simple cozy wisconsin cabin

The offbeat occupant: Colleen, Weekend warrior
Other occupants: My husband Sam
Approximate square footage: 650-1000 sq. feet
How many bedrooms? 1
Lives in: Wisconsin, USA

Let's start with the neighborhood. What's it like where you live? Our cabin is on a very quiet, small lake. We have nearly four acres, so there's plenty of space between us and our neighbors.

What makes your home offbeat? We're big do-it-yourself-ers. We love the outdoors, so this cabin is our getaway.

cozy wisconsin cabin

cabin fireplace

What's the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? This place is just quite a bit of work, more so than you can see in the photos. We bought the cabin from an elderly couple who had slowly built and added onto it over many years. The craftsmanship and materials were good, but a lot of projects had been left unfinished.

re doing cabin floor

redone cabin floor

cabin bedroom

For instance, the sunroom had no flooring (only plywood). We laid a new pine floor in that room as well as the bedroom, where we had taken off some gross red-and-gold shag.

overgrown dock

The lakeshore is completely overgrown around the dock and clearing it (even just enough to fit in a rowboat) is a crazy amount of labor.

cabin property

What's your favorite feature of your home? The scenery! We have 1000 feet of lakeshore on a really quiet lake. The cabin is full of windows that capitalize on the view. It is just such a quiet, peaceful place. We've really enjoyed exploring our land as the seasons change. On Monday mornings we find ourselves wishing we were back at the cabin rather than at our desks.

cabin couch and windows

cabin windows in teh dining room

cabin kitchen

What's the most important lesson you've learned from this home? I've learned how fun and satisfying it can be to tackle big projects and learn new hands-on skills. Our cabin also reminds us to slow down, relax, and really soak in every day.

cabin sunroom

What's your grandest plan for the space? I want to tap our maple trees next spring and make my own syrup. Our other big dream is to build a deluxe outdoor shower. In the meantime, we just want to get the roof to stop leaking and the mice to go away.

Recent Comments

  • hannah1cestmoi: What an amazing place to escape to in the weekends! You are lucky! I am wondering how far it is … [Link]
  • Colleen: Thank you! [Link]
  • Colleen: Yes, we get snow and ice! This winter was quite dry in terms of snow, but we still had some. [Link]
  • Aurora: What a gorgeous cabin! Thanks for giving us a peek into your living space =) [Link]
  • Christina: I'm not the OP, but as someone who has spent enough time in Wisconsin, I can guarantee that yes, it … [Link]

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29 May 11:45

I (started to) defeat my body image issues with a sword

by Emily K. Stamm

swords

Like a lot of people, I have a complicated relationship with my body. For as long as I can remember I’ve worried about being too "fat," too "ugly," too "not normal." As I’ve gotten older I’ve bounced between self-acceptance and self-hate, with plenty of yo-yo dieting in the middle.

After getting engaged I started getting even more bombarded with messages about hating my body, losing weight, shaving everywhere, getting my nails done, getting my makeup done, styling my hair… Even more so than before, I felt the extreme pressure to conform to our society’s harsh beauty standards. I quickly realized that I wanted to love myself, not just on my wedding day, but every day.

Lucky for me, I was already part of the wonderful community here at the Offbeat Empire, so I knew that loving my body didn’t have to mean losing a ton of weight or spending a ton of money on beauty routines that bored me.

Once I realized what I didn’t want, I had to think about what I did want. It was clear to me that I had to change something in order to be happier with myself. If I wasn’t going to focus on calorie counting and the number on the scale, what would I do?

I knew I wanted two things: to feel physically and mentally good about my body. How could I do that? I broke it into smaller goals. I decided to do the Couch to 5K program. I decided to start eating more fruits and vegetables, and less chocolate and fried food. I decided to focus on media that presented positive images and descriptions of people of all shapes and sizes. And I decided that I would learn to use a sword.

I have never been an athlete. I’ve always considered myself too fat and slow for any sports, so I never put the time and effort in to learn them. Learning to run was the first time I ever realized that yes, this was a thing my body could do. It doesn’t always feel good, and it certainly isn’t easy, but running has shown me that my body is more capable than I thought. After just a few months of eating slightly better, stretching, and gradually kicking up my running times, I was able to run more than twenty minutes in a row, over a mile and a half! I’m not fast, and I’ll probably never win any races, but running has given me the gift of being proud of my body.

A few months after starting to run regularly, my fiance found a local sword fighting class. Even a year earlier I might have hesitated (“swords aren’t for people like me”) but thanks to my new-found confidence, I was ready to dive in.

We started taking classes with our local chapter of the Medieval European Martial Arts Guild in German Longsword technique. Almost every Saturday morning we practice the difference cuts, sometimes with a blunted practice sword, sometimes with a sharp sword. I pretend to be my favorite sword fighting heroes, like Alanna of Trebond from Tamora Pierce’s books. The sweat soaks my shirt, and I’m often sore for days afterward, but I feel like a million bucks. I’m not very good yet, but every week I can feel that my cuts get better, and feel more natural. Soon I’ll be sparring with the instructor, slicing reeds, and maybe one day I’ll even compete.

My fiancé and me feeling victorious after our first time running 20 minutes in a row.
My fiancé and me feeling victorious after our first time running 20 minutes in a row.

I’ve spent the last six months focusing on thinking of my body in new, positive ways. I focus on what I can do instead of my perceived flaws. I don’t wake up every morning feeling like the most beautiful woman on the planet, but I also don’t usually wake up in a cloud of self-hate.

Sometimes I still worry that various body parts aren’t good enough. I’m sure I’ll spend years, if not the rest of my life, working on loving myself and finding new ways to enjoy my body. For now I’ll continue to slay my body-image demons with my sword.

Recent Comments

  • Lplank: Roller derby has done wonders for my self esteem and body issues. It's a great sport for all body types, … [Link]
  • Amber: First, LOVE the Alanna reference. It made my day. Second, I need to seriously check this out. I'm a rennie … [Link]
  • Beth W: YES! As a female archer (who uses archery as a mental focus) I lovelovelove that you're doing sword fighting. Not … [Link]
  • Englyn: Also the Society for Creative Anachronism! We do a couple of different kinds of combat, I do rapier fighting, it's … [Link]
  • may: ♥♥♥♥♥ ... aaaand: ♥! [Link]

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29 May 13:31

Wouldn’t it be awesome to just have to be aware of mental health one month a year?

by thebloggess

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month so some people expect me to write about mental health, except that if you read here you’re already perfectly aware that I’m mentally ill so this feels a bit pointless.  But what if we change the game a little?

Share with me.  In the comments, or on your own platform, or both.  Almost everyone will battle mental illness or will be impacted in the struggle to help a loved one with their mental illness, so “awareness” isn’t really the issue for me.  Cures, support, feedback, tools that work...those are the things we reach for in the dark.  So let’s share…

How has mental illness affected you personally?  What did you learn from it that might help others?

I’ll start.

How has mental illness affected me personally:  I have a host of issues but I’m most affected by Avoidant Personality Disorder which is like anxiety disorder on speed.  It’s scary to talk about.  When I tell people I have a personality disorder they try to convince me that I don’t.  This is not helpful.  It’s perfectly well-meaning but it’s like saying “You couldn’t possibly have anything so terrible as that” when in fact, I do.  And lots of other people do too but they don’t say it out loud because they’re afraid of how they’ll be perceived.  Then it becomes even harder to say it because everyone else is too afraid to say it (with just cause) and I can’t even blame them because being afraid to admit you have a personality disorder whose main symptom is crippling fear is a catch-22 and pretty fucked up.  It’s like having to raise your hand to ask for help in attaching your prosthetic arms.

What did I learn from it that might help others:  I’ve learned I’m not alone even when I feel completely isolated and like a failure.  I’ve learned that depression lies.  I’ve learned that when I’m not affected by my fucked-up brain chemistry I can see that my brain is not to be trusted so I write notes to myself when I’m out of the hole to remind myself that I’ll be okay again soon.  I get sun.  I take meds and therapy.  I laugh loudly and often when I’m out of the hole because I know the importance of appreciating the good and the joy when it comes.  I let myself be sad when I need to be.  I watch ridiculous tv and listen to happy songs.  I practice creating an invisible mental barrier around my body when I feel overwhelmed by other people’s energy.  I call the suicide hotline if things get bad.  I donate to suicide hotlines when I can.  I allow myself to say no.  I reach out on the internet because I can find friends to talk to or to inspire me who understand when I’m too afraid to even pick up a phone.  I find a family member to help me when I think I need extra supervision.  I thank people who help save me.  I try to save them back.  I hide in blanket forts with my cats and a collection of funny books or kick-ass comics.  I share what helps.  I learn from others.

I apply kittens directly to problem areas.
bloggesshuntersthomcat

Your turn.

PS.  This is my playlist that keeps me upright when my head is full of marbles.  Feel free to share your own.

27 May 11:45

How to respond to religious LGBT condemnation

by Snazzy
Kristen

While I have never had to write the response to one of these emails, I still lived it as a teenager. These are some good responses demonstrating clear boundaries. Although I would say that for my own personal health, I might not even need to send these emails, I would simply cut that person out of my life, but I think it is important to see different responses from different people around this subject.

How to respond to religious LGBT condemnation
By: lgbtqportraitsCC BY 2.0

Ever since we announced our engagement, we've been dealing with some pretty intense levels of religious condemnation from my fiancee's family. We have received many emails, phone calls, and letters asking us to give up our "sinful ways." It hurts like hell, and I don't know for sure the best way to deal with it. We have done our best to remain open, to be loving at all times, and to set clear boundaries for our own well-being.

In the hope that it may help others find words, I thought I would share our responses here.

In response to an email using the Bible to tell us that we are sinners, that the pleasures of sin fade, that we have holes in our hearts where Jesus should be, and that our sin is going to kill us:

I love you too, more than I can say. And I can accept that this is how you feel. I have heard you, and I am not asking you to compromise your beliefs. You are right that as children, we were taught that homosexuality is a sin. I have struggled since childhood to reconcile my sexual orientation with those religious beliefs, which resulted in [shame, self-abuse, etc.]. Though you may not understand what I have gone through, please accept that for me, the choice was not between being straight or gay, but between being dead or alive.

I have chosen a life that fulfills me and makes me a better person. I have found a new relationship with God, who loves and accepts all of his children. For the first time in my life, I am deeply happy. Please understand that I will not be coming home because I can't do so without compromising my own beliefs or disrespecting my wife. I would never expect my partner to be able to fill my every need, but I am devoted to caring for her and loving her. That's not something I feel I can do at Mom's house. If that ever changes in the future, I would be really happy to be able to go home again. I miss you all.

In response to an email citing scripture to prove that God does not love us or accept our choice to be homosexuals:

We will just have to agree to disagree. You believe that being gay is a sinful choice I am making in defiance of the Lord. I know that I will not change your mind on that. I also know that I had no choice in my sexual orientation. This is the way I was created. You will not change my mind on that.

You do not understand the harm you are doing to me or to your relationship with me, so I am telling you now that any future attempts to condemn me or my actions will result in severely limited contact between us.

If you are sincerely interested in the biblical support for gay marriage, please reference:

If you are more interested in a secular reflection of the experiences of gay people, I would recommend:

Let's get an even bigger list going… What are YOUR go-to responses to religious condemnation?

Recent Comments

  • Shelly G: I'm sad to hear both of these stories! It's so much harder to give up on family, to recognize them … [Link]
  • Shelly G: I have to applaud your ability to remain cool-headed in your correspondence. In my case, a heterosexual wedding that took … [Link]
  • Shelly G: I have also found scripture to be ineffective. I tried to go with the "judge not" route and ultimately got … [Link]
  • snazzy: You're right- without the background story, it sounds very melodramatic. We were not trying to communicate that life without sex … [Link]
  • Sara: I love the whole letter EXCEPT the part: "Though you may not understand what I have gone through, please … [Link]

+ 16 more! Join the discussion

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]

+ 42 more! Join the discussion

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]

+ 7 more! Join the discussion

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!

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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.

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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.)