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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]

+ 49 more! Join the discussion

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

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

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07 Apr 17:00

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

by Elizabeth Passarella
Kristen

Yes please!

Pin it button big

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

READ MORE »

02 Apr 16:47

Links & Sundries

by JenniferP
Kristen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Chicago Events are coming up:

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

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

 


01 Apr 15:00

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

by thebloggess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were so many 25’s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any you know what? I think we nailed it.

furiously happy

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

I hope to God you love it.

Rory and I love you.

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

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

27 Mar 17:10

Your Beautiful, Feminine Period Stains Are Against Instagram Guidelines

by Jia Tolentino
Kristen

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

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

Read more...








27 Mar 14:30

Appreciate a Female Comic Friday: Cameron Esposito

by Barbie
Kristen

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

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

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

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


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

My family includes my "platonic wife"

by Andrea Parrish
Kristen

Pods!

Our "Pod."
Our "Pod."

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

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

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

Whew. Confused yet?

platonic wives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related post

Recent Comments

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

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23 Mar 14:45

Coloring books for grown-ass adults

by Megan Finley
Kristen

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

color me drunk coloring book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Comments

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

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20 Mar 15:00

Aunt Acid: Advice on Job Hopping

by Aunt Acid
Kristen

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

RELVANT

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

Hi Aunt Acid,

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

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

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

--No more job hopping

 

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

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

17 Mar 20:53

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

Kristen

This is so perfectly true!!

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

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

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

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



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

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

by Caroline Diezyn
Kristen

Tags for your journal!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recent Comments

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

+ 15 more! Join the discussion

18 Mar 11:45

How to host a large dinner party in a small space

by Miss Moneypenny
Kristen

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

unnamed-2

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

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

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

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

friendsgiving

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

unnamed-1

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

Recent Comments

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

+ 2 more! Join the discussion

12 Mar 14:30

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

by Faith Durand
Kristen

Need to do this!!

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

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

READ MORE »

02 Mar 18:26

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

by ddpguestposter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Following in Her Footsteps: Happy Birthday, Audre Lorde!

by lucysmall
Kristen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

by Eris Walsh
Kristen

All of this article is delightful.

Face of Booze

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

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

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

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

— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) February 3, 2015

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

Chewbacchus Figure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They literally let their nerd flag fly.

They literally let their nerd flag fly.

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

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 4.34.11 PM

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

Borg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wookie Shrine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Build a Bandolier

 

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

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

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

Sacred Wookie Rib

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

Grooter Tail

Baby Groot

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

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

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

11 Feb 15:00

Power-Playing: Advice To NSFW Fic Writers And Novelists Now That Fifty Shades of Grey Is A Movie - Yes, I'm looking at you writing that NC-17 dub-con.

by J.M. Frey

a2ef2ab0-f55e-0131-6d9c-0aa0f90d87b4It is 2011, and I am at a literary award after party. There is no statue in my hand, but there is a vodka martini. I think it was number three. Maybe four? And the title of the book on everyone’s lips that night was not the one that had taken home the top prize two hours earlier; it was “that new mommy porn book.”

“Have you read it?” people asked each other. “Is it respectful? Is it clever?”

People danced around the topic, not wanting to speak ill of the author or the kink scene, but I, four (maybe it was five?) vodka martinis in, finally said “It’s bad, okay!? It’s got bad wordcrafting, bad punctuation, and bad BDSM! It’s dangerous. Someone is gonna read that sh*t and do that sh*t and land in the hospital because they didn’t get brought into the community through the community. Some poor girl is gonna let herself get stalked by a creeper who does not understand consent and she’s gonna die. The only damn good thing about the book is the great f*cking cover! But the rest? Kink Colonialism.”

Colonialism: The imperialist expansion of Europe into the rest of the world [...] in which a dominant imperium or center carried on a relationship of control and influence over its margins or colonies. This relationship tended to extend to social, pedagogical, economic, political, and broadly culturally. (From “Key Terms In Post-Colonial Theory.”)

In layman’s terms: Colonialism is the act of entering and subjugating a culture, then appropriating aspects of said culture to take back to the “Empire”/mainstream for display/use sans the original cultural context. This also carries insinuations of the mainstream/empirical culture being ‘dominant,’ ‘correct,’ and ‘the best,’ framing the invaded culture as ‘wrong,’ ‘Other,’ ‘weird,’ and in need of correction or saving.

And in Fifty Shades’ case? I won’t make assumptions about E.L. James’ sex life, but it seems as if she grasped onto a dangerous Orientalist view of the BDSM lifestyle and plopped it into standard romance narrative.

This isn’t much of a surprise when you consider the source material: Fifty Shades is famous for being a serial-numbers-filed-off Twilight fanfiction that hit big. The fact that it’s revamped fanfiction is not the issue here; the issue is that Fifty Shades, being based on an extremely problematic novel whose consent issues (amidst issues of racism, exoticism, etc.) are sky-high, has compounded the consent problem.

Because of the quality of both the writing and the kink, I though that Fifty Shades would eventually wither. The novelty would fade, and eventually the people who were honestly interested in the lifestyle that had been appropriated would move on to better-written BDSM romance books (The Sophie Scaife series by Abigail Barnette, who also writes the excellent and expository “Jenny Reads 50 Shades” blog; Phèdre’s Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey). From there I hoped the interested readers would do research, attend info sessions, workshops, playparties, and eventually find themselves a nice, healthy, fulfilling kinky relationship.

But here we are, four years later, and now there’s a movie.
 
This means that not only the reading public will be perhaps, to their detriment, internalizing the messages of Fifty Shades; there’s going to be a whole new viewing public as well. And that raises the question:

If and when one of those people reading or watching Fifty Shades gets hurt, who will be to blame?
 
Can, for example, Jian Giomeshi’s alleged victims sue E.L. James or her publisher Random House? He did name-drop the book in his first official statement after the allegations. 
 
Before I began my career as a writer, I was a substitute teacher in high schools. During free reading periods, I talked to each and every student about the book they were reading – which character they liked best, what drew them to it, etc.
 
I once spoke with a young woman reading Twilight. I asked her if she was enjoying it and nodded along as she spoke, and straightened to go. Then I stopped, turned back and said, in a whisper, “Listen, I’m sorry. I know you’re clever. I just want to point out that this sort of romantic stalker thing in real life is dangerous. If a guy does this, you should–”
 
“Report his ass? Duh,” she interrupted. “This is fantasy. I know the difference.”
 
That conversation has remained in the forefront of my thoughts since.  If we know that consent-play is fantasy, and we know non-consent situations are dangerous, not sexy, then why all the romance novels, films, and stories about the The Highland Bandit’s Kidnapped Wife and The Italian Millionaire’s Bound Pet and Doing As He Says, and the thousands of Daddy-dom erotic GIF blogs? The big question here is:
 
If we know non-consent is bad, why is it so damn good?

Why do we love these fantasies? My pet theory about it is this:

People read and write these sorts of stories to either consciously or unconsciously explore those fetishes that might otherwise make them feel unsafe to explore in real life. The reader can imagine being tortured sexually or forcefully seduced and is allowed to take pleasure in it.  At least in the west, we come from a culture of permission, where “no means no” and issues of consent are extremely pervasive and important.

But when you delve into the world of fantasy, that changes. People fantasize sexually because they are looking for a thrill, a danger to court, or a new sensation to experience, or a new scent and taste, or a new sort of stimulation. They fantasize because they are not comfortable or ready to enact these fantasies in real life, or are not in a position to be able to do so.

And dubious or non-consent fantasy narratives tap into what I would call a very visceral and adolescent fantasy about early acknowledgement of sexuality. People of all ages, genders, and sexual identities who are on the cusp of their emergence as sexual beings struggle with the dichotomy of recognizing that they are sexually desirable and/or desire sex, but at the same time are romantically and sexually inexperienced.

Non-consent fantasy narratives allow the writer/reader to experience the rewards of being sexual without the stumbling block of inability and inexperience. In these fantasies, they get to be passive, and are still wanted by the other party, without the possibility of the humiliation of rejection or an inability to seduce. Non-consent fantasy narratives tap into that primal, primary fantasy of early sexuality and allow us to celebrate our own bodies and take pleasure in them without any real-life repercussions or shame.

In a way, in these fantasies, the forcible confinement and fantasy-rape is the ultimate compliment –  we are wanted so badly that the dominating partner literally cannot help themselves. There’s a thrill in the fantasy of someone being so overwhelmed with lust or passion for you that they can’t hold themselves back; the fantasy of being chosen out of the crowd, the one special person, for no particular reason beyond just being you – to have a dark prince charming look at you and say, ah yes, here is the special one. There’s something freeing in the fantasy of being able to give up control, to just be pleasured, to trust your partner to be concerned about your pleasure, to throw off society’s slut shaming, Cosmo’s 101 tips, to not have to think or plan or worry.  To just be given sex, and for it to rock your world, and know that the other person wants you just as you are. There is something endlessly appealing about being wanted.

I also believe that it’s from the desire to be wanted, to be deemed special, that the  impulse to create a Mary Sue in fanfiction stems. I think this is probably especially true in younger girls just starting to explore their own sexuality and romance, girls getting their first crushes and learning what it means to want someone emotionally and sexually. Where better to fixate a first, foal-wobbly desire than on someone fictional? Someone safe? Even if the character they want isn’t the safe one? Especially if they aren’t the safe one?

If we understand why consent-play is steamy, the question that we writers of that genre must ask ourselves it this:

What do we owe the readers of our non-consent fantasy stories?

Firstly, do we owe them anything at all?

Well, yes. I think we do.

Poll a hundred women from the age of sixteen up, and ask where they first read stories involving sex. I will bet you dollars to donuts at least half of them will say they borrowed a mother’s/aunt’s/friend’s Harlequins and Mills & Boons. There are a lot of people learning about romance, desire, and sex from what we write.

And that is a glorious, privileged place to be. I think romance novels are fabulous mostly because the female characters in them have agency to desire, have fantasies, and pursue their own romantic, emotional, and sexual satisfaction. That is a great message.

But we also need to be aware of the other messages our work can send, too.

We don’t owe instruction manuals, or pages of boring explanations; but we do owe readers of non-consent fantasy an acknowledgement within the text that the sex and relationships happening on the page are, first and foremost, a fantasy.

We owe them accurate play scenes, well researched, so that if one of our readers tries to recreate it, they won’t end up in the hospital. We also owe them realistic and honest portrayals of kink culture, whether they’re our own kinks or not. And if a character is going to endanger another character, then we owe our readers to make it clear in the narrative that what that character is doing is unacceptable, wrong, dangerous, illegal, or potentially deadly.

We owe our readers actual discussions of consent or non-consent within the book. We owe it to them to model what consent negotiation looks like. We owe them sex scenes where the negotiation happens before sex starts, and mid-kiss, so they can see what it looks like when desires shift, and consent must be re-obtained. We owe them characters who negotiate boundaries happily and confidently, who speak up when they’re uncomfortable, who are concerned about their partner and who ask, verbally, for permission to continue, and who own their own bodily agency. And if we have a character who is refusing to seek consent or who is going to continue without it, we owe it to our readers to make it clear in the narrative that this is not acceptable behaviour.

We owe our readers realistic sex scenes which include the use of condoms, dental dams, and sex-safe lubes, safe words, and safety precautions. And if our characters are engaging in unsafe sexual practices, we owe our readers the acknowledgement that these sexual practices are unsafe in the text.

And frankly speaking, if you, non-consent fantasy writer, think that being responsible while writing your non-consent fantasy narratives is boring, or will drag down the book, then I’ve got advice for you:

Try harder.

Our job is to make anything sexy: monsters, aliens, dinosaurs, cowboys, race car drivers, and millionaires. If we can tap into the thrill of being wanted, if we can make rape, confinement, coercion, pain, and trickery sexy, we can sure as heck also make discussions of consent and safe sex sexy, too. 

We owe it to our readers. And we owe it to ourselves.

J.M. Frey is a voice actor, SF/F author, and fanthropologist. She also writes SF/F erotica under the pseudonym Peggy Barnett. Her first full-length erotica novel, “Lips Like Ice” is now available from Circlet Press. You can follow her at @SciFrey or @EroticBarnett. She is represented by Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary.

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10 Feb 15:45

How scheduling saves our super-busy, polyamorous, multi-household family

by Andrea
Kristen

ALL THE SCHEDULES!!

Scheduling before and after
Scheduling before and after

I've always been a day-planner type of person. In the current iteration of my life, scheduling has taken on a whole new meaning — it's not only relationship maintenance, it's been providing a rubric for compromise and communication in a super-busy, polyamorous, multi-household family. The idea first struck me after reading The Offbeat Home & Life post about Family Meetings.

We do ours a little differently, and it has proven invaluable. Here's how it works:

The cast of characters

Me: Full-time dayjob with occasional freelancing.
P: Husband, full-time dayjob, doesn’t drive. We live together.
J: Partner, full-time dayjob and working on starting a business. Lives about one mile away.
Also often involved: my platonic wife, her husband, their two kids, my brother, his wife, their two kids. All live in the same(ish) city as me, P and J. Finally, there’s P’s dad and stepmom that live in a camp trailer on our property during the cold months and share our kitchen and bathrooms when they're here.

How the meeting developed

Long before we had additional partners, micro-farms, or businesses, P and I developed a scheduling system after we moved in together. Between trying to combine social schedules, bill paying, and general household chores for two young adults, a few big things got missed and dealing with those consequences wasn't exactly pleasant. To try and fix it, we bought a giant whiteboard, made a 35-box grid on the top ⅔ and gave it a prominent place in our main living space.

Once a week, we made it a point to sit down together to make sure that the whiteboard calendar included everything that had come up the last week from bill due dates to social engagements. There’s also a space on the board for shopping lists and random notes and, because it’s magnetic, we can attach letters or pieces of paper to it. Everything on that calendar then got copied over to my Google Calendar, because I prefer to work in digital.

When we brought new partners into our little poly "pod," the scheduling meeting gained additional importance because including those partners in the meeting became an expression of their importance in our lives. It is both practical — a chance to check in, make plans, make sure everyone was on the same page; and a sign of respect for those partnerships — showing in action the fact that everyone is equally respected.

What the meeting looks like now

About seven years in, this is what our once-a-week Scheduling Meeting looks like:

Those of us with heavily intersecting schedules, usually P and J and I, all get together over dinner on Sunday nights — on the occasional evening when we can't get together, we put a call in on speakerphone or get together on Gchat. We come armed with our smartphones, the giant whiteboard calendar, and our own notes about any scheduling items that have come up over the week.

We each start with an "opening statement" of our wants, needs, and desires for the upcoming week and anything big upcoming in the next few weeks. This would be something like "I want to make sure to have a date night with J this week. An overnight would be nice in the next couple of weeks, and there are requests to watch kids on Tuesday and Saturday. I have a late night at work on Wednesday, so J, if you could drive P to his meet-up, that would be awesome. The cherry trees are crazy full of fruit, so I would also like to set aside a day or two to pick and process what we can."

Once everyone's put their statements out there, we work our way through the week. The things that match up are easy. When things don’t match up, we try to talk things out and work out a solution that meets everyone’s desires as best as possible. We try to plan ahead for commuting together as often as possible, date nights, big projects, and especially things as mundane as “I seriously need a night to catch up on laundry.”

During the week, if things change, we each address things individually as they come up with the people affected. Generally, the scheduling meeting takes 20-30 minutes at most. Everything goes on the big house calendar and shared Google calendars. Then it’s back to eating dinner, playing video games, or otherwise relaxing.

The big calendar on the wall serves well when P’s dad and stepmom come in to the house, as they can tell at a glance what’s going on and who’s probably where that day. Everyone’s got access to at least most of the digital calendars as well for planning ahead, which cuts down on the “are you available on X day” questions; the conversations are instead usually things like “I see you’re free Friday evening, want to grab drinks?”

The philosophies behind The meeting

If this sounds all-too-Utopia, there's a lot of communication challenges and philosophy that go into each one of these meetings that we’re still figuring out (and probably always will be).

First and foremost, it's about holding everyone responsible for their own schedules and lives. The idea of “your schedule, your business” sounds simple, but seriously, it’s a challenge. It’s easy to unthinkingly obligate a partner to do something with you, or to off-hand say “sure, we will try to make it.” It can also easily feel like you’re being evasive when you’re saying to someone used to scheduling off-the-cuff “I’d like to make it, let me bring it up in the scheduling meeting and I’ll get back to you.”

Second, a functional scheduling meeting means respecting each other enough to actually communicate and then follow through with what we say we will do. The scheduling meeting isn’t set in stone — life happens. When life happens, telling the people it has an effect on is important. Date nights can and do get cancelled or moved. Sometimes friends are having a rough night and need some company. Work goes late. Whatever happens, we try to see communicating that as a sign of respect — and knowing what’s on your calendar for that week helps a LOT in figuring out who you should tell first.

There’s also the additional layer that scheduling off the cuff after work drinks or hanging out is a lot easier if you actually know your calendar is clear for that day, instead of having to call everyone to ask if you had anything planned (or worse, accidentally stand someone up).

Third, when it comes to relationship maintenance, there is almost nothing better than a quick business check-in. Sharing lives can get messy, emotional, complicated, and exhilarating (and sometimes all in 20 minutes). It’s extraordinarily nice to, once a week, have a time set aside for the exclusive purpose of figuring out the logistics. It’s easier to sit down, relax and enjoy an evening on the couch together, or a long bike ride, or coffee out with a friend, if you’re not stressing out about if you missed the mortgage payment or wondering if your husband/wife/partner/friend remembers that work dinner tomorrow.

Finally, a quick word on boundaries

One of the more surprising things we’ve discovered over the years is that there can be quite a bit of pushback from people about these meetings. I’ve encountered responses ranging from “seriously, you schedule sex?!?” (to which the answer is, yes, sometimes, and that’s not a bad thing) to “well, if you want a week’s notice, I guess we just shouldn’t hang out.” Most of the time it’s just seen as quirky and a bit odd.

There are a not-insignificant number of people that will try to pull the passive aggressive “but if you caaaareeeedddd you would say yes RIGHT NOW” or “It’s disrespectful of your autonomy to have to check in with five other people just to go out to drinks!” That’s usually a sign to me that that person may not be a great fit for our group, or at least doesn’t understand the moving pieces.

It’s gotten significantly easier to learn that asking someone to respect the scheduling meeting isn’t imposing on them, it’s asking them to respect the things that I find important. If nothing else, setting that boundary enforces priorities and self-care, and those two things make everyday life a heck of a lot easier.

Recent Comments

  • G Wilkins: That is such an epically cool idea!! Though presently my household consists of just hubby, me and hubby's Dad (who's pretty … [Link]
  • Zooey: I love that idea. It seems as though your poly relationship has made you look more closely at other close … [Link]
  • alexcansmile: We finally had to start using shared calendars when he snapped at me for never letting him go to car … [Link]
  • justanothersciencenerd: Right? It's just a courteous to check with other people who are influenced by your schedule so you can … [Link]
  • justanothersciencenerd: "I consider her as important and as "legitimate" of a relationship as my relationships with my husband and partner." I love … [Link]

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10 Feb 12:45

Take a peek into this mysterious Sherlock-themed bathroom

by Haplesschyld
Kristen

Now I want to do an awesome small-themed bathroom too!

The very red room.

When I went looking around for ideas for our tiny upstairs bathroom, it seemed that my only options were 1: seashells, 2: minimalist spa, 3: things on clearance at a big box store. I wanted something that made me happy, but I also wanted the bathroom to look clean and be easy to clean.

I've been obsessing on BBC's Sherlock since season one, and so I figured, this is my place, why the hell can't I have a BBC Sherlock bathroom? So I did…

wall art I wanted to do a subtle Sherlock theme. I also wanted to use pieces that were original. I found this print from photographer Jorge Maia because it reminded me of Sherlock's opening credits.

The words.I had these plaques from a thrift store, and they were just waiting to have something done to them. I thought I would do a play on the usual inspirational quotes art, and just take words that are specific to the Sherlock 'verse, and toss them up there.

Small things matter. Here's another view of the framed magnifying glass, the hand soap curiously full of stones, and the hand towel that is like Sherlock's wallpaper.

The last labor of love.We had never put up wallpaper before. SCARY! At least we only had a tiny space to try it. And now that I am over the fear, I will absolutely use it again! While I wasn't springing for the crazy expensive wallpaper from the show, I was happy with how this turned out. The reclaimed shelf and the silhouettes were both purchased on Etsy.

Obvious!Finally, what is a Sherlock bathroom without a Baker Street sign?!

If you have an awesome themed room, we'd love to see it! Either submit a room tour, or upload photos of it to our Flickr pool!

Recent Comments

  • Levi: Enjoyed examining this, very good stuff, appreciate it. “It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one trifling … [Link]
  • Heather: Love love love love it! [Link]
  • AmeliaJane: I love this sort of subtle nod to geekery. That, if you're in the fandom or what have you, you … [Link]
  • Tobi: This pleases me vastly. [Link]
  • Jamie: I really love this!!! You did an excellent job making your theme obvious, but it doesn't feel like it's too … [Link]

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29 Jan 15:00

Cartoon Characters Who Were Significant In The Development Of My Queer Identity And Current Inspirations For My Weightlifting Routine

by Mallory Ortberg
Kristen

YESSSSS

Hyena, Gargoyles

hyena1

Influence on queer identity: Haircut, lascivious smile
Weightlifting inspiration: Squats, swimmer's press

Kida, Journey To Atlantis

queer13

Influence on queer identity: Look at her
Weightlifting inspiration: Deadlifts

Carmen Sandiego, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

queer12

Influence on queer identity: Hair lustrousness, general butch-y swagger, boots
Weightlifting inspiration: Bent-over rows

Queen Beryl, Sailor Moon

queer11

Influence on queer identity: Cackling, imperiousness, redheaded deviousness

Read more Cartoon Characters Who Were Significant In The Development Of My Queer Identity And Current Inspirations For My Weightlifting Routine at The Toast.

21 Jan 15:45

Positive demotions and Mental Health Awareness within relationships

by Catherine
Kristen

This chart is just wonderful.

Bipolar
By: Nicola Jones – CC BY 2.0

My wife is bipolar. For her, that means a life full of mediocre, less-than-positive contentment. And that's all when she is at her absolute best. When she is having an episode of either mania or depression life is awful and she doesn't want to live.

But we are working on understanding it. We are working together with individual therapists, a psychiatrist, a couple's counselor, a bipolar support group, and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family-to-Family classes. We are working, individually and collectively, on understanding her abilities and limitations.

I use the word "limitation" in a neutral, guilt-free, shame-free way. Limits are defined as "the final, utmost, or furthest boundary or point as to extent, amount, continuance, procedure, etc." So let's stop putting stigma and negativity on that word when it is empowering to remove the shame and acknowledge that we all have limits.

My wife recognizes her exact limitations — learning what she can and cannot do, and in the process learning what she can and cannot handle.

For example, she currently has a very prominent job at an institution of higher learning. And she is consciously leaving it. In leaving her prestigious, well-paying, highly-praised, highly-important position on campus, for a less-prestigious, less-well paying, less-praised-but-still-equally-important position on another campus, she is making a supremely mature decision.

As I mentioned before, I am in a NAMI class for family members of people with severe mental illness. In a recent class, we went over this worksheet:

NAM1-001

We discussed where we were on the chart as family members/caregivers. I'm bouncing between 2.5 and 3 in regards to the emotions section.

Then we talked about where we thought our family members with mental illness were. According to me, she is all over the charts depending on whether or not she's in an episode or stable. But when she's stable she's right there with me around 2.5

It was a great conversation once I got home, to have with her. We agreed on where we were but it was empowering to have the resource and the conversation.

Thanks to NAMI, she has words, and a diagram, and a physical piece of paper to hold, that helped her recognize where she was, where I am, where we are together, and where we are individually. And it was wonderful.

This conversation that we had, (and these conversations that NAMI provides us with the tools for having) along with this "positive demotion," create excellent opportunities for us to be in a place, physically, mentally, individually, and as a couple, that we will be healthier and happier.

Self realization, self actualization and empowerment FTW!

Recent Comments

  • Wendi: Academia is a crime family! I hate it. It's so...nasty. Wow, what a great descriptive word for this insanity that … [Link]
  • Wendi: I wish more people understood limits. I have generalized anxiety disorder and clinical depression. There are some things I just … [Link]
  • LK: I just want to say thank you for mentioning the awesomeness of NAMI. Many don't know that NAMI exists. … [Link]
  • Kirsten: Is the "individual living with mental illness" listed in the reference title the patient or the partner of the patient? … [Link]
  • Liset: So grateful to the offbeat empire for posting these kinds of articles. It makes my heart feel lighter to be … [Link]

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