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16 Feb 12:45

How a graphic novel helps this millennial cope with living in a cluttered family home

by Miranda Whittaker

Very interesting and well articulated. From a daughter of a hoarder, voluntarily living in a group home, I definitely have an almost physical reaction to clutter in my own home.


There's nothing like coming home to find the entry way blocked by five bicycles. I'm not a fan of walking sideways like a crab, but I've done it regularly because I have to to get inside my home. I'm a millennial living in the two bedroom apartment I grew up in. I do this because my beloved job — which I'm lucky to have — is part-time and pays minimum wage. I've crunched the numbers and I can't make rent, pay back my student loan, and eat too.

"But what's up with the bicycles?" you ask. Well, everyone in my family, myself included, has multiple hobbies and side projects. (Repairing and selling old bicycles on Craigslist is one the more lucrative projects, so the bikes are here to stay.) The result, when combined with our mountains of reading material and rescued furniture waiting to be repaired, is a state of constant chaos. Living surrounded by a dozen or so bikes, bike parts, repair tools, stacks of magazines, and piles of papers was normal for me until I went away for school. You can't know that your normal isn't other people's normal until you have something to compare it to.

I love possessions as much as the next person. As a nerd I'm acutely aware how much nerd culture is about stuff. You want to show the world what you love so you buy the shirt that features the game/movie/show/comic symbol on it. This year's merch will let everyone know you were at a particular festival or convention. Fashion speaks and nerd fashion does so loud and clear: This is what I love. This is who I am.

Household possessions are much the same. I like this fact: one look at my room and you know what you're dealing with. My book shelves tell you things about me. The art on my walls tells you where I've been and what I've been up to. On my shelves are a few of my favourite things.

Everything in my room says something about me. What does a cluttered house say? Far too much.

Bad Houses
Bad Houses
In the graphic novel Bad Houses, by Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil, every item piled around the protagonists' hoarder house holds a memory. Danica struggles to hold onto the life she once had — the time when her husband was alive and when her daughter Anne was a child — and the things that remind her of happier times. Her memories physically invade the house and her hoarding reveals deep emotional pain.

Anne feels like their accumulated possessions are all speaking to her at once — whether she wants to hear them or not. This pains her, making her long for space of her own. When Danica hides some of the hoard in Anne's room, to create an illusion of order for a house guest, Anne is reduced to tears. I imagine I'd feel the same way if my personal living space were taken from me.

The millennial generation knows too well the need for a room of one's own and the ache of lacking privacy. Many of my friends have lamented over not having any truly private space while living in their family homes. But when your parents are paying the rent, they don't see an issue with walking through your space to see if you left the window open or to retrieve a sock that made its way into your drawer. Logically they have a point, but the feeling of violation is almost physically painful.

The pain of losing privacy is second only to the pain of being surrounded by too much stuff. A heavily cluttered space is exhausting to look at. Too many textures, shapes, things can all come together and overwhelm your eyes. I find I'm anxious if I'm surrounded by too many things or if I have too little room to move. Different people respond to their environments in different ways, but hoarding draws out a visceral reaction.

My physical reasons for being unhappy around clutter are pretty obvious. Reading Bad Houses made me understand the emotional reasons for my clutter-anxiety: the things that clutter the main living spaces of the apartment aren't mine and neither are the stories they tell. I worry that the stuff will creep into my room and start to influence the self-expressive space I've curated for myself. Like Anne, I hear and see more stories than I can manage whenever I'm surrounded by my family's things. I can only handle so many memories, or so much information, at a time.

I'm not alone in worrying. My Mom was thrilled when I built her a little bookshelf out of old wine boxes. I did this thinking we'd free up space elsewhere, not thinking about how a collection of books reflect on the owner. When her books were on the shelf, she said she felt like her soul was suddenly bared there in the living room – and I knew exactly what she meant. By trying to help her I accidentally stomped on her sense of privacy.

Living with my family is a work-in-progress. It won't be forever, but while I'm with my folks we'll have to take turns filling the space we live in. And if all the things get too invasive, I'll always have a book to hide in.

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16 Feb 13:00

View From The Top: The First Time I Knew I Was a Top

by Sinclair Sexsmith

"I was holding back, fearful of my own power. It scared me. It felt like a bottomless pit of growling, howling violence that I was just barely keeping in check.

Her dare made me stronger, and made me ask: What would happen if I opened up that part of me and allowed myself to explore it? Could I be trusted to honor safewords, to stop if something went wrong, to be accountable if we went too far? How could I balance this fear, this real and ravenous inner sadist, and reality?"


The first time I knew I was a top was when a girl I was dating said, "Please, hit me harder," and then, later, whispered, "I can take more than you can give me."

The post View From The Top: The First Time I Knew I Was a Top appeared first on Autostraddle.

18 Jan 17:50

Links for winter reading

by Erica Smith
Hello again - it's winter and that means time for a links round-up. In other words, have some stuff I've bookmarked over the last several months that you might enjoy reading too, in between ordering seeds and planning this year's garden.

If you'd like to find some new and interesting sources for your seeds, read Margaret Roach's "A Way to Garden" interview Power-Shopping the Seed Catalogs With Joseph Tychonievich.

And you might want to consider growing cauliflower this year, since it's hard to find or afford in stores right now.

While we're on brassicas, Michael Twitty has a great post on the history and culture of collards: A Letter to the Newgrorati: Of Collards and Amnesia.

This is from way back in September: Adrian Higgins on container gardening in cities.

And here's local blogger Susan Harris on Garden Rant, talking about her favorite watering tools.

Why Pumpkins and Squashes Aren't Extinct: how they became domesticated.

The UN General Assembly has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses (leguminous crops harvested dry). I guess Grow It Eat It was just ahead of the curve with our 2015 Year of Beans and Peas! (We'll be giving you updates on our Year of Tomatoes soon.)

But other organizations do Year-Of celebrations too. The International Herb Association has picked Capsicum (or Peppers) to celebrate as Herb of the Year in 2016. And (since I just happened to find it randomly) University of Missouri Extension has declared this the Year of the Carrot.

Speaking of carrots, this is very important: Baby Carrots Are Not Baby Carrots.

How about we wind up with some beautiful things? Salad-making as performance art, vegetable portraits by Lynn Karlin, and fruit and vegetable photographic tableaus by Brittany Wright.

Enjoy and happy January!
30 Jan 17:41

Elven Capes on Etsy

by Lillyxandra

WANT for upcoming event!!!

Elven Capes on our ETSY STORE

The perfect addition to your gown to transport you into the fantasy realm!

Sweeping chiffon falls from the beaded collar. The cape elegantly drapes over your arms and back. This collared cape can we paired with both strap and strapless tops & dresses. (The single photo shows how the cape drapes when your arms are down.)

Fabrics – poly dupioni, poly chiffon, beaded lace, crystal clasp

One size fits all. Cape measures 60 inches long at the back (bottom of collar to bottom hem)

Styling your cape with broach 

The black and white capes come with a jewel broach for styling. Pinning the fabric back will allow more of your outfit underneath to be shone.

1.At the front of your cape, mid length down and about 8 inches from the inside hem grab the fabric on both sides.

2. Bring the fabric together at the back to meet.

3. Pin together.


03 Feb 13:59

Ask Polly: Why Did My Dream Man Dump Me?

by Heather Havrilesky

"even if your jawline pimples turn into a full-blown, treatment-resistant acne and your hair turns gray and you can't deliver dirty jokes to a drunk crowd the way you used to, you will still be good enough. You will still matter. You can turn into a cookie-cutter girl or even less than that — that average, lumpy, rapidly aging kind of woman who's currently beneath your contempt — and you will still be worthy of love."

Crimson Rosella

Hi, Polly,

I have just finished reading through lots of your advice and wanted to thank you. I love your blunt style and honesty. Hoping you can give me a dose of that.

I recently fell hard for someone and was unceremoniously dumped after what should have been a romantic vacation together.

...More »
03 Feb 18:22

#822: PSA that answers about 10 current letters

by JenniferP

Good PSA in general.

If you’ve met someone online…

…made plans to meet up for a first date

…but then after you’ve made those plans, the person says or does something creepy (or racist) that makes you reconsider…


Use a text medium (preferably the dating site itself):

“Dear (Name), I’ve changed my mind about meeting up in person and am writing to cancel our plans. So sorry for the short notice. I wish you well. Your Name.”

No further explanation needed. You don’t have to tutor them about what they did to annoy you. Send and disengage.

They will react how they react. Rejection never feels great, but a good reaction is “Wow, that’s sad but I understand & wish you well, too” + leaving you alone.

If they react with extreme anger or clinginess or “you’re just like all flakes who always cancel on me” (typecasting), or demands for a chance or for reasons, think of it not as “you making them angry and owing them a correction.” Rather, they are confirming your instincts to not meet them. You changed your mind about meeting up. THAT IS THE REASON. YOU ALREADY GAVE IT. Don’t respond, block them everywhere.

“But,” you say, “I flirted with them!”

“But they told me a lot of personal stuff/I told them some personal stuff!”

“But we’ve been texting a lot, I am worried they will think I am rude or that I led them on if I just bail”

They might think that you are rude. So, do you want to tell them you don’t like them *during* the awkward date? Or afterward? Cancel! Cancel now and risk that someone you have already decided you don’t like won’t like you anymore!

I’ll go back to regularly scheduled posting of questions, but these were piling up and some of you are on deadlines with looming weekend dates to cancel. Cancel away, my friends!



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01 Feb 04:29

What's In My Skincare Wardrobe: Actives (Prescriptions, Antioxidants, and Acids) Edition

by Cat Cactus

Loving this concept of "skincare wardrobe" and this post on the confusing world of actives is very helpful!

It's time for a routine update!  Instead of posting my full routine and possibly terrifying people who get the wrong idea that I use all these steps at once, I've been loving the concept of the "Skincare Wardrobe" and posting a "What's in my Skincare Wardrobe?" series instead.  If you aren't familiar with this concept, it's the idea of having a 'closet' of options to select from rather than wearing everything all at once-- people often look at massive multi-step K-Beauty routines and mistakenly think you throw all of it at your face at once.  You don't.

In fact, I post my actual routine to Instagram on a regular basis, if you're curious to see what a 'real' daily routine looks like.  I can assure you, it does not look like this:

My current Winter 2016 Skincare wardrobe
Yes, this is a photo of my Skincare Wardrobe, from which I might select anywhere from 3 to 15+ items from in a day.  You don't wear the entire contents of your closet in a daily outfit!  You can read more about this key concept is The Painful Path to K-Beauty Wisdom: 7 Mistakes Beginners Make:
I look at my products as a 'wardrobe' of options; I may have items in my closet ranging from bathing suits to winter coats, but that doesn't mean I'm going to wear every piece of clothing I own at once.  However, having a range of skincare options is actually a good thing, in my opinion, because it populates your wardrobe with options that you can mix and match depending on the 'weather' that day.
In the first of these posts, What's In My Skincare Wardrobe: Cleanser Edition, I showed the 8 cleansers I have in rotation + what they're for + when I use them.  Mind you, if I wasn't testing things for review, I would likely need at most 3-4 cleansers, instead of 8.  Most people may be happy with just the two needed for double cleansing, and that's perfectly fine!

I've already covered cleansers, so next up in the order of product application is Actives.

Top row: current actives which don't allow use of any others.  Bottom row: what I'd be using if I wasn't using a hardcore prescription that prohibits me throwing any other exfoliants at my face.
I've held off posting this version because since switching to a prescription Azelaic acid and Tretinoin Rx from Curology/Pocketderm, I've all but dropped actives from my routine.  Why? Because I quickly learned, in the form of broken capillaries, that Tretinoin is a jealous mistress who doesn't tolerate sharing.

That being said, I still want to share the actives that I would happily pick back up and use if I stopped using my prescription, as these have been a mainstay of my routine for a long time.

I'd just like to remind people that the idea of a Skincare Wardrobe is not to have a lot of things open at once, but to allow yourself the flexibility to customize your daily routine.  That's what the multi-step Asian skincare hype is all about, in my opinion.  Customization for the win!

In this post:

  • What are actives?
  • pH adjusting toner
  • Prescription with Azelaic acid and retinoid (tretinoin)
  • Vitamin C serum
  • BHA acid exfoliant
  • AHA acid exfoliant
  • Actives that don't exfoliate
Before we jump into this, I'd just like to remind everyone that these are not meant to be used all at once.  Pick your poison and stick to it until you're ready for more.  Tread carefully.  Do your research, and consult with a dermatologist if you have question or have a specific skin concern you're trying to address.  BE CAUTIOUS.  There is a time to go in guns blazing, and acids are not it.

Read more »
28 Jan 20:11

Seed Exchange FAQ

by WashingtonGardener

I have been getting a number of emails and phone calls about the upcoming Washington Gardener Seed Exchanges. I thought I'd put together the following FAQ. Feel free to pass it on to any fellow gardeners:

- Yes, you can still register. We have plenty of spaces open. The preregistration deadline is by Friday, January 29 for the Brookside event and by Friday, February 5 for the Green Spring event. To register onsite, you can still fill out the registration form and bring it with payment to the event starting at 12:00noon on Saturday. The form is posted here: 
or email with "Seed Exchange" in the subject field and we can email it directly to you.

- We recommend eating lunch before coming. We will be serving a healthy, light snack break mid-way through the event -- fruit, granola bars, etc. We have filtered water - if you have a travel mug, refillable bottle, or cup you like, please bring that to fill up. We will have some plastic/paper cups on hand, but are trying to keep this event as “green” as possible.

- We will have generic blank name tags -- but we ask participants to be creative and make their own tags or if you have your own name tag from work or another event, by all means bring it. We will do prizes for the most creative name tags :-). Again, we are trying to recycle and make this event eco-friendly.

- When you get your goody bag at check-in, please make sure to label it with your name -- all the bags look alike and can get easily mixed up. Bringing a few sheets of those personalized address labels you get with charity mailings will come in handy for this and for labeling your seed packets, giving out your contact information to fellow gardeners, etc.

- If you are bringing seed/garden catalogs for our give-away table, be sure to rip off the address labels and tear out any order insert with your personal information on it. 
~ We also welcome gardening books for swapping, so feel free to bring those too!

- We screen incoming seeds and do not accept any invasives listed in the "Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas" booklet from the National Park Service. See the listing at: (We do not allow GMO seeds in either, but chances are slim that any home gardener would have access to them.)

~ You can bring unused seeds from purchased packs or seeds you gathered from your own garden. Carefully pack and label your seeds as best you can. The more information you can provide, the better. More details on seed packing and labeling are on the registration form. Did you know you can make your own seed packs? Get great free downloadable templates are here:
   Please do NOT bring large quantities of seed in one bag. Our volunteers are over-whelmed at the check-in tables already with sorting seeds into the table categories, please break them up into smaller quantity packs ahead of time.
    (No, you don't have to bring seeds. It is great though if you do bring them. Store-bought is fine.)
    (Yes, you can bring bulbs, tubers, corms, etc. to the swap. They should be bagged and labeled just like seeds.)
   (Older seeds are fine, if you can test for viability that would be great. The exceptions are lettuce, onions, and impatiens seeds, which should all be less than a year old.)
~ Make a list of your seed “wants” in advance.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the day and forget the basics that you came for or the rarities that you had been seeking.
- Here is the updated event schedule*:
12:00-12:30 Registration and seed drop off to WG Staff & Volunteers

12:30-12:35 Introductory remarks and overview
12:35-1:25 Speaker 1
 1:30-2:00 Speaker 2
2:00-2:30 Refreshment Break and Seed Swap Preview
2:30-3:00 Seed Show and Tell**
3:00-3:30 Seed Swap!
3:30-3:45 Garden Photo Contest Winners Presentation (only at Green Spring location)
3:45-4:00 Final Door Prizes and closing remarks - Kathy Jentz Washington Gardener magazine

*As with all live events, the schedule is subject to last minute change.

**Show-and-Tell participation is voluntary. We encourage you to introduce yourself, share some fun facts and background on the seeds you bring, or tell us about any local garden projects or groups that you are involved in. 
27 Jan 15:26

#819: ‘Ware The “Frozen Chosen”

by JenniferP

Fuck those people. Say something, every time (Personally working on it myself)


So I know church is maybe not your milieu, but I hope this question has some broader applications and maybe deserves a broader answer.

I’m a lady in my early 30s who has been dating my wonderful boyfriend (late 20s) for a few years. We’ve been attending our church for 3 years, which we chose together. I was raised small town Protestant and my bf did the recovering Catholic/atheist thing for a number of years. We chose our church because, although it’s very formal (incense, fancy vestments, the whole bit) it’s a denomination that’s known for being really open-minded and liberal. We also liked the individual church we chose because it’s really beautiful and historic, and located downtown–so really, right in the thick of things. I wouldn’t call it a bad neighborhood per se (mostly because the idea of a neighborhood being “bad” is pretty racist) but during the crack epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s, there were a few scary incidents and membership took a nosedive.

Fast forward to today. Our church’s membership is growing, and about 2 years ago my boyfriend decided he was interested in pursing a career in the church. To that end, he created a ministry that focuses on homelessness and food insecurity, which is an issue that’s very close to his heart, as both of his parents were homeless at different points. The bulk of the work is that, once a week, he hosts a lunch for anyone who wants to attend, free of charge. The demand is great, and seeing 100 people come through in 90 min is not unusual. Most of the people who come through are either homeless or food insecure, and many of them are people of color.

This is a ministry that a lot of people are really excited about–our priest has been a total treasure throughout the whole process, and Boyfriend is quickly gaining a reputation throughout the diocese. But there are others in the congregation who are…less enthused.

Having grown up in a really small town, I’m used to the petty politics of church life. Boyfriend is really, really not. I think the thing that’s been most surprising to me is how many people we consider close friends, despite the age and income gaps (lots of older, upper middle class white people), have said some really nasty shit just out of earshot. Just this last week, I found out that at our summer kickoff street festival (which was attended by a number of Boyfriend’s lunch regulars) a woman who I considered a friend apparently said, “This isn’t the [local homeless shelter]. This is disgusting.” I ended up making the decision to not tell Boyfriend about this, as it happened several months ago, and there didn’t seem to be any point in tainting his image of this particular woman. But suffice to say, this was not a one-off comment; there are A LOT of people who overtly or covertly agree, one or two of whom have been openly hostile.

I’m just flabbergasted. I think Boyfriend’s work is really important, and I’m super-proud of him. I’m just really disgusted because I feel like he’s really trying to walk the walk, as far as the Christian message goes, and he’s supported by the administration, but markedly less so by other people (some of whom I thought were our friends and/or are very influential in the community.) I mean, Jesus KINDA TALKS A LOT about the poor and the destitute…

How should I handle this sort of malarkey when it comes up? Chalk it up to an age/income/culture divide and let it lie? Quickly slap it down and put them in their place? I worry that not saying anything at all enforces the status quo, but equally I worry that going on the warpath against a bunch of old ladies isn’t a good look, either.




Captain Awkward was raised Catholic and educated by Jesuits, and while she may no longer talk the whole theological talk, she’s pretty down with the whole “Be kind to and take care of the people at the margins of society” message of the gospels and she’s met plenty of passive-aggressive church ladies and men in her day. Additionally, Captain Awkward has zero time and zero respect for crappy racist people who think that poor people are “disgusting” and who furthermore have the terrible manners to say that out loud and/or imply that they should not be included in church events. She also was raised not to say “Something is disgusting here; pretty sure it’s you and your repulsive views and not our guests” to the faces of little old ladies at church, so she understands that your question comes with a lot of taboos and received social norms.

Captain Awkward also sincerely promises to leave this whole talking-about-herself-in-the-third-person thing behind by the next paragraph.

There is a thing that a certain kind of terrible person (often a person of a certain age and social standing) does, where they rant about something in a way that is obviously meant to be overheard by everyone around them, but if you respond to it with anything but agreement they pull the whole “Well I wasn’t even talking to you, so you are the rude one for intruding on a private conversation!” gambit. They get to spout their terrible views AND act like a victim if someone actually calls them out on what they said. Racist ranters use the same tactics as rape-joke tellers to test the waters and see if their views will be challenged or tolerated by the people around them. If you stay silent, you offer them tacit approval or, at very least, affirm that they are socially powerful enough to get away with being assholes in public.

Don’t. Fall. For. That. Bullshit. You are not overhearing this mouth-garbage by accident, you are overhearing it because they want you to overhear it. They want you to know that they don’t like the work your boyfriend is doing and they think that he & you & people like y’all are “ruining” their church, but they don’t want to confront the issue directly by say, talking to the pastor, because on some level they know it makes them look like bad Christians (Hint: It does!). Furthermore, if you can overhear it, the people they are talking about can also hear it, ergo, they must be stopped. Age is not an excuse; if you can learn to Skype with your grandkids, you can learn to keep your goddamn racist thoughts to yourself.

When you run into these comments, I think there is a great deal of value in saying something back and not just silently ignoring it. That something can be:

  • Well bless your heart.” Def. use the tone that means,”Well, fuck you very much.”
  • Wait, did I hear you correctly? Did you just say that (Name) and (Name) are ‘disgusting’?” Use their exact words and include people’s individual names if at all possible, it’s a sharp reminder that they are talking about actual human beings & community members and an indication that they aren’t gonna be able to get away with, ‘you know what I meant’ or ‘you know, those people.’
  • I hope you’ll come to lunch service sometime and help out with the other volunteers sometime. I think you’ll feel very differently once you do.” That’s right. Out Church-Lady the Church Ladies.

If you start speaking up when you overhear this stuff, you’re gonna get pursed lips and clutched pearls and “Well, I never” or “You know I didn’t mean that” reactions and a lot of side-eye and harrumphing. Nobody likes being publicly called on their bullshit, especially not people who see themselves as the chief arbiters of what is acceptable. Just know that it’s coming and ride it out. And know, too, that you probably won’t change or open anyone’s mind by speaking up. Someone horrible enough to publicly express “ugh” reactions about guests at a church event probably isn’t going to have an epiphany at your doing, you know? That’s okay, because you’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for yourself (so they’ll stop doing it around you, and to remind yourself that you have power here, too). You’re doing it for your boyfriend and the work he does, and for the younger people who are watching you for how they should be, and you’re also doing it for the guests of your church who will hopefully continue to find both food and welcome where you gather.

You’ve got this.

P.S. You might like this fantastic short film.



23 Jan 18:36

Wisp Wraith Photoshoot

by Lillyxandra


We took a trip to the San Gabriel Mountains to photograph the Wisp Wraith Gown with photographer Saffels Photography and model Luna Lovely Cosplay!! 

12362810_815394125238317_6538524505833140956_o (1)

1934067_826459364131793_5748743393593920919_n12371063_816603991783997_7894562348988893038_oAdella snapped this behind the scenes shot of Emily. I’m way out of practice with Photoshop but couldn’t help myself and had to shop in some magical effects around her!


wispwraithShadowy ribbons of sequin mesh wrap around her body and flurry from her sholders. Dark organza flowers are strewn throughout her gown.


FiveRings Photography captured this beautiful BTS shot of Emily posing for the camera.


Photographer – Mike Saffels (Saffels Photography)
Model & Makeup – Emily (Luna Lovely Cosplay)
Gown & Headdress – Firefly Path
Staff Design – Clive Barker
Special thanks to Adella Creature of HabitFiveRings Photography

21 Jan 03:07

Monster-Slaying Swords

by Jen

"Can we agree to do that together, guys? To treat our diseases like actual diseases, take our medicine, see our doctors, and stop trying to tough something out just because there are people who don't believe we're sick? Can we agree to be proud of our doctor appointments, because it shows how hard we're fighting? "

YES. GAME ON MONSTERS. My swords are getting sharper....

(Trigger Warning: I wrote this a few days ago, and it's about anxiety again. Sorry.)

Last night I was afraid to go to sleep, because I'm still recovering from that medication switch-a-roo that had my anxiety cranked to 11, and every night for a while now I've had attacks and near-attacks and wake-up-just-in-time-to-have-one-more attacks, and there is just nothing more miserable in my admittedly sheltered little world than lying in the dark, doing breathing exercises, and teetering on that panic precipice. Nothing. Because I'm a wuss. Being scared scares me. Being scared of things no one around me is scared of isolates me.

I can be rational and understand that these feelings are lies. I know they are physical reactions caused by chemical imbalances, and that once my thyroid stabilizes the feelings will (mostly) go away again. I know it will get better.

But in the moment, when all is an unsettled, shivery blur, and fatigue chokes out the still, small, rational voice, it's hard to hang on.

So last night, I was afraid to go to sleep. More accurately, I was afraid of lying there for hours and hours while John slept peacefully beside me, even though he always tells me to wake him. Because waking John means something is wrong, which means I have to *admit* something is wrong, which means the monster is real and has huge, pointy teeth. Better to keep telling myself it's fine, I'm fine, and breathe, breathe, breathe.

I think this is why sometimes it hurts us anxiety sufferers to talk about it. Why it makes us *more* panicky to reach for the bottle of Xanax. Anxiety is as real as any virus, any cancer, but we want to believe it's something we can just will away. That if we just think enough calm thoughts, give ourselves enough pep talks, hang on to a hug from a friend just a few seconds longer, then we'll vanquish the monster.

But it doesn't work that way. You can't will away an emotional or mental problem any more than you can will away arthritis or a broken bone. It's real. It's physical. And while sometimes that reality is hard to cope with, it should give us hope. If a bone is broken, there are medical professionals who can mend it. In the same way, we have doctors and counselors who are (slowly) learning to mend our invisible breaks inside.

I'm guilty of depending far too much on will power, and saving even my ridiculously low dose tranquilizers for only real "emergencies." I've taken less than 20 pills per year. I suffer needlessly, convinced I should somehow be stronger.

And yet, these past few weeks have driven home just how much of my panic is caused by my Hashimoto's - by a real, diagnosable thing that's not me worrying too much, not me needing to "calm down" or "just relax" or any of the other ridiculous things people tend to say in panic situations. I'm more convinced than ever that the things we feel are tied directly to how our bodies are working or not working... so I need to treat it that way.

Can we agree to do that together, guys? To treat our diseases like actual diseases, take our medicine, see our doctors, and stop trying to tough something out just because there are people who don't believe we're sick? Can we agree to be proud of our doctor appointments, because it shows how hard we're fighting? And when we need a new session or a new medication, can we recognize it for what it is?: A sharper, stronger sword for slaying the monster.

"That's right, mofos, these aren't tranquilizers; they're monster-slaying swords. That you swallow. Which sounds wrong and painful, but that's just how bad-ass we are."

(I'm not sure this gif makes sense here, but dancing Wall-E wins all the things, so I'm leaving it.)

Last night John saw the tears as he hugged me goodnight, and after we talked, he convinced me to take a lorazepam. Then he held my hand, and stayed up all night with me. We left the light on and sat against the headboard and talked about nothing 'til nearly dawn, when we were punchy with fatigue. Only when he saw my chin start to hit my puzzle book did John allow himself to sleep - with the light still on, and the panic monster still at bay.

When I finally drifted off some time later, it was the best sleep I'd had in weeks.

Love and proper medication, you guys. Best. Combo. Ever.
21 Dec 17:55

What’s in my laptop? – Craig Mod

by cc

Over the years I’ve amassed a collection of tools ranging from mildly geeky to mega-geeky to downright useless for all but a few humans. I find most of them invaluable. When I use a computer without them, it feels like I’m computing with oven mitts on. You may not know it, but you, too, could be oven mitt computing.

Some of these tools pull back the curtain, reveal a little bit of the Oz behind the opaque facade of OS X. Others just make mundane tasks simpler. And yet others make you and your computer more secure.

We’ll start simple and get more geeky down the stack.



Morally contentious in that it can block ads, but the moral grayness of the very ads it blocks and their tracking software is equally contentious. Can double your browsing speed by blocking superfluous external scripts. This browser plug in has granular control so that you can whitelist the ads for sites you love and want to support. (Personally, though, I find it much simpler and more satisfying to subscribe to the publications I return to again and again.) An invaluable tool. Especially so when working in emergent economies where every megabyte of bandwidth counts. Download here.

Ghostery is not available for iOS, but I find 1Blocker is a competent analog. Again, necessary in places where bandwidth is at a premium and your iOS device is your main computer.


At a time where every site seems to be hacked with tick-tock regularity, I can’t imagine using the same password for more than one login. 1Password auto-generates long, gordian, unique passwords for every website on which you have an account. It let’s you sync — via an encrypted password file — between your mobile and desktop computers.

1Password then allows for one-tap login (or choice of login if you have multiple for a single site) on desktop and even integrates with Mobile Safari on iOS. It makes you faster and more secure.

People may further furrow their brow and exclaim: But if someone steals your 1Password file they’ll have all your logins! Yes, if you use a weak master password for 1Password, that might be a problem. But think of it like this: If someone is trying to hack into your personal computer, you’ve probably got more problems than just passwords. When big sites are breached, the value return for the time invested on the part of hackers is massive — millions of logins.

Now, when I hear of a site hacked on which I’m a member, I shrug, have 1Password generate a new password for that login and don’t think too much more about it. Download here.


Google 2-Factor Authentication

As a supplementary note to 1Password: It’s smart to have 2-factor authentication enabled on super-high-value logins like your Gmail account. This way, even if a malicious actor gets your account information, they will still need physical access to your smartphone to fully authenticate and log in.


iStat Menus

I used to be a MenuMeters guy. For years it was the first app I installed on a new install of OS X. But it stopped working with El Capitan and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be fixed. So with a sigh, I switched to iStat Menus. It’s good, if slightly more complicated and a bit heavier feeling than MenuMeters. I cannot live without it. Let me tell you why:
I enable only two thing: the CPU Meter and the Network Throughput. These are the tachometers for your computer and network; they make visible the otherwise unanswered questions of: How hard is my computer working? Is my network connection OK?


Network Throughput lets you see that — oops — you’re connected to your router’s 2.5ghz network, not 5ghz network because you see you’re maxing out at 6MB/s. It let’s you instantly check the quality of a tethered 3G connection in the rice fields of Myanmar. It shows you that — wow — Starbucks WiFi in Japan is faster than most home WiFi in the US. It allows you to begin to connect the feeling of a network — the feeling of the speed of a website — with the actual throughput. I’ve found this to be weirdly invaluable. And of all the little tools I use with my computers, not having visible and real-time access to this information feels like the most oven mitty of all.

The value of the CPU meter is obvious: you immediately know when some dunderhead process is running wild in the background.



Ah, Flux. Is there a more loved menu bar tool in the world? I think not.

Flux changes the temperature of your screen to match the sun. When the sun rises, the screen shifts “normal” (blueish). When the sun sets, your screen gets warm, like an incandescent bulb (less blue).

It doesn’t sound like much but with millions of users around the world it’s hard to dismiss. And after using Flux for a few days, if it accidentally gets turned off at night, you’ll be cowering at just how harsh the light of your screen was before.



Google Search: Constrain By Time

Do you use Google? Do you sometimes wish you could limit results to the last week? Month? Well, you can. In search results click “Search Tools” and then “By Time.” Why Google buries such a useful function is a mystery that one can only assume explained by copious A/B testing and little human / designer intervention. And that those working on Google’s search interface love oven mitts.

For example, you may be obsessively searching for only the latest Star Wars news. In order to filter out anything about the old movies, you can set your time constraint to the last month.



Take off those reprobate oven mitts! With an icon like that, you know this is going to be Deep Geek.

For those maximally OCD among us, Etre is the perfect tool to see precisely what kind of hidden refuse is installed on your OS X machine. If you’ve ever wondered about a rogue process, a strange hit on your battery life, the phantom running of laptop fans when you’re not doing anything worthy of their cooling, then EtreCheck might help you track down the random kernel extension or startup item that is causing the pain.



If you do find any good-for-nothing bums in EtreCheck, AppZapper is one way to snuff them out. It’s an embarrassingly simple application that helps you delete other applications while removing all of its other residual gunk (library files, extensions, startup items, etc).

It also lets you sort through your apps by time last used and size. Now you can see the biggest apps you haven’t opened in — for example — the last year (an old copy of Lightroom, iMovie, etc.) And delete them, freeing up, potentially, dozens of gigabytes of wasted space.



DaisyDisk is a near ideal single-serving app. It scans your HD and shows you what’s eating all your space. It’s the perfect I’m-on-an-airplane-and-sick-of-answering-offline-email tool. It’s an easy way to suddenly notice that your seven iPhone backups for phones you don’t own anymore are eating 100GB of space. Or that Google Chrome’s cache has ballooned to 5GB. Or that your downloads folder is now 25GB of random stuff you’ve accrued over the years. Delete. Compute boldly.


Keyboard Text Expansion

You can use dedicated software to do this, or just use OS X’s built in tool: System Prefs > Keyboard > Text. It allows you to map oft-used but annoying-to-type things to simple shortcuts. For example, I have {cf} convert to ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) or {tf} to (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

While you’re in there, if you click on “Shortcuts” you can also remap menu shortcuts. For example, I wanted to feel a little more like Gmail so I remapped CMD-E to Archive, I also made CMD-↩ map to Send, and switched CMD-F from Forward to Search Mailboxes (Find). You can remap any shortcut to any uniquely named command in the menubar on an app-by-app basis. Weirdly handy.



Little Ipsum

Useful mainly for designers in constant need of Lorem Ipsum text, but still worth mentioning. Little Ipsum sits in your menu bar, let’s you produce one sentence, paragraph, or page of Lorem Ipsum, copied to your buffer, ready to be pasted into whatever brilliant design document you’re drafting. Could be hacked through Keyboard Shortcut Mapping, but the randomly generated latin or Little Ipsum is a nice detail (and design is nothing if not details).

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 4.45.16 PM

Eject All Disks script

How many times a day do you eject external hard drives from your laptop? Is there a more cumbersome process? Click finder > New Window (if one isn’t already open) > scroll to bottom of sidebar > click smallest {x}.

Unacceptable! Our solution: Use an apple script that you stick in your dock. One (big, fat) click to eject all external disks. Download here.



External SSD

This is a little bonus tool — hardware, not software.

Modern stress is definitely modulated by battery percentages and free disk space, but carrying an external HD can feel cumbersome, gangly. Thankfully, Samsung has produced a nearly weightless, up-to 1TB external SSD that is as a close to hardware magic as anything I’ve seen. It’s the size of a business card. It’s probably faster than your internal SSD. Comes with the cutest, flat USB3 cable. And obviates the need to worry about having extra storage on you at all times. A more perfect on-the-go photo and media backup I know not. Grab one on Amazon.

-- Craig Mod

24 Dec 09:00

Dubs Acoustic Filters

by mark

Sounds like this would be good to keep on hand when I'm trying to work in the showroom and other clients are loud. Or to turn down the often-triggering volume issues of outside noise during a panic attack.

I have a friend who is a transformational coach. He makes a living out of being a great
communicator and delivers life changing conversations. One day while having lunch with
him, I spotted these bright pink earplugs in his ears. I asked him about them, and he explained that he wears earplugs to filter out the background noise so that he can focus better on the conversation that is important. Up until this time, I thought earplugs were to block out all noise.

Enter Dubs Acoustic Filters. The DUBS are NOT the cheapo foam earplugs that construction workers wear that you can get for $1.99 at a gas station. The DUBS are extremely high quality, entirely mechanical earplugs that maintain acoustic quality while simply lowering the decibel level. Created by Doppler Labs, the DUBS are the modern day reinvention of earplugs.

Upon first inspection, you will notice that these are built to last and not to be disposed of. They are almost like my pair of Klipsch headsets, with just the earpieces with no cords. They fit very comfortably, which is good, because I was going to test them on an 18 hour flight to S.E. Asia.

It takes a moment to acclimatize but in a few seconds, you will immediately hear an overall hushing. It was similar to the effect of a Bose QuietComfort but with no electrical input and no batteries required. According to DUBS, the reduction in noise level is twelve decibels, which does not sound like a lot, but it is enough to reduce overall loudness yet still allow you to hear conversations.

I work in a New York City loft, beside a fire station. Putting them on makes it easier for me to focus on my task at hand, and yet I do not need to take them off when a coworker comes by to discuss something, or if the phone rings. I think these would be GREAT for concerts, sporting events, or any place where there is background noise that you want to filter out. I have a friend with tinnitus and want him to try them out. Much like athletes put on their uniforms before a game, I always put on my DUBS before going to work.

The DUBS come with a small case where you are supposed to store them, but my only wish is that the DUBS had a better system to prevent loss like an attachable cord. I have already gone through a few pairs because I’ve misplaced one.

They come in a bunch of colors, and retail for under $25 bucks. These make ideal gifts, because until someone tries them, they wouldn’t know that the needed them. Do not be surprised when they thank you and are able to have a focused conversation with you.

-- Alastair Ong

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

20 Jan 00:30


by wileyreading

This morning I saw this image, which concisely sums up something I’ve been thinking about for a while, now: self care isn’t just about self-indulgence.

I’m as aware as anyone that capitalist America isn’t nice to its residents, and that a lot of us, myself very much included, need a reminder that it is absolutely ok to comfort yourself however you need comforting. But I think there’s something that gets lost in most discussions of self care.


Self-care includes maintaining my body and mind so that I can keep healthy and keep on pursuing the things that make my life worth living. Sometimes, that means giving my tired muscles a nice couch to sit on and my overloaded brain a Bones marathon to binge on, but a lot of the time it’s tougher than that.

I, like most people, function best when I’m eating a nutritious diet, getting exercise, sleeping regularly and making other decisions that will mean future me goes on feeling ok enough to exist. Something I remind myself of frequently is that kindness and responsibility are not opposites, and that care includes routine maintenance.

There are days when I get home and I stare at my mostly-empty fridge and I bemoan my existence and order a pizza. And that’s self care. There are some days where I come home and stare at my half empty fridge and bemoan my existence and then I cut up a bunch of vegetables I don’t want to eat, cook them, go for a quick walk and then have a dinner that isn’t devoid of any nutritional value. And that’s self-care too.

This post is not an ode to Puritanism. I order takeout, take mental health days, “forget” to shower, let my cats eat directly from the cat food bag and screen calls from my doctor and bill collectors just like everyone else. But I don’t do it all the time. Sometimes, I remember that I’ll feel better in the morning if I turn my computer off and go to bed. Or turn my phone off for a few minutes and go outside. And those moments should be celebrated and supported just as hard as the moments where I have beer and doritoes for dinner.

Loving yourself is like loving anyone else you’re responsible for–sometimes you have to dish out some tough love, and that is not mutually exclusive with caring for yourself.

Filed under: Disability, Empowerment, Kindness, Mental Health
06 Jan 04:26

Tracking Skincare Use and Skin Progress with a Google Form

by fanserviced

I've become OBSESSED with KBeauty since that Slate article last week (terrible article tbh) and am now following 4 KBeauty bloggers and developing my own regimen to save my tired and acne prone face. There are a LOT of things to keep track of and I'm devouring blogs, but lots of them are recommending a simple log or spreadsheet to keep track of everything, and of course starting slow and introducing only one thing at a time (starting with low pH cleanser) Using google forms is new and a unique idea for this purpose!

I Bought It Affiliate Links

My organization level varies quite a bit.

My fanfiction Evernote library? Has it’s own decimal system.

My skincare routine tracking? uhhh hhh hhh

With this being the turn of the year I thought I’d try to find some way to take more and better notes on what I’m using and what it does to my skin. I’m hoping to review more products–not just the amazingly awesome standout ones, but also the middling ones that I’ve struggled to review in the past.

I have a fabulous new daily planner, but I quickly realized that it gets filled with my research notes and stickers, leaving little space for my routine notes. I also find it hard to take [legible] notes on my routine when I’m running out of the house to make it to work or passing out at night. The ideal system would organize itself, take no more than 1 minute per routine, and could be done while standing on the train in rush hour.

Enter Google Forms.

Forms are free from Google and I’m kind of obsessed with them. They’re an easy way to create surveys, order forms, and generally collect info from lots of people in an orderly way.

The first step was to make a spreadsheet that includes everything I own and might put on my face; having to edit the form constantly due to finding new products would be something of a drag.

Here’s my spreadsheet. It has two columns: one with the product name and one with the name of the step in which it’s used. That’s it, no need for more for this project.

Tracking Skincare Use and Skin Progress with a Google Form

If you already have a spreadsheet tracking your stash, even better. This was honestly the first time I made a stash spreadsheet and it was a nightmare. Spreadsheets are not my thing. Forms are my thing.

Once I had my list I started making the questions, step by skincare step. I referred to my visual guide to the skincare routine and just made one question per step. Here’s a video that explains how to use Forms (I used the new version, but the old version–still available at the time I’m writing–seems a bit more intuitive for beginners):

I made sure to add some sections to help serve as signposts for when I quickly scroll through the massive list.

One thing to note: although I used dropdown menus at first for most of the steps in my routine I found that checkbox responses are vastly easier to use on mobile (even though they make the survey extremely long–worth it imo). Alphabetization, which not usually something I’m uptight about, is a huge help for fast scrolling and finding.

Here’s a copy of my current routine tracking survey. I’m sure it will change in the future as I get used to it and want it to do more or better things, but at least all of my current products are listed. I think. By the way–this is a copy just for the blog, so feel free to play with it and see how your own response looks in the spreadsheet that collects the answers.


Once I (or you–seriously, play with the form!) input a routine the data automatically gets put into a Google Sheet. Here’s the Google Sheet connected to the above Form. If you make your own Form and Sheet of responses you’ll be able to edit the responses on the Sheet–very useful if you forget or need to adjust something.

The really fun twist is inspired by my desire to have an overly techy skincare workstation.

To upgrade my beauty lair I put my old iPad mini on a gooseneck adjustable arm, where it can now serve as the entry screen for my routine. Or as a way to watch EXO fancams while getting ready. Honestly, why not both.

Tracking Skincare Use and Skin Progress with a Google Form

I also have a gooseneck and clip for my phone, which was similarly cheap and is dead useful for Snapchat and Periscope.

The gooseneck clamps to my skincare workstation (which I got for free one day from a neighbor who was throwing out her desk woo!) and it’s sturdy although it does wiggle a bit when I use it as a touchpad entry system. Not perfect, but fine for $16. ahaha

Tracking Skincare Use and Skin Progress with a Google Form

The clamp.

So this is what I’m up to (aside from The Snailcast, the Asian Beauty podcast I’m doing with the snail unit woo!) right now. Tracking nerdily, applying skincare, and watching EXO videos while putting on makeup.

Tracking Skincare Use and Skin Progress with a Google Form

No regrets, to be honest.

I love Forms, but I’m not a master of them and this is just a first attempt, so I’m thinking (and hoping) that other people might have ideas for how to improve on this. If you do, tag me on Twitter or Instagram and show me what you’ve come up with!


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking those links before you shop means that fan-b receives a small commission, which helps to support the blog. Please see my full disclosure for more information.

The post Tracking Skincare Use and Skin Progress with a Google Form appeared first on fan-b.

28 Oct 11:30

Ask Polly: Why Do You Always Tell People to Go to Therapy?

by Heather Havrilesky

100% gold, every word, no matter how painful to read.

Playful maine coon cat indoors

Hi, Polly,

Thank you for continuing to give thoughtful, awesome, and entertaining advice every week. I find something to help me through my own life regardless of the topic, every time! However, the column brings up a question for me each week that I hope you can answer. For every person...More »

30 Oct 15:37

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real.

by thebloggess

When I’m on tour I often stop in the airport bookstores during layovers to do rogue signings.  I do them when I can and sometimes strangers stop to ask about the book.  Sometimes they buy a copy or two.  Mostly they don’t.  But last week one older woman in particular looked at Furiously Happy and told me that she would never buy it.  And I smiled and nodded as I assured her that was fine. “It’s not for everyone,” I said, because it’s not.  I thought she’d walk away but instead she said, “I guess you can pander this to all those college kids who have been convinced that depression exists by some pharmacy company that just wants you addicted to drugs.”  And then I explained that depression exists for a number of reasons, including chemical imbalances which are very, very real and that if not properly treated it can be fatal, and then she told me that mental illness was just “made up” and then I kicked her right in the lady junk.  Or, at least that’s what I did in my mind.  In real life I said that I hoped she would never have to learn how wrong she was and then I stared at her until she got uncomfortable enough to leave.

It’s not just ridiculous strangers in airports who feel comfortable publicly doubting an illness they’ve never fought, or sometimes couldn’t acknowledge they were currently fighting.  It’s sometimes family members or friends, and sometimes even we manage to convince ourselves that it’s not a real problem – and that mental illness is just a weakness rather than a medical disorder that needs treatment just as much as heart disease or diabetes or those disorders which are more easily measurable or unquestionably visible on the surface.

That night I locked myself in my hotel room and drew this to remind myself of the truth:

"Just because

“Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

Because sometimes I need a reminder.  Pain is real, whether it’s from depression or anxiety or arthritis or one of the many invisible illnesses that don’t easily show themselves but still exist and have to be treated, and – more importantly – have to be believed in order to be treated.  You need to know that your struggle is a real one.  You need to know that your fight is real and your survival is something to be proud of.  Remember that you are needed.  Remember that the things you say can affect those of us who fight.  Remember that not all things are visible and provable.  Love, faith, pain, anxiety, depression, compassion…these aren’t always quantifiable.  They aren’t always measurable.  They are often invisible.  But they are real.

And so are you.

Stay real.  Stay alive.  Stay vigilant against assholes who make you question yourself.  We already get enough of that from the doubting voices in our heads and the lies depression tells us.  Listen to my voice, now.  You are real.  You are worthwhile.  You are so important both in ways you will discover, and in ways you’ll never see.  You send out needed ripples of greatness and kindness in unexpected and accidental ways.

You won’t always see wonderful ways in which you shift the world.  They may be invisible to you.  But I promise you they are real.

03 Jan 23:52

Punk Leia Art Inspires Awesome Punk Leia Cosplay

by Jen


So here's something fun:

Gallery 1998 hosted a Star Wars "Art Awakens" exhibit and charity auction in November, and this was one of my favorite pieces:

 "Rebel" by Julian Callos

Then last Friday my favorite cosplay photographer, David Ngo, snapped THIS awesomeness at SacAnime:


Don't you love it when geek life imitates geek art? :D

Of course, now I want to make one of those vests for everyday wear...
22 Dec 20:41

Partner Privilege

by Rebecca Flin

It’s the holidays, and once again, Facebook and Instagram feeds throughout the land are bedazzled with photos of happy couples, a ring conspicuously featured on one of their hands. A clever caption that might as well (but doesn’t actually) say “We’re engaged!” floats nearby or inside the photo itself, while a gazillion “likes” and congratulatory comments trail at the bottom.

engagement i said yes

You want to feel happy for them. And you probably do! But happiness isn’t always the only emotion present –especially if you are single. Yes, my single compatriots, you feel joy in the celebration of your friends’ love, yet you also feel jealous. And then you feel bad about yourself for feeling jealous.

And perhaps you aren’t even jealous of them and their engagement, but of the social status that goes along with it. The engagement announcement carries with it a strange sense of failure, and perhaps the shame of Why do I not have a partner?

If this sounds familiar, congratulations.  You have stumbled upon one of the many manifestations of Partner Privilege, the invisible force in society that rewards people for being in committed romantic relationships, and shames those who are not.

Partner Privilege, like most types of privilege, lurks beneath the surface, so ingrained and internalized that we rarely notice it. In fact, it wasn’t until this summer that I even recognized its existence.

I had agreed to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. Let’s call her Emma. I didn’t know most of the other wedding guests, so I asked her if I could bring a +1. Emma flatly said no, explaining that they were trying to keep the guest list small to keep costs down. I totally understood this, and did not have a problem with it. However, I later found out that other bridesmaids, (as well as guests) were allowed a +1 if they were married or had a serious significant other.

This news hit me hard. It felt overtly unfair, and covertly insulting. I was being treated as less than those attendees who were in romantic partnerships. It wasn’t like Emma and her fiancé were close friends with all of their friends’ spouses and S.O.s either.  In some cases neither the bride nor groom had even met these +1s before. If they wanted to restrict attendance, why didn’t they just stick to a guest list comprised of their actual friends and family? Instead, they resorted to random discrimination. I was being denied the privilege of bringing a companion to the wedding, a privilege granted—without question—to those who were partnered.

Her wedding’s “+1 policy” was literally telling me that since I was not in a relationship I had to be alone. I knew that message wasn’t an accurate portrayal of my life, but it hurt all the same. I was made to feel as if I was not worthy of any companionship, despite the bountiful meaningful relationships in my life. I have amazing friends and family, and I am a part of several communities. Just because I haven’t found a life-partner doesn’t mean I am alone.

And the fact that I am single does not make it legitimate to treat me as lesser.

But this policy was treating me as lesser. That’s just how Partner Privilege works. I started asking around and found, to my dismay, that disallowing +1’s for singles at formal events is fairly common practice.

Ever since then, I have been seeing Partner Privilege everywhere, and, I mean, it isn’t all bad. At the institutional level, Partner Privilege actually does a lot of good. I’m talking, of course, about the institution of marriage itself, and the various privileges that go along with it—things like tax breaks, hospital visitation rights, sharing of health and dental benefits, etc.  Marriage rights are vital to safeguarding the welfare of families.  It’s no wonder that they were a huge driver in the LGBT community’s fight for marriage equality.  Likewise, Partner Privilege can also help legitimize queer identities. As my co-editor Lucy Small says, “Parents may be more likely to accept their child’s identity as homosexual if they are in a long-term monogamous partnership. In a way, partnering is enough to “prove” sexual preference, whereas other sexual acts and thoughts are not.”

However, at the individual level Partner Privilege does more harm than good. Emma’s wedding was a uniquely clear, tangible example of this, but most of the time individual-level Partner Privilege is difficult to see. We are generally unaware of the way singles are perceived as immature, stubborn, abrasive, or vaguely deficient, while coupled people are perceived as “adult”, admirable, level-headed and somehow more worthy of our respect.

Intellectually, we know that entering a relationship does not magically make someone a better person, but this realization does not stop our respect from instantaneously leveling-up for someone upon learning they are in a relationship. Even if we do realize we are making these judgments, we try to rationalize them by telling ourselves that the very act of being in a relationship requires more maturity and “goodness of character”.

But the thing is, whether we are in a relationship or not doesn’t actually say anything about our virtue as human beings. There are people in relationships that are far more messed up than single people. Being in a relationship could signify maturity and cooperative spirit, but it could also signify a bad case of co-dependence and manipulation.

The blog Wait, But Why? explores this phenomenon in “How to Pick Your Life Partner Part 1”. The post heavily features the Figured It All Out Staircase, a graphic that shows how we feel about being single vs. “how things actually are”.  The idea is that being single feels like the utmost failure, but is actually better than being in an unhappy partnership.

staircase 4

This graphic beautifully depicts how Partner Privilege negatively impacts single people, making them feel like they are doing far worse than they actually are by being virtue of single.  That said, the graphic itself is laden with Partner Privilege. Being in a happy couple is a goal, literally at the top of a staircase.

Unlike most types of privilege (white privilege, class privilege, able-ness, etc.) Partner Privilege is one that we feel we have control over. So if we “fail” to be in a relationship, we may turn inward and feel bad about ourselves.

This affects people regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. Even straight, affluent, super-privileged white dudes feel the pressure to be in a relationship! In fact, Partner Privilege may be one of the few privileges these guys are lacking, and they feel it, hard. I have several male friends who are overwhelmingly frustrated, even depressed because of their “singleness”. But their frustration is not solely sexual, nor does it necessarily stem from a desire for the intrinsic benefits of a relationship (love, emotional support, sharing of chores, life team-mate, etc). Rather, they feel that they have failed at something. Something they can’t control, but feel like they should.

Heterosexual women feel the harmful effects of Partner Privilege in an extra-special way. For women, the stigma of being single is historically rooted. Back in the day, marriage was inextricably linked to a woman’s identity and financial well-being, so the stakes for being single were high.

Although we now live in a society where women are at least theoretically granted all of the same rights as men, many of the attitudes associated with the past era linger on: namely, women still feel enormous pressure to “be pretty” and attract a man… and you better “catch” him before you get too old! Along these lines, body image issues and other endless struggles to “fit” the “male gaze” are indirectly linked to Partner Privilege.

Our culture perpetuates the privileging of couple-dom in countless ways.  It’s there when we look shamefully upon single parents. It’s there when couples stop hanging out with their single friends. It’s there in the saying, always a bridesmaid, never a bride. It’s there when almost every movie depicts romantic partnership as a “goal” or “reward”. It’s there when landlords are more likely to rent to married couples. And it’s certainly there when singles are not allowed a +1 at formal events. There are too many examples of Partner Privilege for me to go into all of them here, and I am not going to try.

old maid who will be left

Old Maid, reminding children (ages 4 and up!) that being an old unmarried woman is the worst



The point is, Partner Privilege is real and has real consequences. When society privileges people in relationships to the extent that it does, when we reward couples, and shame singles, we unwittingly encourage unhealthy relationships. Partner Privilege can inspire people to ignore aspects of their romantic relationships that are unhealthy, even abusive, in effort to keep the social status—that “success”—of being in a couple. As I mentioned before, there are plenty of intrinsic reasons to want to be/stay in a relationship: love, regular sex, emotional and logistical support, having a “team-mate”, and all of the learning and growth that comes with sharing life with another person.

But if you are “sticking it out” in an unhappy relationship, ask yourself: what is keeping you from leaving? The idea of life without that person? Or the thought of navigating a world that will suddenly be more hostile towards you?

Likewise, if a friend is having trouble with their partner, don’t encourage them to hold on at all costs. If a friend has recently gone through a break-up, comfort them with the existence your friendship (“I’m here for you, let’s hang out!”) not by assuring them of the existence of future partners (“Don’t worry, there’s other fish in the sea”).  In fact everyone can fight Partner Privilege any day, in any situation by showing appreciation for the non-sexual, non-romantic relationships in life.  It doesn’t matter if you are single or coupled, everyone can (and should) celebrate their friendships.

And if you are perusing Facebook or Instagram while-single this holiday season, and you start to feel ashamed and depressed when it seems like *everybody* is engaged and getting married except for you, recognize the role Partner Privilege is playing.  Remember that even algorithms are privileging these posts. Remember where you really stand on the Figured It All Out Staircase…

staircase 1

….and then SMASH that whole idea to the ground.


Because your value as a person is NOT determined by your relationship status, and things are much better when there isn’t a staircase at all.


Filed under: Class, Dating, Gender Roles, Privilege, Relationships Tagged: dating, marriage, marriage equality, personal histories, Privilege, Relationships, social status, society misconceptions
28 Dec 12:45

Gay, straight, furries & Benedict Cumberbatch: My top 5 favorite sexy comic blogs

by Nya
Excerpt from Jess Fink's guest comic on Oh Joy Sex Toy.
Excerpt from Jess Fink's guest comic on Oh Joy Sex Toy.
We've talked about sexy books before, but I don't think there was ever a sexy comic blogs round-up. Since we all need a good online porn comic from time to time, here are my favorite.

There is a metric ton of adult content out there, but I'm aiming for smut which pictures positive, consensual, fun sexy times, and stays clear of the usual pitfall of classic porn (sexism and woman degradation, I'm talking about you).

Disclaimer: these are basically porn blogs. As in, reaaally not safe for work blogs. Even if some plot pages seems fairly inconspicuous, others will make your boss raise an eyebrow or two ("Is that a giant leather-clad elven dick I just saw on your screen?").

1. Chester 5000 by Jess Fink

This is a gem. Set in Victorian times, it centers around the relationship between a lonely wife and her handy (pun intended) robot. The art is gorgeous, the steampunk robot is endearing, the smut is hot (as it must be). And it's not only about robots, as humans do shag together pretty well, too. Updates are sparse but there's already enough quantity to get you going.

It's for you if you're into: straight, bi, robot, multiplayers, steampunk

2. Forbidden Flora, by PK

Maybe my favorite when it comes to art. PK uses incredibly vibrant palettes to bring to life sexy, playful, and consensual furries who might or might not be hermaphrodites. It's not for everyone, but you have to admit there's real visual talent here.

It's for you if you're into: furries

3. Alfie, by InCase

This comics gets better by the page, and it was already quality stuff to begin with. This a smut comics for all of us who like heroic-fantasy worlds, with pretty elven boys and gorgeous halflings and of course, a decent-sized human or two. Refreshingly, the artist makes the story enthralling, funny and works as much on smut as on character development and art. Daily updates when a chapter is on, short hiatuses (couple of weeks) between chapters.

You can also check InCase's Tumblr, for work-in-progresses and hermaphrodites.

It's for you if you're into: straight, bi, light BDSM, heroic-fantasy, leather-clad elves

4. Oh Joy Sex Toy

Oh Joy Sex Toy is not a fiction comic blog, but it still features the occasional guest sexy comics amidst weekly sex toys review and sex-ed advice. I absolutely love how dedicated the author is to try every sex toy out there, from the mighty Hitachi wand to more experimental toys you've never heard about. Updates on Tuesdays.

It's for you if you're into: toys, straight, gay, bi

5. Butt Then, ReaperSun

This might be a stretch, but if you're a fan of the BBC TV show Sherlock, you already know the one, the only: ReaperSun, incredibly talented artist which brought to life many Johnlock fantasies, or fueled them. This is a shipper's heaven.

No clue what I'm talking about? Her fan-fiction art centers around Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, BBC-style. She pictures the characters played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman with amazing skills and stays true to the spirit of the TV show: British humor, sociopathy, murders.

Under the NSFW tag, you'll find quite a lot of sexy Star Trek stuff, too. Hmm, Spock. Guess I have a soft spot for logical, cold, insensitive alien-looking guys.

If reading porn involving real-life people (even if it's in character) isn't for you, her SFW art is amazing.

It's for you if you're into: gay, fluff, Benedict Cumberbatch

These are my favorites. Now I want to hear about your own favorite smutty, sexy comic blogs.

Recent Comments

  • Alanna: I feel the same. A few years ago I was at Comic Con and attended a panel with Tom Felton… [Link]
  • Nicola R. White: This is a fun post, but I'm super uncomfortable with the ReaperSun fanfic stuff. I'm fine with fanfic in general,… [Link]
  • Maggie: Oh, oh, I know, I know! (I read almost all of the above mentioned ones regularly, especially Chester, Oh Joy,… [Link]
  • Natalie: No Oglaf? For shame! It's basically porn-comedy set in a fantasy land, and I love that it caters for all… [Link]
  • Chepkirui: Woohoo a whole new world has just opened up; Ms. luddite over here had no idea this stuff existed. Thank… [Link]

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11 Dec 22:24

FESTIVAL OF KIMCHI PATREON PUSH! I’m trying to reach $1500...



I’m trying to reach $1500 on Patreon by the new year, and to spread the word I’m making a new Kimchi comic EVERY DAY for the 8 days of chanukah! (3 days left!). Kimchi Cuddles is able to exist entirely because of viewer donations, and even a dollar a month makes a huge difference! Thank you for all your support.

04 Dec 20:40

The Really Cool Offers from REALLY Cool People

by Damsel in this Dress

Some really cool shops here!

     Okay, friends! I know that this was only supposed to go out to people who obtained our Black Friday Grab Bags, BUT after hours of trying to figure out how to work with PDFs, save them as proper links, and trying a million other different google searches, I gave up and I'm putting these offers on my blog. If you were a vendor who was generous enough to give us sweet deals, I'm just hoping that this goes out to MORE people and you get more business, (my customers REALLY are fantastic ladies!).  If you are someone who bought a grab bag and you think its unfair that other people that DIDN'T purchase should get these deals, maybe of it as a Christmas Miracle? 

      If the images are too small, click on them, and they go to full size. You can print them out and hang them up, because they are beautiful and inspiring. 

for THIS ONE, it's only available on our Damsel in this Dress artfire shop, and I PROMISE we will have the coolest pieces you've ever seen listed NEXT WEEK! 

07 Dec 20:00

Postpartum Depression, Defined

by Pamela Manasco

100% real, 100% the stuff of my nightmares.

Postpartum depression is the moon landing, because even though you are like 99% sure people have walked around up there (I mean, we have dirt, right? Moon rocks? Why would science lie about this?), one day some person will come up to you and tell you that it's not real, which means that it never happened to anybody, least of all you.

Read more Postpartum Depression, Defined at The Toast.

09 Dec 15:00

Levels Of Purse Anxiety It Is Possible To Have

by Mallory Ortberg


This Purse Sand Is Crusting Under My Fingernails

I Thought There Was A Hair Tie In Here But As I Blindly Rummage Around My Nerveless Fingers Grab Only Air

Read more Levels Of Purse Anxiety It Is Possible To Have at The Toast.

10 Dec 12:45

Are poly and sex-positive people really "obsessed with sex"?

by RedVonix

Well said! But if you have multiple people in your life telling you you are obsessed with sex because of these identifiers, then I think you are hanging around the wrong people. No shame for sex or food!

The #Obsessed Tee from Etsy seller HashedApparel
The #Obsessed Tee from Etsy seller HashedApparel

Many (if not most of us) who are polyamorous, swinger, or in any kind of open relationships, have been told we are "obsessed with sex." But are we really?

The truth is, telling someone they are obsessed with sex, is actually a great insult to that individual in many ways — mostly because in reality, it feels like shaming.

I mean, the use of the word "obsession," by definition, is negative: "A persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling."

Therefore, when others tell us that we are obsessed with sex, they are pointing out we have a disturbing preoccupation with the joy of copulation in a unreasonable way.

Okay, sure… there are absolutely people out there who would be obsessed with sex. They even have therapy sessions, which for anyone truly obsessed with sex — that is a wonderful thing. But many of us are not dictionary-definition obsessed with sexual pleasures. We're simply open — open-minded, open sexually, and sexually positive. Is that really a bad thing?

Apparently to some people, yes, yes it is. It makes many uncomfortable. I believe it's it very likely makes some people uncomfortable because they themselves are not comfortable with their own sexuality. But there must be a way we can intelligently respond to the sexually uncomfortable who would attack us sexually comfortable and sexually positive individuals…

Erotic, passionate, incredible sex is not something we require to survive. As a species, we simply need procreation. The other items add fun, excitement and a level of entertainment to it.

You know what else we do not require to survive? Fancy food.

To survive, all we truly need is a series of nutritional supplements. Simple, to the point, nothing we even need to spend time with or enjoy. Yet, most of us spend tremendous amounts of money and time each year to enjoy incredible food-driven experiences. Gourmet meals, fine dining, exotic flavors… heck, even a fast food burger is nothing more than a cheap and completely un-needed bit of joy wrapped in paper.

Am I comparing a delicious buffet in Vegas to a kinky sex party in Boise? You bet I am.

Am I comparing a delicious buffet in Vegas to a kinky sex party in Boise? You bet I am, because when it comes down to it, they are the exact same thing.

All of this excess and specialty food is equally as required as passionate, erotic, frequent, kink-filled sexual encounters. And if you wish to tell me I am obsessed with sex simply because I enjoy it, and I enjoy pleasuring others, then I ask you to consider whether you have an obsession with food that's fancier than a flavorless nutritional paste.

Because you're probably just as obsessed as I am.

Recent Comments

  • RedVonix: There's nothing wrong with sluts - some of my best friends are sluts, and we should never shame them. I… [Link]
  • tim: He demeaned me. Bizarrely he pretended he was monogamous when he's into orgies, threesome's, sex parties and relationships with prostitutes.… [Link]
  • RedVonix: I'm very sorry he hurt you like this. There are indeed people out there like that unfortunately, and when we… [Link]
  • tim: I could care less . its live and let live as long as you are honest and not fooling someone.… [Link]
  • Anie: And my partner will always order a black and blue burger when we go out to eat. Some people know… [Link]

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08 Dec 22:17

do black girls even get to be depressed?

by samantha
when i was young i was frequently described as "moody." or dismissed as "angry." according to the social worker who routinely pulled me out of class i was intellectually bright but "quietly hostile." nevermind that i was basically living in squalor with a half-dead corpse, subsisting on the kind of cereal that comes in a five pound bag and whatever nutrient-rich meals were being served for free hot lunch; i was diagnosed as having "an attitude problem." so i rocked with that. when you're a kid it's sometimes just easier to go along with other people's definitions of who you are. they're adults, right? so they're smarter? i would listen to this faith no more tape on my walkman (DO YOUNG PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT THOSE WORDS EVEN MEAN) over and over while sulking and looking morose or whatever it is poor kids get to do when we have no access to semiautomatic firearms or prescription drugs. it was the only thing i could do to make it to the next goddamned day.

no one in my house was talking about depression. that's something that happened to white people on television, not a thing that could take down a Strong Black Woman. which also fucked with me on the "why are you listening to smashing pumpkins instead of [insert name of popular early 90s r+b artist]? are you even black!?" level. siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. so i was 1 super fucking depressed 2 super fucking depressed with no one to talk to about it who wasn't going to immediately suggest child services remove me from my home and 3 super fucking depressed while clocking in on the low end of my skinfolk's negrometers because i identified hard with courtney love and read sassy magazine because essence wasn't really speaking to me yet so wasn't this whole thing yet another way i was desperately trying to be white?

i tried to take my own life in 1993 and the general response when it failed was basically LOL TOUGHEN UP.
first semester freshman report card:
english C
history C
gym D
band B+
algebra A (because kate lewis helped me do my homework i love you kate)
suicide F
i just slept straight through the rest of the weekend and went back to school the next monday and kept doing the same shit i'd always been doing and figured that if i wanted to try again i needed to wait until i was old enough to get a car and drive it off one of suburban chicago's many cliffs. i think my mom started watching me a little more closely? but what was she really going to do. she was severely disabled and my being hopeless all the time was trumped by "you know i can't walk, right?" and i get that. i was a kid, it was my job to go to school, so i did my job. i would deal with it when i was off medicare and making enough money to pay for therapy myself. BAHAHAHAHAHA *choke sob* AHAHAHAHAHA!

even when my fucking parents died five years later when i was eighteen, and i had an actual thing i could point to as a source of my unrelenting depression, a cause to substantiate the effect of my simmering hatred, i played it off. i don't know if it feels like this for anyone else, but i definitely come from the kind of people whose response to "hey man, i'm pretty bummed out" is "shut up, there's nothing wrong with you." or how about "you just sleep all of the time because you're lazy." like, if it isn't broken or hemorrhaging you need to bury it under these dollar store snack foods and work it out by your fucking self. OH OKAY COOL. so then i developed very glamorous coping mechanisms like covering myself with grisly death tattoos and eating food out of the trash. and then, because i wasn't actively trying to kill myself and could keep a job and make friends and pay my rent and not do heroin, i made peace with it. this is just how i am. I'M FINE. for as long as i can remember i've had this undercurrent of sadness that, if i'm being honest, i don't totally mind. it was easy to ignore because it doesn't bother me that much. and i don't want to be some shiny, happy idiot. this is gritty, this is real.

i am just an old garbage bag full of blood patiently waiting for death to rescue me, but sometimes when i tell people that their immediate response is HOW CAN YOU BE SAD YOU'RE HILARIOUS!!!!! and then for five seconds i'm like "this asshole who has never met me before is correct i'm so funny i should stop thinking life is a trash can." until five seconds after that some human roadkill yells at the grocery store bagger or pulls his scrotum out on the train and i get the insatiable urge to peel my skin off like the layers of an onion and jam my thumbs into my eye sockets while hoping that i'll just disappear down the garbage disposal of human existence straight into hell. then it's easy to just write the depression off as an irritation at the dummies i have to share the planet with. "i'm not depressed, dudes who ride unicycles in rush hour traffic are fucking idiots" or "nothing is wrong with me, the real problem is all these people mindlessly texting while their dogs shit in the middle of the gd sidewalk."

two things happened that forced me to finally have the "sometimes i have a disproportionately rage-filled response to otherwise harmless shit" talk with my doctor. 1 i was at work and the worst person in the world came in to buy dog food, the kind of person who asks an unending stream of questions that i as an unfamiliar customer service representative couldn't possibly answer as she emptied the entire contents of her handbag onto the counter in front of me. i hate that, the "please don't write a negative yelp review of this business" trap that requires i stand there trying to look engaged while this woman uses me as a sounding board for questions like, "is [redacted] going to eat three cans or maybe should i just get one?" she's not asking me, but she's not not asking me?  i mean, we're making eye contact but how in the fuck could i know!? and i have to wait there held hostage because one of these questions pouring like vomit from her toothless maw might be one i can actually answer. "can i really carry a seventeen pound bag up my stairs?" (well, not that one.) "i wonder if the dog really wants me to switch back to his old food." (yeah, not that one either.) i could feel the familiar rageheat start in my shoulders and claw its way slowly up my neck and into my jaw before finally scratching at the backs of my eyeballs. and as she kept rambling nonsensically to herself while pretending she needed my help for five minutes in real time i calmly raised my hands to my ears and used my forefingers to hold them closed and said, "you have to get the fuck out of here or i will destroy you." SO MUCH FOR THAT STELLAR YELP REVIEW.

then 2 i had the kind of anxiety attack that makes you feel like you’re going to die on the spot as i was standing next to stephanie’s car in the parking lot of a combination gas station and subway. i tossed my sandwich (tuna, plain, whole wheat because duh i’m a health nut) onto the passenger seat and pawed at my chest while trying to catch my breath. WHAT A DEPRESSING PLACE TO DIE, i thought. i assumed i was having a heart attack because i had been in line at subway behind three black people, each of whom had a long list of explicit, complicated instructions for the sandwich artist tasked with preparing six inches of squishy yoga mat bread to your uncle tony's exact specifications. “i want provolone cheese and cucumbers and spinach and lettuce and red onions and tomatoes, olives and banana peppers and giardiniera, i need the chipotle southwest sauce and the ranch, extra meat but i don’t want you to charge me for it, also let me get the green bell peppers and the herbs and spices, oil and vinegar too on the italian herbs and cheese bread, then i want you to toast that shit but don’t, like, toast it toast it. don't let my fucking lettuce wilt, man.” and yes his sandwich should be exactly as he fucking wants it but as an innocent bystander who never gets more than two toppings that shit is fucking nerve-wracking, please just let me get my plain scoops of tuna on wheat bread before i sweat through my clothes with anxiety over this transaction not turning out the way homeboy intended because most of those things don’t even go with meatballs but what the fuck do i know please god just let me leave. i went straight to the hospital, smelling like old-ass subway tuna fish.

when i have a panic attack my throat closes up like someone is wrapping their fingers around it and my chest hurts and i can't breathe and i am 100% certain i am going to die. i know when you feel it coming on you're supposed to relax and do your breathing exercises but it feels like if in that moment i lie down and close my eyes for even a second i will never open them again. and most of the time i'm down with that but this shit always happens when my sheets need changing or my garbage can is full of freezer-burned hot pockets i tried to salvage and i get even more stressed out at the thought of whomever finds my corpse discovering the last thing i googled was "shark tank bonus clips." not being able to deal with your life is humiliating. it makes you feel weak. and if you're african-american and female not only are you expected to be resilient enough to just take the hits and keep going, if you can't you're a black bitch with an attitude. *rolls eyes for sarcastic effect* you're not mentally ill, you're ghetto. sitting in that hospital bed with a 23-year-old dude who looked like he was playing doctor with his father's stethoscope looped around his neck i was so fucking embarrassed, ashamed to be talking to him about being so mad and so sad as he dumped a syringe full of ativan into my arm. letting rosa parks and harriet tubman down by talking about my silly little feelings.

all this might be easier if i could punch shit, but i'm not a punch shit person. i'm a sit in the dark in the bathroom with a package of sharp cheddar cheese slices person. except i don't even really eat cheese anymore. plus i can't fucking fight. if a bitch wanted to whoop my ass right now my only hope would be to challenge her to a sudoku battle or some shit. I'M SOFT, MAN. and i don't have any answers. the world is scary and terrible and motherfuckers out here don't want obamacare to fix a paper cut let alone offer some discounted mental health care, so what can we do. talk about it? stop being afraid of it? shut down dudes who want to dismiss us as fragile or crazy!? i went on lexapro but after three weeks stopped sleeping and fuck that. maybe it doesn't work that way for everyone but i'd rather be angry and well-rested than tired and happy. or "happy," i guess. i have generic klonopin and ativan and i learned how to do this 478 breathing technique that's supposed to switch your body from fight-or-flight to a passive response but come on, bro. seriously the only time it even occurs to me to do it is when i'm sweating and trying to dry swallow some of these benzos. if i ever have more than $37 in my pocket i'm going to open a school for girls with bad attitudes where we basically talk to therapists all day while wearing soft pants and occasionally taking a field trip to the nearest elote cart. and if that doesn't work i'll just tell some jokes. good thing i'm hilarious.
04 Dec 16:00

Fall, feet-first, down Ariel's glittery boots rabbit hole…

by Megan Finley


glittery boots

Over on our sister site, Ariel has dug up some amazing glittery boot finds. Like these clear and glittery beauties that are only $50! As Ariel said…

I picture a few Sock Dream socks under these babies, with their sparkly soles and… oh man. Do these count as rain boots, even?

Inspired by these, I decided to go down the rabbit hole of glitter boots. I feel like these could be great for a winter wedding (glitter peeking out from under your hem, as you stand in the snow!), but realistically they could just be great for anything. Let's lace up, and glitter out.

Head over to Offbeat Bride to fall, feet-first, down the glittery, shine-y, disco-y rabbit hole!

Recent Comments

  • Erin: For reals, Margie. I did find some stuff on Amazon in size 11, kinda the same. clear smoky… [Link]
  • Margie: *sees boots* *loves boots* *desperately wants boots* *hopes desperately that by some miracle they come in my… [Link]
  • Ruth: 404 error on the link to the article. FYI [Link]

Join the discussion

05 Dec 00:14

Things I Find Beautiful

by Jen
I almost didn't watch this video my friend Stephanie shared today, but I'm still (STILL! Arg.) sick on the couch and kinda miserable and in need of distraction, so I did.

I expected it to just be a few moments of feel-good-fluff, but in the end it was more bittersweet than that - and now my eyes are all leaky, dangit.

Here, take a look:

This reminds me of how it feels to be a cosplay photographer, although since these students didn't set out to have their photos taken, it's really a more extreme - and more illuminating - look at how we take compliments.

For the most part it IS wonderful and sweet, but as the vid shows, far too often a spontaneous compliment will be met with suspicion, disbelief, and even out-right anger. (I actually started to fear for Shea at 1:40.)

I suppose we could talk about our society's impossible beauty standards, and how it's the inside that counts, anyway. We could say that our self-worth shouldn't be based on others' opinions, and that the "selfie epidemic" only reinforces a self-destructive form of narcissism. We can analyze and diagnose and point fingers - but really, who is that helping?

Maybe we should just remind each other we're beautiful.

In fact, while I'm at it, I want to say something. If it's weird just blame the cold meds:

You have certain abilities and passions and fabulous little quirks that no one else has. You have a wholly original perspective on the world. You can do and see and say things in ways that no one else on this planet ever can, and that makes you frickin' incredible. So please don't rob the world of you. Don't hide those things that make you different. Show the people around you how to be beautiful. Show them it's ok. 

And then show them Stargate:Atlantis, 'cuz that is some seriously underrated sci-fi goodness, right there.

Now I'm off to go cuddle with my Vicks vaporizer. Y'all be good to yourselves.

02 Dec 21:31

Updated polycule and character descriptions:...


It's......complicated ;)

Updated polycule and character descriptions:

03 Dec 12:45

Dear well-meaning people who see my ring and ask "when are you going to have kids?"

by Brink Powell
Photo by Robyn Icks Photography
"You need to understand that "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage" is not a universal statement." (Photo by Robyn Icks Photography)

I know when you ask me a form of the following question, "So are you guys going to try to have kids right away?" you don't mean to offend me. However, a more appropriate question would be "So, are you guys going to have kids?"

There is a huge difference to these two statements: The first is an assumption. The second is a genuine question.

I understand that our society has instilled in you that when a couple gets married the next step in their life together is to try to procreate. I understand that my fiancé and I are in the minority when we declare, completely honestly and without any trace of shame, that we do not want children. But you need to understand that "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage" is not a universal statement.

I have not wanted children since I was a child myself. I do not like children. I do not like being in their company. I do not find them cute, or precious, or sweet, or any of the other adjectives that are generally associated with them. Instead, I find them tiresome and annoying. I do not know how to speak with them or play with them. I do not know how to come down to their level and it makes me uncomfortable to try.

Pregnancy and giving birth terrify me. I cannot help but think of a fetus as a parasite leaching off my body for survival. I have an extremely low tolerance for pain and would never willingly put myself through the agony of childbirth. I have a hard enough time making a dentist appointment.

I like my independence too much to be saddled with a child. I do not want the responsibility of taking care of another human being. I do not want to get up in the middle night to attend to a crying baby. I don't want to have to pack lunches and cook dinners for a child. And I certainly don't want to have to deal with an angst ridden teenager. I want to be able to perform in community theater whenever I am chosen for a role and not have to worry about my rehearsal schedule meshing with a child care schedule. I know myself well enough to know that I would become supremely resentful of a child if I had to give up hobbies I love in order to raise one.

I have medical issues that would make it difficult for me to be a good parent. I have chronic migraine headaches that render me barely capable of walking to the bathroom. There is no way I would be capable of caring for a child in that condition. I have Interstitial Cystitis and am on a low acid diet plus take a daily medication to control it. Enough havoc is wreaked on my bladder in its normal condition without adding a fetus sitting on it into the mix.

My fiance's reasons for not having children are not mine to delve into. Suffice it to say that while he likes children he does not feel the need to bring any of his own into a world and culture that are, in his view, in a downward spiral. On top of that the financial implications of seeing a child through from birth to college are just mind-boggling and quite frankly not something we can afford.

Your comments of "Oh, you'll change your mind" or "You haven't experienced love until you're a parent" or "Well, then why are you getting married?" are as ignorant as they are hurtful. No, I won't change my mind. It has been made up since I was about sixteen years old. Who are you to tell me if I have or have not experienced love? Why is the love between a parent and child any better than the love I feel for my fiance, or my parents, or my friends? Why does that fact that we're not having children make our marriage meaningless? We're getting married because we love each other and do not want to be without each other unless death or zombies intervene. We want to hang out with each other for the rest of our lives. We want to watch movies, and play with our cat, and go to shows, and do whatever the hell else we want.

Your other comment of "But, you won't have anybody when you're older" is also hurtful. Yes, I will most likely outlive my nine years older than me husband. No, I don't have nieces or nephews. But I have friends who are like-minded and don't want children. This comment also makes me wonder if that is actually a factor in some people's decision to have children. Are you really that selfish that you'll bring a new life into this world so that you have caretakers in your old age?

Again, I understand that we live in a world where marriage and children go hand in hand more often than not. I understand that we're in the minority. I also understand that you may not, and probably cannot, understand our choice. But please believe me. Do not fix me with a pitying gaze. Do not try to convince me otherwise. And do not tell me I will regret it. Do me the simple courtesy of treating me like an adult who has made a choice and is perfectly content.

Sincerely, Brink

Recent Comments

  • Tribesmaid OnTheBrink!: Right!? The thought of having a child with the intent of them being a future caretaker NEVER crossed my… [Link]
  • Renly: Great article, it was like reading my own thoughts! The sad thing is you shouldn't even have to give your… [Link]
  • Tribesmaid OnTheBrink!: I have never understood the argument that NOT having children is selfish. Something about that argument just doesn't click… [Link]
  • rings90: My 1st marriage was dealing with this constantly, it always amazed me because the youngest aunt had fertility issues, and… [Link]
  • Tribesmaid OnTheBrink!: That is a great way to ask the question! It's not assuming you're going go have children and like… [Link]

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