FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Building From Small Moments

Hi songbirds and welcome to this week’s Friday Open Thread!

image by Rory Midhani

How’s your 2018 going so far?

Sometimes it feels like everything needs to be everything all at once, and that all at once needs to be right now. It’s easy to get so impatient for the future or for knowing what will happen next or for knowing what will be. Who wants to sit with discomfort or uncertainty instead of pressing fast forward and just being done with it? Except that that’s kind of how this works. It can be hard to grasp the future in the fist of a bullet journal and plow boldly forward, certain and sure, but also uncertain and fine with it. And even though I know we all know this, sometimes you think you know but you forget that you know, you know?

So this week, I want to hear about your small peaceful moments instead. Maybe you were worried about the prospect of an intense custody battle over your dog with your probably-but-hopefully-not-but-who-knows-it’s-fine-ex and you came to a resolution. Maybe you ate some really good pickles. Maybe you got a really good haircut. Maybe you ate too many pickles, it turned out, and got suddenly very sick and were stuck in a bar bathroom for five hours, ironically or perfectly with a Samantha Irby book, and someone you have some feelings for brought you the exact right meds to help and waited around for hours while they kicked in and took you home. Maybe you ate a really, really good avocado and did not get sick at all. Maybe one day you woke up and went out into a garden and felt the wet gravel between your toes and saw your breath cloud the air and watched a cat in a sunbeam and felt like maybe things would be okay even if they don’t look any way you would have pictured.

a garden, featuring a cat in a sunbeam licking its paw

are all those examples from my life who can say

I also want to hear about your new year’s goal setting progress, and your cats, and what you’re eating or drinking or reading or watching or doing or thinking or feeling or anything else. The night and the comments belong to us.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. This is right in line with my approach to the new year. After getting in a funk over the holiday (which is lingering), I decided to focus on gratitude and appreciation and write in my nice new Passion Planner a nice moment from each day. On Wednesday my notes say, “A nice quiet hour to myself at home to drink tea and read Autostraddle,” and “Worked out!” Reading over my notes from the last two weeks I just realized that all except the above note are about the kids. I want to enjoy (foster) parenting and I do, but sometimes the cranky/sad moments stand out more than the happy/peaceful moments. And so writing down some of the good moments hopefully will help.

      • From a long term survival perspective it makes sense to pay attention to and try to learn from the bad things that happen. In today’s society, in order to want to try to stick around and to enjoy life, it makes sense to focus more on gratitude and enjoying those small, nice moments, instead of just wanting to escape all of the time.

  2. Life has really kicked us in the gut lately, BUT today was one of those big relief-moments where you just start laughing because you can finally breathe for a second and you’ve been holding your breath for so long you forgot you were doing it.

    To make a long story short, we’ve been without a car in the middle of nowhere for four months due to bureaucracy. In December I almost got struck by lightning, which killed our only means of transport (my electric bicycle) and our source of income and community (the Internet) just in time for Christmas.

    BUT, today my new 50cc scooter arrived! I’ve got my registration papers, my insurance papers, I’ve done basic maintenance, attached all the add-one and fired it up and now I CAN LEAVE MY HOUSE! And I can do it on my own! (My partner is the one with a driver’s license so I haven’t had that choice since we moved away from public transport six years ago)

    Also, I finally replaced the purple leather jacket I bought second hand in a charity shop for 5€ eleven years ago with a nice androgynous black biker jacket that I’ve wanted for like three years, so I’m pretty over the moon right now.

    • Congrats @faustine, that sounds like it must feel so much better! What’s your scooter like? How does your biker jacket feel? How do they look together? I’m imagining ?

      • It does! My scooter is just a cheap little black Chinese thing that tries to look like modern French and Italian scooters, but it’s up to all the new EU environmental standards and I think I have a crush on it. I spent sooo much time watching videos about changing transmission oil, cleaning spark plugs and troubleshooting 4-stroke engines. This is going to be the world’s best looked-after cheap-ass moped.

        My jacket is sooo soft! So perfect! Even I don’t know how they look together, yet, but I might feel a photo session coming on.

        I’ll be such a hot biker chick: “Yeah, baby, it’s pure Chinese plastic, doesn’t make a sound and it reaches a thrilling 45 km/h (30 mph). Wanna go for a ride?”

    • Congrats on your new ride, hopefully you have a lot fun on it safely, and all the girls stare wondering who that cool gal is.

  3. I went on a lovely second date and didn’t overshare or obsess over the little things! My goal for the year is to learn to ask for help when I need it, and that act of relenting control and being a little more vulnerable with my friends has been a wonderfully peaceful experience. I also have been finding a few minutes here and there to use a guided meditation app to check in with my body and emotions and I’m learning to be more present in the moment as a result. Baby steps.

    Just now I ate little too much pizza but who can turn down free pizza at work?

    • A few days ago my wife asked me if I thought she was a good person. I took that as a sincere question and went on to answer it. After a few moments she clarified that she was worried about work and just wanted encouragement. That got me thinking, she has depression and at times I stop asking her for help, but it leaves me feeling disconnected, so I want to do a better job of more specifically asking for time to connect, to feel like a partner in this life.

      Good luck, Katie, on asking for help and on the meditation!

      • I’ve been using headspace and I didn’t think I would like it, but it’s actually very effective. You can do one mediation a day without paying for a subscription (plus a few other freebies) and once I work up to using it more frequently I’m planning on subscribing.

  4. Today is my birthday! So I’m spending the day in my pajamas eating whatever the hell I want and watching Doctor Who and cuddling with my cat and reading books and buying makeup online and it’s pretty fucking perfect.
    Tomorrow I have festivities planned with all the rad people in my life and I’m very excited for that, but I’m also loving having a day to just hang out with my rockstar self.

  5. This is perfect, I’ve had a week full of wonderful small moments!!! I made spicy hot chocolate cookies and sent them to a friend I miss a lot. I spontaneously decided to go on a hike on a trail I used to walk a lot when I was growing up but haven’t been to in years. Afterward, I got a great milkshake cause I’d been craving one (started watching Riverdale and those kids drink a LOT of milkshakes ok). It felt so good to move around and see nature that was so familiar but also felt new. Then yesterday, to prepare for dinner with friends tonight, I made spaghetti sauce and it’s so delicious, I can’t wait to share it! Also made a key lime pie, which has often been a holiday pie in my family. I haven’t actually made it by myself before and it’s been a long time since we’ve had it for a holiday. I made the crust from my homemade gingersnaps, which means it tastes great, but it didn’t set well AT ALL. My gingersnaps are too moist so the added butter didn’t absorb like it should have. I thought I was going to have a make another pie today, but I had a slice for breakfast (just to test it out, ya know?), and it just tastes wayyyy too good! The crust may be soggy and fall apart but it’s kind of amazing! This has been the best last week of winter break ever. I feel prepared for diving back into school and hopefully can keep having perfect wonderful moments like this in my free time.

  6. I was feeling super lonely so I took myself out on a surprise theater date! I got great seats and it was wonderful

      • Going to things alone does not come naturally to me AT ALL but then I realized in my life right now not going to things alone meant that I was just not going to things at all. So I am making a conscious effort to do more of it!

        I went to Wicked and it was great! Its of my favorite musicals ever

  7. My 2018 is pretty much living up to the awkward queer stereotypes, which may or may not be a good thing. I was at Cuties Coffee on Sunday, for queers, coffee, and donuts, with some friends and had a great time as usual. This queer came up to me and handed a Cuties card, where on the front it says I would love to see you again, and on the back you can write whatever you want, in this case a number. Turns out the person’s friend was too shy so they handed me their number. I was no better as I only waved from afar & didn’t even go up to him to say hi(was too shy). Getting the card made me feel normal & made me blush a bit. Thankfully, I was sitting with a group of lovely women who help me figure out what to text. It turns out the person who gave me his card looks older than they really are, and I look younger than I really am; so, it wouldn’t work out, even as friends as they are under 21, and I’m 13-14 years older than him.

    I mentioned last week I may meet up with someone from OhGayCupid, and we did meet up on Sunday for tea. I was given too many mixed signal from her, so I’d like to be her friend. However, I get the feeling I also being played games, and trying to ghost me? Oh well, her loss as I’m a fabulous queer, I think. On the plus side she had a very cute pug, was trying really hard to respect my pronouns, and I had a very good late lunch(jackfruit vegan melt).

    One of my new years goals was to make more friends and meet more people. I think so far it working as I made a new friend(not the aforementioned two people), went on a date/hang with a person, & have plans to meet a friend crush up this Sunday for the first time. So, hopefully this keeps up, though it probably wont at this pace as queers, coffee, and donuts is only first Sunday of the month. My other goal was to cut down on bread and refined sugars, but so far that hasn’t work out well for me. I still have like 50 or so weeks left to try.

    In honor of a local twoc Viccky Gutierrez who was killed this week in her home.

    Thank you for reading and viewing my post. Have a positive weekend!

  8. This week has been a weird mix of awesome and frustrating, but I’ve been focusing on the awesome which is a HUGE switch for me. I made a serious change to my fitness goals and routine, which has been weird and strange but I feel better already! Also, I made small changes to my social medias.. I’ve changed my gender and pronouns! Very nerve wracking, but an exciting small change! Also I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone and spend time with people even though it makes me anxious, so I said I would go ice skating with someone who I feel has an oddly competitive relationship with me (for no reason in my opinion but hey, I can’t change their thinking!) so here’s hoping that turns out well, maybe it’ll help things! Trying to be positive! Wee!

    • @ruby19 congrats on the changes and good luck with the ice skating! Hopefully if someone is inviting you to do a thing with them it will be a little more “hanging out casually standing on blades on the ice in a way that is literally and figuratively chill” and a little less “winter olympics”!

  9. Happy friday, vegetable dumplings and scallion pancakes! Wow I’m so glad the weekend is here. It’s been hard, pals. Illness wise I’ve been pretty not good and I laid low all weekend to get ready for Monday and then…I took the wrong meds and woke up at 3:30 am for a trip to the er! And then my week was kinda a wash of already present illness and pain and even more grossness and pain BUT there were good things!
    – my girlfriend went to the hospital with me and held my hand and made me laugh and reminded me that there’s good people in the world.
    – my girlfriend and I have been watching bad 80s/90s horror movies off a list we found on Buzzfeed and it’s been magical
    – we made home made pizza last night and I finally found a good dairy free cheese that melts and tastes yummy!
    – I made banana chocolate chip muffins
    – After 3 1/2 weeks I finally got my office back at work
    – my cats. just that :)
    – I’m going to an arts and foods event tonight celebrating our city’s refugees/ immigrants

    And…three day weekend! Hope you’re all doing alright, pals <3

      • Ah one of my faves was this gem from Australia called Roadmaster. Made in 1981 featuring Jamie Lee Curtis! It was actually pretty good and i recommend it :D

  10. On christmas, my partner and I made fermented hot sauce and salsa as a gift to ourselves. It was finally ready to eat this week and it turned out amazing. Well, the hot sauce turned out amazing. The salsa needs some salt adjustments, But for our first try I think that is pretty successful!

  11. This is beautiful. I’ve had some huge things happen this week (including the weather!), and I’m grateful for this sign from the universe to think of the small things. I bought lemon juice to put in my water, and it’s been making my water intake (trying to drink more H20) easier and tastier. I have a grapefruit in the fridge that I’m excited to enjoy.

    Aside from citrus, I’ve realized how fortunate I am to have such a great support system. Something shitty happened to me the other day while I was at work (un-work related, but I got the news while at work), and the support I got from my colleagues, including my boss, made (and still makes) my heart so warm. I’ve worked in really toxic environments, and I love my current workplace, even if it’s not the perfect job.

    Here’s to more small things!

    • @caterrachel I do that with my water too! (When I remember.) Would also recommend trying it with grapefruit.

      Also I’m really glad to hear you have that kind of support system around you at work! It’s so great when that’s the case.

  12. Good evening/night/morning/day, whatever it is in your timezone when you read this!

    I’ve had a pretty good week with quite a few nice little moments :)

    – Today I went to the optometrist to get my eyes checked and it turns out I actually need glasses. So shout out to my fried who suggested that maybe I’m not just lazy and depressed but there might be another reason reading has been so exhausting. And I even found a pair of glasses I like, more or less right away and everyone was really nice and friendly and patient and the whole thing was a lot more pleasant than I thought it would be. So from in about 10 days on I can look way more nerdy than before.
    – The bullet journal my mom wanted to give me for Christmas has reappeared in the mail so I got a surprise present. Now I can copy everything I already planned in the “replacement” journal, but in pretty, because now I’m excited to make it look the way I want it to. And the great thing is, that it has removable pages so if I mess up I can just take the page out. I believe this will help me A LOT to actually write stuff down.
    – the other day when I alarm rang and I pressed snooze, I did so while thinking “it’s so nice and cosy and soft here, I’ll allow myself ten more minutes to enjoy this”. This seems random, but I’ve done the exact same motion with an “omg, no, I can’t get up, why would I anyway, there is no point in anything” kind of mindset for way too long already and this was just SO NICE

    I have cookies in the oven :) That’s also nice I guess.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

    • @confused-koala it’s weird how much eyesight seems to impact mood! My vision was wonky from March until September and when it got fixed I felt SO much better. Hope your glasses arrive soon!

  13. This week has pretty much been garbage. I probably need my gallbladder out (but maybe not, it may not actually solve anything bc it’s not concrete anyway! Why get definitive answers! What fun is that!). I’m catching some sort of cold-thing.

    There were some good points–there was a Star Trek movie marathon on and I watched a couple of those movies and have several more on the DVR and man they are ABSURD but also hilarious and great and idk why so many people hate them (listen anybody who hates: “we need to travel back in time to steal some whales to save earth” as a premise of a movie has no sense of fun at all. Also all of the costumes in search for Spock were amazing with hints of everyone’s heritage including the very traditional and important American garment, the tracksuit.) I finally finally finally have a referral to see a neurologist. I got many cuddles from both cat and dog (though they cannot get it together to cuddle at the same time).

  14. Hello fellow unicorns!
    I‘ve decided to unapologetically geek out this year.
    In my leveling up my life quest, last year was dedicated to physical leveling up, the year before that to improving my look, and this year it’s science, specifically my job.
    I absolutely cannot bring myself to sit down and read things up, but when I do, I actually enjoy it, and I love knowing things.
    Like in a Hermione Granger way.
    2018: time to embrace the inner Granger.

    • @amidola if you can’t sit down and read, have you tried audiobooks while you do other things? Every so often i go through a huge audiobook phase and 10/10 would recommend

      • I have, actually! Turns out it’s a lot easier to listen to something for five minutes while you wait for the bus, but I do lose focus super quickly.
        Now I‘m trying to look into podcasts, but it’s a maze!
        Maybe I‘ll check out some blogs on the subject, now that you mention it, and get my podcast game on.

  15. Came home this week from a long visit to chosen family, having trouble adjusting back to dealing with my kinda immature roommates and not having my friend-family just, right there when I wake up, every day. But yesterday I went back to yoga after having been gone for the holidays, hit my year anniversary of practicing regularly, and my teacher is the loveliest and gave me a huge hug and told me that taking a few weeks’ break was actually really good for my practice.

    • Also I’ve got my exact 2018 uniform of comfy leggings and tunics and political t-shirts nailed down. This is extremely exciting. The leggings I’m wearing right now are covered in dinosaurs.

  16. My last few weeks have been all about noticing the little things in life and really appreciating them as much as I can. In my last meditation class, we talked about how a good way to develop a peaceful mind is to take notice of all of the instances of compassion around us. I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week. It is hard to remember that even in the midst of horror the world is still full of love and magic, and it is easier to deal with all the bad when we can make a little bit of space in our heads for the good too.

    A few small things happened to me recently that made me happy or at least very curious. One is that I ran into someone I never thought I would see here, and although I’m sad I didn’t say hi I still feel like this coincidence is kind of magical in a way. On a more shallow note, I got a haircut and took a picture of myself that I genuinely like, which is rare, and it made me realize that I am finally growing out of my awkward stage. I’m sure this growth is more internal than external, but I’m glad it’s showing on the outside too. Also, I got plane tickets to see my girlfriend over my birthday weekend (we’re long-distance right now and haven’t seen each other since October) so I’m really thrilled about that.

    • I love noticing all of the small acts of kindness. I like the idea of noticing compassion as well. My favorite as of late- we have a 5 year old and a 6 year old foster daughter. Sometimes when one is having a rough time the other can show such compassion it warms my heart. Other times they are less able to do so, but I’m trying to focus on and encourage when it does happen.

  17. Welp, my 2018 started with a midnight kiss with a beautiful girl who has recently turned my life upside down in the best possible way, so things haven’t been particularly peaceful exactly but I’m not complaining ???????

    (This is also why I haven’t been around as much lately sorry hello!)

  18. It’s been a long week! It was my last week at home before going back to campus, which led to a lot of feelings and things, lots of things last-minute. Transitioning from my apartment to my childhood home is always a little rough.

    My small moment was on the drive to campus. On the road, there’s a spot where the horizon really opens up, and when I saw it I felt my whole body shift. I felt myself relax. I could take a deep breathe.

    I hope y’all have a great week, because even though mine is moving at the strangest paces right now, it’s going to be okay.

  19. I met a girl on OKC last week! that never happens. also I messaged HER which also never happens because I am shy. but she said she was looking for an LTR, and is MONOGAMOUS, and those are like, one in a million so I jumped on it. I often feel like I’m the only monogamous queer looking for a serious relationship in the Bay Area! but I found one other one.

    and we’ve been dating! we talk every day and sleep together whenever we can. luckily she lives in sf and I live in oakland so we can’t just like, completely take over each others’ lives like our lesbianism is pressuring us to. but anyway it’s cute so far :)

    it might end up being nothing, who knows, but for now it’s a cute small thing that reminds me that I am cute and desirable and I’m not necessarily guaranteed to be forever alone! <3

  20. I finally came to terms with being single so that’s pretty great. Breakups are not fun but being alone is a good thing too.

  21. this week has been surprisingly good for the first week of winter quarter, which is the worst academic quarter. leaving my bed every morning to go fight a jillion people for a parking space and walk across campus in the rain requires a herculean force of will. but! i like all of my classes so far, so it’s not that much of a struggle to motivate myself to go to class. and i have tuesdays and thursdays off, and only one class on friday morning, so my schedule is pretty much as good as it gets.
    i recently discovered that there’s a ranch near me that offers five two-hour horseback riding lessons for $215. there is absolutely no rational reason to drop two weeks’ pay on this, but i’ve got a little money sitting around and i’ve wanted to learn to ride since i was a little kid. is this a totally bonkers thing to do?
    my small peaceful moment is rereading a book i hated in high school — “wild,” by cheryl strayed — and finding it absolutely captivating and impossible to put down. it speaks to me so strongly now that i think when i was 16 i just wasn’t ready to deal with it. but now i’m really enjoying it, which i’m taking as concrete proof that i’ve grown since i was 16. or at least i’m more self-aware than i was. my other small peaceful moment is discovering paine’s balsam fir incense. it makes my bedroom smell like a campfire, which makes me think of sitting around the fire on summer camping trips to the russian river, which is one of my favorite things to do in the world.
    last but absolutely, positively not least: have you ever gotten to the end of a film and thought yeah, i could watch eighty-seven more hours of this? that’s how i feel about this female-directed old-west man-killing revenge fantasy starring my first love and the still-reigning queen of my heart, laura dern. (didn’t we all have eight-year-old baby lesbian crushes on dr ellie sattler?) i had to splash myself with cold water after i watched this to make sure i hadn’t dreamed it because it’s everything i’ve ever wanted in a film. (cw for blood, death, guns, sex, strong language.) enjoy.

    • Getting yourself riding lessons is not bonkers! That sounds like a v reasonable price, and learning stuff is a cool reason to spend money. Good luck w/ winter quarter and maybe riding horses!

  22. In the fall I started journaling the good things in the day before I go to bed no matter how awful the day was, so on a bad day it’s like ‘this soft blanket,’ ‘the sun that was shining for a full 20 mins’ and ‘apple’ and it’s doing wonders for me! I have to come up with at least 3 and by the time I get to 3, I remember other little things and then a mediocre day where 4 things went wrong turns into a page full of little good things! MAGIC!

  23. A specifically good thing is that the freezing rain turned into snow and it is much prettier outside than it was this morning.

  24. I almost never comment but this open thread prompt inspired me.

    Small moments to build from:
    – I did mini-workouts (just 7 minutes!) four days out of five before work this week. I am not a fan of getting up and ready in the morning and making myself move while listening to trash pump-up music was super good!
    – I made cold brew coffee last weekend so I had it every day at work with coconut creamer. I also felt more engaged/motivated/clear at work this week, which was really refreshing.
    – My partner and I had a good week overall and we cooled down from our minor spats a lot more easily. Plus, we’re planning to check out couples therapy next week, which makes me feel hopeful.
    – It was warm yesterday and today, and even though that is disturbing in mid-January in Massachusetts, y’all, it was so nice to feel the air on my skin.
    – My lovely friend Grace will be in town next Friday and staying over at my place <3

  25. I wanted cinnamon raisin bread early one morning. However official cinnamon raisin bread calls for milk and I have learned my lesson about how something in baking require not just the liquid or flavour, but the fat of dairy milk.
    So I decided fuck it I’m just going to toss spices into my standard white bread recipe add the raisins in after the rest ‘n’ rise period and make it into pull a part bread.

    Also I used a machine to knead the bread because preparing for days in which I won’t be able to knead by hand isn’t giving up.

    Small moments to build all through the whole experience I guess, how capable I am, all the knowledge at my disposal, and can think my way through problems. For instance, not just making cinnamon raisin noms happen, the machine got stuck and I was able to unstick it without breaking any of the parts or losing the bread. And there’s just something fulling about baking with yeast, working with a tiny living organism to create something beautiful.

    2018 hasn’t been the roughest New Year for me, the start of 2016 I was bed-ridden and incurred an ER bill. But still it hasn’t been a good start.

    The best and smallest thing this year has been names.

    For years my brain does this thing where it gets infected by world building and character creation, some times getting so big and complex when I explain them (which is difficult and I’ll say way in a sec) I’ve gotten a reaction to the effect of “wow that’s enough to launch a small comic book company”. But the problem is always I can’t name stuff. Also that some of it is rather “dark”, I can’t draw, and it uh possibly there’s no market for it. Or in one or 2 cases can’t see it as comic book, but they’d never work as film or series.

    But all that aside not being able to come up with names is the worst bit even if none of the stuff goes anywhere than notes. This year so far all the names it’s just so wonderful, not as great as having a degree or real job but it’s the little thing that keep us going and I want to keep going. That’s the only goal I’ve got really, keep going, keep living.
    Not just surviving but living.

    Speaking of peaceful I found this composer I’d been looking for since 2011, Arvo Pärt. He had like a creative block(more like a despair filled breakdown) and spent time(years) studying choral music like Gregorian chanting and the like.

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