FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: But Does It Spark Joy?

Hello fireflies, and welcome to your long weekend Friday Open Thread! A space for cat photos, a space for sharing, a space for love.

image by Rory Midhani

image by Rory Midhani

It’s been so long since we hung out, how are you, how’ve you been, how was that thing with that girl in the place? What’s new at work?

Since the last time we hung out, I’ve gotten really into tidying in the KonMari sense (#virgo), where you put everything you own on the floor by category and try to feel whether owning it sparks joy in your body and if it doesn’t you sell/donate/recycle/trash it. I didn’t own a ton to begin with (except for books), but I was feeling cluttered and unfocused and definitely knew I had some stuff around for the wrong reasons (“I will totally read this book I’ve had in my to-read pile for three years and have moved unopened through four cities any day now,” “I can only fit into these jeans when my body is a certain way and even if I don’t like them anymore I keep them to feel good/bad about myself in turns,” “I just didn’t notice this baking soda expired a year and a half ago,” etc.), and tidying feels good, like imposing order on chaos. Goodbye, ten of the twelve identical tank tops I rotate between nearly 24 hours a day that don’t actually make me feel good about myself; goodbye, six bags of books by mostly straight white cis dudes that no one in my house will ever read again; goodbye, stash of lube with ingredients to which I or my current sexual partners are allergic. I’ve only done clothes and books (and, um, people) and I know I’m probably not going to execute the perfect tidy (extra cleaning supplies do not bring me joy, but I’m not going to throw them out and repurchase them when I need them in a month) but taking a look at all areas of my life and thinking about what actually brings me joy feels really good. Plus it’s easier to do laundry now. Turns out most of the clothes that bring me joy are strappy black bodysuits.

Puppy sparks joy, can stay, is mad I won't let her chew on everything that doesn't.

Sage the puppy sparks joy, can stay, is mad I won’t let her chew on everything that doesn’t.

Have you ever tidied or KonMari’d or minimized or tiny housed or done a capsule wardrobe or owned only a certain number of things? How was it? How did it make you feel? Is fall cleaning as much a thing as spring cleaning for everyone else or just me? What do you do when you want to feel centered in your life?

Also, what are you up to this weekend? Going anywhere? Avoiding anything? Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying and planning and dreaming? Tell me everything that’s going on with you! Let’s go!


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Carolyn Yates is the NSFW Consultant, and was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor, for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She recently moved to Los Angeles from Montreal. Find her on twitter.

Carolyn has written 883 articles for us.

174 Comments

  1. Good morning crickets and cockroaches!

    (oh hey, you might think that cockroaches are horrible and disgusting, but they survive EVERYTHING. I have a magnet on my fridge that says

    you cannot stop me
    you cannot destroy me
    for i am the cockroach of love

    Be the cockroach of love! Survive everything!)

    Anywho.

    This week was so up and down! I had to hibernate for a lot of it (after work, of course) because of that silly beast that is depression, but the good news is I always swing up at some point, AND I feel like I’ve been incubating a lot of stuff in my head and I’m getting ready to write again. Hopefully I’ll do some this weekend while I’m camping!

    Also, I have three things to return to Old Navy but I’m horrible at returning things so can someone please yell at me this time next Friday if I haven’t done it? 😀

    And finally, I thought I had finally figured out how to use a diva cup successfully last Sunday – I got it in the right place at least! – but then it leaked like crazy soooo back to square one. WHY is the learning curve so high with these and what am I doing wrong???

    Ok, love you! Have a tremendous weekend and be cockroaches!

  2. To think, I go into a room, sit it comfy chair, put on noise cancelling earphones and try to relax all my muscles….. especially the muscle between my ears…. and let myself wonder about life.

    Or fall asleep….

    But right now I just want to take Puppy on a walk to the park! Those eyes!

  3. This is the last weekend of my current job because we close on Monday, we’re all getting laid off. It’s okay, though, because I start a new job on Tuesday! Yay!

    I just got the results from the bloodwork from my physical, and I have some health problems. 🙁 It’s time for me to turn my life around and get healthy. I can do it!

  4. Hello lovely people.

    This is my queer dilemma today! Help a straddler out.

    My sister is getting married in January. She is an absolute peach about my tomboyish masculine of center presentation so that’s not the issue.

    For the “getting ready” part before the ceremony, the rest of her bridal party is wearing floral silk kimono robes–and she wants me to match in formality but feel comfortable in what I’m wearing–she has sent me multiple cry laughing emojis at the thought of me in one of those kimonos doing the generic bridesmaids clinking champagne flutes photos.

    But as far as lounge wear goes I usually wear sweat shorts and an oversized t shirt. I actually wear that out sometimes. So what’s an andro-queer to do for glam/masc-ish/lounge wear?

    Any ideas?

  5. I did a huge uncluttering after I read her book but the KonMari method just does not work for my books. I find overflowing shelves oddly comforting and I only managed to part with a few books that I really hated.

    I’ve been sort of sick all week but now the weekend is here I have inevitably hit the point of just being really fucking sick, so tonight I am going to grab some pillows and a blanket and watch ‘Now and Then’ for the first time in a billion years.

    Other than that I have had a weird week of feeling vulnerable and a bit sad. I have mentioned before that I only really came out to myself relatively recently (and I’m 30!) but I’m not out to anyone else yet and it’s starting to really wear me down. I was putting it off for various reasons, thinking that because I am not in a place where I want to date yet that it was OK if people didn’t know, but now it feels like I’m hiding rather than processing. I wish everyone could just know, the people that I love will not care at all and I’m so lucky for that, but I don’t want to have to tell them because my reasons for not being out are so deeply personal and complicated and I don’t want to have to explain myself or why I have spent 30 years acting very straight or how I managed to push what I really felt down so deeply that even I almost bought the lie. This is way longer than I was intending it to be, sorry! I guess I’ve been vacillating between being scared that I’ve made this all up, that I’ll come out and then have to be like “whoops, I’m not gay at all”, and then having these moments where I finally feel so comfortable and happy with who I am. It’s all very confusing and tiring and I wish I had worked this shit out when I was younger!

    So, uh, that’s been my week!

    • Hi S.James! I feel you. I didn’t start doing any work towards coming out/dating women until I was 28 and I have pretty much had every thought you typed above (I mean obvs you’re your own person, and everything, but you’re not alone).

      1. You are not making this up.
      2. You are not making this up.
      3. You are not making this up.

      Everyone’s journey is different, but here is a little bit about how mine went:

      1. I told my mom. In a car. Unplanned. I had just come from this concert where a queer woman performed and I literally pulled up to her house, told her to get in the car, and while driving her around her neighborhood, said “so like I might be about 85% gay but WE ARE NOT TALKING ABOUT THIS AGAIN UNTIL I SAY SO.” Then dropped her back off. Poor mom 😉

      2. I sought out a queer therapist specifically to work on “the gay thing.” (I was lucky that my local LGBTQ+ center offers low-cost services by queer professionals – if that’s an option where you live, it’s invaluable). For the first six months of therapy, I couldn’t even say stuff like ‘queer’ or ‘gay’ or ‘bi’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘dating women’ out loud. I cried a lot and we called it ‘that THING.’ Lol.

      3. After one year in therapy, I signed up for an OKCupid account, asked a cute girl out, met up with her in a TOTALLY OUT OF BODY TERRIFYING EXPERIENCE that was my first queer date, went on a second date, kissed her, thought “oh. Oh my goodness, this is so normal and so right and I wasn’t making anything up and the people who say this is wrong or unnatural don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about.” Something clicked into place in that very first moment and it was amazing.

      Four years later, I have had amazing queer relationships and terrible ones. I STILL haven’t told a lot of my family because I don’t like making ‘big deals’ about myself, but I think maybe they mostly kinda know. I was so scared of the queer community before, but I have met so many amazing people in it! I have had amazing experiences at Pride, at Cameron Esposito shows, at A-Camp. No one has ever questioned my experience or my queerness (which I REALLY worried about before). It is still a challenge every single day to let walls down and connect with people from a more genuine place. I think that will always be a challenge for me, and not just because I’m queer. But I have had moments in the past four years where I felt happier, more connected to other people, more in love than I ever thought would be possible for me before I began this particular journey. Life is still hard and big and mostly bewildering, but I feel so much less alone than I used to.

      WOW, I really didn’t mean to make this about me. I just connect with what you’re going through and I’m here if you want to talk through any of it! I know your journey will be different than mine, but what I mean to say is, it will also be okay! And kind of great! <3

    • I came out to myself at 32 and can relate to a lot of the feelings you’re describing. I found that the very first person I told was the hardest (I burst into tears even?) but then with each successive coming out it got easier. I’m sure you’ve already done this, but maybe think about how you want to word it in your head first once you do feel ready – you don’t have to tell people you’re gay if you still feel like you’re working out what it all means for you, you can just say you know you’re not straight and you’re figuring it out, or something along those lines. And try not to beat yourself up! This is complicated and hard and there’s no shame in taking your time.

    • What really helped me was “Ellen”.
      Not the talk show, but her television show.
      I had loved it for forever, and when she came out, it really struck a chord.
      But what made the biggest impact on me was, how Ellen was still awkward and hilariously funny Ellen, who tried to navigate the gay scene(and failed) who fell in love (and failed) who was still herself and was on this journey and it was all so familiar and personal and strange,for her, too.
      And by the way,
      there’s no right and wrong way to be gay.
      You don’t get a card and entry to a club and if you fail to provide a certain amount of girlfriends or sexual encounters, or a lack of men, for that matter, you get kicked out.(I mean, I really hope that’s not how it works, because in that case I’m pretty sure my gay card has expired and I’m only getting to hang out at the asexual busstop from now on.)
      It’s more of a family.
      Everybody is different, and unique and crazy and often enough exasperating, but everyone is kind of connected in a loving way.

    • Hi S.James 🙂 Reading your post was about like every thought I’ve had in the last 8 months. I just recently came out to myself, I’m mostly out to my friends, but I can’t seem to come out to my family even though they would be completely fine. If you’d like to chat/vent/whatever, I’m down. I’m also sending lots of good vibes your way because we all need some good vibes.

      • Thank you all so, so, so, SO much for replying. I generally find that talking things out is how I wrap my head around them, I need someone to just bounce ideas off of and I am finding it really isolating not having that. Having people just say that they’ve been here too is so validating and, as much as I hate to admit it, that is exactly what I need right now.

        I would love to get some therapy or counselling but it isn’t something that I could afford right now, although I may have found a charity that offers free counselling to lgbt people so I will contact them on Monday! Would any of you have book recommendations or anything like that?

        • I read a LOT of queer YA lit and thought a lot about high school and how different it could’ve been during that initial period, but I wasn’t able to find a lot of books that reflected my experience as someone coming out in my early 30s – there seemed to be a lot for teens and some stuff centered around the people who come out after their children are grown up and they’re in their fifties or sixties.

          Oh hey, would you all be interested in a private FB group for Straddlers who came out/are coming out late? It’s really great to read about everyone’s experiences and have support!

          • Uh yes! I would definitely be interested in that!

            I have been reading a lot of queer fiction in general (and watching a lot of, mostly terribly, lesbian movies) but I am struggling to find “my story” in there too.

          • YES, I would be into this too – I have a lot of thoughts about sort of having gone through almost a second adolescence in my 30s, feeling like I missed out on certain key “baby gay” experiences, etc. and it would be great to connect with other people who have similar stories.

        • I don’t have book recommendations but I used to be an advisor for a forum called EmptyClosets.com, and they had a lot of great people there helping people figure out their stuff. If you can’t afford or access a professional counsellor it’s a good alternative.

          • Thanks for the recommendation, it looks like the forums are pretty active too so I will check it out.

            I kind of feel the same with regards to feeling like I have lost out on a lot of experiences. We should definitely get that set up because I also like the idea of being less anonymous while still having a private space to chat with you guys.

          • Oh my goodness, I had completely forgotten about EmptyClosets until just now. I used to go on there when I was first coming out to myself. It helped me so much.

    • Hi!!

      I’m also a “late bloomer” stunted by my teen pregnancy and marriage to a narcissist man for 16 years.

      Autostraddle was huge for me at the beginning. I read every article. I also (being a big sciency nerd) liked the book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire by Lisa M. Diamond. It helped me realize it’s ok. Like scientifically ok. And it starts by name dropping Anne Hesche, Melissa Etheridge… On the first page!!

      Ps.– I would love a later in life Autostraddle group.

  6. so, mental health. lately i’ve been trying very hard to discern some type of pattern w/r/t my depression and anxiety. is it due to my period? does eating better help? time of day? related to interacting with certain people? is therapy even helping? should i try meds again? … the start of grad school is kicking my sensitive, allergic-to-change ass big time, but have hope that it will get better.

    cleaning is actually a big part of my self-care routine. i love to go through all of my clothing, organize my bookshelves, clean the bathroom and kitchen, all at a leisurely pace.

    other than that, my partner and i have started discussing getting a cat, eek. and i think i’m finally going to buy a bicycle because i finally live biking distance from my school, so tips on used bike buying?

      • I didn’t even know apple cider donuts were a thing!

        It can be really difficult trying to work out patterns and trigers for depression and anxiety. I have bipolar but depressive episodes are my main issue and it honestly felt like there was no rhyme or reason to it, it even felt like initially I got so much worse when I started therapy, but eventually I was able to see how my moods cycled depending on the time of the month or the season or certain circumstances. You’ll get there! Good luck with grad school and possibly getting a cat!

    • I fully support cats and bicycles 🙂 I don’t really have tips on buying though (for the bicycle, that is. For the cat, I’d recommend adopting an adult from a shelter, but that’s just based on my own experience).

  7. Hello, buttercups!

    I convinced a bunch of my friends that this month would be a GREAT time for all of us to do the Whole 30, since everyone here and on Twitter dot com kept talking about it. So far, I am having a delightful time of it but my best friend is really mad about it. She is not as much of a “planner” as I am, so I think it’s harder for her. I, on the other hand, read both the books and made a bunch of post-it flag notes before we started PLUS got a meal planning app that makes my grocery lists for me as I tell it what I’m going to cook.

    Aside from Whole 30, my “day job” is just the pits. My boss thinks we’re going to get laid off by the end of the month if not sooner. And honestly, I don’t event think I care. I can keep my private wedding clients and spend more time working with them. I’ve been looking for a way out anyway.

    I hope all of YOU beautiful people are having a good start to September, and hopefully fall weather is right around the corner. I cannot stand too much more summer.

    • Ohh which app? (I am equally afraid of and intrigued by the Whole 30, but am really into actually cooking meals lately vs just preparing food/eating things raw from the fridge, but functional grocery lists are not my strong suit.)

      It sounds like if you are laid off it would be a positive change? (Lots of that on this thread today.) Would you ever go for it on your own without being laid off?

      • I’m using “real plans” because it lets you enter Whole 30 as your diet so it won’t show you recipes with disallowed ingredients. I was super scared of it at first (mostly the no dairy part) but my OCD loves the idea of having a very specific set of rules to follow for food every day. Real Plans is NOT FREE but it was worth it to me.

        I have been considering / budgeting for going out on my own anyway. My partner and I have been waiting for our side business to take off a little more before I took the leap, but maybe I’ll be getting more of a push.

  8. Happy almost fall everybody! DC has been not a swampy hellhole for about 36 hours now and I’m feeling optimistic that I too will stop being a sweaty ragemonster in the near future.

    This has not been a good week for me! My eye is still effed up, I haven’t been sleeping, my depression and anxiety are back full-force and just to put the cherry on top, my costocondritis is super painful right now. I’m a grumpy old lady with sternum arthritis except I’m actually trapped in a 20-somethings life!

    I am meeting minimal goals by at least working on my applications, but my emotional state is bouncing between frightened, ashamed and exhausted as I try to hold it together.

    I just need some hugs, y’all.

      • I haven’t noticed that pattern, but I also haven’t looked for it. I would feel better if I realized it was like one of those weather telling war wounds people in books talk about! It’s caused more by injury. At some point I sensitized that area, either by weightlifting or coughing a lot during a really bad series of sinus infections. Now it flares up if I stretch the wrong way or lift too much and then EVERYTHING hurts. Like, can’t roll over in bed without waking up, put away crossbody purses and wired bras everything hurts.

        • I was curious because my left wrist / hand / fingers ache really badly every time it’s going to rain or if it’s particularly cold. I shattered my wrist a year or so ago and it’s left me with arthritis like symptoms in the hand.

    • sorry it’s been a rough week! it wasn’t my finest week, either. how ’bout this weather tho. i’m trying to make the most of it instead of getting annoyed that it’s going to get hotter again next week. soooom, soon it will get cooler and stay that way!

      • Isn’t the weather great? My parents came to visit today and we went for a big walk through the zoo and Adams-Morgan and saw a wonderful sunset over the Duke Ellington bridge. Right now I feel like everything’s going to be just fine. Yay family and exercise endorphins! Thank you for the hugs and sympathy everyone!

  9. I hope you’re all having a great beginning of the month!

    My mood was super shitty for a couple of days, even though last Friday I had a great time seeing some of my best friends and work over the weekend was chill (I finished advising for a workshop too and the class I was taking was good!). Lots of intrusive thoughts which my therapists want to like examine as possible OCD next week and just I got real tired and real triggered all week. Would go to sleep late wake up early and my mood is all over the place, everyone’s been saying bipolar but I’m thinking borderline but either way it’s not a fun time over here. Self-harmed (nowhere near as bad as usual but that actually like added to the not good feelings cause I’m like I can’t even do this right????) which isn’t good, but talked to my sister and she made me laugh as did my dad and talked on the phone with my best friend which helped a lot and people have just sent really good love to me all week.

    My video for my LAMBDA reading went live yesterday! And I refuse to watch it because I was there and it was already exciting and terrifying enough without me needing to go back and nitpick on everything I did wrong. This is the link but HUGE TRIGGER WARNING for depiction of rape/abuse/incest: https://vimeo.com/180345378

    I do the KonMari thing except without knowing what it is specifically? My mom had us do a lot of bulk trash days and I had to think long and hard with a whole bunch of stuff in front of me of what I really felt I needed/vibed with and recently before going to LA my mom basically did a form of that with me and all my clothes which helps a lot!

    I have work an hour earlier tomorrow which I’m not excited for but it’s a little more money which I am excited for and people stay home Monday so I get to hang out for a bit and oh! I watched The Handmaiden which was like really well done but also scared the shit out of me but I was also drunk and it was late and I was anxious, but I feel like saying it’s probably a super really good movie but I’m like I don’t ever need to watch it again like it’s permanently installed in my brain forever and the abuse things, you know ar ethere cause they’re in the trailer, but still, oof.

    Really excited for Moonlight to ocme out and I’m doing a lot of applications/submissions which makes me feel like I’m working which is good and I have no idea where I meant to go with all of this, lots of jumbles are going on in my head/body and I guess I haven’t sorted them all out yet. So sorry about the confusion, but hope you’re all doing well!

  10. I’m going back to school next week. Starting a new program, to help me get to my career goals. Nervous but excited about it. Not looking forward to buying really overpriced textbooks today. Been doing a lot of “wellness” stuff. I don’t even know what to call it because a lot of health and fitness discourse is super body shaming, classist, racist, and ableist. So I think wellness is perhaps a more neutral term? And it’s helping a lot with mental and physical wellbeing which is cool but also complicated. A lot of youtubers and bloggers have all these rules and it can create a lot of pressure. Also, working on organizing stuff with help and that’s been good as I seem to feel better when things are at least semi organized. But yeah, all the feels.
    On a happier note, seeing a friend for late lunch today who just got back so looking forward to that.

  11. Hello everyone!

    Yeah, I´ve done some decluttering/downsizing the last couple of months (feels good!) and am doing it right now, because I´m moving to another city soon. My week has been amazing and exhausting at the same time. I found an appartment and got the okay (it´s even exactly the one I wanted most – with 2 rooms and 430 sqft!) and I´m so happy about that! Maybe two older cats could live with me there – or rats or mice (I´m really not sure yet, as you can tell). So that was super great. Two more weeks and I´ll be moving! 🙂

    On the other hand I have continued my gender exploration. I found a really tight (and too small) bikini top at H&M, which had some flattening effect. In combination with a mens grey/blue-flowerprint T-Shirt and some mens shorts it just looked so amazing to me. Just… so fitting, so much like me. I don´t know. I looked in the mirror and was really happy. I even cried… I felt kind of relieved!? It was such a happy moment of recognition.

    (TW:(Possible)chest dysphoria…) Now I´m pretty confused and try to just breathe, relax and continue my exploration. I´m ordering my first binder tomorrow and am so much looking forward to getting it and finding out if binding maybe makes me feel more connected to the way I look when I see myself in the mirror. (Since last week I am very selfconcious about my chest, and notice it all the time… which never before happened to that extend, I just felt disconnected to it.)

    Now I feel a bit lost and am questioning myself: Am I really non-binary? Or maybe even ftm, but just a more feminine man? (For example I sometimes also like makeup, skirts, dresses – even though these things are of course not inherently “feminine” :)…) I am super thankfull that I have an appointment with a (gender) therapist next week, who I already know and trust and who has helped me so much in different situations. So I am just thankfull and glad and try to accept, that those things take lots and lots time. 🙂

    A big hug to anyone, who would like one! I´m looking forward to reading what you have been up to this week!

    Have a wonderfull weekend!

      • Thank you so much for your good wishes! 🙂 It helps a lot to not feel so alone in this time of confusion! <3 I´m probably not going to use the bathing suit for swimming – due to its coulor – its made up of wide stripes of various shades of pink. 🙂 (Sometimes I like pink, but not these shades… ;)…) As a temporary replacement for a binder its awesome and I´m so glad I found it. As well as the therapist – she is amazing and to me kind of calming in a way…

    • Alea this is awesome. While dysphoria is the worst (and confusing af), I’m really happy to hear you are taking control to let yourself explore, both with clothes and with setting aside time to think about gender and all the snaggly bits that come with it. This feels like a great move, my friend.

      • Thank you so much for your kind words! Yeah, it feels like I´m heading in good direction at the moment – in a way. Though all the (probably long suppressed) feelings and new thoughts are really confusing, as you said. The funny thing is: On a theoretical level I´ve read and talked already so so much about gender (+I´ve watched a bunch of ftm and non-binary Youtubers for about 4 years now – every day…) But I never really applied it to myself. I just found the topic fascinating. Exploring how I feel and want to look like and express myself feels kind of long overdue… but it´s okay, that it took me some time to get here. Now I´m really curious, in what direction I´ll travel… 🙂 (Btw.: I ordered my first binder 10 minutes ago! 🙂 ) Thank you again, your encouragement makes me very happy.

  12. You guys,
    last day at work before going on my three and a half week vacation!
    I’m SO stressed out! I keep feeling like I forgot something, and keep waking up at three in the morning, with that same thought!
    Anyways, did I mention how my life is a telenovela?
    So, I emailed my old, dear college friend who lives in NYC, whether she wants to have coffee sometime next week, and she’s totally free and now we’ve already made plans for the public theater, Broadway,a whiskey tasting cruise(?!)on the Hudson, a public walking tour, and even a gay bar, though she’s straight.
    I’m so happy and thrilled to be going, that it’s a strange deviation from my usual terror and reluctance when faced with the aspect of a plane or going away for longer periods of time.
    I don’t know if my life right now is that dull and draining, that all I can think of is, “Up,up and away!” or whether I’m finaly snapping out of my latent and sometimes not so latent depression enough to be actually chipper and looking forward to something instead of constantly and inexhaustingly running through all the things that can go wrong.
    Maybe both?
    I’m still a little terrified and my head is still running a mile a minute, but it’s better than I thought it would be.
    I hope I’m not jinxing it.
    That said, I really, really need some time away, to sort through my life right now.
    Also, I’m unexpectedly happy to be seeing my mom and the US again.
    It’s like finally catching up with my other, buried half.
    Isn’t it weird, how so many of us, dance on the graves of who we really are?

  13. Oh those puppy dog eyes. Is she a labradoodle? Labradoodles are the cartooniest of dogs.

    I don’t have a specific cleaning/tidying approach other than that I go through my wardrobe every 6 months and give away anything I haven’t worn over the last year (apart from specialty items like fancy dresses).

    Ok, I’m going to write this out here to provide myself with some motivation and accountability. I want to make a commitment to myself to handle certain types of dialogue in a better way. I’ve been taking note for a while of the circumstances when my snarly/redhead/least-generous self comes out, and it is without fail when someone else has said something rude, ignorant or offensive either to me or towards some person/group who doesn’t deserve it – so it is a very reactive side. And I really want to do less of that, because I KNOW it isn’t the best way to change anything (even if it feels so very satisfying in the moment). So this is me stating that I’m going to try to bite my tongue more often, and let myself feel the anger, frustration, exhaustion etc. on the inside but take a break before my fingers hit the keys.

    • Oh man. When it comes to comments, it’s like, kindness goes a long way! Giving people the benefit of the doubt goes a long way! But so does directness, and clarity, and sticking up for what you believe in. It’s such a balance!

      There was a link on AS a couple of weeks ago to an etsy necklace that was stamped with

      Do no harm
      Take no shit

      And that’s what I strive for – or would, if I was always my bravest self. (Where it’s natural for you to react, it’s natural for me to retreat, and both can have their drawbacks).

      Here’s to generosity of spirit, AND to sticking up for what we believe in! Onward! 🙂

      • It’s totally a balance! I definitely don’t plan to give up on sticking up for what I believe in, I just want to… tone down the sarcastic contempt a bit sometimes. I don’t know, I feel like so much nastiness has taken over the dialogue around so many polarizing issues, especially on social media, and it makes me sad and fearful about where society is headed. I don’t want to contribute to that.

        I’ve read some of your responses to questionable comments and I don’t think you come across as too retreat-y at all – in fact I’d say you’re a good role model for how to handle difficult conversations with diplomacy 🙂

    • So I started out as more like Chandra, and I’ve ended up more like Queer Girl. (The worst was when I wrote a protest letter in elementary school where I called the teachers assistant a hag and made her cry in front of me) I was a bitchy, sarcastic little mofo until college, and since then I’ve become almost too reserved. Part of it is social anxiety (hard to be mean when you’re afraid all the time) but part of it was reading a lot of Buddhist theology and practices. One exercise that helps me is “practicing loving kindness” which sounds crunchy and dumb. It really just means going around focusing on people you run into and trying to feel positive towards them and putting yourself in their shoes. Eventually you start thinking about everyone more kindly. I dunno, it worked for me. Also, reading the later Anne of Green Gables books.

      • A big yes to Buddhist ideologies and loving kindness practice! I’ve been getting more into that kind of thing over the last couple of years. (And really I’m not as mean as I seem to have made myself out to be – 90% of the time I’m honestly really nice to people and careful of other’s feelings, sometimes to a fault – it’s just that the claws come out when I see someone else being mean first.)

  14. Well I have plans to go down the coast to hang with another Straddler. We may go to a queer ladies bar as they have stop light party(each color of the stop light means something, like red is take, green is single and yellow I forget what it’s for). Then Sunday I noticed there is a lesbian bbq that says trans people welcome so if my friend’s up for that something to do. If not maybe drive east and see nature? I don’t know. I hope it’s going to be good cause on of their parent is in town.

    I just read that Medium article about Rader and how doctors misdiagnosed her and I still have tears in my eye. I read that a few theater nation-wide will be playing the classic(and really only) Willy Wonka movie, and Blazing Saddles(I want to say it’s a double feature, but I am not sure) this weekend. Kind of tempted to see either/both movies. Kind of wish one of his movies with Richard Pryor was playing as that’s a duo I really enjoy on screen(doesn’t hurt both are funny as fuck with great timing).

    Last Sunday I went with a relative(and of course our friend Mary Jane) hiking in Malibu, but because of the lack of rain the trail lacked it’s normal waterfall. Therefore, after the hike we went to the famed Sunset Beach and took a dip in the water. The waves were relaxing & great that day, as was the weather. Then went to a duck pond to spend time with my grandmother.

    I am still trying to figure out to make greens look better, that and I think wider lens would have worked better for this image.

    No beach pictures as I didn’t want to worry about my stuff at the beach, but here are some local ducks!

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

  15. Hello, happy Friday!!!

    I’ve done a bunch of organizing/throwing away/whatever in the past but I’m still in college now and living in impermanent housing, so I think I’d rather wait until I have a more permanent living situation and all of my stuff in one place to do some heavy-duty purging. I don’t have many things in the first place, so it’s not too unmanageable, even though I’m impossibly messy sometimes.

    Last weekend I flew back to school for my last year (!!! last year!!) and just ended my first week of classes. Half of my teachers remind me of cartoon characters and they’re great and adorable. I really like the classes I have this semester and my thesis proposal, even though my screenprinting class is probably going to cost me an ungodly amount of money for materials. I’ve been sleeping regularly (kind of..) and I feel pretty good!!!

    I also just finished polishing up my last semester’s mini thesis this week and sent it off to get printed for SPX (comic convention in September). It’s a 16-page autobiographical bilingual comic about apricots and grandparent relationships and things. I hope this isn’t too much of a shameless plug, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out so if anyone likes comics/things about being Asian-American/what have you, you can read it here! http://cargocollective.com/annxu/Same-Place-Same-Time

  16. Carolyn ~ you spark joy! Thank you for being the firework in our night skies.

    The weather has shifted here ~ rain softening all it touches.
    I feel the change soaking in; autumn always refreshes me.

    I recollect myself ~ gathering the fruit, and allowing the rest to dissolve, provide fertile ground for another year, another harvest.

    I breathe in the dampness. That which can be felt as the sadness of decay, seems to me like the scent of transformation, of the potential for change.

    The wind whispers roars “This is not the only. This is not the only.”
    Every year at this time I crave change, to embrace the horizon, to stretch into…

    “This is not the only” ~ it’s on the wind, do you hear it too?

  17. Happy Friday all! Carolyn, reading your writing about tidying and clearing down things has made me feel much better – I moved house this week, which culminated in me donating loads of things to the charity shop in order to minimise the amount of things I had to move, and I feel WAY better for it. I was nervous I’d miss the stuff I was getting rid of so attempted a similar approach, and it’s resulted in me finding things that it turns out I’m really attached to that I’d forgotten I had? So I’m reading more and enjoying wearing old clothes but also have lots more space.

    I moved into a bigger house (yay!) which means I have space for all my things and a comfy new bed and it’s cheaper and my walk into town is along a river and it’s really pretty and great. I’ve also spent a lot of this week chatting to someone I really like who happens to have recently moved to the other side of the world and it’s one of those situations where I’m simultaneously feeling pretty damn sad about the distance but also just really thankful that I have this person in my life and we’re still in touch?

    It’s a weird jumble of feelings to be holding inside while also prepping for 3 days of intense study next week, my best friend’s birthday tomorrow, trying to establish a good relationship with my new housemate, trying to find time to stay in touch with my other friends, buying essential stuff for the house like a laundry basket, finding time to get my bike repaired, organise a project I’m responsible for at work in a couple of weeks, and try not to let imposter syndrome totally overwhelm and hole up in bed with snacks and tea instead of doing any of the above things.

    The good news is that tomorrow I get to hang out with some of my favourite people and eat nice food, and there’s some sort of LGBTQ+ community event in the centre of town tomorrow that I intend to go hang out at for a bit (I am going by myself so any UK Cambridge folk who notice a nervous looking tall curly haired girl please feel free to say hi!).

    • I have only missed two things I have gotten rid of ever (I was a “oh yes I have only 37 things” type of person for a heartbeat once) and one was a book that is now in the public domain and one was a scarf too warm to be useful now and I don’t know if that’s helpful but it’s true.

      Anyway I’m super excited for your day tomorrow, I hope it goes well!

  18. Hi kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty cats,

    Carolyn I didn’t think of you as person who would have a noodly haired dog like that, but he’s pretty cute!

    I had sort of a surprise filling (dentist was like “this won’t be a big deal!” and then turns out, was a big deal/took a long time/every time I get a filling I feel really disoriented and petulant afterward.) so I am in sort of a grumpy mood/can’t feel half my mouth.

    But, I tore through many of my errands and I have a bunch of books I got from the library I’m going to take on vacation with my gf and her family next week for off-the-grid camping, a couple of Nina Lacour’s early books and Shonda Rimes’ Year of Yes book and then some stupid textbooks for this course I’m taking.

    I have a pile of clothes to toss out in the spare room, and I love a seasonal cleanout, but I don’t usually do official ones, just purging books and clothes quarterly-ish.

    Things that have been sparking joy lately are honestly things like agates I find on the beach and mugs my friend made (https://www.etsy.com/shop/RedAlderPottery)
    and the new insoles I bought so my feet don’t hurt right now. But my house is a disaster and we have to dig ourselves out by the end of the weekend before being in rural BC for a week. Gf’s family goes to this remote cabin for a week every year and she insisted I come bc we’re married, but it sounds like once they get there there isn’t much expectation that I do too much, so that seems manageable.

    Happy weekend everybody!

    • Ugh surprise dental work ugh. Hope your mouth stops being numb soon, but in a good not painful sort of way. Also your off the grid vacation sounds neat! (Do you like/get along with your gf’s family?)

      I ALSO didn’t picture me with a noodly haired dog (I pictured a majestic wolf dog weighing more than I do, not a not-actually-that-little little bear), but she is my favourite and friend and so smart and lovely and *dreamy sigh*.

  19. Hello and Happy Friday!

    Here’s a basketball I picked up and I’m going to play at the neighbourhood school this weekend.

    I’m a minimalist too, so I’m always throwing things away.

    I’ve been cooking some yummy dishes lately, because a handheld spiralizer came into my life and sparked my joy.

    Hello Pad Thai with zucchini noodles!

    The texture of the zucchini noodles just felt like regular rice noodles

    It was really delicious and I’m proud of all the fiber I ate.

  20. Happy Friday everybody! I can’t believe it’s that time of the week already. Time is a lie.

    I’ve just been puppy/house/brothersitting this week. Which is actually getting pretty dull, I miss Wales guys. I’m just sitting in England waiting for two weeks before I get to move to Scotland.

    What with all the moving and such I have also been having clearouts of my stuff recently. I didn’t realise my method had a name! Carolyn, your description of your clearout is scarily accurate to mine, right down the allergy inducing lube.

    I do have a question for everyone though. I found a two foot diameter ships wheel in a second hand shop down the road. It’s £45. I’m meant to be cutting down on the things I own and saving money and all that boring stuff. BUT I COULD BE MY OWN SHIPS CAPTAIN EVERY TIME I GO TO BED. Buy or not?

  21. Oh man, I’ve been preemptively decluttering. By which I mean that all the clothes websites whose emails I subscribe to so I can hear about sales are all having really good sales right now. And like, oh man. Do I need MORE nice lacy bras? No, but also they’re on saleeeeeeeee
    I also bought protein powder for the first time ever because several years of lifting and reading what the bros on weightlifting forums have to say finally convinced me. So now I’m the kinda person who has protein powder in their home? It’s gonna take some time to get used to the transition tbh

  22. Good evening folks. Hey Carolyn, I have never used that method of decluttering but I probably should. I’m a fan of that William Morris quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” although my definition of useful may be a little stretched…or so says the crate of cables for god knows what.
    Had a chill staycation with my wife this week. Much video games and tv – and a horrifying day of dayjob paperwork which I’m currently side eyeing across the living room and ignoring until next week. Went to the barber today and got a good tidying up ahead of going back to work so I’m feeling pretty sharp. My weekend is going to involve me watching netflix, also napping, light yard work, followed by a Harry Potter marathon before we get back to work on Monday. I’ve got a heavy few months coming up so I’m enjoying these last moments of doing basically nothing.
    Have great weekends everyone! 🙂

  23. Oh wow, Sage is so cute!

    I just woke up and apparently 7:30 feels like a lie in, so that is where my life is right now.

    But! This weekend we’re having a beach party and I am so excited. (Less excited at the thought of being in the heat all day; it’s already 29°C!)
    Also, I’ve promised an indeterminate amount of people that they can sleep on my floor, so here’s hoping I can find enough futon/space.

  24. This week has been a bit rough. Between the new semester (and starting to consider my options after this school year), not exactly getting along with my new roommate, and the death of my grandmother last Saturday, I’ve really been trying to find time to think. My weekend is going to consist almost entirely of homework and finding time to mourn.

  25. Oh, jeez, I threw away/donated SO MANY THINGS when my ex and I split and I moved cities. Still, I’ve been eyeballing my closet recently and thinking that since I feel so much more confident and empowered when I dress a little (or a lot) more masculine-of-center, I’m going to probably be donating quite a few dresses and skirts in the next couple of whiles.

    Mixed bag this week. Sometimes adulting looks like buying last-minute long weekend plane tickets, and sometimes it looks like buying Monistat and wine at the Walgreens. Both happened today, and yes, I am the classiest.

    I’m slowly starting to make friends in my new town. All of them are through roller derby, which is not surprising in the slightest. This league seems to be a lot queerer than my previous one, which is a) delightful and b) interesting. [The friends thing is exciting, since I was getting so lonely there for a while that I was considering adopting a cat. I don’t even like cats.]

    • Oooh, where are you going?
      Also, congrats on realizing that you wanna dress differently! Thinking about self-portraiture has been a huge part of how I think about living with intention these days and it’s been an interesting change of pace.

  26. I kon-mari’ed kitchen equipment before I knew what that was once. I got rid of a casserole dish I hated but was a very useful size and stole another casserole dish that I am very fond of out of a furnished apartment. I also got rid of muffin tins. They do not bring me joy.

    I have told the majority of my extended family about my recent engagement to my gf (partner, now, saying partner) and have gotten appropriate responses. Very pleased. Now, as long as everyone behaves upon actual introductions… Mother in two weeks, father + assorted others from his half in four, and then the rest will be later. Did not realize I was stressed about it, but I was. They will behave, and she will love me anyway. (Have only every introduced parents to anyone, so the behavior of extended family is a giant ?.)

    • Congratulations on your engagement! And good luck introducing your partner to your extended family. I was also nervous about how my family would react in the presence of my real life gay partner. But they were absolutely lovely and immediately started treating her like a part of the family. I hope the same happens for you!

  27. Hey everyone!

    This week has gone so fast!
    I did a thing at work that I was learning. It was a little scary at first. But I know with practise I’ll get pro at it 🙂

    And I’m starting to have longer conversations with my workmates, so I feel like I’m settling in more. My boss is really good, too.

    Today (Saturday, in Oz), I did a driving lesson, the first for a while. And I did OK. I actually like driving, once I get into it.

    I’m also going to a photography meetup for the first time, because I didn’t go to one last weekend and I need to meet new people. Also thinking of making a group event of my own?

    Slowly working on a uni essay. I’m pretty proud. It’s still in draft BUT I started it over a week early, and that’s a huge improvement on my previous uni assignments!

    Also also I’m pumped to give Crystal’s eggplant parmigana a go! I’ve never cooked it before, but think it would make an awesome dinner and leftover lunch meal 🙂

    And I’ve had some family stuff that was a bit frowny face this week, but I’m just trying to stay relaxed about it.

  28. HEY EVERYONE!!! I’m back! I survived my first hurricane! And grad school is awesome! I’ve been busy with school, hence the lack of participation in FOTs 🙁 but here are some photos.

    Puddles from Hermine in the aftermath of the storm:

    Made time to kayak with some labmates last weekend. 🙂

    Florida sunsets are the best!

        • A transformer can blow in a tropical storm is why I asked, all it takes is a surge of power and faulty bits (the insulation from what my former electrician dad rambled about) so to speak, water speeds the degradation of those bits.
          But what takes power out and takes it out for a while is debris knocking out infrastructure,like swathes of poles and lines, or a power station.
          Power companies and road maintenance bodies in Gulf Coast states kinda have the whole moving stuff outta the way and reinstalling thing down organised to a degree from what once again my dad’s ramblings.

  29. It’s not so much fall cleaning as it is um…finishing spring cleaning, but I have done an innovative thing in a limited space.

    First thing ya gotta know is that I live in Southeastern Louisiana we only get about 3 months tops of cold weather and maybe 1 month (cumulatively) of bitter AF in your bones winter weather so having a winter box is an actual thing because there’s a brief period of when/if I’ll need those clothes and I can’t wear them any other part of the year at all or I’d keel over of heatstroke probably.

    Second thing my bureau is a family hand-me down from back when people didn’t put their pants in a drawer, they hung them up.

    Third thing my full closet has tiny shelf space, too tiny for my winter box because said box has fluffeh things in it.

    Okay so here’s what I did (it’s fucken brillant) I measured the perimeter of my box, the width and height of my closet and bought a standing over the toilet shelf.
    Winter box goes in the space indented for the toilet, my pants go on the shelves and my bureau no longer has a crowding problem.
    Plus there’s 3 shelves so I now have a place for costume-y things and that really fluffy sweater I can’t fit into my winter box no matter how hard I try.

    Focusing on music is something I find centering, even if I can’t sing along.

    Decadence is going on this weekend and I am going to GrrlSpot’s annual Dykeadence event.
    Even if I have to use a walker to do it.
    I’m having a mystery health problem and while the medications prescribed to have given my joints their mobility back, taken the hive and swelling away one of them has drop kicked my stamina in the face and I might not be able to stand through the Bella Blue (and others) part of the event.

    Good news though insurance isn’t making demanding all the testing and stuff come outta pocket. Also the habits I’ve kept throughout the winding rode of getting my degree are excellent habits now that I’m at the level no slack is given because we’re “learning the software” so there’s no “dramatic learning curve” for me.
    I know the document dimensions from inches to picas, the name and point size of every font in a project and the PMS or hex number of any color before organising a project into a package.
    Yass I am boss at project information upkeep.

  30. Omg I have way too much shit laying around my house that I’m sentimentally attached to…I don’t ever see myself actually decluttering in a KonMari kind of way but I deeply admire everyone who does!!

    I hope y’all are having a good Friday! Here in my part of the world, it’s been the most beautiful day you could ever imagine (blue skies, high of 85 and low of 62, low humidity) and it’s been putting me in a good mood all day. I’m spending my Friday night listening to Courtney Barnett, drinking beer, and putting away laundry.

  31. I haven’t commented in so long! I’ve moved recently and I’m not making friends as quickly as I hoped, so I’m just trying to be off the Internet and out doing things with their people as much as possible.

    I’ve been de-cluttering my wardrobe a lot lately. I can dress super casual at my new job, so I’m not wearing the professional clothes I wore at my other jobs and it’s really nice to start donating those pieces. I looked terrible in them and didn’t feel like myself when I wore them, and I’m happy for them to get new life with someone who they do fit. I’m slowly clearing that stuff and replacing it with nice jeans, flannel shirts, tees, and sneakers that make me feel more like myself.

    I’ve also been looking at and admiring my friends’ apartments and feeling more and more like my place just looks so…temporary. I have hand me down everything and a few lame decorations hanging up with command strips, and the walls are apartment white. My friends’ places just all look so put together and I’ve definitely been a little jealous. Since I’m coming to realize my place isn’t temporary (it’s cheap and I can’t justify moving), I’m planning on how I can fill the space with things that bring me more joy (which I know is the opposite of de-cluttering). I’m hoping to get a kitchen table soon and I’m planning out the little things I want to buy at ikea that will make the space feel a little more like my own. It’s a little bit exciting, and an adventure of thrift stores and estate sales to find the perfect stuff.

  32. I made a hasty decision to visit my parents this weekend like a week ago. I’ve been here maybe 6 hours and I’m ready to go home. I forgot my headphones, which are an important part of sensory stuff for me to relax at night. My parents are also just so frustrating. I can recognize in them a lot of bad coping w/trauma, cause their coping is along the line of some coping I do/have done, but I don’t know what to do about it cause I don’t even know what to do to help myself. Within a half hour of me arriving they were both absorbed in their tablets and completely disengaged from me/the world. I wouldn’t know what to do with a lot of attention but a little would be nice :/ I’ve been having such a hard time myself lately.

    • That sounds like a difficult situation to handle, and I´m sorry to hear you are having a hard time lately. I send you lots of strength! I can very much sympathize with the feeling of wanting to leave again only few hours after arriving at my parents house. And also the part about seeing your parents try to cope in not so healthy ways, and recognize yourself (of your past self) in that. Thats a difficult feeling and I tend to get (silently) angry and frustrated both with them and with myself because of it. What (sometimes) helps me, is to try and tell myself, that their happiness is not my responsibility, that I´m not really in a place where I can “help” them and that they seem to be doing just fine with their (to me weird and sometimes stressfull) problem solving techniques. That doesn´t alway work, but sometimes. (And it of course depends on the exact kind of situation.) Thats so sad, that they are not giving you any real attention…

      About helping yourself: Is there any way you could get new (cheap) headphones from a store or something? Or borrow some from your parents? If they are an important part of you being able to relax a bit, it would maybe be worth the trouble…? 🙂 Or is there a Youtube video that always makes you smile, someone to talk to on the phone or any other way you could be kind towards yourself? Also (I don´t know how far away from your parents you live) maybe just doing what feels right for you and returning home would be an option? 🙂 (Maybe telling them, you got a really bad migraine/feel as if you´re getting sick -etc.? I don´t know how you feel about honesty/white lies in this context 😉

      • Thank you <3 Those are all really good things to think about. I keep reminding myself that soon enough I'll be home, and on the way back home I'm taking a trip down the Oregon coast instead of the normal boring highway. With the obligatory stop at the Tillamook cheese factory for wonderful ice cream!
        Thankfully my dad did find a pair of headphones around the house today, last night's search didn't yield results. So much better!

        • 🙂 I´m glad you´ve got headphones now and are feeling better! I do some relaxation techniques/mindfullnes meditations in the evening, using headphones, so to me headphones also make a big difference! 🙂 And looking forward to and focussing on such a nice trip and something delicious definitely sounds like a great plan!

  33. I recently began packing up my possessions as I am moving out of my parents house and in with a friend! I’ve been living at my work for a year a half now 3/4 of the time anyway so it’s not as big a deal, but it’s still a really big deal! I packed in a similar way to the KonMari way, in that I left anything that didn’t bring me joy at my parents house! I have intentions to go back there and finish really packing up my possessions once I’m done at work. When I’m not on site 5+ days a week, I will have time to go back and finish! I am very very excited to be moving in with Sarah. I am going to be really close to school and friends and all the things I could want! It will be so much more convenient and it makes me really happy to think about!

    This is my first time posting on this but I really love the idea so I’m just jumping in!

    I’ve been at work for like 8 days. We currently are hosting an adult camp run by a previous board member. He is gay and the camp is literally 70 gay men drinking beer and making fascinators. They are also the best group we’ve had in for a while! I love them.

    I’ve also been trying to come to terms with realizing I am bisexual after falling for a (male) coworker (crushes on guys have happened in the past, but extremely rarely. I had written them off as abnormalities). I am in an uncomfortable position where I am spending a ridiculous amount of time with this person both at work and now in the city (we live in the same building at work and spend lots of time together there and on my last weekend we spent two of my three evenings off together and had planned to go on a 3 hour road trip to get a puppy on Monday) and I have strong feelings for him but I am also still in the process of coming to terms with my sexual abuse and my sexual feelings towards men. And then there’s also the issue of us living and working together. It’s a complicated situation and not one that I feel I can talk to any of my friends about.

    And I’m also about to begin school again and I am dreading that, as fall means eventually spring and spring means crushing seasonal depression

    • Hallo Mary! I just wanted to wish you all the best with all the figuring out you are doing at the moment and say: Welcome! 🙂 I´m also only commenting since a couple of weeks (after reading Autostraddle for many years) and really like it. Have a good start of the week!

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