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Hey there, pokey little seal pups! Welcome to Friday Open Thread, a underwater speakeasy for queer mermaids, femme sharks, and gender-fabulous octopuses or actually a place for you to put your pics and feelings and life updates so we can build this thing called community.

I just had my 33rd birthday on January 6th, which was 1616 (1/6/16) this year, which feels like it has to mean something, right? It’s also my Jesus year, a thing I didn’t know existed until people starting posting it on my Facebook timeline. Apparently, this is the year to get re-born. I don’t know anything about numerology or astrology, but I am feeling like 2016 might be an auspicious year.

I finally, finally have stopped biting my nails, a habit I picked up from my kindergarten teacher at the age of five (according to my mom). Because I’m trying to conceive right now, I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins and my nails have made a huge recovery. They’ve never been so strong! And long! And down to get the friction on! Wait, no, not that last one. Actually, I probably need to restock my glove supply with these new sharp tips. I’m still learning to type without stabbing the computer keys. I also almost took my eye out trying to remove a contact. Open to advice!

I know this is just a picture of my hand and my nails aren't even that long, but it's a huge deal. I haven't had any white tips to speak of for almost two decades!

I know this is just a picture of my hand and my nails aren’t even that long, but it’s a huge deal. I haven’t had any white tips to speak of for almost two decades!

You may remember that I finally finished grad school in December and within a couple weeks, I was asked if I might adjunct my first class. I’ll be teaching LGBT Culture in America in the Women and Gender Studies program at a nearby college in a few weeks. I’m in the process of putting together my syllabus, which is pretty wild! And hurried — as you may have guessed, I’m filling in for another professor who was planning to teach this class, but then wasn’t able to, so it’s a very last minute thing.

I recently took a trip for a super quick weekend getaway and was seated next to this dude, who was totally awake while doing this.



Seriously, WTF with manspreading?! I was super annoyed, but also didn’t want to speak to him or touch him, so I just squished my knees together like I was attending a abstinence-only sex education class and internally screamed.

And that’s about it for me! What’s up with you? We’re doing this thing right now where we’re using the Friday Open Thread to check in and connect with ya’ll, without any particular theme or agenda, so please stop by and share your life updates, best selfies, cute baby and furbaby pics, funny stories, amazing projects, and whatever else you feel like putting here! Come as you are and hang out with me!

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KaeLyn is a 37-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, over-caffeinating herself, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 219 articles for us.


  1. Things should hopefully be calming down for me shortly. This week I turned in my term papers and presented my dissertation prospectus to the professors of my department. I think that went reasonably well, but I probably should move some things around in the outline I had proposed for the project itself.

    Once I take my Latin exam (the academic calendar here is ridiculous and has finals after the winter break, ugh) and submit grades for the class I was teaching this fall, I’m heading to Chicago for the Creating Change conference. Are any of you going? It would be lovely to meet in person, if you are.

  2. Whoa, I’m so proud of your nail situation! New England winters eat my hands alive, then one thing leads to another and I have like, no fingernails and half my hand is covered in tiny cuts and sad, bloodied cracks and also they are always frozen, no matter what.

    God, what a terrible story! Anyway, I also made a great fire today, so there’s that.

    • Jealous of your fireplace!

      My hands are so dry all the time, too. My nails may only last so long at this length. I can’t believe how strong they are, but they are kind of getting in my way. My typing WMP and accuracy has definitely been impacted. Ha.

  3. This has been a shit week full of shit, but here is a satisfying manspreading story:

    I was on the greyhound to somewhere once for like five hours and for the first part of the trip this dude was manspreading big time and squishing me into the corner. Sitting like that without moving for a long time actually gives me some not fun knee pain. When we stopped somewhere for people to get off he switched to a now empty set of two seats and I used his vacated space to try and stretch out my achey knees. Because I was doing this no one sat next to me, but someone sat next to him and squashed him in! So I got my own seat for the rest of the trip. I didn’t speak up for myself but he got some karmic retribution. :D :D :D

    • I hope next week is better!! And that is a satisfying story.

      I see in your picture you are holding a copy of Tomboy? At least I think that’s what it is. What did you think about that? I read half of it and then got involved in too many books and then moved thrice so I took all the half-read books back to the library (which is where I work, so books are always finding their way home with me). The first half…I don’t really remember super well. But if you think it is great enough to be your profile picture I’ll get it out this weekend and read it fully! Have you read Exquisite Corpse? There were a lot of terrific graphic novels published last year, but that’s the one I read most recently. It isn’t super queer, but it has a very feminist feel.

  4. Hello! I am new to the posting of the comments thing, even though I’ve been reading this site for years. Why haven’t I commented in all that time? Debilitating social anxiety? Fear of rejection? Crumbs in my keyboard? Nope–I didn’t want to have to commit to a username. But this is a year of decisiveness! So here I am, with the terribly un-brandable name I’ve used for other social platforms. Anyway! These past few days I’ve actually felt, ok? Still waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I have maybe a new job on the horizon, I’m going (indoor) rock-climbing for the first time tomorrow, and, maybe most important to my sense of well-being: I currently do not have to constantly worry about money because I made the (difficult) decision to move back home for a month while I find a new full-time job. I find it weird (and kind of scary) how one (me, I’m the one) can go from totally completely distraught to kind of ok and optimistic, fairly quickly and without a super concrete catalyst. I think this is a thing that happens to many (all?) people, but it never fails to weird me out. Going on four days of okayness–I might set a record!

    Hope everyone has a fun weekend and a productive week! I am also having a birthday this month, next Thursday. Feeling…eh, not super excited, but I’m not really focusing on it.

    Also, good job with your nails, KaeLyn. :) I have no advice, since having long nails makes me uncomfortable. I immediately cut off any white. Habit, I guess?

    • Welcome to commenting! Using the same name on multiple platforms is actually pretty good online branding, so you’re kind of doing it right! Yay to financial stability, even if it means living at home for a bit. It definitely takes some stress off. Fingers crossed for a new job soon!

      Happy early birthday!

      It’s kind of bizarre to me that I have white tips. I feel like I’m looking at someone else’s hands.

    • Yes! to indoor rock climbing!
      I have a crippling fear of heights, am short with short arms and a compact body build, and I legitimately suck at the indoor rock climbing thing, but it’s still super fun!
      Also, it’s one of the few places where you get to work out for two minutes, hang out for ten and in the meantime get to ogle all the ridiculously muscular women scaling walls with their literal fingertips.

  5. Congrats on your nails Kaelyn though I have imagined you’ve likely figured this out by now but type with the pad not the tips of your fingers is how it’s done.

    And happy birthday

    It’s disney style mermaid doll maker with 2 body types. There’s a bunch of other little things too but you can make yourself mermaid.

    My week has been Urticaria: The Saga Continues.

    Long story short I been out my mind having to maintain as much immobility as physically possible while trying to also fight a cough and potential sinus infection.
    So anti-histamine making me woozy, mucinex and steroids making dehydration super easy plus cough medicine. I’m so glad I was logged out on my phone or I would have possibly ended up with getting my self banned or a Comment Award.
    I had vivid ass dreams about posting things and as well as stuff that is impossible according to our known laws of physics and shit.
    So I was worried when I woke up this morning if I had merely though or dreamed about commenting in poor dear Heather’s Things That Calm Her Down post about things that calm me down which are…um…things that are DISTINCTLY not calming her and probably lots of other unbent humans too.
    Or that the fact I find the film Carol very unrelatable (possibly because it is so beautiful) and would never pay to sit in movie ticket to watch it, but at the same time wouldn’t pay a for Leo film on principal even if I love the story of Hugh Glass. Also the ruining of a perfectly unsensible vengeance story by using Native American people as props is a factor.

    The hives that were still on me would flare up when I moved, especially when I stood and they also seemed to be very aggravated by my tepid “bath” that I Tuesday.
    Oh and I got the bullet of my Russian Roulette period this week too, but I got to use a small adorable dog as heating pad.
    Silver lining.
    Nother silver lining I did obtain a king cake last Friday and ate a piece of it everyday because I needed to eat food with one of the meds.

    Let’s hope all this Hamilton fever leads to some 18th century stays popping up in erotica shoots because there’s criminal lack of them and Regency stays as well.

      • Femme shark mermaid! Or is the killer whale?
        I knew you’d have fun with it. :D

        There’s drag and drop stuff too, little fish friends ect and you could have 7 different figures at once. Make a whole season collection of KaeLyn da la Mer or what.

        Me too gurl, me too.

      • D’aww you learned what a king cake is. They are delightful, be delighted.
        You could make a…jesus it’s some word I can’t seem to grasp at the moment but it’s like jerry-rigg but it uh has an affectionate homedown red-neck got none but make do ness. And it’s not something mean about Chalmette but probably lil affectionately mean about Kenna or Metry….ga dang it.

        What it is you could do is unravel a pre-made cinnamon roll package and then roll it up like a king cake. Shove a bean or nut up it, bake it, glaze it and sprinkle some coloured sugar.

        I think that’d cover anything really, but um if you ever find yourself in a place where you could buy a king cake the baby might not be in the cake for insurance purposes. It’s one of those things that changed with Katrina, having to put the baby in your store bought cake and still having a choking hazard warning on the side of the box too.

        Fuck yeah it would benefit and why stop at the 18th century, can I get some Regency love. Those stays were push up bras before the push bra was invented and are period for a certain Sapphic vampire.

      • Thanks, me too.

        Allergies are dumb, literally.

        They are your body having a dumb and attacking itself.
        I just hope this is a one time reaction to something,l I get learn what the thing is and not the beginning of an autoimmune disorder or something because then I’d need an “I’m With Stupid” shirt to wear everyday.

  6. My week was pretty good. I babysat twins on Thursday which was a lot of fun. Although they did give me a pretty shocking makeover. And yesterday I found out that I will be able to go to pride in two weeks, which is very exciting – my first one. I thought I would be at school camp but it turns out it starts later than I expected. But I’m going to another pride thing tomorrow probably so that will be fun :) I’m planning to wear my overalls and my everyone is gay pin.

  7. I MADE IT TO FOT!!! YOU GUYS MY PHONE IS ON THE FRITZ =( Which is why I couldn’t keep up with anything today. It pretty much DIES/has a black screen of death every time I sort of go into an app. I can’t do anything til Monday. OH WELL TIME TO UNPLUG YOU GUYS. I was off FB for like 12 hours and BOOM 21 notifications WTF.

    Anyway!! How was/is your Friday?! Are you kicking off a good weekend? I still have work all the way through Sunday BOO.

    @kaelynrich when I saw your fingernails I remembered the rhinestone story *SHIVERS* (also no offense!)

    I’ve been starting to train for…are you guys ready to hear this? A relay race with 11 other people…from Huntington Beach to San Diego..which is like 190miles O.O

    Yep, not sure how my co-worker talked me into this one but friends of friends of friends recommend it 100%. I mean I love team things. And I sort of love running? IDK. But it should be epic and very very fun =)

    Also I found this picture of Christine and I from like 2009. I think we had been dating 2 months and we went out of town on a date. LOL.


    YOU GUYS SHE’S GONNA BE HERE IN LIKE A FEW MONTHS AAAAHHHHHHHHH PANICKING. PANICKING. I saw the amount of stuff she and I have to do and I was like OMG THIS IS HAPPENING.YOU GUYS. It’s happening. OMGOMGOMGOMG This is the special you guys are waiting for and I get to post a picture of us and Andy together !!!!!!!!

    This is a very blurry (BOO) picture of me at the Broad museum in Downtown LA. My friend was really lucky to get reservations to the museum back in November and we were like 3rd in line for this infinity room. It was really something for the senses. I loved the museum itself, I found a lot of the art they had on display interesting.

  8. Happy burrrthday!! And congrats on stopping nail biting, I am both proud and envious.

    Right now, I’m using the free wifi in Kyoto!!! I’ve been in Japan for about a week; tomorrow we (my mum and I) head back to Tokyo for another 5 days. I am in absolute heaven!! Ah!!! Patchy internet here but I’ll try to post some photos later!

  9. Happy birthday, KaeLyn! I really hope 2016 will be a super awesome year for you! Sans the manspreading, seriously. DOWN WITH MANSPREADING.

    I’ve been all over the place this past week! I’ve got lots of things to do (a portfolio of my latest works for a possible freelance client, life plan outlining, a little video for my mom’s 50th birthday, etc.) and not enough time to work on them. I’m trying to be more focused on my goals, but at the same time I’m working on being more outgoing and ~out there~ because I was a complete recluse last year. How to do this???

    On another note, I finished Dietland by Sarai Walker today and it was… refreshing? I don’t know how else to say it, except that I needed to read it this weekend, even if it felt like pouring a bucket of cold water over my head. I haven’t had the chance to think deeply on it — there are so many points and issues to touch on! — but yeah, it merits a reread for sure.

    AND ALSO! I just did three back-to-back tarot readings this weekend, and I’m so proud of myself! I read for an officemate and two close friends over coffee (the first last night, the second earlier today), and it was so heartening to see how cooperative and appreciative they were. I stutter a lot and I don’t know how credible I sound, but I’m still really glad I managed to do it! Any fellow tarot readers here? How were your first readings?

    (And yay for my first Open Thread comment!!! Glad to be here :) )

  10. Well, I’m late to the party but here goes. My gf’s birthday is tomorrow, so we’re celebrating tonight, and I hope it’s everything she ever dreamed of. In other news she’s perfect and still adding fish to my aquarium as an anniversary gift.

    If anyone has a punny group name idea for a school of x-ray tetras, I’m all ears. Band references are A+.

  11. I know it’s not Friday anymore but, I must process… Last night I had group sex with 6 other vagina-having people. It was sweet, sexy, amazing, and we were like cheering each other on when we came. whoa. I feel like “well that was awesome. wait, that did really happen, right?” =p

  12. I just popped by to say that I share your pain with the manspreading thing. I started at a new (to me) ski school this winter, and my very first day featured an old dude (one of my coworkers) stripping down to his boxers and walking around like that for a solid 20 minutes. And there’s a guy who regularly tells me to smile, but only when we’re the only two people in the room. It’s not like he’s doing it maliciously, but I still want to flip him the bird every time he does it.

  13. Congrats on finishing grad school! (or should I say… RAD school???) I am really digging this under the sea thing going on right now. Being a mermaid has been my life-goal since I was like six.

    I’ve been reading this mystery book series by Laurie R. King about a woman named Mary Russell who becomes Sherlock Holmes’ apprentice (and later, his wife, despite something like a forty year age difference, which, wHY) but the mysteries are quite good, and she’s a very loud and proud Jewish feminist, and very clever. Once you get past the creepy age difference, they’re very good if you enjoy historical mysteries.

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