FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: How About That Local News??

Hello, holiday ornaments! Are you getting into the spirit of the season? I put up a super tacky tree a little while ago and took pictures for my holiday cards with my cats, so I’m feeling like ’tis the season, you know??? Plus, my semester just ended. I just turned in my last paper and all I’ve got left to do is finish grading papers and then I am done until January 17th! Austin is having some semi-winter like weather and I’m taking advantage of it by wearing my coat so like, basically what I’m saying it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my part of the world!

Also, I recently got a television so that I could watch Hairspray Live! with Cecelia and it has been the weirdest thing ever. Not to be That Person but like, I haven’t “watched TV” in almost 6 years? Like obviously, I use Hulu and Netflix and have certain shows that I like to keep up with, but I haven’t had a television since I lived with my parents. It’s been a really weird experience. Do you watch the local news? That shit is weird!! Apparently, there are tons of local scandals! Who knew my city had so much going on! And local heroes! It’s an adventure.

How have you been lately? Seen any great stories on the local news? Have you trimmed the trees and put up your stockings? What makes the holiday season really feel like the holiday season to you? Is it an Autostraddle Holigay Meetup? Are you going to one? Are you hosting one?? Tell me all about it!! I missed you so much!

Also, here’s an outtake from my holiday card photo shoot because I love sharing pictures of my cats with you all.


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Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 330 articles for us.


  1. OMG Alaina! That pic is the best thing ever!

    I’m in love. We talk about the future. It’s only been 2 months. IT’S FUCKING WEIRD AND WONDERFUL AND SCARY. I am 32 years old, what am I THINKING trusting someone with my heart so easily? I know better!

    Also I’m seeing Hari Kondabolu tonight!!!!!!! Bright spots in a scary world.

    Love you all! <3

  2. Hey Alaina! Hey Autostraddle! First off, I want to thank everyone who responded so kindly to my post on last week’s FOH about my musical memoir about my mental illness.

    I have decided that I’m not going to let anything stop me from writing musicals. I love it, and I’ve had a lot of setbacks since graduating with my MFA in musical theatre writing in 2014. I haven’t really wrote a musical in 2.5 years. It’s time that changes. I have an idea for a musical that deals with addiction, Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and lesbians (duh). The main reason I haven’t written is because I am without a collaborator. My grad school collaborator and I stopped writing together, and I have had trouble finding a composer who I work well with. But I need to start networking and meeting new composers and asking composers about collaborating. I liken asking someone to write a musical with you to proposing marriage. It’s a huge commitment and super scary. I’ve almost given in the towel so many times, but I need to tell stories through musical theatre.

    Similarly, I want to get back into the dating game. I haven’t gone on a date since the summer, and it’s time that changes. I’ve put everything to the side (dating, friends, writing) because I started a full time 9-5 day job in September, but I’m not living my best life if I’m not immersing myself in the world. Go go gadget Rachel! I realize that this is easier said than done, and online dating sucks (at least it does for me).

    I don’t know where all this motivation came from. Perhaps it’s the Thai food I had for lunch. :D

    In terms of the holidays, I work at a Jewish non-profit, so we don’t do any Christmas things, and Chanukah is really not a big holiday in Judaism, so I’m not feeling the holiday spirit. Bah humbug.

  3. Four weeks ago in FOT, I said that I’d decided to move forward with my name change and was looking into transitioning at work.

    (Ever since I started my transition, I’ve really agonized about whether and when to be out at work — while I live in one of Kentucky’s shiny blue enclaves, the place I work is one county away, in a town that just elected a state legislator who was denounced by his own party over horrid racist crap he posts on FB. Our parking lot usually has two or three pickups in it that are flying the Confederate battle flag. You get the picture.)

    Anyway, I’ve legally been Willow Rose for a full week now, and next Tuesday morning I’m going to walk in to work as Willow.

    (The support I’ve gotten from my managers and from HR has been super. I’m unsure how the rest of the folks in the department are going to react, but I’ve developed confidence that regardless of what any of them think, nobody’s going to be overtly hateful. And I already know that most of the folks I work with directly day-to-day are going to be supportive.)

    Anybody who wants to send good vibes, happy thoughts, positive woo, or prayers my way over the next few days, and especially on Tuesday morning, is more than welcome to do so. ;-)

    • Ugh, accidental premature comment there.

      Anyhow, I am def enjoying the chance to wear jackets again. I have a great collection from when I used to live in the real world (vs eternal summer) and they’re always just moldering in the back of my closet :(

  4. HI GOOD MORNING. that’s very cute! I appreciate a good skirt with box pleats + knee socks outfit. and oh, that mad kitty.

    it snowed in Seattle, which is lovely, and I’m going to vegan Vietnamese food later with some friends (run by a cult called ‘Supreme Master’ I guess? Whatever.) and keeping Bad Lesbian Movie Night going with a friend.

    I think tonight we’re watching Bound and Saving Face, which arguably aren’t bad, but we aren’t going to watch any REALLY BAD ones, like Clare of the Moon or whatever, but we’re going to watch moderately bad ones, like everybody has one or two they feel sentimental about, but like if there were ever a cage match of people defending better than chocolate vs go fish vs the incredibly true adventures of two girls in love, like they are all approximately the same amount of bad for different reasons, and everybody has one or two they defend for private reasons, and that’s ok.

    I’m okay! After seven years together my gf and I finally synced up periods and I feel like hot garbage, but I’ll make it!

    Otherwise my bestiest besties are coming tomorrow, which will be wonderful, but they are ridiculous/last minute/not great planners, so that’s a bit challenging, but I will see them and it’ll be marvelous.

    We haven’t gotten our Christmas tree yet, but I’m looking forward to it! I got a bunch small stocking stuffers for our friends and girlfriend, which I feel so sweet about, because for some reason buying lots of little things feels sweeter almost than one BIG thing. Not sure why! And nothing exciting, just bits and bobs, and since we’re in the midst of talking about having kids and we’ve been collecting kids books, and I found this book at our local nerd book store (like it’s all technical books and some sci fi, idk, it’s not for me really, but this book is v cute.)

    Otherwise it’s been a slow morning and the hummingbirds are still hitting the feeders even when it’s snowy out, and I made a blog post for the first time in a month about what’s a boundary/what’s a cutoff:

    I hope you’re all well! xoxoxox.

  5. This week has been bitter sweet. More bitter than sweet but it makes me enjoy the sweetness more that I would.

    The semester is ending. I seem to be receiving high marks. I am actually engaging in conversation with my peers instead of being a lonely hermit. I don’t know if it is because I managed to make sense of who I am or if it is because I am medicated. But it feels nice. It’s almost like I found myself again. It’s very refreshing. I have my friend to thank for that.

    My thoughts have been preoccupied with my marriage when I need to be thinking about finals. I am starting to wonder if my heart is in the right place to begin with. My wife and I knew we were going to encounter some difficulties when I started school but we didn’t expect it to be this tough. This was only the first semester with a full class schedule and the next one is going to be tougher. I hope we can continue to get through this. I am going to be a better wife. I just got through writing my wife a love letter, something I haven’t done in years. I want to let her know she is important to me.

  6. Hi everyone! I’m having quite a week. I’m battling a very persistent head cold that really wants me to slow down, but with the end of the semester here, that’s not so much an option. I had a Skype meeting with my adviser yesterday (he moved to a different university this summer) and I had been trying to get in touch with him for four months, so I’m glad I can check that off as the semester comes to a close. He’s still on board with my dissertation and likes the new-ish direction I’m taking it in, so I’m excited for that.

    My wife and I decided that our small gift budgets this year will be allocated to donating money and items to some of the causes important to us and our friends and family will be receiving mostly homemade gifts. The coolest part is that I found some Amazon Wish Lists from local organizations we support and I remembered that Amazon Smile is a thing and we can donate to local places while also supporting the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund! So in case anyone is trying to stretch their donation dollars, Amazon Smile is a pretty cool thing (I think) to use.

    Also, I totally agree, Alaina, local news is so bananas. Growing up, my local news was focused mostly on Detroit politics and a lot of neighboring cities. But now that I live in a university town surrounded by rural areas, the local news seems to have so much more “human interest” pieces than I remember ever seeing. Not long ago they devoted a ten minute segment to a local couple who had been high school sweethearts, fallen out of contact with each other, and then reunited fifty years later at a town’s local festival. The interviews were pretty dang cute.

  7. Hey Straddlers,

    Insomnia is a bitch. Just gonna put that out there. Alaina, congrats on finishing your semester! It’s always an achievement when another one goes down in the books. Your comment about grading papers gave me some flashbacks to my own time as an instructor. I’m almost done with my semester too – I have a final project due Sunday, and that’s that. It’s metadata, though, which I think is pretty cool.

    Don’t be in grad school into your 30s like me…it gets old ;)

    I have the lamest holiday plans ever. I’m going to sit at home and work a ton. It’s cool though, because 1, money, and 2, I think I can work on my personal projects as well. I’ve got plans to revamp my workspace, and I’m also going to fix up our old desktop, reinstall Windows clean, put in a new hard drive (you can get a huge desktop hard drive for cheap these days)…also, my spouse got the week of the holidays off, which NEVER happens, so we might actually get some quality time! There’s no one I’d rather spend the holidays with, anyhow.

    This week in webcomics, this amazing thing happened… (NSFW due to incidental nudity – spoilers for Go Get A Roomie, but if you’re not reading it, why the hell not???)

  8. Finals are over but I’m totally not feeling the relief of break. My grad school application is due on the last day of break, so I’m spending the next four weeks frantically writing/editing and getting my shit together. (including a schedule I’ve labeled PLAN! For! Getting! SHIT! DONE!)
    I am however taking yesterday/today and the weekend to NOT stress or work on anything at all, I have three days of break! Yesterday I made french macarons, chocolate with caramel whipped cream filling, for my end of term self care club meeting. I put some leftover caramel whipped cream in my coffee today! SO good! When I make stuff like that I wonder how no one’s fallen in love with me or been seduced by my baked goods yet.
    My dad recently told me a local news story that an owl in a local park started attacking the high school running team during their practices. Apparently the owl had no particular reason to be doing this, like mating season or something. But rather it was an adolescent owl and was experiencing hormonal changes and sometimes owls, like people, can just be cranky and rambunctious.

  9. A very interesting point about local news. I wonder if there’s a disconnect overall with so many people “cutting the cord”. Do more people in urban areas or rural areas watch local news? Just something that struck me.

    I tried to put up lights around my living room, but forgot the most important maxim: test while on the ground. They didn’t light up! I’ve tested the power cord, checked the fuse…unscrewed the light bulbs and gentle shook them to see if they were broken. I’ve got nothing. They’re big bulbs, and there are only 10 per strand (my living room isn’t that big), but I’m at a sad, defeated loss. Wah-wah.

  10. Hi, Alaina!

    I’m going to our office Christmas party tomorrow. I guess that’s sorta in the spirit of the season? We’re having colder weather here too. Brrr. On the plus side, at least there’s been rain also. I don’t really watch any news, local or otherwise, so I couldn’t tell you if ours is weird or not. I do remember once that a local news anchor had an affair with a local politician. Whoops. Though I’m surely that was hardly the first time something like that had ever happened. :p

    I don’t really do much for Christmas or the holiday season. I’ve too many not-so-great memories of Christmas as a kid, especially before my parents divorced (when I was 10, I remember them having a big, nasty argument and then my dad sitting on the back deck for most of the day drinking beer…in ~20-30 degree weather, speaking of cold). And then after they did divorce, there was guilt from my mom if I visited my dad for Christmas. Or guilt from my mom if I visited her for Christmas. As an adult, I want to use a holiday for relaxing, so, sadly, visiting my mom isn’t option (I realize how horribly mean that sounds, but just talking with her is stressful, and visiting is worse). So, I will see some friends instead. Or play video games. Or both!

  11. ♫ On the first day of Christmas, Alaina gave to us… one very indignant sourpuss
    On the second day of Christmas, Alaina gave to us… two knitted knee socks and one very indignant sourpuss ♪

    In local news gone viral, this “censored” photoshoot happened near my town and one of the participants is an acquaintance of mine.

    In even more local news, my cat continues to hate everything about the weather right now, and his resulting cabin fever is driving us both up the wall.

    • Cat weather opinions are definitely a thing – we have one cat that hates rain even when she’s inside, and another that gets immensely excited about strong winds and zooms around the house trying to fight everything. Not a good combo when there are storms.

      • @thesaria “we have one cat that hates rain even when she’s inside” Lol, what does she do? Hiss at it through the window?

        I’m v. v. familiar with the house-zooming phenomenon. I call them temperature tantrums. My theory is that he does it to warm himself up enough that he can stand to go defiantly out into the cold.

        • Usually she’d be on the windowsills looking at birds, but when it rains she wanders around on the floor glancing at the windows and making distressed meows, then staring at us as if she expects us to turn it off.

          Ah, you also have a zoomer, there is nothing quite like the pitter patter of a high speed cat blur breaking the sound barrier.

  12. Hi!

    So I’ve gotten and decorated my first Christmas tree ever since living alone, feels great! I love coming home and being welcomed by the smell of pine. That + some snow/frozen grass and sun: best time of the year! It makes everything more beautifull, and more hopeful. I’m actually thinking about going back to college to finish my masters degree.

    Also my rabbit just made a hole in my brand new mattress, and I wanted to scold him. I really did. I don’t think my cuddling him and telling him he’s the cutest of the cutest worked though…

  13. Hey hey-

    So a few weeks ago I mentioned I was struggling with some mental health problems. Well, good news! My therapist has said I’m on track to the world of healthy town. It’s a giant relief for me as well as my close pals.

    In other news, I’m still writing just about everyday. Lately I wrote about a video game called Path of Exile. Next, I think I might try my hand at writing fictional characters. I’d like to do a short story or something.

    Also, one of the things that came up in therapy is that writing for me is a privilege I have, and I totally agree. It’s this beacon of light I can go to when I need it. I realize that for others and possibly some of the authors here it can be many other things, including a job or livelihood. I’m grateful to have the ability to write the way I do and it’s not lost on me that some folks don’t have that opportunity.

    Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

  14. Hey friends!
    It’s nearly Christmas! I had a Christmas dinner with my almost girlfriends flatmates and it was so much fun and I love them all. And on Monday I went on a lovely date with aforementioned almost girlfriend. It was my first date that I wasn’t super nervous for and could just enjoy.

    Also, I finally got round to having an Xray and it turns out I did break my finger 5 weeks ago, and it is still broken, butall within normal healing parameters, so that’s good.

    Notice how I’ve not mentioned revision yet? I should probably do that, exam next week and all. But atm I’m on the bus to the airport to visit friends in Cardiff for the weekend. FUNTIMES.

    Also thank you AS, for giving me a space to just splurge out my week. I super enjoy it.

    Look after yourselves, winter elves. Xx

  15. Hello everyone! This week I started seeing a therapist, bonded with one of my new friends, discovered that my super busy cousin is also super helpful and kind, and am trying to muster the courage to go the only somewhat active local LGBTQ group’s holiday party tonight. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I’ve barely studied for my GRE on Tuesday, I need said cousin to talk me through all of the social anxiety-inducing parts of my grad school application, and I’ve discovered that I start the stages of grief over again every time team trump and state legislature republicans do something awful. So basically, this week has been about mental health issues and the people trying to help me overcome them, with bonus material supplied by the trumpocalypse.

  16. Hi friends!

    My parents asked me if I’ll be bringing my partner to Christmas, and I’m not officially out to my extended family yet, so that’s been a source of stress. We’re talking ~35 people, most of whom I don’t like very much. BUT my cousin just texted me and I talked to her about it and now my cousin, my partner, and I are getting a drink next week so that partner and cousin can get to know each other and we’ll have an ally at dinner!

    I actually should watch my local news more, especially regarding local politics. I’m in Philly and our mayor is great but ofc there’s a bunch of shitty stuff going on too. Maybe I’ll start small.

    Hope everyone is adjusting to winter okay, I know it’s rough for some of us <3

  17. I can only imagine what the local news is like in Texas. I watch the local news regularly, because I like to keep up with what going on locally and in the world. Our local news out here includes all of Southern California, minus San Diego(they’re part of a different area). We are famous for our police chases(we had the OJ chase remember that one?) and lead the country with how many(like at least one a week). Like it could be talking about a feel good story, but then say(at least one channel does it, a local station owned by CBS) we have a police chase going on, they know it bring viewers. This week a guy was supposedly drunk, and just would not give up. He was so determined, he was driving his small Mitsubishi sedan with only three tires on the freeway, no one got hurt. I almost missed the Daily Show, cause it was interesting to see a guy(probably cis-het) do anything to not get caught.

    How’s everyone’s week going? I kind of want it to feel like winter/Christmas out here(doesn’t help that I’m hearing the Sade classic Smooth Operate playing from the store down the street), but that would mean snow, cold, and even worse driving. I think the more holiday feel would bring more shoppers out, but I am not even sure anymore. Like all the reports say people are shopping more for the holidays, but not in my area, so what good does that do?
    On the other hand the nice enough weather means I can spend time at the beach with other trans & queer people throwing the Frisbee and having a cold drink, while others are facing a snow storm(a queer snow day would be cool, though). It was followed by a solo trip to buy some vegan frozen chocolate bar.

    Anyone have a good holiday color lipstick suggestion? I kind of want to try green again, but I am not sure if can work a festive green color. I want something that says queer Christmas. Also, have plans to purchase the They/Them pin from the merch store. I just hope they last longer than the YDY pin did me(it broke and subsequently lost it). Hmmm

    I have no images uploaded to share. But, will leave you with some blue skies.

    Side note, if you want to avoid a headache you may want to avoid headphone review sites as one can get trapped into a hole of what to get. I’ve been stuck the last 4 days trying to get a replacement one that meets all my needs, and those site have introduced me to so many new and quality options I want them all now.

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

    • Oh my, a queer snowday sounds like an amazing way to spend time. So does a queer beach day. I wonder what the common denominator there is… ;)

      Are you thinking a bright holiday green color or a darker forest-y green? I feel like both are totally workable, but I’m partial to the more evergreen-y color. But like, with some shimmery-ness in it!

      • Rabbit hole of durability vs sound quality I’d like within my budget. Like do I go big and durable or small with better sound. I’m looking at in ear models as I have two over the head ones I’m content with. The website head-fi is a blessing and curse cause you can read reviews of so many headphones and accessories, and for me at least not get a precise answer as it can vary person to person. Sadly there isn’t a store I can try out these in my area, or at least not anymore.

    • i’m looking for new headphones, too! …i’ve kinda been meaning to get myself a nice pair of over-ear headphones for like 10+ years and always backed off cuz intimidated by too many options and how do i choose.

      • I have two great on ears right now, but I need one for my day to day/pocket. Right now I am looking at the Sennheiser Momentum in ears and they are on sale, but a few reviews said for daily use one needs to be careful as the cable maybe the weak point and just use the included case(which is bulk and better suited if I carried a purse with me all the time).

        There is, and it all depends on what you are looking for in terms of sound, and the music of type of audio you play. Hell if it was good 10 years or ago or even 30 years ago it’s still good now. Though I guess the worry is now that Apple has removed the jack(at least from the phone) and Samsung may follow, what works on our phone may not work on your laptop, or you can’t plug it in to your friends car with the cable they have.

      • FWIW, I splurged on a pair of Sennheiser Urbanite XLs a while ago and LOVE them. Like, to a ridiculous degree. The sound is pretty incredible (especially since I was upgrading from on-ear Monsters that broke), and they’re so. very. comfortable. They also block out a surprising amount of sound, even though they’re not explicitly/actively noise-cancelling. I plan on keeping them pretty much forever, which is good because they seem to be built like tanks.

  18. I think I’m about to fulfill a Very Lesbian Stereotype™ in that my gf is coming over and bringing her kitten this weekend to introduce them to my cats and I really hope it goes well.

    Is this how you know its serious? Haha.

  19. Good evening folks. How’s it all going? I’m burning bridges over here….fuck. Yesterday my mother witnessed just how serious I am about not speaking to members of my family based on their voting record… and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. She’s being super passive aggressive and the explosion is probably on its way. Soooooo yay A Merry Christmas to me!
    The thing is I warned them in June, on the day the Brexit vote came out. I have reminded her throughout the year so far…including this week when I told her I would be donating the money I would normally spend on *those* relatives to charity…and then oh look-surprise-my Grandad arrives for a visit! I treated him with respect but not affection, I refused to engage in conversation by leaving to do work elsewhere. It was a really polite blanking. It’s clearly upset her. But why should my feelings come second to hers? Can I also mention that 4 of his Grandchildren are various minorities.The saddest part is, I loved him, so much, he was my hero. I truly respected him. We discussed socialism at length over the years, shared books and ideas. I believed we were on the same page, turns out his socialism had a national in front of it. He believed the bullshit in the media. He believed divisive evil liars…and then voted with them and had the gall to be completely condescending to my mother about it, saying I understood. I just can’t. I can’t.
    So advice on how to handle the coming storm gladly taken…in fact just someone help.
    Other than that – my Christmas tree is up, I went to the barber today, and I have a fancy Christmas party to go to tomorrow -in my Tux. Let’s hope my cummerbund fits.
    Have amazing weekends folks. I wish you the mulled beverage of your choice.

    • Oh oh I missed off local news. Ok so we don’t have to stations and stuff but the best one we had was “Woman gets stuck in hedge” and “Wooly hat found in tree”

      P.S. I’m so gay my phone changed wooly to Woolf.

        • As a fellow brit, I feel you may understand me when I say how much I miss my BBC local news presenters from when I was a kid. Peter Levy on Look North was there every day. And still is in fact, I just don’t live in the area (or own a tv).

          • Yeah Look North is a classic. I tend not to watch it though, another thing I got angry with on referendum result day…I even wrote to the Beeb about their lack of impartial reporting… I’m old and crotchety.

    • Oof, dealing with close family members, especially once their political associations become painfully apparent is no easy feat. It sounds like you handled that situation really well, though. Just removing yourself, succinctly and politely. I don’t think I have any advice on how to handle these types of situations since I’m figuring it out myself, but one thing I’ve tried to keep in mind (all at the advice of my therapist) is whether any action I intend to take is consistent with my values.

      Idk if that helps at all, but it’s helped me be more resolved not to put up with people’s bullshit viewpoints/racism/homophobia, etc. in the name of “keeping the peace.” My only advice would be to keep remembering the things you said here, your feelings are valid and they’re not any less important than anyone else’s and it sounds like you’re handling things the best way you know how.

      I hope you have a great weekend.

      • Thanks for this! Confirmation of the validity of my feelings is actually super helpful, yesterday a friend was like “can’t you just put up with it”… *smh* So yeah, thanks, it’s good to feel like someone gets it.
        Hope your weekend is awesome.

  20. The first derby bout of the season is tomorrow and I am so excited and so nervous because I am a rookie and it’s my first time skating with this incredible team, and I have a massive derby crush on all of my teammates because they are amazing and wonderful. Derby feels, I has them.

    My girlfriend gets into town late late tonight so I also have those happy stomach butterflies to contend with. I have all these plans to do some shopping and baking and playing outside in the snow, but we’re probably going to spend most of the non-derby times cuddling (or making out) on the couch, so that is also delightful.

    The local news scene has changed a lot since I moved to southern Wisconsin from Chicago. Lots less murder and corruption and, it seems, more big car accidents and restaurant reviews.

  21. How sweet is that picture of you and your kitty! And your place looks so perfectly Christmas-y!

    All of a sudden it got very cold here, like unseasonably cold and I’m just not ready. I haven’t had my coat dry cleaned, all my scarves smell of stale perfumes, and my gloves aren’t thick enough.

    One thing I’ve done, despite my desire to pile on clothes and lay in bed is to continue working out in the evening. The difference it makes in my sleep is immeasurable. Sometimes life is doing the things that are seemingly only okay or not very much fun in order to make yourself feel really rad later.

    This weekend is going to be devoted to finishing Christmas gift shopping may I be blessed with patience, understanding, and a kind heart.

    Hope everyone has a good weekend!

  22. Oh right, it’s the weekend! I should feel relieved I made it but I just feel numb. BUT, I put in notice at my terrible job so I only need to last until Christmas.

    I’ve finally decided to look after my mental health this year by not going home for Christmas. It’s not THE worst family situation, but I always end up regretting it and backsliding on mental health. Instead I’m spending it with those in my queer family who did have the worst home situation and have no inclination to go back. None of us have a big connection to Christmas so it’s going to be lovely just to chill and play games and eat food together. Knowing I’ve avoided the unpleasant alternative makes it all the sweeter.

  23. just had some really awesome queer friends over for some wine and talk :) also learning Italian. loving the holygay gift guides! I have a question for fellow disabled straddlers: how do you deal with homeless, probably mentally ill people harassing you bc of your disability? bc obviously these people have problems, but I not only feel unsafe but really harassed. yesterday a man said really awful stuff to me, like really mocking me for my wheelchair, saying stuff like “get up already! look who’s disabled, you are!” and normally it does not get to me that way bc most of them are nice and do not insult me. I just ignored him and it was really awkward, at one time he got up and wanted to walk towards me. I just can’t help but feel kinda hurt by this though I know this person just wasn’t thinking clearly.

  24. Ahh, Austin. I lived there for the first ten years of my life (leaving just before 2000) and I still miss it. I’m sure it is something of a disaster now, but I still have so many fond memories. Is Green Mesquite still there? Or Chuy’s? Can you still swim in Lake Travis? Does Barton Springs have as much beautiful wildlife as I remember? And is it still worth it to go to Schlitterbahn? Memories….

    I live in NC so I feel like everyone kinda already knows our local news. Instead, some questions! I have a great outfit that I’m going to wear to the company Christmas party and I must make sure I will SLAY. I have a black velvet dress, black tights with silver fish scales, black heels, and…and????? What else? What should I do with my nails? What kind of scarf should I wear? Should I paint my nails to match my scarf? And what should I do with my make-up? HALP. (If anyone is willing to help, I can add pics and such)

    • just had a tiny existential crisis reading your comment because like, grad school has eaten my life and i don’t know the answer to any of your questions about austin! but i’m gonna try super hard to learn them before i start school again!

      also, your outfit already sounds badass so whatever else you wear will be awesome. also, i’m always pro dark lips at evening holiday gatherings to be extra devastating

      • Gosh, then I’d better ask my mom about all the stuff she remembers that I was too young for. The one thing I would tell you is stick around Austin long enough to see the bats of the Congress Street Bridge. That is one of the clearest things I remember. Barton Springs is a great place to cool off. I remember the water always being super cold, absolutely important given how hot it would get. I grew up on Texas barbecue and still miss it. Ah, I could probably write a whole article waxing nostalgic about Austin.

        A friend suggested a dark red scarf and also suggested the dark lip color and some dark nail color to match. I also caved and got a cigarette holder, and because NC is so cold right now I will probably get opera gloves just to stave off the cold.

        I’m going for the look that says “I don’t even know that you’re there, but I did, I would be ignoring you right now.” I’m hoping to post pics in another open thread after the party!

    • As a current Austinite: Green Mesquite – Yes. Chuy’s – Yes, so many goddamn locations. Swimming in Lake Travis – Yes, but kinda depends on how bad a given year’s drought is. Barton Springs – still delightful, but can’t say anything about the wildlife. Schlitterbahn – Oh my god the best thing to have ever happened. What other amusement park lets you bring in a picnic??? It’s thrifty bitch heaven

  25. I love Friday open thread! I had a very good but very exhausting week. Yesterday, I hosted a holiday card party with Black and Pink, an organization that supports LGBT+ prisoners, and a bunch of people showed up as well as some kiddos and we got through 150 cards in an hour and half! That was really wonderful and gratifying. Also, things are moving along really well in my work and we’re finally ready to roll out the project I’ve been working on getting together for the past two months-yippee!

    I also started therapy again this week, which went well and I hope it continues to be helpful. My anxiety is wearing me out. Last weekend I did a bunch of “social” things, much more than I usually do, and they were all enjoyable but I didn’t get as much done in terms of homework/housework/life maintenance stuff as usual so I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and tired by all I have to do this weekend…but also very much looking forward to having some time to myself.

    Have a lovely weekend all you lovely humans!

      • That’s so awesome Alaina! I do prisoner support work and letter writing pretty broadly through a variety of organizations, and Black and Pink has been a great resource and I love how accessible they make it-especially through the holiday cards! Also, I know that you love Girl Scouts and I’m a Girl Scout co-leader so I wish we lived closer so we could volunteer at all the things together! You’re so awesome! <3 <3

  26. Wow, you get three stockings? Alaina, Alaina, Alaina, and the last one must be for the cats (Babies or Brats depending on how they’re behaving at the moment, I’m sure). That’s definitely correct, right? That photo is High Art. I also can’t believe it’s the outtake.

    My union local (TAs) is almost certainly not going to go on strike (it was a possibility), which is good generally because well, we got a deal without striking, and good personally because I don’t need to help organize a strike. So January is looking a lot less stressful for me and a lot of other people than it otherwise would have, and that’s exciting. Alaina, are TAs unionized where you’re a grad student? I think that’s super uncommon in the States? I live in Canada now and the union is one of the very cool things about being a grad student / TA at a Canadian institution.

    I’ve been making Christmas gifts for people, which is relaxing, especially since I feel like I’ll actually be able to finish before Christmas. And I’m signed up for two nights of yoga a week and three different mindfulness-type classes next term (hooray for physical and mental health!). And I started playing a video game again that I love but hadn’t played in a while. And I get to spend time with my best friend tomorrow! Things are really looking up! I honestly can’t even believe it right now!

    • It’s interesting that you mention a grad student union… I think that grad students at a fair number of public universities have been unionized for a while already (under state law). Until a Supreme Court case earlier this year, however, grad students at private universities were considered to have a mostly educational, not employment, relationship to the universities and therefore were not allowed to unionize. Now there are unionization efforts underway at some private universities, including mine. I still don’t know too much about it, though, so we’ll see what happens.

  27. Hello, lovely chocolate chip muffins!

    This week has been fairly unremarkable – mostly just full of ambient stress about work and moving and stuff. But I did take one very important step on Wednesday: I saw my therapist (for the first time in two years or so…) and asked for help with my dermatillomania. It’s something I’ve had for most of my life, but have only really confronted it as an issue in the past month or so. Asking for help was a big, scary step, but I did it and my therapist was able to help me come up with some ideas for managing it. Ngl, it helped that my therapist has apparently started “working” with her massive fluffball of a Great Pyrenees :D Confronting your inner demons is so much easier when you have a giant floof at your feet.

    Oh, and one more thing: I made social plans to go see Moana with my friend and a friend of his tomorrow. I work from home, meaning I have almost 0 social life, so this is a good thing. Getting out of the house is a good thing.

  28. Good evening my fine-feathered folks!

    Am I the only one that still can’t really grasp that it’s the holiday season? I didn’t have a Thanksgiving this year and I’m going on a trip over Christmas instead of going to my parents- which feels really weird but at the same time it’s okay because it means not having to spend time with trump-loving relatives. It’s kind of discouraged me from putting up any kind of decorations or doing anything even remotely holiday related. Not to mention my Grinch of a boss keeps dumping metaphorical coal on me.

    I do enjoy hearing what my awesome fellow autostraddle cupcakes are up to, so I’ll just celebrate vicariously through you all! :)

  29. Hi everyone! I am trying my best to get into the holiday season but it would work a lot better if I lived someplace warm and tropical because I haaaaaaate cold weather and it’s been way colder than usual here the past couple of weeks and my house doesn’t have central heat wooooo! Anyway, I watched a couple of minutes of the local news tonight and it was all about the ~cold temps~ because we can’t deal with freezing weather here in the South.

    Right now I’m folding laundry and drinking beer and listening to music in my bed. Also on Tinder…anyone have any helpful hints on how to message girls without sounding like a complete dumbass?? Also, anyone have any ideas for what I should bring to my work holiday potluck next week? Daydreaming about food I might make and/or eat is one of my favorite things.

    • For Tinder, I usually try to start talking about their pets if they have any any in their pictures or mention having them. It’s not a fool-proof method but it breaks the ice and people who really want to chat move the conversation along past that I find.

      And like if not, I have yet to have someone be negative about me commenting about how cute their cats/pups are because seriously you can’t react negatively to that.

  30. I have not had a good week, y’all. It’s been several pretty shitty pain days in a row, and then yesterday and today it’s been horrific pain days where i’m taking the max doses of my pain meds and still pretty much comatose on the couch.

    At least my appointment with my GP went better than the last one and I left with a couple referrals to specialists (and one is a pain treatment center) so hopefully they will help.

    I’m also a bit sad that one of my good friends got offered a job that he’s planning on taking out in Utah. Like I’m stoked for him, but he’s also been unemployed so I’ve had someone to talk to and hang out with and not be completely isolated from the world, and I’m sad about losing that because it’s not exactly like I can go out and meet people (I mean…I can, on a good day. but lately good days have been all but nonexistent). I know the distance will be good overall because our relationship is a bit dysfunctional and we kind of dated but not really and…having some time not constantly talking to someone I’m really attracted will be good for me and my brain and overall a good thing for our friendship. But it’s just making me realize how lonely I am, and I feel a bit powerless to change that right now :/.

  31. I hate being late for the open thread but I’ve missed a months worth so:

    1. I got promoted to assistant teacher in a twos class at work

    2. I love these kids so much

    3. At work on Thursday, I was telling two coworkers about how my mom lost her mind, bought my nanny kid a bunch of toys, and said “I want a grandkid”:

    “I was like, uh, mom? Talk to the daughter who dates men. I’m uniquely unqualified for this, and I live in your basement. My ppl don’t procreate until we can afford to max out a credit card.”


    “well ya know Mickey, you never know who God might send your way! ”



    Then, on lunch break, I was invited to join not one, but two churches

    • (Theoretically I could meet someone with all the necessary ingredients who is NOT a man and I wanted to say as much but opted against breaking Faith Who Has Never Heard of Coldplay “Are They Christian? I’ll know them if they are!” ‘s brain while she was in charge of children)

  32. I feel like something mal is coming, not just talking about the Trumpsterfire. I’ve trimmed my tree at last, started my holiday baking too. This feeling of malus coming isn’t consuming me, but it’s this niggling feeling in the middle back of my mind.
    I don’t like it.
    Long ago I came to terms with not rational, not logical parts of myself because instinct has saved me from harm and death. There are thing that cannot be quantified
    How does a little kid know an adult is checking them out? That there’s something wrong with the way auntie’s boyfriend is looking at them? I still don’t know how I knew some thing was wrong with the way he looked at me. I was 5 going on 6, had never been told adults could be into kids like that or grew up in a home where I’d know what sexual desire looked like.
    Still have moments such as this where my instinct, or intuition telling me something, but I don’t like it or want to acknowledge it because it makes no fucking sense.
    No logical sense at all.

    Alaina your cat-nanigans give me life.
    Just wanted you to know.

    I watch local news, but the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan area is sometimes just the biggest small town in existence and I know THINGS about some our local new people because I have fam that live in the same neighborhood they lived in.
    Long story short my bossy AF aunt and other neighbors helped harass a certain man who was stalking his now ex-wife during the divorce proceedings. My aunt is sometimes a busy-body about trivial shit, but sometimes the fact she a woman keeps an eye out is fucking valuable.

    Oh there was this one time one of the dramatic ridiculous weather people (ok there’s like one channel all of them seem to be at) was “tracking” the movement of a tropic storm by street.
    As if it the damn thing was parade or car chase, not a weather system. But The Ridiculous Weather Person has yellow-white hair piece and I don’t know how do describe this man. He’s not like a mad-scientist ridiculous, it’s subtle.

    But the best part of my local news is the Mardi Gras coverage and Channel 4’s annual airing of The 12 Yats of Christmas.
    12 for the Road is good too, it’s a segment during the winter holidays where they have a guest on who makes their favourite non-alcoholic cocktail.
    Guests range from culinary people to local sports folks and just anybody sorta Known really.

    • I know what you mean about that little feeling. I have positive feelings about my personal future. My gut feelings tell me I am going to be great in the long run. However, that same gut feeling I get around bad people had been bugging me since the night before the election. I don’t know what it is for but I don’t like it. Actually, you mentioning your auntie’s boyfriend is a good example of how keen your instincts are. I’ve experienced the same. But don’t get me started on that difficult subject. Hopefully we are wrong about that bad gut feeling and it is just a manifestation of stress. I do my best to ignore the irrational gut feeling, but I usually acknowledge it if I have a strange dream. I have the weird thing where my dreams tend to come true or I wake up knowing exactly what the hell is going to happen for the day. It trips me out because I can’t find a logical pattern that would have triggered the conclusion I reach when I wake up. The human body is strange, especially the brain. -_-

      • I hope it’s a manifestation of stress, but I’ll draw protective symbols on things anyway. Apotropaic magic is one of my favourite things because it’s this mixture of art, culture and superstition that exists in nearly every culture.
        Drawing, acts of making I find calming too.

        The mind is a indeed a strange thing.

      • Any place that has a music scene or food scene with an loyal local following is gunna have local celebs. Just New Orleans is unique in that some of our local stuff is internationally loved. :P

        The is the 12 Yats of Christmas, I figure you’d appreciate it with your dad aesthetic

        And this is a 12 For the Road Segment with the most ridiculous drink

        They’ve had a boutique owner, law professors, Sidney Torres the garbage moghul and I can’t remember what else because that segment has been running since the before I was born.

  33. I’m late but I definietely want to get some things off my chest, so!

    I’ve had bad week. I was sleeping like 2-5 hours a day, so obviously I was tired all the time, irritated and literally everything and everyone was pissing me off. I was also dissapointed by myself and I was repeating “you suck” to myself all the time. I had probationary oral Polish matura exam and while I had 78% and that’s pretty cool, myteacher said that a lot of things was not good in my speech and I could do better, so I was kinf of mad at myself.

    Anyway, I went to my classmate’s eighteen birthday party yesterday and I’ve had so much fun! I got drunk and I love that feeling. I spent most of time with my crush from class, we were laughing and she told me so many things about herself I didn’t know. Also, I finally got a confirmation that she likes girls too! (I was 99% sure because well, sometimes she’s so gaaay.) So this time I didn’t fall for my straight best friend, yay! On the other side – we were talking about her past romantic experiences – she said that she’s okay with making out, that kind of things but she hates relationships. And I don’t know what to do, we’re pretty close, I’ve had crush on her for almost a year and I don’t know if I should do something about it? I’m confused especially since I have no experience in this stuff. But otherwise it was such a cool night and she said I look hot. And I needed this after that terrible week.

    And I’m going to see “The Master of Margarita”, musical based on my favourite book on Tuesday! It had 100% frequency since 2013, I’ve heard so many good opinions and I’m so excited and it’s in city where I have never been and I travel by train (I love trains). I can’t wait!

    Love y’all and have a great weekend!

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