Friday Open Thread: I Wanna Hear All About Your #AutoBabeBQ Plans, and Also the Rest of Your Life

feature image via M Schrum

Hello, veggie skewers, and welcome to this week’s Friday Open Thread! This is a space in which we practice for standardized tests and pass notes to each other on expensive calculators. JK! It’s a space in which we share pictures, stories, and GIFs with each other and basically forge relationships and love affairs to last a lifetime, in a platonic way. Like this!


This week’s FOT comes at a special time, because we’re all about to embark on this wild and crazy #AutoBabeBQ weekend together and thus I assume we’re all spending tonight in our kitchens tenderizing meat or veggie crumbles or something. I mean, I know that I, for one, have a massive amount of potato salad to make and also a Party City run to complete, and all by tomorrow afternoon! But it’ll be worth it, because at the end we’ll all gaze into each other’s eyes around the fire of a charcoal grill and wonder, is something burning? Like, not burning because it’s a grill, but burning burning? 

Also, I assume there will be mosquitos tomorrow so I need to figure some shit out because I have like a zillion mosquito bites already. Actually it’s 32, I counted.

Either way, I’m super excited for all of us to throw our chef hats and tacky aprons on and grill up a storm in the name of queer BFF-dom!


So, tell me: what are your plans for the weekend? Are you going to a Babe-B-Q? What are you bringing. Actually, also, what are you wearing, is it okay that I wanna wear pants? I probably shouldn’t wear pants. What are you cooking? WHAT’S GOIN’ ON. Tell me everything.

And if you aren’t hosting or attending a Babe-B-Q this weekend, I still love you! So much! So go ahead and jump right in and tell me all about your life: your lovers, your friends, your family, your projects, your pets, your new sunglasses, your colleagues at work, EVERYTHING GUYS, EVERYTHING. No holds barred. No chicken wing left unturned. Also, do you wanna see a picture of Eli in his new summer hat? Just let me know. We can do an informal poll.

Let’s get fired up in here!

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. I don’t have any BabeBQ plans unfortunately, but I did just start watching Sense8 a few nights ago and I’m pretty sure I’m fully in love with Jamie Clayton so that’s what’s happening in my life right now.

  2. No BabeBQ plans (I wish), but I am currently on a week-long roadtrip up to Seattle to visit friends from college. Stopped in Ashland and now in Portland. It’s been amazing and I’m really excited!

    Also, if you know of any things in Seattle I absolutely must see, please let me know because I am highly unprepared.

    Also, I head back to school in less than two weeks which is crazy and I am not prepared (though I am very very excited)

    • I totally did a roadtrip earlier this summer from Denton, TX up to Portland, OR. Ashland was my favorite part of the whole trip. It’s just so beautiful there. Did you take the coast up to Portland?

  3. I *so* wish I could go to the #AutoBabeBQ in L.A. tomorrow, but I won’t be back in L.A. till Sunday, and I’ll be with my dad till Monday. Next time though, I’m going to a god damn meet up :)

    I’m getting my first alt lifestyle haircut today!!! I am nervous and excited. I haven’t really changed my hair in my whole life, apart from going a lil’ shorter or keeping it a bit longer. I’ll post a picture to this thread later :DDD

    I’m going back to college this weekend and I’m so f*cking psyched!

    In other news, I got new shoes and now I’ve completed my 90’s wanna-Buffy aesthetic, and I know if anyone would appreciate this (my parents certainly did not) it would be my Autostraddle fam:

    • SO MUCH 90S. that’s incredible. if you want to add all the silver rings, that might take the whole thing to the next level. love it.

    • Cute! Im excited for you. A new haircut + college! So many happy changes. :D Looking forward to seeing pictures of the hair.

    • You make that outfit rock, rawr. Also, you are lucky to be in Los Angeles cause you also have a tasty-q event on Sunday too. I’m in Scotland right now and we don’t even have one. :-/

  4. Oh I so wish I was living in the US right now somewhere close to one of the meetups :(.
    This week as been HARD. I don’t know where it leaves me.
    So I finally got the courage to ask that girl from tinder out on monday (more like “hey, wanna meet?”). We agreed to meet on Saturday but still left the time/place undecided. I sent a few msgs during the week (hi ! how’s it going today? etc.) and she answered none of them (when suddenly we’d been chatting everyday several times a day)… so now it’s Friday night and she’s still completely silent. There go the weekend plans I guess ? …

    Also it’s been super hard for me to realise that I’m all alone here in the UK, all my friends and all the activities that I love are back home in France, and I suddenly find myself wondering “how do you even MAKE new friends, let alone queer ones?”. I’ve had no joy in my new job for the past few weeks and I wake up in the morning thinking I can’t wait till the day is over so I can go back to bed.

    So… yeah, it’s been rough.

    • Sorry to hear you feel so alone! It’s hard making friends as an adult, at least I find it to be. Im sure you’ll start to feel more at home soon, but it’s always a bit rough moving to someplace completely new.

      Yay for asking out that girl! I can’t offer any advice, but hopefully it all works out.

    • I’ve been there. I’m so sorry everything’s so rough right now. I recently listened to this podcast that talked about making friends as an adult and I found it really soothing

      Engage in self-care in whatever ways work for you. And if you’re really struggling, it’s always a good idea to go talk to someone, whether that’s therapy, an LGBT center, or making weekly Skype dates with a friend.

      Anyway I believe in you to make it through hard times! Your magic is real!

    • Oh that sucks. I promise us friendly UK queers exist. Hope you find some local to you soon! Think I’m at the wrong end of the country.

    • You could always try Ok cupid, the app Her, or tumblr to meet other queers near by you?

      Have you thought about calling your lady friend? Maybe they are good with replying to texts, cause I know a few people who have said that to me.

  5. I vote yes for picture of Eli’s new hat!

    I’ve been working at my new jobs for about 2 weeks now, and I’m so effing exhausted. I fear I’ll burn out very soon. I’ve learned a lot about myself and in what capacities I work best, so I guess it’s all good/a learning experience?

    I moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18 (so 7 years ago), but I’m suddenly homesick. It’s bizarre. I don’t have the time to go home, which is probably a good thing, as that place is pretty toxic, but it’s just so weird…

    In good news, Beth Malone: So Far (the solo show of Tony nominated Fun Home star, which is about her lesbianism), playing Joe’s Pub in NYC August 31st, has some more tickets on sale. The 7:30 show sold out in 24 hours, and the 9:30 show that we added sold out soon after, but there are some tickets available, so get them while you can! I can post the links when I get to my computer. LezCab & I are producing, so I’m super excited.

    I was ghosted. Oh well. I guess it happens?

    I need to get back to writing. I’m so exhausted after work that I don’t have energy to do anything- including write. But I have so much to tell the world, so I need to start writing again. That’s going to be my goal for the week. Write.

      • I’m actually the sole producer. ;) LezCab is the theatre company that I run, and I’m producing it under the company. Thank you!!

  6. I’m not doing a bbq this weekend, BUT… I hosted my first autostraddle meetup last Sunday!

    Unfortunately, there was a hiccup with the meeting location… the address I provided led to two different locations, depending on what GPS you used. Eventually, seven of us managed to find each other, but I felt bad because more signed up, and I was afraid that some people showed up and couldn’t find us. And then after walking to the location that we decided on, I realized that some of my quinoa salad had spilled in my picnic food bag, but fortunately the majority was still intact. And after we finally decided on a picnic table and set up our food, someone told us that another group had reserved the table! So… we ate on the grass on blankets. It was probably better that way anyway since it gave the 7 of us more room to spread out.

    The rest of the afternoon was good though! The weather was perfect for the beach, and after our picnic lunch, we headed to the sandy beach and some of us went in the water, which was cold and filled with seaweed but still felt good.

    On Wednesday I meet with my younger brother just before he leaves for his second year of college. We hung out at gasworks park in Seattle, which contains ruins of an old gasification plant. Afterwards, we walked to Fremont’s famous giant troll statue, located on Troll Ave, under the Fremont Bridge. (For those of you who don’t know, Fremont is a quirky neighborhood of Seattle, which claims to be the center of the universe and hosts an annual solstice parade of nude cyclists and has lots of cool artsy stuff.)

    Photo! (Look at those storm clouds)

    The old gasworks ruins (and colorful houseboats in the background)

    Seattle over Lake Union, as seen from a hill on Gasworks Park

    Also: sunset photo from my apartment.

    • glad to hear the meetup went well! what is in your quinoa salad? I only ever do quinoa bowls with lots of tofu and lettuce and goddess dressing and cucumbers etc.

      • It had black beans, tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, and lime juice. I can post the recipe when I get home from work today.

        • @eunoia This sound DELICIOUS. A couple of weeks ago I had quinoa for the first time, and I understand why it’s so popular now. (The salad I had contained strawberries and blueberries! I am craving it right now.)

      • Okay, here it is, if anybody is interested –
        Autostraddle Alki Beach Black Bean Tomato Quinoa

        3 Tbs coconut oil
        1.5 c quinoa (rinsed)
        2 15-oz cans of black beans, drained
        small bunch of cilantro (55 g)
        4 scallions (55 g)
        6 roma tomatoes (650 g)
        juice from 1 small lime
        1 Tbs lime zest

        Cook quinoa in 3 c. water and 3 Tbs coconut oil in crockpot until fluffy. Mix all other ingredients. Stir together while quinoa is still hot, and then refrigerate to chill. 9.5 cups. (You can also serve it hot, but I made it cold for the picnic.)

        Based on:
        (But I altered it based on the ingredients I had on hand, and based on the fact that I didn’t have a large enough saucepan to steam the quinoa, so I cooked it in a crockpot instead.)

    • Too bad about the hiccups, ey? I’m glad that things went well, regardless. I hope you host more events in the future! Become a professional host, haha.

      Little brothers are the best. :) I hope you enjoyed his company. Also I’m glad to learn about Fremont.

      • yeah, brothers are the best. I’m glad I had a chance to hang out with him a few times this summer before he went back to school. I’m happy for him though, because I know how excited he is to return for his second year.

  7. hi hello babes for days & days,

    I’m not going to a meetup, but my mom is having a pig roast because moi is getting married in two weeks, which is like a barbeque. at this point everything is lined up and for the most part I am just anticipating having to do an incredible amount of schlepping. all the fucking schlepping. I just emailed a couple of friends about it in the middle of writing this post because I was like “help please can you help us carry things there are too many things.”

    the only thing I grilled this week was peaches, but those are always amazing. my butchy friends came over last weekend and I coached one of them who had never grilled before about how to use our gas grill and she was like “this is sort of underwhelmingly easy” and it was.

    But I did make this this week and it was incredible.

  8. First time posting on an open thread but I kind of had a crazy thing happen this week(for me anyways) and I want to share. Ok so I went to a concert a few days ago which was great and there was this cute girl right beside me during the last act, and at the end of the show on my post-concert high I told her she was cute, she asked if I wanted her number and I said I’d be too scared to ever text her so I gave her my number. Then we kissed?!? Then she texted me, and now we are meeting up tomorrow? I’m an anxious wreck and just want to hide forever, but also know I should push myself to do this so good vibes please! AAAaaaaaAAAAA.

  9. I got turned down for two more jobs this week (woo, go me…), but I applied for a student job on campus that would be the beginning of my new career. So I’m really nervous right now, but still somewhat hopeful.

    It’s move-in weekend at my student apartment complex, but no new roommate yet (hoping for a grad student who is also a queer woman because it would be nice to have someone here who is closer to my age and that I know I don’t have to worry about).

    I’m also so glad that the AutoBabeBQ event in Denver is on Sunday. That means I won’t be working the hotel that night, so I might be able to go. I’ll have to write it down on my auxiliary brain (whiteboard) so I don’t forget.

  10. Hello crumpets! What’s a crumpet, I do not know, save that it is bready. I like bread. It will be my inevitable downfall.

    Anyways, I vote YES fir Eli hat. I mean, how is that even a question, Carmen? Of course we want to see your adorable dog in a hat, geeze. Gosh.

    My week’s been uneventful, really. Last Saturday a small group of friends got together and smoked, and I didn’t know if it affected me, but thinking back I realize I was staring blankly at the old episode of America’s Next Top Model, so I think it affected me. I got hardcore munchies, too; my stomach was upset Sunday.

    But I also got to meet a fluffy puppy that @Mik was babysitting, so,yay! She was v bitey and adorable. (ps doing html on mobile sux)

    I’ve been swimming recently, and it really helps with my depression and bad body thoughts and stuff like that. I’m super out of shape, but I hope the more I do it, the better I’ll get at it, and the more I’ll be able to do without getting winded.

    Oh, also, ppl defriended me bc im “too negative”. Part of this is most likely bc they don’t like how i’m mentally ill; if I’m not handling it in a ~positive~ way they approve of, I’m too negative. Also, bc I post things like an article as to why it’s appropriation for us whites to wear dreadlocks. Too negative. So I’ve come to the realization that I have false friends, who don’t accept me as I am, for who I am, and whose idea of awakening and positivity is some fake-ass new age shut that involves self-absorption and Divine Sex Binary Bullshit and sticking heads in the sand when it comes to the shitty parts of society that need to be discussed, bc omg, too negative!!!!! I don’t need that negativity in my life!!!!!!!!! Whatever. I see them, and now I know not to expect anything from them by way of support.

    In way happier news, we may be able to adopt a dog! My dad said he’d consider it. Fingers crossed.

    A friend’s dad died yesterday. I’m not sure how to support her. She’s one of my actual friends, who’s been there for me through the past year. I feel uncertain as to whether or not I can really support her, too. I don’t want to fuck up, or be too in myself, and I let her know to let me know if she needs anything, which I guess is all I really can do. But like, how do I go about life? Do I wait a space before asking if she wants to do things? For how long? Would doing things with her help her process or not? Would it give her a respite or make it seem like I’m rushing her to be over it?

    Sorry for the looooong comment :B

    • I’m on a mission to make a virtual AS swim team. Our mascot is the sea otter. :^D I’m even making a logo.

      There’s a bunch of swimmers in this group join usssssssss lol I mean only if you want to.

      I totally feel the swimming = better mental health connection too. Deciding to get back into it a few weeks ago and it totally helped me get out of bed every morning, which I wasn’t expecting. Yay swimmin’! *splish*

      • That sounds so cuuuuuuuute omg. Will we all hold hands to keep from floating away? c:

        Heeeee splish! Swimming is the best; I wish I could get to the pool today. Pout face.

    • Maybe ask her more clearly– start by offering to do something really practical maybe so she has something concrete to respond to (“let me know if I can do anything” is really hard to deal with if you’re scattered/shocked), and then leave an opening if she wants emotional support? I’ve had friends who wanted ears over pizza and beer and memories, friends who wanted a couple weeks of aloneness, friends who just wanted someone else to remember to water the plants and walk the dog and grocery shop. It’s probably different if she has good family support locally or is traveling, so those are things to consider too.

      • Thank you for this. I made a more direct text to her and got a specific answer back, so now I know. :)

        • You could also send a care package if you think they would like it. DVDs, colorful / instant food, nice lotion or spa stuff, tea. Book on grieving and stuffed animals optional.

  11. I’ve had a pretty rough week, made rougher by the contrast with previous weeks when I was feeling really good and quite enjoying myself. The deal is, my kid is back from spending a couple months with their other mother, and my parents have returned from their couple of months at their home, so now there are four of us in the house instead of one, and I’m not handling the re-entry well.

    Also I’ve been spectacularly unproductive at work this week, and I hate that.

    I’m pretty sure that I’m going to re-equilibrate over the next several days — I know that my anxiety level is a whole lot lower today that it was yesterday. And being able to recognize that I can expect things to level off is new for me, and good.

    I’ll just close by adding my voice to the chorus of praise and adoration for Jamie Clayton, Freema Agyeman, and NomIta shippery.

  12. this week has kinda been a roller coaster. I came out to my sister on Monday which I thought went okay, but my parents got mad at me over it the following day and I learned that apparently she like, sobbed to my dad about it Monday night. like was crying so hard he couldn’t tell what she was saying. so. that wasn’t great. but like…part of me is still glad she knows now? it was kind of a thing with me and my ex that she had to be a secret, and I don’t wanna put anyone else through that. I don’t know.

    as of today, I’ve officially graduated college. I finished up my final class last week, but all the paperwork and stuff just went through today, so that’s exciting. and my professor suggested I submit my final paper for some sort of contest, so that’s kind of cool, too, though I don’t know that I’ll really do it.

    I’m kinda freaked about having graduated because it means I’m facing the big “Now What?” and I don’t really have an answer. I’m crashing with my cousin in DC next week to try to get a feel for if I’d maybe like to live up there. sadly I’ll miss the babe-b-q, but if anyone wants to grab a coffee or drink or something with me to help in my pursuit of pretending like I live there so I can decide if I like it, that could be cool, haha.

    what else? I got my hair cut today! got a kinda subtle undercut. I’m not decided on it yet, but I love getting my hair cut either way. (which is good since I get it cut like once a month.) also a good friend of mine has been pretty MIA since getting a new girlfriend several months ago, and I was starting to worry that she didn’t wanna be friends anymore, but she acknowledged that and apologized today, so I’m really glad about that. I take my friendships really seriously, so thinking I was maybe losing a friend had been really bumming me out.

    that’s about all I got, I guess. haircuts and graduation and crossing my fingers real hard that I hurry up and figure out where I wanna live and what I wanna do job-wise.

  13. Ugh what a week! I’m moving again, so I’ve been prepping for classes (first year teacher, first day of school is September 2nd!), moving things from one apartment to another, and getting all of my state/official paperwork changed (while also trying to fill out paperwork for work). And it’s exhausting and mind blowing.
    I’d like to stay in one place for a year (or longer!), because I’m over moving every 2 to 8 months.

    • I took the day off to let the exterminator in, which was really fine with me because even though I love my job not working is always preferable to working. So instead, I cleaned my entire apt from top to bottom and now am feeling much less stressed and also a tiny bit afraid I’m turning into my mother.

  14. Carmen hi keep being awesome.

    I was thinking of counting my mosquito bites too; pretty sure I’m up to at least 20 and they’re all on my feet in just a few days. I’m grateful they weren’t on my face. I googled West Nile Virus b/c it’s carried by mosquitos where I live. Good times. *scratch scratch scratch*

    32 mosquito bites is a large number; I feel sympathy for you and am trying not to picture it because it’s too many insects at once. You were swarmed.

    • Yeah West Nile is a scary one for me too, specially since there were people in Southern California who may have had it in the past. Not to mention I’d be the only one in the house with 20+ bites, while everyone else is bite free. :=\ Can such a larger number come from one hungry mosquito?

      • omg I bet you’re right that it’s a repeat mosquito customer. I guess that helps with reducing risk of catching something; one mosquito vs 20 or 30 … good luck to us both.

        • For me it’s kind of scary to wake up at 3am to hear a buzzing in my ear. Cause I know that I will be hit up with multiple bites. So, I’m thinking one, maybe two cause if it was more than that I would hear it more, or remains of them?

  15. I turn 30 on Sunday so am celebrating the most adult way I know how. 2 days at Disneyland Paris with friends!

    I’m pretty excited at the prospect of getting blasted whilst wearing goofy ears and making parents with children uncomfortable

  16. I am actually hosting a Babe-B-Q in Huntington Beach(official surf city USA), California on Sunday. I plan to be there at least until 8 or 9. I can’t surf, unless it’s on a kayak; but, I do plan to just have a tea based drink or two, thank you Aja for a new recipe to try, eat a few vegan dogs, and just enjoy the coasts beauty. My big worry is that I will be the only straddler at the beach, but I don’t think that will happen. My other worry is that since it’s going to be 100 deg(at least places not costal), the beach will be packed, & I may get harassed/made fun of for being a(n) (amab)trans queer. So, far hasn’t really happened, but I’ve gotten weird stares for being in my bikini top & board shorts at the beach. But, really as always I am excited just to be out at the beach, hopefully meeting new Straddlers. Yay!

    It’s finally Friday! My week as been more the same, slow as usual, wishing I was at the beach or sleeping. I am still not making progress at home with not being gendered, but at least they aren’t asking me what do you mean not gendered. Also, all the news of amab trans people dying really breaks my heart soo much. Like it’s hard to reading the news without seeing another story about trans woman being injured or killed. While I look like a white/Slavic male/masculine presenting person at work, I still worry about harassment. Because I am trans(of Jewish+Iranian decent) and feel very strongly towards my trans & queer identity(like I’ve told a houseless person angry at me don’t call me male, cause I am not). If only every neighborhood had their own Lesbian Avengers, it would really make the world a better place, and of course more attractive+queer.

    One of my favorite art works in the neighborhood I work in.

    Thank you for viewing & reading my post. Have a beautiful weekend and if you are going to a Babe-B-Q, I hope you meet some amazing queers, eat some tasty foods, and drink some delish drinks. Cheers!

      • I work Saturdays, so unfortunately I can’t make it. If you can make or know straddlers who can it be cool to have more Sunday.

    • Good luck hosting the BBQ! You can’t go wrong with beaches, regardless of surfing ability (I can’t surf either – the Puget sound isn’t particularly amenable to that…)

      Sorry to hear about the people at home not being supportive. Hopefully you’ll meet some queer friends at your beach meet up. Autostraddle people are awesome.

  17. It was my 22nd birthday on wednesday, and I’m doing a backyard party tomorrow. It’s been a long busy week so it’ll be nice to have a chill day.

    • I love your name! A parent of oen of my toddlers was the first person I ever heard of with that name…its so cool.

  18. No barbeque plans for me, but… I just got back from Brighton, where there are lots of rainbow flags. I was there on holiday with a friend and have topped up my Britishness by doing classic British seaside holiday activities like eating fish and chips and going to the beach in spite of torrential rain. I also consumed a lot of cake, including scones with jam and cream and proper tea out of a teapot. (I may or may not have a bucket list of things I have to eat before I go back to Spain.) Success!

  19. I have no BBQ plans other than maybe this weekend will be the weekend that I refill my propane tank (it has been empty for about a month now).

    I went to my very first meet up last weekend and I have to say that everyone that I met was super friendly and I had a load of fun. Though should have totally put sun screen on cause by the time I got home I was burnt and had a really great sunglasses tan. Thanks to Patricia for hosting the event!

    here are some of the pictures I took while I was in Seattle.

    A troll under a bridge.

    Gas Works Park has to be one of my favorite parks.

    Seattle skyline.

    Some float homes that have me thinking that my next house will be a float home.

    And lastly the Space Needle reflected off of the EMP Museum.

    • So glad you could come to Seattle! :) I love all those photos- The Fremont troll and gasworks are such cool places. And the houseboats on lake Union are so cute… I definitely want to rent a houseboat instead of an apartment someday.

    • Also, that last photo of the colorful space needle reflection on the walls of the EMP is really cool!

  20. I am actually practicing for a standardized test this afternoon, so any GRE advice is welcome. I’m most concerned with the writing section, though the reading comprehension part of the verbal section is giving me more trouble than I expected – and that’s a problem, since I’m applying to history PhD programs! The test is just one tiny part of the application process, and I’m worried about finding time to work on all the other things I need to do to apply when I’m spending so much time on test prep.

    Oh, and last, but certainly not least, of course I’d like to see a picture of Eli in his summer hat!

    Sadly there are no Babe-B-Q events near me, but I do grill for my family about once a week. Last night I made this: Lemon-Rosemary Grilled Chicken I cut the recipe in half and used substantially less olive oil then the recipe called for, and let it marinate for 24 hours. It turned out really juicy, with a nice, lemony tang; could have used a little more rosemary though, I think.

    School starts up again here on Monday, which means I’ll be tutoring again very soon. On the one hand, yay, money! On the other, crap, now I’ll have less time to work on GRE and PhD application things.

    • Hi! I’m preparing for the same standardized test, the gre, too. My test date is next Thursday. I would definitely swap nerdy gre advice on this Friday. What type of advice are you looking for? What concerns do you have with writing and reading comp? This will be my third time taking the exam–my previous scores from five years ago have expired–so at this point I feel p familiar with it. Good luck with your prep!

      • Wow, you’re taking the test really soon! I haven’t picked a test date yet, but I need to sign up soon, and I want to leave myself enough time before application deadlines to take it again if I need to (after the mandated 60 day wait). I have also taken the GRE before, in January 2009, so my scores have expired too, and they have completely redesigned the test since then.

        With the writing, my biggest problem so far has been time…I’ve gotten 2/3 to 3/4 of a decent essay written with the practice prompts, but that won’t do me any good on test day if I can’t get it finished in the 30 minutes allowed. I’ve been trying to familiarize myself with the prompts on the ETS website, hoping that helps. I am going to try to do my next practice essay with a much simpler outline, as I’m spending way too much time thinking/organizing my arguments, and then running out of time to write.

        I am hoping that my trouble with the reading comprehension is at least partially due to the Kaplan test prep practice I’m using. The passages seem unnecessarily convoluted and the questions deliberately misleading. I also need to work on pacing here, as I’ve finished the practice sets with WAY too much time left; so I could definitely afford to spend more time with each passage. It’s also tripping me up that the questions they ask do not involve the same type of analysis of the text that my professors have taught me to do. So I’m reading and looking for clues as to bias and assessing the strength of the claims the author is making, thinking about evidence and examples, and then the questions don’t ask about any of that! Then I have to reread the passage, but at the same time I’m frustrated with myself for not reading well enough the first time (which I know is counterproductive).

        What parts of the test concern you the most? What discipline are you planning to study in grad school? Do you have a final list of programs you’re applying to?

        Good luck next Thursday!

  21. Always love an Eli pic.

    I’m not BBQing this weekend sadly, I’m prepping for my MA final exhibition which starts on Monday. I’ve spent a week installing and now I’m so close, as long as I don’t go in to find devastation on Monday all I have to do is wait for anyone, anyone at all to turn up. We shall see. Cross your fingers for me folks. If you’re interested in some queer art check out my insta or Twitter…shameless desperate plug.
    I hope you all have amazing BBQs with babes and tasty smackrels. Or just great weekends doing whatever you happen to be doing :)

  22. I am finally (at age 22) starting to prep to learn to drive a car, after years of panicking at the mere thought! So far I have sat in the driver’s seat, learned how to check all the mirrors and adjust my view, and turned on/revved up the car without actually moving it anywhere, and that did not make me cry or hyperventilate at all. This is a small thing but it feels very big.

    I’m also going to get CPR/First Aid certification training tomorrow, so that is another new good thing.

    • @beatingthebinary I feel like I’m going to be in your same position in the future. Congrats on learning to drive! You got this.

      Also, how does one go about getting that training? :) I would love to do the same, someday.

      • Thanks! It’s exciting to finally be making the attempt.

        The Red Cross runs training things in a lot of places, and some individual folks who’ve been trained to run trainings offer their services, too. I literally just googled “CPR/First Aid training [my town]” and it turns out that the local community center hosts a training every month or so! If you don’t live in a small town like I do, you’ll probably have even more options. Just make sure that the webpage about the training says it will certify you – I also ran into some training sessions that were “family and friends” style, which said they were designed to give you basic skills at CPR and/or first aid but not to certify you.

  23. I really want to ask my therapist/have her agree with me that I hate myself just because. There doesn’t need to be a reason, can’t I just suck at life?

    • I agree that there doesn’t have to be a reason. But sucking at life? No way, you are doing your best with what life has thrown at you. You are hardcore. Keep on taking care of yourself, because believe me, you are worth it.

    • I’ve been thinking about this myself a lot this past few weeks and I’m hoping maybe this comment will be helpful.

      I tell myself that the reason I have an inner voice that screams ‘loser’ at me over and over every day is because I have high self esteem. Seriously, it’s because part of me believes that I can do better than what I have accomplished (and mostly failed to accomplish) so far in my life. So it’s kind of like that really mean coach that everyone hates, but at least coach believes in us and holds us to high expectations.

      Then I wallow in netflix and chocolate and complaining to friends to give space to how shitty I feel and come to terms with all my disappointment. But I also keep trying because coach and I know I can do better.

      Also, a good workout in the morning makes the difference between a manageable amount of stress from coach, vs way too much pressure / anxiety / depression for me.

      I hope you feel better.

    • Your feelings are always valid. There doesn’t need to be a reason. That doesn’t mean your inner dialog is always true. Depression can warp reality, as I’m sure you know. Hang in there; be kind to yourself. <3

  24. I swear I will attend a fun AS event, someday. SOMEDAY.
    This weekend I am looking forward to seeing my mom and little brother after their visit to Mexico! It’s been 3 weeks. My mental calender was out of wack because of it. (I typically switch between my parents’ houses)
    Also I’ve been super cleaning my dad’s house before I move to college! Guys, the desk, drawers, and bookcase hadn’t been cleaned since 2004. You can imagine how messy they were. (I took out about 7 trashbags) I sorta wish I took before/after pictures. I kinda had fun cleaning? Everything feels more orderly. I found loads of old art supplies that I plan to donate to my elementary school, including a lot of fun stuff for my little brother.
    I also have a small bike (for big kids) and a purple scooter. I wanna donate them. Does anyone know the best way to go about this?

    COLLEGE UPDATE: I was assigned my 2 roommates on Monday! I was extremely lucky, they all seem friendly and awesome and reasonable. We will be dorming in the LGBTQIA+ floor, so I’m probably going to explode rainbows.

    If any of y’all have some college tips, or just wanna share your experience, please let me know! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

    • your local indie bike co-op / garage probably would welcome the scooter and bike donation with open arms.

      congrats on starting college! explode those rainbows! :^D

    • *If you have a couple of classes just 15 minutes apart at the opposite ends of the UCSC campus (and it always happens at least once), you’re gonna want to bring a bike!!! The shuttles and/or hiking fast won’t get you there in time.

      *In keeping with getting around campus, when I got pneumonia my second year and couldn’t hike the hills, I couldn’t go to class for weeks because the doctor at the medical center was new and didn’t know she could write me a note to get rides to class in their special van. If you get really sick, or sprain your ankle, or other medical stuff that makes it hard to get to class, ask them about that note!!

      *The Bagelry, in town (there’s two actually), has the best lox-soycreamcheese-tomato-capers bagel in the WORLD. My mouth is watering right now. Their chai is also amazing.

      *BLTs at Zoccoli’s downtown. YES.

      I could go on with the food-related stuff all. day. But I will try not to :-)

      I was a lit/creative writing major so most of the teachers I know are in the English department. Let me know if you have any questions about them!

      I’m sure I have more Santa Cruz advice but I can’t think what it is right now…

      Oh, UCSC does adventure outing things (dunno exactly what they’re called) from time to time at the local climbing gym, Pacific Edge. GO! It’s super, super fun. That gym is amazing, it’s owned by a couple of awesome people (Tom and Diane), I used to spend every other morning there climbing. :-) I’m scared of heights, and the climbing gym definitely helped! It’s also a great way to make friends.

      I’m so excited for you! :-) What college are you in?


        Aw man, I hate being late so much. It’s almost a phobia, haha. That’s good to know, though. I was planning on bringing my bike anyways, but now I’m more certain about it! :D

        Okay, another THANK YOU for this vital advice. This should come in handy, if at least for people I know. Also I’m sorry you had to experience that! Breathing problems are scary.

        The Baglery? I am all about bagels. I’d love to check out Zoccoli’s, too! I will write these down. Honestly you can PM me with a masterpost of food-related stuff, I don’t mind. Up to you!

        English-majors are so cool to me. Like, I’m so bad with words haha. I am doing bioengineering, so I’ll be taking very few English classes. There is my core class, though! Maybe you know Dion Farquhar?

        You got plenty of time to give me all your Santa Cruz advice. :D Even as the fall semester progresses.

        I definitely want to be more active and take advantage of what UCSC offers. That sounds like such a cool activity!! Heights kinda freak me out, too, so that’s helpful to know I can do it.

        I’m in Porter! I am queer and like art, so I felt it was a perfect fit haha.

        • Yay! Its so cool to see other people from UCSC on AS.
          I second the Bagelry idea. Bagelry is always a good idea. Definitely check out Saturn for all of your queer friendly vegan/vegetarian diner needs.

          This is a shameless plug for my place of employment, come check out The Seymour Marine Discovery Center down at the marine lab! (take a 20 bus and get off at natural bridges) we are a tiny aquarium that aims to get the word out on the science that is happening right at UCSC.

          • @nicoco Right?? I already feel so connected to the school, and I haven’t even moved there yet!
            I got two recommendations for Bagelry, it must be amazing. Oh I’ve heard of the Saturn! I was searching popular restaurants in the area, and the space name caught my attention. Then I was stoked when I heard it was vegetarian/vegan! Perfect. I’m glad you approve.

            Autostraddle is never a place for shame. :D Dude I am all about marine life, so I will definitely check out your workplace. Also thank you for the directions! Y’all are so nice.

    • It is so cool that there is a LGBTQIA floor!

      As far as college tips go:
      GO TO CLASS, find a mentor professor who you can trust, try to not procrastinate (too much), and don’t forget self care

      • @acadie It is! Before I knew about it, I was sorta terrified I would make my roommates uncomfortable with my blatant queerness. That anxiety has now been lifted!

        Solid solid advice. I’ve heard these tips before, but I’m sure there’s a pretty damn good reason for it, huh? :) Repetition will help it sink in for me, especially the procrastination thing. Agh.

    • I can totally relate to having fun cleaning. I mean, it’s not really the cleaning itself that’s fun, but the process of everything becoming orderly. I love order.

      YAY for college!! And it’s awesome that your dorm offers an LGBTQIA+ floor! Glad to hear your roommates seem nice – having good roommates can make a big difference in how pleasant your life is during your first year.

      Advice I wish I had taken in college –
      1- Don’t be afraid to go to your university’s counseling center. I really wish I had done this before my senior year.
      2- Study abroad if you can! (I was going to, but then the trip was cancelled.)

      Stuff I did that I am happy about.
      1- Don’t be afraid to take lots of classes outside your major.
      2- Participate in an undergrad summer internship program if you can. It’ll give you real-life experience, and you’ll be able to hang out with other college students too. It’s so much fun and such a valuable experience.

      Also, I can relate to the late phobia.

      • @eunoia That’s an excellent way of putting it! I love things to be ordered, I feel like it has a positive impact on my mental health too.

        Yayy thank you! I agree, roommates can really make or break a college year. At least from what I’ve heard.

        Counseling center, gotcha! I will have to keep that in mind, especially when I become an upperclassman. (upperclassperson?) If you have time, can you please tell some examples of when going to the center is beneficial?
        Awww, noooooo. Canceled trip? That’s so disappointing. Studying abroad sounds enriching, and almost intimidating. But I think after my first year, I will be ready for it. I appreciate the motivation!

        Oh my god, you actually addressed a very real concern for me. I really love art! I’m not majoring in it (and shockingly there’s no minor for it) but I would love to take at least a couple of art classes. I’ll have to talk to an adviser about it.
        Really? That’s actually a relief, I thought internships were super serious hard work. I mean, I still expect work, but I’m glad it can be an enjoyable experience!
        Again, thank you so much for all of the advice! It was very kind of you to take your time to type this up. :)

        Being late is the worst! Another awesome thing about moving to college: I don’t have to rely on my mom for transportation. There will be much less late anxiety, now.

        • I mainly went as a way to help with my anxiety disorder my senior year. I saw a therapist and psychiatrist, along with a nurse at the health center, but I really shouldn’t have waited until things got bad. The thing is, you don’t have to be struggling with mental health problems to go. Every single student experiences stress related to new adjustments of college, exams, moving, life decisions, etc. I think every student can benefit from counseling. When else can you get free mental healthcare?

  25. Not doing the whole BBQ because i work on the weekends unfortunately. I am celebrating my 7th month anniversary being with my girlfriend. Also i have such great looking hair now

  26. My Friday was very weird. Major work-related drama that made me feel really glad to have a new job already lined up for next year, and a 4-week trip to New Zealand booked for November/December.

    Also, another yes vote for Eli in a hat!

  27. I am in a moment of “gah” summer is nearly over and simultaneous “yeah” for autumn because fall is my favorite. Apples, cider, leaves, crisp mornings, bright cheeks…

    Also debating on a final (and kind of first) summer going out at night(love to dance but don’t really have the resilience for things that start at 11 pm anymore). Should I? Can I stay awake? Will I functional tomorrow?

    In the fun facts I’ve learned recently: the two extra large dogs and I fit well in a two person tent because one will curl up in a ball at my feet to sleep (but only when it’s sleeping time). Fortunately, I am short. And nobody ate the tent!

  28. Hello grill masters! =D How’s the straddleverse? I’ve been great, so busy with work as always. I thought I was going to Arizona tonight until Sunday but my sister changed plans so basically I have a sort of free weekend. I’ll be over at her house tomorrow, lasagna in hand and swim suit on.

    It’s hot in LA right now, but it makes for really good swimming weather. Yesterday I thought I was just washing the car then I realized I could detail it because I’m off today also. It looks really good. Haha.

    My little dapper car

    Also I was at the immigration attorney yesterday! Christine and I are officially filing paperwork and sometime next year my human and I will be together. We’ve talked about the wedding in some detail I guess. Mint and peach all the things!! She and I were on Skype the other night with Andy! =) He’s coming here too!!


    Nope nevermind, I’m sleeping.

    I took this at the gym 2 nights ago after I did my arm workout. I was really pumped after and celebrated by taking a bathroom selfie. YAS.

  29. I REALLY wish I could go to the AutoBabeBQ in LA tomorrow, but hopefully one day I can go! In other news, I got my Gal Pal shirt yesterday and I love it!! Thank you guys for designing it, I love crop tops but I don’t own many for some reason. :) Bad picture time…

      • I will miss you all as well. :( I was hoping to finally find Carmen SanDiego but one day I will.

        Also my damn picture didn’t post but I’m too lazy to try and fix it

  30. No barbecue, but last night one of my good friends came over with his partner, and we made a giant pot of ratatouille and batch of rosemary challah (yes, I know it was Thursday and not Friday) with my girlfriend. The idea that I’m leaving for France in a few weeks is sinking in and I”m kind of freaking out.

    This weekend will probably have me finishing the rest of the ratatouille, studying for my Elementary ed praxis exams (can’t be harder than the french language one, right? right. cool.), and binge watching the west wing with my girlfriend since we’re supposed to have rain all weekend long.

    • Any day is good day for challah, but I’m a slut for bread and an actual heathen in addition to being a Gentile.
      Challah is like pho, it’s so good it need to be eaten all of the hours of and days of the year.

  31. Have you been looking for Carmen SanDiego since you were a child? Have you searched all over the world?
    Your problems are over!
    Carmen SanDiego is hosting an AutoBabeBQ tomorrow in LA! You should come by!

  32. Yes to Eli in his summer hat!

    My life right now is my brain has too many things it’s trying to suggest I do in addition to the usually things swirling around in it.

    Recent Bad ideas:
    Incorporating drag and striptease at same time, or skipping the lip syncing and just out right singing while taking clothes off, but what probably would best is just focusing on the stripteasing part. I blame you Carmen for introducing that Pony song.

    Lesbian super-hero character that is more of an anti-hero or vigilante who could become a hero someday. I’m not a writer, I’m a creator and the GLBT community has enough violence in it’s life it doesn’t need it in fantasy. Additionally it feels like what business do I have writing about the complexity of a white passing indigenous woman whose ideal of beauty is based off what she can remember of her long dead Oneida mother?
    I made a character so “complicated” and imbued her with some of the worst/best parts of myself with out trying to she makes me nervous, worried about “correctness” to the point it’s like never mind how useless it is to make characters when you can’t write fiction…how mad is this going to make other white people?

    One Legged Push Ups
    I can do them, but I pushed to hard last night and now one of my buttcheeks feels unhappy. I’ve been good since picked up working out about not pushing hard like I used to when I was trying to strip my humanity away. Last night was just wee little slip up that’s not going to be a trend because I said so and I’ve got the iron will to protect myself.

    Life Development:
    Yoga bras from Champion, they keep my pudding cups warm without trying to remodel my ribs. I bought 2 and the the only colours the store had were neon eye stabbing green and coral. That’s right me who already has enough trouble trying to have bras not show through shirts is now the owner of 2 bras that are colours that belong at a rave or lazer tag and now where else.

    More cotton boyshorts, but these ones have cool black and white waist band and 2 of them are my super favoured colours black and grey. I love the colour grey more than is probably healthy and may or may not have a handwritten list of my favourite Pantone greys.

    A Thing That Overwhelmed Me
    This little scrap of black lace caught my eye as I walked to the checkout with my Neon Yoga Bras of Doom and boyshort 6-pack. Helpless to the siren call of black lace I investigate and it’s an unpadded bralette.

    (Usually shopping for undergarments is frustrating, but for me it is sometimes heartbreaking and once I had a meltdown. It’s something that makes me feel often like I do not belong and that my body is a failure because so many things do not fit or cause me physical pain. The time I had a meltdown I was in the store for hours without finding anything and the salespeople were being weird to me, I just broke.
    I have taken so much twisted bs the world has thrown my way shrugged it off and kept going, but as I think most people know the hardest shit to take is the shit you twist and shred yourself with. I was super having those my body is failure, why do you think you can even be a woman you silly little freak, you’re not even a person and they know it feelings all alone in a little room by myself. If I didn’t have a melt down from that I’d doubt my humanity and wonder if I was a robot)

    So on a whim and buoyed by neon things I found that did fit I go what the hell and try this pretty lil black thang on. Even if it doesn’t fit (which I assume it will not) I can look at my gorgeous self in one of my favourite kinds of fabric for a little while, it’ll be okay I found things that fit and nice underpants.
    Sancta Maria Mater Dei did it not only fit, not pinch, or even itch it looked awesome. Having a “big” rib number, lil boobs and more hard muscle than boobage a lot of things can end up looking ridiculous on me in addition to being ouchy.
    It is not on sale which I know is gunna bring my bill up, but something my mother and Katrina taught me is if you find a thing, a really good thing that you may need you buy that motha fuckin thing and you don’t look back because you never know if you’ll find it again.
    Course I buy it and I’m okay, totally okay. Until later when I’m alone at home in front my mirror trying it on with my new grey boyshorts and there’s this surge of feelings just FEELINGS that just overwhelm me and hafta to sit down or I’ll fall down.
    It was everything from how hard something that fits and looks so nice on me is to find, to it’s feminine thing that doesn’t make me feel like I don’t fit or deserve nice things, to the essay by Tyler Ford that’s been eating at me. Just all the things.

    Now I just gotta figure out what the hell shirt to wear over it because lace has a texture or just wear it for pre-snu snu fun and games.

    Oh yeah my Katrina essay is so very incomplete and an absolute mess, Gordita tried use a title as a chew toy and I barely caught her because it sounded just her bone being chewed if Legs hadn’t gotten barky who knows what could have happened, I’ve been having peanutbutter toast sandwiches for breakfast and wondering why the heck I haven’t thought of this before because it is awesome.
    That’s basically been my life this week.
    But WTF neon bras…

      • You’re welcome? don’t know how to respond alot of the time.
        I can’t seem to stop myself even if I still sometimes think keeping it all in would be better.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one with a serious thing for the color grey. I don’t have any lists of favorite greys, but I could probably get into that. when I go clothes shopping and see things I like, it’s like ooh pretty! ….and grey. of course it’s grey again. basically all my clothes are either grey or blue.

      • We are a rarity, us lovers of grey.
        I kinda hate my clothes because there is not enough grey or black, but waaay too many white t-shirts that are about things I don’t care about and can’t really even wear under things.

  33. So I’m not barbecuing, but only because I have another fabulous Saturday planned!

    I recently started a queer meetup group in St. Louis (Queer STL), and our first meetup is tomorrow night! I have 15+ sure-to-be-amazing queer individuals coming together at one of St. Louis’ newest lesbian (and lesbian-owned and operated) eating and drinking establishments, Lilly’s Music and Social House, for drinking and queer community. And I’m feeling so incredibly lucky to live in a place where I can say “one of the newest lesbian” cafes/bars/clubs rather than “the only” or “used to be, before they closed” (*cough* San Francisco *cough*). And their cocktails are named after amazing women like Frida Kahlo and Josephine Baker (Lily Tom-lin Collins, anyone?), so they are intoxicating AND empowering.

  34. Also I told my mom our plans and stuff like moving out etc. And she said well are you moving out? We’re not telling you to leave just because she gets here. And I said well….it would be awkward? And she just does this knowing laugh and and goes WHAT AWKWARD? and just giggles til I blush hahaha

  35. Wow I just caught up on a month’s worth of AS articles!! Took me all day but I did it! Aww I love coming back here after being gone for a bit and it just feels like HOME.

    Anyway, I had a phone interview today and might be getting a job in Seattle?? I might have to move in like A WEEK AND A HALF???? I just emailed my immediate and ultimate bosses to let them know they’ll be getting calls/emails for references, and now I’m super nervous. I’ve never had to tell a job I was leaving for someone else! It feels like an awful break up.


  36. It’s Pride here in my city and although all my plans have gone down the drain because everyone has been cancelling it’s going to be awesome because I baked a cake!

    And last night I decided that I will join the local queer group in the fall to find my own gal pals. I’m super shy so it’s going to be a struggle but wish me luck! :)

  37. 1. Applied for my UK Visa. Will I get it on time? Who knows. Maybe not. This is stressful. But…

    2. Hey I got my Tomboy Femme shirt in the mail so it’s all kinda sorta OK!!!

    • Just wanted to send my sympathy on the UK visa process. The website SUCKS and its name also sounds like spam to my email software every time. Actually, Visa4UK even sounds like a scam to me and I’m fully sentient! If you live near NYC and things get hairy, I hear going to the consulate in person can help straighten things out. If it’s a Tier 4 student visa, it may take a few months, but they usually come through in time for term starts in my experience.

  38. Guys guys guys I’m starting college in 4 days and I GET TO LIVE 100% COMPLETELY OUT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE.

    I am so excited and also a little scared but mostly really excited. YAY FOR BEING OUT!

    • Oh wow, it’s Sunday. I really missed the deadline for this one. But I am so excited! So it’s okay!

  39. Hey Straddlers,

    I’m de-lurking because I need your advice. I’m queer, like really queer, I promise. I feel the need to qualify this because I also have long, acrylic talon shaped nails. That are currently pink and glittery. So, yeah. Although I have the prerequisite alternative haircut, I am otherwise kind of high tomboy femme. I wear elaborate makeup and clothing &c. The thing is, I’m getting to the point in my life where I really want to meet a new and potentially very serious girlfriend. I’m terrified my talons will scare her away at first sight at something like an AS meetup! Straddlers, I need your help/advice!

    The thing is, I keep the nails, amusingly enough, for medical reasons. I was a horrible compulsive skin picker, on five different medications, not to mention on and off antibiotics. I got MRSA, twice. I saw every OCD/trich specialist in two national health systems. It was a decade of hell. I was finally able to stop, however, because the acrylic nails cut off the trigger sensation when I ran my fingers across my skin, giving the meds time to cut off the urge sensation lurking beneath it. The nails turned me into a functional human that could sleep without bleeding all over some hotel’s sheets again. For the first time in ca 7 years of my life, I am off antibiotics. It has given me great personal happiness, not to mention less time in the ER.

    There was a really awful Autostraddle article about a girl who got an infection from acrylics on her partner. I would wear gloves, but I’m afraid my partners won’t find me/the situation sexy. Can I somehow still keep my nails AND finally meet *the* girl? I have a lot of scars that I have to explain in intimate situations so I don’t mind explaining the nails that prevent them now, I’m just afraid it will never get to that point. It seems like people don’t even believe in my gayness because of the talons. They see me and think I’m ‘not really’ queer or something. Other than printing this whole explanation on a t-shirt in tasteful helvetica, how can I meet girls without them looking at my nails, screaming internally, and running away?

    Even my dyke buff squad/posse freaked out about the nails, and made faces, until they heard the real reason… so can I keep my nails, and my health/sanity, but lose the celibacy? How?!?

    seeking advice,

    p,.s.– A lot of people I know read Autostraddle. Hi if I know you in real life and you recognise my talon tale! Email me if you have any questions.

    • Decorate the nails in the style of knuckle tattoos to spell things? “D-Y-K-E”, “Q-U-E-E-R”, “I-L-I-K-E-G-I-R-L-S”? I mean, or you could ask women out and otherwise actively show you’re interested.

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