FRIDAY OPEN THREAD: Please Tell Me The Worst of It Is Over

Hi, hedgehogs and porcupines! Welcome to this week’s Friday Open Thread, in which we eat hummus using whatever vegetables I forgot I bought the other day and then found in my produce basket in the fridge. They’re still good, I promise, I just lose track of my life a lot. But also, JK! This is our sacred space in which to gather and share love, light, happy thoughts, pictures of cats, poems we wrote when we were teens, and whatever else we fancy to put into the world at the moment because fuck it, let us live. And I’m really glad you’re part of it!

Here’s a picture of a dog I’d normally caption “mood!”

To be honest, I am struggling with how much to reveal about the fact that I’m just now closing out what was undoubtedly the bleakest week of my life. How about instead I just let you know the kind-of-happy endings: Hillary Clinton could still become President so my one true dream might not be dead; going home for my grandma’s funeral provided me with an opportunity to find healing and also see my family which seems important; Eli got away from a coyote almost unscathed; sure I’m sick now but I like soup anyway. Does that work?

In case you’re still feeling dark or looking for light, don’t forget what my SoulCycle instructors have so often told me in various ways but also in these exact words during different courses: that on the other side of resistance is resilience, that what defines us is our ability to put one foot in front of the other even when it’s hard, that you are loved and supported. That in this thread (okay they said “room”) we are family.

And most importantly, a modified manifesto: Be brave in this space so you can be brave out there. Be a warrior in this space so you can be a warrior out there.

In other news, I haven’t been to SoulCycle in two weeks and I think I might cry tears of joy on my stationary bike tomorrow. Now come on down, tell me somethin’ good, and get to loving on each other! I’ll be over here making some more soup and drinking Evian in pursuit of a day when I don’t have to carry this many Ricola in my Hillary Clinton tote bag softly weeping for my nation.

I love you. Welcome home.

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Carmen is the Managing Digital Editor at Ms. , host of Bitch Media's POPAGANDA podcast and co-founder and Contributing Editor at Argot magazine. She previously served as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director at Autostraddle. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 927 articles for us.


  1. Folks, my dayjob is kicking my ass, to the point of scream crying at my wife for an hour about how much I hate it followed by working at home until 10:00 at night and eating crisps for my dinner. So I need to get out of this soon. *sigh*
    Also I had an emergency filling at the dentist yesterday, my fear of dentists is extreme so a sudden injection in the jaw left me white knuckling and shaking for a couple of hours…but I was back at work and being shouted at…so yeah.
    In good news I ate hot roast chestnuts today fresh from folks in Victorian garb at a Christmas market. I ran through it avoiding the crowds as I headed to the barber.
    So I’ve been playing Mass Effect 2 and watching Buffy in the brief occasions when I’m not freaking out about my dayjob/the state of the world/my future. I’m telling you flirting with blue ladies in space really helps. I need to get the shadow broker DLC so I can get my space girlfriend back though…
    Hope you all have great weekends, and even better weeks.

  2. Hi Carmen! I don’t have a lot of good news for you, sorry. But I can contribute the fact that I listen to girl power playlists on Spotify while elliptical-ing (10/10 would recommend, btw) and since the election they keep making me cry, bc somehow my brain manages to make every single one of them relevant to this political travesty.

    That said, I haven’t really cried about the election in the past few days and I honestly kind of miss it. Now I mostly just feel dead inside, which I think is worse than pure misery??

    Regardless, thank you for hosting us, for being our home, and for being as heartbroken about this as I am. I can’t tell you how much it means to know that I’m not the only one who’s still grieving.

    Hope you feel better soon!

  3. It’s been a mixed week. I’ve just come and my family illness situation continues, with all of us trying to support each other without admitting we’re struggling. It’s like an optical illusion, with everyone holding everyone above themselves with no one coming out on top. It’s exhausting and people in my family who don’t cry are coming to me, the weepy one, for comfort.

    I’m also still sad for your election, and worried about my friends who are gay, trans and people of colour in the states.

    BUT, I have channelled that in to giving directly to some US charities which makes me feel a little better and more supportive from across the pond. AS was helpful in selecting them, so thanks!

    Also, a random stranger online did me a great kindness for no reason, at cost to themselves, to help me with a present. It was a joyous reminder that the internet can be a great thing and connect people for positive reasons.

    I finally told the last person on the ‘need to know’ list about sexuality, which has been exhausting but I feel I can start being more comfortable in my identity now. There’s still a few people I might explicitly tell but I feel I’m at the point it can casually come up in other conversations now. Which is good, right?

    It’s nearly 2017. I keep telling myself that.

    • Congratulations! I hope that you can indeed start to feel easier in your identity now, and wish you all the best as you continue the coming-out process.

      We are so close to 2017. Just a few more weeks. We can do this.

  4. Hi, everyone!

    I live in a rural community in Tennessee, but my corner of the state also happens to be a blue bubble, so I feel unnervingly insulated from our national trauma. I’m doing my best to support the people I love, address conflicts with the people who came down on the other side of this nightmare, and give and make phone calls and all the rest of it so far as I am able. So, so glad that y’all are here. <3

    As far as my personal life goes, things are in their usual state of anxious flux. We had an office party on Wednesday night, to celebrate getting the proofs for the Winter 2017 issue of the magazine off to the designers and typesetters, which was kind of awkward. (The staff consists of me, two other interns, the managing editor, and the editor-in-chief. It's a pretty chill work environment—walking around in sock feet and reading on the roof in nice weather are perfectly acceptable—but I'm not the greatest at social stuff.)

    I'm now out to nearly all of my friends, though! Also, I'm finally comfortable enough to make casual references to my sexuality with some of them, and to not freak out or tense up when they do the same thing. And I had a really helpful conversation with one friend about queerness and imposter syndrome, and how feeling "not queer enough" doesn't in any way mean that I'm not queer. (This is something I worry about a lot, as a person who has only dated one man and zero women or otherwise-gendered people.)

    Still not out to my parents. Not because I feel unsafe—I'm fortunate, since that's absolutely not an issue—but because I worry (based on what my mom in particular has said when friends or public figures in my age bracket have come out) that they won't take me seriously/will think I'm just being "trendy" unless I can come to them with A Woman and not just the nebulous, unproven idea that I prefer women. And looking for a relationship in part because I want my parents to believe me when I tell them this thing about me is a REALLY AWFUL reason to try and date someone, so until I'm confident enough to not feel that way, I don't think I should say anything at all.

    Oh, and I'm still trying to apply to MFA programs in fiction, and the personal statements/statements of purpose are kicking my butt.

    Wow, sorry, that was a lot. I think you guys are great, I'm glad AS is here, if I can help you in any way please feel free to PM me.

  5. Hello fellow porcupines! I don’t have a lot that’s new but I hope to next week. I bought new bedsheets and realized they’re very similar to the new bedsheets I bought for my first apartment at 18 which in turn looked suspiciously similar to the new sheets I got for my first big-kid bed at 5. I bought Work Pants in the hopes that I will soon also get Work, and I got rid of my Work Bag when I moved because it was ugly and now I am on a tight budget and have to get a new Work Bag and they are all ugly and I am questioning my decisions. I tried the men’s section and it was full of better bags that were all too leather and too way-beyond-my-price-range and also turns out the men’s department is full of entitled shovy men who may outright smirk at you for being there, WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED.
    My cat is lying on top of me and purring and the best.
    Carmen, you are the strongest porcupine.

  6. {{giant hugs to everyone who wants one}}

    Wow, sounds like it’s been kind of a shitty week for all of us. Really, this entire year has been a raging trash fire, but some weeks hit harder in particular.

    For a while now, I’ve been doing a modified version of the #100happydays challenge. Essentially, the idea is to post/write down at least one positive thing about your day every day, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant that thing is. It’s not intended as an ~*~everything is awesome!!!~*~ sort of thing – it’s more of a refocusing exercise.

    For instance, my happiness for today:
    – I made whiskey banana bread with dark chocolate chunks. It made my apartment smell amazing.
    – I got a call from my grandma and got to chat with her for a bit.
    – On my way to the doctor’s, I saw a super-happy puppy running with its owner.

    Some days the challenge is harder than others – it can take me an hour or more to come up with even one good thing on some days. But… there’s always something.

    Feel free to share your little moments of positivity about this day/week with me!

    • If you could share the recipe for that banana bread, I know some people here in Sewanee who would LOVE it. (My town is, as you may or may not have heard, kind of the epicenter of Southern Whiskeypalianism.)

      {giant hugs right back}

      Hmm, positive things for today:
      1. I’m halfway through Mary Renault’s “The Bull and the Sea,” and reading it feels like taking one of those enormous breaths of air that goes all the way down into your lungs.
      2. I found out that there’s a biography of Angela Carter, one of my favorite writers at the moment, that’s going to be published in the spring.
      3. I’m getting back into the swing of learning poetry by heart (yeah, I was one of THOSE English majors), and started with Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art,” which I love more, the more I work with it.

      Oh, dear. I’m not intentionally being pretentious. It’s just that I got an English degree in May, work at a literary magazine, and am currently applying to grad school for fiction. Pretty much the only thing in my life right now that doesn’t revolve around reading or writing is all the stress-baking (mostly pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins) that I’ve been doing.

      I see your Lego Movie reference, by the way. And I appreciate the tenor of your take on gratitude-challenges.

  7. My grandpa went in for his surgery. So far it has gone well. He is recovery at the moment. Hoping it goes well.

    My weeks has been a bit disconnected. I took off Monday from work. Wasn’t feeling good. Needed the extra day to recoup my mental health and regular health, I think. Tuesday was work. Which went well. I work in the processing section of our library system. I put the plastic covers on the new items we recieve and all the labels. It is a pretty great job honestly. Where else can I be in my own little introvert nest* aka desk of comfort and get paid?
    I did put in for a circulation desk job. It would be full time, which is needed at this point. But since I have only been in the library state for two years, my chances are a bit small for an interview. But I have a chance, so that is my silver lining. ?
    *comfy chair, cozy sweater, fully charged iPod for music and podcasts, and coffee make up my little nest.

  8. While the world around me seems to be a shit storm somehow I have had a fairly good week. I finished exams and am now 99.9% done with high school, except for graduation in two weeks.
    Last night I went to an awesome comedy show called frocking hilarious and I got to see 11 super funny women do stand up. I got to see Hannah gadsby and Demi Lardner perform and I’d really been looking forward to that and they were so good. I went to the show with a friend who I hadn’t seen in like 18 months so it was super good to catch up with her. Also I’m starting to think there is a correlation between lesbianism and being a comedian. I’ll have to do some more research.
    Yesterday my birthday as well. I turned 19 so it wasn’t super exciting but obviously ok. I went shopping with my mum and sister. Ooh and my sister got me a ghostbusters poster as a present so that was awesome and my parents gave me pyjamas with lamingtons on them and a subscription to a really cool artsy magazine called frankie. Overall it was quite a good birthday. Although I’m a bit miffed bc quite a few of my school friends didn’t say happy birthday to me at all – not online or when I saw them. So that wasn’t great.
    But anyway I’m going out clubbing tonight so hopefully I can drink and dance any bad feelings away.
    Anyway I hope everyone else’s weeks were somewhat ok even though the human cheeto has started to assemble the worlds worst White House staff.

    • Happy Birthday for Friday!!! Congrats too on finishing your exams and graduating soon. Hope you had a good night out and feel better now.

      You’re right about the US mess but our own, in Australia, is depressing me enough too. Hopefully somethings will improve in ’17.

      Any way best luck for the New Year and your new life post High School.

  9. This week, in my “The Marriage Plot in the Novel” class @ UCLA, I began a sentence with, “Like all great failed relationships…” which made my professor laugh out loud and then declare that she wants to teach a class titled All Great Failed Relationships.

    I don’t know how I did it, but I think I made this week less crappy just by describing what makes a good breakup narrative.

    Also, I think I’ll be naming my autobiography that. I hope your week was at least that good :)

      • The discussion went something like, “Like all great failed relationships, there is a lot left unsaid…”

        We were discussing Mrs. Dalloway and the conversation between Clarissa and Peter where basically everything occurred in their minds and neither of them ever really said how they were feeling.

        If you want a really good breakup—the kind that lingers in your heart for years and gets replayed in your head when the right song comes on—all you have to do is NOT say the thing that you really wanted to say.

        The less you say, the more the torment will persist.

  10. Hello everyone. It’s good to be here.

    I am feeling better about leaving behind my short lived, incredibly dysfunctional attempt at heterosexual marriage. My ex proved to me today that I was right – he’s still an abusive arse – and In that instant, all of my guilt and self doubt vanished and now I’m like, yep, I made the right call. So, I’m thankful for that message from the universe. Im feeling so free.

    I Had a fantastic afternoon in the sun and cherished my children. This isn’t the life I dreamed of for them but this is real and finally I feel like I’m actually part of it. It’s exciting to be starting fresh.

    On the lighter side, I realized that I have no shirts with sleeves on them, so I went shopping. I’m trying to balance the fact that I really love “men’s” clothing with my self-consciousness about wearing it. Like, I’m not trying to make a statement about my identity, I just like it better and it fits my body because I’m built like a teenage boy. Girl clothes are weird on me. I’m tired of wearing them like I’ll-fitting camouflage. But, I don’t want people to think I’m trying to be political, it’s only shirts?

    Have a good weekend everyone. Goodnight.

  11. I finally learned how to mow a lawn, and mowed our entire front and back yard.

    It may sound simple but there were some hurdles – I was terrified of the mower, no manual, parents live far away, none of my friends knew how to do it, broken mower, we didn’t have the money or tools/skills to fix it even with YouTube, certainly no money to pay anyone to mow the damn lawn when it grows ferociously here, everyone else in the house is disabled and I’m overworked and exhausted.

    However, each problem was solved in turn, as I was fueled by queer feminist rage after my mum told me to ‘just get a man to do it’.

  12. I know I’m late to this thread but I’m currently driving up to Trump country upper Michigan to spend a week with my family, with a evangelical Christian and 2 privilege denying brothers. Goddess keep me sane. Autostraddle family, give me tips for survival?

    • Pics, vids and gif of adorable baby animals. Remembering you don’t have to stay with these people, you get to leave. I peeked at your profile and you’re employed so I’m guessing you don’t have to financially depend on them and if you want to leave ’em forever you could. But I can understanding wanting to be there as a good influence for the youngins.

      And just do not engage if some body is spoiling for a fight with ya, you can’t fix ignorance in grown ass adult and it ain’t your responsibility to do so.
      I have an inner Hermione and when someone is wrong I itch to explain in detail why they are wrong, it does nothing but make me look like a wannabe autocrat and solidifies the other persons’ viewpoint.

      It’s some psychology thing I don’t remember the name of but when you come hard at someone with a vastly different stance than yours all you do is make them cling harder to their stance and feel more right about it.
      All I’m 100% on is that I’ve experienced this in real life in a variety of situations from opposing political stuff to graphic design class critiques.

  13. Hi Guys! I also have been continuing to cycle through tears of rage then grief then rage RE: our new state of affairs in which He Who Must Not Be Named has ostensibly come back. UGH.

    But I just mostly wanted to share a HUGE HUGE HUGE VICTORY wherein I am applying to graduate school this year and due to struggles with depression and anxiety have been having extra trouble since the election working on my application which is due very soon. And anyway as you all are aware you need THREE letters of recommendations for most porgrams and reaching out to people from my past has ALSO been INCREDIBlY agonizing and scary for me because of large amounts of burned bridges and trauma etc.

    SO ANYWAY. I finally FINALLY really just way too late in the game e-mailed my old profs for a few letters and have spent the last week agonizing over whether they would write me back with a yes or even at all–and today I FINALLY HEARD BACK from ALL THREE PEOPLE who have stated it’s “GREAT to hear from me” and “YES of COURSE”

    THIS IS HUGE NEWS FOR A PTSD LADEN INDIVIDUAL AS MYSELF! I have been putting off applying to grad school for fear of having to reach out to people who I left behind in the coming out process of my life. I can hardly believe I no longer have to worry about this!!!!! I’m thrilled and sad at my insane amount of anxiety over a thing that has turned out to be not that big a deal.

    Anyway, I know there is that voice in my head that is saying if APPLYING to school is this stressful then I am probably not ready to actually go back to school but I know now what the process entails and I am certainly learning alot about myself in the process.


    Just needed to vent and share bc I know y’all get it ab depression and productivity. xx

    • Oh wow, that is amazing and really awesome. I am also dealing with anxiety+depression power combo while trying to live my life which is like running the American Ninja Warrior course but it’s coated in lube and you’re also getting attacked by angry bats.

      But, it is powerful that we try anyway! I’m so glad you’ve had some success!

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