image by Rory Midhani

image by Rory Midhani

Hello and welcome to this week’s FRIDAY OPEN THREAD, a weekly gathering where we hex our enemies, take turns calling our senators, and share our favorite vegetable-forward recipes. Mine’s this:

Two plates of cauliflower on a tray on a bed.

Roasted cauliflower with pumpkin seeds, brown butter, lime and parsley. I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and it makes my girlfriend swear she can taste how much I love her whenever I make it.

Hey, while we’re on the subject of sharing photos, can I see some of yours? There was a thing going around on Facebook this past week where you post #X photo from your phone, whatever it was. Let’s try that? Post the 16th photo in your phone to the comments. You know, if you want to. Mine’s this:

photo of a cat peeking out behind curtains

That’s Kairi. She likes to sit in the window and watch the people below.

If you don’t want to share a photo, maybe you could take a snapshot in words? As I write this post, I’m sitting in a towel on my bed with wet hair, listening to birds outside the window and NPR on my Alexa device. In the other room, my girlfriend is trying on suit jackets and doing some last minute packing for our road trip. Sun is streaming through the window, and my perfume smells like patchouli and vanilla.

Okay! Now you go!

How To Post A Photo In The Comments:

Find a photo on the web, right click (on a Mac, control+click), hit “Copy Image URL” and then…
code it in to your comment like so:

If you need to upload the photo you love from your computer, try using imgur. To learn more about posting photos, check out Ali’s step-by-step guide.

How To Post A Video In The Comments, Too:

Find a video on YouTube or Vimeo or WHATEVER and click “embed.” Copy that code, paste it, you’re good to go!

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 211 articles for us.


  1. I’m honestly shocked… there were at least 16 pictures on my phone (hopefully there’s a picture up there…). I didn’t think there would be.

    Anywho, this is my brother’s dog, Pippin (named after a certain fool of a Took from The Lord of the Rings), and this picture was taken while I was visiting my family for the holidays this year. Not much to say there except that while uploading the image, I took a look back through my Photobucket album (there were some more recent items, but most of it is from years ago). So that was weird.

    Nothing much going on in my life outside of a desperate job search since the Bursar’s Office at my university has forced me to take a semester off and so far I’ve had no luck finding a professor with room in their research budget to hire an undergrad for anything (seriously, the entire department seems to be tapped out). I need to try the Physics and Engineering departments, but Physics will almost certainly have no slots available and I don’t know anyone in Engineering. This semester has been ever so much fun… fml.

  2. I bought that picture at a queer artists’ gallery thing in Barcelona during a gay festival last year and had my friend stow it in his luggage for safekeeping. I picked it up at his place when I took that picture.
    Still haven’t found a place to put it.

    Right this moment, I’m lying in bed, greasy with sunscreen, overfed from dinner, at my mom’s house in Florida.
    I brought a friend on vacation who turned out to be super meek which has been driving me up the walls since day two, when we were in New York and I felt like I had to show a toddler around.
    Also, my mom is a bad drunk, and this is day four and I’m kind of anxious for her to drink too much and snap.
    I actually brought said friend to defuse the entire situation, which so far has been working out, actually, and I’ve been eating well and working out, but I’m not sleeping too well.
    Also, I’m spending 90% of my time hiding because I’m the one annoyed beyond belief and about to snap, so yeah, living the fun vacation dream, although the weather really IS rather nice now!
    P.S.: How do I manage to always get myself into these situations?

      • Well, maybe I need to discuss expectations and realities more.
        I really had no clue it would be like this and I’m mostly angry because I wasn’t pre-warned.
        We’re talking about “I don’t know how to turn the shower to hot, help!” levels here.
        But we’ve had “the talk” and things are looking up slightly.
        Over a week to go.
        In her defense, I’m super out going and fun when around people, but actually, I’m a quiet introvert who really enjoys her alone time and deep discussions about the architectural style of brutalism, the change of the media in the last few months in the US, the prevalence of mental illness among the homeless veterans populating the streets of NY and not the steal deal someone made by getting pre bought tickets to the Rockefeller Tower something.
        Wow, people can really be different.
        Lesson learned.

  3. I started a new job this week and I’m still working my old job from home because the new one is not technically classified as a job (everyone is an “independent contractor” because capitalism is fun) so I have to see how things go before I can quit, and I am exhausted and falling apart. My partner has been out of town but will be back tomorrow and I can’t wait. I’m hoping I can adjust to this schedule soon and next week will be less exhausting?

    Also if anyone has recommendations for career options with the least amount of mansplaining involved in the job I’m all ears.

    My 16th photo is obviously my cat, lying in the sun, because every photo on my phone is cats, girls with cats, or ironic juxtaposition of signage, but I’m too tired to get it uploaded anywhere.

  4. My 16th photo chronologically is of my mom on her birthday 4 or 5 years ago, and my 16th photo reverse chronologically is of my dad and me last weekend enjoying the free ice cream we got because my derby team won our game by >100 points, and one of our sponsors is an ice cream shop. Because I don’t think either of my parents would appreciate me posting photos of them online, I won’t, but I would like y’all to know that both of them look real cute and are smiling.

    It freezing rained all afternoon; the trees are dramatic and heavy with ice. I had a very social week, so I’m spending tonight with West Wing reruns and a bottle of wine. My girlfriend is out hanging out on a roofdeck on the east coast, where it’s still unseasonably warm, so we’ll Skype when she gets home.

    One of my best friends invited me over tomorrow to watch movies and bake cookies and use her washing machines — my apartment has pay machines in the basement, but I am out of quarters. She has an in-unit washer and dryer, and is super generous and thoughtful to offer to let me use her appliances.

  5. Hey, everyone, this was a special week for me. Tuesday I went to DMV to get my letter on my driver’s license changed to an F, something I should’ve done ages ago & am doing now because it’s relatively easy in New York State, and after 11/8 it mattered more. And I thought I was headed the right direction, I’d probably be wearing my clothes outdoors by April, I thought, at this rate. Not bad.

    Relatively easy. Unless the system at DMV goes down. It was this epic struggle, four hours to get finished, I was dressed sort of gq, still edging (I thought) toward finally being really out in public. I thought I’d be done in a half-hour, I had a purple tank and a necklace on under my jacket, on my way to somewhere else, but then the system went down … we ended up getting lined up manually, like the Old Days. At some point I decided that everyone there had noticed me, if they cared, stared if they wanted to, and I kind of just stopped worrying about it—I call it Getting Stared At practice, and this was like getting thrown in the deep end. By the time they asked me, “Are you here to register a vehicle?” and I answered, “No, I’m changing my sex, to an F,” the fact that everyone could hear me (we were in the special line, in the middle of the room) really didn’t matter at all.

    Wednesday I went to the gym dressed mostly out, black tank and this marled cotton hoodie I got (I’m kind of clothes-happy these days, just learning all these new words like “marled”; males are taught maybe a half-dozen nouns for articles of clothing and use them the rest of their lives, and this is much more fun). Only three blocks, still felt vulnerable the whole way, but really impressed with my progress.

    Yesterday we all woke up to the anti-trans decree, & even though I knew it was coming I was so unbelievably angry. As soon as I heard about the rally at Stonewall last night, I was determined to go undisguised. I borrowed a pair of my wife’s pants because I didn’t have quite what I needed—she’s in SF this week, she won’t mind—and went off wearing 100% not-male clothing: my tank that says, “Let Us Transgend Where No Transgender Has Transgended Before,” my green cardigan, her black corded trousers. It looked to me at first like it would be one of those rallies where there are more cops than protestors, then suddenly enough people had gotten off work and it was huge. It was awesome.

    Today, when I went out to go shopping, I wore what I would’ve if I were cis (it’s a standard I apply sometimes, “If I were cis”), unwashed hair (washed it yesterday), a Hampshire College tee (our son goes there), and green cotton drawstring-tie capris. No makeup, I hate makeup and consequently am not very good at it. I did shave. Went out of my way to be just me.

    And, like, there were gay people everywhere! I swear. Some people, who might not have been seen clearly by everyone to be queer, had gone out of their way, like one guy had these totally flaming sunglasses. It was a nice, scarily-warm day in Brooklyn, which helped. Yes, it’s Park Slope, etc., but still … I knew it wasn’t just me when I overheard someone say, “It seems like every other person I’ve seen today is gay!” It was as if someone had flipped a switch. I didn’t feel so different today. Whatever is going on, I hope it stays like this, at least for a while. Maybe the point is that sometimes, like the day I made the mistake of wearing my Straddle scissors tee (my premium, thx) into the City, suddenly you realize there are even more queers in this town than you’d thought. Lots more.

    So, I’m out! Out, out, out! Surely did not expect to be here a week ago. I’m still nervous as hell when I go out, but not scared to death anymore. Four days now I’ve been out in public; somehow getting my F on my license, seeing it there — but only after being stuck in a room with hundreds of other people for hours — finally unlocked something in my head; the ptsd will tell me I’m in constant danger but I’m *not*. I feel like I finally left something behind this week that I don’t need anymore. Yesterday sort of confirmed that, and today was the icing on top of the cupcake. There was this expression I used to hear a lot: “She came shooting out of the closet like a rocket.” It’s been something like that for me. I wanted to tell y’all first, I love this site, and y’all helped convince me that it was safe now, being a trans dyke. I had read a lot on the site, for months, proving it to myself over and over. Being a trans anything in the 90s was dangerous, to put it mildly, so I hid again, for a long time. Not anymore.

  6. I had a really great week this week! I had my first week of uni classes and I enjoyed most of them :) oh and my gender studies lecturer talked about a-camp during class which was pretty awesome!
    I’ve been figuring out how to cook for myself and it’s been good because my friends and I have been sharing the cooking :) and I went to the supermarket 4 times this week!
    Yesterday I went on a date with a girl and it went really well :) so we’re going to the movies next week hopefully. I really like her and we have a lot in common which is nice.
    Ooh and I got to give my friend a slight under cut today which was equally fun and terrifying. And one of my other friends came to visit from Sydney which has been lovely.

  7. Hey so first time in the open thread so hello everyone!

    My 16th photo is of my gf when we went to the coast last weekend to enjoy the last of summer.

    And next weekend we are going to mardi gras!! Which is the first pride thing I’ve ever been to so pretty excited. Also nervous bc i don’t like crowds that much but it should be awesome.

    So that’s me :)

  8. I actually look pretty femme right now which isn’t my usual style. Lying in bed eating prawn cocktail crisps wearing pink football shirt and listening to pop music. The offshoots of a team I didn’t like lost big time last night so I’m a bit dazed.

    Read two good and new books this week (at last!). Finished doing an experimental poetry thing for the course. Really my thing since I love reading experimental lit although I’m more used to reading it as novels than as poetry. My folks got a holiday home w my help which I’m going to help make nice for tourists (I always wanted to run a hotel). One day it might be mine but it can’t be at the moment as I wouldn’t feel comfortable living alone.

    BUT it’s a lovely cute cottage, park at the end of the street w a library that doesnt seem to be run by bigots (I don’t visit our local village library as the people in it are homophobes and racists who I used to work w and it made me ill). All sorts of people there and even what I assumed to be a (my mum calls them a single sex family but I’m too aspie to call them that) pair of dads and their daughter. So a lot less racist/homophobic to what I’m used to seeing. So if I move anywhere on my own it’s there. And even as a holiday home I love it.

      • I need to read more, it’s been a while since I did. (currently reading sports books which aren’t at all experimental)
        The last book I read that I liked and was experimental was called Hystopia. It’s on the booker long list this year. Before that it was sort of non/proto pomo novel Finnegans Wake. I love Joyce. The reason why I say it was kind of is that I’ve tried to read it traditionally and got not much out of it. I had an audio book which is mostly in Irish accents with a bit of other ones where appropriate and I found it much easier in that format.
        Those are two of my favourites too. I’ll try to remember you when I get back to reading my experimental lit novels and message you with suggestions.

  9. Car plowed into the crowd on parade route of Endymion tonight.
    12 people in critical condition and one local news outlet reporting a description of the arrested driver as “glassy eyed” and “disheveled”

    Had a tiny freak out because in the back of my mind I’ve been waiting for Reichstag fire moments to happen. Freedom of the press and right to assembly are already under attack.
    The first official shots at freedom of the press have been fired this week with the banning of CNN and NYT from the White House press briefings and use of the gaggle rather the televised version.

    This administration is like that nauseous pre-puke feeling before you puke, that’s so awful you just wish you’d puke already.

    • You too?

      My girl and I thought we were the only ones waiting for the fire. I know what you mean about the pukie feelings though.

      Remember the quote “the lights are going out all over Europe”?

      I hate to say it, but this time I think we’re on the way to them going out everywhere.

      • Yes, me too.
        We can’t be the only ones. Maybe some people are dreading a Reichstag fire too but don’t know the term or history behind it

        The lights going out all over Europe heard it before, WWI ref I think. Probably British, some poor doomed university fella mostly likely.

        If they go out, turning them back on will be a messy affair we’ll likely not live to see to fruition.
        That’s the thing the back of my mind is holding over my head making me feel nuts.

        The moment when it’s realized diplomacy and the democratic process isn’t going stop the crush and it’s time to push back with “aggressive negotiations” as a certain movie character once said.
        Or the moment when it’s too late for that and things go Soviet Russia after the first flush and the shortages began or Maoist China’s Great Leap Forward eco disaster.
        Nothing and no energy to fight for because everyone but the high ranking party members are starving.

  10. My life is currently consumed by school (fifth year, second to last semester (not counting my post bacc program), currently trying to destroy me) and trauma counselling (we have started to get somewhere but now I feel like I am constanstly teetering on some edge where one side is punching something and the other side is crying forever; but this is what progress looks like), but sometimes I see family and work out and have friends. This weekend I saw my family for my dad’s birthday and my dad almost cried at dinner because he was so happy I was home. I had been home like the week before that too! What a softie. Working out and friends aren’t going as well though, although my relationship with my roommate is very good right now.

    This picture is one that I took at my work in the fall of 2015. I have a problem with deleting pictures from my phone. I love my work, though! Look at this beautiful, rainy, king tide dock.

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