Issue 14

The Birthday Issue

This issue is about birthdays and all they imply: the messy miracle of getting born and the bittersweet marking of those days: remembering years past, the tender traditions our families gift us, the complex joy of celebrating with chosen, not biological, family; birthdays as reminders of how family has failed us, the people we’ve lost. And of course the sweetness: parties, celebration, CAKE.

The Birthday Issue: Letter From Your Editor

“Autostraddle is more like a guinea pig than like a human child, both for our experimental nature and for how long we were expected to live.”

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What If This Was a Celebration

“I knew if I could exert most of my energy in the painful icy parts of life, I could certainly make my way back to celebrating the good.”

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Monday Roundtable: What’s Your Age Again?

“I used to lie about my age to get deals off the kids’ menu. Like, why would we pay an extra five dollars when we all know I’m about to get chicken tenders and it’s only an appetizer if I’m over twelve??”

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Our Father, Who Art

You see, my father was going to Heaven. He was raised an Orthodox Jew, the only child of Victor and Dorothy, but becoming Catholic, this was the way forward for him. He would be saved.

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Trapped At Birth

Breaking out of what we’re born into.

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Another Day in May

My grandparents and mother were crowded around my grandfather’s laptop; they had lit candles on a cake and sang happy birthday. I was about to make excuses to go back to studying when my grandmother mentioned the referendum. “You know, we’ll see your sister in a few weeks. She’s coming back for the vote.”

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collage - hand reaching for shores of ireland, a red sunset

Feelings, Rendered Material

I claimed to be a kid who “just loved birthdays,” when what I really loved was a socially sanctioned reason to shower my crushes with affection.

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two girls on a magic carpet over new york

Monday Roundtable: Sign of the Times

Nothing stays the same forever, and that includes our bods; here’s the Autostraddle team talking about how they’ve noticed their bodies aging and what that’s like.

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How To Grow Up Without Being Invited

The problem with birthdays, and graduations, is that endings and beginnings are so often the same thing. What we’re really celebrating is the motion, the opposite of stagnating, the skill of turning your head and blinking your eyes to see things in a new light, even if your feet and heart feel heavy and the landscape hasn’t changed.

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How to Be a Grown Woman

“Maybe I could teach you how to do that and you could teach me a couple of things I’ve been wonderin’,” I told her. She shook my hand. It was a deal.

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how to be a grown woman - collage of tomato, letter B, flowers and an old photo of heather and her grandmother

Birthing Disruption Between the Ferns and the Moss

If the ferns in my garden have survived the last few thousand years, then they have witnessed genocide and forced removal, tornadoes, the filling in of wetlands. Our acts of maintenance are political decisions. What we narrate and what we nourish set up the futures we are willing to fight for.

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Monday Roundtable: How Could I Forget?

The birthdays we still remember, even though that person isn’t around anymore, and will just keep thinking of year after year forever and ever without end, amen.

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the monday roundtable elephants

Birthdays I Remember

Melanie was born on August 5, 1982. I know this because I fell in love with her in fifth grade.

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The (First) Birthday Party

“Do I sing along when everyone else is singing to me?”

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The ‘M’ Word

Every birthday after I admitted to myself that I am queer has been a celebration of that fact. A celebration that I listened to myself, that I am not currently trapped in a marriage I don’t want, a marriage slowly draining me of life and hope.

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collage of a large red M, a old school corded telephone with a torrent of water flowing out into the crevice of the M.

Monday Roundtable: Our Worst Birthdays

It’s our party and we’ll cry if we want to — because these birthdays were terrible.

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How Not to Throw a Birthday Party, According to Lesbian TV’s Worst Parties

“Play to everyone’s culinary strengths, know your nemeses, and make sure all your guests are familiar with poison-free alternatives to food with poison in them.”

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Mirrors

“I had dreamt about my new sister that very night. An almost spiritual connection. Perhaps my mother could have sensed, then, that I felt the same as her; that I would grow to feel the same. That I had inherited that bond, that tether; that we shared that, too. But how could she have known? How could she understand that her son could ever carry that weight?”

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38 and Closer to My Mother’s Suicide

We all sat in a big circle. We were asked to share. I told them that I’d recently moved back to Seattle, only a month ago, after having been gone for about seven years. My mom died a very violent death here, I said.

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Save Room for Autostraddle’s 10th Birthday Cake

Reneice is making us a cake! Then you can make the cake! We can all make the cake!

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Happy Birthday Autostraddle: 10th Birthday Cards and Love Notes from YOU

Not only did you send cards and love notes, you also sent us homemade vegan cookies, cash donations, and a fucking handmade seahorse enamel charm?!?!?!

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Chasing Amy

Birthdays are weird when you have a dead mom.

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Monday Roundtable: Our Saturn Returns

Your late 20s/early 30s are thought by many to mark your Saturn Return, when Saturn circles back around to the placement it was in when you were born, and generally fucks everything up. Here’s how that went for us!

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The Autostraddle Yearbook: A Decade Of Gay Work

And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives…

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the autostraddle yearbook - grid of faces past

A Tale of Two Mommies (Or Who Wore the Maternity Pants?)

“She would have loved to carry our child. Would have met the body changes with joy. That she was physically barred from being pregnant did not make the situation easier. She hid it well. But now I understood why she looked forward to the birth with such clear-eyed intensity.”

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Home Births and Body Horror

By the time I was ten, I’d attended three home births.

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Ultimate ’90s MRI: A Fertility Playlist

“Musicals? Too weird. My favorite indie band? Too pretentious. Tegan and Sara? Too gay. C’mon, Jennifer, get it together!”

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Monday Roundtable: Birthmarks

Some of us have birthmarks! How neat. Here are our stories about ours.

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The Magic Fish

“I cried when it came to the Island of Misfit Toys. I thought of all the perfectly-good toys I’d rendered misfits by my casual disregard of them, how it always ate away at me as a child. I thought of being casually disregarded, myself.”

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Monday Roundtable: Our Ideal Birthdays

When it’s your birthday, you should get to do whatever you want — here are our requests.

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Please Not Forever 19

It’s difficult to romanticize your teenage years when you’re not straight and spent them anxiously hiding your identity.

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Tomorrow’s Parties: Emily Dickinson’s Black Cake

Emily Dickinson sent her girlfriend, Nellie, her recipe for Black Cake that was so staggering (two pounds of flour, 19 eggs, etc) that it reads like one of her curiously queer poems. It seems impossible, but suggests the potential for a delicious celebration.

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Autostraddle’s Birth Chart, as Interpreted by Chani Nicholas

For the last week of this issue, beloved astrologer Chani Nicholas has graced us with a reading of Autostraddle’s birth chart, looking at what the stars were doing the minute we came into the world and what they’re telling us now.

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