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Image: a cheerful orange blob monster is chatting to a friend using a speech bubble containing a question mark and exclamation mark. The friend is a grumpy grey blob monster who looks away expressing grumpiness. Its speech bubble contains a grey scribble.

Hello friends! It’s Elodie Under Glass here with a guest post on Low Moods.

I particularly want to thank Quisty, Kellis Amberlee and TheOtherAlice  for their kindly help in reading and editing this piece. It would not have existed without their care, support, compassion, and wonderful editorial abilities. They are truly remarkable humans! (edited: And thanks to the radiant and patient NessieMonster, who let me come to her city and follow her around, burbling insensibly about this post, for far longer than most people would have.)

So recently, I went on a Stress and Mood Management course, and I thought that you all might enjoy sharing what I’ve learned.

This post is something of a correction/update to Adulthood is a Scary Horse, a post for the Captain which I was never quite satisfied with. It really crystallized for me on this course, in our discussion of the Low Mood Cycle. It’s a concept described in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and I thought it would be useful to share.

I am not a mental health professional (more caveats on that at the end). But I felt that if these resources had been usefully presented for free on the Internet – especially during times where taking a train and a bus and a taxi to get to a day-long course seemed like organizing a picnic on Venus – it could have helped me that little bit sooner. Maybe it will help others.

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Brooklyn people are meeting up today, organized by Nerdlinger:

Hi Captain!

There’s a Brooklyn/NYC based meetup this weekend!

WHEN: SAT Jun 21st @ 1-4p
WHERE: Berry Park (@ 4 Berry Street; Brooklyn, NY 11211)
HOW TO FIND US: Look for the orange orangutan plushie!

GAMES AND FUN THINGS: Cards Against Humanity, Apples to Apples, Bannanagrams, and True Colors. If you have other games you’d to bring, feel free! (We’ll also post an update at the CA forums where the Meetup was organized)

If you have some free time and live in NYC, go play games with Awkward people and have the best time.

Also, today’s IndieWire piece is up for all of you Orphan Black fans. How do you go back to normal when you get out of rehab (or another institution) and need to deal with all of the “how…are you?” questions and awkward non-sequiturs other people send your way? Thanks to A. in Melbourne for help with the letter.

Iain Glenn holding some kind of lute-thing.

“What rhymes with Khaleesi? Greasy? I like the way you try to make Peace-y? Let’s live together, I’ll sign that Lease-y?”

Ever since I saw the fake Skyler White from Breaking Bad letter to an advice columnist, I’ve been a wee bit jealous that no one has tried to troll me like that. So Indiewire and I are trying out a thing where we construct letters from television characters and then I answer them.

I know there are 10,000 fanfic lovers who read this site regularly, so consider this a call to you. Binge-watching Orange Is The New Black? Texting your friends with “Sestra!”/”Brother-sestra!” after every episode of Orphan Black? Wondering how the Lannisters are going to sort out their big pile of Family Stuff or how Sansa is going to handle her creepy Uncle Peter on Game of Thrones? (We’ll save the FITZ IS CREEPY AND NOT ACTUALLY GOOD AT ANYTHING stuff for the start of next season of Scandal if you don’t mind, but we will get to it). If you’ve got an idea for a letter related to a current (currently on, up-to-date with what is happening on the show) TV show? Send ‘em with “for Indiewire” in the subject line and we may see more of these.

In other news, a while ago my friend and Wardrobe-producer Dimitri William Moore brought me a story by one of his friends about the thin illusion of privacy we have when online dating. Together with some friends, some talented former students on camera, lights, and sound, and two great Chicago actors, we adapted the story into a short film. We shot it in few hours one morning at Hamburger Mary’s (eat there!), and thanks to the kindness of their staff, the whole thing cost whatever you’d pay for a big assortment of bagels from the bagel place next store. Post-production moves slowly when everyone is working for free and doing awesome stuff like having adorable babies, but I’m pleased to say, that film is finally ready!



How long would YOU stay sitting at that table? Tell us in the comments.

I wrote this to maybe read at last night’s (EPIC!) Story Club, but the name-draw for open mic slots did not go my way. Still, I didn’t want it to go to waste. So here, without ado (and without comments enabled , b/c it’s a performance piece, not a discussion piece) you go.

Notes From A Boner

They pop up from time to time on Facebook. Time-stamp 3 AM, from an old friend I used to mess around with in college. “Hey, what’s new? I was just thinking about you.”

I bet you were, buddy!

Sometimes they show up in the film class that I teach. I play a clip from Soderbergh’s Out of Sight, to show how color temperature isn’t just a technical thing and you can manipulate it to create mood. “What did you see? What do you think?,” I ask the students.

Every time I do this, a freshman boy says something like “She’s sooooo hot” or better yet, “She used to be so hot,” referring to Jennifer Lopez, who frankly kills it in this role. The girls and gay boys don’t say anything about The Clooney, and I quickly change the topic to “What did you think ABOUT THE LIGHTING” while delivering my best over-the glasses disapproving mom look. The one that says “It is I, Queen Femicunt¹, First of her Name, Khaleesi of the Bitchrealms and the Isles of No Funnington.” I want that boner to slink away and think about what it did. But its presence still lingers. Every clip I show, I now have to think about from the point of view of a taunting, persistent boner.“You’re teaching cinema, I see. Did you know that nearly everything ever created in this medium was designed to make ME happy on some level? Muahahahahaha!

Sometimes the notes from boners get delivered on the street, or on the eL. “Smile!” “You should smile more!” “Hey baby, where’s that smile?” and if I don’t smile, or I smile like this (using two middle fingers to hold up the corners of my mouth),“Bitch!” “Fat bitch” “Ugly bitch” Here I was, walking around, grocery shopping, registering to vote, minding my business. I didn’t know I was making the boners sad. Fortunately The Committee for Boner Rescue and Repair was on the case to educate me. I imagine their letterhead, with Notes from a Boner! Stamped! at the top, ready to deliver humbling memos to grateful citizens everywhere.

Sometimes I write back back to the boners. Like, when I tried to sell my bike on Craigslist, and a guy sent me a dick pic from hisrealname@wherehereallyworks.com. Not wanting that boner to go to waste, I shared it with humanresources@wherehereallyworks.com. Boners are spontaneous. They live in the moment. They don’t always think things through.

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Dear Captain Awkward & Associated Awesome Awkwardeers,

My longtime internet friend and I have a serial writing project that we publish casually online for free; we’ve been writing on it practically since we met. We have a very small fanbase, but they are extremely dedicated and patient as we work to get the writing up. We missed getting our latest installment up on time, and since then I’ve tried to work on it every evening, but Friend has been a little less into it, and it can’t go forward without the both of us. It’s not like we have Real Obligations though, and the muse wants what the muse wants, so I’ve tried my best to be cool about things even though I’m desperate to finally get it online.

Recently, however, Friend decided to sign up for another writing challenge that will take 1-2 months to complete. (It’s annual, like NaNoWriMo.) They asked me first if I would be cool with it, and I said (honestly!) that I would be sad about our project, but if they aren’t feeling it they aren’t feeling it, and they shouldn’t be forced into writing something they are sick of, because that’s a surefire way to get them to hate it and hate me for pushing it. I told them to go for it.

The thing is, I have put most of my emotional eggs in this basket. I suffer with depression, anxiety, and other physical health problems that make it hard to even get out of the house, much less find work, I am trapped an abusive household, I am broke, and I have no healthy “real life” relationships with anyone. For years, this project has been my reason for getting out of bed every day, but I haven’t been out of bed since Friend broke the news. I’m extremely disappointed and embarrassed about letting down the people who follow us, and my jerkbrain is irrationally terrified this means Friend is getting tired of our project FOREVER (and tired of me by extension).

I know Friend deserves space and to work on things that interest them even if it doesn’t make me happy. This shouldn’t be a big deal and I don’t want to make it one. I don’t want to be anyone’s obligation and I don’t want Friend feeling guilty. I think if it weren’t for that recently missed deadline I could just deal with it, but I keep going back and forth between bitter resentment and blame-throwing, and then feeling horrified at thinking like that about someone I love so dearly. I’m afraid letting on how upset I am will lead to a FEELINGSDUMP, or that I’ll FEELINGSDUMP anyway, and make things seriously awkward. But suffering in silence feels dishonest and neglectful of my own needs, while making a big stink feels childish and clingy. I just don’t know how I’m going to get through these next months without messing everything up.

Please, please, PLEASE help me, Awkardeers. You’re my only hope! My entire social circle knows this person, and I don’t have a single other soul I can confide in or ask for objectivity from.

much love and many thanks,
Trying To Deal Responsibly

Dear Trying To Deal:

If your friend were in fact ready to move on from this project permanently, is the work important enough to you to keep doing it alone?

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Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m a 25-year-old living at home with my parents; I received a BA in English/Creative Writing about two years ago, and I haven’t done much of anything since then. I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety (especially social anxiety) for practically my whole life, and a couple months ago I was also diagnosed with Asperger’s. On top of that, I have some physical health problems: tons of food allergies that cause a lot of digestion issues and Fibromyalgia. These all make my daily life pretty difficult. I’ve been seeing a therapist for about a year, but I feel like I haven’t made any progress.

I have very little energy to do anything; I sleep late every day no matter what time I set my alarm clock for, and every day I take naps for two hours or more even if I set an alarm to try and force myself to get up sooner. Most days I stay at home, but on days when I have to leave the house, I come back home later completely exhausted for the rest of the day – sometimes for more than one day. So it’s really difficult for me to find the energy to force myself to do things, not to mention the motivation.

I haven’t written anything since I graduated, and I can’t get myself to draw anything either (I took plenty of drawing classes as well and for a while I thought about starting a webcomic, but I just don’t have the energy or the motivation to keep up with something like that). I also don’t have any social life, because I never made any real friends while I was in college, and I’ve lost contact with all of the friends I had in high school, so I’m pretty socially isolated.

I’ve been working on getting a driver’s license, but it’s slow going. For the past month and a half, I’ve tried doing yoga for about ten minutes a day, but I don’t think it’s made any difference in my health. My primary care doctor doesn’t have any other suggestions.

With all of this, I don’t know if I could handle holding down a job. I can’t imagine ever having the energy to work for five hours or more at a time. My parents want me to try and apply for disability to help pay for my college loans, because they’re paying for them right now and it’s hard on them. But my parents have always been very overprotective, and I worry that they’re not pushing me as hard as they could be to do better. I want to someday be able to live independently, but I’m not sure what kind of job I could work or how I could make that possible.

I guess this is my question: How do you know the difference between being completely unable to do something (like get a job) and being scared or finding it difficult?



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Good news, everyone! The first issue of Story Club Magazine is out. Go read my story and others from Chicago writers & performers! I especially love this piece, from J.H. Palmer, about the tiny kindnesses from strangers that knit us back together when we’re coming apart.

And if you like stories and Live Lit readings and live in Chicago, I’ll be reading at Loose Chicks on Valentine’s Day.

Loose Chicks, Feb 14, 7:15 pm, Uncharted Books, 2620 N Milwaukee Avenue

And now, a letter.

Dear Captain Awkward:

I am an introvert/social-anxiety-haver living in a house full of extroverts and I feel like I’m going crazy.

I moved in with my (very extroverted!) boyfriend of over a year, and his 4 other roommate/friends. I would like to say that I do, for the most part, love all these people dearly and consider them my friends, in addition to the myriad other friends in the group. I love hanging out with them. But they want to hang out every night and dude, I just can’t.

If I try to stay in me and my boyfriend’s room, sometimes they’ll come upstairs and get me. (Honestly I’m really touched that everybody likes me enough to basically kidnap me out of my room; I’ve always had some trouble with the making and keeping of friends.) If my boyfriend happens to come home and it’s just us hanging out in the room, a lot of the times they’ll come upstairs and come in the room and then hang out up here, which is the opposite effect of what I was trying to do by staying in my room in the first place!

I feel bad saying no to hanging out because a lot of the time it’ll be like, “[Person] from our mutual friendgroup is here! We haven’t seen them in a month!” and then the next night it’s ANOTHER person in the friendgroup that we haven’t hung out with in a month. How am I supposed to say no? Or it’s “LW, you haven’t hung out in forever, hang out with us!” And our friendgroup is massive. So there’s almost always SOMEBODY we haven’t see in a while.

My boyfriend sort of understands the introversion/social anxiety thing, but trying to explain social anxiety to an extrovert is a lot like trying to teach a cat how to use chopsticks in Swahili. So he sort of understands when I don’t want to hang out and he supports it, but with everyone else it’s kinda tough.

Moving out is really not an option, unless I move back in with my dad, and short of kicking out one of the aforementioned roommates, I can’t just get a room to myself. I guess what I’m looking for is a script I can use with my roommates/outside members of the friendgroup and possibly also my boyfriend so I can be like “I love you dearly, but y’all need to get the heck out of my personal space and leave me the heck alone before I smack a bitch” and also “Boyfriend can you get your friends to go back downstairs I know this is your room too but I’m kinda freaking out right now”

Thanks for your time!
– Do Not Disturb

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Good thread, everyone! Comments on this discussion are closed as of 9/14.


Sorting through and packing up my books for moving, and asked for book recommendations by a friend, I realized that there is a short list of titles & authors that I repeatedly find myself shoving into people’s hands (usually after being lucky enough to have them shoved into my hands).  And I thought, who do I know who likes reading? And who do I know who recommends great stuff to me?

So let’s have a thread. Having been around the Fannish Moderation block a time or two, allow me to set some ground rules:

  • List no more than 5 creators.
  • If you like, give a brief, spoiler-free description of the work. Edited to Add: If you want to warn for violence or other potentially trigger-y stuff, word on the Tweet is that posters would greatly appreciate it.
  • The spam queue will get extra hungry for linky posts, so I recommend that you link only to works that exist solely online. We can GooBingle something that interests us.
  • If you didn’t enjoy something that someone recommends, please do not use your words.

To elaborate on that last point, this is an enthusiasm thread, not a critique thread. People are saying “Here is stuff I love and recommend to people all the time.” They are not saying “and you should feel the same way I do about itor even read it.

  • Correct: “If you enjoy that, you’ll probably enjoy x thing, too – I thought it did y aspect really well.”
  • Incorrect: “I did not enjoy x thing because….” “Y thing is way better…” “I wanted to like x but I was disappointed because….” “All the hype over x really put me off….”

…and if you find yourself typing the word “overrated” at any point, just delete your comment, ok? Come back when you like something. We are to an extent ignoring potentially problematic elements of the works in this discussion, but that’s because the basis of the discussion is subjective enjoyment, i.e., What stuff do you like?


EDITED TO ADD: Ok, based on some heated feedback on Twitter that I admit I am not handling all that well, let’s change this up slightly.

–If you want to give content notes about elements in something you are recommending, for example, if you enjoyed Swamplandia! but want people to know that it gets rapey before they pick it up (soooooooooo rapey), it would be appreciated by many readers. I feel like a lot of people are doing this anyway and do this here in general.

–If you are reading the thread, please know before you go in:

a) This was not the rule or request from the beginning, and my post + 177 192 comments and counting are already through the net.

b) So if something caught your eye and you want to read it but you have known triggers or stuff you are trying to avoid, ask the person who recommended it directly and/or do a little due diligence on Goodreads, etc. before picking it up. Script: “That sounds neat. I’m trying to avoid stuff with x and y. Am I likely to encounter it?”  I really, really don’t want to trick you into reading stuff that will harm you.

Even if we’d done this right from the start, people might warn for all kinds of stuff and still miss the thing that would bother or trigger you.  So ask or do as @staranise recommends: GooBingle “title” + “sexist”, & etc. or “title” + “problematic” as a failsafe, because even the most conscientious of rec’rs won’t catch everything.

c) CAVEAT EMPTOR. These are not necessarily “safe” books on any level. Many of mine have murder & really chilling portrayals of sociopaths in them. (& bonus historical inaccuracies!)  Before you go in the thread, before you read anything that anyone here has recommended, know that these books are not being screened for anything but “some stranger on the internet really liked it.

Against all odds, I am still trying to avoid conversations like this:

Poster A:I cannot wait for Dr. Who to start back up!”

Poster B:I loved it until (yep, totally problematic) thing…” or “Here are all the (legitimate!) ways that Stephen Moffat is doing it wrong…..

…as the call-and-response here.

:quietly checks BBC schedule for any announcements re: Sherlock Season 3:

I think critical engagement with media is vitally important, and it’s not the general policy of the blog (in other threads, discuss problematic shit away, we do it all the time) to gloss it over. Also, I believe that the forums, when they are fully operational, will have areas specifically devoted this kind of analysis.

But for purposes of this particular thread on this particular day, I want to know what people enthusiastically love, even if it has problematic elements, even if it is not literary or cool or critically acclaimed. lf you are like “I really love Flowers In the Attic” I will say “Cool, did you see this interview with the editor who acquired it? Because it is fascinating, and knowing that she was physically immobile makes the claustrophobia and isolation of the characters much more interesting. Also, how weird is it that all of our moms were reading it at the same time?

There are legitimate reasons to avoid certain works beyond subjectively not liking them, and it is a privileged position to equate the two and gloss over “isms.” After taking a Twitter break (thanks to people looking out for me who said ‘stop being an ass’!) I see why people were upset and how I was equating the two things incorrectly.  However, today, in this thread, I am okay with a potentially “bad” book getting through the net. It is okay if you don’t like something and just quietly go on not liking it. It is okay if you quietly lower your opinion of someone based on their taste without engaging.

So what do you love? That’s where I wanted to hang out today. Can we still do it?


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Mozart & Salieri in Milos Forman's AMADEUS

What if Salieri had just kept making his own music and doing his Salieri thing?

Dear Captain and Crew,

I have a lighter question for you. What do you do when you are nearing the completion of your creative project, and it just feels weak? In my case, I have been working on my first novel on and off for just over a year. I am in the privileged position that I both have friends in the arts whose expertise and honest opinion I can rely on, and am able to afford a non-biased editor. With their support, this thing has been battered to hell and back, and I am now in a place where I can look at it and say that this is the story I originally set out to write. There are a few minor gaps still to plug, and then it needs polishing up, but, essentially, this is it. The problem is that, now that it actually exists, I’m less than enthusiastic about it.

I’ve done plenty of stuff over the years which I haven’t been happy with, but it has always been because I did it half-assedly and the end result didn’t match what I had in my head in the beginning. This thing, on the other hand, I’ve diligently ‘done right’, and it does match the feel of what I originally wanted to create. So why do I feel so meh about it? It’s making me really sad, especially because it was a story I really wanted to write for myself, the kind of thing I like to read but can’t find much of, rather than something I was potentially going to make money off of. My friends say finish it before passing final judgement, and I kind of want to, just to be able to say I’ve done it, but every time I sit down with it I just feel sad and awkward. I did take some time away from it, it didn’t help.

Thanks for any advice,

Amateur Writer

Dear Amateur Writer:

You have no idea how close to home this hits, and how much time I have spent thinking about this exact question as an artist who is not quite where she wants to be with her art form yet and as a teacher of artists.

And here is where I am with it, or where I am trying to be.

Your job is to do the work and then send it out.

That’s all.

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Hi Captain!

My main question is: how do I keep going? I have 99 problems, I need to fix at least 95 of them but right now I can’t even seem to fix 1 so I am stuck. I’ve been actively job-hunting for over a year now. I know others have it worse, either through bad jobs or no jobs at all, but I just really need to move on. I can never get past the first interview though, if I’m lucky. I’ve even written to Ask a Manager (http://tinyurl.com/9fvsx3r and an update here: http://tinyurl.com/aavl7hb) but things have only gotten more frustrating and stupid at work. I’m in debt and trying to get out.

I moved back in with my parents last year to save money. I would like to get my own place again. Or get a job much closer to my parents’ house because the current commute is REALLY getting me down. I’ve been doing this commute for eight years now and, I can’t deal with it. It’s long, stressful, involves multiple modes of transportation, etc. I work for a university and theoretically, once you’re in their system, it’s fairly easy to job-hop. If I’ve applied for let’s say, 100 jobs in the past year, with my current employer, then I’ve gotten interviews for like, 8 of them. That’s not counting applications outside my current employer. I’m seriously wondering if I’ve been blacklisted but don’t know it (I’ve had three jobs with this employer and only one was an actual bad fit so my supervisor and I were both happy that I moved on). I feel like my life needs to undergo a serious change but I don’t know how. I’m turning 30 this summer and the thought that my life at near-40 will be the same as my life now…I can’t. Things could be so much worse but I’m sure it could all be better too.

I’ve had dreams of being a professional novelist all my life and I was a journalist for a while but let that go too but then I just feel like I squandered those freelance opportunities to stay with my current employer, because it was a full-time, steady paycheck, health benefits, etc. I’m trying to keep my head up but I just feel like something needs to give/change soon– an actual job offer, winning the lottery, a friend saying “Hey, I’m moving to the other side of the country and need a roommate/admin assistant?”, etc. I’m even wishing I would lose my job even though I know that wouldn’t help my current situation. In short, how do I just keep going? 

Letter writer, you are going through a really hard thing. It’s hard enough to answer the big questions of “Why am I here? And what do I have to contribute? And what will people pay for me to contribute so I can make a living?” without having to live at home and have a hellish commute. There are a bunch of baby steps and small incremental changes you could make to make your situation better, covered in this old post about clawing your way out of a depressing living situation and  in this post about how to keep moving forward when your brain hates you that I found today (good post!). I think a lot of people feel like you do right now and can relate to your situation. Some suggestions and questions for you below the jump.

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