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Send your short questions on Patreon or Twitter (with the hashtag #awkwardchat) today – I’ll answer as many as I can before noon.

Last year, my aunt wrote to me that I’m going to hell for being gay. What do I say to her at grandpa’s funeral?

I’m sorry for the loss of your grandpa. That’s hard enough without adding the extreme awkwardness of bigotry and hellfire to it!

Fantasy answer: “See you there, you crusty bigot.”

Actual answer: It’s okay to completely keep your distance from her and stick with the family you trust. Imagine she is a stranger or work acquaintance if you must interact with her briefly – express sympathies, keep the topic of conversation on your Grandpa and the loss to the family, try not to get drawn into a lengthy conversation.

If she seeks you out and either tries to perform a close relationship with you (without actually repairing the relationship with an apology) or tries to renew or justify her mean words, try this, “I’m very sad about Grandpa and so sorry for the loss you must be feeling. I’m still very angry about the hurtful letter you sent me last year and we are not friends right now – let’s drop this for now and talk another time when you’re ready to apologize.” Then move away, and remember, she created the awkwardness.

Family doesn’t listen when I say Anxiety Disorder prevents me frm driving. Insists I get license. Am 29 in therapy. Scripts pls.

First step is probably to talk to your therapist specifically about this, and see if they will generate some kind of letter to your family (that can help make it “official”) and/or help you fashion & practice scripts.

Scripts that come to mind for now: “I’m seeking medical help so that I hopefully can drive at some point, but I’m not there yet. It hurts that you don’t believe me, but whether or not you believe me, I still cannot be a safe driver at this time.

I am crossing all my fingers & toes that you live somewhere with decent public transportation.

You know someone likes you/may want to date you; you’re not sure if you feel the same. How do you figure out if you like them?

One way is to go on a date if they ask you to and see if you enjoy it and want to do it again sometime. Remember: Going on a date doesn’t mean you are agreeing to “feelings” or “a relationship” or “returning their interest at the exact same level.” It’s okay to be undecided and give it time to develop or not.

I’m going to be starting my own business in the next year (excited squees!) What are some good scripts for those well-meaning, advice-pushing folk whom I love but really don’t know what they’re talking about (or may know what they’re talking about, but are not people I wish to discuss my business/financials with)?

How exciting for you!

For the “don’t know what they’re talking about” crowd, try some version of, “Thanks for the tips!” + a subject chance to something they are the expert on.

For example, “Thanks for the tips, Dad! I’m very excited to jump in and get started. By the way, I’ve been thinking about replacing the furnace at my place, what should I look for?

When the people probably do know what they’re talking about, try this: “Wow, I’d love to pick your brain in detail about this sometime when I’m further along in the process and I’m not in ‘holiday mode’/’having fun mode’/’celebration mode’/’relaxing mode’/’vacation mode’/’calm before the storm’ mode.” You want to communicate “I can tell you have valuable insights/I’m not in the right frame-of-mind to receive these oh-so-valuable insights, let’s wait until I’m not hopped up on holiday punch and can take notes!”

By complimenting people it disarms potential conflict, and saying “thanks I’ll think about it” is literally the fastest & most efficient way to get past any kind of unwanted advice, even if the advice is total shite and the intentions of the person are not good. Since you love these people I think it pays to think of their intrusions as evidence that they are excited for you – reward the excitement with compliments and thanks and channel the firehose of “expertise” away from the present moment.

How to approach academic group work when you think/know you’d do it fine/better on your own.

If you know you’d absorb the material you’re supposed to learn just fine on your own, and you know you can handle the writing and presentation skills involved, then use the project to level up skills group work is purportedly there to teach and model those skills for your partners-in-group-project-heck:

  • Delegating/Dividing up tasks
  • Listening/Inclusion
  • Consistent communication
  • Accountability
  • Constructive disagreement & critique
  • Peer-management
  • Assertiveness

It takes skill & practice to be gentle-but-firm with a teammate who isn’t pulling their weight, like, “Hey, you’ve been missing deadlines and group project meetings and it’s making me stressed that we’re not going to finish on time – what’s your plan for catching up?” or “Hey, you keep vetoing suggestions I make without offering an alternative solution. Can we make a rule that we don’t veto anything without proposing an alternate plan?” or “I have a lot of outside commitments right now, I really need meetings to start and end on time, thanks” or “If we try to run something by you and you don’t respond to any emails or texts within 48 hours, you kind of lose your vote” or “I don’t really understand your take on this, but I want to! Can you walk me through it again?” 

I think that 99% of professors know who is really pulling the weight on group projects and who is not and the learning experience is not so much about the specific material or individual excellence as it is preparation for white collar working environments which are like one lifelong group project.

 

[Eeep, I got interrupted by something I had to take care of during #AwkwardChat, so had to step away.

Let’s finish this.]

 

I feel like every single person I know is still in shock from the election. How do we support one another, and how do we seek out support, when everyone is exhausted and terrified? The Ring Theory breaks down when everyone is at the center of the crisis at once.

I’m not sure I have the answer to this beyond:

  1. “Only connect.”
  2. Don’t try to be perfect or put pressure on yourself to say the exact perfect thing to everyone at all times.

Support each other by spending time together. Support each other by listening, by being kind, by taking a shift to babysit for friends with kids, by throwing your doors open for a friendly pot luck if you can (or going to the pot luck if you’re invited), by giving what material support you can manage to organizations and individuals who will be affected the most. Pick up the phone or open up that Skype window or send that text or email when you have energy to connect. When you need to turtle, say “So sorry, I can’t talk right now” and rest/read escapist literature for a few hours so that you can come back to it. Take care of your own mental health to the extent that you can. Be present with each other and connected to each other to the extent that you can. Make some of the time about activism and grief and anger and some of it about silly jokes and pleasure of each other’s company. Be gentle with yourself and each other.

Way to say to friends, “I know you don’t like my partner of 14 years, I don’t bring them around you, stop sniping about them”?

I think you nailed it with a script right there in your question! When the sniping starts, interrupt it immediately and say, “I know you don’t like X, that’s why I don’t bring them around when I spend time with you. So stop sniping about them when we do hang out. I don’t want to hear it.

If you want to start with something slightly less confrontational, still interrupt them and try, “Why do you think I’d want to hear this about someone I love?

It’s okay to be pissed off/emphatic/not having it about this. It’s disrespectful to constantly run down someone’s partner to them. If they continue and insist, end the conversation/hangout and try again (or not) another day.

Favorite scheduling system/to-do list app/other organizational resources to help self-employed person get stuff done?

Ha, as I said on Twitter, this is probably a question for an organized person? I use a pen and a notebook and sometimes (when I remember where I put them) star stickers next to completed items. One of my students has a neat system where she uses a different color pen for each day of notes so it’s easy to see when things were written down, and I think I’m going to adopt that from now on. Besides, interestingly colored pens are pretty.

Family keeps putting you down for having only a BA; thinks you should be over failing last time, doesn’t acknowledge disability. 

Consider the possibility that your family are a) dead wrong about you, b) acting like assholes about this, and, c) that the energy you might put into changing their minds about this might be better spent getting the hell away from them. Take all possible steps to create a life for yourself where their opinions matter as little as possible to the choices you make about your life. Those steps could mean seeking out therapy & other support for your disability, moving away from them, spending less time with them, ending conversations where they act like jerks whether that means leaving a room or hanging up a phone or just letting a mean email hang there unanswered. Over time that also means surrounding yourself with people who DO appreciate you and believe in you and who don’t try to throw your real or perceived failures in your face at every turn.

Any tips on telling the difference between self-care and irresponsible avoidance (i.e. “I can’t because brain chemistry” vs. “I don’t wanna because activism is inherently stressful”)?

“Tips” I can ethically give:

  • If you know you have issues with brain chemistry that interfere with your ability to do stuff you want to do, treat those issues like the medical issue they are to the full extent that you are able. Do you need counseling? Start the process of finding a counselor or therapist. If you’re not already on meds, try to get some. If you are on some, take them. If you don’t like the ones you’re on, see if you change them up. Take care of yourself so that you are more able to do the stuff you want to do.
  • There are some great Twitter threads by former congressional staffers (thanks,@leeflower) on how calling officials in the U.S. is better than emails/postcards, and I really like this one by @sharonw that breaks down exactly what it is like for people who are anxious about calling. Best advice: Focus on *your* elected officials, the call itself is not terribly interactive, the staffers are too busy to really converse with you and nobody is going to argue with you or be mean, think of it like “casting a vote” – your opinion is recorded and everyone moves on with their day.
  • There are lots of kinds of activism. Find the thing that you are best set up to do consistently and do that thing. Go at the pace that you can sustain.
  • Consider that small actions can be ways of breaking a low mood cycle and that there can be a positive feedback loop from doing what you can.
  • You don’t have to be perfect or do it every second for it to count. Just start somewhere, however you can.

I’m “lazy” af. Depressed brain says “just get up & do the thing OH WAIT”. Strategies to confront/sidestep this logic?

See above? Treat depression like the medical issue it is. Try taking baby steps and seeing if you can break the negative feedback loop. Be gentle with yourself. Try again tomorrow.

How do I stop myself from getting too invested too soon when I start dating someone?

Three tips:

  • You’re gonna feel what you’re gonna feel, so keep in mind that beating yourself up for having feelings or talking yourself out of your feelings isn’t a good use of your time.
  • Pay attention to reciprocity. Does your dating partner do as much of the work of planning dates, initiating communications, expressing feelings, etc. as you? Try to match their level of enthusiasm and see how you feel.
  • ‘ware the bubble. It’s tempting to spend all your time and energy on a shiny new partner, but make sure you’re not losing connection with friends and family. You don’t have to see this new dateperson every minute of every day or leave your entire weekend schedule open for them. Get some alone time. Hang out with friends and family. Keep your routines going. The happier you are in your overall life, the better you’ll be able to make good decisions.

That’s all for now. Comments are open to add to suggestions herein!

 

 

 

 

 

How’s it going?

Anyone need to pull out the Kazoos of Civility yet?

An attempt to fry a turkey ends in fire

This seems like it’s going fine.

 

As for me, I’m in my pajamas, catching up on grading for a bit, though will switch over to reading Marianne Kirby’s Dust Bath Revival at some point. Will eat with a good friend & her family later. She is a most spectacular cook and her family is great. We are bringing cheese.

[Trigger warnings: sexual assault, racist police violence, anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Semitism, child sexual abuse]

Valerie Aurora teaches the Ally Skills Workshop, which teaches people with more power and privilege how to stand up in small, everyday ways for people with less. She also trains people to the lead the Ally Skills Workshop. She is a long-time Captain Awkward reader and recommends the blog in every workshop she teaches.

Hey Awkwardeers,

Many of us are grappling with how to use our skills and influence to resist the upcoming Trump administration and the hatred and violence that it inspires. As Captain Awkward readers, we’ve been practicing setting boundaries, standing up for our values, and making it awkward for the right person. We are uniquely prepared for a crucial part of the next few months or years: changing the minds of people who support the Trump administration, and standing up to the abusers they are empowering. This post teaches scripts and techniques to do these two tasks, along with the theory behind them. It’s for people living in the U.S., but it may be useful to people living elsewhere as well.

First, some terminology: an ally is someone who uses unearned advantages that society has given to them (a.k.a. privileges) to reduce inequality, with the goal of eventually ending privilege altogether. Targets are people who suffer from oppression – systemic, pervasive discrimination present throughout society that benefits people with more privilege, and harms those with less.

The first question to ask yourself is, how likely is it that you can act as an ally? Here are some things that might give you more privilege in the U.S.: being white, male, cisgender, straight, a natural-born U.S. citizen, a white Protestant (or can pass as one), abled, rich, middle or upper class, university-educated, securely employed, or in a position of power. If you have any of these characteristics, they gives you more power to stand up for targets and work to end oppression (and your own privilege).

Most people have some privileges but not all of them. That means that in some situations, you can act as an ally, and in other situations, you can’t because you are the target of oppression. For example, a Jewish man can act as an ally when someone is being sexist, but will be a target when someone is being anti-Semitic. It can get more complicated: a white Jewish person often can’t use white privilege to be an ally against white supremacy since that system often also includes anti-Semitism.

If you have relatively few opportunities to act as an ally, you can always encourage like-minded people with more privilege to learn ally skills. Either way, remember: you are far less likely to be attacked when you speak up for another group than when members of that group speak up for themselves. For example, a Black person in the U.S. speaking up about racism is far more likely to get racial slurs and death threats than a white person speaking up about racism (who may even get praise and gratitude for doing so).

So let’s get into a concrete example about a conversation likely to come up at Thanksgiving if you have Trump supporters in your family:

You’re a cis man visiting your family for Thanksgiving. Before dinner, you’re helping chop onions in the kitchen with several of your family members, including your loudest, meanest uncle, Uncle Joe.

Uncle Joe: “All those women are lying about Trump grabbing them. Besides, even if he did it, boys will be boys, you know. No use trying to stop them.”

You: [Stops cutting the onions and puts knife down.] [Calmly] “I believe women have the right to not be sexually assaulted. I believe that Trump assaulted those women. If you want to condone sexual assault, you can do it without me.”

You leave the onions half-chopped and walk out of the kitchen, leaving Uncle Joe to deal with the discomfort he created. In the living room, you see your younger cousin Fred, who overheard the conversation. Growing up, he was a sensitive kid who loved playing with you.

You: “It’s really hard when family members act like sexual assault is no big deal.”

Fred: [Looks troubled] “Well, my friends say that sometimes women lie about it for the attention.”

You: [Looking Fred in the eye, speaking kindly] “Hey, I used to think that too: that people who were complaining about being hurt were just whiners who wanted attention, or maybe money. Then a friend of mine told me that when her high school coach pinned her against the wall and put his hand in her shorts, she didn’t tell anyone because she didn’t think anyone would believe her. And then she told me that half her friends have a similar story. I felt so bad for her. I realized that most sexual assault victims never say anything at all because talking about it ruins their lives. Now I assume women are telling the truth about sexual assault until I have a good reason to think otherwise.”

Fred: [Looks a little shocked and taken aback]

You: “Hey, I didn’t mean to lay that on you all at once. But if it’s hard for you to hear that, imagine how hard it was for my friend to actually have that happen to her for real. And on top of that, she couldn’t tell anyone about it. It really sucks.”

Fred: “Huh, I never really thought of it that way. But don’t women lie about rape sometimes?”

You: “Yes, rarely. The thing I realized is, plenty of people believe all women are lying. My job is to be one of the few people supporting them. That’s how we find out the truth.”

Fred: “Wow, I didn’t think of that.”

You: “Yeah, I didn’t think about any of that either until my friend told me about her coach. I’m so grateful my friend trusted me enough to tell me that. I want to support people like her because I want to end sexual assault.” [Long pause] “Hey, so what do you think of the Steelers this season?”

Conversations like this follow a broad pattern. We’ll summarize that pattern, then go into more details about it, and end with some more scripts and examples.

  1. Start by evaluating your ability to influence others in this situation: Who respects you? Who wants something from you? What can you give or take? Who might retaliate against you if you act?
  2. Identify whether you are likely to influence or persuade anyone (including the audience), and choose one of the following:
    • If you are unlikely to change anyone’s mind, just set a firm boundary about not doing that behavior in places you control, and enforce it.
    • If you think someone might change their mind, state your position once, firmly but calmly, then set the boundary and enforce it.
    • If you think someone is likely to change their mind – they are a potential ally – then follow the next steps to start a warm, compassionate, safe conversation with that person.
  3. Figure out what values you might share with the potential ally.
  4. Make a gentle statement about how your shared values shape your understanding of the topic at hand.
  5. If they become defensive or angry or argumentative, de-escalate the situation and change the topic while making it clear you still hold to your values.
  6. If they respond with curiosity or confusion or even apathy, keep going.
  7. Find a way to express compassion and understanding for how the potential ally ended up with the opinions they have now (tip: develop compassion and love for your past self, who was almost certainly more racist, homophobic, etc. than you are now).
  8. Make yourself vulnerable in some way: share a time you made a mistake, or something you feel ashamed of, or a time you were hurt.
  9. Share a personal story about the topic: something that changed your mind, or an “aha!” moment when suddenly you understood why something was wrong (but be sure to preserve the privacy of others when appropriate).
  10. Help them have compassion for the targets of oppression: talk about how the target must feel, make an analogy with a group the potential ally has an easier time empathizing with, share your own feelings of compassion and love for the targets.
  11. Restate your values and how they inform your opinion on this topic, warmly and clearly.
  12. If they have another comment or question, repeat from “Find a way to express compassion” until they run out of questions, or you run out of energy.
  13. End by changing the subject to something you both enjoy, or expressing your feelings of warmth and connection for the potential ally.

All of these guidelines are intended to help you: spend your time and energy in an effective way, build psychological safety so the potential ally feels comfortable asking questions and expressing doubt, serve as a role model by consistently acting warm and compassionate while also sticking to your values, continue the discussion only as long as the potential ally is still making progress, and end in a way that makes them feel safe coming back to talk to you again.

Here are a few example scripts for each part of the conversation. Let’s start with the example comments that you would be responding to:

  • “What I think is that if Black kids would just stop playing with toy guns, they’d got shot a whole lot less.”
  • “You have to admit, it just makes sense to be more suspicious of Muslims trying to get into the country. I don’t know that I’m against the ban on Muslim immigration.”
  • “I can’t believe how rude my granddaughter was. Why didn’t her mother tell her she had to hug her grandpa? Can’t you talk some sense into her?”

Setting a firm boundary and enforcing it:

  • “It’s important to me to value and respect people of color. I won’t participate in a conversation that doesn’t respect that.” + leave the conversation if they don’t stop
  • “I believe we should judge people by their actions as individuals, not by their religion. If you disagree, take it outside.” + broken record of “Not here.” “Take it outside.” “We can’t continue until you leave.”
  • “Girls’ right to control their own bodies is non-negotiable for me. Let’s change the subject.” + keep suggesting new subjects until they get distracted

Gentle statement about shared values and the topic at hand:

  • “I think every kid should have a safe and happy childhood, so it makes me incredibly sad that Black children are being shot by the police more often than other children.”
  • “I think part of what makes the U.S. great is our founding value of religious tolerance, so excluding people from the U.S. just because they are Muslim makes no sense to me.”
  • “It’s so important to me that every young girl learn that she has the right to decide who touches her body, so when you tell her to hug someone she doesn’t want to, I think about what message she is getting about saying no in other situations.”

Express compassion or understanding:

  • “You know, I used to wonder about that too.”
  • “I remember having that question too.”
  • “That’s a really good question, and it took me years to understand the answer.”
  • “I can see that.”
  • “I hear what you are saying.” + kind and compassionate recap of what they said

Make yourself vulnerable and sharing your own mistakes:

  • “Sometimes I still get nervous when I’m walking on the street and see someone who looks like a mugger on TV.”
  • “For many years, the only Muslims I could name were terrorists who had killed a lot of people.”
  • “I remember feeling annoyed and suspicious when one of my relatives told me that our uncle made her feel uncomfortable when he hugged her or looked at her. I thought she just wanted to get attention.”

Share a personal story about when you changed your mind or had an “aha!” moment:

  • “But when I read about Tamir Rice playing with a toy gun and getting shot when he was only 12 years old… I remember so vividly playing with my BB gun in my neighborhood when I was 10, and I was only worried about my mean neighbor Bill shouting at me. Not getting shot by cops. I suddenly realized that the reason I’m alive and Tamir isn’t is that my skin is a different color.”
  • “Then in my poetry class, we read some poetry by Rumi. His poems were so beautiful, about love and freedom from fear. I started reading more about Sufism, which is a very mystical part of Islam, and realized that Islam was just as complicated as Christianity. Some Muslims are pacifists and some are moderates and some are fundamentalists. I realized it made as much sense to assume all Muslims were terrorists as to assume all Christians were televangelists.”
  • “Then I found out years later that that same uncle had molested one of my cousins several times. I felt sick when I realized I’d been on a camping trip with them during that time. I think that if we had taken my relative seriously about not wanting to hug my uncle, maybe my cousin would have felt safe telling us what was happening to her.”

Help them have compassion for the target:

  • “I just imagine, what was it like for Tamir, being 12 years old and playing, and how terrified he must have been when the cops arrived, and what it was like in the seconds before he died? No one should have to go through that.”
  • “I thought, what would it be like to be someone who cared deeply about love and peace and kindness, and have people look at me with fear and revulsion. How would I feel if I got on a plane and the person next to me called the flight attendant and got me kicked off for acting suspicious, because I looked Muslim to them? I’d feel sick all the time.”
  • “I felt sick just knowing I was nearby when my cousin might have been molested. How much worse was it for her? Knowing that even if she told us what was happening, we would probably accuse her of making it up, the way we did with my relative who didn’t want to hug him. How lonely and afraid she must have felt.”

Restate your values and connect them to the topic:

  • “I just think all people are humans, and deserve the same care and respect I get automatically for being white.”
  • “I want to live in a country where people can feel safe from religious persecution, and part of that is not keeping people from immigrating based solely on their religion.”
  • “I want girls and women to feel in control of their bodies, and that means supporting girls when they say they don’t want to hug someone, even if they are a relative.”

Reassure them that you still feel warmly towards them, and change the subject:

  • “Thanks for listening to me, your opinion means a lot to me. Hey, have you watched that new superhero movie?”
  • “I’m really glad we could talk about this, even if we don’t always agree. So, what colleges are you applying to?”
  • “I really appreciate you thinking about this, even though it feels uncomfortable. Do you think it’s time to check on the chicken?”

Now it’s your turn, commenters: What are some the ways you developed the skills necessary to follow these scripts? How did you learn to feel compassion for someone who shared your values but believed something horrible because they’d been lied to all their life? How did you learn to recognize your sources of power and influence? How do you stay calm when someone doesn’t mean to be cruel, but says something awful anyway?

Thank you to Mary Gardiner, Y-Vonne Hutchinson, Leigh Honeywell, and Kendra Albert, who all contributed to the Ally Skills Workshop and this article. This post is licensed Creative Commons Sharealike-Attribution 4.0 – please reuse and modify with attribution to Valerie Aurora and the above co-authors.

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, SE1 8XX near Waterloo station, 19th November, 11am onwards.

Bad book swap! Bring any book you don’t want, for any reason (wrong colour cover, too few dinosaurs, etc), and take away a book someone else didn’t want! Or just come and chat with us.

The venue sell food in a cafe (standard sandwiches etc.), but they also don’t mind people bringing food in from outside. There are several other local places where you can buy stuff as well. The excellent food market outside has loads of different food options, which can fit most food requirements, or you can also bring a packed lunch.
Meet on the fourth floor, outside the Blue Bar (go up in the JCB lift, lift 7, which is bright yellow and quite musical). I have tried to check with the centre to make sure the Blue Bar is free, but if not I will update this post and in the Facebook group to say where we are – or email me if you’re lost…

Here is the internal map of the Royal Festival Hall: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/sites/default/files/documents/RFH_map.pdf

I will have my Cthulhu with me, which looks like this: http://forbiddenplanet.com/3950-cthulhu-baby-plush/ One time I forgot it but I will do my best this time, however if I forget again I will put up a sign. I have long brown hair and glasses.

The venue is accessible via a lift, and has accessible toilets. Waterloo tube station has step free access on the Jubilee line but not on the Northern line.

The London Awkward group has a Facebook page, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/549571375087294/. There is also a thread in the new forums for saying hello.

My email is Kate DOT Towner AT Gmail DOT com

(December meetup will be the 10th and will be our 4 year anniversary.)

Cheers,
Kate

Hi Captain!

Longtime reader, very rare commenter but I think you generally give excellent advice so I’m giving it a shot. I’ll try to keep this relatively brief – I’m having an existential problem surrounding life milestones, etc. I’m 25 and have generally been pretty successful in my life – I’ve been academically successful, I have a law degree and a good job, and I have a really good group of friends, most of whom have been in my life for many years.

What I haven’t had is a whole lot of romantic relationships. This is generally fine with me. I really value my personal space and don’t generally crave the kind of constant companionship that comes with serious relationships. I’ve dumped people for “liking me too much” (ie, coming on too strong, wanting a kind of closeness I wasn’t comfortable with, etc). I’ve had one relationship that I would classify as “semi-serious” with a much older man that I met several years ago (we are still close and sometimes physically involved but not currently “in a relationship”). This relationship used to cause me a lot of emotional pain but I’m at peace with it now and don’t consider it a source of stress in my life. Additionally, I am kind of wary of men (I haven’t been raped or abused, fortunately, but have had the same experiences as a lot of women – sexual harassment, etc, lots of friends who are survivors) and am generally not one to give men “benefit of the doubt” when I’m uninterested or uncomfortable.

The problem is, certain family members seem to consistently insinuate that I need to “fix” my dating life. I’ve made the mistake of mentioning that I eventually might be interested in marriage/kids, which has apparently given these family members permission to ask about why I’m not dating, give unsolicited advice about my dating life or lack thereof, and critique the way I interact with men. These family members did not approve of my previous relationship (and I understand why, although it’s truly none of their business) and seem to be motivated by a desire to see me “move on” from it. I always feel like they’re trying to tell me there’s something wrong with me for not being all that interested in dating; I’m also a pretty private person and don’t tend to talk about people I casually date/am interested in.

I’m at an age where a lot of my friends are in serious relationships and some are married, and the pressure is starting to get to me. Eventually, a relationship would be nice. I love kids and would like to have some of my own someday. But I need to do it on my own timeline, when I’m comfortable, when I figure out what I want and what I need. I’m not even 100% sure that I’m not bisexual. Scripts like “I don’t want to talk about my dating life/relationships” have only been interpreted as an invitation to “push” harder from these family members, and this lack of respect for my boundaries seems to be fraying my familial relationships that are really important to me. I want to be close with my family but I’m also an adult and need people to mind their own business, and I don’t know what to do. Any advice?

Best,

Single and Stressed (she/her)

Read More

 

If you follow my Twitter at all, you know. Y’all know.

The face I made when I read these things.

Animated gif of a girl riding an octopus and saying "nope!"

I try to keep the blog itself largely free of  electoral politics and I’ll try to keep doing that for us. But I’m not really feeling the “We can still all eat Thanksgiving together as one great country and focus on what unites us!” talk today.

I feel anger, and despair, and a profound sickness and alienation. On top of the existential dread, I have asthma and severe bronchitis so for the last two weeks I’ve also been slowly drowning inside my own body waiting for the cocktail of expensive meds to kick in, knowing that Obamacare and the ability to get insurance despite irregular income and pre-existing conditions is literally keeping me alive right now. I knew this could happen, I knew that it was never funny or a joke or a spectacle. I knew that without the Voting Rights Act in place we were possibly FUCKED, that voter suppression was working, but I was still sitting there at 2:40 in the a.m. watching the Michigan & Wisconsin vote counts come in and hoping that it would not end this way, that it wasn’t really happening. Hoping against hope that we’d made enough inroads against white supremacy and misogyny to hold the line a little longer, four more years, just four more years. Two more years, and then, through the midterms. One more day.

I’m so sorry. I wanted to say something cool and empathetic that would make people feel better in this post. I am so very spoiled by a lifetime of living in blue bubbles Chicago and Massachusetts and New York and D.C.and I have not had to really ever have the “Dear Captain Awkward, how do I get along with a bunch of people who don’t think I deserve human rights?” conversation on the deep my-livelihood-and-life-might-depend-on-getting-this-right-today-because-I-literally-can’t-get-away-from-them level that my beloved friends & activists I know have had to do before now and are psyching themselves up to do all over again. It’s clear to me that I don’t know how to talk to racist fellow white people, even though it’s our job to unfuck this for America. I don’t know how to “empathize” with people or connect with those who voted for a walking three-dimensional NOPE display of toxic masculinity and abuse and xenophobia. I don’t know how to do it and I don’t know how to teach it. If you do know and you’ve ever wanted to write a guest post, @ me.

Here’s a small, hopeful thing. Just one for today, ok? Kim Foxx won her race for State’s Attorney in Cook County, Illinois.

This is a testament to the organizing power of young people, especially young black activists in Chicago, especially young black queer women and non-binary folks. Thanks to their tireless and smart organizing work, a candidate dedicated to criminal justice reform ousted an incumbent and is going to have a platform to make some changes in this place. These activists helped a #BlackLivesMatter candidate get on the ballot, win the primary, and win her election. That’s something. No, that’s amazing. The work is still the work and the work is still here. It will be here tomorrow and the next day and our whole lives and we will do it.

If you think I can moderate comments about the election as a whole or this sad proto-LiveJournal post in particular, well, your confidence in me is very sweet. I send love and what strength I have out to you, and I’m grateful for all that you send back. Send it to each other. We’re gonna need all of it.