The Blackfingers: Episode 0

Jun. 25th, 2017 03:58 pm
[syndicated profile] walkingmind_feed

Posted by Rob Donoghue

Photo of a gaming table with a large map of Duskvol and several copies of Blades in the Dark.

Map is from https://www.patreon.com/ryandunleavy


With the conclusion of the 7th Sea game, we’ve started a Blades in the Dark game with the same crew, but I’m a player this time.

We are already in over our heads.

The Blackfingers don’t really view themselves as a GANG, per se. They’re just a group of former university students who got their hands on a press and have found there’s money to be made in pamphleteering and penny sheets. Their little gossip and fashion rag has become tremendously popular in Charterhall, and with that success has come opportunity and attention.

The prominent members of the Blackfingers are:

Jack Fingers – A Skovlan Leech responsible for keeping the press working. He is explicitly neither the source of the gang’s name, nor the leader, but every assumes he is both.

Isadora “Izumi” Stanbury, of those Stanbury’s, the family of Lawyers. With the natural talents of a Slide, she was on the track for success when an indiscretion put her on the fast track for Ironhook. The family stepped in and put all of the blame on her partner, but then washed their hands of her.

Luca Skleros is a cutter from Severos who found her way to Duskvol after some…problems…back home. She was roped in to help the gang when their first pamphlet angered a haberdasher enough to send some folks to rough them up.

Achilles Lynch – Spider and youngest son of a prominent merchant family, he has a deep intellectual interest in the flow of information but must balance this against family obligations.

Their as-yet-unnamed pamphlet is mostly focused on gossip and fashion, but even so has angered the Ink Rakes (and mildly annoyed the University) but they have great support from the citizens of Charterhall who enjoy the colorful rag.

Play began with the gang broke and lacking anything valuable to print. After some discussion, it was brought up that Vinzini had just finished his latest season of hat designs, and was going to be presenting them at the mill to begin production ASAP. If the gang could get a scoop on that, it would sell like mad.

So, the group managed to sneak in, posing as foremen. A distraction by a bomb-throwing associate gave the Slide plenty of time to take notes (and, it turned out, to pinch one of the hats1 and for the Leech to make off with some interesting looking chemicals. In fact, the hard part ended up being the fact that if their distraction caused too much damage, the hats would not go to market, and the scoop would be worthless. Thankfully the Cutter stepped up and ran the fire brigades with military discipline, and everything cleared out well.

In the aftermath, the crew made a few bucks, but generated a little bit more heat than the job might normally cause (what with the stolen hat and OH YES, THE FIRE). Downtime was mostly clearing heat and training.

Ok, so since this was episode zero, we went through chargen, a first job and a first round of downtime in one go, so it was all a little condensed. For all that, our GM (not me) did a wonderful job of making sure we hit all the critical mechanical notes to get everyone up to speed on it. The table was largely unfamiliar with Blades so it was all in all a really interesting experience. Some impressions.

  • There are two ways to do playbook-style chargen: Pick a playbook and build from there, or build an idea then try to find a playbook that matches. I think the second method is better, but it is unquestionably harder (or perhaps more precisely, less well supported).
  • This really drove home to me how much a crew needs a purpose or a gimmick. The game is so open ended and potentially player driven that it feels like a waste to just be generically criminal. That may be my problem – I suspect the game excels at generically criminal (and drives it to evolve) but it was a bit of a speed bump as we discussed potential crews.
  • I ended up playing the Spider. I would complain about typecasting, but it was my choice because – in the absence of a strong idea to the contrary – whatever book I play is going to get played like a spider, so I went with it.
  • But tellingly, now that we’ve played even a little, I have my head around some solid non-masterminds character ideas, so I am totally ready for jail time.
  • In deciding our relationships we discovered the University was not on the faction list. So we fixed that.
  • Yet another hands on realization of something I’d previously only gotten intellectually – A job could be driven almost entirely by Devil’s Bargains, and that would be awesome.
  • The players really, really like the load rules.
  • They also very much liked devil’s bargains and flashbacks, though they’re a bit skeptical of the XP model as abusable by someone opting to play towards it (and I can’t fault them – that’s 100% true)
  • I had not realized how effectively the downtime move to reduce heat was. Since my Spider has 3 dots of Consort (yay Hawkers), I cleared out all of our trouble from the night’s job without hassle.
  • I have a knee jerk sense that if you’re helping on a desperate roll, you should also get XP, since you’re also on the hook for consequences, but I haven’t really thought that through yet.
  • We spent a lot of time waffling between whether we were Hawkers or Smugglers, since “The News” is a weird sort of product, and not a 100% match with the assumptions of the setting (which skew chemically).
  • A thing I’ve noticed: The very big fans of BitD conversationally drop the names of gangs and NPCs like they’re common parlance, and it’s clear that buy in is tied very closely to that level of buy in to the setting. It is, in some ways, reminiscent of the Amber DRPG, where the roster of NPCs was a known, shared list but it was built right into the game that these NPCs were different in everyone’s game. That was really powerful in Amber, and it’s good to see that idea (faces – who knew?) built into the setting from the getgo, and I will certainly build on this for some stuff I’m working on.

Anyway, first real session is in 2 weeks. I’m pretty jazzed.

  1. Her vice is fashion, so who can blame her for grabbing a one of a kind design?. ↩︎

PW reviews Penric's Mission

Jun. 24th, 2017 08:37 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
Of the Subterranean Press hardcover; I don't think they cover many e-books. May be seen here:

https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-...

A Publishers Weekly review is, or was (probably still is), considered rather a coup for an aspiring writer. I remember how excited my agent was for my first one; she mailed me a clipping, which should give you an idea how many years ago.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on June, 24

New Facebook Page

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:08 am
[syndicated profile] questforfun_feed

Posted by Gary Ray

I have a new "Gary Ray" Facebook page for posting my videos, blog posts, and writing updates. There's a book coming at the end of the year and I've agreed to write a column for Wizards of the Coast. The first article is already done. I've got a lot going on and it makes sense to separate this stuff from my regular posts about my wonderful son and my beautiful Jeep. Or is it beautiful son and wonderful Jeep?

Why a Facebook page? I don't do Twitter, which is the best method for communicating with a vast number of people, so that means folks default to finding me on my personal Facebook page, a very limiting thing. I've got a couple hundred followers and about 450 friends, most of whom are game trade acquaintances. I know my content is extremely niche and I'm not pretending to be some sort of rock star, but this should help sort my electronic life.

The down side to a page versus a group, is Facebook monetizes pages. That means you'll want to set it for See First in your news feed.

As I don't make squat writing or making videos, there's no ad budget to promote this page. So, something I almost never ask, please tell your friends!

Thanks!


[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hello Captain,

My distant friend Sally and I went out to dinner and she started asking me about my past relationships. I’ve known Sally for over a decade and she’s never pried into my dating life. I told Sally I wasn’t interested in dating anyways as I am looking for a job and like to online date or meet people through work. She tried to reason me out of all of this which seemed troubling.

A couple weeks ago Sally had a birthday party. She had put the event on Facebook. After our dinner, Sally texted me that her friend John saw me on the invite list and became “interested” in me. She said he might hit on me at the party ( he did not show up). This made me uncomfortable as I hate flirting with strangers. It’s odd but I’ve never even flirted with someone who’s become my boyfriend.

I also don’t trust Sally’s judgment at all. To be blunt I’ve met her friends and they aren’t horrible but they’re the “I don’t suffer fools gladly” type.

John has also been asking Sally about me. He wants to know when I’ve found a job and want to meet him. I have never indicated I want to meet John. I’m refusing, there’s something odd about a person in their late twenties being this invested in someone because of their FB profile. I rarely if ever post on FB. He is also asking me out through my friend which seems manipulative.

Do you have script suggestions?

Thanks,

– No thanks stranger ( female pronouns)

Dear No Thanks, Stranger!

I do have script suggestions! And other suggestions!

Step 1: BLOCK that John dude from Facebook and then go ahead and find him on all social media platforms you use and preemptively block him there. Not unfollow, not unfriend, not “hide feed” – BLOCK. Also, consider temporarily changing publicly visible avatars to something other than your face, and locking down security/visibility of any photos of you that are out there. Make sure there is nothing out there to feed his fantasies.

If that seems mean or harsh or unfair, let’s remember: You’re not interested in him at all, you’re already vaguely creeped out by his attention, you are losing nothing from your life by cultivating your internet garden as you see fit. The way he’s monitoring you, asking for updates about your life, and trying to get Sally to set the stage for him but not talking to you directly is odd and he needs to stop it right now, so, help him out with that.

And if this is all projection/matchmaking by Sally, oops, you blocked a total stranger who doesn’t actually know who you are. Not a big deal at the end of the day.

Possible Reaction: John will get the message and leave you and the entire topic of you alone. Good news everyone! This Choose Your Own Adventure Story ends here!

Probable  Reaction: John will notice what you did immediately and he will contact Sally to see what happened. Sally will then ping you to talk about John and his Johnfeels of rejection. (If this happens, please keep reading Step 2)

Step 2: Tell Sally that the whole John thing made you really, really uncomfortable and you don’t want her to set you up for any more “hitting on” scenarios or act as your romantic go-between. Also you’d prefer to keep your information completely private where John is concerned, so, you’d appreciate it if she didn’t update him on your job search or your life or pass on requests from him.

Possible Reaction: Sally will say, “Oh wow, sorry for making you uncomfortable, I get it, don’t worry about a thing.” If this happens, keep enjoying whatever you enjoy about your “distant friendship” with Sally! Here endeth this Choose Your Own Adventure Tale! Yaaay!

Possible Reaction: Sally will be hurt that you didn’t appreciate her matchmaking efforts or feel bad for John and think you’re mean for rejecting him and she’ll double-down on John advocacy. If this happens, please continue reading Steps 3 and 4.

Step 3: Do not give Sally reasons for your rejection of John. “I prefer not to.” “I’m just not interested.” Don’t pick apart his actions or his undesirable qualities or give excuses about being busy – she’ll use whatever you say to convince you to “give him a chaaaaaaaance.”

Step 4: If Sally continues sharing your info with John and trying to play matchmaker in your life after you’ve said “no,” block Sally or, if you’re reluctant to do that after 10 years, put her in that Facebook-Jail thingy where she can’t see any of your posts for a good while.

If you miss Sally you can always dig up her number down the road (and get her a copy of Austen’s Emma for the next gifting holiday). If John wanted to ask you out he could have come to the party, had a normal conversation with you and said “Hey, want to grab a drink with me sometime?” without all the fanfare. He could have also asked Sally straight up for an introduction (and respected your resulting “no thanks” when and if it came). He could have sent you a friend request and a note that says “I’m a friend of Sally’s, I saw you on the invite list, mind if we connect here?” Even if he’d chosen a less creepy and roundabout method of getting in touch, you’re not interested, so, farewell, John, we hardly knew ye.

For those who like to matchmake (I sometimes like to matchmake, especially “you live in the same city and I think you’d make good friends” matchmaking), I recommend asking the people in advance, like, “Hey, I’d love to introduce you to a friend of mine who lives in your city/does what you do for a living/reminds me of you/keeps sending me the exact same Twin Peaks memes that you send, I think you’d really get along, would that be cool?” and then if it is cool with both people I make a quick introduction and then I get out of the middle of things – the people will either find their own conversation or they won’t. If it’s not cool, I drop the subject. The matchmaker’s ego and investment in the outcome < the interest and wishes of the matchmakees.


[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

#TFG = #thatfuckingguy

Ahoy, Captain!

I would appreciate any advice you could give on supporting a friend (female pronouns) who is not yet ready to leave an unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend. This has been an ongoing issue for about 2 years, but something happened a few days ago and I could use an outside perspective.

I would describe the boyfriend as coercive (in past conversations she has alluded to having sex with him just so that he will stop begging, even when she doesn’t want to) and one of my big concerns is that Friend will be extremely isolated in our current city without me. I think he looks through her phone and computer, so I pretty much assume that he could read any written communication I send. I censor myself in written communication with her and we only have frank conversations when we go for walks in the nearby park. He often invites himself along to things we have planned and it feels like he is monitoring our friendship. He also makes controlling comments, but when I call them out, he always says, “I was just joking. [Friend] knows I’m just joking. She’s amazing and the best thing ever…etc.” They live together, but he does none of the domestic work and will only do paid work (freelance) when she nags him.

A couple times a year, she will reach a boiling point and tell him to shape up or she will leave. He will improve for about 2 weeks and then go back to the status quo. Her work/school schedule has been grueling the past few years and she hasn’t had the energy to deal with the inevitable fallout of a breakup. Most of our one-on-one conversations end with me reiterating an offer that she is always welcome to stay at my apartment when she is ready to leave. She’s not blinded by love or anything, just doesn’t feel like there is a good way or time to exit the relationship. He is currently estranged from his family and not really working, so she feels like if she dumps him, he will have nothing. One of my priorities is staying in her life, so I don’t want to overstep and give her boyfriend ammunition for isolating her further. Her parents think her boyfriend is fantastic and her other close friends live in other cities and are busy with newborn babies.

A couple days ago, I ended up spending about 30 minutes alone with her boyfriend while we were stuck in terrible traffic, on our way to pick her up and go to an event. I don’t enjoy his company and generally avoid spending time with him. Our one-on-conversation (mostly him doing a monologue) was frightening. He was delusional, paranoid, and unable to remember things I had said 5 minutes earlier. I had to repeatedly remind him where we were going and why we were going. He was extremely animated in his conversation and was looking at me while he talked and not the road, often swerving at the last minute. His ranting mostly focused on how the [creative] industry was scared of his success and how “they” wanted to keep his [art] away from “the people” and that this was a huge mistake because “the universe was going to revolt” if they didn’t get access to his [art]. At first I thought he was joking and just being overly full of himself, but he was completely serious. He then segued into how his estrangement with his family was a concern of the Catholic Church. Apparently, him “stepping out of line” is crumbling the foundation of the church by upsetting the established hierarchy. At several points, he referred to himself as royalty and referred to his lifelong “fame” that comes with being part of his family. Before you wonder, you have no clue who he is. His “fame” comes from the local and state politics his family is involved with in one of the poorest states in the country.

This grandiose sense of self and paranoia about “the establishment” trying to prevent him from success is worrisome. There were also times when he said things that I know for a fact aren’t true, but he seems to have fully convinced himself of this alternate version. I have considered that he may have been on drugs during that conversation, though that possibility does not alleviate my worry. He does not believe in therapy, though Friend has suggested it to him many times over the last two years.

I have already sent Friend a vague text and we are getting together this weekend for a walk where we will be able to speak more frankly. I just feel powerless to help and that my support has fallen woefully short. I don’t know how to be a supportive friend in this situation and I’m really worried that he is acting like this with her on a regular basis. It was exhausting for 30 minutes, I can’t imagine what it is doing to her longterm. I don’t think he is violent now, but think he could become violent if she breaks up with him. I feel like Friend is the frog in the pot of water, slowly boiling to death. She’s been unhappy, but the decline has been gradual so there hasn’t been a catalyst for her to jump ship.

I know I can’t make her leave, but I do want to make sure I am there for her if she needs support. Any words of wisdom to help me be a good friend in this situation?

-Helpless & Worried (female pronouns)

Dear Helpless & Worried,

I think you’re doing as well as you can with this. You’ve figured out how to communicate with her around his possible monitoring of her electronic conversations. You’ve made it clear that you’ll be a landing place when and if she leaves him. Let me refer you to some past posts that deal with the issue of being a good friend in a basically impossible situation.

Let’s address the elephant in the room:

Without diagnosing this dude (seriously, no “It sounds like x!” comments, please, we don’t actually have to narrow it down), the grandiosity, short-term memory slips, and erratic driving behavior he displayed might correlate to a number of mental health conditions that all have one important thing in common: They will not get better and will most likely get worse without focused regular psychiatric care & medication. You and your friend both might benefit from calling or texting the support folks at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), describing what you experienced with this guy, and seeing what they recommend. Your friend can’t make him get treatment, nor can you, but their support resources for “family members and caregivers” might be able to walk her through what she’s dealing with and have checklists and methods for coaxing reluctant people into treatment.

Important: If you’re ever dealing with someone who is having the paranoid sort of delusions and they are getting very upset and agitated, it doesn’t help to try to convince them of what’s real or deny the truth of what they are describing. They are experiencing whatever it is as if it’s real, so it’s better to validate their feelings until you can get them to Help or Help to them. You don’t have to participate in the delusion yourself, so try “I don’t see any spiders, but that must be a truly awful sight” or “I don’t hear anything, but that must feel really strange and scary.” Be honest about where your own perceptions differ but validate and comfort the upset feelings the person is having without arguing them out of feeling them. Source: A NAMI-created education session for friends/family/loved ones I went to back when Mr. Awkward was hospitalized a few years ago for a bad episode with his bipolar disorder .

It’s a sad, true fact that one can be a clingy, controlling, abusive jerk who needs to be dumped and have some pretty serious mental health stuff going on. Correlation is not causation. Even if he gets treatment (unlikely, since he “doesn’t believe in therapy”), your friend will most likely be better off without this guy in her life, and I don’t want to suggest that she’s responsible somehow for making this happen or that she needs to stay until his mental health is stabilized. Just, knowledge is power, and also, support resources who are not you are useful things to have.

I’m now going to stuff that elephant back into a tightly sealed container, because he didn’t write to me and she didn’t write to me and this is about you and the limits of what you can do here.

If you ever witness an episode like the one you did, when you’re safely out of the car it’s okay to say, “You are not making a lot of sense today, and your driving was very erratic. You seem really not okay to me, like, maybe there’s something going on that a doctor should take a look at.” Say it directly to him as gently and directly as you are able. He may argue that he doesn’t believe in therapy or “Big Pharma” or whatever, which, okay, cool. Don’t talk about therapists or psychiatrists, use the generic catch-all of “doctor.” “I think you should make an appointment with a doctor and tell that person you’re having problems with memory and concentration, especially when driving. Dude, get yourself checked out – if it’s nothing, then why not rule it out?” He sees you at least nominally as a friend, so, use that and speak to him the way a friend would.

He 99.9% won’t go. On some level he suspects that if he goes to a doctor then “They” or “The System” will know there’s something bigger going on. That’s okay. Say it anyway, offer to be the driver on the way back – “I just don’t feel safe with you behind the wheel after what I just saw, and it’s even more worrying that you don’t remember what happened, why don’t you let me get us home, I’d feel much more comfortable” – and if he won’t budge, definitely find your own transportation home. Don’t make it about all future rides or ultimatums, just take it one ride at a time – Right now, you’d feel more comfortable if someone else drove. And in future conversations with him, if those happen, you can keep referring back to that particular night that you personally witnessed (instead of the shitty behavior you know about). “You don’t remember, but when we were in the car that night, your behavior was very disturbing. I really, really hope you’ll talk to a doctor about it. There’s no shame in trying to get to the bottom of something like that so you can feel better/drive safely/put my & girlfriend’s mind at ease.”

If he doesn’t listen to you or seek treatment, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Sometimes speaking up about an issue isn’t about convincing the other person, it’s because it’s good for you to not stay silent. It’s good for you to name what’s happening, to remind yourself that it’s not normal, to remind yourself what you witnessed and experienced, and to put that out there in the world and not just silently fret about it.

When you next talk to your friend, another thing you can do is accurately and honestly describe what you saw. Talk about the behaviors, especially the scary driving, and talk about how they impacted you. You won’t be riding in a car with the boyfriend as the driver any more and you recommend that she doesn’t, either. He could have killed someone. He could have killed you. He could kill her. This is a very big deal and it can’t be waved away.

You can also talk about the grandiosity and the memory lapses and the other strange behavior you observed. Message: “I think there is something very serious going on with him, and he needs serious help – more help than you can possibly give or be expected to give.

He doesn’t believe in therapy so of course he won’t want to go and she’ll doubtless raise that objection. Your script is: “I think this might beyond our friendly neighborhood therapist, even. This is serious doctor stuff.” Then give her the NAMI resources or whatever else you’ve found and that our nice commenters recommend.

Then, here’s your script for the one big serious talk:

“You are my friend forever, and I always want to see you. If you ever need a place to stay, a listening ear, a ride, whatever I can give, it’s yours. I will keep making communication safe between us and making time for these walks when I can see you. 

I am seriously worried about you the longer you stay in this relationship. I think it is draining the life out of you, and I don’t think it’s your responsibility to support and help this guy even one minute longer than you already have. I think that he needs help that you can’t give, and the longer he tries to make you his girlfriend/mommy/financial support/mental health care substitute/pacifier, the longer he will delay seeking that care. I think it’s okay for you to call in medical professionals here, or think about contacting his family to see if they can help somehow – I think things are that serious and that they’ll only get worse from here. I know that’s overwhelming to contemplate, but if things stayed just like they are now and didn’t get any better, how long would you stay? Another year? Another 5 years? Forever?

In the end, only you can decide what’s right for you, and I trust you to take care of yourself and make a good decision about what to do. You don’t owe me a breakup with him, you don’t owe me anything but being my friend. You do what you need to do, and if you need me, I’ll be there, no questions asked.

That said, I can’t ride in a car with him anymore, anywhere. I have to make that boundary for my own safety. And I can’t pretend the way he behaves lately is normal or okay with me. I also don’t want him inviting himself along on our plans anymore, so what do you need from me to help make that happen?”  

Your friend will have some stuff to say, so, listen to her.

And then, in the aftermath of this talk, as you go forward in this friendship, here’s what I want you to do:

Make your friendship about something other than “helping” and “supporting” her in regards to him. Make your friendship about how much you like her and want her company in your life. In practice, this means:

  • It’s okay to redirect conversations about him. “You already know what I think, so, what are you asking?“What do you think you’ll do?” “How do you want to handle that?” 
  • It’s okay to nope out of some conversations about him and not make all the time you spend together time that you chew on the gristle of her relationship problems. “Ugh, that sucks, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that, but I’ve reached my Dude-talk limit for the day.” U R Not The Asshole Whisperer.
  • It’s more than okay to recommend that she see a therapist or counselor. He’s the one with big, dramatic issues, but if she’s being drained dry by him, her having a safe place to talk and an advocate for herself within the mental health system is not a bad thing at all. You don’t have to be her sole outlet.
  • I know you’re worried about her becoming isolated from having other friendships and relationships, but I’m serious about not getting in a car with him again, not ever. It’s okay to keep that boundary. “If Dude is driving, sorry, I can’t make it, but I’ll see you at the usual time for our walk.”
  • Get out of the role of being the only mentor/advice-giver/”the okay one” or whatever. Make it a point to ask her advice about things that she’s good and knowledgable about. Ask her for help with things that she’d be good at helping with. You can’t make “getting her out of the relationship” the project of your friendship with her for a lot of reasons, not least because it takes the average victim multiple attempts to leave before they actually do.
  • Make sure there is a fluffy/fun/positive/enjoyable thing that you share and talk about, whether it’s trading books or watching a favorite show together or a shared hobby or your weekly walks or texting cute animal photos. If he’s monitoring her communications (BAD, VERY BAD, RED FLAG) you having an innocuous conversation topic is a good thing, but it’s also important that you enjoy your friendship with each other as much as possible.
  • I hate that this is a thing, but referring to your time together as Girl Time!!! and planning really female-coded activities for when you hang out can help somewhat in minimizing how much he tags along to your plans. “Sorry, this is Lady Time! No boys allowed!” sometimes translates better for misogynists than “Steve, you’re not invited!”
  • Lady-Time Expanded: Is there a way for the two of you to join an all-woman choir or sport or other hobby group that meets periodically? Community for her, community for you, no That Guy.

If you’re doing that stuff, you’re doing the best you can under the circumstances.

While this is all going on, I also want you to take excellent care of yourself. Don’t neglect your other friendships and your social life. You need friendships without this abusive jerk hanging out in the background all the time. Don’t neglect your career, your finances, your education, your housekeeping. Above all, don’t neglect your own enjoyment and pleasure in life. Taking care of people and supporting them is great, but when your power to change a situation is as limited as it is here, making sure you can disengage is healthy.

This is all so imperfect. The mental health system is imperfect. Someone else’s relationship troubles are completely unfixable by you, and abusive people poison everything around themselves and the person in their grasp. You can’t make yourself like him, there’s only so long you can lie and pretend around him, and there’s only so long you can make vague soothing noises. There is no great, wonderful, awesome, brilliant way to handle this, there is only telling the truth and offering what you can safely offer.


Munich Meetup June 28

Jun. 22nd, 2017 01:40 pm
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

From Hannah, the organizer:

We will meet in the Michaeligarten beer garden in Ostpark on Wednesday
28th June at 18.00. If it is raining, we will postpone and meet on
Friday 30th instead. If the weather looks bad, we will discuss on the
“Munich?” thread on the forums whether or not to postpone, so check in
there for a decision.

The nearest U-Bahn station is Michaelibad on the U5. You can bring
your own food into the beer garden or buy food there, although you
won’t be able to bring in drinks.

I will bring a teddy bear to put on the table so people can find us.
If you need to get in touch, you can post in the “Munich?” thread on
the forums or email me on hannah.in.munich@gmail.com.

Thanks so much!

Have a good time!


My Origins Haul

Jun. 20th, 2017 12:21 am
[syndicated profile] walkingmind_feed

Posted by Rob Donoghue


My Origins acquisitions, in the order I see them on the table (or they pop into my mind)

  • Hero Realms and all the class cards – I like Star Realms a lot, but I missed this kickstarter. This is about 85% Star Realms reskin with solid theme and nice tweaks. Have played a few games and enjoyed them. http://www.whitewizardgames.com/herorealms/
  • Dresden Files Accelerated – Technically got my copy as we left for Origins, but whatever. I have read some of this in PDF, and it’s awesome, but I’ve really been waiting for a physical copy. – http://www.evilhat.com/home/dresden-files-accelerated/
  • All the Tokaido – Core box, the minis set and both expansions. This is a great game which I should already own, so I fixed that. http://passportgamestudios.com/game/tokaido/
  • Jumpdrive – 15 minute Race for the Galaxy. Not an Origins release, but I only just found out about it, and found it at a bargain price. http://riograndegames.com/Game/1308-Race-for-the-Galaxy-Jump-Drive
  • Shahrazad and The Ravens of Thri Sahashri are both co-op games from Osprey because I wanted new co-op and those are the games twitter recommended. They are a total crapshoot. https://ospreypublishing.com/store/osprey-games
  • Vast: the Crystal Caverns – This is a weird game of tile laying and dragon slaying and other stuff with a million components and somewhat confusing rules, but it looks utterly intriguing and came well recommended, so I took a swing. http://ledergames.com
  • From the Gamelyn Games booth I picked up Tiny Epic Western and the expansion for Tiny Epic Galaxy. They had the expansion for Heroes too, but that game never clicked for me, and everything else was just promos. I had good luck with these games last year, and they’re a pain in the ass to acquire, so I was happy to scoop them up. http://www.gamelyngames.com/games/tiny-epic-quest/
  • Gravity Dice – I got a set of these last year and they were one of my favorite things from the Con. This year they had colors and 5 packs, so I picked some up for the family. http://gravitydice.com
  • Norse Foundry Fate Dice – They had new colors which were AWESOME, and there are some benefits to being the licensor. 🙂 https://metaldice.myshopify.com/collections/metal-fate-dice (Also got to see some of their aluminum dice and they are totally getting acquired at some point)
  • Fidget Spinners – So, two guys brought 4 duffle bags of high end fidget spinners and sold them out of a booth near the back. I am pretty sure that they made bank.
  • Pyramid Poker – It’s a stacking game with poker scoring that is two player fun, and there is a full 54 card deck of wooden bricks in the box, so it also begs for re-use and was super reasonably priced – http://rnrgames.com/pyramid-poker
  • Shadowrun Sixth World Tarot – Last year there was art for this all over the convention, but the deck was not yet out. Seeing that it was available, I scooped it right the hell up. (No link because Catalyst’s website it like a stab in the eye)
  • A Gencon 2015 Tote So, this was a gift from Jason at IPR upon discovery of what a bag nerd I am. It’s a gorgeous promotional bag with an image of the history of gaming on the side. It’s a goddamned treasure.
  • S. Petersen’ Field Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors – Ok, so this was a gorgeous book, and I got it as a gift for a friend I do not see nearly often enough. But here’s a thing: I don’t buy Lovecraftian stuff normally. It’s not my bag. But holy crap if the Chaosium booth was not full of really awesome looking stuff. I am used to it feeling dated and like it’s just riding on the strength of the CoC brand, but not this year – it was well stocked with things that looked exciting enough to push me to maybe reconsider my stance on Lovecraftia. http://www.chaosium.com/s-petersens-field-guide-to-lovecraftian-horrors-hardcover/
  • Set of Easy Roller Dice – In the absence of chessex the floor was stuffed with companies selling beautiful dice of every variety. I picked up some of the Easy Roller gunmetal ones as a gift, and they’re lovely, but I admit I had a bit of buyer’s remorse when I got the the Norse Foundry ones.
  • A buffer Quarterstaff from Forged Foam.  The kid had been asking for this for months, and it was stupid expensive, but totally worth it to see his face. https://www.forgedfoam.com/
  • Fabriano Notebook – These are wonderful notebooks and they are absolutely my weakness when I stop by the Columbus Dick Blick. http://fabriano.com/en/267/ecoqua

Things I didn’t get but merit mention

  • Blades in the Dark and The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game were both awesome things at the show, but I already had mine for obvious reasons. http://www.evilhat.com/home/dresden-files-cooperative-card-game/
  • I preordered a game called Unearth. Visually, it is very clearly derived from Monument Valley, which was initially off putting, but then I realized it was from the folks who made Boss Monster, so mimicking video game styles is already pretty much on brand for them. I got to play a little in the booth, and I liked it enough to actively talk it up to people. If they’d had it for sale, I’d have bought one. They did not, so preorder ($30, free shipping) was the way to go. http://www.brotherwisegames.com/product/unearth-preorder/
  • I will fully cop that I was skeptical about War of the Cross, the 7th Sea wargame that kickstarts on the 20th. My love of 7th Sea is well known, but I don’t really pick up war games these days, and war games based off RPG settings have a long history of mediocrity. However, I was entirely sold by the booth pitch. John described it as Cosmic Encounters meets Diplomacy, and while that immediately made me leery, Lenny supplemented the pitch with the explanation that it was “Divorce proof”, which intrigued me. Short form, the nations have some special tricks (that’s the Cosmic Encounters part) but the really interesting part are some tricks to streamline and standardize some diplomacy-style negotiation. I’ll be backing this. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/johnwickpresents/12387016?token=1d0034c6

June 24: Atlanta Meetup

Jun. 20th, 2017 12:35 am
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

From the organizer, Cat:

Hello Awkwardeers in Atlanta!

On Saturday, June 24, I will be going on a walk in the Inman Park neighborhood, starting at the Inman Park MARTA station and just walking around admiring houses and gardens and exploring any little neighborhood parks I come across for about an hour. Pokemon Go players welcome!

I’ll be at the station’s bus area at 9:15am and depart at 9:30am, because any later and things will be getting quite hot. I will be holding a rainbow plush Cthulu toy while waiting at the station. I have a long brown braid and glasses.

There is free parking at the station if you are coming by car. If it is pouring rain that morning you can assume the meetup is canceled but if you are unsure I will also post in the Friends of Captain Awkward forums meetups thread if I cancel.

Note: I know this meetup will not be accessible for everyone, this is just what I felt like doing this month. I tried to make May’s meetup 100% accessible and will do so again next time. If you want to host your own meetup for June or at any other time, please do! The more the merrier!

Have a great walk, Atlanta!

 

 


The Purge (2017)

Jun. 18th, 2017 05:54 pm
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Posted by Erin

It’s been forever since I posted, I know—sheesh, 2017, amirite?—and I just moved house, which of course has everything topsy-turvy. (I have *almost* got my new sewing space sew-able, though.)

As part of moving I had to round up all the random plastic tubs of fabric and dresses I had cached all over the old house like some kind of textile squirrel, and all I can say is … whoa. It’s pretty easy to say “oh, I don’t have that much stuff” when you can only see one or two bins at a time, but when moving them takes double-digit trips (in a Honda Fit, but still), saying “I don’t have that much stuff” only provokes bitter, bitter laughter.

So: I’m purging! Very, very slowly, but still … and, as the zeitgeist would have it, I’m getting rid of the things that don’t “spark joy”. Some of what I’m letting go is fabric (mostly I’m giving to local swaps and Goodwill but I’ve put some up on Etsy, here), and some of what I’m letting go is vintage (still trying to figure out what to do with vintage when you’re way too busy/lazy to list it online the way it should be listed), but some of it is dresses I’ve sewn myself.

I’ve always had a hard time letting go of dresses I’ve sewn, for one reason or another. Part of it is that, well, I really LIKE them—I wouldn’t have made them, otherwise. Part of it is of course the ‘sunk cost fallacy’: “I spent X hours and Y dollars on this, I should keep it until I figure out what to do with it … “. And of course there are all the same reasons that anyone keeps clothes they no longer wear regularly: “I might fit into this again someday/I might need it/I might take it apart and make something else out of it/I have wonderful memories of wearing this” and so on.

And a large part of it is that I feel that handmade dresses should be worn by people who will appreciate them!

People have often asked me to sell (or make replicas) dresses I’ve made and featured here, but sewing isn’t my job, it’s my hobby. So I don’t do custom work and I don’t have a dress or alterations shop. I usually point people towards the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals and go on my merry way.

All this is, of course, a long lead-up to me saying, “Hey! There are bunch of dresses I’ve made that I no longer have physical or psychological space for—would you by chance want one?”

I’ve put them all in a Google Spreadsheet here. Most of them are linked to blog posts where they were featured; a few I’m still trying to track down. (You could treat those as grab-bag or lucky-dip dresses if you want!)

I’m not trying to make a bazillion dollars here, so every dress is $20, plus USPS Priority Mail flat-rate shipping. I will ship internationally (with the warning that it will be expensive, and you’ll be on the hook for any customs duties).

If you see a dress you like, fill out THIS FORM with the dress you want and your email and mailing address, and I will send you a Paypal invoice for the $20 plus whatever shipping costs to wherever you live. Then you have a week to pay the invoice (or the dress becomes available to someone else).

I’ll strikethrough dresses on the spreadsheet as they are claimed and remove them when they are purchased.

Here are some questions I thought you might have:

Q. Do these dresses have pockets?

A. ALL OF THESE DRESSES HAVE POCKETS.

Q. There’s a dress of yours I want that isn’t on the list! Will you be selling it?

A. Uh, maybe? You can email me and ask. (I won’t be selling any Liberty-print dresses, any Tetris dresses, or the Star Wars dress, though.)

Q. There are no prices on the spreadsheet, how much are the dresses?

A. Every dress is US$20.

Q. What are you going to use the money for?

A. I’m going to give half of it to charity (likely Planned Parenthood or Chicago Books to Women in Prison), and I’m going to use half of it to buy more fabric. (Yes I know this negates the whole concept of “getting rid of stuff” … but, FABRIC!)

Q. What if I don’t support the missions of either of those organizations? 

A. Easy! Don’t buy a dress!

Q. I want to buy a dress but I would like you to ship it (some way other than Priority Mail Flat Rate). Can you do that?

A. Sorry, flat rate only, as I need to minimize the time I spend in line at the Post Office for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me.

Q. Will you make (my requested alterations) to the dress before you send it to me?

A. No, I’m afraid not … your local dry cleaner/alterations shop can help you out.

Q. Are these dresses new?

A. All of these dresses have been worn. Some have been worn more than others. (Any notable flaws are listed in the spreadsheet.)

Q. Are the measurements body measurements or garment measurements?

A. They’re garment measurements, measured flat across the front and doubled. Make sure to leave wearing ease for yourself!

Q. Why don’t you just give them all to Goodwill and be done with it?

A. I’m worried that they will be treated as rags because they don’t have labels. 😦 I want them to go to good homes!

Q. Speaking of labels, will you put a label in the dress to show it was made by you?

A. I won’t sew one in for you, but if you add $2, I will throw one of these in (until they’re all gone). That $2 will go directly to charity.

Q. I would like to pay some other way (not Paypal).

A. I’m sorry, I can only take Paypal.

Q. Will you be purging any of your sewing patterns?

A. Maybe? (Oh god I haven’t even thought about culling the patterns yet … ) If I do I will put them up on Etsy.

Q. When will this purge end?

A. At dawn. When they’re all gone. However, I have to get these OUT OF MY HOUSE so anything that’s not gone in a month or so (end of July) will probably go to Goodwill after all.

Q. I have a question that you were unable to anticipate! How can I ask it?

A. Leave your question as a comment on this post and I will answer it as soon as possible.

Here are some of the dresses, patiently waiting in their bins for new owners:


[syndicated profile] rkirstein_blog_feed

Posted by Rosemary

Well, that was annoying. I’ve been using an Xfinity hotspot for my internet connection at my office, largely because it was a) there, b) fairly cheap for a monthly pass, c) did not require me to buy an expensive package including TV just in order to get internet, and d) did not require me to […]

water from the air

Jun. 16th, 2017 09:13 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
See, among other links:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/0...


You know, I've been around dehumidifiers for decades, but never once thought of this. And then it's so obvious.

(Not that this uses quite that tech, but, the principle of the thing.)

Straight-line extrapolations into the future -- that trick never works.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on June, 24
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hello Captain!

My issue feels so petty, but it’s seriously giving me anxiety…

I am fairly close friends with an older male coworker. He is very into bike riding, and over the years has tried to get me on board with his hobby. I’ve been fairly straightforward in telling him that it really isn’t my thing, and reaffirmed this just a few weeks ago when we were out together. Coincidentally, he was leaving the next day for a big cycling trip. While he was gone he texted to ask me what my hat size was and, thinking nothing of it, I replied.

I came in to work the next week to find, of all things, a brand new bike helmet on my chair. WTF?! I thanked him for it, but reiterated that I was making no promises as far as using it, but joked it would come in handy if they sky fell in at work. He responded that he understood, and then immediately asked it the helmet fit. I ignored the question.

Then a few days later he shows up in my office, and tells me that we’re picking a night after work for a short, 30 minute ride. I commented that he really doesn’t listen, and he laughed.

I DON’T WANT TO RIDE BIKES!
I DON’T WANT A BIKE HELMET!
I TOLD HIM I DON’T WANT TO RIDE BIKES!

I am really frustrated and angry, and don’t appreciate being strong armed into doing something I very clearly said I don’t want to do. This guy is a good friend, and I don’t want to make him feel bad, but at the same time I am (maybe unreasonably) miffed about this. I’ve been getting way better at saying no and pushing back, but saying no and pushing back is just not working here. I don’t know if this matters at all, but he is older and married, and I am a younger married female- our relationship has always been platonic, but he has put a toe over the line a few times with regard to references to my looks, and comments about marrying me if he were younger.

Please help.

Thanks in advance!
No Means No

Dear No Means No:

He is being so fucking weird, intrusive, aggressive, and oblivious that I want you to immediately absolve yourself from ever worrying about “making him feel bad” about this. HE is making YOU feel bad, and then making you do extra emotional labor to worry about his feelings.

I suggest that you take the bike helmet, still in its box, put it back on his chair with a note that says “Thanks, but I don’t ride bikes.”

Other options: Donate it. Put it in the garbage.*

GO RIDE BIKES WITH YOUR WIFE, DUDE.

OR GO TO A BIKE-RIDING MEETUP AND MAKE BIKE-RIDING FRIENDS.

RIDING BIKES ALONE IS ALSO GOOD.

MAYBE ONE OF YOUR MALE COWORKERS RIDES BIKES?

STOP TRYING TO HARASS YOUR COWORKER INTO IT, WE CAN SEE YOU COMING FOR MILES.

When he comes to weirdly talk about it with you (and he will), say: “I do not know how to make myself clearer: I am not interested in riding bikes with you. I know you mean to be thoughtful but your ‘gift’ and subsequent insistence on planning a bike ride is making me very uncomfortable. What will it take for you to understand that this is not something I ever want to do?

If it hurts his feelings or he gets weird about it (which he will), OK. GOOD. FINE. If he wanted to avoid hurt feelings he could have listened to you the first time you said “No thanks!” and the at least 27 times you’ve said no since then. You saying “no” to riding bikes at this point is “hurting his feelings” like you holding a fork and him running across a room to impale himself onto it is “stabbing him with a fork.”

Then, if he ever brings up riding bikes with you again, say a flat “No” and move away. If he retaliates against you at work in any way, document all this stuff and report his ass to HR. I’m serious. It’s great that y’all have been work “friends” all this time, but he is the one killing that friendly vibe by trying to force his hobby on you.

Incidentally, when I think back to the (non-zero)(always gross)(never pleasant or cute or friendly) amount of times that older male coworkers or older male customers or old men in general have said “I would totally marry you if I were younger, heh heh!” to me I wish I’d had the guts or wit to have said something deeply crushing in return, like “I think that you think that’s a compliment, how interesting” or “Yikes, there‘s a mental picture.” Mostly what I did was cringe away and wait for the earth to mercifully swallow me while Geezer McPatronizing laughed at my embarrassment. Dudes, especially older/old-ish dudes, this is never the “compliment” that you think it is. Never. Even if you are an “adorable” old Grampa with a mustache talking to a precocious 16-year-old at her diner waitressing job and everyone in this story is from the South where theoretically people just put up with this bullshit and pretend to find it cute, just shut up about your alternate timeline marriage offers, forever.

In short, friends listen to you when you say “no thanks!” If he can’t hear you loud and clear, he’s not acting like your friend, and that’s not your fault.

 

*Wasteful, I know. Who cares. She doesn’t want the fucking bike helmet and sometimes you need to get a thing out of your life more than you need to spend time and emotional labor finding the perfect disposal solution.

 


[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

I participate in a small sport, with several branches. I am both a referee and a ‘player’ in this sport. (If you see any inadvertent clues as to the sport, please could you edit them out?)

At the club where I practice, lots of people know that I referee, and often ask me questions about the rules. I don’t mind these questions, and enjoy answering them, it’s part of why I love being a referee, and part of what has helped me become one of the country’s (UK) most senior referees in one branch of the sport.

In one of the smaller branches, I’m actually getting quite good – in fact I’ll be representing my country at a world championships later this year. This is my first time at an international event, and unsurprisingly, I have ramped up my practice.

My problem is when I have gone to the club to practice, and other club members start asking me questions. It generally starts out OK with just one question, but that inevitably turns into “but what if [related but slightly different situation]?”.

How can I politely let people know that they have crossed the line from a welcome short question and answer into an imposition? Especially when the line is crossed quite quickly. I want to end the conversation as soon as possible while still making it clear I’d be happy to answer short questions in future? This is complicated slightly by the fact that I’m an introvert with extreme shyness, and anxiety. And having to tell someone no feels like confrontation to me and brings my anxiety right up! Also, these people are my friends, and answering questions starts off as a nice way to interact with people I like.

On a slightly extended note (feel free to edit this out if you prefer), an example was this weekend. I was pretty tired after going for a run first thing, and then spending all morning at practice. I had broken for lunch and was making a cup of tea in the clubhouse. A Lady from the club started asking me questions about the new dress code, and I replied with a sensible answer. But she kept asking the same question “could I wear this, could I wear that”. I felt like I had to keep answering. I did walk away, when I was too tired to keep standing, and had actually gone and sat down on the other side of the clubhouse but she followed me and started asking what local competitions would be suitable for her daughter. I said outright several times that I didn’t know about junior competitions, but she kept on asking and asking and asking. Captain, I was soooo tired, and this was my lunch break! I just wanted her to go away. This is an extreme example, as the lady in question doesn’t pick up on social cues very well, so I might need something more pointed for her.

Thank you for your lovely blog, I have really enjoyed reading since I discovered it a few weeks ago.

All the best,
Trying to Practice (she/her pronouns)

Dear Trying To Practice,

I say this as a fairly soft-spoken, young-ish appearing, reasonably affable female person in a “I’m here to answer questions and teach you stuff!” profession where students have sometimes followed me into the bathroom to ask questions. Sometimes you just gotta say “I’d love to answer all your questions, but… “

  • “…I need this class break to organize my notes, can you email me or schedule an appointment if you need to sit down and talk it through?”
  • “…I need my bathroom time to be alone time, can we talk about it when we’re back in class?”
  • “…I need to think more about their question, can they remind me next class?”
  • “…I don’t know that off the top of my head, but the Library/Post-Production Center/Audio Suite/Professor in charge of that specialty is a good resource. Can I assign you to research it a little and report back to the class next week? Thanks!”
  • “…so sorry, I have to tune you out for a sec before I lose my train of thought (a real possibility for me). Can you remind me of your question by email when we’re back in class?

I want to help people out, I want them to feel comfortable asking me questions, and sometimes I really, really need that 10 minutes or whatever to not be in on-demand information dispenser mode, and I don’t think I’m being rude or a bad professor by setting that boundary.

For you this could translate as:

  • Great question! I can’t chat about it right this second, today is my practice day. Remind me next time I see you/Email me/This is a great person-who-is-not-me to ask if you need an answer today. Gotta run!” 
  • I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head, sorry! I’ve got to put my head down right now and finish my lunch, if you look into this let me know what you find out.
  • I don’t know anything about junior competitions, sorry. That’s a great question, I wish I could help. I’m so sorry to cut you off – I need to wolf down my lunch right now so I can get back to practicing, good luck finding out what you need to know!”

Consider also, especially with the person who follows you around the club to ask questions:

  • Needing to step out and make a phone call or “a phone call.”
  • Needing to step away and get something from your car. That something might be a second of peace and quiet to eat your lunch.
  • Needing to step away to catch a member of the club staff and ask them a question while you have a spare moment. If this person follows you, great. “Hey Terry, Taylor here had a question about the new uniforms, maybe you can help her out!” + then flee!
  • Headphones are the introvert’s friend!

Sometimes people are taken aback when you set this boundary but in my experience 99% of the time the person says “Oh, of course, sorry!” and it’s not a big deal. They either follow up with you later, or it wasn’t that important in the first place. If someone does make a big deal along the lines of “you MUST help me RIGHT NOW or ELSE,” the problem was not you.

 


Mira releases on audio today

Jun. 13th, 2017 08:44 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
The audio version of the Penric & Desdemona novella "Mira's Last Dance", sequel to "Penric's Mission", releases on audio from Blackstone/Downpour today.

https://www.downpour.com/mira-s-last-...

At all the usual audio e-vendor suspects. Also available in physical media, although almost no one seems to buy audio that way these days.





I see they decided to do their own cover again, keeping their own series look.

(It will be coming later this year in a collector's hardcover from Subterranean Press, as well; just saw the first batch of proposed cover sketches yesterday.)

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on June, 23
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hey Cap,

Hopefully this is any easy one for you (and maybe your community?)

If you were a ten year old boy who just came out to your mom, what would you want her to do or say? What could the mom do to support him?

He came to me crying and handed me a note that said, “I think I’m gay.” I pulled him on my lap and asked why he was upset. He said he was worried I would be disappointed. I said, “Oh please. I’m disappointed when you push your sister. This is just normal.” Then he asked if I could ask a family friend who is gay about how he knew he was gay. So I sent him an email, and I’m pretty sure he’ll talk with my son but I’m not sure how best to support him.

Thoughts?

My first thought is “I love this story and your son!” You’re going to hold onto that note forever, right? And someday when he’s a grownup you’ll give it back to him along with a heartfelt letter from you about how proud you are of him? Yes? Yes.

giphy (15).gif
Image description: An animated .gif of a rotating, pulsating rainbow heart. 

 

PFLAG (“Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays”) is an organization that does a lot of education and activism around making the world safer and more welcoming for gay and transgender kids. If you want to get informed and get involved in things like making schools safer, protecting your son and other kids from bullying, and meeting other parents and kids where you live, they’ll be a great resource for you. One of the best things about organizations like this is that you can learn a lot about the subject without making your son (or your family friend) do all the work of teaching you. For example, the NYC PFLAG chapter has a massive recommended reading list for parents, including This Is A Book For Parents of Gay Kids by the wonderful team behind Everyone Is Gay.

If you search for “resources for gay kids” where you live, see what else you turn up. Everyone Is Gay has a state-by-state guide of groups, friendly churches, camps, and events in the U.S. Is there a youth center or camp, a chorus or sports league, a drop-in or mentoring program, an all-ages Pride event, a safe place for counseling and sexual healthcare as he gets older near you?

Readers, are there any really kid-and-parent-friendly websites or books that you like?

And, when you came out to the people close to you, is there anything someone said or did that made you feel especially safe and loved and supported? Can we give this mom and other parents a road map for how to do this beautifully and well?


[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hi Capt,

Surely this has been asked before, but I can’t find anything this straightforward in the archive. What do you say when someone wants to be your friend but you just don’t like them?

I feel like at any given time there are a few people in my life who really want to be my friend but who I just don’t find all that interesting or fun or my cup of tea. Usually they have done nothing wrong and are in no way offensive; I just don’t like them. Usually they pursue me pretty hard, inviting me to things and politely but persistently trying to schedule friend-dates. Usually we are socially connected so there’s no ghosting on them forever (also that’s mean), and also it means bearing the burden of showing up at a real friend’s party and having not-my-friend be super excited to see me and be all “it is so awesome to see you, we need to catch up!” Ugh.

I sound like such a jerk in this email. I don’t want to be a jerk! I also don’t want to spend time with people I don’t like, and I don’t need new friends badly enough to give these folks a chance, and inevitably they are the sort of people who stubbornly refuse to notice that their invitations are never reciprocated. I also wonder why I seem to attract oblivious quasi-groupies when I am definitely not the cool one in my friend group and also I am really not that nice to people I don’t like. Like, I’m not an asshole (I hope), but no one could claim that I lead these not-friends on; it’s not like I say “omg we def need to catch up but I’m just soooo busy rn,” I’m more like “sorry, can’t make it! EOM”.

Got a script for saying “no I don’t want to hang out with you and it’s not that I’m busy, I just don’t want to” without making it a Huge Deal? Or for telling a new acquaintance that no you don’t really want to get coffee some time or friend them on Facebook? Also what’s with people friending folks on FB who they met once for like a hot second and then being offended that you don’t accept the request? Hi I don’t know you so I definitely don’t want to see your vacation photos nor you to see mine.

Maybe I am just a jerk.

Oh lordy these people probably write to advice columnists about me.

Signed,
Not Your Friend
(She/her)

Dear Not Your Friend,

If you check the “African Violet of Broken Friendship” tag in the archives, you’ll see a wish for a ritual whereby one can send a plant and a card that says something like “Sorry and thank you for the good times we’ve shared, let’s not be friends, though.” We have clear scripts for “I don’t want to date you” or “We are broken up now” with romantic partners but not “We are friend-broken-up or never-friends in the first place.”

Why African Violets? They are lovely plants with no hidden “I don’t like you” meanings as far as I know, I just have a terrible personal history of getting them as a gift from my green thumb mom or grandma or aunts and then killing them stone dead. They are fiddly and require too much maintenance (for me) to keep them alive. If you wanted to take that route you could use the “I don’t like you” plant or flower of your choice.

To your question:

A) For unwanted Facebook requests, delete them expediently and without guilt or discussion. If someone asks you “why?” remind yourself that it’s not actually a mystery: If someone deletes or ignores your friend request from you, they don’t want to interact with you…on Facebook. Back in the days when social media was called LiveJournal, I used to have this in my profile: “‘I like [person]’ is different from ‘I want to read [person]’s every waking thought and share all of mine with them.'” That still holds true!

Not accepting a friend request (or following back) doesn’t mean someone hates you and it’s not a mean or cruel thing to do. Some people have a “no coworkers, not ever” rule. Some people have a “no family, not ever” rule. Some people have a “No one who is even remotely connected to my toxic ex even if they have no way of knowing the history” rule. I have a “no students while they are still my students,” “no dudes where I can’t immediately place how we know each other” and “no ‘but shouldn’t it say ‘all lives matter?’ people” rule. Some people see Facebook as a very loose and casual way to stay connected with everyone and anyone they know, so, why not accept every request? Some people make an art of accepting every request and then using filters and the “hide feed” button to create the illusion of connection. Some people want to rigorously cultivate their internet gardens. Let them.

B) For unwanted social invitations, try replacing “Sorry, can’t make it” with something closer to “No thank you.” “Sorry, can’t make it” when translated through the Wishful Thinking Generator can mean “Sorry, can’t make it….that specific day!” and can start the enthusiastic person down a  problem-solving process of finding the day you can make it. See if you can circumvent that process a little bit.

Them: “So nice to see you! We have to catch up sometime. Want to have coffee soon?

You: “No, thank you!”

Record Scratch

Does that feel harsh? Readers, did anyone have an instant “Oof, I could never actually say that to someone’s face, though!” reaction? Women are super-socialized to care of other people’s feelings and be indirect in our refusals. We are socialized to see saying a simple “No” to something we don’t want to do as possibly “being mean.” It actually takes practice and effort to get past this socialization.

Some other ways to say a direct “No thanks:”

  • Count me out for coffee, thanks” + [subject change]
  • I’ll have to pass on coffee” + [subject change]
  • Thanks for the invite, but no” + [subject change]
  • I don’t want to have coffee, thanks.” + [subject change]
  • I’m not interested in coffee, thanks” + [subject change]

Do not say that you just don’t have time. Do not imply that you’d love to but you can’t. Do not plead a prior commitment. Don’t use the word “sorry” anywhere in the sentence. Save the “I’d love to get together but I can’t, maybe another time!” responses for the people where you’d actually love to get together another time.

Being told “no” is not mean. It’s certainly not persecution or bullying. It is direct and truthful. We’ve got to be able to say a clear, direct “no” and we’ve got to be able hear it when someone says it to us. It’s something that definitely becomes more pronounced along power lines, for example: Men have got to learn how to hear it from women. White women have got to learn how to hear it from women of color. Entitled customers have got to learn how to hear “Sorry, we’re closed” or “That coupon has expired” from retail employees.

You’re not a robot and socialization runs deep, so it’s okay if psyching yourself up to say “no” and/or hearing “no” to an invitation stings your feelings, as long as you understand that it’s your job to manage your own hurt feelings here. An invitation is not a command — it’s not, like, harming you to be invited to something even if it’s something you don’t want to do, so, say your “Count me out for this one!” without assigning a bunch of extra anxiety and subtext to it. If you’re doing the inviting and getting turned down, try as much as you can to see “no” as permission to stop trying where this person is concerned. You’ve made a nice overture, it’s been refused, if further connection is going to happen, the other person will be the one to initiate it and at that time you can decide if it’s worth it to you to engage. You didn’t do anything wrong by asking, so, for now, accept the “no thanks!” tap out, disengage, and put your energy into relationships and connections where people say “yes!”

For a lot of us, it takes practice to unlearn or overcome socialization. I grew up in a house where “I feel sad today” or “I don’t like egg salad” was immediately met with “No you don’t” and “Of course you do” or “Don’t be ridiculous!” and I had to completely learn “No” from scratch as an adult. I definitely went through a phase of over-justifying and over-explaining every potential point of conflict that is so tell-tale in my fellow survivors. As a result, some nice therapist gave me this exercise and I’ll pass it on to all of you:

As an exercise, not just for the Letter Writer, what happens if we try to make our “No thanks!” or “I prefer not to” responses super-brief and simple this week, without apology or justification? (If this is too difficult or daunting, start with being more assertive with “yes” and expressing positive preferences, like, “Yes, I would like my bagel toasted, thanks.” Work up to “nope!” over time.) Start with low-stakes things, keep track of how often you say no (or yes!), how it feels, what you feel like the pressures and worries are, and what actually happens when you do.

Also as an exercise, what happens if we pay attention to the times we’re told “no”? How do we react? Do we accept it at face value? Do we expect the other person take care of our feelings? Do we bite the heads off people who tell us “no” or decide we hate them forever? What gender, race, class, or other power dynamics are at play in how we react?

I strongly believe that the easier we make “no” on ourselves and other people, the more we make room for “yes.”

C) For people who are persistently trying to friend you up, you might need to have an explicit conversation about that. Right before I started the blog there was a very nice woman that I knew through mutual friends. She was smart, cool, polite, interesting, friendly, generous, a great cook, really social, and I just…didn’t feel it where she was concerned. She put a lot of effort into friend-wooing me, inviting me to stuff all the time, and in at least one case sending surprise baked goods to my house (unfortunately right when I was leaving for a long trip away, so the “didja get the package yet? how ’bout now?‘ messages were extra…extra). I never invited her to a thing and I don’t bake or send care packages, but her kind overtures kept on coming. Sometimes I would try hanging out but when the day came I was never looking forward to whatever it was and mostly I felt guilty for not returning her friend-ardor.

Right around my Grampa’s death it came to a head, where her expressions of sympathy were sweet but whenever I’d see a(nother) “How…are…you?” or “Thinking of you!” message from her it would actively make me angry, like, ugh, we are NOT close, you didn’t know him, stop smothering me in your sympathy, I do not have the energy to feel guilty for declining one more brunch invitation! Not her fault at all, there was literally nothing wrong with her! But I felt how I felt, and I finally cut the cord with a message similar to this:

Hello, you are very kind and you haven’t done anything wrong, but I can see you trying very hard to be my friend and I just don’t feel the same way. I wish you well, I’ll be happy to catch up with you at [mutual friend] events and I promise I’ll do my best not to make it weird, but I don’t want to be friends.

And then she sent back such a cool “Hey, obviously I’m bummed but I get it, thanks for telling me” message that I almost, almost regretted my decision for a sec. Her cool reaction is one of the things that led me to start the blog, as in, hey, maybe it doesn’t have to be so hard if people can just be honest and give each other space and the benefit of the doubt.

Letter Writer, if you choose to go down the road of “Ignore request” or “Pass on the coffee! I like that color on you. Have you seen [Real Friend]?” and/or “You are very cool but I don’t want to be friends, can we just run into each other every now and then without the pressure to ‘catch up’ or be closer? Thanks,” you may deal with some people thinking that you’re mean or a jerk. I will now tell you the #1 secret for successfully extricating yourself from worrying about this:

Let. Them.

Let them think you’re standoffish, or a snob, or a jerk, or “too good” for them, or full of yourself, or whatever. Let them think whatever they want. You don’t want to be friends. You don’t like them. If they don’t like you in return, that’s actually a victory and you know they’ll stop bugging you to hang out. So let go of the need to be liked by people you don’t like, let go of the need to justify yourself or appear as the “good guy” in the story, don’t try to manage their feelings or their good opinion of you. Be a basic amount of polite when you do see them, understand if they want to avoid you for a while, and enjoy your them-free life the rest of the time.

Sometimes this will ripple through the social group, where the people you’ve turned down for coffee will say something to one of your actual friends and that person will say something to you. In that case, be as brief and direct as possible – drama thrives when it’s fed, and you want to starve it. Try:

  • There’s nothing wrong with X, but s/he was very enthusiastic about us being friends and I didn’t feel the same way
  • I know you like X a lot but I just didn’t want to be connected on Facebook.
  • X kept inviting me to coffee, and I never wanted to go, so finally I said something so we’d stop the cycle of me turning it down every single time we ran into each other.”
  • I don’t bear any lasting ill will, I certainly don’t want to influence your feelings about them or continue to hurt their feelings, I just wanted to disengage a bit.

Don’t apologize for refusing to get closer, but also do not get drawn into lengthy recitations of how much you dislike the person that could be repeated back. Your whole goal was to let it go, so, let it go!

Edited to Add: Thanks commenters, for bringing to light an important point that I forgot to address.

If you tell someone “Newp, don’t wanna be friends,” you are effectively severing that connection. You don’t get to hold that person “in reserve” for later. Leave them alone! Don’t try to spackle it over with jolly wishes, don’t be up in their social media business with your “likes”, don’t be sickly sweet to them when you do see them, don’t (true story, someone did this to me after dumping me as a friend) email them a year later about a job lead where they work or (true story, someone did this to me after dumping me as a friend) to ask if a mutual acquaintance is single. (Answer: 1) Hello, you should probably just email it directly to HR 2) Hello, you should probably just email it directly to that dude.)

I don’t think this is a problem for the Letter Writer, but it’s come up in comments enough that I think it’s worth making things clear. If you aren’t feeling it now but want to leave open the possibility that someday you will feel it (someday if you have more time, more emotional bandwidth, more open friend slots, someday if you get to know them better), use “soft” refusals forever and bear the intermediate passing discomfort unto yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Madeline the Edifying

October 2011

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