Stickiness (Tradecraft)

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:22 am
[syndicated profile] questforfun_feed

Posted by Gary Ray

The board game market has a stickiness problem. Games are being produced at a fast, many would say unsustainable, pace. Traditional publishers are competing against the Game of the Moment via Kickstarter, their traditional business model going up against the unsustainable passion of Makers rather than the long term strategy of a competing company. Many have or will join this Game of the Moment model, rather than being left behind, and there are some solid marketing reasons to do so. Perhaps the gatekeepers no longer represent the majority of market demand. There is not enough product security, value in the supply chain, to gain traction and it's hurting everyone.

Retailers are in the middle, with games arriving on their shelves with no guarantee they'll ever be back. Unlike the traditional publisher, the Kickstarter publisher is fine with a "one and done" model and are far more concerned about getting stuck with the "hot potato" of unsold product more than their desire to establish a long term presence in the hobby game channel. Getting everything I'll ever want of a product on release is not an unusual strategy.

With their reprint, the Kickstarter publisher is willing to sell to deep discounters online, just for the inventory security. After all, who cares about product devaluation of a one shot product? They're about the passion, getting the product into the hands of players, and having the income security to do it again. They don't have time to see their inventory sit at a warehouse where some distributor may pay them one day. They're ready to move on to the next project, or just be done and pay back their home equity line of credit.

Retailers would like there to be some stickiness to games. A solid business model would include extensive support of new games with a guaranteed supply chain. The "demo table" exemplifies this, where retailers become tastemakers, teach new games to new customers, and in return obtain stratospheric sales levels. It's the American Dream of planning, putting in the effort, and reaping the reward.

Unfortunately, it's hard to find such games as most aren't sticky enough in the supply chain. The new ones tend to be "one and done" and restocks are not guaranteed at all. Often when they arrive, the online retailers have gobbled up vast amounts of supply to dump at deep discounts. Even if you do get your strong restock, you're competing with the online giants in a devalued marketplace. Product has died on the vine and no effort to push that great game to an eager customer will overcome a 40% discount online.

So the status quo, one which my store is certainly guilty of, but trying to break from, is what they used to describe in the RPG trade as the periodical model. You don't hear about the periodical model so much anymore because RPGs have, for the most part, died a horrible death in the game trade. Retailers don't talk about RPGs. What's there to talk about? I love RPGs, sell a good amount of RPGs, but I have to constantly remind myself the scale of the other departments, how we sell six times more board games and six times more CCGs. RPGs are a shell of its former glory.

Oh sure, there have never been more fantastic RPGs produced than right now, but the game trade has mostly turned its back on them, especially when there's so much more money in board games. So board games are dabbling with the periodical model, where my store gets in the game of the week, we promote it as best we can for a product we may never see again after Thursday, and then next week we do it again. There is little to no stickiness. The end result of going down the periodical model path is there will continue to be great games via alternative distribution methods, just like RPGs, but stores will stick with known quantities and just dabble with indie hits. We'll have a special indie board game distributor we'll order from once a month, if there's extra cash in the budget (or not). There are signs we're heading in this direction already as we talk about protecting brand value and a flight to quality.

I will attempt to restock the best sellers in my one and done model and maybe one or two will gain traction. However, if it's being devalued online, if supply has evaporated, if the publisher decides to raise the price 40% after the first print run, I shrug and move on. Next week we'll have an entirely new game to pimp. The last thing I want to do in this model is expend energy on any one title.

I am only penalized for treating board game as anything but a commodity item, like soybeans. It's the periodical model. I could run with this model until the board game segment is a smoldering crater in  the game trade. We'll start selling a four volume set of paperbacks describing what went wrong, picked up by nostalgic customers who once played board games but no longer have wood for sheep.

This is not a long term retail strategy for the game trade, this path of least resistance. It's certainly not what I want to do or where I'm spending my energy right now. It's not what publishers need from us, as we're the traditional marketing arm of the traditional board game publishers. But I'm not sure tradition matters so much anymore.

Our job is to be that Third Place, a venue for new discoveries and experiences. Schilling the board game of the week to exhausted board gamers will eventually dampen their enthusiasm, just like selling a 5th Edition of D&D after just recently talking up a 4th Edition that I swear was a solid replacement for a Third and a Half edition, that had to upgrade because of something something, the Ranger. You want to sell entertainment, but you don't want to feel like an entertainer, some half wit carnival barker, doing it.

So I struggle to gain traction without a sticky product category where I can plant my flag. Publishers struggle as well. Customers are not immune to the struggle, with this embarrassment of riches, where I don't even look at bringing in a new game unless it scores an "8" or a couple thousand "Wants" on Board Game Geek. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge seller of board games, but we've definitely hit our limit, the store peaked in this category. We just need some stickiness, some brand value protection, to make our stand.


Twinge

Oct. 23rd, 2017 10:23 am
roadrunnertwice: Wrecked bicyclist. Dialogue: "I am fucking broken." (Bike - Fucking broken (Never as Bad as Y)
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice
All this flooring work is starting to strain the terms of the peace agreement with my right wrist. 😬
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain,

Since I moved in with my sister three months ago, I’ve been….missing things. Things that are important to me, things I wouldn’t normally lose. My boyfriend’s $700 camera. My only/favorite pair of sunglasses. An Adderall prescription.

I’ve complained about this to my sister. I’ve wondered aloud to her if our third roommate has been going in my room, or if one of the friends passing through isn’t as trustworthy as we think. I’ve talked to her about how weird it makes me feel to worry that people are in my room when I’m gone, about how much I hate to distrust anyone, about how I try to convince myself that there’s some innocent explanation I’m not seeing. It did not occur to me that she could have anything at all to do with the situation–I trusted her completely. Until the day before yesterday.

The day before yesterday, we found the camera. Well, I shouldn’t say we. She found it. We weren’t even looking for it. We were trying to find the bottle of adderall. The adderall had been missing for days, the camera had been missing for months. Within minutes of us starting the adderall search, she opened up the cabinet under the silverware drawer, moved the paper napkins, and said, “Hey, is *this* your boyfriend’s camera that’s been missing so long?” It was.

Normally that wouldn’t seem suspicious to me, just weird that it showed up in a place that neither I nor my boyfriend would ever put it, and weird that I’d been using the cabinet for months without noticing the camera. But I had just watched the episode of Mad Men where [spoiler!] Sally steals the $5 from Grandpa Gene and then “finds” the money when he makes a bigger deal of it than she had anticipated.

Pretty soon she was asking all these questions…didn’t my boyfriend already get a replacement? What was he gonna do with this one now that we found it? Did he want to sell it? It probably wasn’t worth as much as he paid for it, the case wasn’t made of great material, good but not great, could she buy it for a couple hundred dollars?

It all made me so, so uncomfortable.

And today I remembered that around the time my sunglasses went missing, my sister bought me a new pair. They were old-fashioned and had that tortoiseshell look, like the ones I lost, but they were cheap and much too narrow for my wide face. (Part of the reason I’d been so bugged by losing the first pair is that finding cute wide-framed glasses has always been difficult for me, and I’d spent a fair bit of money when I finally found a pair I liked.) Now that interaction seems tinged with weirdness to me…like, was she trying to make up for taking or breaking the sunglasses in the first place?

And the Adderall never showed up, which is such a huge hassle.

I don’t know. Obviously none of this is 100% proof that she took these things (or that anyone did! maybe I just lost them!). It would be so much easier if I knew for sure….even if I knew for sure that she did it, I wouldn’t be super mad. But I would feel justified in taking action to move out and protect myself. As it is, I’m stuck in a state of uncertainty, having to live with someone I don’t totally trust, and feeling guilty for being distrustful when she might be totally innocent. In fact, the only things that make me feel suspicious of her, are good things she did–finding the camera, buying new glasses.

Help me, Captain! Did she do it? And, given that you probably can’t answer that, how do I live with this doubt without being unfair to her or myself?

Signed,

Lina McLaidlaw

Dear Lina McLaidlaw,

You might never get the full story of where your stuff went or if it’s your sister’s fault, but here’s something you do know:

  1. You didn’t keep “losing” valuable stuff this way before you lived in this place with these people.
  2. It’s okay to take care of yourself around this by finding a new place to live even if you aren’t 100% sure what happened.

Like, maybe you don’t need beyond-a-reasonable-doubt legal case to say that something is off about the situation and to get out before it gets worse? If it is your sister, remove temptation. If she’s protecting or covering for a friend or roommate, or if she’s oblivious to what they are doing, remove yourself from that shitty situation. If your sister is totally innocent in all of this? You still get to move. Your reason can be as vague as “It’s not working out” or as specific as “My stuff keeps going missing and it’s really bothering me. I don’t want to blame anyone or accuse anyone, especially you, but I can’t live somewhere I don’t feel safe.” You’ve already talked to her about the missing stuff so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Additionally:

Your boyfriend should not sell the camera to your sister or to anyone associated with her or anyone who lives in that house. Either keep it or sell it to literally anyone else. That whole situation smells.

While you live there, get a lock for your room’s door and a locked cabinet for things like meds, computers, camera equipment, jewelry. If your sister or roommates are suddenly offended by the idea of you locking things away, that is what is known as a telling detail. If you find yourself really resistant to the idea, like, I should NOT have to lock up MY THINGS inside MY OWN HOME, then…that’s one more argument for moving out.

This is so awkward, I’m sorry. Your instincts, especially re: the camera + controlled substance prescription drugs, are spot on. Trust those instincts and find a new place to live!

 


[personal profile] jazzyjj posting in [community profile] accessibility_fail
Hi everybody. Subject line pretty much sums it up. I'm wondering if anyone could test out the following website for accessibility: http://www.afb.org . I realize that this is probably a loaded request, especially given that accessibility means different things to different people. However, I've been having some issues with some parts of the website and am wondering if other people also experience these issues. I have been trying to purchase a free course from the AFB eLearning Center with no luck. It seems that this site is logging me out constantly, unless I tick the box that says "Remember My Username and Password." Even then, I am sometimes automatically logged out. Please see a prior entry of mine in this comm. I realize this is probably a security measure to protect against spammers and so forth, but the frequency with which it happens seems to be much greater than on other sites. The other issue I'm having is with the online store. It seems that, with VoiceOver at least, the navigation is somewhat off. It wraps around in a loop, but just a few days ago I was able to read a bit of information that was not accessible to me before. For the most part this website with its accompanying portals seems to work pretty well with VoiceOver and the latest version of Chromevox Classic, but I've not had good luck contacting the admins. Thanks in advance for anybody's assistance with this.

Monday's story

Oct. 23rd, 2017 07:12 am

Unpopular Opinions

Oct. 22nd, 2017 10:29 pm
cyrano: (Poohsticks)
[personal profile] cyrano
I am still not entirely comfortable with "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" in sexual harassment situations.
[syndicated profile] questforfun_feed

Posted by Gary Ray

This article is about the closed loop system known as Cost of Goods Sold. Anyone who's not a buyer for a game store is not likely to understand the importance of this data, which often gets sloppy when entered into point of sale systems by harried game store staff. This is written with my staff in mind, but it might be useful for everyone who works at a game store. Feel free to share, of course.

Cost of Goods Sold is the term used to track inventory value as it goes through your store. As the name states, it's the cost of the goods the store pays from its suppliers, with the difference between the Cost of Goods and the price you sell it for being the gross profit. It's gross because it doesn't include the many expenses, like your paycheck, that reduce the slightly less than half of gross profit down to about a 5-10% net profit. For example, a $100 board game might have a cost of goods of $54 and after all the expenses of the business are taken out, may only have a net profit of $5-10. If the store is lucky.

Product is not only the lifeblood of the business, but too little inventory can lead to a catastrophic death spiral, while too much inventory can lead to an enormous end of year tax bill or outright business failure, as all the money is tied up in inventory. No new money is poured into an inventory budget, so for new product to come into the store, old ones have to be sold to produce a purchasing budget surplus. Even if your store is doing great, you might be putting older product on sale just to create this necessary surplus. There is no input without output.

Let's take a look at the full cycle of Cost of Goods, to better understand its importance. This will include looking at adding items to the system, receiving new product, and finally, Open to Buy, which which is what your store buyer is using to determine how much money is available to spend on more product. I'm using my POS system (Lightspeed Onsite) in the examples, because that's what I've got, but it worked the same way when I had Microsoft RMS and I'm guessing it's not much different for other full featured systems. 

The first time a store encounters cost of goods is on a product invoice. 

The Unit Price here is the Cost of Goods. It doesn't include things like shipping, COD costs or other "not product" cost of good expenses.

This unit price gets entered into the POS system Purchase Order, hopefully accurately. As stores tend to order product from a variety of distributors, it's important the actual price for this particular order gets entered properly onto the Purchase Order correctly, since it cascades throughout the system.

Purchase Order where the cost is grabbed from the product record, but can be overwritten if necessary

Most POS systems have a place for the Cost of Goods on the product record. It's important that the record is accurately updated and bad data isn't allowed onto the Purchase Order.  If the Cost is not entered correctly, that incorrect data cascades through the POS all the way to the purchasing budget, which we'll get to in a moment. 

Product record, where the cost is copied over to the Purchase Order when a PO is auto generated
At this point, most game store clerks stop worrying about Cost of Goods (Cost), and if they entered everything correctly on the produce record and the purchase order, everything is in good shape. But where does the data go from there?

The Cost of Goods is collected from end of day reports that track sales, noting the cost paid for each item sold. This report takes that hopefully accurate Cost of Goods number and provides it to the buyer.

This Cost of Goods number is then entered into an Open to Buy spreadsheet or hopefully some similar tracking mechanism. To be honest, most buyers don't have an Open to Buy tracker, but let's assume they're using something to track Cost of Goods so they know how much they have to spend.

The Open to Buy spreadsheet (or whatever) tells the buyer they now have $2,027.32 to add to their purchasing budget to buy product. If that number is off,  the buyer may not spend enough and is now under budget and losing sales. If the buyer spends too much, they are over budget, and not only will profitability suffer, but the business will incur taxes on the difference between the previous year's inventory value and the current year (it's good to check the difference and adjust at least quarterly). 

Open to Buy: Available = Previous Available + Cost of Goods - Purchases

So how accurate is all this? Not very. The true Cost of Goods, the only one that really matters, is in the accounting system. Last year our Cost of Goods in the POS was 53%, while Cost of Goods in the accounting system was 56%. Some of that 3% difference are Cost of Goods that are not inventory, like shipping and finance charges, things you definitely don't want polluting your POS system. That's maybe 1% of the variance. Most of that slop is bad POS bookkeeping. The most important thing for me is making sure my purchasing budget is balanced at the end of the year to avoid excess taxes.


[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’ve been dating this guy for 3 months now. He has this pattern of disappearing for a couple of days and then come back. At the beginning he was all super flirty on text and showered me with compliments and sent each other snaps and nudes and said all the sweet things like he wants to treat me like a princess and make me his. Lowkey I knew he was a fuckboy* because most of the time he wanted to sext and talk about fucking me. He said he wasn’t looking for a relationship but if we become more than something then sure but if we don’t then we continue being friends. I came out of a 4 year relationship couple of months ago so I have been out of the dating game for too long and I moved in here to California from a different country so the concept of dating is way here is new to me. He was showing all signs of “fuckboy*” but my mind ignored it and I got led on and I started to get feelings for him. I know, you must be thinking if I knew he was a fuckboy* the how the hell did I started to like him?

Well, first of all he is really charming and good looking. He is really smart and does all the gentleman things like open the door for me and pays for the food. He actually seems like a genuine good person when I’m with him. I forget every annoying stuff and red flags when I spend time with him.

I realized our relationship will not go anywhere and he will continue to play with me. Once I told him that I had feelings for him and this is getting too much for
me so I’m gonna end the “friends with benefits” thing and remain friends and he gave a simple response “okay your choice.” After 2 weeks he hit me up on snapchat after he saw a selfie of mine and said he wants to come over to my house in the weekend. I couldn’t say no. We had an amazing time and after that he ghosted on me again. He is emotionally unavailable and does not share much about his life. I want to end it with him but I’m too weak to do it. Every time I pull back, he then wants to chase me. recently I texted him ” are you ghosting on me or something going on with u?” then he replied with ” i’m just damn busy :/” .

I’m really confused what he actually wants. If he doesn’t like me anymore then why doesn’t he just tell me or stop texting me? The relationship is hurting me. I don’t blast him with lots of texts nor do I nag. I always try to stay civil and calm even when i’m hurt by him. I’m having a hard time opening up to him of what exactly I feel. I wanted to take the relationship to another level and spend more time with him getting to know him. I wanted him to be my boyfriend. But I didn’t demand it. I did not expect anything in return when I told him I liked him. Because I can’t force him to like me back.
What should I do Captain Awkward? Even though I make myself busy with things. But I can’t seem to not cut him out of my life for good.

Sincerely Confused

*Fuckboy = the letter writer is using it as a term to describe a man who is unreliable and untrustworthy around sex  or “Someone who’s distant but still craves attention.” It also has a history as a descriptor of prison rape victims and attaching men who aren’t traditionally masculine and is therefore a word we’re not going to use anymore at CaptainAwkward.com enterprises. I’m not telling anyone they can’t ever use it, but I’m going to personally stop. Not least because I am a big ol’ white lady and “well it’s more complex than that in AAVE” isn’t really the hill I want to die on in my comments section. Not every word that exists is an ok word for me. Cool? Cool.

Dear Sincerely Confused:

You say you’ve been dating for about 3 months and that you’re “confused about what he actually wants.

He said he wasn’t looking for a relationship. Ergo, what he wants is what is happening right now. He wants to flirt and have your attention and have sex with you sometimes. And then he wants to drop out of sight sometimes. He wants you to want him but he doesn’t want to be your boyfriend or have any obligation or deeper emotional connection. He wants you when he feels like it and he wants to be able to go away and ignore you when he doesn’t feel like it. He wants this. This thing that you say is hurting and confusing to you is the best this is likely to get.

You will never have a loving monogamous relationship with him where he is your boyfriend. If he wanted that, he would have said “Yes!” when you asked him about it. He would have made it happen. If you stay friends, or, um, “friends,” he will sometimes want to have sex with you, but it won’t mean anything has changed. Paying for dates and opening doors for you isn’t deeply meaningful. You’ve known/suspected this from the start, and he’s done every possible thing to confirm it.

It’s one of life’s great tragedies and comedies that we can have amazing chemistry and fun sexy feelings with people who aren’t actually good partners for us. That “omg this is the BEST” way he makes you feel should be illegal, right? Charisma isn’t the same as character.

The good news here is also the bad news: All the power to end or clarify this situation lies with you. You can stop this any time you want to.

You could decide “You know what, it’s worth it to me to have a fun diverting time with him when he pops up a couple of times a year, and I can safely ignore him the rest of the time, because I know 100% that it’s not going to turn into anything else.” To be clear, I don’t think this is where you are right now because you say that this is all hurting you. But I also know that there have been times in my life when a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency-need-for-uncomplicated-known-quantity-good-makeouts-dude has come in handy. No one would judge you if you changed his name in your phone to “Handsome Dumpster Fire” and didn’t delete it just yet. Winter is coming.

You could also decide “Hey, I really want a devoted, reliable boyfriend who loves me and I’m gonna hold out for that and not waste time on charming, unreliable dudes” and then deploy your new best friend, the block button. You’ll be sad and miss the thrill of the little roller coaster you’ve been riding for a while, but then you’ll feel better after a while of not being jerked around and there will be room in your life to meet someone else.

Back when she dated men, the lovely Samantha Irby (rocking it today in the New York Times btw) made a policy to protect her heart and reclaim her time. If she didn’t hear from a dude within a couple days of a date/sexy stuff/or simply her texting him, she deleted his number from her phone. That way she could resist the urge to keep pinging him or checking to see if he’d reached out, and if he did get in touch eventually she could legitimately be like “Wait, who is this?

If this sounds cynical, think of it as Sam deciding what she needed: Someone who, at minimum, texts back. Someone who pays attention. Someone who treated her like she was important and not some big interruption to the more important things he had going on. You can’t control your feelings but you can control how many times you leave a door open for someone who isn’t walking through it.

Letter Writer, you want love that shows up for you. You want love that is playing on your level. That’s not silly or “nagging” or annoying or needy, and the person who deserves you won’t see it that way. He also won’t act like it’s some chore to keep in touch except when he’s bored or wants something.

Sometimes the answer when someone ghosts on you, is “ghost harder!”

 

 

 


More booky thoughts

Oct. 21st, 2017 09:42 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Moomin ranting tonight a bit (charmingly) about wishing his class was broader than just European fairy tales but he also appreciates that it is focused and grounded in particular history.

I was thinking how I came up against that wall around the same age, a bit earlier, and went looking for "world" stuff or just anything not English, US based, "western culture" wanting to see anything possible. Anthologies were good or looking by specific country or ethnicity. I would root through any library or bookstore. Encyclopedias too. The indexes of books were super instructive. It took just years for me to have any real handle on the depth of the problems of histories but it was clear from the beginning that A LOT WAS WRONG. I didn't go into that (right now it is better if I listen to him than talk about my own thoughts)

Anyway! I'm so, so proud of Moomin and his excitement about scholarly things. I feel like no matter what he does in life he will have that kind of love of books and knowledge and stories.

He also really loved Gilgamesh so I am going to show him those awesome debates online between Hoe and Plough, Fish and Bird, etc.
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
So, as promised, here is the e-cover of the new Penric & Desdemona novella. It will be #6 in the current internal chronology (and publishing order.)



Cover art and design by Ron Miller.

The vendor-page copy will read:

"In this sequel novella to "Mira's Last Dance", Temple sorcerer Penric and the widow Nikys have reached safety in the duchy of Orbas when a secret letter from a friend brings frightening news: Nikys's mother has been taken hostage by her brother's enemies at the Cedonian imperial court, and confined in a precarious island sanctuary.

Their own romance still unresolved, Nikys, Penric, and of course Desdemona must infiltrate the hostile country once more, finding along the way that family relationships can be as unexpectedly challenging as any rescue scheme."

I don't have a firm release date yet, though I'm hoping for launch in not more than a few weeks. I will, of course, post the news here when it goes live.


Ron, by the way, has two books of his own out this month:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

and

https://www.amazon.com/Aliens-Complet...


Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on October, 21

Mermaid points

Oct. 21st, 2017 04:22 pm
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Moomin convinced me that the HCA Little Mermaid story is actually amazing because she just feels her feelings but isn't an asshole, doesn't get married, and becomes foam on the sea and an air spirit who helps people so basically her story NEVER ENDS and she is a SUPERHERO who flies around with air powers, doing good in the world! I started out with the complete opposite point of view on this story.

Also when he said he thought of me in relation to her feeling like she is walking on knives..... i actually think of that sometimes so that kind of touched me.

He is also reading Gilgamesh and some Bible stuff for philosophy class and seems to be keeping up in his other math class! So nice to have him here even for a day. <3

Mousetown

Oct. 21st, 2017 12:59 pm
roadrunnertwice: Sigourney Weaver with a trucker 'stache. (Sigourney Weaver with a trucker 'stache)
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice
Ruth was like "I'm gonna paint that red wall today," and I was like "yeah, gonna redwall like a middle school furry!"

And she was like, "wut?" 😭

(no subject)

Oct. 20th, 2017 03:56 pm
roadrunnertwice: Yrs truly surrounded by trees. (Default)
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice

I know I've been talking about Persona 5 a lot — probably because I can't play it as much as I want, with all the house work going on.

Anyway, another thing I dig about it is the villains so far, and their downfalls. Morgana's original explanation of stealing peoples' "hearts" was a little abstract, but what it's starting to look like is we're really stealing the motivation that lets them internally justify their crimes, leaving them with no psychic defense against their own conscience. Like, the taste they've been chasing turns to sawdust in their mouths.

So far, that means they've been overcome with remorse and shame, and end up confessing their crimes on their own. And... I'm playing with the Japanese audio track enabled, so IDK if the English dub is as good with this, but, damn, those confession scenes are actually kind of gruesome to watch! They're raw as fuck! I have to keep reminding myself that their pain is all self-inflicted and we did the right thing, because, woof.

OpenID and Livejournal

Oct. 20th, 2017 05:33 pm
[personal profile] fifty_fifty posting in [community profile] getting_started
Hi,

I have been using OpenID in order to comment on LJ communities as I don't want to have an LJ account for obvious reasons.

I used to be able to log in just fine and post comments and create posts etc. But I recently got a new computer and went to log in and comment and it told me I needed to validate my email address. So I clicked through to a link and then clicked the link that was in the email that LiveJournal sent to my email address.

When I click this link in the validation email, it takes me to a page titled:

"Please, verify that you are human"
When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.

Then there's a continue button to click on. I click the page and it looks like it's doing something, but it takes me back to the same page again and I remain unverified and now unable to comment or post on any communities.

Any ideas as to how I can get LJ to actually verify the email address for my OpenID account? Thanks!
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Putting this behind a cut given the “Guy In Your Office Who Gives Weird Backrubs And Ends Every Sentence With ‘That’s What She Said’ Is Totally #IBelieveYou About Your #MeToo Social Media Posts” and “Pretty Much Every Movie You Loved In The 1990s Is Now Kinda Gross To Think About” week we’ve had.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’m a lady who has been friends with this guy for about a decade. He moved away to a nearby city a few years ago for post doc work so most of our conversations are through WhatsApp and Skype. A couple times a year we’ll visit and sleep on each other’s couches. We’re both unattached hetero-ish opposite gendered folk, but I have talked about how I’m basically asexual and never looking for anyone and he’s looking for someone to marry and have babies with. So that’s been discussed while neatly avoiding the ‘I’m not into you like that’ more direct conversation. We have always just been normal friends who are friends. I really like hiking, and he’s one of my only friends who shares that hobby so it’s something we’ve also done a lot together. A decade. No issues.

We went on a weekend camping/hiking trip this summer, and on one of the days we trekked out to a beach that happened to be clothing optional. He asked me if I was OK with him being naked. I said that while I would rather be clothed myself, I didn’t mind in the context of our hanging out sunbathing and reading our respective books at a nude beach if he’d rather ‘run free’. Since then, he’s casually WhatsApp’d me a few articles that tangentially relate to nudism. It’s clearly on his mind. “Look-these Germans are totally fine with going to the sauna naked with co-workers!” Neat. “Hey, have you seen this BBC article about naked co-ed swimming pools in Poland? It’s nice they’re comfortable about perfectly natural human bodies.” Sure, that’s cool. “Isn’t it terrible how clothing is used as such a marker of class and social difference?” I guess that’s true. Why are we so weird about bodies? But also, I like my tyranny of clothing?

Then I went out for another visit. Crashed on the couch as ever. Everything perfectly non sexual. We talked philosophy, pop culture, politics, hiking, the usual. In the morning I was getting ready to leave and he came out of the shower while I was packing up. “Do you have the bus schedule?” I asked, and as he checked the times he just fully removed his towel-one-Mississippi-two-excruciating-Mississippi-before tucking it back around his waist. I averted my eyes in panic and then said nothing, because, well, you’re the Captain of Awkward. You know.

He moved apartments just after our trip, and I’d been asking to see what his new place looked like. “Give me the virtual tour!” I suggested. He WhatsApp’d back a five minute video. Wow, it does have great lighting! And there he is casually narrating how great the appliances are here and the closet space is there, and 4 minutes in, in full view of the mirrored closet doors but not looking at them, he’s just totally naked. Dick a swinging. OK, I thought. Plausible deniability… it was a heat wave. Maybe he wasn’t thinking about the mirrors? Maybe he was, and he’s just chill with the human body? I can’t be chill this way. But I said nothing. Pretended that wasn’t in there. “Love the counter-tops” I wrote.

A few weeks have gone by. Conversations on WhatsApp are normal. “Maybe we can do more camping and hiking next summer?” he asked. Maybe. A few days ago I sent him some photos of a new hiking bag I’d gotten. He’d been shopping too. “And on sale because it’s end of season!” declared the caption on a perfectly innocuous photo: a box of new hiking boots on his living room floor. I scrolled past it and replied “Those look way better than the old ones, how much?” And so it went. We move on to other topics. Politics. Hikes. OK, maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with this situation. Things are… fine? But going back through the photos today, I clicked on the boots image this time to see them better and there, in the now fully expanded view on my phone, was his dick. Just hanging out in the bottom corner of the image. NothingwrongwithbodiesbutcomeONadickisnotahandoraknee….WHAT DO.

Lest I make you do the summarizing work yourself, here is a less full-picture but probably sufficient TLDR alternative:

Dear Captain Awkward,

I am a lady whose close decade long platonic friendship with a dude has taken an awkward turn. He lives out of town now, so we mostly communicate online with the odd visit to one another’s respective city. We both share a passion for hiking. We stopped by a clothing optional beach when hiking earlier in the year, and he asked if I was cool if he took advantage and let it all hang out whilst we sunbathed. I said that was fine, though I was gonna carry on wearing my clothes and enjoying my book. Since then he’s sent me a number of ‘isn’t nudism/naturism? great’ articles. OK, fine. What even are bodies anyway. The menace of class expression through clothing and the joy of non sexual naked bodies has been a recurring theme in his recent ‘check out this news link’ communication.

When I crashed at his place during my most recent visit, he let his towel slip for a moment too long after getting out of the shower, but I said nothing. A few weeks later he sent me a video tour of his new apartment where four minutes in he’s just casually and totally naked in the reflection of his mirrored closet doors. Just for a short few seconds. There was a heat wave. He’s maybe a nudist/naturist now? I was uncomfortable but pretended it didn’t happen. Now this week we exchanged innocuous ‘cool new hiking gear purchases!’ photos. But I realized upon expanding the shot of his hiking boots that his footwear was photo bombed by his dick. It’s autumn. There is no heat wave. Nudism surely does not equal what feels like stealth dick pics. WHAT DO? :/

Hi there! I included both the longer version and the TL;dr because you summed it up so well in both.

So, your friend is exploring nudism. Many people in the world are into that. There are clubs, days, events, hikes, bike rides, runs, online communities, resorts, and an entire Wikipedia page for “nude recreation.” Your friend can be free-falling and free-balling in the great outdoors as long as he a) finds like-minded people (i.e. not you) and b) he respects certain limits.

Speaking of limits, your friend is testing yours by repeatedly showing you his bathing suit area. He started with “accidentally-on-purpose” towel drops and escalated to “Oh hai, my apartment tour has some very special features!” Not cool. The chances that the hiking boots were accidentally photobombed by his junk approach .001%., though to be clear I don’t actually care if it was an accident.

We could spend a lot of time discussing his intentions, does he MEAN IT-mean it like, in a sexual way, or is it just part of his new lifestyle and he’s really comfortable with you vs. is he trying to be creepy/provocative, is it just a mistake where he thought because he asked you that one time that it’s okay forever,  is it just that he’s too shy/socially awkward to ask you about it again (though somehow not too shy to do it). And, why stop at “shy/socially awkward” as descriptors? Why not dive into his entire psychological makeup and history for explanations so we can find a diagnosis that would make this somehow less his fault? Or, we could try to separate a clear pattern of behavior into totally unique isolated incidents that definitely do not have anything to do with each other and definitely do not have anything to do with gender or misogyny or culture. We could write it all off as probably “harmless,” we could discuss body positivity and why are people so weird about a little bit of nudity it’s not all sexual/why are we making it that way with our dirty minds and narrow-minded upbringing, are we some kind of prudes or something? We could do the 1,000 other absurd, exhausting mental and emotional gymnastics where we deep-dive into the intentions and feelings of men and try to find the most reasonable, gentle, benefit-of-the-doubt approach that won’t startle them or make them feel bad for even a second about the things they do to women.

I think there are two questions women can ask themselves when a man does something that creeps them out that are way better than “but did he MEAN IT-mean it”:

  1. Does he do this behavior to other men? Do his dad or his boss or his male buddy have to say “Whoa dude, consider the pants” when they chat with him?
  2. Do we think he’s doing even a tenth of the emotional labor in this situation that you are? 1/100th? 1/1000th?

This week has felt like a century. I don’t know about y’all but I’m done with doing this much work around men behaving badly.

Here are the facts:

1) Your friend repeatedly exposed himself to you.

2) You don’t like it and you want it to stop.

That’s enough. That’s enough to block him from your life if you want to without any further communication or work on your part. It’s enough to change whole story to “I had this really lovely friend for 10 years but then it got weird between us and we’re not friends anymore.”

It’s certainly enough to send him a text that says: “Can you make sure to put on clothes if we’re going to video-chat? Thanks.

See also:

  • “Can you make 100% sure that your penis doesn’t show up in photos you share with me, thanks.”
  • I’m glad you’re enjoying all that. I don’t really like reading or talking about it with you, so you should find someone else to send these articles to.”
  • Also, while we’re talking, that hiking day at the clothing optional beach was a one-time thing for me, please opt for pants when we’re talking or hanging out in the future.”
  • I don’t like that.” = Good general script for unwanted nudes.

If your friend has sad or embarrassed feelings about what he’s done…okay? Good? He should feel some awkwardness about making his friend so uncomfortable? He should be the one writing to advice columnists right now about how he’s really into this new hobby and he’s afraid and uncomfortable about maybe fucking up a great friendship by getting carried away with it and constantly showing her his penis, so, how can he apologize and how can he make it right.

Honestly, if you tell him to knock this off, “I’m really sorry I made you uncomfortable” + STOPPING THE BEHAVIOR AND DROPPING THE SUBJECT IMMEDIATELY & FOREVER = is pretty much the only acceptable reaction from him. If he gives you an iota of pushback about this, your friendship is probably over. “Wait, did you think I was harassing you? I was just enthusiastic about my fun hobby!” = “Cool story. But now you know that I don’t like it, so, STAHP.”

If that pushback becomes about how this is all your fault somehow, like “But you said it was okay that day when we were hiking, it’s not fair for you to change the rules on me now” or  “I didn’t think you were such a prude,” we’ve crossed over into friendship-is-over-with-extreme-prejudice territory. “It was an accident and I didn’t mean it, but, also, it was all the woman’s fault since I reasonably and objectively assumed she liked it” is not how great guys who are safe to be around talk when they get busted for behaving badly.

I’m so sorry, this sucks and none of it is your fault. Neither his penis nor his feelings are your work to manage.

 

 

 

 

 


World Fantasy 2017

Oct. 20th, 2017 09:00 am
marthawells: (The Serpent Sea)
[personal profile] marthawells


Registration for World Fantasy 2017 in San Antonio ends Oct 21, banquet seats still available until Oct 27, and the final program schedule is now online:

http://wfc2017.org/wfc2017/programming/program-schedule/


Panels include:

Paging Doctor Tavener and Carnaki: Occult Detectives Old and Newly Reinvented

Beards and Intrigue: Queering the Historical Fantastic

Exceptional Characters in Horrible Times

Metaphors & Metadata: Libraries in Fantasy Literature

Molly Weasley Was a Bad Ass: Aged Protagonists in Fantasy

From Angry Fairy Queens to Flying Lizard People: An Interview with Toastmaster Martha Wells [Spotlight]

Exploration of Gender in Fantasy

Calamity Jane Defeats Conan—the Persistence of American Folklore in Fantasy Literature

Kitsune & Dragon: Thoughtful Approaches to Alternate Eastern Asias

Greg Manchess: Short Take on a Long Career in Illustration [GoH Spotlight]

Hild and Hilt: the Female Monk, the Lone Woman Protagonist

Hidden Secrets [GoH Spotlight] ( Tananarive Due will discuss the role of history, especially hidden history, in her work and in black horror in general, which is emerging as a sub-genre in the wake of Jordan Peele's Get Out. How horror serves as trauma narratives, or even healing narratives, to help artists and readers come to grips with the past.)

Borrowing from History: Intention and Appropriation

The Role of the City in Fantasy Settings

Religions of the African Diaspora: Beyond Zombies, Ancestors, and Giant Apes.

Urban Legends in the Age of Fake News (Engaging Our Theme IV)

Everybody Was There: Diversity in Fantasy Then and Now

Remembering Zenna Henderson: A Centennial Discussion and Appreciation

Women Authors That Men Don't Read --- Or Do They?

Reinventing the Fantastic Other

Pulp Era Influences: the Expiration Date

New Graphic Novels You Should be Reading

Friday's strip

Oct. 20th, 2017 06:13 am
madfilkentist: Krosp, from Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio. (Krosp)
[personal profile] madfilkentist posting in [community profile] girlgenius_lair
It's like a revival meeting! Ivo is wrestling with Sin!

http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20171020

Plugin Problems

Oct. 19th, 2017 07:06 pm
jimhines: (Shego - Facepalm)
[personal profile] jimhines
My Journalpress plugin is no longer posting things to Dreamwidth. I've seen reports that this is due to a change Dreamwidth made in their site security or configuration, but I'm not sure.

I'll be looking for solutions, but in the meantime, you can always find everything on the website at http://www.jimchines.com/blog/

No excuses every day

Oct. 19th, 2017 09:37 am
badgerbag: (Default)
[personal profile] badgerbag
Cannot quite work up the oomph to fix my various Wordpress problems.
Yesterday was a nice office day, tho my face still hurt I had a good afternoon there.
The smoke blew away from here over night and now it's foggy and rainy. I can't find my face mask.

I'm on 100mg neurontin at night for the face nerve pain from shingles. Taking it at 7pm isn't quite early enough (i am still groggy and weird feeling now) I'd like to go off it by the end of next week or decrease the dosage. My face really hurts..... and is cold sensitive. I need one of those microwaveable pillows.... my old one got moldy I think. the actual heating pad is huge (the size of my entire back) and rough textured. My eye is twitching.... it feels tired. I guess all the muscles around my painful face are tensing up. The skin is not too bad now but the pain has moved to a deep ache in my jaw like a toothache.

Working in little fits & starts on my new writing project (a novel)

Actual work still looming though right now I have a little bit of a break. (mid cycle, no dot release so far for 56, the lull before a big push to release 57)

Nazi rally in Gainesville is pissing me off. Hundreds of cops mobilized for this bullshit. It just helps militarize the situation even more.

Reading - Squirrel Girl novel, which was beautiful! Last night read The Lucky Stiff by Craig Rice and this morning The Fourth Postman. Hardboiled detective. But also funny! Craig Rice is Georgiana Craig.

Me and Star Wars

Oct. 19th, 2017 11:38 am
marthawells: (Stargate)
[personal profile] marthawells
Forgot to post this here yesterday:

Star Wars and me, when I was a lonely 13 year old: http://www.unboundworlds.com/2017/10/a-long-time-ago-martha-wells-how-star-wars-inspired-writing/

I was an isolated kid in a lot of ways, and didn’t know anybody else who really liked SF as much as I did. And I’d been told over and over again that liking SF/F, or liking anything involving books and media so intensely, was weird and strange and probably bad, or if not bad, something that made me a figure of ridicule. It was especially bad for a girl to like those things, but I was sure to get over it when I grew up and stopping being silly. I knew I wasn’t the only one, I knew there were other people like me out there; all these books and comics had been written by people, for people. But before Star Wars, it was hard to believe those people really existed.

Then I read this movie novelization, and read it again, and made the two whole friends I had read it, and we read it aloud to each other, and acted it out. And finally, a month or so after the movie came out, I got to see it. It was a shock at first, so different from how I’d imagined it from the book. But it wrote itself into my DNA and it’s still there, so many years later.
roadrunnertwice: Wrecked bicyclist. Dialogue: "I am fucking broken." (Bike - Fucking broken (Never as Bad as Y)
[personal profile] roadrunnertwice
This DIY whirlwind we’re in feels a lot like when you’re underleveled and underequipped for a dungeon, but you bull in there anyway bc you don’t have time to fuck around and grind til you’re “ready,” and if you get whacked and have to burn a revive or two then So Be It.

Especially installing these hardwood floors. Good gravy.
[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

Over the years, my smart, funny, fun friend Elizabeth has become ruled by her insecurity, anxiety, and grievances. She’s close with my friends from a couple of overlapping friend groups — I met my boyfriend through her — and somehow, her emotional needs have become the center of our lives. We are constantly trying to manage around Elizabeth’s irrational reactions.

Any time she isn’t invited to anything I’m doing, I’ll hear about it directly and again passive-aggressively. It doesn’t matter the reason. Every low-key hangout becomes a dilemma: do I invite Elizabeth, do I lie about my plans, do I just endure the confrontation. If I invite her when I don’t feel like it, she claims I wasn’t happy to see her. If she’s busy when we make plans, she’ll still say how left out she feels. Any time anyone has big news — they’re engaged, moving, pregnant — telling Elizabeth is a whole thing that has to be strategized around.

It’s not hard to tell this is the result of some deep and miserable insecurity and loneliness. I feel terrible that she feels that way. But she is using her anxieties to control everyone around her, and I’ve realized it’s a fucked-up game that I can’t win.

If she weren’t friends with all my friends, I would cut her out of my life entirely. Given the overlap, though, that would be difficult and dramatic (and maybe end up ruining her relationships with people who are frustrated but not yet totally fed up. She does need friends. I just can’t be one anymore). I am trying instead to see her as a friend-of-friends who I don’t care for. I don’t feel guilty about ways I inadvertently hurt those people. I don’t vent for hours about them to mutual friends. I don’t go to parties we’re both invited to and leave frustrated by all the ways they are disappointing me.

But I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to react the next time she tries to make me feel guilty or make something about her. I don’t know what to say that doesn’t turn into a big, involved, emotional conversation that I do not want. She always wants more from me. I want to give her less. I know what my boundaries are. How do I make them clear to her?

Hello! I think your question is going to resonate with a lot of people.

Story Time: Once upon a time a group of friends and I were trying to decide where to eat dinner. One of the group members had her sister in town, and Sister is apparently a VERY picky eater. Not medical-issues or food-allergies-picky, more like: Most restaurant food is gonna be too weird/too spicy/too ethnic/contain too many foods, like, the “rocks” and the “trees” might touch each other on the plate, so we had to find someplace that would have something she could eat. Great! A challenge! Chicago is a restaurant-rich environment. Surely there would be something.

I tell this story not because picky eaters are bad and shouldn’t be accommodated as much as possible (seriously, do not fill the comments with details about you don’t & can’t eat, I don’t care and it’s not the topic of this column). I tell it because the conversation went on for almost two hours with people raising suggestions and others shooting them down and because during all of this the Sister never said a word. She never said “Ok, Mexican or Thai is cool, I can eat some rice there” or “The diner is fine, I can get a grilled cheese probably and they’ll put everything on the side for me” or “actually Italian doesn’t work for me, sorry” or “Listen, why don’t I make some Kraft dinner here so I’m not starving and then come keep you company later at the bar” or “Hey, I know this is kinda weird, thanks for trying to help find something that will work for me” or “Can we pull up the menu online and see if there’s anything I can eat?” She just sat there quietly making frowny faces and grimaces for almost two hours while 6 people (most of whom she’d just met for the first time) tried to find something she could eat and auditioned options for her while her sister tried to interpret her face and mediate between everyone else.

It was so weird. It was one of the most amazingly dysfunctional things I have ever seen. I say “amazingly” partly because of the way that the visiting Sister had trained her sibling to anticipate and worry about her around eating and to fear her negative reactions to the point that she didn’t even have to say or do anything at this point. The mere prospect of her being sad or upset or unsatisfied was enough to have everyone strategizing around it. It was amazing how quickly we were all trained, by proxy, to react the same way. Also notable was the amount of effort it took to break out of the pattern that was instantly established among us, the amount of energy that it took to be able to say  “Listen, I’m starving, we gotta goooooooo.” (We ate Mexican food. There were plain quesadillas. It was fine. Also, this dynamic played out before every single meal of her visit, three meals a day).

I tell this story because your story about your friend is partly about habits and group dynamics and the way they calcify. Elizabeth has trained you all to strategize around her and dread her reactions to things. She has to an extent trained herself to be let down over and over again. It has become a self-perpetuating cycle – the more negatively she reacts, the more she’s left out, which makes her react negatively, which makes people want to be around her less. Stir in some Geek Social Fallacies and it sucks for everyone, Elizabeth most of all. Since you can’t change what Elizabeth will do or how she’ll feel, so can you change the way you react to it so that the relationship works better for you? And can your example help steer the group to help break the pattern?

Relationships where one person is always apologizing and the other person always needs an apology are pretty unbalanced, yes? Relationships where you have to strategize around the possibility of them blowing up at you over pretty minor things are also unbalanced and exhausting. Whatever you’ve shared in the past, that’s where you are now. So, since you do have a lot of social overlap and history with Elizabeth and don’t want to ostracize her from the larger group, figure out your threshold for inviting her to stuff (it sounds like big group hangs are where it’s at) and do that. When you want to invite different people, hang out in smaller groups, make plans without her, or announce good news, do that. When you don’t want to go to something she’s organizing say “No thanks, can’t make it” without giving a reason or apologizing. Then, the hard part: Let her feelings be her feelings and don’t work so hard to fix them or manage them. Be kind and polite without being effusive or engaging deeply and otherwise withdraw to the place that you are comfortable and that feels sustainable for you.

Part of setting and maintaining boundaries with others is internal. It’s making & owning the decision that hey, my line is here, and if someone crosses it, I will withdraw from interacting with them, and if that upsets them, that’s sad, but it doesn’t automatically make the feelings my problem or my fault. Once you decide that you can deal with Elizabeth’s negative feelings without making them your problem, you’ll feel a lot more free and relaxed.

If you end up talking about things with her, say, when Elizabeth inevitably notices your withdrawal and pushes you about it, the script you are looking for might be some version of this:

I definitely don’t want to upset you or hurt your feelings, but I also don’t want to apologize for something that isn’t actually wrong. 

For example, if we’re going to stay in each other’s lives, it has to be okay for me to  hang out with other people without consulting you first. It has to be okay for me to do social stuff when you aren’t available. It has to be okay for me to tell you good news about my life and hear ‘congratulations, that’s so great!’ instead of comforting you about the things in your life that you are unhappy about.

I’m not doing those things AT you or in order to hurt you or exclude you, and it’s not okay when you expect me to take care of your feelings when I do them. I find these conversations really exhausting and I don’t want to have them anymore.

For another example, when Elizabeth starts venting about people who have wronged her after parties, what if you said “Hey, let me stop you there. I don’t actually want to listen to this”? Or what if you redirected her away from venting about people and toward talking to them? “You sound really upset with ______, why don’t you talk to them directly about it?” It sounds like there’s a dynamic here where Elizabeth is expecting you and other friends to expend a lot of energy listening to her grievances with others but won’t take the actual steps that might fix the situation. What if you removed yourself as that outlet and put the work of fixing whatever it is back on her? You can’t control whether she actually talks to the person but you can actually control how much energy you’ll expend on the problem.

See also:

  • “Listen, every time I hang out with someone who isn’t you, it can’t become A Thing Where We Have To Have A Giant Talk. I really don’t want to.”
  • “Where is this coming from?”
  • “What is this really about?”
  • “What would make you feel better about this?” 
  • You’re right, we’re not as close as we used to be. I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around you, and I don’t love it.” 
  • You’re right, we’re not as close as we used to be. Sometimes it makes me sad to think about, but also I think it’s okay if friendships evolve over time.
  • “You seem really unhappy in general lately, what’s going on with you?”
  • “But friends don’t have to do everything together.” 
  • “This is really weighing on you, and you seem so unhappy lately, do you think it would help to talk to someone about it?”
  • “I feel like this comes up every single time I do something without you. Do you really think friends need to do everything together?” 
  • “Wait, I just told you good news. Can I get a ‘congratulations’ for a second before we talk about you?” 
  • “Can you not?”
  • Hmmm interesting
  • Okaaaay?
  • Wow.
  • Yikes.
  • “Ouch.”
  • Not cool!
  • “Okay so we’re going with worst case scenarios then?”
  • I can’t talk about this anymore today.”
  • Have you told ____ what you just told me?
  • What are you going to do about that?
  • “If we all suck so much, why are you friends with us?”
  • It’s a giant bummer when every party or brunch needs this giant post-mortem with you. Can we not?” 

There’s a pretty wide variety there, so, find that script or scripts that lets you engage constructively with her behavior and disengage from a performance of feelings. It might be really valuable to have this out once and for all and really argue with her, like, “Hey! You are stressing me out a lot and making it hard to be friends with you! Knock it off!” It might be better to quietly withdraw. Don’t (for example) ask a lot of questions and dig deeper into what’s going on if you’re ready to be done with the friendship.

I think that given your long friendship it’s worth addressing head on and in depth at least one time. If you’ve never actually said any version of  “Hey, this is an unreasonable question, you’re not the boss of my social calendar, knock it off!” before – for example, if you’ve defaulted to mollifying her in the moment (and then resenting the hell out of it later) – remember to start gently and give everyone a couple of chances to reset the relationship. It’s a longstanding problem for you, but it may not read that way for her if this is the first time you’ve pushed back. Does that make sense? Maybe give her a little room to have a less-than-ideal initial reaction and a little bit of time to self-correct things before you tap out forever and ever.

Also, never, ever invoke the wider feelings of the group when you talk to her. Own your own annoyance – “It bothers me,” I’ve noticed,” “I am annoyed by…” etc. Other people may well have these same issues but appealing to the the group will not lend you authority. It will only justify Elizabeth’s paranoia about being left out and distract from the conversation, like, “Wait, everyone feels this way about me? Who exactly? What exactly did they say?” She already worries that she’s being ostracized and/or bullied, do not feed that worry. Keep it focused on you: “I can’t speak for anyone else, but it bothers me when you hear about me having brunch with other friends and take it as a slight.

Speaking of “the wider social group” and “things that you can control,” try to stop talking about & complaining about about Elizabeth with the larger friend group as much as you possibly can. There is power and freedom in venting, but sometimes venting also feeds on itself and it becomes a habit unto itself at the expense of action. While you try to break Elizabeth and yourself of bad habits, what if you also tried to redirect the group’s habits, too? When her “b-eating-crackers” behavior comes up in the group (and it will), what if you channeled the complainstorm into “Yep, that is pretty annoying. Have you tried talking to her directly about it?

  • I know we all try to strategize about how Elizabeth will react to news like this, but what if you just told her ‘I’m engaged!’ and let her feelings be her feelings?
  • Yeah, she can be like that sometimes. I’ve been trying to set boundaries and just talk to her directly when it comes up instead of spending so much energy talking about her.” 
  • “I think we have this weird pattern, where Elizabeth overreacts to stuff and then we all overreact to her overreaction. I’m trying to break myself of the habit and just take her as she comes without too much angst about it. I wish nothing but good things for her, and I wish she could be happier but I don’t have the energy to dissect all this every time we see her.” 
  • “Elizabeth’s gonna Elizabeth, let’s not feed the fire. How is [new topic]?” 

People may or may not follow your lead. Set the boundaries anyway, and then enforce them by changing the subject or walking way from Elizabeth-centered conversations. Go talk to anyone else about anything else (the way you wish Elizabeth would do!).

It will take time and probably a few tries to disengage. Be gentle with everyone, especially yourself.

Finally, if you read this and thought “Shit, I’m ‘Elizabeth,'” here’s some stuff you can do to feel better:

A. First and foremost, if anxiety about your friendships and whether people like you is seriously messing with your life, take the problem seriously and investigate solutions. Here’s a website (with forums) devoted to helping people with social anxiety. There are tons and tons of people dealing with this in the world, you are not alone, there are tons of strategies for managing it, everything from therapy & medication to improv classes. Chances are that you don’t have to feel this awful forever.

B. It’s okay to need reassurance from friends sometimes. If your current ways of reaching out aren’t getting the results you want, can you try out a strategy of asking for some specific action the other person can do that might make you feel better? “I miss you, it feels like we never hang out anymore” or “I feel like everyone is too busy to spend time with me” might be true, real, awful, overwhelming feelings. Sadly, expressed out loud or in text form they read like accusations that require a lot of emotional work on the other person to figure out what to do next. What if you translated those feelings into more actionable requests like “I really miss you, friend, can we have lunch soon? Tuesdays are generally good for me.” See also “I’m feeling really sad today, it feels like no one likes me” vs. “I’m really feeling sad today, what’s your favorite song that really cheers you up?” or “I’m feeling really down today, please send compliments & animal .gifs.” I don’t necessarily know what to do with “I’m so lonely and I feel like everyone hates me” but I do know what to do with “Everything sucks today, can you tell me something nice?” or “I could really use a friend to come over and sit with me and color and watch TV later, do you have a little time?” It takes time and practice to reshape this pattern, so, go slow and be nice to yourself, but try it.

C. If it feels like everyone is always hanging out without you, or like your friend group has calcified into a pattern that doesn’t feel good for you, what can you do to change it up? What can you control?

For example, I get a lot of letters & comments about people who wish they were invited to more stuff. UNDERSTANDABLE. But more often than not, when I scratch the surface and gently ask “Hey, what happens when you plan things for friends to do?” the person says some version of “No + Nobody would come anyway” or “I invited some people once but they didn’t want to come so I stopped” or “Here are 1,000 reasons that this advice is stupid and will never work.” And yeah, okay, maybe so. It sucks, I’m sorry. But you can’t control what other people will do, you can only control what you will do. If the situation is going to change, you’re going to change it, by either changing up how you interact or finding different friends.

Additionally, planning and hosting social events is work. The people in your group who are good at it and confident about it or just defaulted into being in charge of it because no one else wanted to do it also have worries and anxieties:  That no one will show up, no one will have a good time. They worry about accidentally hurting people’s feelings by excluding them, or accidentally inviting awkward exes or mortal enemies, or running out of food or ice, or that they’ll make a ton of food and no one will eat it, or that they’ll suggest a bad movie or a board game that is not fun, or that everyone expects them to do the work and nobody ever helps or even thanks them (I get those letters, too). It’s easy, when you are self-conscious, to forget that literally everyone else is also a giant self-conscious weirdo too.

Mostly, and I swear this is true once we get past high school, most people who like hosting events want people to feel welcome and to have a good time. They do not enjoy excluding people or making them feel bad. With this in mind, maybe you can approach the person in your friend group who does most of the scheduling and inviting and say, “Hey, I really appreciate the work you do hosting trivia night every month, what can I do to help?” “Can I plan something for the two of us where the only work you have to do is showing up?

See also:

  • RSVP promptly when you’re invited to something.
  • If the culture of your friend group is “people bring stuff to parties even when it’s not explicitly a BYOB situation” then be a person who brings baked goods or something to drink. Contribute.
  • Set up chairs, offer to wash dishes, and do other tasks that keep your hands busy.
  • Say thank you to the organizers afterwards.
  • Pay attention to whether other people are having a good time. Is someone new here, do they seem shy? Could they use an introduction to someone else?
  • It’s okay to hide out in the bathroom or on the porch or with the host’s pets for a little while if you get overwhelmed. The person who hosts the best parties I know of in Chicago is a bit socially anxious and take breaks from her own parties.
  • If you don’t really gel with someone, give them space. Find someone else to talk to at the party. You don’t have to have the same level of intimacy with everyone in a social group.
  • Invite people to do smaller stuff, one-on-one. Stop thinking of it as The Whole Group vs. You and think of it as a bunch of people you mostly like and some you like more than others.
  • Try to approach events you’re invited to with the mindset of “People want to be kind and want me to have a good time here.”
  • When you’re not invited to something, try (I know, but try) to cultivate the mindset of “Hey, not everyone has to hang out together all the time. I’ll probably catch them another time.

D. All that said, it’s 100% okay for you, Relatively Lonely Person, to back off from friendships that feel like too much work. If people make you feel like you have to chase them all the time, if people make you feel insecure, if people judge you when you need a little reassurance or cheering up, if people never make you a priority, it’s okay to disengage. You don’t have to make all the effort or have to subsist on crumbs or leftovers to deserve friends.

To be totally honest, I am a recovering ‘Elizabeth.’ I spent my teens and 20s as a needy and socially confused bull in ye olde emotional china shoppe. I had undiagnosed depression and anxiety. I over-relied on friends to process endless streams of complaints and obsessions. I got rejected a lot socially and romantically and received a lot of negative and painful feedback from groups I wanted to be part of. I *often* experienced that moment of saying something and feeling a group of people go kind of silent and limp around my awkwardness, exchanging awkward eye messages with each other, and then changing the subject (“So…anyway…“) while my conversational turd sat there, unacknowledged.

Things that helped: Therapy. Getting older. Reality checks and boundary-setting from friends who were like “I love you but you are too intense sometimes, please knock this off so I can keep liking you” or “Look I know you’re sad but I am done talking about this” or “Do you realize you start every phone call by immediately just talking about yourself and how sad you are and don’t even ask me how I’m doing?” Losing friendships where I didn’t listen to these boundaries and learning from those mistakes. Painful self-awareness and trying to do better. Making the effort to reframe situations where I felt rejected and not automatically default to the explanations that most dovetailed with my poor self-image. Realizing that the “So…anyway…” moments were an attempt to let me save face, and that it’s okay for people to have limits about how much complaining they can absorb. Learning to read the room better and to ask questions before launching in.

It took a long time and it was hard and I still fuck up sometimes. In some cases I let go of friendships that didn’t work anymore and sought less rocky ground. In others I changed my behavior. In all cases trying was better than not trying. In all cases the only person who could really change the dynamic was me.

I hope things get better all around for you and Elizabeth(s). You can’t fix her feelings, so, take care of yourself and be as gentle as you can.

 


new Penric novella upcoming

Oct. 18th, 2017 07:29 am
[syndicated profile] lois_mcmaster_bujold_feed
I am pleased to report I have finished the first draft of a new Penric & Desdemona novella, sequel to "Mira's Last Dance". Title is decided all but one vowel -- I'll add it when my aesthetic waffling concludes. About 44,980 words.

Later: Having spent the whole last day wrestling with one. dratted. vowel., title has finalized as:
"The Prisoner of Limnos"

I plan to have cover art by Ron Miller again, of which I will post a sneak peek in due course.

Still the final revision pass to go, plus waiting on comments from two test readers -- I really should wait for the latter before doing the former. I can occupy myself devising vendor-page copy while I wait, I suppose.

This e-publication thing is getting frighteningly fast, in part because a lot of little things which were baffling decisions or upward learning curves first round are now set templates which only need replicated.

I'm thinking e-pub in November, but we'll see. I had originally planned this as my winter project, but it got its legs under it in August and hardly stopped till FIN on Monday.

Ta, L.

posted by Lois McMaster Bujold on October, 21

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