Friday, January 24, 2014


Friday Open Thread

We've made it. Happy weekend, everyone. In case you missed anything, we've been:

Surviving the flu 19th-century style and going three years without shampoo

• Talking about the Downton Abbey women as parts of our cursed contemporary whole

Losing our libido and editing our online dating profiles for accuracy

• Asking Baba Yaga about wish-fulfillment and wondering if it's time to invest in a man

• Searching the stars (in One Direction) for our fortunes and wondering why they didn't just make Hillary a black hole

How are you doing? How are we doing? Who should I interview next?

Photo via (OVO)/flickr

63 Comments / Post A Comment


Is the comment/log-in problem ever going to be fixed? It feels like no-man's-land here, which makes me BUMMED OUT because there has been some great stuff on the 'Pin lately.


@yeah-elle It's definitely better?


@Onymous Not for me :( For instance, this page still showed up as having zero comments and I had to log-in TWICE before this worked.


@yeah-elle Agreed! I have been making an effort to comment more when I have time, but always having to log in is a definite deterrent.

But, yeah, this week had some great stuff. I liked @Danzig's piece about Man-investments especially.


@yeah-elle for anyone else playing along at home, I still can't stay logged in, either. And I can't see my own comments until after the comment-editing time has expired unless I'm logged in, which is frustrating, too.


@yeah-elle Yeah, I don't stay logged in, although I have to say that the spam's gotten significantly better.

Has anyone else started getting annoying sound playing ads that you can't track down? I am mystified. Definitely coming from this site (and the billfold), I can tell thanks to Chrome's new speaker tab function.


@yeah-elle Right? Am I here? Can anyone even see this? Heeeellllooooooo?


@cabber I can see your comments! I can see mine, too. I wonder why this affects some of us and not other?


So Austin was not an Icy Hellscape. Even so my butt was clenched going over the Ben-White I-35 flyover. Clarice weighs less than a modern honda civic, and she's a rear-wheel drive pickup. Her tire's have no traction in the best of conditions.
I first realized I was in for a trip when I turned the steering wheel and felt no resistance even though I don't have power steering.


@Onymous Yeah, a rear-wheel drive pickup does not go well with ice and snow! Glad you made it through your travels safely.


Beautiful work..very nice!!@m


Here in the Great White North it is snowing and blowing snow so hard you can't see across the yard. I had to shovel 2 feet of snow just to get out my door this morning! And it keeps piling up. I have cancelled everything and I really just want to go back to bed until spring. (There WILL be spring, right?)


@ru_ri I'm sort of jealous. I haven't lived through a hard snow in a decade and a half now.


@Onymous I keep trying to appreciate it--it's moisture, right? Which means water eventually--and it's nice for skiing. But I'm tired of making plans and then having to cancel them because the driving is too awful or whatever. And up here it just keeps snowing and snowing until, like, May, which is exhausting.

That said, I lived in the desert for about seven years and I definitely prefer this!

Clara Morena

Well, in a few weeks I will be done with after school tutoring and I'm kinda glad since while the kids are OK( in general) school admins piss me off. So I got the experience of being a teacher without the commitment! :P I'm listing to 1930s Carmen Miranda! On the bight side, I have the weekend!


Anyone have any tips on the best way to support someone going through a separation/divorce? My best friend is currently separated and really struggling to make a decision about whether to divorce or not. Of course, I tell her I can't tell her which way to go on that, but that I support her no matter what. And I definitely talk things through with her and reflect back what I hear her saying, but I often feel inadequate. She has a young son and of course how this may impact him is a never ending source of stress for her. She is a wonderful mother and has a very cool kid, so I have NO concerns that her child will not turn out okay whether his parents divorce or not (dad is great too), but I don't want to emphasize that so much that she feels I am invalidating her fears/not truly hearing what she has to say. I am just wondering if anyone has been through this situation and what they felt helped or what they could have used from friends. She's the greatest and has always been there for me, so I want to do my best to help her through this, no matter the outcome.

New Commenter Name

You're the best. No really, you totally are. Keep listening to your friend, maybe ask some thought provoking questions, tell her she's a wonderful mother. I think it's fine to tell her how much you believe her son will turn out okay no matter what, because maybe she needs some encouragement and reassurance.
I'm currently at a big crossroads in my life and cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate one friend in particular who has been such a great listener. She does that listening / rephrasing back to me thing, too, like you describe. I almost wish she would make my decision for me (not really, but yeah, kind of, because this is so harrrrrd!) so maybe don't be bashful about sharing your actual opinions sometimes because a little guidance and advice would be welcome (at least for me, though I understand why you may be reluctant to do so) as long as you aren't pushy about it.
But seriously, you sound like a fantastic friend and I bet she is so grateful to know you.


@cabber I have some great friends and they basically do what @ New Commenter Name describes, and I find that suuuuper helpful. It's good to have people who are willing to take things seriously and have some input when you ask for it.


Hello 'Pinners! A question/seeking advice. I'm sensitive in relationships about being controlled. I freak out about men being in my personal space for too long (go home men! To your own place!) or when I live with a boyfriend I sometimes get constantly anxious about making them angry and feel like I have to do all the domestic tasks to avoid getting yelled at. This comes from childhood. So, obviously, this is maladaptive. But I still need my warning system in case of real baddies. How do I trust it when it is so super-charged? My "you're bossing me around, oh god, you want to dominate and control me" radar is possibly crazy, but possibly not. How do I evaluate potential threats? Eg. A dude I was dating kept harping in about wanting me to wake up early with him when he started work at 5am and wanted me to get a kick radio which I don't want because I need lots if sleep and their glowing numbers keep me awake. At what point does the conversation in which he asks me to do this (the repeated conversation) become him being a controlling jerk? To me, sleep = my precious mental health, and lack of sleep = weakness and susceptibility to being pushed around. And the other tricky thing is that during conversations like this, my nervous system starts to spin out into a panic, which makes it at least feel unpleasant, adding to what I think is my difficulty evaluating these things. Help?


@MissJudgeMental please ignore my typos, the site was misbehaving and I missed the editing window *clock radio* is a thing, *kick radio* probably not a thing.


@MissJudgeMental Oh boy, "...do all the domestic tasks to avoid getting yelled at." BEEN THERE! I don't know what really helped me figure out how to know if it was my shit that was making the relationship strained or if I was with someone who was super controlling. I think it was when I finally became confident enough to firmly state what I needed and stick to it without apologizing - explaining, yes, but not apologizing. And then when I was finally in a relationship where I stuck to my guns and they were respected without having to have the conversation a million times, it sunk in that I am no longer in a world where I would ever get yelled at. It was freeing.
So, is clock radio guy a controlling jerk? Maybe not, but I think if you've voiced several times why you don't want to have a clock radio (TOTALLY VALID - I ALSO REFUSE BECAUSE THEN I WAKE UP AND SEE THOSE EVIL GLOWING NUMBERS CHANGING EVER CLOSER TO MY WAKEUP TIME AND I CAN'T SLEEP!!) and he keeps pushing it - maybe you guys just aren't on the same page about compromising in relationships and it's better to move along.


@cabber So that's a long way of saying my bullshit detector became a lot more accurate when I became comfortable with myself and allowed myself to have needs/wants, even if others don't understand them and learning to balance that along with another person who has his own wants/needs. And when it was right, it actually wasn't all that hard, so maybe there's something to be said for that....


@MissJudgeMental If he doesn't drop it after being shot down twice, he is not listening to you and I would take it as a warning sign. Why should his needs take precedence over yours?

If a guy even suggested I get up at 5 am with him, I would laugh in his face and kick him out of my bed. Which probably explains why I am 43 and still single....but still! That's just not on.


@MissJudgeMental Yeah, sleep is precious. That's fucking ridiculous. I will wake up that early to drive someone to the airport, but they had better be pretty damn grateful.

Nobody gets to tell you how to live your life. It's patronizing that someone would assume they could make a better clock choice for you than you can make for yourself (honestly, it would piss me off if someone brought it up more than once after I'd said no).

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@MissJudgeMental I'm sure there's a solution to the clock radio problem. If he's not willing to take the time and make decisions together, then your feelings are justified.


Thank you very much. That was helpful to read. Sometimes it is hard to judge these things. Realising every now and then that you might have forgotten that it is ok to have your own thoughts on things and not need to justify why, that's something you've reminded me of. Thank you!


Recommended read: Lydia Kiesling's review of "Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History" by Rachel Laudan over at The Millions, with is interspersed with truly funny personal reflections about food and cooking.



Sorry, y'all! I missed the OT because I have become unhealthily obsessed with 'A Gentleman's Dignity'. It's not quite 12 Signs of Love or Secret Garden (will anything ever be?) but good enough for a multi-episode binge for sure.

In other news, I'm having pizza tonight, so ultra-pumped about that. And probably gin & tonics, which is the second best pizza pairing (moscato being the first best).


@adorable-eggplant what toppings do you like on yr pizza? I have to make pizza for a crowd next month and am wondering what is safest. Mushroom, onion, green pepper, sausage...what else? --Eggplant (adorable or otherwise)? :-)

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@ru_ri If you're making multiples: make one with meat (and other toppings are cool too), one with vegetables but no meat, and one with cheese and maybe some herbs.


@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) Thank you, good suggestion! I have to make 8 or 10 pies (45 people) so those divisions are helpful. Mozzarella and fresh basil FTW!


@ru_ri Here's what I had (and it was fabu): one white pizza with bacon and one regular pizza with pickled jalapeños and pepperoni. I've had a pizza that had sage on it, and that was also super tasty.


@adorable-eggplant Nice!


Rookie is totally right about the tripartite pizza division. (meat, veg, cheese and herb)
Now on to toppings!
I would totally stir rosemary into the tomato sauce for the meat pizzas - it is delicious. Maybe rosemary leeks, bacon/pancetta for those? Or sweet potato & sausage & feta/mozzarella?
For the veg pizza: mushroom & caramelized onion?
have fun! if you are making them yourself, might as well use different (& more delicious!) toppings than the standard pizza-by-the-slice joint, no?


@ru_ri Depends on the format of the party, but I like to set up little bowls with all sorts of toppings and let people take turns creating different pies (you don't get to eat all of the one you made, because it wouldn't work timing-wise, but you end up with a nice variety!). This weekend we presented sausage, bacon, artichoke hearts, green olives, spinach, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta, green peppers, caramelized onions, pineapple, mushrooms, and marinara. I've also put out butternut squash, fried sage, sun dried tomatoes, pepperoni, broccoli, bleu cheese, various fresh herbs, and tomatoes. Bonus points for using the last dough to make an apple cinnamon pizza, or jut a cinnamon sugar pizza!


@harebell @lemonadefish artichoke hearts! How could i have forgotten? Rosemary with the meat sounds lovely. I like the caramelized onion and mushroom, too! I have to err on the conservative side (no feta for this crowd, sadly) but these are great suggestions. Thanks!

Alissa Nasti@facebook

I've been reading the Hairpin since it started and have stupidly been an inveterate lurker, always to lazy to comment. But I always selfishly loved reading the comment threads because they were hilarious and filled with a sense of humour and community and general Hairpinnery. For various reasons I took a little break from the net towards the latter half of last year and didn't read the Hairpin at all, and now that I've returned I'm sad and surprised to see that barely anyone comments on the stories anymore, and the open threads (which used be so busy) are barely treading water. What happened?? Where did everyone go??


@Alissa Nasti@facebook The-Toast.net

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@Alissa Nasti@facebook Also, some people didn't like the staffing changes, or the comments problems annoyed them, etc.
And I keep trying to tell them to come back!

No Whammies

@Alissa Nasti@facebook It makes me really sad, too, but I've contributed to the problem by being a silent lurker. Lately this site has been crushing it and I wish that more people were around to realize it. Also, I was honestly a little surprised at the massive jump to the toast. I love the toast as well, but it seems odd to me that people don't have room for both.


@Alissa Nasti@facebook Things I loved about The 'Pin: the books content; the weird content; the How To; the Ask A's; the comments section. All of that is gone, really. I still come and read, and it does make me sad. But there's nothing here any more, for me. I don't really like the new style; it's fine, it's just not for me.


So last year, I did Drynuary and was actually perfect on it all month. Though, by this point, I was really starting to have a hard time. (I even drank some fizzy water out of a wine glass, to try to pretend it was booze?) But this year, I had a couple of work functions with wine, and it's a new job so I didn't want to explain to my new coworkers that I needed a month to dry out. So I haven't been perfect. And now, I find that I'm not having cravings like last year, and yet, I almost pounded some wine tonight anyway... because boredom? Maybe? I'm trying to stay strong though. Anyone else doing it? Give up? Still going strong? Drunk right now? Anyone drinking wine? Describe it to me...


@coolallison How did you go? I've never tried it, but I bet I would find it like not being allowed to think of a pink elephant.


@MissJudgeMental I didn't drink last night... but today is a new challenge. One week left...


My one friend is getting horrifically screwed in a landlord issue, and her property manager is being slimy and manipulative. It is hard to watch, and hard because her choices in the situation don't match the ones I think I'd make. I can't stop chewing it all over.


@frenz.lo That sounds bad! It is hard when good people get screwed over. I hope everything turns out ok.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

If anyone is still around, as usual, I wouldn't mind crowdsourcing some advice:

My cousin is making a really bad relationship decision. I normally wouldn't tell her how to live her life, but I really just want to pull her aside and talk some sense into her, because that is how strongly I feel about the potential mistake she's making.

There are lots of reasons why I shouldn't get involved: she's almost 15 years older than me, has more life experience than I do, and we don't usually talk about this sort of stuff anyway. (I'm quite sure that she sees me as much younger than her, and that I wouldn't know what I was talking about because I'm almost perennially single - she doesn't know about Guy I'm Seeing.)
But the reasons why I should: I feel like she can occasionally be immature, and this could be one of those occasions. She has two daughters, so any decision she makes will affect them. Also, I'm her family, so I'm close enough to care, but far enough away to have some distance and be able to see her situation in a different way than she would.

Should I just tell her what I think?


@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) Do you think the relationship will negatively affect her kids? If so, then I would absolutely think you should talk to her. If not... I'm not sure. I had a friend who got married to a horrible dude, and before they got married, I told her what I thought of him, and she married him anyway. (Thankfully (?) they got divorced only like 6 months later.) And it was only after her divorce did she tell me "you know, it turns out people didn't like him!" So clearly she wasn't listening.

Basically I have no answers for you. Sorry. Good luck to you.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@coolallison It's okay, that's kind of how I feel. She's probably all blind from Feelings and wouldn't listen to anyone. She occasionally has really long phone conversations with my mom, but telling my mom to try and convince her is not really an option.

I hope to God that this won't negatively affect her kids, but I can't say that completely for sure.


@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) If you feel like she or her daughters might be in danger, even if you feel silly about it, you could voice your concern to her and let her know that whatever she chooses, you'll be there for her. It's good that you're looking out for her.


@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) Yah, that's really tough! Unfortunately, unless she asks you for your opinion, I'd say it's probably better to leave well enough alone. (Hard to say because I don't know your relationship, but it's a safe bet.) It might just put her on the defensive which would make it hard to help her later. And as @coolalison said, she probably can't hear what you're saying at this point.

If I were you I'd just let her know you care about her and her daughters, and try and be there for her when things go south. And maybe think of some strategies to support her daughters if things get bad.


@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) Maybe get in touch with her daughters and just make sure they know that you're around if they need anything? Might be hard to phrase properly to be specific enough that they know what you're talking about, without freaking them out unnecessarily if the dude's not a bad guy... (Also depends on how old they are.) If you live close you could go on Auntie dates with them or something just to check in...

Miss Maszkerádi

Hi old Hairpin, long time no spill-guts-in-FOT. So, I've been having a few months of pretty bad depression/anxiety as I face the need to rethink what I'm doing with my life a bit - redefining my approach to my field of study and work, realizing that some things I just sort of default assumed I would do are not things I want to really spend all my time doing...long story...and it's kind of terrifying but I know there's also the potential for exciting new horizons in here? I think I'm closer to the end of the dark tunnel than to the beginning, and I have some preliminary steps I can take towards what I need to do when I graduate in the spring, but it's all FUCKING SCARY and I'm still sort of paralyzed by self-doubt and self-criticism, and I'm also facing one last semester in the absolute worst and most horrible unsatisfying and unproductive graduate program full of horrible soul-sucking miserable people you can possibly imagine, so I'm just sort of......I don't know if I can do this? Especially alone, because I've been single my entire damn life except for five months as a deeply repressed unacknowledged gay man's unhappy un-deflowered beard and that shows no signs of changing in the near future and I'm almost 25 and it's just become too damn long to be too damn alone? GAH. If anyone's still reading, and has words of wisdom, I'd love to hear them. Otherwise, thanks good old Hairpin for being as ever my place to open the door, primal-scream, then leave feeling slightly better.

(PS I am in therapy, for the past few months. It's been helpful but mostly in the sort of "take the lid off Pandora's box" sort of way, forcing me to ask myself questions I hadn't allowed myself to ask, leading to all this probably-necessary unsettledness and rethinking. LIFE TRANSITIONS, guys, in a nutshell, how do I survive LIFE TRANSITION without falling over the cliff of Failure or developing TOO strong a reliance on cocktails?)


@Miss Maszkerádi Not to be all trite and whatnot, but life is long and contains very few real deadlines. There is no rule that says you have to have your shit sorted out by 25 or 45 or 95, may we all live that long.

Grad school- is generally terrible, even when you are in a program you enjoy. For me it was the whole "not actually real life thing" coupled with the "costing so damn much." How much relevance will your final GPA have to your future goals? If the answer is none (which it commonly is, if you're not planning on additional academic work or one of the, like, 3 fields where your employer might care), I highly recommend only sinking time into a) what you absolutely have to get done to graduate and b) things you are genuinely interested in learning or think will be useful in your future career. The rest is probably not worth your time. Get some sleep/ exercise/ outside air instead.

As a corollary- I highly recommend spending time with people who are not in grad school. Knitting groups, sports, whatever- get off campus and especially away from the people in your program. People who are not in grad school tend to not think like grad students, and that can help in a "there is life beyond grad school" kind of way.

This last thing- this is hard, but...try to think about dating as "meeting new and possibly interesting people" rather than as a thing you have to do in order to be in a relationship. Relationships take two people, and you only have control over you. Now, finishing grad school (mostly because free time), working towards your goals, being a happier you? That puts you in a better spot to be in a relationship, but there's no way to make one happen, other than working at meeting new and interesting people and appreciating them as themselves rather than as "potential future boyfriend"

The spring is just around the corner, and will be here sooner than you think. You'll be out here in the non-grad school world with the rest of us in no time. It's nice here- sometimes there are weekends. Weekends are awesome.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Beaks thank you lovely <3 that's all pretty much what my rational brain knows but it's still super helpful to hear it from external sources. I am definitely giving the absolute bare minimum number of fucks required to graduate, starting to sniff out jobs that are actually in my field and not Starbucks, and definitely doing the "life outside school" thing in as big a way as I can (mostly an all consuming obsession with both playing and watching soccer.) I'll be ok, just need to have these reassurances sometimes...


@Miss Maszkerádi Hey lady, good to see you on here again! Congratulations on the therapy and transitions! It sounds like you are doing some tough work.

The advice @Beaks gave you is right on. Get out of the grad-school bubble and interact with real people. I would just add that volunteering is another great way to make connections and appreciate how many other ways to live life there are. And helping others is a definite mood-booster.

As for finishing--just take it one day at a time. It will be done before you know it. You can do it! And--it gets better.


What happened to this place? It is a ghost town compared to, like, a few months back when I last checked in an open thread.

Dear few remaining Hairpinners: at the start of this year I was crazy-in-love, and looking forward to new beginnings; this weekend sees me freshly dumped and newly traumatized. And I feel I had been doing so well before I met this guy, who apparently swooped into my life just to fuck with my mind? I am coping by drinking wine, doing taxes, and diagnosing my ex with various pages from the DSM-IV. I am aware that aside from the taxes, I probably need healthier preoccupations. Does anyone have any suggestions?


@karenology Doing taxes! I also find it really soothing, mostly because I print out all my forms and do it by hand, which takes me back to third grade arithmetic. It's lovely. Other hobbies: yoga, gardening (I'm not yet killing my first indoor plant), and cooking. The nice thing about cooking is that it's practical and time consuming, which is perfect for a distraction.


@adorable-eggplant ah, but there is the rub - we used to cook together :( I hope someday to regain my appetite.


@karenology If you are into physical preoccupations, I find that boxing both keeps me in shape and lets me cope with my anger issues. Hitting a heavy bag is great therapy! If you are not into physical stuff, maybe doing something with your hands like knitting or whittling?


@karenology I definitely second what ru_ri proposed in doing something physical. Sometimes a good cleaning/binge does it too! It's somewhat physical and you end up with a clean house/apartment/room at the end. Is there anything you stopped doing/didn't have time for before that you can now pick up again?


@karenology How about sewing / quilting / knitting / etc.? Then you can also watch distracting TV while accomplishing something.

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