Contents: Spoilers! Implied time travel, Guo Changcheng POV, flashfic I wrote in a meeting this morning, ~700 words
Note: This was inspired by a post at the plot bunny farm, but doesn't actually manage to fill the plot bunny at all, darn it.
( Read more... )
Dear Captain Awkward,
Short Version: I (she/her) have a friend (she/her) who is irrationally jealous of her boyfriend, and it’s driving all our friends apart. I don’t know whether to try help her, or just to distance myself from our friendship.
Longer explanation: She and I have now been friends for about five years, including during grad school. Overall, she can be a kind, thoughtful, and generous person. However, when it comes to her boyfriend of one year, she transforms into someone I don’t even recognize. Based on what she has said in the past, her relationship is stable and he has never given her cause to doubt his fidelity.
But recently, whenever he talks to another woman, even casual chat at a party, she becomes incredibly jealous. She has made scenes, calling women out in front of everyone, or sending messages that say “stay away from my boyfriend, bitch.” She insists that all the women in the friend group (even married, much younger, much older, etc.) want her boyfriend. I think I’ve escaped her jealousy only because I’m gay. Sometimes after one of her scenes, she apologizes and tries to smooth things over, but more often she remains convinced that someone is a “bitch” and expects everyone to agree with her. But everyone does NOT agree with her, and people are starting to distance themselves.
I’d like to remain friends, but I’m starting to seriously rethink the relationship. I believe that a lot of this is coming from her anxiety/depression, but I can’t stand to hear her reduce all these lovely, smart, funny women to “scheming bitches,” and I can’t let her believe that I’m on her side in this. Nobody else actually wants her boyfriend! I know if I confront her, she might get really angry with me, too, and I don’t do conflict well. We all work in a similar niche field (science-related), so I’d like to somehow maintain friendly relationships with all these people, if it’s even possible now. What do I do?
What a rough situation!
I want to be clear from the beginning that someone who is behaving this way may not take kindly to any attempt to address it, even the most friendly, mild, benefit-of-the-doubt-assuming inquiry might get a pretty harsh backlash and it may not be able to “maintain friendly relations” with her after you bring this up.
However, how “friendly” are the current relations if they mean putting up with this behavior?
One avenue you (and the associated friends) have is interrupting this in the moment where it happens, “Listen, nobody wants your doubtless-one-of-a-kind-godlike boyfriend, you are being really really weird about this, what are you doing?” Given the way she’s behaving, returning the awkwardness to sender in the moment is not out of line. It might lead to another big blow-up, but is that really worse than having all the not-argument-starting people quietly ghost?
If you want to have a private conversation and start by asking your friend what’s going on. Here’s a script:
“Friend, I keep seeing you snap at almost every woman we know and accuse them of trying to steal your boyfriend whenever we hang out and it’s leaving a bad taste. Where is this coming from? What is this based on? Are you doing okay?”
Listen to what she has to say. What does she think is happening? It might be a skewed perspective but it would be helpful to know where she is coming from.
If her clinical-sort-of anxiety/depression are in a flare that can be a factor here (not an excuse, but a contributing factor). It would be interesting to see if she brings that up.
I’m working on a longer post about how to handle conflict with someone who has disclosed a condition like this to you that’s not quite baked yet, but one hands-down rule is “Do not automatically associate or assume negative behavior is a direct result of another person’s mental health diagnosis, even if you think you know” and another is “You ask people how they’re doing, you do not tell them.” If she’s talked explicitly about her mental health with you before, something she tells you might give you an opening to ask, “Hey, if this is all stressing you out so much, do you have all the MH support you need right now? Is it time to see a counselor/check in with your team and see if there are ways you can feel better?”
If her boyfriend is cheating on her, has cheated on her, has constant mentionitis of other women, etc., lots of people aren’t comfortable going after the partner who is causing all their anxiety about a relationship so they blame everyone else. Alternately, there might be history with one of the other members of the group that you’re not fully up on.
Hyper-monitoring a partner for signs of cheating and constantly accusing them of cheating can be an abuse dynamic, (though so can making it seem like a partner is in constant competition with everyone else all the time to keep them off-balance and paranoid). Without knowing these people neither I nor the readers can tell you which is going on (depressingly it might be both), nor is it your job to be the Relationship Detective and get to the bottom of this decisively, especially absent your friend confiding in you. Ergo, your best bet is probably to speak in terms of behaviors *you* are observing and how that is affecting *you.*
“From what I can see, nobody wants your boyfriend! Is there some history I’m missing?
See what she says. Follow-up could be:
Ok, but if your boyfriend were to cheat on you, that’s probably a BOYFRIEND-problem, not a every-woman-on-earth problem, right?
I really look forward to our time with [career-adjacent social group], I generally find it relaxing and supportive, which is rare in our field. Can I count on you to stop calling people out about this when we’re all together? If Women-In-Science Happy Hour becomes Fighting-Over-A-Disappointing-Dude Happy Hour my gay ass is going to have to find a new place to hang, and I would really hate that.
I hope you know that I care about you a lot and I just hate seeing you so unhappy.”
Key points: You care about her, this behavior is annoying you, you’d like her to stop doing this stuff. You can also ask more questions like “Is there something your friends can do right now?” and/or “What would allow you to relax and feel comfortable again?”
Avoid traps: Keep it focused on your observations, your needs, your friendship with her, do not invoke the feelings of the group (“Everyone agrees with me…” “You’re alienating everyone…”) even if that’s true and you are scared and want the cover of other people. It’s such a tempting thing to do, right? You can lend yourself the authority of the group while you do this scary conflict thing! Unfortunately, as soon as you switch from “I have noticed a thing you are doing” to “Everyone feels the same way” you risk switching the entire discussion away from your friend’s behavior over to “Who is everyone? What exactly did they say? Why are you on their side? See, everyone is against me!”
I think that’s the kindest, most direct, most giving-her-room-to-be-her-best-self approach I can generate. It might get you good results, or she might decide to shoot the messenger, she’s shown already that she’s volatile and willing to throw blame everywhere. If that happens it’s not your fault. Sometimes the best kindness we can give someone if they are in the middle of a crisis or emotional flare-up and don’t handle a conversation like this well is the gift of a reset at some later time. It doesn’t mean you have to put up with shitty behavior, it just means that if this is normally a good friendship and the person is behaving out of character, you’re in a better emotional place to make no drastic decisions at this moment.
Moderation Note: Comments are open, though I meant what I said in the paragraph about the Letter Writer and us not being Relationship Detectives who have to solve the “Who is the asshole?” mystery. Generating worst-case scenarios or placing responsibility on the Letter Writer to somehow solve the relationship dynamics or save the people in the couple from each other is off-limits.
Instead, tell us, have you ever had to have a difficult conversation with a friend about them behaving badly that went well? What worked?
Apparently I have -- once again -- underestimated Colleen, who is awake, wisecracking, planning meals for RainbowCon, and saying she'll be there come Hell or high water. I don't doubt it. She's probably been taking indestructability lessons from my mother.
When I left for home yesterday she'd been unconscious or nearly so for a solid week, and on a ventilator for two days.
She was looking much more alert when I came in around 10am. They took out her breathing tube at 10:47; she was talking within seconds (asked "are you breathing okay?" "Yeah."), telling the nurse that she was hard of hearing within minutes, and discussing sewing projects and menus half an hour after that. We have our Colleen back!
Quote of the day:
Colleen: (when told not to scratch near her PICC line) "I'll be good."
me: "If you can't be good, be careful."
Colleen: "If you can't be careful, be wicked."
I often warn people that she's an easy person to underestimate. I should listen to myself.
The other day I was re-reading Otto Penzler's The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories (2010) and found myself really struck by William Campbell Gault's "The Bloody Bokhara" (1948), a tale of antiques and double-crosses set in the oriental rug trade in Milwaukee—narrated not by a detective, a policeman, or even a buyer, but by first-generation Armenian-American Levon "Lee" Kaprelian, being raised in the rug business by his immigrant parents. Insofar as I can judge, it's good writing-the-other. Instead of exotic local color, Lee's world of pilaf and appraisals and spring dances at the Junior League of the AGBU is the ordinary, working-class one suddenly invaded by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl with a secret, a four-hundred-year-old carpet potentially woven by a Persian master, and threatening strangers who drag with them ghosts of the old world, the one that Lee's parents and their beloved, competitive cousin fled a decade before Lee was born: their families died there. The story is so matter-of-fact about the Armenian genocide that it shocked me; at one point Lee witnesses a confrontation between his father and his father's cousin and one of the aforementioned strangers that leaves everyone alive but his father trembling with anger and trauma, having had to order out of his shop in safe, free America a man of the age and nationality to have been a perpetrator of the genocide he survived as a young man, who more than two decades later addressed him with the contempt of one. "His mind, I would guess, was back in Sivas, under the Turks." Is it a major piece of the story? No, but it's a major piece of the history of the Armenian diaspora, so it's there and it's acknowledged. Otherwise, when Lee who gets told he looks like Tyrone Power enters an apartment and hears Khatchaturian's "Sabre Dance" on the record player, he feels a little set up. He lives in America.
Anyway, in 1948 an American pulp writer could feel confident that his readership would know about the Armenian genocide; it's weird to me that my country doesn't recognize it, even if the state I live in does. It's not just a nicety of language, it's a form of denial not to name it. How you speak of people's deaths matters. These things feel even more important now.
With my evening meal I included a course of canned borscht from Lidl with the accompaniment of some dark, dense rye bread from Germany. This was also quite a new experience for me. I enjoyed them; my curiosity bore fruit. The last time I had borscht was well over a decade ago in Chicago.
Fandom: Bungou Stray Dogs - Nakahara Chuuya, Arahabaki
Content notes: spoilers for Fifteen/season 3, angst
Summary: According to Mori’s research, Arahabaki was meant to be some kind of messenger of the gods. Chuuya wasn't so sure.
Author notes: For the fan_flashworks challenge identity, and the bingo square messenger. Thanks to ldybastet for the beta! :)
( Unseen Entities )
I lived in the dorm that contained the dining hall for the camp (which was located between two wings of residential spaces) and thus in the morning would come bouncing down the stairs to the double doors (of course now my brain wants to say πύλαι and that is the WRONG SUMMER CLASS, thank you brain for reiterating the punchline before I'm done with the story) to go in and hunt food.
These were opaque doors with little portholes that were positioned for college students, not younger kids, and thus it was tricky to see the other side of them.
So one morning, I came down the stairs, I approached the πύλαι, and it opened abruptly as one of my classmates came out, nearly clocking me in the face.
They were very apologetic.
I, meanwhile, had a massive language glitch, and after about fifteen seconds of 'words do not work at all', spluttered out, "Ianua mala me oppugnat!"*
This got me deemed weird but kind of talented, I guess? We learned past tense that day, so I think it was "Ianua mala me oppugnavit" that made it onto the class t-shirt...
Language runs in weird channels.
( * )
Anyway this story brought to you by making dinner, cutting onions, and muttering "Cepa mala me oppugnat."
Occasionally I wish I were a visual, rather than a text-based, artist, because there is (to take a random example) a very particular vibe that comes from waking up with an anxiety attack at 3:30am and getting up and going to the gym which I feel, if the cinematographer knew their stuff, could be communicated in a single long shot of the clammy 4am fluorescent lights and the mirrors and the slightly too-loud pop music and the omnipresent TVs all layering news on top of basketball, and the dudes doing powerlifting looking strong and sturdy and not remotely shaky or nauseated with sleep and adrenaline. Painting a picture in words is never quite as elegant as that shot in my head. (Though there are also things words can do better, of course.)
Dogs are extremely good, and some of them are also EXTREMELY SMALL.
About a week ago greywash and I rewatched Episode 2.9 of The Good Place, which features a 10-second clip of a remix of Lorde's "Green Light." As a result, the song got extremely stuck in my head. I listened to it on YouTube to try to exorcise it. That didn't work, so I listened to it about 45 more times. Then I was tired of "Green Light" and just let YouTube play on. It treated me to other songs off the same album, whereupon those songs got stuck in my head, without the original song ever exactly leaving. Then I was like "Ugh, fine, maybe if I just buy her record I can listen to the whole thing and the holistic experience will release me from the earworm." So I did that, and now for the third day running I have a mashup of Lorde's entire Melodrama album viciously stuck in my head. Is it time to break out Dion & the Belmonts' "Runaround Sue"?? I am slowly going mad. Also: six straight hours of conference calls.
"Let's invent a new version of "Fuck, Marry, Kill," except instead it's "Discipline, Fire, Resign," and you have to do it all simultaneously and also it's not a game, or fun."
It came out really well. It gives instructions for adapting to dairy-free and/or egg-free versions, also instructions on how to make your own buttermilk if you don't want to use dairy buttermilk or don't want to buy a lot and then not use it all. I used that method--a cup of lactose-free cow milk with a tablespoon of white vinegar.
Sorry no photos of the finished product, but I highly recommend trying the recipe. I had to add a bit more milk after mixing the dry and wet ingredients.
Instead of patting out the dough and making round biscuits, I scooped up large spoonfuls of the dough and just dropped them onto greased cookie sheets. Recipe claims 12 round biscuits. I had about 24 drop ones.
Oh the topics of things that are meaningful and yet change nothing, I've been feeling in a weird identity limbo lately. I made this big announcement about going by "Aidan" now, but it's pretty much changed nothing. I don't pass any more in "real life" and my interactions online are just as they've always been, it's just that in one particular chat room I get "he" more often than "she" now. That's it. That's the big change.
It's very anti-climactic.
But I don't know what else I'd even do. Like I went to the goober's "class" today, and I'm sure I'd probably get a positive reaction if I pulled the teacher aside and explained the name change, but nothing would *change*. I'm not treated differently than the dad who comes with his son, you know?
The places where it would make a big difference are... Sigh. So much harder, so much more complicated.
The deep things are never easy. Sometimes the shallow things are hard too (I went into "the men's room" for the first time the other day, but it was only because the fucking place thought that family-style bathrooms, the kind with a toilet and sink in a locking room, needed to be gendered. Fuckers.) but the really hard things are always the deep things.
P.S. There is a small, small chance that insurance *might* cover a hysterectomy for me. Maybe. I am almost terrified at the idea, but also a little bit excited? I don't know. It's easy to laugh and go "I am so done with this uterus" but it's a fairly major surgery. It's not a small thing either.
Have I mentioned I have a New Minion at New Job and she's into music? Like, into it. She knew who Shpongle were but also she's young and non-American so her musical upbringing is different from mine and there are lots of things I've been able to toss to her. And she tosses some things back, like this. Mop Mop is a lot more jazzy than my usual fare but this performance (it's live) has a good high-energy rhythm powering it along and it doesn't noodle and wander the way some jazz does.
First of two from DJs from Mars mashes. This one is simple, combining the recent (disturbing) pop track "Sweety but Psycho" from Ava Max with M83's "Midnight City" - itself a pretty disturbing track. The majority of the mash is carried by Max's vocals, which remind me a lot of Gaga's early work. The DJs put in a couple of segments of their own work but it's pretty minimal, more of a remix than a true mash.
The DJs doing a mega-mash of Avicii tracks as a tribute to him on the anniversary of his death. I wrote about it shortly after it happened and it's hard to believe it has been a year already. This mash-up is brilliant because it showcases both the number of popular hits that Avicii produced in his short career as well as the DJs' skills at mashing things up. If you don't watch the video you may miss the transitions because they're so smooth and well-chosen. I like that the video also includes a variety of different clips from live performances to the music videos.
Lika Morgan's "California Man" is listed as a "chill" track but I think of it as a more standard dance-pop tune with the expected catchy riffs and simple lyrics. It's not bad by any stretch and I quite like it, even on third listen. The vocals are promising, particularly at the end of this track. I'm surprised I haven't blogged Lika Morgan before. I'll likely pick another track or two to write about.
Can Demir's "Jelka" is also a little outside my usual wheelhouse. It's a high-BPM d&b-adjacent Israeli track - no surprise I got a pointer to it off Maya Jakobsen's feed. Still, I like it enough to blog it - tell me if it appeals to you.
10 People Who are Definitely Not Superman by orphan_account
AU where Lois works for Buzzfeed and Clark is her nerdy intern. ADORABLE.
Always Someone Better by lowflyingfruit
What Jason hadn't known when Batman scooped him off the streets was how much it sucked to be the second and second-best child. Five times Jason felt inferior to Dick, and a reversal he didn't savour like he thought he would. What it says on the tin. Oh Jason.
Another Perfect Catastrophe by Mikimoo & pentapus
Dick and Jason go undercover to stop a kidnapping ring and things get out of hand. This is a lot of fun but heed the warnings.
behind the fog by CaptainOzone
On his first visit to Gotham, Damian discovers Dick in the Court of Owls, and resolves to help him escape when asked. Oh heart.
Days and Nights by Loxare
Damian and Jason spend some time together. Lovely.
Ensemble Performance by lowflyingfruit
Damian has a deep, dark secret he needs kept from Grayson, his father, and most of all Drake, at all costs: he has, quite unwillingly, been volunteered for a part in his school's annual musical. As a grouchy dinosaur.
This is now Jason's problem. Or his blackmail opportunity. Whichever. This is ADORABLE.
A Good Place by LemonadeGarden
Damian gets sent back in time to when Bruce is just starting out as Batman. They both have some adjusting to do. I enjoyed this a lot.
Gray Ghost #1000 by jerseydevious
Bruce lets his secret nerd flag fly when the 1000th issue of Gray Ghost is released. Oh heart.
How to Bother a Batman by incogneat_oh
Robins! And terrible puns! Two great tastes that taste great together! Hilarity! <333
life, if well lived by CaptainOzone
Jason wakes up from a time-travel mishap to find Thomas and Martha Wayne hovering over him. Wonderful. *sobs*
Long John Silver's by jerseydevious
After Steph's father dies, she has a heart to heart with Batman. Or, you know, what passes for one with Bruce.
Muted by CaptainOzone
Dick explains to Jason just where Robin came from. Oh heart. The show really missed the opportunity to do this, and this story fills the gap. (Titans)
Neverland by Hinn_Raven
the one where Robin!Jason comes forward in time and does not like what he finds. Oh Jason. Oh my heart.
Ornaments by haunt_the_stars
Bruce is thrilled to have all five of his kids under his roof for Christmas for the first time, but he's still not quite sure how to handle Jason. Luckily, they figure it out. <333
Quarter past midnight by Aaren
Jason digs himself out of his grave and rebuilds his life in Gotham, becoming a nurse and wondering if he'll ever get his memories back, and then one day, he runs into Batman. <333
Queen of Hearts by Irony_Rocks
Smart, thoughtful examination of Barbara Gordon during the Invasion arc of (animated) Young Justice.
Rain by kuzujuk
Quiet, melancholy look at Damian as he tries to be a good son and a good Robin.
Rebirth by Ionaperidot
AU where Talia makes a little family with Damian and Jason instead of sending Jason off to be trained.
Safe Space by Cerusee
Bruce takes care of Jason. Jason takes care of Bruce. *sniffle*
Second Generation by lowflyingfruit
Long, emotional story that shows how Dick almost falls apart when Tarantula drops one final bombshell on him, and how the family pulls together to help.
Simple Gifts by Cerusee
Jason's first Father's Day with Bruce and Alfred goes even better than he'd hoped. *sobs* and a brief post-UTRH sequel.
Sleepless in Gotham by audreycritter
Selina Kyle has a habit of creeping into Bruce's house through a window, and in her defense, it's never really been a problem before.
But tonight, just about everything goes wrong. this is hilarious.
some of you weren't raised to be assassins and it shows by drakefeathers
Cass and Damian adopt a grown undead Talon!Dick before Bruce can change his mind and adopt him first. AU where the Court of Owls got to Dick before Bruce did, but when he defects rather than kill Damian, the Bats are there to help him out.
Stubborn by audreycritter
The one where the Batboys take care of each other, reluctantly at first, but with a slow thawing. Oh heart.
Swimming with the Fishes by WatchTheAntagonist
Damian has a unique way of expressing gratitude. With the Bats, it's only a matter of time before this spirals out of control. this is ADORABLE.
Talon's Grasp by lowflyingfruit
Dick Grayson was kidnapped by the Court of Owls. Talon escaped. With no known way to undo what has been done, and the Court trying to reclaim their assassin, is there still a place for Nightwing in Gotham? Is there still a place for Dick in the family? Long, compelling read in which Dick has to fight back against the brainwashing and the Batfam has to learn to accept who he is now. (I feel like I needed a little more Dick and Jason interaction here, given the givens, but I always feel that)
Thanksgiving at the Kents by cylobaby27
Clark convinces Diana to come to the farm for Thanksgiving, and Diana finally gets the chance to meet Bruce's kids.
There are far more of them than she had expected. This is a really lovely look at Diana meeting the Batkids (JLU, I think).
That One Hug Meme by incogneat_oh
20K of various Batboys giving each other hugs. ♥♥♥
Although it looked like it might rain this morning, I went out for a run and ended up covering just over 10 km/6 miles. I had intended to do about 7 km/4 miles, but it was reasonably cool and not too humid so I just extended it until I'd done 10. I have to make the most of my running time when it's not yet too humid, because once the humidity rises it will be much harder to cover much distance. It didn't rain after all, and in fact this afternoon the sun came out for a while.