[syndicated profile] mangabookshelf_feed

Posted by Sean Gaffney

By Namekojirushi and Nao Watanuki. Released in Japan as “Ore ga Heroine o Tasukesugite Sekai ga Little Mokushiroku!?” by Hobby Japan. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Lensenmayer.

Life as a parody can be difficult, especially when it’s unclear whether you are a parody or not anymore. Little Apocalypse started off being pretty blatantly a parody of all of those harems with piles and piles of women, as well as titles where the male lead goes around “rescuing” the girl of the week (hi, Index). But as the volumes have gone on I think it’s safe to admit that sometimes it tends to forget this and just tries to be a straight up harem action novel. You can usually tell by the fact that the author is forgetting to include R’s sarcastic asides for dozens of pages at a time, and it’s R that reminds us that Rekka’s frustrating indecision and waffley-ness is not actually bad writing but a deliberate decision. That said, I would not blame those who hate indecisive male leads from dropping the series, though I do wonder why they started it in the first place.

We’re back to three girls on the cover, and the author brags in the afterword about having made it to double digits on the heroines. That said, one of the previous ones doesn’t even get mentioned, and a second is only mentioned in passing. As with Negima, all heroines are important but some heroines are more important than others. New heroines this time include Rosalind, the blonde loli vampire that you knew we were going to get sooner or later, and who serves as the main antagonist (though she’s also a heroine); Silver Slayer, a homunculus trained to destroy Rosalind who has been chasing her the last two hundred years or so; and Chelsea, a mage who is desperately searching for a way to save her dying little brother. Add to all this Hibiki (from Book 3), who actually brings Chelsea to Rekka; Lea (from Book 2), who’s there to provide some muscle; and the main three heroines from Book 1, who likely always will be the top heroines.

And then there’s Rekka, who continues to be the savvy-only-when-necessary male lead. As with most of these books, the first half drags quite a bit as we set up the pieces, and the second half is much better as the pieces all interlock and Rekka can deal with them all at the same time. When Rekka is fretting about having set up dates on Sunday with all the girls at the same time, the book sadly falls into the exact cliches it’s meant to be making fun of, and is not as interesting. (Also Christ, I hope he went to buy Harissa some clothes after this.) For a book that’s so low in page count, there’s a lot going on in each one – I didn’t mention the evil genie, or the Philosopher’s Stone. The author knows how to bring a situation to chaos and let it play out. He now needs to work harder on what to do when everything is at rest. Recommended for those who can tolerate a wishy-washy male lead, written by design. If you can’t, avoid this series with great avoid.

Ch12 - p77

Jul. 28th, 2017 12:00 am
[syndicated profile] unsounded_feed

Posted by Ashley


Zero to homicide in fifteen seconds. Some pretty ugly words on this page. Starfish may be toast but his ghost haunts on.

まるです。

Jul. 27th, 2017 11:00 pm
[syndicated profile] maru_feed

Posted by mugumogu

 


不人気だったこのおもちゃ。
先っぽだけ切って竿の先につけたら――
This toy was unpopular for Maru&Hana.
So I cut ahead of it and attached to a toy of the rod.

まるにヒット!

まる:「なんかよくわかんないけど、すっごいの捕まえましたよ。」
Maru:[I love this!]


まる:「ビロロロ~ン。」
Maru:[By the way, what is this???]

 

 

Manga the Week of 8/2/17

Jul. 27th, 2017 10:36 pm
[syndicated profile] mangabookshelf_feed

Posted by Sean Gaffney

SEAN: The Dog Days of August begin with a manga pile worthy of an entire dog show.

Cross Infinite World has been releasing some shoujo light novels digitally, something I had shamefully forgotten till now. They have a release next week of AkaOni: Contract with a Vampire.

ASH: Oh, shoujo! I’d forgotten as well. It’s great to see these being released.

SEAN: Fantagraphics has the 2nd and final Otherworld Barbara omnibus, and I really really want to get it. Sadly, I actually ordered it from Amazon rather than Diamond, and for once Diamond is ahead of the game here.

MICHELLE: Woot. Looking forward to this one.

ANNA: Can’t believe I missed the first one, well now I can get both!!!!

ASH: Likewise, I’m going to have to wait for my copy, but I’m always excited to read Hagio’s work.

SEAN: J-Novel Club will be releasing the 3rd How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Take a shot for each mention of Machiavelli.

And we get our monthly Invaders of the Rokujouma?!, the 5th volume in that long series.

Kodansha Digital gives us a new Del Rey rescue with the 20th Alive.

Kodansha has a 22nd volume of Attack on Titan, which finally gives us a beach episode.

ASH: Hahaha! Does it really? I admit, I’ve fallen a bit behind in reading Attack on Titan.

SEAN: GTO: Paradise Lost has a 4th volume digitally.

As does suspense title Kasane.

There’s also 2nd volumes for new series Kounodori: Dr. Stork and Love’s Reach.

One Peace has two debuts hitting comic shops next week (and bookstores a bit later). I Hear the Sunspot (Hidamari ga Kikoeru) is from Printemps Shuppan, running in the mostly BL magazine Canna. This isn’t BL, and appears to be about a student with hearing loss. It seems interesting.

ASH: My copy of I Hear the Sunspot actually arrived early. I’m very curious about the manga and hope to read it soon.

ANNA: Huh, that does sound interesting.

SEAN: They also have a light novel debut, Mikagura School Suite. It seems to be a Battle School title, based on a series of Vocaloid songs.

Seven Seas has a 3rd Magical Girl Site, which despite its title is dark horror.

And there’s a 3rd There’s a Demon Lord on the Floor, which is comedy fanservice just as its title implies.

Udon has a 6th volume of Persona 3.

Vertical has a done-in-one manga debut. She and Her Cat is written by Makoto Shinkai, so expect a bittersweet ending, but it should be very good.

ASH: As many Shinkai manga are, I suppose.

MICHELLE: Of course I am entirely down for this.

ANNA: Done in one manga are certainly nice sometimes!

SEAN: And now it’s time for Viz. The 17th Assassination Classroom has the kids arguing about whether they should assassinate in the classroom, fittingly.

There’s a 4th Behind the Scenes!!, which I continue to be a bit lukewarm on.

And an 8th Black Clover, which will feel even more like Fairy Tail now that Fairy Tail has ended.

Bleach’s 3-in-1 release hits Book 20.

And Food Wars! has a 19th volume – will things continue to be ‘darkest just before the dawn’?

Haikyu!! continues its monthly release with its 14th volume. The Japanese release is around Vol. 27 or so, so we’ve a ways to go before we catch up.

MICHELLE: I’m eager for both Food Wars! and Haikyu!!.

ASH: I’m still loving this series, and loving that it’ll continue to be released monthly for a while yet.

ANNA: I clearly need to go on a big volleyball binge.

SEAN: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has another hardcover of its least impressive arc with a 4th Stardust Crusaders.

ANNA: I love these hardcovers and the insane action of JoJo’s.

SEAN: Rejoice! August means Kaze Hikaru, which may be only one volume a year but it tries harder!

MICHELLE: Yaaaaaaaaay!

ASH: I plan on picking it up!

ANNA: I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!!!!!!!

SEAN: Kuroko’s Basketball has its 13th/14th volumes out in this omnibus, which will involve the characters playing basketball.

MICHELLE: *snerk*

ANNA: I thought they were all pastry chefs!

SEAN: Maid-sama! has come to an end with this 9th omnibus. Will Misaka be able to kick ass and take names? And how much blushing will we have? (Answer: so much.)

MICHELLE: I’m looking forward to the finale.

SEAN: My Hero Academia is one of Jump’s biggest hits, containing a cast filled with characters everyone loves, and Mineta. The 9th volume ships next week. (Seriously, everyone hates Mineta.)

One Piece’s 83rd volume will continue to develop Sanji’s predicament and upcoming marriage.

Platinum End’s 3rd volume will be there for hardcore fans of this manga team.

So Cute It Hurts!! is almost over, as the 14th volume is the penultimate one.

Toriko is also almost over, though the 39th volume shows we have a few more to go.

Vampire Knight: Memories is the debut from Shojo Beat. It’s nice to see the author return to her most popular world, I guess, though I worry it’s because she wasn’t able to duplicate that success.

Yona of the Dawn’s 7th volume continues our PIRATES! theme, though I do not believe ninjas, zombies or robots feature.

ASH: I think I’m okay with that.

ANNA: I so enjoy Shojo Beat’s fantasy manga.

Yu-Gi-Oh! never quite ends, as this is the 11th 3-in-1 and we’re still not near the end.

Lastly, Yen Press has one straggler, as the third Twinkle Stars omnibus finally shuffles onto the scene, looking furtively at its shoes as it apologizes for being so late.

MICHELLE: <3

ASH: I quite taken with the first two omnibuses, so I’m glad the third is finally here!

ANNA: Maybe I will finally read the first two volumes that are stacked up on my to-read pile!

SEAN: Which of these titles dog your footsteps?

Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler, Vol. 1

Jul. 27th, 2017 08:51 pm
[syndicated profile] mangabookshelf_feed

Posted by Katherine Dacey

Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler resists easy labels, combining elements of a tournament manga, high school drama, and instructional comic. The plot focuses on Yumeko Jabami, a wealthy girl who transfers to Hyakkaou Private Academy, one of those only-in-manga institutions where the curriculum emphasizes poker and roulette instead of reading and writing, and the student council runs the show. Although Jabami seems demure, her pleasant demeanor turns to maniacal resolve at the first mention of gambling. Within hours of arriving at Hyakkaou, she’s engaged in a high-stakes game of rock, paper, scissors with another student, betting ¥10,000,000 on the outcome. (When in Rome, I guess?)

To make the contest more exciting, author Homura Kawamoto adds a few novel rules, transforming a simple set of challenges into a complex game of chance involving cards, ballot boxes, and voting. He also raises the dramatic stakes by initially portraying Jabami as impulsive — even foolish — in her decision to stake ¥500,000 on a single face-off. By the end of the game, however, we realize just how cunning and observant Jabami really is, as she not only triumphs over her snotty opponent Saotome, but does so by figuring out how Saotome was cheating and using that information against her.

What really puts this chapter over the top, however, is the artwork. Toru Naomura stages the contest like an extreme sporting event, using his entire bag of tricks to convey the intensity of gameplay: dramatic close-ups, nervous onlookers, speedlines, split screens, and sound effects. Complementing these gestures are fluid, inventive layouts that artfully incorporate information about the rules of play and the odds of winning a match. Perhaps Naomura’s most effective gambit is the way he draws Jabami’s eyes. When she’s trying to conceal her delight, her eyes are rendered as dark, placid pools, but when she’s trouncing the competition, her eyes go supernova, turning into a set of concentric, pulsing rings. If anything, these panels irresistibly reminded me of the linework in Saul Bass’ iconic Vertigo poster:

For all the swagger with which Jabami’s first match is staged, it’s clear that Kawamoto is more interested in the mechanics of gameplay than in the development of three-dimensional characters or the introduction of plot twists. In each of the subsequent chapters, Jabami tries a new game, appears to lose, then comes from behind, revealing her opponent’s treachery as she collects her chips, just as she did in her face-off with Saotome. Then there’s the fanservice: Naomura never misses an opportunity to draw an extreme mammary close-up or a glimpse of underwear. And ugly underwear, I might add; Naomura’s artwork is solid, but his application of plaid screentone is so clumsy that you might think he applied it with MacPaint.

Despite these shortcomings — or perhaps because of them — Kakegurui is a good, trashy read; if it were more ambitious, the sheer preposterousness of the conceit would call too much attention to itself. Odds are you’ll like Kakegurui if you’ve ever wondered when a US publisher would finally get around to licensing pachinko manga. Other folks may find Kakegurui too game-focused to be fully engrossing, especially when the cast is comprised of two-dimensional schemers and cheaters. I fell somewhere in the middle: I loved the intensity of the game play, and rooted for Jabami to win, but thought the basic structure of the story was too repetitive to sustain my interest for more than a few volumes.

KAKEGURUI: COMPULSIVE GAMBLER, VOL. 1 • STORY BY HOMURA KAWAMOTO, ART BY TORU NAOMURA • TRANSLATED BY MATTHEW ALBERTS • YEN PRESS • 240 pp. • RATING: OT, FOR OLDER TEENS (16+)

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

My wedding is in a month.  There is new parental drama that makes me wish we were eloping.  How do I still enjoy my wedding?

Fiancée and I are introverts and did not want a huge wedding.  My parents do not understand why we would not want 300 guests (despite numerous attempts to explain). We compromised and invited almost everyone they wanted.  We will have 100 guests (a lot!).

A few days ago, amidst a calm discussion about wedding logistics, my dad got unexpectedly angry and bitter and said (I quote) “You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made and you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.”  He said it in a way that clearly indicated he was bitter and resentful and unhappy.  It was out of the blue and really upsetting, very much the “you are a child and I am not going to engage with or respect you” tone of voice.  I am about to be 30.

I tried to engage in calm, thoughtful conversation (through tears) about his concerns, but to no avail.  He does not communicate about feelings, apologize or have discussions about his behavior.  My mom did not get why I was upset (???), but when I talked to her later she did commiserate that he does not apologize for things.  I assume he is still upset about invitations, which pisses me off because we invited all of his family (except for some adult children, which caused other drama, long story).  I may never know.

My primary concern is how to still enjoy my wedding next month. My mom is confident he will behave and be gracious, and she is probably right, but this outburst was unexpected so I am worried (A++ at anxiety). I also know that any conversation with my dad about this will a) not go anywhere, and b) make it take longer for things to cool down, making day-of wedding drama more likely.  But I am both a strong communicator and a strong woman and it is hard to feel like letting it go is letting him win.  Wedding planning has been a large source of stress for me (we had a variety of other family/friend invitation drama despite our best attempts), and this is just the icing on the cake.  Right now I feel like I am going to burst into tears from one unkind word at the wedding.

 I talked about this with my therapist and we are working on practicing being okay with people I care about being upset at/angry with me. I care about my parents very much, but my dad has been the largest source of wedding-related stress, and telling him that will only make things worse.  I have a good Team Me in my fiancée and close friends, but it is hard to know what to do so that I can enjoy my wedding while also feeling angry.

Help?

Thank you,

Maybe I Should Have Eloped

Dear Maybe,

Your dad gave you an (unintentional) gift with his words. I’ll explain later, when we talk about feelings. For now, you’re 30 days out from your wedding, so, let’s make lists and check things off them.

A. Choose a date, reserve a venue, invite people. DONE! You have compromised all you can and invited all you can invite. This is the final guest list, for better or worse. From this day forward I give you absolute permission to concentrate on the people who will be attending and more specifically the people you are excited to see that day, and let everyone else fade cheerfully into the general fog of well-wishers.

If your parents are continually passing on news of the “Well, I talked to so-and-so, and they are still upset about not being invited” variety, it’s okay to say “We are not changing the guest list. It’s done. If so-and-so is really that upset, tell them to take it up directly with me… after the wedding.” There is an 90% chance that So-and-so doesn’t give a shit about your wedding and your parents are using their name to chew on the drama of it all again.

B. Make sure people have places to sit and pee and stuff to eat and drink.  DONE! You’re 30 days out, you have doubtless locked almost all of this stuff down. Your obligation to your guests is fulfilled. Your job from here on out is to show up and get married.

C. A ceremony of some sort with legal documents. I’m also assuming this is being handled. Great job!

You’ve done the hardest part! This event is situated on the space-time continuum and people are coming to it.

D. With the help of your fiancée, make a list of anything & everything logistical that it’s essential to discuss with either of your parents between now and the wedding. Is there something the parents are bringing? Is there transportation stuff/clothing stuff/hotel stuff that needs nailed down? Put it on the list! Is there something that isn’t really important and can be deleted from the list or solved without consulting them? Great! Cross it off the list.

E. Now, use the list and generate a cheerful, joint, “We can’t wait to see you! Here are all the last-minute details in one place!” email to your folks. From now until the wedding day, there is nothing to negotiate or deeply discuss, there is only implementation of decisions long past made: “Are you still good to pick up the cake? It will be ready at 10am that day. Let me know, thank you!” or “Don’t worry about that, it’s all handled! Just come and enjoy yourself.” 

F. One of the benefits of marriage that people tend to undersell: You now have a built-in buffer and teammate and stressful-relative-switch-hitter, for life! Your dad is stressing you out right now, so, maybe your fiancée can take point. “Hello, how are you? Nice to hear your voice! Letter Writer is driving/asleep/I just pried the phone out of their hands and made them take the rest of night off from wedding crap, but I’m here! What’s up?” You can do the same with her most stressful relative. If the person is calling to be pleasant, everything will be pleasant. If the person is calling to shower disappointment on you, they can be disappointed about how they didn’t get to do that.

G. Do you have a wedding party person or gregarious friend who can be Dad-buffer at the wedding? This is not an uncommon or unusual request! Even nice families where everyone likes each other stress each other out around big life events. The designated person makes pleasant party small talk with your dad – “Your child looks great! I’m so happy for both of them! What a great party this is! What is it that you do, sir? Wow, that sounds interesting, how did you get into that?” – and you get a little breathing room and permission to relax between now and then. Your dad will most likely pull it together and behave himself on that day, so this is just a security blanket, but if for some reason he doesn’t your buffer will handle it and you’ll never even know.

Parent logistics stuff, solved! We’re almost there! Let’s talk about enjoying yourself.

H. Make sure that on your wedding day you and your fiancée have some time that’s just by yourselves, for yourselves, with no one looking at you. The great Offbeat Bride team has some pieces about how to implement this:

1) “Introvert wedding survival tips and weddings for shy people”

2) “Avoid wedding day memory loss: How to slow down and actually remember your wedding.” If you’re only finding that site 30 days before the big day, I’m sorry! It helped me so much.

What I’d add to Offbeat Bride’s lists for introverts:

3) Give your eyes breaks. Our ceremony was probably 10 minutes long? Turns out that is much too long to look deeply into into someone’s eyes, even the eyes of your favorite person. Just know that going in.

4) Talk to your photographer. I don’t know if you have photography anxiety, but I do. Our photographer knew and he was great at gently and quickly getting the stuff he knew we’d want someday. He made it fun and low key and gave me breaks and I didn’t feel surveilled or pinned down by a lens the whole time. Your photographer wants to know the bare bones of awkward stuff like “Spouse’s parents are divorced, so, we’ll definitely take some with both parents but make sure we get some with Just Mom and Just Dad.” A pro will take all this in and make it go smoothly. Also, you do not have to pose for pictures with every single person who came to your wedding. Have mercy on yourselves and all these people, let them get to the buffet and the having fun part.

5) Let your officiant officiate. We…okay…I…wanted to go no-cameras (except for our pro) during the ceremony itself. If I’d told people that ahead of time I’d have heard a whole bunch of jibber-jabber about it but having the officiant spring it on people right before the ceremony meant nobody could grumble at us where we had to listen to it.

Okay. Now is the time in this list/pep talk where we address what your dad said:

“You have made a lot of choices about this wedding that your mom and I would not have made and you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.” 

He meant it as a “neg.” He meant “you’re gonna have to live with my/our disappointment.” He meant it to get you to apologize for something or give in on some point of negotiation (or to stop insisting on making yourself happy).

But the words say: “you just have to live with the fact that you can’t make everyone happy.And these are true words. These words are a gift. They can be a shield, or they can be ammunition. As in, the next time he’s a pill about something wedding-related you can remind yourself, that hey, you can’t make everyone happy, and some people might be disappointed no matter what you do, so stop trying to win their approval (INCLUDING YOU, DAD). He probably will never apologize or get it and things might stay a little strained for a while. But you have a secret weapon when things get tense, and that weapon is “Hey, Dad, thanks for the suggestion, I’ll think about it!” (You will think about it, and quietly not take the suggestion).

He’ll grumble, and you’ll say, “Dad, I know that’s not what you want to hear, but like someone very wise once said, I have to stop trying so hard to make everyone happy.” He’ll grumble more – he didn’t meant that you should stop trying to make HIM happy – but you can smile and keep saying “Thanks Dad! Those were really wise words, you helped me a lot. As long as fiancée and I are a team, we don’t have to make everyone happy,” and eventually he’ll STFU. Weaponized filial piety as judo, where you use your opponent’s strength and aggression against him.

It’s not the job of your wedding to make everyone happy or to express your exact social class markers and culture and perfect taste with just enough individual touches to feel really authentic and just enough tradition that it will still be recognizable to the olds as a wedding. It’s not your wedding’s job to spackle over the awkward patches in your family, to make up for lost time, to bring you all closer together, to make the unsayable sayable, to provide reconciliation and catharsis. It’s not your wedding’s job to be your happiest day of your life or to live up to some fantasy. It’s one day, hopefully a happy one, in a hopefully long and happy life.

 

OK STORY TIME in the style of bitchesgottaeat.

I hated wedding planning. I resented every second of it. I had no dream or fantasy wedding from childhood. I was also in pain all the time, and had weekly physical therapy for an injured knee and shoulder injury that made it hard to put on a bra by myself or reliably wipe my butt for months. My future mother-in-law was in and out of the hospital for a persistent MRSA-like infection. Would she even be able to come? I was working four little jobs that almost but not quite made a whole job pay-wise but made 1.5 jobs time-wise, now with extra commuting! Our wedding was exactly one month before Election Day, 2016. My dentist: “You’re grinding your teeth.” No shit?

I hated all the gender expectations around it, like, why are people asking me what our “theme” would be? Is it because I’m the lady? Why do I have to know this shit? (Me: “WTF is theme.” Commander Logic: “You don’t have to have a theme.” Me: “THANK YOU” Note: We did sort of end up with one? Lyrics here.)

I knew I was the one stressing MYSELF out, like, nobody was making me do this, if you’re planning a party about love you have good problems, we had survived some very hard things together especially in 2014 and really did want to celebrate with our friends and families, so why was I making it so much harder on myself than it had to be? Because my brain has a hateful shitlord lodged inside it that second-guesses literally everything is the answer to that question.

I had many conversations with my mom where she was disappointed in or unable to understand my choices (to not spend a zillion dollars that I don’t have, to not add starving myself to my already full to-do list). In one phone call she told me people in our family might not want to come if it wasn’t going to be “enough like a wedding.” She started apologizing to family in front of us when told them we’d set a date and a place – “Well, it’s going to be very rustic!” – and tried to talk us into her throwing a second fancy party where they live in case family didn’t want to make the trip here. (Note: My family is not actually fancy, this was all projection.) She was also hurt and disappointed that I was having a civil ceremony instead of faking and lying my way through a Catholic wedding and wondered aloud, on Mother’s Day, if she was a bad parent because somehow all of her kids had rejected God, or did we do it on purpose to hurt her feelings. (My suggestion that my younger brother who runs his own church called Warriors 4 Christ and sells Christian-themed camping and fishing gear loved God enough for all of us was not received well).

She did not body-police me…much…but she about bit through her tongue to not do it and would always mention conspicuously how she wanted to lose about x more pounds before she bought something to wear. Me: “Mmmhmm.” About a year beforehand I brought a $40 wedding dress on clearance (literally the first thing I saw online that met the criteria of “might fit” and “don’t hate”) that I ended up wearing on my actual wedding day (yay!) but I would have paid 10x that even if I didn’t wear it because it allowed to say, truthfully, “Aw, thanks for the offer to go wedding dress shopping, that’s so sweet, but I already have my dress!” for a calendar year.

My mom came out for a nice shower that my friends threw in the summer. It was so sweet of her to come. She helped me pick out my wedding ring. She gave me a generous gift. She also did the maddening thing she does where she walks very very fast until she’s far ahead of me and then stops and impatiently glares at me until I catch up. My knee had been healing but I re-aggravated it trying to keep up with her the whole weekend. Mr. Awkward put a stop to that when he came out with us on the last day. When she’d walk ahead, he’d stop walking and wait for her to do the glare thing. “Where are you going? Jennifer’s the only one who knows the way, so, you’re going to have to walk with us if you want to get there.” And he’d stand until she had to walk back to where we were and before we’d start off again. And you know, it turns out she can modulate her walking speed after a couple rounds of that? Who knew?

Like you, I had a lot of anxiety about would my mom freak my shit out and make me cry on the day itself. One hint of “Wait, is that what you’re wearing?” (and it wouldn’t have to be in words, it could be a look or a sniff or a sigh)  and we would have deeply tested the waterproofness of that expensive mascara. One thing that helped, I guess, is that I saw her at breakfast but I didn’t see her at all during the girly-getting-ready part of the day. I had invited her to stop by our hotel room but she never came. It infuriated my wedding party ladies that she didn’t but I think it was a gift that she didn’t, the gift of breathing room.

A week before the wedding Mr. Awkward asked when we were going to have people throw rice. I was like, throw what? And he was like, you know, when you leave, and people throw rice. And I was like, um, are we doing that? And he was like, well, in my family, we make little bags of rice, and then we throw it when the couple leaves the venue, and that thing where it supposedly hurts birds is not real, so, I’d like it to be rice and not glitter or bubbles or whatever. And I was like, okay, I understand that people do that, but again I ask you, what? And he was like RICE, WHEN THE PEOPLE THROW THE RICE. FOR THE LUCK. And I was like OKAY, WHAT FUCKING RICE? WHERE IS THIS RICE COMING FROM? I SEE NO RICE IN MY BUDGET, THE ONE I LOOK AT EVERY DAY. WHO WILL BE CREATING THESE CHARMING LITTLE BAGS? and he was like My mom and sisters can do it and I’m like okay, did you ask them, and he’s like well, it’s a little late for that now, and I’m like okay, so…

 

“no rice?”

 

…and he’s like DO YOU EVEN WANT TO GET MARRIED? BECAUSE YOU SHIT ON EVERY SINGLE TRADITION. IF NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS ENJOYABLE FOR YOU WHY ARE WE EVEN DOING THIS? and I was like WELL I DO WANT TO BE MARRIED TO YOU BUT THE REST OF THAT IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION and he was like OH MY GOD, CAN YOU JUST LIKE TRY TO HAVE FUN AND ENJOY THE STUPID LITTLE TRADITIONS BECAUSE THEY MAKE OTHER PEOPLE HAPPY AND IT’S PART OF WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU HAVE A WEDDING and I was like I AM HAVING A LOT OF ANXIETY RIGHT NOW, SO, NO, PROBABLY NOT? AND WHY IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M HEARING ABOUT YOUR DEEP NEED TO BE PELTED WITH GRAIN?

He stormed off and called his mom for their weekly chat.

I googled “Is rice a grain or a seed?” and “Can you die of decision fatigue”

When he came out of the bedroom after the phone call he apologized for yelling at me and for introducing changes to the wedding plan past the statute of wedding planning limitations and we both said a bunch of mushy stuff that I don’t remember and fell asleep in front of the TV.

And then a week later, we had a party where we got married at it. Everyone who came had a chair and enough to eat and drink. Our dirtbag friend taught all the 10-year-old girls to throw a real punch in case Trump won the election and they had to fight Nazis someday. My mom was pleasant and kind and after the ceremony she told me she loved what we’d done and went to go tell our officiant. She said that she could tell Mr. Awkward and I were two of a kind and she loved the way we always had each other’s backs and looked out for each other. My dad went to Extrovert Mustache Dad heaven, where it’s surprising that the collected guests did not carry him around on their shoulders singing “For he’s a jolly good fellow” by the end of it. When I see my friends now their first question is “How’s your dad? Tell him I said hi! Is he visiting soon? Can we visit him in Massachusetts?

It was, in the end, not “just party, ugh, what’s the big deal?” as I’d said to myself for the better part of a year. It was overwhelmingly beautiful and cool to have all these different people from our lives in one place at the same time. It was overwhelming and cool to have our friends and family help us and come through for us in all these small and big ways. It was a very big deal. It didn’t hit me how big until it was actually happening, and then it went by so fast.

And now it’s over, and Mr. Awkward and I are like “Thank you for helping me lock it down before I had to learn about Tinder” and “We never have to plan one of those again, HIGH FIVE (never leave me).”

In closing:

  • Wedding planning CAN SUCK SO BAD. Especially if it’s not in your wheelhouse and you don’t have “eh, let’s just throw money at this problem” money.
  • Eloping is still an option. You probably won’t do it because you’ve already spent so much money. But you can! As commenters suggested, maybe have a relaxed secret courthouse jam next week, or some other private ceremony?
  • Weird family stuff won’t get magically fixed but people can surprise you.
  • Small weddings are great, big weddings are great. I know the size of yours is freaking you out, but the benefit of having a lot of people around is that any one person doesn’t stand out that much. Also, wedding guests are extremely self-amusing.
  • If you hang in I basically promise you something lovely and enjoyable will happen on that day.

Come back in a month for your official IT’S OVER high-five.

 


[syndicated profile] asknicola_feed

Posted by Nicola Griffith

Dear Writing Programmes:

Everything you do—classes, retreats, workshops—should be accessible. Many of you are not.

I’ve heard all your excuses: But we love the quaint/rustic/boho vibe, and that will be ruined if we have to change! But we can’t have our woods/private chef/coziness if we move to an accessible space! But it’s important we give the students an inexpensive experience, and access costs money!

I have no sympathy for your excuses. To disabled writers like me it does not matter how beautiful/cosy/inexpensive your traditional/sorority/in-the-woods space is because we can’t access it. If we can’t visit, to teach or write, then it’s not beautiful or welcoming or inexpensive, it is a fenced enclosure with a huge red sign on the gate saying CRIPPLES KEEP OUT.

Twenty percent of the US population is disabled. How many of your participants are? If the answer is less than 20%, ask yourself why. Explain to me why it is acceptable to bar your retreat/programme/workshop to disabled writers but not acceptable to bar women, writers of colour, or queer writers.

Not every programme can become accessible overnight. But every programme can commit to a public timetable for becoming accessible. If you’re not willing to welcome us, you are saying, We don’t care about disabled writers, we don’t want your stories, disabled people don’t matter.

So here’s a public promise: after I have fulfilled my immediate contractual obligations, I will no longer support in any way any writing-related programme or organisation that does not have a public commitment to and specific timetable for becoming accessible. I will call on other writers to do the same. In addition, all writing programmes should include their accessibility policy and access information on their website. If you are not accessible say so plainly so that those of us who are disabled don’t have to work to find out we’re not welcome. Disabled people do too much work to survive already. Don’t put this work on us. Be clear. Be brave. Do the right thing. We’re watching.

 


Love’s Reach, Vol. 1

Jul. 27th, 2017 01:59 pm
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Posted by Michelle Smith

By Rin Mikimoto | Published digitally by Kodansha Comics

I am an enormous fan of Kodansha’s digital offerings, so it pains me to admit that I can’t find anything to recommend about Love’s Reach.

Sixteen-year-old Yuni Kururugi, a “genius ice queen,” excels in every subject except for English, which is taught by her 24-year-old, supposed-to-be temporary homeroom teacher, Haruka Sakurai. He’s flirty and unprofessional with his students, and though Kururugi likes the way he looks, she finds everything else about him unpleasant. When he calls her to his office after school one day, he creepily backs her against a wall and says, “Have you been getting answers wrong on purpose? Maybe you’re really just trying to get my attention.” The briefly gratifying fact that Kururugi smacks him and says, “Let me be perfectly clear. I hate you” is undercut by her reflections upon how cute he looks in that moment. Sakurai ends up requiring Kururugi to attend daily tutoring sessions and, inevitably, they fall in love.

This is one of those cases where, even setting aside the problematic student-teacher relationship aspect, I just don’t see why these characters like each other. Sakurai flip-flops between manipulative mind games and minimal acts of kindness (oh boy, he left her some patches for her sore ankle!), and allows other teenage girls to hang all over him. What’s to like about that jerk? For her part, although we are told several times that Kururugi is a genius, she sure doesn’t act like one. Some of her behavior might be excused as romantic inexperience, but not the fact that after insisting on a date with Sakurai, it never occurs to her that someone might see them out together until someone does. Eyeroll.

None of the relationship drama is interesting and by the halfway point, I was thinking, “When can this be over?” and that was before the predatory lesbian teacher showed up to blackmail the happy couple! Too, the art style is really weird. The space between a character’s eyebrows and the top of their head occupies as much space as their entire face!

So, to sum up. Weird art. Unlikeable characters. Inexplicable and icky romance. I won’t be continuing this series.

Love’s Reach is complete in ten volumes. One volume is available in English now and the second comes out next week.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Generation Witch, Vol. 1

Jul. 27th, 2017 07:55 am
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Posted by Sean Gaffney

By Uta Isaki. Released in Japan as “Gendai Majo Zukan” by Ichijinsha, serialized in the magazine Comic Rex. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jill Morita. Adapted by Janet Houck.

It’s been nice to see the ‘slice of life’ genre move, to a certain extent, beyond ‘a bunch of female students living their everyday high school life’ in recent years. We’re seeing slice of life manga with actual twists, and one of the more current ones, fitting in with manga’s current obsession with anything supernatural, is “slice of witch life”. Flying Witch is an example of the ‘pure’ slice of life genre, with regular characters and an ongoing plot, but now we also have Generation Witch, which is more of an anthology series, each new chapter featuring a new witch and new issues. This works in the book’s favor, as it allows stories to have more resolution than they otherwise might have, and also lets the stories be a bit more depressing and dark than you’d sometimes see in slice of life.

The premise is that this is a modern-day Japan, but in a world where about 1% of the population have magical powers of some way, shape or form. The world, somewhat surprisingly, seems to have adapted to this very well, and witches are quite popular and cool. This first volume shows us a series of stories that are basically ‘what is life like around someone who can do magic?’ We start with a traditional witch (complete with broom), who’s also an overprotective older sister, trying her best to save her sibling from a guy who might be a new friend but in reality turns out to be just another pervert. The longest story in the book, taking up about half of it, involves a young man who was teased for his dreams of using magic as a kid (his powers matched an anime girl), and so is trying to live like a normal person. We all know how that ends, he runs into a very eccentric witch who wants him to join her club which helps find people’s lost things.

The last couple of stories take a much more serious turn, and show the dangers of magic powers. The first is a somewhat disturbing story of a young salaryman who goes home to his “daughter”, who turns out to be his childhood friend who he promised to marry as a kid. Sadly, she’s a witch who can’t control her powers, which means a) she can’t leave the house, and b) she won’t grow beyond a little girl. But he’s with her anyway, in a thankfully chaste way, and it’s a bit melancholy how he tries to assure himself that he’s been very lucky. The last story is let down by the fact that we can see where it’s going almost immediately, but shows us a young girl who can see the future and her budding relationship with her classmate, and ends in tragic fireworks.

This was pretty solid, if not groundbreaking. The idea of an anthology series about witches is a good one, and this also looks to be 5 volumes and done in Japan, which seems just about right. If you like witches and don’t mind that sometimes there aren’t happy endings, this is a good book to pick up.

Behind the Scenes, Vol. 4

Jul. 27th, 2017 03:04 am
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Posted by Anna N

Behind the Scenes Volume 4 by Bisco Hatori

I thought the first few volumes of Behind the Scenes were ok but a little rough just due to the somewhat frantic pacing of character introductions and the episodic nature of the plot. I enjoyed the forth volume very much, because it gave me more insight into the background of many of the characters.

The volume opens with difficulties as everywhere Ranmaru goes he seems to be trailed by an eccentric group of people. It ends up being his family in town for a surprise visit. After seeing his lolita sister, his mother the former spy, and his father who is obsessed with social networking and western culture, it is easy to see why Ranmaru fits in so well with the extreme personalities in the art club at school. Ranmaru still has a tendency to look on the dark side of things, and isn’t fully able to interpret his family’s devotion as affection.

This shorter story is followed by a longer episode that showcases the art squad’s ability to get a job done at any cost, as Goda has to work with a director he’s clashed with in the past. The tension is made even worse when it turns out that the perfect location for the shoot is Goda’s childhood home, where his father is still in residence and passing judgement on his son’s chosen path. Becoming an art director is not very similar to Goda’s family tradition of the priesthood! Goda’s approach to finishing up the photo shoot demonstrated both compassion and sacrifice, so perhaps the two careers aren’t as misaligned as someone would think.

I’ve been wondering about Izumi’s breezy personality, and he finally gets some of his history filled in with this volume. The backdrop for this is the manga plot staple of a school festival, but Hatori’s spin on it is to show the art squad continuing to work behind the scenes to ensure that everyone else is a success. I found this volume so much more satisfying with the stories that focused a little bit more on character development than wacky antics. Hatori’s art is polished, and I’m enjoying the slight hints of steampunk illustration that she tucks in to the opening pages of each chapter.

Trans in the military

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:36 pm
[syndicated profile] asknicola_feed

Posted by Nicola Griffith

Today President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he is banning trans people from serving in the US military:

I have no idea if he can enforce this or in what manner or timeline his ban will unfurl. I don’t know and I don’t care why he is doing this; why doesn’t matter. This is a vile thing to do. I feel for trans people everywhere. Go read Cheryl Morgan’s take on the issue.


まるです。

Jul. 26th, 2017 11:00 pm
[syndicated profile] maru_feed

Posted by mugumogu

 

まるさん、掃除機をかけたいんですけど。
Hey Maru, I want to vacuum there.

まる:「どうぞお構いなく。」
Maru:[Please don’t bother.]

いつものことながら、どいてはくれませんよね。
Ok. I know that you do not intend to avoid it.

まる:「今忙しいので。」
Maru:[I am busy now.]


まるに近づくとハウスダストを検知するランプが点灯。
When the vacuum cleaner approaches Maru, the lamp to inform house dust turns on.

 

[syndicated profile] phd_comics_feed
Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Half Summer Personality Test" - originally published 7/26/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

What do you do if your significant other thinks that you will go no where with your dream?

My boyfriend is a well known, local photographer. He does mainly fashion photo-shoots and is honestly, very talented at what he does.

I’m newly, discovering modeling. I had tried it before when I was younger; but, it didn’t workout since I had acne. I didn’t get my face cleared until I was almost 30 (ancient in modeling years). But I enjoy my hobby. I have discovered this new passion of mine. Walking on the runway feels great and I get a lot of compliments on my walk! People want to book me for shows, work with me in photos and I even try their new designs! Its very exciting.

I even came up with a concept for a photo-shoot. I made a head-piece, found a makeup artist, made sure to communicate how I want the lighting and am going to see my idea come into fruition. I would have never believed, I could bring that many people together to make an image. But, I can!

It all sounds great… but, my boyfriend doesn’t believe I’ll go anywhere. He’s made so many comments about the photos we’ve done together. He’s literally told me, “You’re not Naomi Campbell,” and he’s even tried to hide a photo-shoot he was doing with a couple of models from California… saying, “You would only be jealous of their careers.” And then invited me to hold the lights.

I have no idea what to do. I told him, I’m not jealous of anyone, but the fact that he got nervous about telling me was odd. I honestly, thought it was because he was going to flirt with them; not because “You’ll be jealous of their careers.”

I’m not sure where he would get a comment like that in the first place? And I’m tired of him trying to put me down with his harsh criticism. He told me, he would say things like that, because he works in a an industry where its normal for people to say those things… However, he’s had a TON of other photo-shoots and has never told anyone else these things? I guess, I don’t understand.

I know, he doesn’t believe I will walk in New York Fashion Week. He’s reminded me that I’m 5’7″, on a daily basis, saying he’s just giving me a “Realistic perspective.” But I never asked him. I also, didn’t even have that as a goal… I just, honestly like what I’m doing. Its inspired me to create things, to try new adventures and meet new people.

My heart is kind of broken because he’s the one person, I thought, would believe in me. Or at least, be proud of me…. instead, all I get is “You’re not Naomi Campbell.”

I told him he could no longer take my photos. We can no longer work together. And I have no time to doubt myself. I work a full-time day job. I have shows booked until November and I want to plan more things! There should be no time wasted on being self-conscious.

We have talked about this issue a lot over the last few days and we worked out some resolutions we are both happy with; along with boundaries of not working together anymore…

But there is still this pain, knowing that he doesn’t believe I can do this. I tell myself, I never needed anyone before, why would I still want his approval?

What should I do?

Half of me, thinks that we can still be together despite this. Because I am quite old, it’s too late to walk the New York runways. I wouldn’t even qualify for them at my height. He has a point…

But there is that other part of me, that still wants to continue. That never wants to place a ceiling on my passion… And that part, is extremely hurt, the love of my life wants to give me a “reality check.”

Thanks in Advance,

The Independent Model

Dear Independent Model,

If you want to talk “reality checks” I checked with Reality and it said “Hey, you’re already a model!”

You’re already a model. You are creating photo shoots. You are walking runways. You are being booked for work. You are already doing it. You have a gorgeous attitude about the work and the adventure of meeting new people and making beautiful images. You have me kind of dying to see your photos because you sound so positive and cool and I want to see the face of the person who makes me feel this excited reading about her work! Just from your letter I can tell that you are stunning and striking and that people want to be around you.

Your boyfriend is right about what people sometimes say about and to models in the fashion industry. In a student film I made long ago there is a scene where two women pick apart the appearance of a third (the scene starts around 5:40). The actresses who play the stylists both worked as models a lot and their dialogue was improvised 100% out of things people have said to them in real life. They were expected to stand there and not react because “professionalism.” It’s shitty and hurtful and objectifying, and just because it happens in real life doesn’t mean you have to internalize and live it like it’s the truest thing about you. And it doesn’t mean that your boyfriend has to contribute to it, to participate in it. Is this how he talks to all the models he knows? Or does he save it all for you, the woman he supposedly loves? Either way, misogyny and cruelty are not a good look, dude.

It’s okay to not collaborate with your romantic parter even if you are in the same field. It’s actually smart to put boundaries around that sometimes. I need my husband and I to to love each other even if we never make another movie or write another word, or even if we make stuff that’s terrible. If the relationship only goes well when the work goes well, then there’s a fear that if the work goes badly it will make the relationship go badly. So, it’s okay to decide not to cross the streams of work and also smart for you to seek out other photographers. That’s not even the problem here.

The problem is that I think his comments about you being jealous of other people’s careers are him projecting all over the place. He’s jealous of other photographers and their careers. He’s jealous of you, for launching into the space he thought was his alone, the space where he has authority and gets to pretend he’s a gatekeeper of some sort, the space where he thought his giant lens gave him power to decide what’s beautiful enough. He’s jealous of you for blowing the doors off the illusion that he’s some sort of tastemaker. He’s jealous of you for not accepting what he thought were the rules of your industry. He’s jealous of you because you’ve already surpassed his expectations and he can tell that you are about to surpass him. He’s jealous of you because you’re not jealous when he works with other models, and it would be cool if that made you sort of jealous, because it would make him feel powerful. He’s jealous of you for being braver than he is, and instead of sitting with that discomfort and deciding, whoa, my girlfriend is AWESOME, he’s chosen the path of “Well, don’t get your hopes up, babe.

Go ahead and get your hopes up, lovely Letter Writer. Get your hopes up about creating new work and expressing yourself and enjoying what you do for as long as you want to do it. And get your hopes all the way up about finding a partner who will celebrate you and believe in you. Your boyfriend is not that guy. He is a small man with a limited vision and a smaller heart. You, on the other hand, are a g.d. Valkyrie. It’s never going to work, I’m sorry. You’ll never be able to make yourself small enough to fit into the box he thinks is marked “girlfriend.” You’ve already outgrown it, and him.

Break up. Be sad for a while. Keep going with your dream. Keep doing your work. The world holds all the “reality checks” and rejection and doubt and failure any of us will ever need. We don’t actually need any of that from people who say they love us.

Edited to Add Because I Like Visual Aids:

This is the incomparable Stanley Tucci playing Paul Child, Julia Child’s husband in the movie Julie & Julia. He’s looking at his wife, who found her passion quite late in life. He’s wearing a giant heart on his jacket and toasting her at a Valentine’s Day celebration. Look at how he looks at her:

stanleytucci

Image description: Stanley Tucci as Paul Child in Julie & Julia. He’s wearing glasses and a groovy striped tie and a paper heart pinned to his jacket and holding a glass of champagne and his eyes are full of love and pride.

THAT’S how we look at the people we love when they shine at doing the thing they love. Like we might explode from how proud and excited we are. Imagine this guy saying “I don’t know, television’s a really hard field, and you’re no Grace Kelly.” Imagine the world where he said that and where Julia let that stop her. Who wants to live in that shitty world? Not me. Not you. Not ever.

 


[syndicated profile] mangabookshelf_feed

Posted by Ash Brown

It’s once again the final Wednesday of the month which means it’s once again time for the monthly manga giveaway here at Experiments in Manga! For this month’s giveaway, everyone participating will have a chance to win The Royal Tutor, Volume 1 by Higasa Akai as published in English by Yen Press. (The series started out as a digital-only release, so I was very happy when a print edition was announced, too.) As usual, the giveaway is open worldwide!

The Royal Tutor, Volume 1

While I have almost no interest whatsoever in the lives of contemporary royal or imperial families, I find that I actually do have a significant fondness for fictional stories, historical or otherwise, that deal with royal dynasties and their courts. Generally, what particularly captures my attention is the seemingly inevitable court intrigue–the intense relationships that develop between people and the resulting complicated, shifting web of power. Potentially, all of this drama can lead to a very serious story, but some manga like The Royal Tutor are also able to incorporate a fair amount of humor and levity into the narrative.

So, you may be wondering, how can you a copy The Royal Tutor, Volume 1?

1) In the comments below, tell me a little about one of your favorite members of royalty from a manga. (Don’t have a favorite? Simply mention that instead.)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

That’s really all there is to it. Participants in the giveaway have one week to submit comments and can earn up to two entries. Comments can also be sent to me directly via email using the address phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com if needed or desired. I will then post those entries here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on August 2, 2017. Good luck, everyone!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

[syndicated profile] mangabookshelf_feed

Posted by Sean Gaffney

By Nagaharu Hibihana and Masakage Hagiya. Released in Japan as “Isekai Konyoku Monogatari” by Overlap. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Sophie Guo.

Last time we had a large focus on the adventures of Haruno’s party; this time they’re absent (except to get mentioned in the cliffhanger) and the focus is solely on Touya and his party. To be honest, for the first half of the book I wished we’d cut away a couple of times – while fighting mutant hermit crabs and stopping scheming merchants at an auction is all very well and good, there’s no denying that the volume tends to meander for over half the book till it gets to the plot it came here for. One it does hit that plot, though, things pick up, and the second half works much better, and introduces us to a new girl, though she’s not new to Touya: it’s his sister Yukina, who passed away three years earlier back on Earth, now resurrected into this world as a demon girl.

Oh no, I hear you cry, a little sister character in a harem series. And you are correct to do so, though the narrative is very odd in that respect. The illustrator is certainly down with Yukina as a sexy young thing, and we see Touya blushing at her – in the illustrations. Likewise, the afterword has the author bragging about how he finally got the “not related by blood yet related by blood” sister into the harem (she’s resurrected as a demon, see, so technically no longer Touya’s blood relation). What’s pushing back against this is Touya himself, who in the narrative shows absolutely no sign of seeing Yukina as anything but a little sister, even when they’re bathing together. Obviously, this will likely change, but for the moment Touya and Yukina read like a normal (if overly close) pair of siblings. Though she does get to do the jealous “cling to his arm and stick out her tongue at a rival” pose. So there’s that.

Speaking of Yukina, sometimes in this series, despite the depth that the author gives to the backstory and concepts, I feel as if he’s writing it very linearly, and I ended up thinking that here; Yukina and her death should have been foreshadowed at least two books earlier, particularly as it gives an answer to “why doesn’t Touya really care about getting home?”. Elsewhere, the bath levels up again a few times. Sometimes it’s sensible – we finally have toilets (with bidets), and the tub is now big enough to fit Yukina in along with everyone else – and sometimes it’s just silly, like the sink tap that dispenses orange juice and udon broth, which just puzzled me. Touya is a little annoyed about the blessings of the Goddesses being “had a really nice bath”, but honestly, he does pretty well with that bath. Don’t be ungrateful.

In any case, they now have a submarine, courtesy a mad scientist, which may come in handy as the cliffhanger reveals that Haruno and her party are in trouble. The 5th volume just came out in Japan this month, so I’m not sure how fast we’ll see it here. But, sibling love aside, Mixed Bathing remains a nice, relaxing isekai with attention to character and narrative. One of J-Novel’s best current series.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain Awkward,

Recently, my husband and I have been talking about taking a step to be more open in our relationship. We had made attempts to do this before, but we sort of jumped in without enough discussion and then had to pull back because if something hadn’t been explicitly outlined for him as being okay, his default was that it was and he would be willing to soldier forward regardless. It was a little more of a “better to seek forgiveness than ask permission” kind of a situation and I kiboshed that because I need boundaries to feel secure. Anyway, we have been talking and talking and talking and someone sparked his interest and so we talked about baby-stepping our way back into this situation with much clearer boundaries and I felt totally okay with it – until recently.

So this woman, I will call her Pandora, came over to our house for dinner and things were fine until she and my husband started to have some weird and ambiguous conversation about an appointment she had the next morning bright and early. This goes on for a while, so finally I was like “Hey! I’m in the room and I feel like you’re having a conversation around me and it is making me uncomfortable! What are you talking about?”, at which point, Pandora goes “Oh well I have a lot of drama going on in my life right now and it is just best that I keep some things vaulted.” Which like, okay, but then also don’t vaguely drama dump in front of me in my living room.
Anyway, she left and then my husband goes “You want to know what that was about?” and I said “yes!” because of course I do when baited with juicy morsels of gossip. Well it turns out that Pandora has been fooling around with this one particular couple when they do MDMA and now has started hooking up with the dude half of the couple without the woman’s knowledge. In fact, the appointment she kept referring to was a six am visit from this dude, who was going to hook up her secretly on his way to work.

For context, this info was dropped on me at close to 2 in the morning and I had work the next day, so I didn’t say anything in the moment, but I spent the whole next day thinking about it and it seriously made me annoyed and upset. Like do I think her morning secret hookup dude takes a large share of the blame for stepping outside his primary relationship as he is the committed person? Yes. But it genuinely bothers me that she was intimate with this woman, knew exactly what the woman’s boundaries were and what the boundaries within the primary relationship were, and then decided to go there anyway. To me, sex isn’t just something that happens, it’s something that you choose to make happen and they chose against the wishes of the other person involved which is sketchy as fuck. That to me shows a huge sign of disrespect and I told my husband that it really made me upset and uncomfortable to bring this person into our lives in an intimate way. My reasoning was that if she is so willing to do this to someone she has had sex with, I don’t see what would stop her from doing the same to me, a casual acquaintance.

At this point, he says that they have had multiple boundary talks and she has assured him this won’t be an issue to which I think my exact response was COME ON, MAN! Also, during this conversation, he insisted on trying to contextualize her decision in her other relationship by saying things like “We have no idea what that other primary relationship is like!” and then he also bomb-dropped that this couple is very close friends with some other very good friends of mine, so I can’t talk to them about this because they could probably figure out who I was talking about via context clues, and he said that I can’t tell Pandora I know because she made him promise not to tell anyone and it would implode his friendship with her if she found out she broke his promise as she would be really embarrassed. I again told him that if she is sneaking around with this dude, whatever the current status of the other primary relationship is, they know it is not kosher and that it actually really bothers me that this early in the game she told him to keep secrets from me which, I think, are important contextually. Also, I seriously can’t help but wonder about not only the emotional healthiness of this situation, but the physical health as well. Like I can’t really imagine a situation where she’s like “Yeah, the guy I am also seeing is sneaking around behind his partner’s back and is kind of a cheating scumbag, but he’s really fucking diligent with condoms!”?

Anyway, I told him I am not comfortable with him taking things any further with her in light of these things and he responded by saying that he feels like she has explained things to him to his satisfaction and that because he has self-control and he is a good judge of character that he thinks that should be satisfactory in in this situation. If I have concerns about this situation, instead of unfairly shutting it down and taking this away from him, I should trust him, or, I am still feeling uncertain, I can have a conversation with her directly about boundaries, however I would have to do so without mentioning I know about her cheating scenario.

This whole situation bums me the fuck out because I feel like Pandora soiled all of it with her bad relationship mojo. I mean I am not against him seeing someone else – that’s totally fine with someone who is honest and above board with all sexual partners! -I am against this particular boundary breaking person and he keeps harping on the fact that they have an emotional connection and I am taking this away from him even though things haven’t gotten fully physical between them yet.

So I guess my question is – what the fuck do I do here? At the end of our last conversation, I agreed that we would put a pin in things on that front right now, but like, with the way things are now, I cannot imagine what scenario would ever make me feel comfortable enough to pull the pin out. (Maybe if she broke things off with the downlow dude and stopped pulling sketchy shit?) I mean how can I possibly trust this person? I feel seriously backed into a corner here.

Yours sincerely,
Sick Of Dealing With Pandora’s Box

Dear Sick of Dealing,

You feel backed into a corner because you have been backed into a corner.

You confronted the weird behavior at that awful-sounding dinner party, you trusted your (excellent) instincts and gathered your thoughts and then told your husband “Hey, Pandora is telling you who she is, which is someone who does not honor agreements around sex. I am not cool with that!” You have not been vague or unclear or unreasonable. You have been a rock star of boundaries and keen observations about the likelihood of emotional fallout and poor condom diligence.

Is there a version of ethical fun cool open relationships that allows for you to say this?

Look, I deeply dislike Pandora and from what I’ve seen she is a shitty friend, lover, and dinner guest. I wouldn’t trust her to water my plants when I’m out of town or drop a letter in the mail on her way to the bus stop. My strong preference is that she is nowhere near our lives from this moment onward. But clearly you want to fuck this person real bad, so please go get it out of your system with a minimum of fuss, a maximum of safer sex precautions, and zero amount of making me sit through dinner with her ever again or pretending that this is okay with me.

(I imagine you wearing something kind of awesome and dark and voluminous and sweeping dramatically out of the room after delivering this speech. Your eye makeup – if you wear eye makeup – has never looked more perfect than at this moment.)

No?

I like your script better: “COME ON, MAN!”

“BE SERIOUS, BRO.”

Pandora’s “Oh, my private dramatic secret jokes are definitely not designed to make you feel like a weird date-crasher in your own house, teehee, why would you think that?” game at dinner at your place was a classic Mean Girl power move. She cast her and your husband as a sexy team with sexy secrets and you as the one prying into “the vault.” Fun!

Unfortunately for you, your husband the one who is like “Yeah, but her boundaries are good enough for my emotional connection with her my deep desire to have sex with someone I know is probably terrible (but also have you still be cool about this.)” He knew exactly what she was doing with this other couple before that awkward dinner and he still tried to make Pandora happen in your life. He also told you her secret (good, not great, but better than lying more) but now expects you (?) to keep that secret (?) so Pandora won’t be mad at him for telling it(?) and for you (?) to also somehow confront her (?) about her poor boundaries in a way that will make the situation all cool so he can sleep with her?

Am I parsing this correctly? And there was something something about him “being a good judge of character?” Except he brought the “Heyyyyyyyy, I make agreements with people about sex and then break them when it suits me!” lady to your house? And he thinks there is a way forward here?

If you veto Pandora I predict they will either be secretly fucking before the clock strikes August or he will heroically not fuck her while reminding you of his enormous, heroic (so heroic) sacrifice weekly for the rest of 2017. Fun!

I guess my questions are:

  • What’s appealing about trying an open relationship again, right now, with this guy, for you?

That was gonna be a list but actually that’s my whole question. What’s in this whole situation for you? Pandora is clearly looking out for Pandora, so who is looking out for your heart and your comfort level and your health and your right to have informed consent? Who is treating your feelings and (excellent, fully-functioning) instincts with importance and care? Right now it kinda sounds like “Mostly just you” and that sounds…well…the word “lonely” comes to mind.


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