Star Wars VII Summed Up For Non-Nerds

So you have to go see the new Star Wars this weekend, and you’re in way over your head. Maybe you’ve recently clarified to your friends, ‘oh, this is the one with Chris Pine as Spock, right?’ or confidently declared that you love that little ball-robot guy PB8*.

container_bb8-droid-star-wars-the-force-awakens-3d-printing-56939*This one courtesy of my daughter, Lucy. I cannot get her to stop calling him PB8. She also calls R2D2 ‘Toby’

Worry no more, you beautiful non-nerd. You’ve got the help of this nerd to break down the basics of the Star Wars universe and nutshell the last movie so you’re not completely lost watching this one. Yes, I know – doing the Lord’s work. You can send thanks in the forms of aggressive retweets and maybe some nudes.

Setting the Groundwork

If you already have a solid grip on what happened in the Star Wars ‘verse before the new installments, skip this, save yourself some time. Go right on to the next segment. Otherwise, welcome. Allow me to indoctrinate you.

Alright, so as is evident by the title, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was the seventh installment of the Star Wars series. (I recognize there are other movies, like Rogue One, but for the sake of simplification we’re not gonna get into that. Please refrain from emailing us about it.) Don’t worry; you’re not about to read seven movies’ worth of recap. All you really need to know here is that there is something called the Force that runs through the entire universe. The Force is balanced by the Dark Side and the Light Side, which can be broken down into evil (dark) and good (light). There are a select few people who can commune with and, to some degree, control the Force. In the earlier films, those with this capability on the Light Side were called Jedi, and those with this capability on the Dark Side were called Sith.

Now. There was this guy, Anakin Skywalker, who began as a Jedi (Light Side) but was seduced to the dark side by a bad hombre (Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine). He took on the nomer Darth Vader, officially became a Sith Lord, and proceeded to fuck shit up. He even killed younglings.

Before going all naughty, however, Darth Vader manages to knock up his kinda-secret wife, Padme Amidala, with twins. She promptly dies because sure, okay, and the twins are separated. They turn out to be Luke and Leia Skywalker, and after a whole bunch of other stuff, including a brief moment of light incest, they figure out their familial ties and are reunited. Luke is a Jedi and Leia is a badass and while all this is going on Vader is still out there fucking shit up and carrying out Sidious’ plan to destroy the galaxy, at least until Luke kills him.

darth_vader_lukeIncest, patricide, and kind of matricide – the movies have it all!

This messes up all of Sidious’ plans and basically Luke saves the galaxy with the help of resident hottie Han Solo, who winds up with Leia, and a whole host of other characters that are awesome but I’m not gonna name. If you don’t know who Chewbacca is, there’s really not much I can do for you anyway.

Now I’ve broken down the recap for the most chronologically recent movie, Star Wars VII, into two versions: short and long. The long one got… really really long, so if you’re pressed for time/have a short attention span, go to the short. If you actually like this stuff and wanna read more, skip to the long and also slide into my DM’s cuz you’re my kinda person.

SW VII: Short Recap

Essentially, Han Solo and Leia made a baby together. This baby turned out to be Kylo Ren, the Dark Sider who turned on Luke Skywalker and caused him to abdicate his ‘wise Jedi master’ title and go into hiding. Now Kylo Ren works for Snoke, the leader of the evil First Order, and intends to find Luke Skywalker at all costs using a map missing one piece. The missing piece is hidden in a droid, BB8, and both the Resistance and the First Order want to find it.

Rey is a scavenger from the middle of nowhere and she runs into BB8. BB8 shows her the missing map piece, and in a run-in on another planet, Kylo Ren finds Rey and uses his abilities to see into her mind and discover she’s seen the map piece. He takes her with him, attempts to pull the map piece straight from him mind and fails, and Rey discovers she, too, can control the Force.

Meanwhile, the Resistance is hard at work mobilizing to destroy the First Order’s weapon, Starkiller Base. They send a crack team comprised of Han Solo, Chewy, and Finn to go upset the power source on Starkiller Base and these three run into Rey. They separate to fulfill the object, and Han Solo ends up facing off with Kylo Ren. It’s a tender moment, but ultimately Ren murders the heck out of him and it’s devastating. Karma is swift, however, and a lightsaber fight between Rey and Kylo Ren ensues, with Rey besting Kylo Ren. Before she can kill him, the Resistance pilots succeed in destroying Starkiller Base’s power source, and the planet itself begins to crumble. One such rift separates Rey and Kylo Ren, and he lives.

The movie ends with Rey ascending a remote mountain in the middle of nowhere to find Luke Skywalker, old and robed. She extends the lightsaber towards him and it ends. Badabing badaboom, you gotta badass sci-fi movie. You’re welcome. Go forth and prosper.

SW VII: Long Recap

Okay, so the last time we saw the Skywalkers, they were young and the universe was at peace. Fast forward. Like, a bunch. It’s 2015 and Disney owns Star Wars and shit is going down; if you’ve ever watched the TV show Girls you’re about to be in for a really wild, weird ride.

rs-16840-rectangleRemember this face. This is the face of angsty evil.

So this movie opens with Luke having disappeared from the galaxy. There’s a new evil government called the First Order desperately searching for him so they can kill him and put an end to the Jedi once and for all. On the flip side of this you’ve got Leia, Luke’s sister, who is a General now and spearheading the Resistance, a rebellion against the First Order. She also wants to find Luke but for the opposite reason: to restore the Jedi and maybe get another lil incesty kiss, I dunno, I don’t judge.

Anyway, she sends her top pilot, new resident hottie Poe (Oscar Isaacs, if you needed a reason beyond this half-assed synopsis to actually see the movie) to a planet called Jakku. His mission is to retrieve a piece of a map – a map that leads to Luke Skywalker. He and his droid, BB8, set off in his cool plane and succeed in the mission, getting the map piece from a mysterious old guy and then attempting to set off. Before he can, the First Order lands on the planet and Storm Troopers pour out, shooting at everyone – I mean just everyone, it’s a bloodbath. Poe makes a run for it but they shoot his plane before he can escape; his solution is to hide the map piece inside BB8, who goes rolling away into the dark sand dunes.

It’s all bad enough but then we see a dark, masked figure with major ‘Evil Villain’ vibes step out of a ship – this is Kylo Ren, who’s a modern twist on a Sith lord. There are no more Sith lords; instead there are the Knights of Ren, Dark Siders who work for First Order Supreme Leader Snoke.

Kylo Ren makes his entrance here and Poe seizes the opportunity, attempting to pick him off with a sniper shot. Kylo Ren easily parries the shot using the Force (which is cool as heck) and Poe is taken hostage aboard Kylo Ren’s shuttle. Bummer.

star-wars-kylo-ren-sixth-scale-hot-toys-feature-902538I so would.

Kylo Ren uses the Force to read Poe’s mind and finds out that he’s given the map piece to BB8. He’s got a new objective now: find the droid. This shifted focus has him leaving Poe unattended, which means he’s primed for a rescuing. Finn is the Storm Trooper with a heart of gold who comes to his rescue: his motivation for helping Poe is solely to get away from the First Order. They steal a ship and Poe, obviously the pilot, takes it right back to Jakku, which gives Finn an metaphorical ulcer. Unfortunately they’re shot out of the sky and we see Finn emerging from his parachute relatively unscathed, whereas the sand swallows the ship up and presumably Poe along with it.

Meanwhile, we meet Rey. She’s just living her life as an impoverished scavenger on the ‘junkyard’ planet of Jakku. She’s rescued BB8 from a fellow scavenger and has taken him into town with her, where a First Order informant spots him and relays their whereabouts. This slaps a target on Rey’s back, too. She ends up besting a handful of randos in combat and saving BB8 again, which is where Finn first finds her. They team up to escape the First Order’s reach and enact a hasty plot to steal a ship and escape the planet altogether. The ship they wind up stealing is the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s old freighter, a reveal that had dorks everywhere creaming their pants.

Unfortunately for one of the First Order’s lackeys, BB8’s escape means that he’s got to tell Kylo Ren they failed at their mission. Kylo Ren’s response to this is to have a lightsaber hissy fit, which seems way more cathartic than binge drinking an entire bottle of Cupcake wine as you hate-watch A Christmas Prince for the third time.

1“What royal family would hire a tutor without a goddamned background check?!

The Millennium Falcon gets swallowed up by a bigger, badder cargo ship that turns out to be piloted by the man, the myth, the legend himself, Han Solo. He and Chewy, his wookie PIC, wind up enlisting Rey, Finn, and BB8’s help to escape some intergalactic debt collectors and they all escape on the Falcon. Through casual conversation we learn that Luke Skywalker disappeared after his attempt to train a new crop of Jedi failed: one Jedi student turned to the Dark Side and turned against him, Luke blamed himself, said ‘FUCK IT,’ and went into hiding. We also learn that Rey refuses to leave Jakku for good since she’s waiting on her family to come back – the family that abandoned her when she was a child. She does not know any names.

When the Falcon lands it’s on a verdant planet with a castle/pub thing. They have a meeting with Maz, an Edna Mode-esque orange alien, and Rey has her first real taste of the Force: a lightsaber kept in the bowels of the building calls to her, and she ‘sees’ Kylo Ren in some sort of Force-manifest vision. She doesn’t have to wait too long to see him in person, since within moments the First Order is landing on the planet – someone in the bar had seen BB8 and tipped them off.

We get to see Finn fight another Storm Trooper, which is pretty cool, and Rey shoot a blaster-type gun, which is also cool, but then she’s promptly found and captured by Kylo Ren who uses the Force to knock her out and carries her, bridal style, onto his sinister and awesome ship. The Resistance shows up in a quick, dirty airstrike led by none other than Poe, who survived the crash, but they’re too late to save Rey. They do manage to recover BB8 and with him, the piece of the map.

tumblr_o4ikt3o2xe1v7o9alo1_500A modern romance

Major exposition happens when Leia and Han Solo are reunited: Kylo Ren’s proper name is Ben Solo, and he is their son. He was the Jedi-in-training who was seduced by the dark, and his betrayal is the reason Luke packed off and said ‘screw all yall, I’m done.’ Leia believes that there is good in him yet: she implores Han to go bring him home. She also tasks them with destroying the powersource for Starkiller Base, which by the way is also a thing. Starkiller is the Death Star 2.0, and it is wielded by the First Order and can annihilate everything. It is powered by the freaking sun. If the First Order can’t find Luke Skywalker, their plan is to just use Starkiller Base on the entire Resistance and squish the whole rebellion. Han, Finn, and Chewy are sent to knock it out of commission.

Despite Leia’s beliefs, Kylo Ren is proving he is not good as he interrogates Rey. He’s attempting to use his sick Dark Side powers to simply pluck the map out of her mind, but guess what, sucker: Rey’s got the Force, too. She uses it to keep him out of her mind, meaning he has to go awkwardly confess to Supreme Leader Snoke that he can’t get the map from the girl’s mind and oh, he also let the droid get away, right into Resistance hands. Bummer.

While he’s giving this tense confession, Rey tests out her ‘powers’ by forcing the guard watching over her to set her free, drop his weapon, and give her the chance to escape. It works; she escapes and by the time Kylo Ren returns to finish what he’d started, he finds her gone. Another tantrum ensues. I lowkey love his tantrums.

Rey’s escape sends her running right into Han and crew, and they split up to handle the whole disabling-Starkiller thing. Unfortunately ,the next time they all lay eyes on each other again is to witness the Han Solo and Kylo Ren reunion, which doesn’t go as well as the Han Solo and Leia reunion, mainly because Kylo Ren kills the absolute heck out of Han Solo. It’s freaking devastating, and oh, also, Starkiller Base is all charged up now and ready to wreck some planets.

starkiller-base_36eb17b3Knock knock, it’s me, here to wreck ur planet

The Resistance’s only hope now is to essentially shoot the crap out of Starkiller Base so it can’t do it’s destructo-magic, and we see Poe leading a squadron of ships in to pew-pew-pew where it counts. While this is going on, Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren are sparring in the snow outside, though it quickly becomes a one-on-one when Kylo Ren incapacitates Finn. It’s a pretty sick lightsaber battle but the end result is that Rey bests Kylo Ren, slashing him harshly across the face and dealing a few other injuries, leaving him bleeding in the snow. Before she can finish the job, the Resistance succeeds in utterly wrecking Starkiller Base and the ground begins to split open into rivers of lava. One of these rifts rips open in between Rey and Kylo Ren, separating them, but you can tell by the intensity of the glares and also the close-up shots that it is far from over.

The movie ends with Rey finally accepting her fate. She returns to the Resistance base, hugs Leia for a long time in a silent heartbreaking moment of understanding, and then they finally boot up Luke Skywalker’s old droid, R2D2… Who had the rest of the map the whole time. BB8 adds in the missing piece, and Rey and Chewy set off to find the lost Jedi.

The final scene of the film is Rey, standing atop a remote mountain, handing Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber back to him.

You’re ready now. Go watch and enjoy. May the Force be with you.

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HTLYT’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes now at HTLYT : we’re bringing on a new writer for you in the New Year, Jess is finally free of my nagging, and I’m spending my time making actual graphs and trying to figure out if all of this is ‘really worth it.’ (The consensus so far: nothing is. I am so tired.)

But change is difficult and mostly scary, and I don’t want to think about that right now. Instead, let’s think about presents.

It’s only December 6th, which means your most organized friends have already had their Christmas shopping done for a month while the rest of us cretins are still busy trying to come up with a list of people to buy for beyond ‘myself, okay, it’s been a tough year and I don’t need your judgment, Orie.’

While I can’t help you complete your list, I can definitely help you with suggestions. And some of them are even legitimate.

1. 2018 Australian Firefighters Calendar – $15.21

firefighter-calendar

Every year – every freaking year – I ask someone for this calendar, and every year I am rebuffed. I think it might be because I want it too badly now; it’s gotten weird, and I will never forget my mother-in-law’s uneasy laugh when I once told her very seriously that this was all I wanted for Christmas.

Don’t make your friends go through that embarrassment. Anticipate their needs. Buy them this calendar before they have to ask. And hey – all proceeds go to a good cause.

This is a good gift for your best friend, your token gay friend, or your cool cousins. This is not a good gift for your very Baptist mother-in-law.

2. This creepy-ass ring made by Gwenyth Paltrow – $4,000

open-uri20171130-53-hcgp8k

Okay, so maybe the ring isn’t technically made by Pepper Potts herself, but it’s peddled on her creepy website so I imagine she had a hand in it.

I personally love it because the eye is green and my eyes are green so I want to narcissistically give one to everyone I know with a note that says, ‘I’m watching you.’ Unfortunately I’m not made of money and also it looks like a prop ring ripped off the hand of a reanimated mummy in a B-roll action movie.

This is a good gift for your husband’s mistress or Jessica Francois. This is not a good gift for anyone suffering lingering effects of the recession.

3. Daddy’s Little Monster Ugly Sweater – $39.99

dlm-front-hq

I love the ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ trend, especially because as the years progress, they get less and less ugly. I’ve already worn my Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Muggle sweater three times this year, and we’re only six days into December. This gift option should really be right up my alley, but instead…. Instead it’s Harley Quinn a la Suicide Squad.

I love you so much, Margot Robbie. Now and forever. I just don’t think I’m ready to forgive you for that movie. … But please still call me if you see this so we can hang out and like, I don’t know, talk about what Sebastian Stan smells like and I can fail the Bechdel test in real life.

This is a good gift for the sucky coworker you got in Secret Santa or your preteen stepsister who’s ‘misunderstood.’ This is not a good gift for anyone you like.

4. This… tie… – $39.99

khmj_chewbacca_tie

Alright, so it’s marketed as a ‘Chewbacca’ tie but are you freaking serious, it’s literally just a screen-printed image of brown hair on a tie with a forty dollar price tag.

If this doesn’t automatically strike you as ludicrously asinine, then this tie is probably for you! Quick, go ahead and place your order now, they might run out!!!

This gift is for your college dropout brother or your weed dealer. This gift is not for anyone you might someday like to have sex with.

5. Unicorn Bottle Opener – $9

10100121_gld_main

What better way to tell someone you love them than by gifting them a gold unicorn head that can also open beers? … Maybe gifting them the beers, but that’s neither here nor there.

This unicorn bottle opener is majestic as hell, with its flowing locks and dead, pupil-less eyes. It’s also under ten dollars which is the real selling point here, and it’s sold by Modcloth, which means that you only need $40 more to reach free shipping so you might as well add some cute flats and blouses for you to your order. Treat yo’self.

This gift is for your Kim, your mom, or yourself. This gift is not for the recovering alcoholics in your life.

6. Colin Firth Lifesize Cutout – $79.97

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Colin Firth is a cross-generational sexpot so this gift can be as versatile as you need it to be. Just go ahead and buy it now to have it on hand; that way, if you find out at the last minute that you forgot to buy someone a gift, you can whip this baby out.

And hey, if you don’t forget to get anyone a gift, good news! You now have a date to your mom’s family’s Christmas party.

This is a good gift for your aunt in the throes of menopause or your favorite pervert. This is not a good gift for your heterosexual boyfriend.

7. Just a whole shitload of vodka – $????

drinking-and-exercise

2017 was a weird freaking year. Our president openly endorsed pedophiles, Putin is our new dad, I had another baby, and Hugh Hefner’s immortality was finally returned to the Queen. There was a lot of good, too, but even that was tainted by the bizarre; the best thing we can do now is drink.

Drink your way through December and pour one out for me when you do. I am desperate to join you but I have too many damn kids and I’m slowly dying. Just make sure the martini is vodka, not gin.

And Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Muggles.

5 Things To Do That Aren’t Calling Your Ex

It’s an urge that happens to the best of us. It doesn’t matter how hot your revenge body is or how happy you are with your Tinder settle-swipe – everyone is susceptible to that sudden pang of nostalgia, the glossy, earnest yearning for a time gone by, the sweet idiocy of forgetting all of the bad and remembering only the good. Maybe you just heard a snippet of Jack & Diane on the radio; maybe your self-loathing is just particularly active in the fall. Whatever the reason, I’m here to tell you one thing:

Don’t do it.

Since you’re reading this blog, I’m assuming that you’re an Intellectual and I don’t need to tell you why you shouldn’t call your ex. Instead, I’m going to give you some other things to do until the self-destructive urge passes.

1. Hang out with your kids

There’s nothing to get your mind off of your steamy, spontaneous past love affairs than spending time with your children! It’s essentially impossible to maintain any semblance of romantic notion with sticky fingers yanking on the hem of your shirt, especially when you legally cannot ignore them. That’s right, you hot-blooded woman – you may have been an insatiable panther back in days of yore, but now you are Mom*.

Mom: The equivalent of an eighteen-year-long cold shower.

miranda-kerr-sexy-pics-073*This is a joke. Please do not furiously comment that you are a mom and still hot & horny – I believe you, okay? I am also a hot & horny mom. Every mom is horny and most are hot. Look, I put in a picture of a hot mom just to assuage your frazzled nerves.

2. Volunteer at an animal shelter

Don’t have kids? Wow, rub it in. Don’t despair! You can spend your days with other babies – other soft, sweet babies who are guaranteed to love you and take your mind off its own temporary insanity. Your local animal shelter is likely always accepting volunteers to socialize the cats and dogs, meaning your afternoon is booked. If you’re lucky, they also have a designated ‘kitten room’ where you can just lie on the floor and be adorably mauled by small, fuzzy bundles of mewling and claws.

tenorI can’t not post this gif.

3. Clean your bathroom

Yeah, you’re right, this one sucks. I’d honestly rather call my ex and deal with the inevitable humiliating regret/emotional fallout than scrub the weird porcelain foot of my toilet. But you are likely made of stronger stuff than I, in which case break out your rubber gloves and get going, sister.

4. Read Harry Potter fanfiction

This one is my favorite because it is genuinely a good time. Doesn’t it sound fun?! Seven books and the entirety of Pottermore just isn’t enough, I know, but the good news is there are tons of people who feel the exact same way and they have unofficially expanded the universe for you!

… No? This doesn’t sound like fun? It’s just me? Fine, whatever, go call your ex. But don’t come crying to me when you find out he’s actually married to an L.A. 8 and didn’t recognize your voice when you greeted him, ‘hey, it’s me!’

(Just kidding, you can always come crying to me about anything. Especially Harry Potter fanfiction.)

5. Take a bath

A good one, too. Not like a regular fill-up-the-tub-and-flop-in bath; I mean a really good one, where you break out your various bottles of colored goo and perfume the entire bathroom with a scent stronger than a freaking Lush store. But wait – don’t get in yet.

First, position a speaker close enough to drown out the sounds of the rest of existence but far enough away so it doesn’t feel like John Legend is actually in the bath with you. Unless that’s your thing, in which case hell yes. Then, grab a tablet queued up with Netflix but nothing too romantic, nothing that will fuel the need to call your ex.

And lastly and perhaps most importantly, resist the urge to drink. It’s true that Bath Beers are the ultimate form of relaxation, but nothing makes it easier to bear your stripped soul to an ex-boyfriend than inebriation.

Just… bear your sole to fantasy John Legend instead. Chrissy won’t mind.

Bg28yZNIIAE_76vThis is her ‘feel free to objectify my husband’ face.

 

How to Keep Motherhood from Destroying Your Social Life

So you have kids but you don’t want to relinquish your white-knuckled grip on normalcy and fun. Firstly, congrats on your crotch fruits! Secondly, good fuckin’ luck.

When I only had one kid, it was pretty easy to tuck her into a carseat and cart her around wherever I went. My friends and I were young enough that a baby being around was still a cute novelty, sort of like a puppy but better since Snapchat filters worked on her face. I also had way more free time back then – I actually remember large gaps of boredom when Lucy was one where I’d be like ‘ugh, I have nothing to do. Guess I’ll go to Jess’ and abuse her HBO membership.’

Enter Atlas.

Two kids is a lot different than one kid. It somehow feels like instead of just doubling my kid number, I have somehow managed to quinquagintuple it. I have not been bored in seven months; I crave boredom. My free time has become a thing of the past – now, I actually schedule my activities. I’ve had to set aside an hour each Tuesday to write these damn blog posts because if I don’t write it down, it will 100% be forgotten or overwritten in favor of something more pressing, like pleading with my unimpressed infant to eat the liquefied green beans already.

reading-925589_1280Me, an intellectual, reading and absorbing words like quinquagintuple.

Between my kids tag-teaming their nap schedules and refusing to let me sit still for more than three minutes at a time (three minutes I spend staring dead-eyed at my phone like a True Millennial), there is not much time left over for myself, let alone for more other people.

So what do you do?

1. Have Amazing Friends in the First Place

The simple intro step is to surround yourself with loving, understanding people who don’t hold your chronic flakiness against you. They ideally knew you before kids, back when you were fun and available and had much perkier boobs. These people understand that you love them deeply even if you don’t check in every other day like you used to.

If you’re lucky, you get a friend like Jess, who will call you and leave sing-songy voicemails about her day without a single hint of aggravation that you missed her call yet again. These voicemails are excellent because you can listen to them while locked in the bathroom pretending not to see the tiny fingers pressed beneath the crack of the door and imagine you are somewhere else.

2. Make A List

So this one feels a little Charles Manson-y but hear me out. If we’re being honest here, your brain is likely a sieve these days. You can barely remember your latest kid’s birthday much less when the last time you spoke to your old coworker was. That’s why a list is handy for this situation: you can’t forget stuff when it’s written down in front of you.

My friend list exists in my notebook and if anyone saw it they’d probably think I was either a serial killer or Luna Lovegood-levels of dreamily deranged. That being said, it helps me. I’ve jotted down the name of every person I want to make sure I check up on – every person I want to make sure knows that I love them, even if I’m garbage at expressing it. Then, beside their name, I try to keep a date connoting the last time I reached out to them. It’s not foolproof, but it helps.

luna-lovegood-mural-courtney-godbeyIf yall don’t remember this part in the book, it’s time for a reread. … Actually, go reread anyway. It’s good for you.

3. Follow A Schedule

Okay, so you’ve got  your creepy friends list and you’ve got your determination to do better. Now how do you put this into practice?

Planning!

That’s right! All the spontaneity of your youth is well and truly dead, so you might as well embrace it and start planning out things like light, friendly conversation. The way to do this is think ahead to when you’ll be driving, since for me, it’s impossible to have a phone conversation when I’m at home.

Instead I call people in the car. It works, since I’m effectively trapped. I can’t look around my wreck of a living room in despair and be distracted by all the shit I haven’t done; instead, I’m stuck in the car, happy to be talking to you since the alternative is the Sofia the First soundtrack again.

I plan these calls out by weeks. I try to call everyone at least once a month, though once every two weeks is more ideal. They don’t have to be long conversations – just enough to get the usual ‘hey, how are you, how’s work, what weird sex stuff have you done lately’ updates.

4. Apologize When You Need To (& Mean It)

Even with your handy-dandy schedule and the very best intentions, you are absolutely going to forget to call someone back. Maybe it’ll be worse – maybe you’ll straight up forget a lunch date, or god forbid someone’s birthday. In these instances, do the proper thing: nut up and say sorry. Don’t launch into a litany of excuses; your childless friends don’t want to hear about how little Brylynn-Rose pooped all the way up the back of her onesie again, or how you ran out of wipes so you had to do some shameful MacGyvering with handsoap and your own hair.

Just say sorry. You might be pissed since you’re trying your freaking best here and can’t everyone cut you some slack??? But you can’t be pissed at your friend, since they’re the wronged party and also not the one who knocked you up.  Unless they are, in which case… Why the hell were you using your own hair.

5. Cheat When Necessary

This one is only for when your friend is texting you thoughtful ‘checking up on you’ texts at 10 PM but you are incapable of forming human speech because you’ve been up since 3 AM. It’s okay – you don’t have to relearn the English language. Instead, go into your camera roll and select the best recent photo of your dog/cat and send it on over. Maybe tack on a slew of emojis if you’re feeling wild; really make it cute. Don’t have a dog or cat? Go fucking get one, you reprobate, I can’t do all the heavy lifting here.

Best Faraway Friend; The New-Age BFF

When it comes to acronyms, I’ve got my life on lock. I’ve got my BF Orie, who is actually my husband now but old habits die hard. I’ve got my MIL, who is my mother-in-love and my second mom. I’ve got my BFF Jess, who is my best friend forever and my actual better half. And then there’s my other BFF – my Best Faraway Friend, Els.

In this digital age of Tinder and texting, it is becoming increasingly common for people to ‘meet’ one another over the Internet. Oftentimes these friendships never leave the safety of the computer screen, but every now and then you hit on something that’s too good not to cling to. (Little known fact – I actually met Jessica online, something she threatened to reveal at my wedding during her maid of honor speech though I talked her down. )

10614320_10100885333900989_2537957258549490214_nActual footage of Jessica “I Don’t Need No Man” Francois on my wedding day.

This is the case with my friend Els, of Gin Sips & Red Lips fame. She and I met on a collaborative writing site and have been basically up each other’s butts ever since. I spent last November traipsing around England with her on a whim, since I had just moved near Boston, Brexit had collapsed the English pound, and damn were flights cheap.

But it’s not always stuffing Big Macs into your face outside of Windsor Palace; international friendships have their ups and downs too, and they provide you with some weird, unexpected skills and advantages. And this is a segue to a list.

1. You Always Know Exactly What Time It Is In Random-Ass Timezones

If you ever need to know the time in London, England, I got you. Seriously – I just need to glance at any clock near me to fire it out, since I am so conditioned to checking the time and doing some hasty addition (+6 hours, if you were curious) before sending Els a text. I can do this for Perth, Australia, too, since I’ve got a friend there, and Orlando, though that’s less impressive since it’s literally a one-hour difference.

2. You Master the Art of Pausing Media

One of the many mutual things that Els and I are both obsessed with is the Kingsman universe, so when the new Kingsman movie was coming out we had no choice but to rewatch the first one. And we obviously wanted to watch it together, which means we resorted to our tried-and-true method: queuing it up and then carefully, precisely, hitting ‘PLAY’ at the exact same time. If anyone has to pee at any point in the movie, it’s another careful synchronization to pause, and eventually you get really, really good at it.

3. You Download Garbage Apps Like Whatsapp

Sometimes your fancy international pals don’t have basic human civilities like iMessage and you wind up having to install a bunch of third-party chat clients onto your phone. Because it’s not like you can call them – you don’t have international data, and who has time for Skype anymore. Snapchat is a fair alternative.

4. You Overshare to a Dangerous Degree

The anonymity of the Internet is a beautiful, terrible thing, especially when it comes to your friendships. There’s something so freeing about typing words that you would never actually say to someone’s face. It’s because of this freedom that I can never run for president; I have said far too many foul, damning things about Harry Styles to ever hope of winning the Christian vote.

5. You Learn a Bunch of Weird Slang You Probably Shouldn’t Know

I have an excessive, borderline-obsessive knowledge of British slang now, thanks mostly to J.K. Rowling but helped along greatly by my English Internet friends. For example, I can tell you that I can’t be arsed to watch the new GBBO since it’s rubbish without Mel and Sue. I also pride myself in being able to understand most chavvy accents, but that’s half-because I’m disgustingly into it.

giphyI blame Matthew Vaughn.

6. You Always Have Someone to Talk To, Even at 3 A.M.

Thanks to those pesky timezones, more often than not you and your Best Faraway Friend won’t have the same sleeping patterns. This is aggravating when it’s eleven p.m. and you’re a little drunk and you wanna call her to talk shit about the new season of AHS, but nice when you wake up in the morning to three texts about dogs she saw on the tube and 2 snapchats of what she’s having for lunch.

It’s also nice when it’s the middle of the night and your seven-month-old infant still won’t sleep through the night, and you wish you had someone to talk to. That’s when you whip out your phone and reach out to your Best Faraway Friend, who is so excited to hear from you in the morning that it almost makes up for the fact that sleep deprivation is making you hallucinate black spots in the edges of your vision.

Almost.

 

The #MeToo Movement

To all of the women and men coming forward and joining the #MeToo movement, I hear you, and I appreciate you. It takes courage to speak about such deep scars, and more courage still to hold your head up in the face of a society that’s more offended by victims sharing their stories than it is by ‘locker room talk.’

But my message is for all of the women and men who aren’t. To them I want to say this: it’s okay to leave your Facebook status blank. You’re not weak if you don’t want to air your most painful trauma to the world; you don’t owe anyone your story. I’m telling you this because I need it to be true, because the very idea of naming my assailants and tipping the careful house of cards I’ve spent years building makes me feel small and scared.

But for me, it’s become important.

If not for you to read, then for me to tell. I have a daughter now and as she gets older, I can see the woman she will become. I can see that she will be beautiful, and I can see that she will be forceful, and I can see that she will be desired. It’s cowardly that I could not speak out for myself, that it took my daughter transitioning from babyhood to girlhood to realize that what happened to me was wrong. But I realize it now, and I want any girls who have had experiences like mine to know that it’s not your fault. You are not your assaults. You are not your failure for ‘allowing’ yourself to be taken advantage of. You are not a bitch for speaking out.

Both of my most egregious assailants were people I knew, one remotely, one not. Both of them were ‘nice boys,’ both with surnames that carried weight. As a teenager, I had a reputation for craving attention. I would act in ways that garnered attention – from guys, from friends, from adults, from whomever. When I finally got too much of this attention, all I could think was that it was what I had coming to me. I had taunted the serpent and it had bitten me; it was my fault.

The first time I was assaulted I was in high school and I was visiting friends at a nearby college. They were two boys. I had lied to my mom about where I was staying. I went with a girlfriend, and she and I made plans to take care of each other.

I don’t remember drinking. I have always had a supremely low tolerance for alcohol, so it seems very unlikely that I simply wouldn’t have noticed alcohol in my drink. And yet I ended up vomiting at an outdoor music performance, sick enough to necessitate carrying home. The boy who carried me was the boy who had made my drinks; he was annoyed that I got vomit on his shoes, and he made me very aware that I ‘owed him.’ He said it like he was joking, so I laughed. I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch.

Many hours later, I woke up and it was dark. I was lying on a mattress on a floor, and the same boy was on top of me. He was moving against my body even though I was sleeping. It felt wrong, and weird, and it made my stomach feel sick, like I might throw up again. I chalked it up to the ‘drinking’ I had done, even though I didn’t remember ever drinking. I pretended like I was asleep until he stopped. He never stopped, and I didn’t push him off. I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch.

After that, I started a stilted, strange relationship with my assailant. It was weird to me, to think of it as rape; he was clearly into me, clearly cared about me. It felt somehow better to me in my head to carry on the charade that he started when he told people we had ‘hooked up,’ when he told people how much he liked me, how he couldn’t believe I finally returned his affections. That was a much nicer story than ‘I raped her in the dark,’ and so I latched onto it. I became his girlfriend. Every time we fooled around, I felt that same, sick feeling, but I still preferred that to thinking of myself as a victim.

I finally broke up with him before leaving for college, and I apologized profusely. He loathed me and made it known, blasting me to all of our friends and effectively blacking me out of that social circle. But to this day, what upsets me most is I had apologized to him – I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch.

The next time I was assaulted I was in my first month of college. I went with my girlfriends to a fraternity party; we were all drinking and we were all underage. The boy who took me back to his dorm had to help me walk the entire way there since I was too drunk to stand, too drunk to speak properly. I think he had been drinking, too.

I knew my assailant. He was from my hometown. Before I blacked out, I remember him telling me that he had ‘always wanted to get with me.’ I don’t know what I said to that – I think I was uncomfortable, so I laughed. I didn’t want to seem like a bitch by telling him ‘dream on, buddy.’ At seventeen, I really thought the worst thing I could be called was a bitch.

After he half-carried me back to his room, I don’t really remember what happened. I just remember that I was too drunk to use my phone and I think I threw up. I know that we had sex because I could feel it in my body, and to this day I have strange, half-smeared memories of him breathing onto my neck. I know I left, since I remember stumbling to another dorm in the same building – my childhood next-door neighbor, who asked me what had happened. I didn’t want to tell him so I laughed; I was too embarrassed, and I didn’t want him to think I was a bitch. I really thought the worst thing I could be called was a bitch.

In both of these instances, I lied to myself. I entered into a relationship with my first assailant willingly and continued to sleep with him, all in an effort to convince myself that it had never been assault. Someone who loved you couldn’t assault you, I thought. With the second one, I simply let it go. I was embarrassed; to confess it made me sound like a slut, or made me sound like a bitch. This guy was well-liked, after all. I told one friend and she seemed uncomfortable, saying ‘he wouldn’t do that.’ I agreed; I must have been into it. I lied to myself and accepted that it had been consensual.

Months later, that same neighbor of mine mentioned it in passing, teasing me good-naturedly for ‘sleeping’ with that guy. It was a punch to the gut; I suddenly felt like crying, or vomiting, or screaming. I wanted to tell him that I hadn’t wanted to, that it hadn’t been my choice, that he had taken something from me that I could never get back. I didn’t say that, though; god forbid he think me a bitch.

At seventeen, I really thought the worst thing I could be called was a bitch.

I’m telling my stories only because I am older now and secure. I am healed enough to share them without shame, and I am supported enough to close them up in my past. But not everyone has this luxury, and that’s okay. You don’t have to air your dirty laundry in order to join this movement; you can keep your silence until you’re ready, or until forever. We’re telling our stories so you don’t have to.

You don’t need to wear your assault on your shirt like a badge. You can keep it tucked into your heart, a wound healing over, as long as you don’t let it consume you. And know that even if you’re silent, I see you; I believe you. I know your hurt, and I will hold your hand.

I might just need you to hold me, too.

#MeToo