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Published: Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:46:34 -0400


Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Afraid to Meet My Dad's New Girlfriend

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 16:46:34 -0400

Dear Auntie SparkNotes, My parents are divorced, and have been for quite some time now. I don't have much of a problem with it anymore, except for the fact that my dad doesn't respect my mom. He treats her like what she has to do and how she lives her life no longer matters. When we go to his house, it's just like we're staying with mom again because he dumps us onto her because he has to go to a dinner with his girlfriend. And here comes the second problem. My dad's girlfriend. Well, NEW girlfriend. Let's start simple for now. We'll call my dad's first girlfriend Red, and his new one Blue. Red was very emotionally abusive to my 9-year-old brother and my 14-year-old self. She called us names, called us ungrateful, and every compliment and gift were minefields for us. We met her when I was 9, and my brother was 4. We didn't have a great impression at first, since my dad took us to her house, introduced us, and forced us to sleep in her 9-year-old son's room on the floor. I offered to let us sleep on the couch or Red's 6-year-old daughter's floor, but she insisted. After five years of putting up with her and going to therapy, I finally voice my opinion that I dislike her. So what does she do when she gets into a fight with my dad? Leaves and blames it on my brother. Red is gone now, and we haven't seen her in five months. It is emotionally relieving and my brother has started to gain his own voice. The catch of the situation is that my dad immediately started dating Blue once Red was gone. He told us a while later and introduced my brother to her. He also introduced my mom. I, however, am refusing to meet her. I had such a bad experience with Red that I'm afraid the same thing could happen to Blue. She's already given me gifts and written me a letter saying how excited she is to meet me. She said that she respects my decision and will wait as long as I want to until we meet. I'm not sure I ever want that day to come. Am I being selfish for not wanting to meet her? Is there any way I could convince or help my dad learn how to respect my mom more? And is there any way I could take my fear of Red out of my opinion of Blue? I can certainly think of one way, Sparkler! But I must warn you, you're not going to like it. Because if there's one thing that'll prove to you immediately and concretely that Blue isn't just Red 2.0, it's meeting her in person. Which is why your refusal to let that happen isn't necessarily selfish, per se, but it is self-sabotaging. You're denying yourself the one thing that might actually give you some peace of mind, and dwelling on an imaginary nightmare scenario in a way that simply doesn't serve you. (Not to mention that these women are two entirely different people, and blaming Blue for Red's bad behavior isn't exactly fair to anyone.) And look, sweet pea: Ultimately, this is your call. In fact, one of the more encouraging things about your letter is that all the adults involved are apparently giving you the space to work through this on your own. But considering that your current approach is doing nothing to make you feel better or decrease your fear of this woman, I have to suggest that you shore up your courage and get past it sooner rather than later. I promise, you'll feel better once you do. At the very least, you'll have a real, actual human to replace the monster you've made up in your head—and even if IRL Blue isn't exactly your favorite person, she also can't possibly be as terrible as the boogeyman you imagine. However, before you do that, there's something I suspect you'll need to do first: namely, recognize the limits of your control vis-a-vis your parental relationships, and particularly the part where their relationship with each other is just not yours to interfere with. If your dad doesn't seem especially interested in or respectful of your mom anymore, then yes, that completely sucks—but it's something that happens when people divorce. (It might even be one of the reasons why they split up in the first place.) The fact that their marriage ended means that som[...]

How to Ask Someone to Prom, According to Shakespeare

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 11:00:55 -0400

Asking someone to prom is really hard. You have to put your entire sense of self on the line and just kind of hope it gets a "Sure, why not?" in return. The actual dance ranges from fun to just okay (barring the part where everyone gets telekinetically murdered by the newly crowned prom queen, but whatever, it happens). It’s the asking bit that’s kind of a big deal. Every year, the pressure’s on to ask people to prom in new and creative ways. But if you want to have some fun with it, try one of these Shakespearean lines that double as promposals: 1. "Wilt take thy chance with me?" 2. "Come with me, fool." 3. "I do beseech you, by all the battles wherein we have fought, by the blood we have shed together…" 4. "Give me your hand: this hand is moist, my lady." 5. "Fellow, wilt thou bestow thy time with me?" 6. "Huntsman, what say'st thou? wilt thou go along?" 7. "Well, let us go together." 8. [Offering money] 9. "Deny me this, and an eternal curse fall on you! Let me know." 10. "Therefore, sirrah—[stabbing him]—with a new wound in your thigh, come you along with me." 11. "Why, wilt thou tourney for the lady?" 12. "Thou shall be waking well I shed thy blood, if from this presence thou darest go with me." 13. "And I do love thee: therefore, go with me; I'll give thee fairies." 14. "Come, will you go with me?" 15. "If you will go, I will stuff your purses full of crowns; if you will not, tarry at home and be hanged." 16. "Here, Winchester, I offer thee my hand." 17. "Come, let us to the banquet." 18. "We will not now be troubled with reply: we offer fair; take it advisedly." 19. "And we, like friends, will straightway go together." 20. "Strong reasons make strong actions: let us go: if you say ay, the king will not say no."

How Would You Die in Greek Mythology?

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 10:00:30 -0400

I always figured I knew how I would die in Greek mythology (rejected, lovelorn, pecked to death by an eagle who is also somehow my father). But that was before I started blogging The Odyssey and realized just how many ways there are to die. You could take an arrow to the foot. You could be sacrificed to the gods for better weather. You could get yourself kicked off a cliff and eaten by a turtle. The list goes on and on. Look, if you’ve never actually wondered how you would die in Greek mythology, well, now you have, and I’m real sorry about cursing you with the burden of curiosity. The good news is you don’t have to wonder for long. This quiz was originally published in September 2016 [viralQuiz id=151]

Open Thread for the Weekend of April 21!

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 08:00:35 -0400

Auntie SparkNotes: My BFF Wants All My Attention

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 12:32:14 -0400

Dear Auntie, I'm currently a senior in high school, and I just returned from a four-day long school trip with my friends. And, boy, did things take a turn for the worse. My boyfriend, let's label him B, and I have been together since eighth grade. We've always been a strong couple, and we had a phenomenal time together over the school trip, with the time we were able to spend together. Things were almost perfect. Enter F, my best friend since sophomore year. F is a sensitive guy, to say the least. He gets hurt easily; I could give him one irritated look and it would ruin his day. If we fight, he just falls apart, crying and scratching his arms until he starts to bleed. The worst fight we had ended with F taking a knife and slicing his forearm, scaring me into silence about whatever we were bickering about.My relationship with F does really infuriate me at times because he is so demanding and touches me constantly, but I put up with him because I do genuinely appreciate him on his good days. During the trip, F wanted to spend a lot of time with me, and he didn't get as much as he would have liked. When I arrived home, B and I were discussing the events of our trip over text. We landed on the subject of F's bad mood, and B opened up to me about how he felt. He told me how jealous of the amount of attention F receives over him, and how he hated that F stole me away at times over the weekend to help deal with his problems, how he was so upset that he interrupted romantic moments, and how a lot of the time it feels way more that F is my boyfriend rather than B. And he's not wrong. F constantly makes me feel guilty for paying more attention to B and is admittedly way more affectionate towards me than he is towards his own girlfriend. I've been ignoring this for two years, and I feel like I've just allowed F to continue with his terrible behavior instead of encouraging him to fix it. I need to fix this, I know that much. I've known B for way longer, and I care for him too much to have him suffer in silence. B tells me that he can handle it, that F needs me more. But now that I know how B feels about my relationship with F, I can't ignore it. I can't just plainly tell F how he's been making B feel, or what he's doing to my relationship, because of his tendency to self-harm whenever we get into a fight, which is B's biggest argument for why nothing can be changed. Auntie, how can I tell F what he's doing to B without him falling into a pit of self-loathing and hate? I can't just allow B to suffer through watching F hog all of my attention any longer. I care about both of these young men so much, and I don't want either one to get hurt. And boy, is that ever your biggest problem, kiddo. Despite everything, you're still trying to play both sides here, pretending like this is a conflict in which both parties are equally in the right and equally deserving of consideration. That's not right, and it's not fair—not when F wields his pain like a weapon that he can use to make other people bend to his will. Despite what may have been your best intentions, you have enabled F’s manipulation.You and your friend are locked into a long-established pattern of codependency, where your reactions only encourage his toxic behavior. And while it's clear from your letter that you consider yourself a supportive friend, and while F's demands on your attention may make you feel needed and important, unfortunately, the solution to your problem requires that you sacrifice your status as a martyr to this relationship. It's clear from your letter that F's demands on your attention make you feel important and needed—and even now, you seem to be looking for a way to put your foot down while still getting to play the martyr, and without having to give up the ego boost of being fought over by two guys. The reason to call out F's behavior isn't that it's hurting your boyfriend; it'[...]

QUIZ: Is This a Great Gatsby Quote or a Lorde Lyric?

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 11:00:23 -0400

Lorde was sent to us from another time. That’s the only explanation I can come up with as to why every single one of her lyrics is so gloriously Gatsby-ish. In fact, I will personally bet you everything in my purse (that’s a whopping three dollars and twenty-seven cents, and I’ll even throw in the nine mini Kit-Kat bars I keep stocked for emergencies) that you won’t do better than 7/12. [viralQuiz id=295]

Open Thread for April 20!

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:00:26 -0400

50 Essay Topics for the Most SparkNoted Books

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 11:00:51 -0400

The worst part about writing an essay is coming up with the topic. You COULD argue that the actual worst part of writing an essay is, well, writing it, and you’d be right to, but I needed a quick, snappy way to start this post and besides, I can’t just write your essay for you. That would be lunacy. What I CAN do is give you some ideas to get the ball rolling. Disclaimer: don't forget to double-check the assignment. Your teacher may be asking for something specific, like a persuasive essay, an argument essay, a compare-and-contrast essay, a character analysis, a synthesis essay, etc. Make sure you know what kind of essay you're writing before you start writing it, lest you lose points on your paper and get kicked out of school forever. And before anyone says it, no, I didn’t come up with essay topics for every single book that has ever existed. I’m just a person. But let me know what books you guys are tackling as we begin that inexorable march into the void (otherwise known as "the end of the school year"), and I’ll see what I can do.