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Published: Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:10:24 -0400


Auntie SparkNotes: I'm Afraid of Being Forced into Intimacy

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:10:24 -0400

Dear Auntie Sparknotes, I'll try to make this as short as possible: I'm conservative when it comes to intimacy, and I feel this might negatively affect my relationship with my potential boyfriend/husband. When I say conservative, I mean "no HND before marriage" conservative. This includes HND with "The Pill": I just don't want to be intimate before marriage at all. I'm fine with kissing and hugging, but I can't go any further than that with anyone except my (future) husband. I don't think badly of anyone who does the HND before marriage, I just don't want to do it myself. The problem is this: From what I've heard, many boys, especially those around the age when I'd like to start dating people (18) are...hormonal. And jerks. Hormonal and jerks. I'm not saying all of them are (far from it), but a sufficiently large number to sort of justify my concerns. My concerns are such: that I may be forced into an intimate relationship against my will by my boyfriend. I've heard about it happening. Many times, boys aren't too patient when it comes to doing the HND. My future boyfriend (side note here for context: I haven't had a boyfriend up to now, and I don't want one before I'm 18), might just lose patience with my silly, conservative feelings. Cue screams, sobs, and mental breakdowns from your dear old LW. I'm honestly terrified of all these "what ifs" and "maybes." I'm scared my SO might get bored with me during..."courtship" (for lack of a better word), and go off with another girl. Or, y'know, just shove me against a wall and take it from there. I think it would break me (and I know I'm probably being overly sensitive here, but that's just how I am. I can't handle rejection or being forced to do what I don't feel comfortable doing). If I'm better off becoming a spinster, and I should just go on Ebay and order a few tons of cats, then so be it. If I do have a chance of getting my own "happily ever after", though, I'd be in your debt if you could tell me how. For starters, Sparkler, you should find the person who told you all these horror stories about teenage boys being a bunch of rapist brutes and tell them to stop pulling your leg before it falls all the way off. Because geez, kiddo. Not to put a big ol' dent in your fantastically nightmarish vision of the dating landscape, but your ideas about men are wildly overblown, to the point where Auntie is wondering if you're basing them exclusively on a certain series of romance novels about sexually-aggressive vampires. And when it comes to what to expect from your future dating relationships, the truth is much more boring. Yes, most young men (and young women, too) are more likely than not to be interested in physical intimacy—and no, not every guy will be satisfied with a relationship as chaste as the one you're currently envisioning. But there are multiple massive worlds of difference between the majority of guys who believe that sexytimes are an essential part of a healthy, happy relationship, and the teeny tiny minority of violent criminals who would force themselves on a woman against her will. Yes, the latter category of person exists—but not, thankfully, in the kind of numbers that make it reasonable to live in fear of meeting one. For most guys, the idea of having sex with someone who doesn't want to have sex with them falls somewhere between profoundly unappealing and outright horrifying on the spectrum of NOPE. Which means that as long as you are assertive, communicative, and honest with your eventual boyfriends about what you do and don't want to do in terms of physical intimacy, you can rest easy with the expectation that your desires and boundaries will be respected—no matter what they are. (It's also worth noting that you might feel differently about this stuff when you're a) older, and b) in the thick of a committed relationship with someone you care about.) Of course, depending on how much importance your boyfriend attaches to physical intimacy himself, having your boundaries respected may take the form of a respectful bre[...]

The Book Report: There's a Harry Potter Documentary (& Two New Books!) Coming in October

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:00:49 -0400

Welcome back to the Book Report, where I scour the Internet for book-related news so you don’t have to! This week we’ll take a look at the ever-present conveyer belt of new Harry Potter lore, John Green’s first book in five years, and what is essentially the original Kindle—all the way from the 1600s. 9/13/17: We’re Getting a Metric Buttload of New Harry Potter Content To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the British Library is opening up a brand-new Harry Potter exhibition complete with original notes, manuscripts, and lore from J.K. Rowling herself, all about the various different subjects at Hogwarts. But if you (like me) live nowhere near the British Library and don’t want to wait a year for the exhibition to come to the U.S. because that’s a year longer than you’ve ever waited for anything in your life, you’re in luck. The BBC is putting out a documentary in October called Harry Potter: A History of Magic that will make the exhibition accessible to everyone. ALSO: Bloomsbury announced in July that they’re releasing two companion books (!!!). 9/6/17: You Can Read the First Two Chapters of John Green’s Upcoming Novel Can you believe it’s been five whole years since we all read The Fault in Our Stars, took to our beds, and sobbed for hours? His much-anticipated new novel, Turtles All the Way Down, will be released on October 10th. I pre-ordered it roughly two seconds after the option became available to me, but if you’re not sold yet, you can read the first two chapters here. In related news: Hank Green—musician, entrepreneur, science advocate, and John’s brother—will be publishing his debut novel next year! It’s called An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and it’s about inexplicable robots and Internet fame, which honestly just feels right. 9/20/17: Some 17th-Century Nerd Had a Mini Portable Library Made for His Friends This would’ve been me in the 17th century. The context: some rich Jacobean dude named William Hakewell decided books were too big and cumbersome. To fix this, he commissioned a mini portable library to be made for one of his friends. This was done by creating a bunch of really tiny books and fitting them into a suitcase that was crafted to look like a regular-sized leather-bound folio book. The gift was such a hit that he had three more made within five years. 50 BOOKS TOTAL COULD FIT INSIDE THIS THING. FOUR PEOPLE IN THE 17th CENTURY WERE JUST WALKING AROUND WITH AN ENTIRE LIBRARY IN THEIR HANDBAGS. The original article ran back in 2014, and it has a lot of delightful pictures of these IMPOSSIBLY TINY BOOKS, which gives me feelings not unlike when I see tiny dogs in sweaters. Looking for more book news? Click here!

The 17 Worst Texts to Accidentally Send Your Crush

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:00:15 -0400

Open Thread for the Weekend of September 22!

Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:06:00 -0400

8 Books That Actually SHOULD Be Banned

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:00:33 -0400

How to Do Your Homework

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:00:05 -0400

If you’re reading this, odds are you’re supposed to be doing something else. Look, it’s not your fault. Algebra is boring; random articles on the Internet are infinitely more appealing. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide to doing your homework. 1. Sit down and carefully arrange your study supplies. 2. Recognize that the aforementioned step was incredibly strenuous. Take a forty-five minute break. 3. Put on some music so you never have to be alone with your thoughts. 4. Open your laptop. Go on the Internet and check your various social feeds. 5. Close your laptop. The Internet is distracting. Immediately get out your phone and go back on the Internet. 6. Post a picture on Instagram of your study area. Caption it “#studymode #nonstopstudying #studyallthetime.” 7. Go on a YouTube binge that begins with wedding flash mobs and somehow ends with Sonic the Hedgehog conspiracy theories. 8. Check your grades. Calculate how poorly you can do on this assignment and still get an A. 9. Calculate how poorly you can do on this assignment and still get a B. 10. Succumb to the siren song of sweet temptation and rummage through your fridge for a snack you neither need nor want. 11. Discover that you have questions about the homework. Text a friend or classmate. When they don’t immediately respond, check their Facebook, Snap story, or Instagram to see what they could possibly be doing that’s so much more important than helping you understand the material. If they don’t appear to be busy, get mad. If they do appear to be busy, get mad anyway because they didn’t invite you. 12. Move all your study supplies to a new location. The problem isn’t you, it’s the venue. 13. Google the War of the Roses, right now. Why? Because you don’t know anything about the War of the Roses and you have 1.2 million terabytes of information at your fingertips, that’s why. 14. Divide your time into scheduling blocks. You’ll spend forty-five minutes on algebra, forty-five minutes on AP bio, and 1.5 hours on your English essay. This system only took you twenty-three minutes to come up with. 15. Paint your nails. 16. Eat a banana. You don’t eat enough bananas. You don’t know what constitutes “enough” bananas (or, indeed, how many bananas is too many bananas) but you’re reasonably sure you could use a banana right now. 17. Tweet about how much homework you have. Expect a surplus of likes and retweets and become extremely disappointed when this doesn’t happen. 18. Wonder about the extent to which online validation contributes to your overall happiness. 19. Let your many anxieties spiral out of control. Is there an afterlife? What if you never find love? Will the world end before you need to figure out how to do taxes? 20. Okay, that got a little heavy. Watch a twenty-two minute sitcom to come down from that emotional rollercoaster. 21. Make a to do list. Add a bunch of things you already did so you feel good about yourself. 22. You don’t have any clothes. Do a little online shopping. 23. It’s past midnight, somehow. Resolve to simply wake up early tomorrow and finish your homework then, knowing full and damn well you’ll come to regret this decision in the fullness of time.

The 7 Most Savage Moments in Shakespeare

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:00:54 -0400

Look, I get it. On the surface, Shakespeare's works might seem difficult. Some of them are quite sad. People die. But beneath all that fancy jargon and easily preventable tragedy, it's just one hilarious verbal smackdown after another. Seriously, if all you know about Shakespeare is what you’ve learned in class—that he is an old, dusty wordsmith hell-bent on torturing us from beyond the grave with iambic pentameter—then boy are you missing out. These things are just full of classic zingers. There is literally a point in Troilus and Cressida where someone says, "I'll cut out your tongue!" and someone else replies, "FINE, DO IT, I'LL STILL BE MORE ARTICULATE THAN YOU. ALSO, YOU'RE UGLY." And that one didn't even make this list.

Open Thread for September 21!

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:04:04 -0400

Auntie SparkNotes: How Do I Break Up with My Snapchat Fling?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 15:26:53 -0400

Dear Auntie, I, a girl with guy problems, desperately need your help (a really rare occurrence, yes I know). I'll get right into it. I recently graduated high school, and for the past few months I've been talking to a guy who was in some of my classes—let's call him Oswaldo. Oswaldo and I began a Snapchat streak a while back; it's basically when you and another person send each other a picture or video every 24 hours. While Oswaldo and I were initially just acquaintances in class, we began bonding over our common Mexican heritage (there aren't too many Mexicans where we live) and our love of fútbol. We began texting more frequently and having long phone calls. Things were going well; we knew we really liked each other and our conversations were very flirty and fun, but also very deep at times. However, Oswaldo and I are both going to schools on opposite ends of the country, and we agreed that whatever was going on would just be a summertime thing. Despite vaguely making plans to meet up, neither of us have taken the initiative to set those plans in place, and recently, we haven't been talking as much since we've both been extremely busy. The Snapchat streak that brought us together is beginning to seem more like a chore, and with summer almost over and both of us heading off to college soon, I think that it's time I move on. I just wonder how I should proceed. The streak has lasted a loooong time, and to just end it abruptly would feel wrong. I want to remain friends with Oswaldo, like how we were before all the flirting came into play. How should I end the streak and this "fling?" Let's start by stating the obvious (said Auntie SparkNotes, gesturing awkwardly in the direction of autumn): seeing as we're a good couple weeks into the school year, I'm guessing you had to work this one out on your own. The good news is, I'm sure you did just fine! Because the takeaway from your letter—and what I would have told you if I'd received it in time to give a timely response —is that relationships like this one have a built-in lifespan that includes a quiet death from natural causes at the end of it, and that your only responsibility when that time comes is to let the thing die with dignity (or in some cases, fade out into something more casual.) So in your case, all your instincts were more or less spot on. You knew from the start that this was nothing serious, you adjusted your expectations accordingly when it became clear that your fling didn't have the legs to make the leap from Snapchat streaks and flirty phone calls into a real-life meetup, and you took it in stride when things got busy and you guys started talking less… all of which makes me willing to bet that you didn't ultimately need any help knowing when to say when on ending the Snapchat streak, and doing it in a way that felt organic and expected and not abrupt at all. And for the record, there's nothing like a giant life transition to shake up your existing routine, and as lapses in communication go, heading off to college makes for a pretty ironclad excuse. In your case, you could have let yourself off the hook with a snap that conveyed the chaos, e.g. a picture of your bedroom at the height of its mid-packing disarray and a joke about being lost inside a pile of dirty laundry (implicit subtext: things are getting crazy and he shouldn't be shocked if he doesn't hear from you). Meanwhile, the only part of your letter that does warrant a reality check is the bit where you say you want to go back to a friendship like the one you had pre-fling—and that's not because you can't go from friend to fling to friend again, but rather that the "fling" part of your relationship still happened. It's part of your history now, and it'll inform your dynamic from here on out—whether it's a shared exper[...]