What is Normal Marital Hatred? (Seriously, we don't know!)

The Washington Post claims that marital hatred is normal and that everyone who's been in a long-term relationship can relate. But IS it normal? Has EVERYONE experienced this? We've quarantined together for 2 1/2 years and haven't experienced it, so we remain skeptical...


Courtney: Hello, pod people. Welcome back to the podcast! My name is Courtney and I’m here with my spouse, Royce. Together, we are The Ace Couple. And we’ve been talking a lot lately about people who hate us, and that’s not very fun. So today, instead, we’re going to be talking about other people who hate each other. So, does that about sum it up, [laughs] Royce?

Royce: Sort of?

Courtney: We found an article.

Royce: Yeah. So, Courtney, I believe you came across this article at one point in time and read the headline and said, “Hey, maybe we should talk about this.” And to this point, you haven’t read it. I just went through it. It’s an article posted in the wellness section of the Washington Post.

Courtney: Gotta love those Wellness articles. 10 out of 10 every time.

Royce: It came out about a month and a half ago, towards the end of September. It was written by Tara Parker Pope, and it is titled, “Normal marital hatred is real. Here’s what to do about it.”

Courtney: [laughs] So right off the bat, this title baffles me. It baffles me! Because, first of all, “normal marital hatred,” to me, sounds like an oxymoron, because I don’t think that “normal hatred” –

Royce: Yeah, those three words in isolation make it seem like you’re trying to normalize toxic behavior.

Courtney: That’s what it sounds like! Yes! Or it’s very much like almost, “Oh, it’s normal for you to hate your spouse. It’s normal for you to hate your partner.” Which kind of goes back to all these things that we’ve talked about in the past – things that we just don’t understand. Like what some people might refer to as “Boomer humor,” like, “Oh, I hate my wife and kids,” or these old sitcom tropes, but like, trying to normalize it. And I’m sure the article has more insight than that, but I don’t think hating your married partner should be normal. I don’t know. It seems weird to me.

Royce: I have a couple of opinions on it. There are some things in this article that I guess I understand theoretically, but I don’t think I actually experience it in the way that the people who wrote this or their intended audience feels. It also seems to be one of those situation where they are identifying a problem and they’re stepping way into the intended audience’s territory with the hopes that if they sort of ease the burden of their message, that their audience will actually try to, like, stop and understand it instead of just going up to them and being like, “Hey, you’ve got problems.”

Courtney: [laughs] “You’ve got problems.” Yeah. So, well, that’s always… Because when I think, like, “normal hatred,” I wonder what their definition of “hatred” is. Because to me, my idea of hatred is such a visceral aversion, often anger-based, and if that’s something that you are feeling regularly toward your spouse, presumably someone you’re living with and sharing most aspects of your life with, that doesn’t sound… healthy.

Royce: So let me go ahead and start by quoting a few passages here at the beginning of this article. It’s a fairly short article, and it kicks off by saying, “Do you know what ‘normal marital hatred’ is? If you’ve been married or in a long-term relationship, then you probably do.” And then they quote an author and family therapist named Terrence Real, who says, “I’ve been talking about this around the country for decades. Not one person has ever come backstage and said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ Everybody knows what it is.”

Courtney: Everyone! Everyone who’s been in a long-term relationship.

Royce: They also say that “No one acknowledges the underbelly of relationships. Nobody acknowledges the darkness.”

Courtney: Ooooh, “the darkness.” Dramatic.

Royce: It goes on to say, “There are going to be moments when you look at your partner, and at that moment, there is a part of you that just hates their guts. You’re trapped with this horrible human being. How did you wind up here? What I want to say is, ‘Welcome to marriage. Welcome to long-term relationships.’”

Courtney: Oh.

Royce: And this is the point where I agree with you earlier. I don’t know if I experience what other people refer to as “hatred.” Like, I can get frustrated. There are situations where my anxiety might run high. But those sort of negative emotions, for me at least, always fall off very abruptly after the fact. And I genuinely don’t think I experience what they’re alluding to here, or I might just be completely misunderstanding, like, how they’re articulating what other people are feeling.

Courtney: Yeah. I think I might be on the same page with you there. Because I don’t know if I experience what I interpret to be “hatred.” And one thing – I don’t know if I really mentioned this on the podcast before, but I don’t really experience anger in the same way other people do, I don’t think. I guess not too long ago, we actually talked about how I don’t experience embarrassment in the same way a lot of other people seem to. So, I don’t know what the deal is, but I think my threshold for emotions and the way I experience them are just a lot different than other people’s. Because embarrassment I don’t really understand, especially not secondhand embarrassment, but anger is one of those that I feel like, over the years, I’ve had to kind of train myself to learn how to experience, or at least, to learn how to emulate. Because I can say that I’m angry about things like societal injustice, and I do feel very strongly and passionately about these large overarching issues, but this is more my closest approximation of anger to that. And I don’t tend to experience it toward individual people. There was certainly a time in my life in the past when I would just outright say, “I don’t get angry. I don’t know how to be angry.” If I’m having negative emotions in a situation that doesn’t involve another person, it’s going to tend to default to sadness or another type of negative emotion, but not really anger. So I don’t know. Anger is more theoretical, broad, big, societal, almost performative, like put on the performance of anger when it is useful. So I don’t know, at least on the level that people like this seem to be talking about hatred or anger with your partner, just, I don’t seem to experience the same thing, and not nearly on the same level. Because it honestly just baffles me. I have never once looked at you and been like, “I hate your guts,” [laughing] like, never once. And here, you have an article that’s saying, “Absolutely everybody who has ever been in a long-term relationship knows exactly what this is like.” It’s like, no, actually! [laughing] Enlighten me, please.

Royce: So, I mentioned that I felt like this could either just be a difference in experience or expression from how we normally articulate things or how we experience things. We both talked about sort of coming to understand what neurodivergence is and what our place is in it.

Courtney: Have we really talked about that on the podcast? Have we really gotten into that?

Royce: I was pretty sure I have at least mentioned some things.

Courtney: I know you’ve briefly mentioned the word “neurodivergence,” and I believe a couple of times you’ve said “masking behaviors,” on the podcast, but I think… Yeah, so here’s the weird thing: I have always known that I am neurodivergent, in the sense that I have been diagnosed with OCD, which is a type of neurodivergence. So that much I have known. I was actually… I guess most of this story should be for another time, because otherwise, this is going to be a big tangent, but medical history wise, I was sort of “under-the-table” diagnosed with OCD by a psychiatrist who didn’t want to formally put it in my charts for several years before I did actually have it on paper. But that’s a talk about medical discrimination that we will probably have pretty soon, but that’s a very odd thing. But then you and I – we’ve started to learn more about ourselves. We’ve developed more relationships, and stronger relationships with a wider variety of people. And when that happens you can start to just really learn new things about yourself, or you finally have the context and perspective to sort of add language to parts of yourself. And often, self-diagnosis is kind of the first stage to that. But Royce, when did we start having this, like, specific conversation with vocabulary involved?

Royce: Uh… I don’t know for sure. It feels like it’s been pretty recent. Or at least, the big changes or big revelations have been pretty recent, like maybe within the last year. I’ve been –

Courtney: I was thinking two, maybe, but yeah, recent.

Royce: I’ve been wondering if I was dyslexic since high school, but it has taken me a very long time to learn just how broad that umbrella is and how it actually manifests.

Courtney: Yeah, exactly. And the odd thing that has sort of been, I don’t know, a co-revelation – we both started understanding things simultaneously as we had more conversations, an something we’re still very much exploring for ourselves – is, are we somewhere on the autism spectrum? Which is so fascinating to me, because you know, late diagnosis is a thing, not getting diagnosed until adulthood is very much a thing. Autistic people sometimes just find each other even before they have a diagnosis, which is really fascinating to me, because for me it kind of went from “I have a lot of really good close friendships with a lot of autistic people,” and it almost became a pipeline of sorts. Like, [laughing] “All of my best friends are autistic. Oh wait, I’m autistic too.” Which has been wild and weird and interesting, and probably something we’ll explore in more depth and nuance in the future. But it’s been at least for, like, the last year that our conversations at home we’ve very specifically been talking about autism. Because really, a lot of the autism characteristics that we have come to learn are autistic characteristics were things that just, like, seemed normal to us because they’ve more or less always been a part of our life; we just maybe haven’t articulated it to someone else, or it’s been written off as a quirk of ours. But the more we learn about autism, the more we have conversations with these people… And I mean, honestly, I found a TikTok, a really great TikTok, and this was one thing that really helped solidify some of our thoughts after we had the preliminary conversations of “maybe autism?” And this is when I first joined TikTok, so I wish I could remember his name. If I can find it, I will put it in the show notes. But it’s honestly been a long time since I’ve been on TikTok. But he was making a lot of videos about, like, “All the signs that I should have known that I was autistic,” [laughs] and like, every single one of these TikToks was either like, “Oh, that’s me,” or “Oh, that’s Royce,” or there were a couple of them that were like, “Oh, that’s both of us.”

Royce: A lot of it has seemed to come from being more involved in this online community, particularly since we’ve started this podcast and just have seen and spoken to a lot more people. There are a lot of people out there who have been diagnosed, who will say things like what you’re mentioning that have just really resonated with us or have given us a different lens to, like, look at events throughout our lifetime through.

Courtney: So yeah, really, really interesting and fascinating subject to us. So, when we talk about, like, not necessarily relating to certain emotions in the same way that other people seem to, that very well might be a factor involved.

Royce: It could. And I mentioned deconstructing language is a big part of this. Like, what are people actually experiencing emotionally in these circumstances? And I also mentioned, are they trying to take something that is just generally understood amongst the widespread population? Like, this author said, “No one has questioned this at a workshop. Everyone seems to understand this inherently.” Which is one way to get in to have a further conversation, and part of this conversation is that people really need to stop having idealized romantic relationships, like what you see in rom-com movies, for example.

Courtney: Well, that I agree with. Like, yes, absolutely. I agree with that. But when someone’s like, “Everyone knows what we mean by ‘hate,’” I’m like, “Do we? Do I?” [laughs] If – like, here I am googling the word “hate.”

Royce: I think that’s supposed to be everyone with an asterisk. Like, statistically, most of the general population – I was about to say, maybe allonormative or heteronormative, but I don’t even know how far these relationships structures go.

Courtney: Yeah. So we’re talking, like, cis, allo, hetero, allistic, abled, neurotypical, [laughs] all of the normativities. But we haven’t made room in our language to accommodate a wider variety of experiences. But, literally, I did just google the word “hate,” because I like dictionary definitions and I like knowing what the dictionary says. But when it comes to things like emotions, emotions are such a nebulous, more abstract concept that different people can experience differently, and they can experience them to different levels. And not only that, but different words can have very different connotations to different people. So, just saying the word “hate” probably does not actually mean much outside of a context. But the literal definition that came up first in Webster’s is “intense hostility and aversion. Intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” And it’s like, that sounds… I mean, come on. “Intense” is literally a word right in there. [laughing] So I’m like, “That sounds intense!” And “intense hostility,” that… it seems so strong and visceral, and I can maybe, maybe, see a version in such situations as… maybe you need a little alone time right now. But I don’t know. Things like sadness or frustration might be something that calls for a little alone time. But the actual “dislike intensely or passionately,” as dictionary.com says it, it sounds like such a raw, strong, negative thing, and it sounds like too much. It’s a lot.

Royce: So to wrap up the little bits on idealizing relationships before we move further on in the article, it does say that aside from getting past the sort of, you know, Hollywood depiction of marriage, it’s also the idea that we need to stop incorrectly celebrating idealized versions of commitment. The example that they give being just seeing a “cute couple” somewhere at a party and just assuming that they have a perfect relationship. And they go on to say, “Just once at a cocktail party, I wish someone would say: There’s Harry and Shirley. For the first 20 years, they fought like cats and dogs. He actually left her for a year and took up with another woman. Then they managed to work on it and settled down, and now they’re pretty okay. Aren’t they adorable?” Which…

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: I guess I get what they’re going for there? Like, they’re meaning to depict things as they are instead of just glossing them over.

Courtney: Yeah, glossing over everything. I mean, I get that, but I don’t like the metaphor to illustrate their point. Because just looking at a couple at a party, no one is going to know their entire relationship history. And also, just “fought like cats and dogs for 20 years,” [laughs] like, that also sounds really extreme and miserable. Like, 20 years is a long time to be fighting like that. But in either situation, whether you’re looking at a couple at a party and you say, “Oh, they’re so cute, they’re so idealistic,” or if you’re looking at a couple like Harry and Shirley, [laughs] like, you’re not going to know the details in either situation.

Royce: You’re not going to just look at someone and also assume that they have a troubled history.

Courtney: Right! Yes! Because the same could be said for social media. You’ll see a really cute couple photo on something like Instagram, or you’ll have these couples who are big, like, relationship YouTubers, and you’ll see #CoupleGoals, but it’s like, you don’t actually know that couple and you don’t know everything they’ve been through.

Royce: You don’t know how many arguments were required to get that photo.

Courtney: [laughs] Apparently!

Royce: That was their 400th take.

Courtney: Oh! Well so you just say that because you’ve had to be my photographer when I have not wanted [laughs] to take pictures before. Oh my goodness, we should post the headshot we’ve been using for my business with some of my hair work around me, because you took that photo and I was not in the mood to take photos. The photo on the camera roll right before we got the final shot is hilarious, because the utter misery [laughs] in my face because we were not getting the shot is beautiful. But again, that’s not hatred or anger. That’s just like, “I’m frustrated at photography and my face.” [laughs]

Royce: So this article also brings up a few bits of research that has been done on couples. One of them, from John Gottman, a researcher at the University of Washington recorded a number of “couples during conflict and monitoring positive and negative words, facial expressions and body language. He calculated,” from this research, “that strong relationships have a 5-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.”

Courtney: Mm.

Royce: Another bit of research from E. Mavis Heatherington from the University of Virginia studied around “1400 heterosexual couples over three decades and found a particular type of marriage that was most prone to divorce. And she called it the pursuer-distancer marriage, where one person typically presses to solve problems, but the other dismisses those concerns.”

Courtney: Ohh, absolutely. So I can see that being a thing. First of all, it’s always heterosexual couples, isn’t it? [laughs]

Royce: In studies, absolutely.

Courtney: And as much as, like, positive and negative words, I can definitely see that maybe being a thing, but also, just, you’re talking about expressions and body language, and that also sounds like a very… There’s already a predetermined, like, model for what you should look like or sound like or say, and how those should be interpreted. So, I’m also very curious how different things like neurodivergence can play into that.

Courtney: But I definitely can understand the “pursuer” and the “dismisser,” because that’s very much a thing. We have talked about that a lot, actually, because that is very much not what we do. If there is an issue of any type, it’s like, we need to drop everything and talk about this, and we need to figure this out right now. And neither one of us is ever yelling; we are not the yelling type. And I know some couples who will absolutely just have, like, screaming matches, and I cannot understand them. I could not – I could not be in a relationship with somebody like that. But we’ve also just known some people who are like, “As soon as conflict happens, I’m just going to leave.” And I couldn’t do that myself – I couldn’t just leave – but I also couldn’t handle someone who’s just leaving. It’s like, “I need to figure this out. We need to talk if there’s going to be an issue.”

Royce: Yeah, you get stuck if something’s unresolved.

Courtney: Yes! If there’s something to resolve, we need to stop and figure it out and then resolve it as soon as possible. And we even see that on things like TV and movies, where a couple is having an argument, maybe it is a screaming match, and one of them just gets up and leaves. I’m just like, “What would compel someone to leave in a situation like this? You didn’t solve anything!” And it’s… well, I guess it’s either they leave and just exit the room or they just start having, like, hate sex, and to me it’s all kind of the same. [laughs]

Royce: Yeah. In the latter instance, you’re kind of just riding off of intense emotions and also, like, turning the brain off.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: So continuing on that point, in the article, they say that one of the problems in these sorts of relationships is that many couples will turn conflict into a sort of power struggle, where one person needs to prove themselves correct or to win the argument. And the quote that they have here is, “In normal circumstances, if you’re unhappy with me, that is not the time for me to talk to you about how unhappy I am with you. Everybody gets that wrong.” Sort of the intent here is, you know, resolve things one at a time; don’t bring up this laundry list of other things when someone is mad at you to kind of turn the conversation in your favor.

Courtney: Yeah, to sort of counteract. Like, “Oh, you think you’re mad? Well, I’m… mad… actually! ’Tis you who are the asshole, not I!” [laughs] I mean, I can see that.

Royce: Right. Those things have their place and time, but right now is not the right time.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: And getting a little further into it, they also say that “traditional therapy, which can teach us to assert ourselves, set the record straight, set boundaries and push back, can actually add to the dysfunction of marriages.” They say that “it’s healthier to start thinking of your relationship as an ecosystem where any disruption hurts you just as much or worse than it affects your partner. Stop thinking like two individuals, and start thinking ecologically.”

Royce: After that, they go on to say that this will help you realize that it’s also “in your own self-interest to help your partner feel better, it’s easier to de-escalate conflict.” And as I mentioned a moment ago, “Save the constructive criticism for later, when you’re both open to listening, instead of right in the middle of a fight.”

Royce: Which – I think one of the reasons why things have a tendency to blow up like that is because there isn’t really a scheduled therapy time in most relationships. Like, when do you bring up that thing that annoys you? It feels like it just all comes out whenever there’s an argument instead of having, like, a reasonable time and place to say, “Hey, this thing has been nagging me. Like, what can we do about it?”

Courtney: Yeah. Sure. And I mean, I’m sure that’s different for every couple, and some couples literally are in couples therapy, so that’s at least a very structured version of setting aside time for things that need additional attention. But I’m sure, in addition to that, there’s also, you know, homework and guidance for how to navigate things at home as well throughout the week. I… assume? I should be clear: I have never been in couples therapy. [laughs]

Royce: I was about to say, I had my assumptions as well, but I have never been in couples therapy – or individual therapy for that matter.

Courtney: I have been in individual therapy, but not for a while.

Royce: I was assuming that part of having a third party in the room, another person in the room, is to help you learn the process of actually noticing your behaviors real time and, like, being able to react to things as they’re happening when you’re outside of those therapy sessions, when you feel something actually coming on and can actually address it.

Courtney: Yeah. And address it productively and not in a way that’s hurtful.

Royce: Right. And getting near the conclusion of this article, the author also says that “successful couples learn how to talk to each other during and after a conflict. Instead of saying things like, ‘Don’t talk to me like that,’” instead, they suggest something more like, “I want to hear what you have to say, so could you speak to me differently so I can understand it?” And just other ways to navigate, like, communication issues. That seems to be the underlying point of this article, is that if you don’t learn to communicate properly, there are going to be a lot of negative feelings all around – particularly with what that study said, like, the relationships that are most prone to divorce were ones where one party is completely dismissing and not addressing conflict.

Courtney: Yeah. And communication is very important. I think we lucked out, and we both communicate in compatible ways. And if a couple doesn’t know how to do that right off the bat, then there is going to be some level of learning and navigating that. But… I mean, at this point, my issue is just [laughing] the title of this thing. Because either it was for the sake of clickbait, like, [exaggerated tone] “Marital hatred,” [regular tone] to raise everyone’s alarm bells – because it did me. I was like, “Marital hatred?!” – or it’s really genuinely just putting a lot of weight on the fact that they presume that whoever’s reading this, this is going to be a feeling that everyone can relate to and understand what they are describing to hear as “normal marital hatred.” Because did they even really give us a definition of “normal marital hatred”? Or did they just say, “You know what it is”?

Royce: They just assumed we would understand.

Courtney: But we don’t! [laughs slightly] And it’s like, based on the follow-up information in the article and the studies, to me, I want to say, “Oh, you mean, you fight with your partner? You feel bad when you fight with them?” Nothing they’re even describing in these theoretical conflicts or these studies about conflict actually read as hatred to me. So, I guess I need a connecting thread, and I don’t have that, because they’re just assuming I already have that connection on my own, which I can relate to. But I don’t.

Royce: I would venture to guess that most people of any identity or orientation have difficulty actually explaining what emotions feel like. I think that’s a pretty universal thing. I think emotions are often so individual. To get down to what it actually feels like, you’d sort of end up grasping at words, because language in general is something that we have this loose agreement upon.

Courtney: Yeah, an understanding.

Royce: Yeah, there are definitions, but even some of them can be vague. If you step down from “hatred,” you’re trying to describe what something feels like. Like, what it feels like when that emotion happens. And if you’re describing something like pain, well, pain feels differently to different people. Distress feels different. It’s very difficult. We don’t have, like, a clear mathematical or scientific foundation to build off of.

Courtney: Absolutely. And I mean, the same could honestly be said for most of the language that we throw around in the queer community, in Asexual discourse, in the Aromanticism conversation. Because so often, we try to focus in on very specific words that we assume have a very specific definition. But a lot of the things we’re talking about are emotions and experiences that are just a lot more fluid than our language allows for. So when you say, for example, “Asexuality is about sexual attraction, not sexual desire” – that’s one that I know I’ve heard – but I’ve also seen people turn around and say, “I don’t experience either, so I still don’t know the difference between the two.” Or people would say, “Why would I have desire if I don’t have attraction?” And some people have a very clear idea of what that means in their heads, so they can very clearly distinguish the two. Honestly, the same could be said for Asexuality and Aromanticism. Some people experience one and not the other. Some people don’t experience those as two distinct things. That is, whether you’re Ace or allo, it might just all feed into the same sense of self and the same feeling. So we can try to define ourself into corners all day long, and it will be helpful for a certain percentage of people to help put words to what they’re feeling, but it is never going to apply to everyone.

Courtney: So yeah, I mean, I… Still, after reading the article, I don’t understand what “normal marital hatred” is. Maybe that’s one of those things I’m destined to never understand. But honestly… I mean, communication is so important, and I don’t disagree with the fact that communication is important. I consider the both of us to be really lucky that we have had a very similar communication style whenever we have had anything we need to talk about. And that we don’t have screaming matches; we don’t have one of us who’s trying to leave whenever conflict happens. And I mean, that’s kind of always the things we’ve scratched our head out when other couple friends have talked. Or even if they’ve had a conflict, like, right in front of us. I guess that’s happened a couple of times. And it’s like, “Oh…” [laughs] kind of awkward, I suppose, to have a couple fighting right in front of you.

Courtney: But what I really assumed… based on “marital hatred,” I assumed it was going to be something about, you know, [high-pitched, cynical tone] “Every relationship has problems,” but I assumed it was going to talk more about proximity and how much time you spend together and what you do with your time when you are together. Because I know that the word “hate,” like “I hate you right now,” really started amplifying, in a lot of people we were speaking to at the time, back when the pandemic started and people were staying home more often or people were working from home. We witnessed a lot of couples going like, “Man, I really can’t stand you anymore. I can’t handle this. I can’t handle being home this often.” And it’s like, some of those couples were saying this, like, within the first two weeks, and we have been going on two years at this point.

Royce: Yeah, particularly early pandemic, I feel like there were a lot of reports or news articles going on about couple issues and this impending, like, divorce boom that everyone was expecting because of it or something like that.

Courtney: Yeah. Which, I do think there is a thing – I think there is something to be said for, like, “living together compatibility” does not always line up with your actual feelings for someone. Like, you can still love someone, but if your living compatibility is off, there can be an issue. There could be something they’re just constantly doing that is annoying you to the point where it is actually negatively affecting your life. And… man, I wonder if there are any articles on that. How do you navigate that if you actually marry someone and then realize that your living compatibility is off? Because I have had people in my life whom I have absolutely loved and adored, but I couldn’t live with them. I just… I could not. I would rather live alone than live with you. That is very much a thing. And the same could be said for blood relatives. I’m sure there are people who are like, “Oh, I love my mom, but, like, I moved out the day I turned 18 and I will never move back in with my mom,” kind of a thing.

Royce: A lot of that – provided that you have enough space in the area that you’re living in – is another communication issue, though, too. It’s respecting other people’s personal spaces and agreeing to a set of conditions in the shared spaces that is reasonable for everyone to follow.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Because the same sort of behaviors that were mentioned in the article about some people being, like, too… the word that comes to mind was “domineering” or, like, “controlling” or, like, “needing to win an argument” –

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: – is kind of the same for housing. If it’s like, “This room must be this way. I have, like, 100% authority over the way that everything is in here, regardless of the way another person feels about it,” like, that could cause issues, unless that other person just literally doesn’t care about how that area of the house is.

Courtney: Yeah, that’s a good point. I do wish… [laughs] I do wish, in the early days of the pandemic, when more people were actually staying home more often, that more people were explaining what was going on at home and what they were feeling in a little more detail, as opposed to just, like, [frustrated tone] “My partner is driving me crazy now!” Because, yeah, I am curious, like…

Royce: It would be nice to have examples.

Courtney: Give us examples! Yes! [laughs]

Royce: I think there are a lot of people that just hate staying home, period.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: And so, like, their way to enjoy things, to unwind, was to get out of the house, so being trapped in the house was a big issue for them – in particular, because of other people and it being a shared space. Which, that in and of itself I think is a problem. Like, your home should be safe and comfortable.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: And if it’s not, you should do what you need to to make it that way. Like, make it a more comfortable, enjoyable place.

Courtney: Yeah, I would agree with that. And that’s something we’ve been really lucky with with this pandemic. Because we do have a comfortable, safe, enjoyable home, which… I was saying right from the start that especially with me, I have had so many homes in my life that have not been happy places, that have not been safe or consistent or comfortable places. And so for me, the pandemic hit, like, at the best time for me, because I had a home that I enjoy, I have a relationship I enjoy.

Royce: You did still have a few things to navigate, though, because immediately pre-pandemic, there were times when you needed to go out of the house to go to a coffee shop to get something done or to leave every now and then to drive somewhere to see a different environment. And there was a period of time early on where you sort of had to adjust.

Courtney: Yeah, that’s true. The initial learning curve of adjusting there wasn’t as difficult for me as it has started getting a little more recently. Because we have not traveled, we have not gone out of the house, almost period, since March of 2020 at this point. So, the first, like, year, after I figured out, you know, different places of the house to set up – I didn’t use to, for example, grab my research materials or my laptop and just sit on the couch in the living room to do, like, my first couple hours of work, but that’s something I started doing. And then when I needed to transition into my studio to actually start doing some projects, that worked really well for me, just moving to different parts of the house, which is not something I used to do. Because normally, if I was setting up with a book or a laptop, I would like to go to a coffee shop or something.

Royce: I think that is one thing that a lot of people who started working from home for the first time also had to navigate. Because I think there was a trend – very early on in the pandemic, a lot of people were struggling with working from home, and then as the pandemic went on, there has been a shift where the employees are like, “Oh, actually, working from home is great,” and it’s the managers that want people to go back – for most fields at least.

Courtney: Oh yeah. If you’ve been able to set up a dedicated workspace – which I fully acknowledge, not everyone lives somewhere where it’s easy to set up a designated workspace; not everyone lives in the midwest where we all have very large places to live, for the most part.

Royce: And fairly affordable rent, yeah. Rent, or housing prices –

Courtney: Mortgages.

Royce: Cost of living. But I think the underlying idea that people needed to figure out in their own terms was how to create different spaces for different activities.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Because that’s one of the problems with working from home is just your home being work now and just working all the time, or how to, you know, transition from waking up to getting some work in, to other activities throughout the day without them bleeding into one another. Because a lot of people are very used to walking out the front door and being in work mode and then coming home and shutting off that part of the brain.

Courtney: Right.

Royce: And it’s very different when it’s all in the same place.

Courtney: Which… That was a little bit of a hurdle for us, but we also kind of did have the leg up where we did already both work from home. I would just go and work remotely at a place a little more often. But neither one of us had an office or a place that we went to every single day. But one thing that was really, really freeing and ended up making, like, the first year of the pandemic just, like… we flourished [laughs] was understanding that I don’t have to keep the house ready for someone who I might invite over or might come over. Because we were like, “Well, you know, we’re stuck at home. But also, no one else is coming, and we want something new and exciting, and we are fucking adults. So you know what? We’re going to set up a fort in the basement.” [laughs]

Royce: I almost forgot about the early basement fort.

Courtney: Oh, we made a beautiful fort! [laughs]

Royce: The early pandemic basement fort. That seems like so long ago.

Courtney: It does. It does seem like so long ago. But we had that fort up for, like, months.

Royce: It was up for quite a while, yeah.

Courtney: We made a blanket fort that was big enough for both of us to… like, I think we fell asleep and took some naps in there. We would grab some controllers and play video games at the TV in front of the fort. I’d grab a book and just go read in the fort. [laughs]

Royce: It still wasn’t super comfortable, but yeah, we had, like, some packing foam that we had gotten from, like, some deliveries that I hadn’t figured out how to dispose of yet. That was the baseline. And then just a ton of blankets piled on top of it.

Courtney: Yeah, we were like, “Move the couch, move the coffee table, get some chairs and blankets, [laughs] and we’re setting up a fort, gosh darn it!” And that was great, just finding ways to still have fun and be silly in the home and change things up a little bit. Because we also did some homemaking early on, because since we didn’t have anybody who was coming over, we had so many things to hang up on the wall that we have had for years that we have just never hung up, even though we’ve maybe been like, “Oh, someday we’re going to hang this on that wall,” and we just never did. We went through and we hung up everything. I don’t think we have anything left to hang up. Our walls are filled and beautiful. And I finally feel like, for the first time in my life, after that first, like, six months of that pandemic, I am fully moved into a place. Like, I’ve never not had a closet full of pictures that aren’t hung up [laughs] or a moving box that never got opened.

Royce: That’s a good point. Because I mentioned, as we were transitioning into this topic, that sort of feeling stagnant in a place or having too many potentially negative associations with a place could make it hard to be in.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: And something as simple as rearranging a space can make it feel fresh. And I moved my kind of standard working space a couple of times.

Courtney: Mhm.

Royce: Like, I have a place that it’s in right now because we’re transitioning out of summer, and it was really hot in my standard working space, and I’m going to be moving things back there soon. But I’ve also just had days when I’ve wanted to have my laptop somewhere else.

Courtney: Yeah! Well, and, I mean, that’s the interesting thing too, because so many people early on… With like, “How to cope with quarantining at home!” a lot of that was, like, advice for couples is like, “Find a way to have your own space and to, like, keep distance from each other.” And it was even like, “How to separate your space even if you have a limited amount of space.” And that seemed to be a focus for all of it. But for us, we didn’t really keep separate any more than normal. Instead, we found shared areas to use differently together. Which, like… One I’m thinking of – because we do have a guest bedroom for pre-pandemic when people would come to visit us, and they would stay in the guest bedroom – there came a time where I was just like, “Man, I haven’t been able to travel anywhere. I haven’t been able to go,” so we just started, for a period of time, like, sleeping in the guest bedroom. And we started calling it “The AirBnB.” [laughs] And it wasn’t like, “I’m sick of you. You stay in the bedroom. I’ll go to the guest bedroom.” Like, that’s not a thing we do. It’s like, “Let’s both go sleep in the AirBnB tonight! It’ll be an adventure!” [laughs]

Courtney: But other than that, just, I mean, hobbies, both shared and apart. But I think especially the shared hobbies are interesting, because we’ve kind of talked before how there are definitely some couples who have either always been this way or they sort of do enter a period of stagnation, where it’s like, really the only things they do together are, like, the un-fun adult stuff – chores, paperwork, insurance – and then sex. And it’s like, I don’t personally think that that is enough, but I do think that being able to, like, to play with each other – and not necessarily in a sexual way, but to just play a game together, have a hobby that is mutually fun for both of you. It doesn’t have to be everything. And it can be something totally new that neither of you have done before, that you just pick up and say, “Hey, let’s give this a try.” Because whether it sticks or not, I think it’s fun to experience new things. We were picking up weird little hobbies – kind of still have been throughout the pandemic. We started growing mushrooms for a certain period of time. That was fun, but pretty short-lived. Mushrooms don’t take too long to grow.

Royce: Yeah, we tried, like, a mushroom-growing kit, and unfortunately, it was… something about the environment made it a little more difficult than it should have been. Like, they kept molding. I’d be interested in trying more, but I’d like it to be a little more sustainable.

Courtney: Yeah, we could basically only get one really good crop of mushrooms, and then…

Royce: Something would happen to the substance that they were growing in.

Courtney: Yeah, and we couldn’t get a second crop. Which – I mean, it was just fun to watch them grow.

Royce: I mean, in that same vein, I’ve been doing more gardening and trying to set up, like, some composting things, have less waste.

Courtney: I was doing a lot more baking early on in the pandemic, because I’ve always enjoyed baking, but normally it would be like – oh, I would bake for having people over, and if I’m having people over, I’m gonna go with a really reliable recipe that I know people like, that I’ve made a lot of times. And so I thought, “Oh, this will be a good opportunity to try new recipes and try experimenting.” And that was fun for a while. Then we decided to go vegan. I had already been a vegetarian for, like… 15 years. So veganism was kind of just the next step. But it’s like, now I don’t know how to bake as a vegan. I could theoretically [laughs] try to figure that out and that might be a future hobby.

Royce: We have been cooking a much wider variety of foods, I feel like, though.

Courtney: Mm, that’s true. Yeah, cooking together, cooking new meals together.

Royce: And there are other creative endeavors. I mean, this podcast is one of them. We also played a lot of D&D.

Courtney: A lot of D&D! We started actually running games, DMing, which neither of us had done pre-pandemic, which has been really good. And there’s enough I think variety to something like a tabletop RPG that it’s been able to kind of count both as a shared hobby and as a separate one. Because we come together to DM for our friends, and we co-DM together, and that’s a fun shared creative project, but we also do solo DMing, and sometimes that’s just for each other, which is something we started doing. [laughs] So like, I’ll have a game I’ve created that Royce will play, and vice versa, and then we’ll come together to make a third totally separate game for a group of friends. So that’s really just endless hours of fun and creativity and performing and role-playing and gaming. So that’s been a really, really good one. Other than that, I think less so activities and hobbies. We’ve just sort of use this time to upgrade things in our house that we’ve kind of just had for a long time or… mostly, like, I’m thinking kitchen stuff. Like, we got really good sets of, like, mixing bowls, since we’ve been cooking more often. And a lot of our kitchen stuff has just kind of been secondhand for years.

Royce: Yeah, we have made some intentional purchases, and I think some of that has just been going back to what we said earlier. Like, if your living space isn’t comfortable and enjoyable, like, make it so. Because in order to cook more, we did make a few strategic purchases. We transitioned from having a standard coffee pot to a little espresso maker.

Courtney: That was a big one because, yeah, I think about like a year into the pandemic or so, I was saying, “I’m really actually doing well. I’m enjoying a lot of the space,” but I did start missing espresso because I would just have espresso or an Americano at coffee shops – because, of course, we were making coffee at home beforehand, so I would get fancier things when I went out and. And we were a little nervous to get an espresso maker beforehand, because any time you’re, like, googling how to make espresso at home, you mostly just get a lot of, like, overly pretentious, coffee snobs that are like, “You’re going to ruin it if you don’t have the right, like, uber expensive machine.”

Royce: Yeah, it’s kind of like trying to buy some actually legit audio equipment for the first time. Like, the only review –

Courtney: [laughing] Speaking as podcasters.

Royce: The only, like, non-review-based marketing things you can find on actual, like, enthusiast forums are like, “You’re wasting your time unless you’ve got a used car worth of money to spend.”

Courtney: [laughs] And we’re like, “We are not going to spend that much money on an espresso maker.”

Royce: Yeah.

Courtney: But at the same time, the point of getting an espresso maker is so I can have good espresso at home.

Royce: Right.

Courtney: And it’s like, there’s gotta be a reasonable way to do this. There has to be. [laughs]

Royce: Which, the one that we ended up getting – I ended up finding it basically mentioned on some snob review sites that would be like, “Well what you really need is this $3000 espresso machine –”

Courtney: Ugh.

Royce: – “with a $500 grinder.”

Courtney: Ugh!

Royce: “But if you’re just getting started, here’s this little cheap thing over here.”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: “You can – I guess you can try. It’s fine. It’s fine.”

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: And honestly, I can’t remember when we picked that up, but it’s probably paid for itself in terms of the cost of beans.

Courtney: Oh, yeah.

Royce: Because it’s so much more, like, material-efficient than a coffee pot.

Courtney: It’s more concentrated, mhm.

Royce: It’s concentrated. It’s pressurized.

Courtney: Yeah. And I’ve been loving it. We have espresso every morning now. We have just – I think our coffee pot has been retired to storage in the basement.

Royce: Yeah, it’s –

Courtney: It’s just not even in our kitchen anymore.

Royce: It’s packed away at this point.

Courtney: We’re just espresso people now.

Royce: Speaking of making the home nicer, that’s more space on our counter, and it’s one less stupid clock that has to be reset whenever the power goes off.

Courtney: Oh, that’s true, that’s true! [laughs]

Royce: In the smartphone era, I am so annoyed by all of the kitchen appliances that have clocks, because they’re always wrong.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: Even if the power hasn’t gone off, they’ll drift one way or another.

Courtney: Well, with me every time these things need to be reset – like, you have the oven and you have the coffee pot and you have the microwave – I literally need to have them change on the dot. So I will, like, set one to the correct time and set the others to like a minute below it. And I will have to wait for one to change, and I will be there with my finger on the button, watching it, ready to immediately click because I need them all to change at the same time. And it’s terrible. And yeah, that just happens occasionally; it doesn’t even need a major power outage. Like, power goes out for 30 seconds in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping, and you just happen to wake up and all of your clocks are wrong, and there’s one on the coffee pot for some reason. [laughs] I guess some coffee pots you can like set to turn on at a certain time if you want your coffee to be, like, ready at a time when you wake up, so that’s really the only reason to have a timer on a coffee pot. [laughs]

Royce: Yeah, but I never use that feature. You have to have, like, regular sleeping schedules to do that.

Courtney: Well, some of them don’t even have that feature, but they’ll still have a clock. [laughs] So yeah, our espresso maker has increased our quality of life in ways we never anticipated. [laughs]

Royce: But going back to the adjustment period, it was a good purchase, but it was also a “Hey, we probably shouldn’t be driving out to coffee shops. Can we bring a little bit of that home?”

Courtney: Mhm. Mhm. Which, honestly, now that we actually pulled the trigger and did it and it’s good espresso, it’s like, man, probably could have saved even more money by doing this earlier, [laughs] even when I could have gone to a coffee shop.

Royce: Oh, absolutely. It was just one of those things that was… it was an unknown that was more daunting than it should have been.

Courtney: Yes! [laughs] That is true. But yeah. And then, I mean, we got a little carbonator to make bubbly water.

Royce: Right. Which was also after a period where you were starting to drink more carbonated water, and this was a lot cheaper than buying, like, bottles of the stuff and also produced a lot less waste.

Courtney: Yeah, I think it was also kind of prompted by… I think I made a comment that was just nonsense – because, obviously, this is not the biggest reason to be upset about canceling a trip to Europe, but I had to cancel a trip at one point. And you don’t enjoy traveling as much as I do. I do enjoy traveling, and I also have traveled to do work things just a little more often. And I did have a work trip that I was trying to schedule that got messed up because of the pandemic. And I think I was just, like, lamenting all of the things I was going to miss, and some of those were actually, like, tangible experience, but I was like, “Oh, I don’t get sparkling waters in the restaurants.” [laughs]

Royce: We were also reading Lemony Snicket at one point, and you wanted to try some parsley soda.

Courtney: Oh my gosh! I forgot we did that! We literally made parsley soda, and it was surprisingly good. Ahh! We should do that again. I liked that, actually. [laughs]

Royce: We don’t have any fresh parsley right now, but –

Courtney: Dang it! Why don’t we have fresh parsley? We had way too much. [laughs]

Royce: The giant parsley plant growing in our backyard didn’t make a transplant.

Courtney: Aww.

Royce: Well, it partially made it through the transplant. Did not make it through the summer.

Courtney: That’s too bad. [laughs] Oh, thank you for reminding me of that. That was fun. Because yeah we just decided to read A Series of Unfortunate Events, because you had never read it and I love them. And that was just a silly light read that we could just breeze through pretty quickly near the beginning of the pandemic. And yeah, it was like, “Well, if we get something to carbonate our own water, we can have bubbly water and pretend like we’re in Europe,” I think [laughs] was the incredibly flawed logic. I was just being silly there. But also, like, yeah let’s make our own parsley soda.

Courtney: So yeah I think we did accidentally, without really meaning to, get, like, just a little more cottagecore. [laughs] Which, oddly enough, is very popular now, so I think we’re on trend in a way I don’t think we ever have been before [laughs] as individuals or a couple. Because, yeah, we started growing our own mushrooms. We started gardening. We started cooking and baking more, making our own espresso. We started a worm farm in the basement – very recently, in fact. [laughs]

Royce: It’s actually upstairs right now because it’s warmer there.

Courtney: You put the worms upstairs?

Royce: Uh-huh. With the snakes.

Courtney: [laughs] Okay. So all the noodles go in the office. Great. [laughs]

Royce: Yeah. Yeah, our gardening is abnormal too. I’m not doing traditional gardening at this point, because I can’t just go to a greenhouse right now.

Courtney: What did you call it? Like, chaotic neutral gardening?

Royce: Yes.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: I’m very much, like, chaotic neutral Druid gardening right now. I’m planning on actually trying to plant peppers the right way this year, as opposed to the “composting some seeds from peppers and having them magically sprout from the ground,” like last year.

Courtney: We had so many peppers that were so good that we didn’t even try to grow. It’s great.

Royce: It was an accident. But we found a couple of just things growing natively that I have encouraged to grow more of, and surprise, they’re edible.

Courtney: Yeah! It’s like, “What is this plant?” Look it up. Do some research. “Oh! We can eat this.” [laughs]

Royce: Yeah, apparently –

Courtney: “Let’s do it.”

Royce: Apparently, there are some things that are considered weeds throughout most of the U.S. that are actually crops in other areas of the world.

Courtney: Go figure. So it’s like, “Yeah, alright, let those grow.” It’s been weird. We have just had so many surprise plants that’s like, “Oh! [laughs] That’s a lovely surprise. You can stay.” Last year, we got little pumpkins! Which was actually surprisingly not the first time we’ve had surprise, like, gourds in our backyard, because that happened, like, five years ago too, and we weren’t even gardening back then. [laughs]

Royce: Yeah, that was just from basically composting a little decorative gourd. We did that last year. I don’t think I want to do it again. Those gourds took so much care and water.

Courtney: They did.

Royce: They were really hard to keep alive over the summer.

Courtney: Very, very thirsty plants, those gourds. But they did contribute to the overall atmosphere. [laughs]

Royce: The, like, three little gourds we got off of it before something chewed through it.

Courtney: Yes. But yeah, our gardening endeavors are really interesting because of the fact that we have, like, our colony of mice in our home that like so many things. And so even today, for example, there is… What is it called, Royce, the plant that is a weed here but a crop in other places? I guess I just started calling it “not spinach,” but I’m sure it has a real name.

Royce: Yeah, I usually call it “not spinach.” It’s more commonly referred to as Lagos spinach, or the scientific name is Celosia argentea.

Courtney: Mmm.

Royce: It’s a type of amaranth.

Courtney: And it’s cute, because you can eat the leaves, spinach-esque, but they have these big fluffy purple flower stalk kind of things that our mice love. [laughs] So every part of the plant is useful in our house. We can eat the spinach-y stuff, and the mice get the little flowers. And we’ve just got a really good system for food waste, because things we don’t eat can either go to the mice and/or the worms.

Royce: And if not that, just the general compost. So, there’s a tier system.

Courtney: There is. [laughing] There’s a tier system for our organic waste. But our garden is so weird. The things that just grow – we started growing an avocado tree! Avocado trees don’t grow in Kansas, my friends.

Royce: A couple of lemon trees tried to sprout, too.

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: From the seeds from grocery store lemons.

Courtney: It’s like, “You’re not going to make it, my friend. [laughs] You’re going to live a very short life.” And so, yeah, never a dull moment in our garden. [laughs]

Royce: Our chaotic backyard has given me, I guess, another point of view towards, like, the suburban landscape, though. Because standard lawns just seem so sterile now.

Courtney: Throw ’em out.

Royce: Like, there are so many bees and pollinating wasps and butterflies and things in our backyard all the time.

Courtney: Mhm. Well, and we feed our outdoor creatures, too. So we have so many bird who just either live in our backyard or they come to visit us every single day because we feed them very, very well. Which is really fun, because we’ll get to see entire families of birds that stay around regularly and then reproduce, and then we get to see their babies grow up. And they come back every single year and it’s wonderful and we love them. Except we did have a really awful moth problem lately with the seeds that we feed the birds. That was ridiculous.

Royce: Yeah…

Courtney: There were so many moths in our house!

Royce: Yeah. Now that I know what caused that, the biggest problem was it took us a while to figure out where they were coming from.

Courtney: [distressed tone] “Why are there hundreds of moths?”

Royce: But apparently, sometimes when you buy birdseed, the seeds will have, like, some larval moths in the bag, and if you don’t deal with that, they spread.

Courtney: Yup.

Royce: I think they’re generally referred to as “pantry moths.”

Courtney: And we just lived with them for a while. [laughs] So yeah. I mean, we’re doing okay in quarantine. We have quarantined together since March of 2020 – March 13th, I believe – and we do not hate each other. [laughs] So I’d say we’re doing pretty good.

Courtney: It has pretty recently started weighing on me in a way that it hadn’t before. I have started feeling a sense of, I guess, grief, for some support systems that I had earlier on pre-pandemic or tried to hold on to in the earlier days of the pandemic. I definitely had groups that I would regularly hang out with or attend or help run that were local, some that were virtual but still happened regularly. And a lot of those have just sort of died and gone away. And we have lost some friendships. We talked not too long ago about losing a group of friends. And just being disabled, being immunocompromised, it is really, really disheartening how few people will prioritize spending time with you knowing that it might need to be masked or you need to be vaccinated or, preferably, you yourself stay home for a couple of weeks before, you know, making plans. And it’s just, it’s really put into perspective how few people are going to prioritize that for you.

Courtney: And I mean, at least I am married. I do live with a partner whom I love and, dare I say, even like. But after a couple of years, it’s like, I do kind of wish I had more friends that were still, you know, trying to make an effort, but everyone’s kind of lost all… they’ve lost all pretense of trying to care and and trying to make time and space. And that just kind of sucks when you don’t know how long that’s going to last. I have lost friendships outright. I have tried very hard to maintain some friendships virtually that just aren’t going to work virtually and it really kind of sucks. Because now is the time that, now that vaccines and boosters are out, if more places were still requiring masks or if there were more people who were willing to be masked, now’s the time where I might very tentatively try to go to a safe, precautious event. But now it’s just like, there are people talking about the pandemic as if it’s a past tense and it’s done and over with, and that just really sucks, as someone who doesn’t get to see friends. I don’t get to see people in person outside of my own spouse, whom I live with. And it’s been a long time since I have, since I have seen anyone in person. It’s been a long time. And to see people who are still going to big events, getting sick, traveling internationally, getting sick again, it’s like, I have canceled so many plans.

Courtney: And I feel like it would be easier to stomach canceling, like, international work trips, or not being able to go to big, large, like, conventions, and huge events – I feel like that would be easier to stomach if I had a local group of people who were actually still willing to have a pandemic bubble. Because in the early days of the pandemic, it’s like, “Create your bubble, your small group of people who are very safe and only see each other.” And it’s like, that culture is kind of gone. In those earlier days, I didn’t have a bubble either, but I didn’t really need it. And it’s like, now I could really use a bubble! I could really use one. So, I’d be lying if I said the loneliness wasn’t starting to creep in, but I’m glad I, at least, lasted as long as I did.

Courtney: So anyway, before we end for today, a bit of housekeeping, since next week is going to be Ace Week. Every year for 12 years, the last full week in October is Ace Week. So, this year, that makes it the 23rd through the 29th. And a couple of things that we just want to make sure that you are aware of. On Saturday, October 29th, so the last day of Ace Week, there is going to be a book club. We will be discussing Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture by Sherronda J. Brown. We would love to have you there, if you have read some or all of the book. If you have not read some or all of the book, please do yourself a favor and pick it up! That is going to be at 1 p.m. Central Time and will probably run for a couple of hours. So, we’ll post a link to RSVP to that in the show notes. And there should be just a ton of things going on for Ace Week. We’ll have a really great interview coming out for our episode next week. We’ll be doing a couple of social media takeovers at some point. Looks like we’ll be getting the reins to the Instagram Ace Chat. I will be hosting Disabled Ace Day on that Wednesday on the Ace Week Twitter account. And there’s just going to be all kinds of events and festivities that you can drop into. So, definitely check out the Ace Week website. There will be a calendar if you want to see all the different things that are scheduled.

Courtney: And I definitely encourage everyone to do something nice for yourself on that week. Attend an event that is going to be really refreshing for you. Bake yourself a cake. Order yourself some garlic bread. Whatever it is you need to do for yourself. Because it is no doubt going to be a fun week of celebrations, but it can also be an exhausting week if you’re trying to do too much. A lot of Aces burn themselves out trying to do a lot of advocacy and awareness, so be mindful of how much energy you have to spare. And also be aware that even though this is a celebration and there are going to be a lot of good things that come out of it and a lot of wonderful connections that you can make with your community, also be aware that with more visibility does come more bigotry for communities like ours that are very underrepresented. If you’ve been listening to us this entire year, you’ll know last year during Ace Week, there was a really disappointing hate campaign that started as a result of Ace Week, which turned into, yeah, things like the Safe Schools Alliance UK writing articles about how Asexuals are groomers. So there are a lot of very disappointing things that can and likely will come out of Ace Week as well. So, do what you need to do to take care of yourself in anticipation of those things.

Courtney: So, as always, thank you all for being here. Do whatever things you need to do on whatever platform it is you’re listening to us on. And we will see you all next week for the 12th Annual Ace Week! Goodbye!