weekend free-for-all – October 14-15, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: 4 3 2 1, by Paul Auster. This is four stories in one — all starting with the birth of the same person, but they then diverge into separate narrations of the paths his life might take. All four stories are told in parallel — Chapter 1 is divided into 1.1. 1.2, 1.3, and 1.4, and so forth with each chapter. It’s a very long book, and since I hate it when a good book ends, I’m enjoying knowing that I’ll still be reading this a month from now and possibly forever.

{ 1,247 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. KatieKate

    Wow this is EARLY. it’s still the 13th by me!

    Cute cat photo! It’s nice that they decided to pose for you this week :)

    Reply
    1. BlueShedSurvived!

      In Seattle too! (Friday the 13th)

      Looks like Eve is blowing raspberries for the photo.

      Olive has been looking fluffier to me. (Last week and this week)

      Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It does look like that! In reality, it’s the opposite — Olive is constantly trying to play with/attack Eve, and beleaguered Eve is not enthusiastic about that nearly as often as Olive would like. Mainly she wishes to bathe Olive/be bathed by Olive.

              Reply
      1. Merci Dee

        I noticed the other day that my cat is looking fuzzier through the chest and around his neck. They’re putting on their winter coats to stay warm during cold weather, I think. Just gives me more fluff to snuggle with!

        Reply
        1. JaneB

          Winter floof!

          My cat started moulting again, this freaky warm autumn weather (in the U.K. where it started to cool off then warmed up again, thanks Ophelia) is causing me to have to vacuum more & I do not like!

          Reply
          1. Merci Dee

            I’ve got wood floors, and I sweep them every couple of days. Still, I’ll see a random blob of cat fur rolling across the wood, like a tumbleweed. No matter how much I sweep, they still roll and tumble along, like they’re taunting me.

            Reply
            1. Saturnalia

              I think the tumbleweeds are worst right after sweeping. Like the ambient air currents find and gather any missed floof and send them tumbling back to their usual corners.

              Reply
  2. KatieKate

    I’ve decided that this winter I am going to get really good at soups. I hate cooking and I generally hate leftovers, so I figure I can make big batches to freeze and defrost as needed.

    Please share your hard-to-mess-up vegetarian soup recipes!

    Reply
    1. Tassie Tiger

      Roast some carrots and sweet potatos in the oven, cut up, simmer with veggie stock, and blend in batches! Add chopped onion or garlic if you like.

      Reply
      1. K.

        Coconut milk and curry make nice additions to a root vegetable soup. I made a pumpkin-sweet potato soup a couple of weeks ago (I got both in my CSA) with veggie broth, coconut milk, onion, garlic, and curry. Delish.

        Reply
        1. Saturnalia

          Yes! I always add coconut milk to my squash/root veg soup. Basically orange thing (or parsnip)+onion, garlic, ginger+garam masala+coconut milk+broth or water to thin. Immersion blend til velvety.

          Reply
    2. Al Lo

      Ooh! I make a lot of soups (I have an apartment fridge in my office, and since I’m terrible at taking lunches, I take a batch of soups to work a few times a year and thaw there). Soups are hard to truly mess up, too. If it doesn’t taste right, just keep tweaking until it does, and it’ll be fine. No one cares what things actually look like, and you can vary between blended or chunky soups, depending on what you’re doing or what you prefer. I tend to prefer blended soups, but that’s just me.

      Some favourites (vegetarian or easily modified):

      Garlic soup. It’s less strong than it sounds — the garlic is roasted, so it’s super creamy and caramelly. A few things I do with that recipe: When it says “coconut or other milk of choice,” I make sure that it’s half coconut milk and half half-and-half. It needs the cream. I also add a bit of brown or coconut sugar — about 2T. Those two things make it the best soup ever.

      Butternut squash and pear soup (subtract the bacon and sub veggie stock instead of chicken, and it’s just as delicious).

      Potato cabbage soup is surprisingly creamy with no actual cream or dairy. The ingredients are simple, but we really like this one.

      Reply
      1. Al Lo

        When I do a freezer-soup day, I’ll sometimes do one soup on the stovetop, one in a slow cooker, and one in the Instant Pot. Both the Instant Pot and a slow cooker are great soup tools, if you happen to have them.

        Reply
      2. Ally A

        Similar to the butternut squash and pear, Epicurious has a great butternut squash & apple soup. (search Epicurous-dot-com for “Butternut Squash & Apple Soup”). Skip the bacon (which sometimes I do if I don’t have any bacon on hand as it is mainly a garnish) and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock, and you would be good to go. If you eat dairy, it’s really good with sour cream or greek yogurt on top. Also, I like to roast the squash first and replace half the boiling potatoes with sweet potatoes.

        Reply
    3. Lauren R

      This isn’t a vegetarian soup but could easily be made into one by subbing vegetable broth and omitting the chicken. It is SO good and really easy to make if you don’t mind chopping vegetables!! Lots of great veggies and it’s very good leftover (and I say that as someone who generally can’t do leftovers).

      http://allrecipes.com/recipe/232277/creamy-chicken-gnocchi-soup/

      Important note: It says to use 3 cups broth and 1 cup+1 pint cream – it is MUCH better (in my opinion anyway) if you use 4 cups broth and just 1 pint cream, so if you make it I highly recommend using that substitution. You can also use different noodles if you’re not a fan of gnocchi.

      Reply
    4. Amey

      We love soups in my house and I’m vegetarian too! I tend to just make them up these days, once you’ve got the knack you can just invent. One I made the other day was sweet potato, carrot and red pepper with onion, red lentils, can of tomatoes and spices (I used cumin, coriander and ginger) and of course some stock :) Would have been even more delicious with a swirl of cream.

      Reply
    5. AcademiaNut

      My two go-to soup methods are pureed vegetable soups, and what I call ‘kitchen sink’ soup (because you can throw in everything but the kitchen sink).

      Pureed Vegetable: sautee onions and other vegetables until soft, then add your spices and broth and cook for until nicely tender. Let cool and puree with a hand blender, regular blender, or food processor. After heating up, add a bit of cream if you want. It’s very flexible as to amounts and balance – I like to finish the seasoning with salt to taste and a squeeze of lemon juice if needed.

      Good combinations:
      – onion, carrot and ginger
      – broccoli, onion, garlic, a bit of lemon juice
      – winter squash or pumpkin, onion, garlic, ginger, Indian spices (cumin, coriander, garam masala)
      – asparagus
      – canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, Indian spices
      – cauliflower, garlic, onion

      For the kitchen sink soup, I start by sauteeing diced onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, then adding broth, then some canned tomatoes or diced tomatoes, then whatever I’ve got from the list of [green beans, peas, corn, spinach, cabbage, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, snow peas, asparagus….], plus a bay leaf, fresh ground pepper, and some Italian spices (typically thyme, oregano and basil). You can also add canned beans or chickpeas. Add salt to taste at the end. The technique is very flexible, the main thing to remember is not to overdo the cruciferous vegetables (cabbage-related, including turnips and radish) or they will overpower the end result.

      I usually use a chicken broth, but a good quality vegetable or mushroom broth would work just as well.

      Reply
      1. Triplestep

        I followed a recipe last week that ended up in the blender because I didn’t like the texture until I pureed it. You’re right – this is easy and can make a soup with a lot of body. I did not use cream because mine had sweet potatoes which gave it a creamy texture.

        Reply
    6. Overeducated

      Red lentil – 1 lb bag, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp tomato paste, around 1 tbsp cumin, 1/2-1 tsp oregano and cinnamon. Saute onion, add garlic, add tomato paste and spices, add lentils and enough water that it looks like a pot of soup worth, bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are mostly dissolved.

      There’s a good cabbage and mushroom soup recipe from The Kitchn too.

      Reply
      1. Overeducated

        Oh! Also, search for pumpkin rarebit soup from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I don’t have the cookbook so I always find it online. It’s a very easy, savory pumpkin, cheese, and beer soup, good for cold weather. I might make it if temps go down this week!

        Reply
    7. Language Student

      Pre-chopping and freezing veg is amazing for making soup regularly. Shortens the whole process so it’s pretty much just soaking/cooking time.

      My current favourite is:
      100g broth (pre-mixed or a variety of lentils, barley etc.)
      50g onion
      80g celery
      150g white potatoes
      100g turnip
      500ml stock (I use chicken, but you could easily use a vegetable stock.)
      Extra water
      Mix of basil, oregano, herbs de province, coriander and cumin plus salt and pepper.

      Makes enough for four portions, so you can adjust as needed. With freezing the veg pre-chopped, I can just keep the pot in the fridge and re-heat the pot.

      Reply
      1. Language Student

        (Oh, I think you’re supposed to brown the onion for soups, but tbh I just throw it all in at once and simmer it for an hour or so.)

        Reply
    8. Wrench Turner

      If you have access to a bbq (a gas stove will work but its’ more work) make a bunch of grilled corn on the cob and then cut the corn off. It adds a great smokey/sweet element to soups, cornbread and biscuits too. Other veggies that retain their structure when cooked – zucchini, peppers, large onion slices- are also good for this prep technique and I make them in batches.

      Otherwise I just throw everything in the slow cooker and leave it for the day. Just about anything you can think of will make a good soup. I also almost always use the base of 2:1:1 onions : carrots : celery along with veggie stock.

      Reply
    9. Red Reader

      I do a cheater’s minestrone – 2 cans kidney beans, a big can of diced stewed tomatoes, and a bag of frozen mixed veg, plus enough vegetable broth to get the consistency I want, all in the crockpot for a couple hours. Add Italian seasoning, garlic, and a bit of black pepper. I make the pasta separately and add it to each serving because I hate mushy pasta, but you could cook it in the soup too for flavor. It’s def not fancy, but it’s dirt cheap and easy as heck.

      Reply
    10. Detective Amy Santiago

      You can replace half the potatoes in a potato soup recipe with cauliflower and it is healthier and doesn’t taste any different. Get one of those stick blenders :)

      Reply
    11. Mela

      I really like this veggie chili: https://www.cookingclassy.com/quinoa-chili/
      Also white chicken chili, but I don’t know what I’d sub out for the chicken.

      I also do a veggie version of Portuguese soup: onions, garlic, potatoes, kale/leeks, white beans. The sausage is optional and imo not necessary.

      Pureed soups of any kind are always delicious, butternut, pumpkin, carrot. I wouldn’t call borsht easy but it is delicious.

      Reply
    12. Jalad

      Coconut milk red lentil soup – throw a can of coconut milk, a cup and a half of red lentils (or more or less depending how much soup you want), some curry powder, carrots, and onion in a pot. Add water (I think I start with about 2 cups and end up adding some more towards the end, but I also like it as more of a stew than a soup really.) Simmer for like 40 mins or so until the lentils are cooked. I am going to make a batch tomorrow!

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I started some of this in my crock pot this morning as soon as I read this comment, and now it’s ready to eat! I’ve been out and about all day, so it’s nice to come home to a delicious pot of soup. It smells wonderful.

        Reply
    13. Mephyle

      From this article on making soup for a large crowd. Of course it can easily be scaled down.
      “First, melt as much butter as you can spare plus some olive oil, or just olive oil if you haven’t got butter, at the bottom of a gigantic pot. Then add a thick layer of sliced onions and garlic — you can fill the pot about a quarter full, because of how much the onions cook down. Add bay leaves and a bunch of thyme, which you’ll fish out later if you remember to. Add a bit of salt, to help onions cook down, but not too much — you can always add salt, but you can’t take it out, so it’s best to season at the end.
      “When the onions are translucent*, fill the pot almost full of cut-up vegetables — not a random motley combination of veggies if you can help it, maybe one or two thematically linked vegetables. Broccoli and cauliflower. Leeks and potatoes. A bunch of cans of corn, in a pinch. Potatoes or turnips are always a welcome addition. Your goal is to make as much of everything as possible, so as you eyeball quantities, always err on the side of more. Last Thursday the vegetables were squash, rutabagas and potatoes.
      “Add liquid — stock if you’ve got it, but in all likelihood water — just to cover, bring to a boil (this might take approx. forever), then reduce the heat to a simmer while you make everything else.
      “When the rest of the meal is cooked, finish the soup by partly pureeing it. An immersion blender does a great job of this, and if you forgot to remove the thyme bunch it’ll do that for you by winding the twigs around its blade. A potato masher works too. If you’re adding milk, cheese or sour cream, now is the time, but don’t bring the soup back to a boil after this addition — it might curdle. Season with salt and pepper.”
      ——-
      * If you sauté the onions beyond translucent – until they are golden, with a few pieces starting to brown – it gives the soup a deeper flavour.

      Reply
    14. Triplestep

      No recipe, but a tip: We make and freeze soups in those square plastic containers you can get in the “wraps’ section of the grocery store. When you are ready to defrost, place in the microwave for a couple of minutes until the sop slides easily out of the plastic container into a glass bowl. Then continue to heat in the glass bowl until the soup gets to the right temperature. You might want to take it out part-way through and kind of chop up the still-frozen pieces.

      I haven’t noticed a change in the taste, but I find this makes the plastic containers easier to clean and they also last longer in better condition.

      Reply
    15. D.W.

      Lentils! Soak for at least 1hr, sauté desires vegetables, cover with water or vegetable stock and simmer until done. About 30-40min.

      I like to start with olive oil and cumin seeds, then add carrots, celery, onions, potatoes (sweet or other) saute for 4min. Add in fennel seeds and garlic, sauté for a 1-2min. Add lentils, cover with liquid. Simmer. Finish with smoked paprika, ground cumin, braggs liquid amino, Cayenne, and a healthy bunch of greens (spinach, kale, cabbage, whatever). Whip up some cornbread and that’s it!

      Reply
    16. JJtheDoc

      My favorite go-to soup (for days when I have to cook and just don’t wanna!)
      1 carton roasted red pepper & tomato soup
      1 sml onion, peeled and chopped
      1 C frozen corn (my local Trade Joe’s has frozen grilled corn, which is really good!)
      1 can cuban-style black beans, drained of most of the liquid, never rinsed
      1/2 C medium or hot salsa of choice (try if first with medium; some salsas get really hot when cooked!)
      Combine in crock pot on high for 2 hours, low for as long as you need. Serve with a dollop of almond/coconut or soy yogurt and some chopped parsley or green onion.

      Reply
    17. The Principal of the Thing

      My favourite veggie soup recipe has a few steps but is definitely worth it.

      Lightly pan fry some onions and garlic until just browned – I use margarine instead of oil for this – and then add in some finely chopped celery and zucchini and fry until soft. I then tip these into the slow cooker and add vegetable stock after swishing the stock in the used frypan to pick up that browned marg.

      Then I add whatever vegetables I like to the pot, just using up what’s in the fridge. It’s a great way to use up veg that you know isn’t at its best in terms of steaming and eating. Always carrots and more celery though!

      Then I just walk away and let it slow cook for the day. About half an hour before serving I add a teaspoon or two of roast chilli jam. (I use one from a local place called Peggy’s Pantry) This really gives the soup a warm kick for those cold winters days. And the I serve it with bread because I can’t live without bread. :)

      Reply
    18. Lore

      This is my perfect mushroom barley soup. It’s heavy on the barley and veggies so add more stock or less barley if you like a brothier soup.
      3 tbs butter or olive oil
      1 lb mushrooms, sliced (any kind–I usually use the baby bellas)
      1/3 c dried mushrooms (shiitakes or porcini–they add flavor but they’re not essential)
      2 small carrots, sliced thin
      1 parsnip, sliced thin
      2 stalks of celery, chopped
      2 small onions, chopped
      1 large-ish shallot, chopped (also can be left out, or substituted with another onion)
      2 cloves garlic, chopped (or one large one)
      1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
      8 cups vegetable stock (or water)
      1/4 cup chopped parsley
      1-2 tbs chopped dill
      salt and pepper to taste

      Saute all the vegetables and the barley in the olive oil until the onions are a little soft and the mushrooms are browned and have cooked down substantially–about 15-20 minutes. It’s kind of an enormous volume of vegetables so it does take a bit of stirring to get them all cooked.

      Add the stock or water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the barley is tender–about 35/40 minutes, seasoning w/salt and pepper periodically. Once the barley is tender, add dill and parsley and simmer for 3-4 more minutes.

      a lot of chopping, but a very tasty result, and pretty fast for soup. Not sure if it would work in a crock pot–the sauté on the veggies is pretty crucial.

      Reply
    19. TiffIf

      I love making potato soup to store and reheat later:

      Saute onions and garlic in oil of your choice.
      Add diced potatoes (I usually skin them but that isn’t mandatory, just scrub them well), carrots and celery.
      Cover with water or broth (I generally like a ham broth with this but vegetable broth or just water will work fine).
      Simmer until potatoes are tinder. Put about 1/3 the contents of the pot (broth+potatoes and other veggies) into a blender. Puree. Pour it back into the pot and stir it all together. This gives you a creamier (dairy-free) soup base with some potato vegetable chunks as well.
      I like to add ham chunks in, but obviously leave that out if you want it vegetarian.
      You can switch up or add other vegetables as well–I’ve used parsnips and sweet potatoes in it too.

      Reply
      1. TiffIf

        Forgot to say:
        Salt and pepper to taste
        Add herbs/spices to your liking–I really like using rosemary and sage in my potato soup.

        Reply
    20. AnonEMoose

      More of a couple of recommendations than a recipe. I just got an Instant Pot (multi-use countertop appliance that can function as a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and several other things), and so far it is amazing. Plus there are a ton of recipes for soup and lots of other vegetarian goodies.

      Also, if you’re not familiar with Penzey’s Spices, check them out – if they don’t have a store near you, you can order online. They also have a vegetarian soup base that might be useful to you (it’s basically a paste that you mix with hot water to make the amount of broth you want).

      Best of luck with your soup experiments!

      Reply
      1. TiffIf

        I am going to get myself an Instant Pot! Right now I am waiting to see what black Friday sale prices look like for them, but I have $65 in Amazon gift cards that I am saving specifically for this purpose.

        Reply
    21. GermanGirl

      My favorite is this pumpkin soup:
      1 Hokkaido pumpkin about 2 pounds (my recipe says 800g feeds 4 but I just eyeball it anyway)
      1 onion
      5 cm or 2 inches of ginger
      2 carrots
      1 apple
      1 liter (1/4 gallon) of vegetable broth
      250g (half a pound) of sour cream
      Salt & pepper

      Step 0 – do this after breakfast if you want to make the soup for lunch.
      Wash the pumpkin. Cut anything off that looks woody, but leave any good looking peel on it. Put the pumpkin in the oven for a bit to soften it up – I’ll do mine at 150°C (300°F) for 30 minutes but I don’t preheat the oven. Then take it out and let it cool down.

      Step 1 – about half an hour before lunch. Cut softened pumpkin in half, use a tablespoon to take out the seeds. Dice the rest of the pumpkin to a size that your puree-device of choice can handle.
      Wash & cut the apple. I usually don’t peel the pumpkin and the apple. Peel, wash, and cut the carrots, onion and ginger.
      The ginger dice should be as small as you can make them.

      Step 2) Take out a somewhat big pot (mine holds a gallon I think), put a little bit of oil in it (I use sunflower seed oil) and fry the onion dice until they start to look glassy. Add the ginger dice and continue frying until the onion dice look done (glassy and just starting to get brown).

      Step 3) Add the pumpkin, carrots, apple and the vegetable broth (I use instant vegetable broth but I’m told you can make your own). All vegetables should at least touch the broth. If not, push them down. Still not? Add some water.
      Get the whole mixture to boil then turn down the heat to just below boiling and let it cook for 20 minutes.

      Step 4) get out your handheld blender or whatever you want to use and puree it.
      Then add the sour cream, stirr or purree some more.

      Step 5) Taste and add salt and pepper as you like.

      I like to serve it with baguette. The ginger gets stronger the longer you let it sit, so if you like stronger ginger flavor, add more ginger and/or prepare one day in advance and then reheat before eating. This soup also does well in the freezer.

      Reply
    22. Garland Not Andrews

      I’m really late to the game, but here is my version of Three Sisters Soup

      Three Sisters Soup

      1 sm – med butternut squash, peeled & diced ~ 1″ cubes
      (prick with a fork and microwave the whole squash for one minute to make it MUCH easier to peel)
      2 cans veggie broth
      1 can whole corn
      1 can whole beans (I use white beans for their mild taste)
      1 rib celery diced
      1 sm onion diced
      1/2 tsp rubbed sage
      1 TBSP Butter (optional)
      1 pinch nutmeg
      In a medium pan (heavy is best) put the squash cubes and broth, simmer until the squash is tender, about 30-60 minutes. Using an immersion blender or potato masher, blend up most or all of the squash. Meanwhile, in a separate skillet saute the celery and onion in a bit of olive or other mild oil, add to the blended squash. Add the corn and beans, you may drain or add the liquid, depending on how thick the soup already is. Add the sage and butter if using. Finish with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Very very good!

      Reply
    1. Tassie Tiger

      Hmm, I like egg-white omelettes! You can make anything the filling, in fact, you could go to the salad bar in the supermarket and pick up pre-chopped veggies for filling.

      Reply
    2. Thlayli

      Plain-ish food can be cooked quickly. There are loads of “hacks” online about how to cook poratoes or couscous quickly in the microwave with little prep. Boil in a bag rice is really easy.
      Fish can be poached in milk really quickly – put in a pot or pan and jut cover with milk, bring to boil then turn down to simmer for 4 mins and you’re done. Season the milk and fish before hand whatever way you like (salt and lemon juice can be added after but pepper or chilli or any other spice will probably be nicer if you add it to milk before. Diced chicken can also be boiled in water very quickly if cut into lumps about half an inch square. Fish can be baked or grilled very fast. I like to make individual tin foil packs for each fish fillet and put lemon and pepper and salt and a little olive oil rubbed over the fish then grill or bake in the oven.
      Frozen veg is just as good as the regular kind. Put in a microwaveable container cover with water and microwave for 5 minutes.
      I like to buy plain pizzas – the cheap ones with very little sauce or cheese and top with fresh veg and maybe some ham if you don’t like veggie pizza, then sprinkle on a bit of extra cheese. Some places also sell pizza bases and you can buy passata in a can or box and make your own pizza from that. Red meat can be grilled quickly and easily or fried which is yummy but less healthy.

      Reply
    3. Drew

      This may not count as a “recipe” per se, but I’ve really been enjoying various flavors of hummus with sweet grape tomatoes, baby carrots, and pita chips. (The pita chips aren’t super healthy, granted, but they’re also dense so I don’t eat a lot of them.) I can pick those up at my local grocery on my way home and one batch of hummus usually lasts two or three meals. Useful for a lazy guy like me!

      Reply
    4. K.

      Fish filets bake very quickly – 10 minutes or so at 400, depending on the thickness. Steam some veggies while the fish is in the oven and you’re good to go. Couscous cooks in five minutes.

      Reply
    5. Jen in Oregon

      My go to salad:
      Lettuce (usually earthbound organics)
      Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
      Feta
      Capers
      Balsamic vinaigrette
      Trader Joe’s “just grilled chicken”

      For the vinaigrette: 1part vinegar to 2 parts Olive oil, then add a squeeze of lemon or lime and a tsp or so of mustard (I’m loving terrain ridge farms smokey onion at the moment)

      Reply
      1. Kerr

        TJ’s “just grilled chicken” (the frozen strips) is such a time-saver! I use it in salads, stir-fry dishes, and fajitas.

        Omelettes or scrambled eggs with veggies are my go-to “I need sleep, but I also need dinner” meal. Extremely versatile, and only one pan gets dirty. Fried eggs with toppings added while cooking are even easier. (Toppings include salsa, cheese, green onions, tomatoes, berries, spinach, pesto.) Slide the eggs onto toast for something more substantial.

        Tacos/burritos are easy, especially if you pre-cook a bunch of chicken or ground beef (and beans are even easier if vegetarian). Julienne peppers and onions, stir-fry with protein of choice and chili powder, and done. I consider tacos to be an “everything but the kitchen sink” base recipe, and you can completely switch up the vegetables, cheeses, etc. depending on what needs to be used up.

        Reply
    6. TiffIf

      Honestly–I love sandwiches. Have some bread, mayo and cold cuts on hand with tomatoes with leafy green of your choice (I prefer spinach to lettuce on sandwiches) and some onions or sprouts. Throwing together a sandwich is easy. Don’t overdo the bread or condiments and stick to one or two slices of cheese and its pretty healthy!

      Reply
    7. Lissa

      I sautee mushrooms and onions with some garlic, add white beans, then add spinach at the end so it just wilts. Sometimes I also add sausage though I try to only eat meat a couple times a week, so often I don’t. Sometimes I do just the veggies and add balsamic vinegar.

      Reply
    8. Jade

      Can of diced tomatoes – plain, seasoned, fire-roasted, whatever
      Can of beans, at least partially drained, any type
      Can of corn or about 2 cups of frozen

      Add any type of seasoning: chili, Italian, curry, garam masala; get creative. Maybe a pat of butter. Maybe saute some onions or garlic or peppers before adding the rest. Simmer on stove or bake in oven. Could microwave but the other two ways seem better to me. Top with cheese if you want.

      Simple, fast, and ingredients can be easily kept on hand.

      Reply
  3. Sarah G

    Hey there – Anyone else affected by the CA wildfires? Or been through similar circumstances? I live in Santa Rosa and it’s been a devastating week. I was evacuated at 3am Mon morning, and was able to return home tonight when my mandatory evacuation zone was downgraded to advisory evacuation, but the air quality is horrible as my place was very near (less than a mile) from areas that were decimated. I work in social services, and my co-worker posted this on facebook today, which really captures our reality at the moment:
    We walk around in masks, and know what N95 means
    We regularly ask if you “saw flames or just smoke”
    We gather in parking lots to watch our hillside, discuss “back fire,” and argue over white vs black smoke
    We end conversations with strangers with “Be Safe”
    We have stayed off the roads when possible, and feel anxious the further away and the longer away from home we get
    We get ash on ourselves just being outside a minute
    We hear helicopters and sirens REGULARLY
    We see emergency and military vehicles constantly, and coming from all over the Bay Area
    We haven’t hiked, walked at the lake, run, or picnicked in DAYS – daily activities and stress reliefs for many of us
    We have had our stuff packed and been on alert for days in a row
    We spend the night at different places
    We have limited clothes at times
    We live minute to minute, and thus can’t plan easily
    We are sleep deprived, exercise deprived, OUTSIDE deprived
    We are stressed, shell shocked, relieved, grateful, guilty (why is my home spared?), worried, unknowing if home is gone
    We have been stripped of our routine, belongings, and control
    We listen to the radio
    We argue a LOT with loved ones about evacuating or not
    We don’t know quite know what to do
    We are in coping / helping mode and haven’t quite wrapped our mind around this
    We’re even more SENTIMENTAL and NOSTALGIC than usual
    We worry about not only losing our adult home, but our childhood home, grandparents home, parks we played at as kids and as adults, parks we take our kids / nieces / nephews too
    In Sonoma County you’ll see
    Thick smoke, burned hills and neighborhoods, intersections without lights (stop at these), barricades ready to be put up, middle lanes blocked for emergency vehicles, closed stores, distracted and overwhelmed customer services people – BE NICE, emptier streets, closed stores, and emergency vehicles from ALL OVER NORCAL
    You’ll see “THANK YOU” SIGNS EVERYWHERE for our first responders and emergency personnel
    You’ll see our typical SoCo generosity
    Wear a mask if you can
    Drive cautiously and stop at intersections even if lights are out
    Don’t drive in the Left Lane – or at least always check the rearview mirror for emergency vehicles coming behind you
    If you see a horse trailer give it some room. They aren’t going on a trail ride – they are evacuating livestock.
    Check where there are road closures – and know that info is impossible to be completely up to the minute accurate
    Be patient
    Sonoma County is pretty beat up right now, but she’s still her awesome self~
    Grace Villafuerte
    10/12/2017
    Katie Clarke Boyd:
    We grieve, for our own losses and the great many losses of others. We are physically a mess… Hoarse from the smoke and ill from the sustained adrenaline rushes we go through for days. We feel helpless and don’t know how to accept help. We love this place we call home.

    Reply
    1. Sarah G

      I should say I am SO grateful my home is still standing. But to evacuate at 3am with thick smoke and flaming embers everywhere, barely able to get out of my neighborhood through traffic and smoke, I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. I’ve been working in emergency shelters, and my normal job is working with disabled clients, some of whom need medical equipment replaced because theirs went up in flames. One client couldn’t get the oxygen he needs — I spent much of yesterday trying to help with that. So much loss everywhere, so much collective trauma and grief. But so much kindness, grace, and generosity too. The kindness around me has touched me deeply.

      Reply
    2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

      Sarah, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I have friends from your area who have been evacuated as well and I know at least one of them has lost their home and everything in it. We’re far enough south that we’re only covered in ash and breathing the horrible air but it keeps the fires and the people affected top of my mind even more than usual.

      Since you’re directly involved, is there any recommendation you’d give for where help is most needed and may not be getting enough support?

      Reply
      1. Sarah G

        Thank you for your kind words, and sorry about your friends evacuating and losing their homes. The tears just keep coming. I don’t know that there is specific areas of assistance that aren’t getting enough support (that may come later, after the initial crisis mode), but if you are looking to donate, the Redwood Empire Food Bank is supplying food to the emergency shelters and is always a good cause: http://refb.org/
        And the Redwood Credit Union has set up a fund where 100% of donations will go to fire victims: https://www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief
        Those are the two local charities I trust most and where I will be giving when I catch my breath.

        Reply
    3. Junior Dev

      Hugs. I live farther from the fires that happened in my area earlier this year but I still had the dust masks and the awful smoke and ash everywhere. You’re being so strong and helping people, and that’s wonderful.

      Reply
    4. SL #2

      My coworker’s parents lost the family home and the entire neighborhood in Santa Rosa. They were able to get out just in time, but it’s still devastating–they escaped with one of their two cats and the clothes on their backs in the middle of the night, and nothing else. I’m glad to hear you’re okay. Good thoughts to you and everyone else affected by the fire; everyone in Southern California knows someone up north and we feel this as much as you do.

      Reply
    5. Engineer Girl

      I live 100 miles south of you and am having air quality issues. I tried exercising outside and got a headache. That says something about the size and extent of the fires! I’m boggled.
      I feel badly that there’s little to do from this side except donate and offer empathy.

      Reply
    6. Risa

      I’m in Marin, and close enough to the Hwy 37 fire that Monday was very concerning.
      One coworker lost everything in Santa Rosa; two other coworkers have evacuated and don’t know if their homes in Napa are still standing.
      People have lost homes and businesses. The impact on the wine industry is going to be devastating for years – I worry about those who not only have lost their homes, but also their livelihoods because the vineyards are burning and some wineries are completely gone.
      The air quality in all of the bay area is terrible – my asthma has been acting up all week; but it’s nothing to deal with compared to what others are going through. I just long for some fresh air! It’s so easy to take for granted everything we have each day.
      We’ve lost so many people to these fires – more than 30 at the last count I saw – and hundreds are still missing. The heartbreak in the area is palpable.
      The sense of community and the desire to help others that this has fostered is the only thing I can find comfort in when I think of all the loss. Neighbors are helping neighbors; strangers are giving anything they can to help strangers.
      I’ve honestly never seen anything quite like this before – it’s overwhelming and surreal at the same time.

      Reply
    7. Bryce

      Cerro Grande in 2000, a “controlled” burn that wasn’t. Something like 400 homes lost, a bunch more damaged, and everyone was affected in some way or another. A few moments of it stand out in my mind, and fortunately they’re all ones I’m proud of.
      –For background, what is traditionally called “Los Alamos” is actually two towns, LA and White Rock, with about ten miles of mountain road between them. When evacuation sounded for LA, about half the town went down to WR either in the hope that it would blow over quickly or as a chance to regroup and figure out where they were actually going to go. So when evac sounded for WR (where I lived) at about 1 in the morning, we had a town and a half full of people to get out along a single road. Most of us didn’t get out until after dawn, my family were some of the last ones out around noon. What I’m proud of is how we handled the evacuation. Unlike LA it wasn’t an imminent danger evac but a precautionary one so we knew we had time, and nobody panicked. Nobody honked, nobody tried to push ahead, all in the same boat so we just lined up and waited and took care of each other. Mom sent my brother and I on our bikes to check on some people we knew were living alone, make sure they knew about it and had a plan, and on the way back we both independently had the idea to note where traffic was moving and let folks know progress was being made.
      –While the internet existed, this was back before it was as universal as it is today. No wireless, no facebook, no standardized ways of reaching people. The local radio station stayed behind to collect info and keep people informed, and one of my classmates stayed with them to manage their website. He built a database for people to check in, provide contact info, et cetera. With the TV news in the habit of repeating any drama they had and showing the same house on fire constantly, this was an incredibly useful way of getting actual information.
      –The fire happened about a month or so before high school graduation, and when dealing with the aftermath a lot of us felt like we were abandoning the town, going off to college. At graduation one of the speakers tried to label us “the class of Cerro Grande” and everybody booed. I have never been prouder of a boo in my life.

      Having lived through that, I wish there were something I could say to make it easier for you. All I can say is that even if the worst happens, life will go on. Take care of yourself, take care of the people around you, they can’t be replaced. And if you do need to evacuate, find something to do. It is so easy to become a tragedy zombie, pinned to the television watching the same bad news get repeated over and over and over. That won’t change anything, it will only destroy you. I’ve been there, it’s not easy to turn away, but you need to.

      Reply
    8. MommaCat

      I’m about an hour or so inland from you, and I know so many people effected by the fires. Our air quality has been horrible, too; two days ago I walked outside in the morning thinking there was fog, but no, it was all that smoke getting bogged down in the valley. I’m praying that we get that rain that’s forecast for Thursday to damp down the fires. Be safe.

      Reply
    9. OperaArt

      About 75 miles away from you, in the East Bay. The people here want so desperately to help.
      I just ordered some good masks online because the air quality here is bad, even so far away from the fires. It’s being compared to Beijing. I can’t imagine what it’s like where you’re at.

      Reply
    10. SeekingBetter

      I’m so sorry to hear about all of this. I don’t know what you are going through because I don’t live in the area but reading your description of what has been going on is painful. I have a friend that lives in CA but near San Francisco’s east side so I know she isn’t directly affected. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

      Reply
    11. Mimmy

      I’m on the other side of the country, thank god, and am keeping all of you in my thoughts. Sure, these wild fires happen regularly, but this go-round seems particularly heartbreaking. Please be safe.

      Reply
    12. Shrunken Hippo

      *Hugs*
      I’m from BC and my small town is almost always under an evacuation warning every summer. It’s terrifying and I can’t even imagine what it would be like if we actually had to leave. I hope you stay safe and the fires get under control soon.

      Reply
    13. Newbie Manager

      I lived in Santa Rosa until I finished college, and watching this from DC is heartbreaking. Some of our oldest friends lost absolutely everything; family members off Highway 12 are still waiting to see if their house made it or not. The indefinite nature of ongoing, uncontained fires makes this disaster even harder than an earthquake.

      We see you and are sending strength, courage, and hope.

      Reply
    14. Not So NewReader

      CA: You guys are in our hearts and minds constantly. If wishes were water those fires would be long gone by now.

      Reply
    15. CAA

      I’m so sorry for all the loss. I was visiting my Mom just south of Sonoma when the fires broke out this week and the smoke there was horrible. We have lots of family friends and old school mates living in the affected areas and we’re still trying to find out if everyone is o.k. The devastation is just horrific.

      Reply
    16. Sarah G

      Thank you to everyone for your responses. I appreciate all the kind words, tips, and support — it all helps. For those of you affected by these fires or by others (i.e. Cerro Grande), I am so sorry for the loss and trauma you and your community have experienced/are experiencing. And for the unknown, waiting-to-hear-if-your-house-is-still-standing fear of what is to come.
      For those wanting to check on specific homes in the Santa Rosa area, someone created this satellite fire map 10/11/17 — it won’t capture the more recent damage, but it does capture a lot of the evacuation zone (Fountaingrove, Coffey Park, etc) and allows you to search by address, click to see before/after, etc. It’s the best tool I’ve seen for figuring out what is still standing. On a Mac, I had to use Safari to view it. Not sure about PC. https://www.kapwing.com/sonoma-county-fire-map
      For those of you who want to donate, the local charities I recommend are Redwood Empire Food Bank, who is supplying food to the emergency shelters and is always a good cause: http://refb.org/
      And the Redwood Credit Union has set up a fund where 100% of donations will go to fire victims: https://www.redwoodcu.org/northbayfirerelief
      These are two local charities I trust in regards to the fire and where I will be giving when I catch my breath.

      Reply
      1. Sarah G

        On a side note, I may be without gas service for some time, so if anyone has any suggestions for (vegetarian) microwave cooking or microwave recipes, feel free to share!

        Reply
    17. Janelle

      We were in Napa for the PGA tournament and evacuated there. Then came home to being evacuated in OC. I am so tired. Air quality is better here so we are home but it’s been crazy.

      Reply
    18. Elizabeth West

      **HUGS** and tons of these (good vibes): ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      I have some friends around the area (all safe!) and it’s been unreal. My chat friend’s parents lost their house and everything around it. :(

      Reply
    19. LizB

      I’m glad you’re safe, and I hope things take a turn for the better soon. The summer camp I went to as a child was destroyed in the fire (buildings only, thankfully all staff are safe). I didn’t quite realize how much it still meant to me until it was gone.

      Reply
    20. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

      It’s so horrible. We had forest fires two years in a row in my home town but they weren’t nearly as bad. I’m sorry for everyone that’s been affected by the fires this year.

      Reply
  4. H.C.

    Thanks for all the great recs for Kansas City two weeks ago ( http://www.askamanager.org/2017/09/weekend-free-for-all-september-30-october-1-2017.html#comment-1665075 ), had a splendid time vacationing in the city and its various neighborhoods & suburbs. Thoroughly enjoyed the museums (went to Nelson-Atkins, Kemper, American Jazz & World War I Memorial – all excellent), the music scene (particularly the jazzy tunes going into the wee hours at Green Lady Lounge & The Blue Room), the assorted watering holes (from the larger-than-expected Boulevard Brewing, to novelty speakeasies like TikiCat & Manifesto, and cute coffeehouses such as Quay & Roasterie) and of course, the barbecue (Went to at least one spot a day; my favorites were Joe’s & Woodyard’s). Also loved the eating options by City Market, as well as some Christopher Elbow chocolates to bring back as edible souvenirs.

    There was definitely no shortage of stuff to see, do, eat & drink during my five-day stay; I would opt to stay an extra day or two, but on my last day a storm rolled in and there was a deluge – so extra glad I return when I did. Definitely looking forward to another trip there in the future. Thanks again for your pointers to “The Paris of the Plains”.

    Reply
    1. Mischa

      I’m so glad to hear! Kansas City is a wonderful place and it always makes me so happy when people have a good time here.

      Haven’t heard of TikiCat, I’ll have to add that to my list.

      Reply
  5. Julia

    I have finally reached a point in my life where my social life is super fulfilling and I feel good about my friendships, but I am so busy this semester I need to turn people down. :(

    Plus, we’ll move back to Europe when I graduate and while my family lives there, I have almost no friends and am scared I won’t make as many good friends as I have here. Which will be especially sad because I’m so happy with the life I have now, but we can’t stay here because we both hate working in Japan, and I do want to live closer to my grandma while she’s still alive (she’s 95.)

    I know there’s no point in worrying about the future, but I have an anxiety disorder that stems from a period in my life where I felt extremely isolated and so depressed I almost died – I know now that some of it was grad school and some of it was hormones, but there’s still a part of me that’s terrified of over feeling that way again, even though I used to be someone who was pretty okay with being alone before.

    Reply
    1. Christy

      As someone with an anxiety disorder, I bet you’ll be surprised and proud of yourself at how well you cope. I’m assuming you’re treating your anxiety–it sounds like you’re on top of your mental health and you’re pretty self-aware. You have the coping skills. You have learned how to make friends in a new place–you’ve obviously done it in Japan, now you can do it when you return to Europe. Just pretend Europe is brand new to you! I bet a lot of the skills will transfer.

      (As context, I had the worst anxiety of my life a few weeks ago. I really didn’t want to take a Xanax. (I was hungover, I had missed my daily Wellbutrin, and I had a big presentation to give.) I realized I was feeling anxiety (rather than hangover) and after labeling it I pep talked my way through the morning. Literally–I just chattered to myself about “ok, we’re gonna get out of bed. We have coping skills. We exercise, we eat healthy, we went to therapy, we usually take medication. We’re gonna get up and go to the bathroom. We have coping skills…” It sucked but it worked! I coped and I got through it. And the day was ok. And given where I started, ok was great.

      What I’m saying is, you can do it. And you don’t even need my pep talk. The skills are already within you.

      Reply
      1. Julia

        Thank you!

        I am feeling pretty well at the moment because my life is what I want from it (other than my family being far away) and I’m getting somewhere with grad school, plus I’m on meds and I meditate. (I’m taking a little break from therapy because it wasn’t getting me anywhere right now, as I’m feeling mostly good and I’m super busy with grad school.)

        I think my fear is not having the life I want. As I grow older, I realize a lot of my limitations – I won’t ever be in a musical, for example. I’m also not sure I’ll be able to have kids. I know that many people don’t get everything they want, but I always wonder how they deal with that without getting too sad. Like, a friend of mine wants to get married but can’t find anyone, and I feel so guilty because I am married, and worried about life’s unfairness meaning I might lose what I have now. It seems so out of my control. I have coping skills and I have made it through some really tough times, but I also don’t want to spend my life just coping, I want to enjoy it a little and have meaningful relationships.

        I also don’t know why, but I had a much easier time making friends in Japan, whereas in Europe, I was bullied and ostracized a lot growing up, and I don’t seem to click with too many people.

        Reply
        1. Christy

          Well, it might be that expats make friends easier? My wife went to high school on a military base and military brats are very good at making fast friends. Plus you’re not a kid anymore! Kid me was awkward as anything, but adult me is awesome.

          Also mostly unrelated but unless you are literally tone deaf you could probably be in a community theatre musical someday. Do they have community theatre in Europe? (God that question sounds dumb but really I have no idea.) Community theatre has a ton of enthusiastic mediocre performers in ensembles, and I bet you could find one for yourself.

          This is also mostly unrelated, but I think it can be harmful when we fixate on something we want that we have no control over. Like, say, finding someone to marry–they are an independent person who has to want to marry you too. I have a friend who decided to study geology and then decided to like geology, in that order. She figured she may as well like it. She has a really happy life! Better than my friend who studied theatre because he loves it but is still a struggling actor and is often unhappy.

          Reply
          1. Isobel

            Slight tangent…Europe is a big place but there are lots of community theatre groups in the UK (often known as am-dram). Quite common in Germany I think? And there is the International Amateur Theatre Association.

            Reply
            1. Julia

              Thank you both! I’m not sure where in Europe we’ll move, but I’ll keep my eyes open. I almost joined an amateur musical group in Switzerland, but couldn’t makle it work timing-wise.

              Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          ” I know that many people don’t get everything they want, but I always wonder how they deal with that without getting too sad.”

          Just speaking as one person, I get sad about some stuff. And then other stuff turns out way better than ever expected. More importantly, I have grown to cherish what I do have and the dream stuff became less important. Sure I still get sad, but it does not slow me down in part because other people are going through the same sense of loss of dreams and in part because what I do have keeps me plenty busy.
          Eat good foods, rest, hydrate, exercise when possible. This things become the cornerstones of our lives and carry us through the ups and the downs.

          What we think is important now, may change and that is okay. Sometimes we let go of dreams willingly because we find something better. Sometimes we actual reach a dream goal and find out it’s not what we wanted so we change. And sometimes dreams change because life changes, such as you adopt your relative’s orphaned child and your world gets turned upside down (I know several people who have done t his). And it’s all okay with you.

          You will have the life you want. Because each step of the way you will have choices. As you make your selections you will pick things that work well now or work well in the long run.

          “I feel so guilty because I am married, and worried about life’s unfairness meaning I might lose what I have now.” Speaking as a person who was widowed at 45, yes, it is possible that you could lose “everything” or lose what is most important to you. That is true. IF this happens, and that is a HUGE IF, the secret to getting through it is to allow others to help you. Say yes, even when you head is screaming NO. Your friends and your loved ones can carry you through unbelieveable piles of crap, if you allow them to help you. Embarrassed about the idea of receiving help? Then start now, help others and watch them as you help. They will teach you how to be a gracious recipient. They will teach you how to get maximum use out of little helps here and there.

          Last. Believe. Believe that eventually we get what we want. We may not have it all at the same time. For example, I lost the best dog I have ever had in life and then found a good job with a great boss. No, we don’t always have it all at once, but know for a fact that it will come along at some point. It is out of our control. Decide to become an opportunist. Be on the watch for meaningful opportunities, because good opportunities will appear from time to time. And when you see those opportunities find ways to weave the opportunity into your life.

          Reply
          1. Julia

            Thank you, for this comment and for last week.

            The more I think about it, the more I remember how much stuff I have already dealt with successfully. I guess I know somewhere that I will be fine no matter what happens, but it’s still difficult to imagine going through something like losing your spouse. (I am so sorry that happened to you.)

            I think I also have some trust issues that were formed during my childhood, which are much better now, but it’s still hard for me to just rely on others – even though I consider myself a big helper.

            Reply
            1. Not So NewReader

              If you like helping you might like this little tidbit I recently learned. Sometimes the way to help other people is to allow them to help us. I like to use my father as an example. His life fell apart, my mother died, he faced bankruptcy, the dog had to be put down, someone stole his timber, and on and on. It was truly epic. He turned and helped a neighbor by volunteering to sit with her dying husband so she could do something else. The neighbor agreed. And in that moment my father with the shattered life, found that he DID have a purpose, his life DID have meaning. I am not sure that lady ever understood that she helped him more than he helped her. My pastor is fond of saying sometimes telling people “no, I don’t need help” is actually a selfish gesture because it deprives people of an opportunity to heal/reweave what is going on in their lives.

              Now that someone has explained this to me, I am seeing more and more examples on a smaller scale. There seems to be always another layer to the story.

              Reply
  6. Corporate Cynic

    What’s a good way to get people to RSVP to events without sounding like a nag? Having a housewarming tomorrow, and 16 people haven’t RSVPed. PaperlessPost was sent out 3 weeks ago, with a reminder/info last week (gently reminding people that we needed numbers to ensure enough food and drinks). I’m far from perfect but can’t imagine not responding to someone who’s invited me to his/her home!

    Reply
    1. Engineer Girl

      A lot of my friends like evite because it nags and sends reminders. It won’t help you this time but may help next time?

      Reply
      1. Corporate Cynic

        So does PP – I actually had it send a reminder today to all non-respondents and still haven’t heard back from about 12 now :-/

        Reply
        1. Boötes

          At the risk of sounding obnoxiously obvious, can you simply call them? I recall being so steeped in evites in the noughties that a phone call from a friend in 2008 inviting me to his party felt downright quaint. I went. Nowadays I avoid email as much as possible. A phone call lets me contextualize and humanize the request with vocal cues. It’s a chance to connect for a few minutes and perhaps schedule something with just them for some other time if they can’t make it that night.

          Reply
        2. ampg

          Heads up that recently I completely missed a paperless post invite from a friend because gmail didn’t send it to my primary inbox. Others may be experiencing that issue. Give em a call!

          Reply
          1. Intrepid

            I will also chime in that I sent a ton of paperless post invites for a party, and a good 25-33% of them were never delivered– one person actually followed up to ask me where it was, since he never got it.

            Reply
    2. Thlayli

      Send a text to each a few days before. People might not check their email as much but texts are harder to ignore.

      Reply
    3. Temperance

      Sometimes those PP invites can get filtered. I have missed a bunch. I think a personal email or text is a fine, lowkey follow-up.

      Reply
      1. Corporate Cynic

        All great suggestions! The main reason I’ve hesitated to follow up with calls/texts, though, is that PP has a tracking feature so I know that everyone’s opened the invite (and presumably, has seen the reminders as well). Why some STILL haven’t responded has baffled me – but I do think the ball is in their court. I guess I should focus on all the wonderful ppl who ARE coming – hope they have a great time! :-)

        Reply
        1. Triplestep

          House Warmings are thought of as gift-giving occasions, and since they know you’re not having a sit-down meal, they may be perceiving all the nudging the wrong way. I would just plan for more food than you need for the number who have said they’d attend, and figure on having left-overs. Even some of the people who RSVP’d yes might not show up – it will all even out.

          Reply
          1. Housewarming plans

            On a sort of similar note, I automatically think of a house warming as more of an open-house style, stop-by-if-you-can thing. Yours clearly isn’t, which is a totally reasonable way to set it up, but if I were your invitee, I might need an embarrassing amount of nudging, up to and including a very direct “I need a commitment from you one way or the other,” in order respond in a helpful way. Honestly, that directness would also help me make sure to follow through appropriately (I’d know a “yes” meant “I will for sure be there” vs “I’ll stop by if I’m able though will be actively trying to be able.”) Again, this is a reasonable way for you to want to do things, but if it’s as unexpected for your guests as it would be for me, they might just need a little more information and/or pushing to help them understand the situation.

            Reply
            1. Triplestep

              Good point about “open house” vs “house warming”. I’m over 50, so to me, “house warming” is a gift-giving occasion. It’s a throwback to the days when people lived at home with their parents longer and really needed stuff to set up their own homes. I think “Open House” does not have the same implication that gifts are required/expected. It’s more an invitation to “come see our house!”

              Reply
        2. Boötes

          It’s possible the invitees don’t know at this point whether they can confirm. Mood, food, energy, tough time these days so don’t know if they want to socialize, other external factors they’re needing to get confirmation on. Maybe they have a tense relationship lately with someone else on the guest list and are waiting to see whether that invitee confirms attendance. Point being, who knows why. I know how cruddy it feels when friends don’t extend the basic courtesy of a reply, but calling offers a chance to get your answer and possibly learn about things going on in their lives (if that’s where the conversation naturally goes, not a “Why aren’t you coming?” thing).

          Reply
  7. Halp

    I went out with someone to watch a play on Tuesday. We have texted on occasion for a few months, but this was the first time we spent time together. We didn’t talk much because we were at a play and I didn’t want to disturb anyone. Needless to say, it was awkward. I do want to see this person again, but it’s been almost a week and I haven’t heard from them. Would it be weird if I texted them? What should I say? I am over analyzing the smallest things.

    Reply
    1. Lauren R

      I definitely think you should text! It wouldn’t be weird at all, and they may not have texted yet for the same reason you haven’t and feel relieved you made the first move. I’d recommend just keeping it casual, like “Hey, I really enjoyed seeing you the other night! How are you? I hope (insert some event/project/etc they’ve mentioned) went well/is going well!” When they respond, you could mention that you wish you’d gotten the chance to talk more and suggest that you go for coffee/dinner next time – that may help you feel less awkward about the silence during the play (which isn’t weird at all by the way; I think most people would appreciate the fact that you were considerate and didn’t try to chat during the performance so try not to stress too much over that part if you can help it).

      I overanalyze all the time so I get where you’re coming from but in this case, I really don’t think you have anything to worry about. It’s easy to get so lost in all the worst case scenarios your brain comes up with that you miss your shot at a best case scenario. If you need some motivation to send the text, just try to imagine the relief and happiness you’ll feel if they text back to say how happy they are to hear from you! Good luck!!

      Reply
    2. Boötes

      Do you have a romantic interest? Or too early to tell, but you know you liked their presence? I used to attend plays with a friend then go for dessert to chat about it (& whatever else). It made for a lovely night out, and it felt right to connect after a shared experience like that. I liked having a culture buddy.

      Would something like “I like your company — want to check out another event or would you rather leave it at that? Either way have a great weekend”. Before you even compose it, consider taking a few moments to check in with how you feel with 1. “New event? Yeah!” 2. “just leave it at that’ or 3. nothing at all, as a practice emotional run through all the options. If any feel way worse than where you’re at now, it might be best to leave it as is, then be (we hope) pleasantly surprised if you hear from them.

      And perhaps in future outings with people, as you’re saying your goodbyes you can include “hey, i’ll text you on Xday (maybe about a similar thing that’s coming up next week or whatever fits the conversation)” to prevent that oh-so-common uncertainty about when — or even whether — to get in touch.

      Reply
    3. Wrench Turner

      First, thank you for supporting the performing arts. We need all the love we can get. Second, send them a text to see if they’re up for “something where we won’t have to sit in silence for hours.” Dinner, coffee, moonlit graveyard stroll. Whatever.

      Reply
    4. fposte

      Can you expand on the “Needless to say, it was awkward”? It sounds like a nice outing to me. Is it possible it was a nice outing?

      Reply
      1. Halp

        Well, neither of us talked much, so it felt awkward. I’m thinking maybe this person interpreted my quietness as me not liking them? When really, I just didn’t want to ruin the play for everyone else.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          Well, I think it’s perfectly natural and normal to not talk while watching a play at the theatre! It’s one of the few things that seems to be universally acknowledged as annoying. Also, you say “we didn’t talk much”, meaning you weren’t the only quiet one – did you interpret their quietness as their not liking you very much?

          Reply
          1. Halp

            Yes, I did interpret it that way, because we didn’t talk much on the way back to the train station either. This person is shy, but I can’t tell if the quietness can be attributed to shyness or not liking me, so I’m hesistant to text for fear of not getting a response. Gah.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              What if you didn’t get a response and that was okay, because then you knew where you stood? I mean, that sounds like the silence of now without the torture of uncertainty, so an improvement to me. Texting him certainly won’t make him not like you if he already does like you.

              Reply
        2. Fenchurch

          I know this is long past the point that you will probably check in, but I’d recommend sending a short text saying

          “Hey, it was fun seeing (play) with you, let’s get drinks this week (or insert something more conducive to face-to-face talking like bowling, mini golf, wine & paint class)! I’d enjoy getting to know you more!”

          Really drive it home that you want to get to know them and want to do it in a setting where you two can talk.

          Reply
    5. Stellaaaaa

      When I’ve gone to see movies on dates, the idea is that you go out for drinks or food afterward to talk about the movie. You have this one obvious thing to talk about and that keeps things from being awkward or too personal. Why didn’t you take any time to chat about the play after you saw it?

      Reply
  8. Junior Dev

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I saw my psychiatrist today and asked her if she thinks it’s ok to take Ativan as needed indefinitely. She is fine with it but wants to up the dose of my antidepressants.

    I went to get them filled but my insurance has lapsed since I lost my job and I need to fill out and send in the COBRA forms still, which I hadn’t because I needed money for the premium, and now my parents have sent me the money but I got sidetracked and had to do a bunch of stuff today and I still haven’t sent the forms in. I am busy volunteering all weekend too.

    There’s a bunch of other logistical stuff I need to do to deal with money and being unemployed and I’m feeling so overwhelmed and burned out and avoiding it all. I’ve been volunteering so much, writing articles for free and contributing to open source, amd I’m not sure I can keep it up.

    I think next week I need to stop doing fun sexy projects and focus on 1) getting paperwork and money stuff sorted 2) applying to actual paying jobs.

    I’m keeping myself so busy and it’s better than wallowing in depression but it’s starting to feel overwhelming, and I get so easily overwhelmed now.

    I started a new weight lifting program and it’s going well. I am getting one article published and I self published another. So I have stuff to be proud of but I could do a lot better at taking care of myself.

    How are you doing?

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      You have a lot to be proud of! And it sounds like being busy has helped you get through this initial period – but like you say, self-care is important too.

      Focusing on paperwork sounds stressful but so important, especially if it means you can get your prescription filled. Would it help to break things down into really small steps and think about only one at a time? Like if you need to fill in a form, maybe focus first on just getting a pen.

      I’m doing a bit better this week after something of a recent dip. I also made a decision that’s been useful for my self-care. It’s going to sound really trivial but this has been part of my OCD and I’ve been… really unwell over it at times. Basically I decided not to use colour labels in my Outlook calendar any more. I get to pick one colour for the whole thing and that’s it. It’s been uncomfortable but liberating.

      I am sure some people will read this and think: you’re worried about your calendar, get a real problem? But I have, for example, sat up at 3am checking my calendar week by week from when I started this job to make sure nothing was the wrong colour. It’s not really about the calendar itself but the levels of anxiety and mental discomfort involved.

      This is one of the things I really hate about OCD: it creates problems that sound trivial, like “my calendar items might be the wrong colour”, and drives you completely mad over them.

      Reply
      1. Junior Dev

        Hugs. I’m sorry about the calendar thing. That sounds really stressful.

        I know what you mean about seemingly trivial stuff being a really big deal. I haven’t told a lot of people this, but I once had a serious bout of suicidal ideation triggered by potato salad.

        Basically, I was doing very badly with PTSD, struggling to hold down a job I could barely do because of my mental health and general life messiness, and I got it in my head that I was going to start batch cooking lunches instead of buying them at the cafeteria, to save money. So I got a big sack of potatoes and some vegan mayonnaise and made potato salad. It was gonna be proof that I could Handle my Life like a Real Adult. I was pretty broke and so the $20 or so I spent on ingredients for this project was a big portion of my food budget.

        It was bad. It was very bad. It tasted horrible and I was left with a giant vat of inedible potato salad. And this was proof I was a failure and I would never get it together and nothing I try works out and I might as well kill myself.

        Fortunately I did not try to do that, but I spent a few hours crying and being generally dysfunctional before I realized how ridiculous the whole thing was.

        So I guess the moral of the story is that brains are weird and sometimes they pick random things to fixate on and ruin your day over, and it sucks that you can’t easily convey to anyone how awful it was to have the dots on the calendar be the wrong color, but I get how it is when some random bullshit becomes the focus of everything that’s making you miserable and you just can’t let it go. It’s not really about the potato salad or the calendar or whatever, but you know that. It’s our brains having a weird meltdown, but despite all that you’re able to see that it’s not right and do some self-care to break the cycle, and that’s awesome.

        Reply
        1. Amadeo

          Even brains that aren’t suffering from an illness do this. I was working full time as a CVT and also trying to take night classes to get my graphic design degree (which meant I started my day at 7am, and it ended whenever I finished my homework after a 6-9 class). I had an assignment I needed to print out, it was 11pm and my printer ran out of ink. I was so tired, I just wanted to sleep, but I sat down in the floor and had a good cry before picking myself up and going to Walmart for the ink. It was the dumbest thing to cry over, but at that moment it was a culmination of stress.

          Hang in there!

          Reply
        2. Ramona Flowers

          I’m so sorry this happened to you but also grateful to you for sharing the experience because I can relate 100% to feeling suicidal over a failed recipe. Mine was a children’s gingerbread kit someone gave me as a present.

          I’m really glad you’re still here.

          Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            I mean, I know that’s not the same as trying to batch cook. But otherwise I could have written what you wrote.

            Reply
        3. Lindsay J

          Oh god. This comment is me like all the time.

          And I think I fixate on things too, which makes it all much worse. Like I’ll finally decide I’m ready to fill out a form, I just need my pen. And then I’ll realize that I can’t find my pen. And it doesn’t matter that I have a damn drawer full of other, completely serviceable pens. I need to know where my pen is, and I will clean the whole damn house and tear things apart until I find my pen. So a task that could have been done in 5 minutes has now taken 2 hours because I’ve spent 1:55 looking for a specific pen that I feel like I need to have to do the task correctly.

          Reply
      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

        I’ve had numerous total breakdowns over seemingly trivial stuff. You are not alone!

        Reply
    2. Anonymous for this

      We got a new tutor this week, who seemed much more approachable than the previous one. So I bit the bullet and asked him for a referral for our EAP. The concerns I had a few weeks ago have eased a little bit but I’m now getting kind of flashbacks and so want to get it sorted before I finish my training. Whether or not I can take up the EAP is a bit uncertain at the moment because of logistics but I’ve had a similar offer from the training providers so there’s definitely someone for me to talk it through with.
      Even just that step has made a massive difference in how I feel, just acknowledging that I’m going to do something about it.
      Which meant that when I went climbing this week, my head was far more in the game than the last few weeks and I had so much more fun!

      Reply
    3. Pathfinder Ryder

      I’m recognizing myself in too many articles about adult ADHD and high functioning depression to the point where I want to get evaluated for a diagnosis, but actually going and talking to my GP about it seems too hard: Finding an appointment time, articulating examples of how the symptoms felt familiar, the last time I broached the subject of depression to my GP he was kind of like “sounds like you’re probably just feeling a little flat”, I was physically ill for a solid three months earlier this year and the GPs were as baffled as I was… I’m not sure this is something my country’s EAP services can handle, as they seem to be more counselling based and the government health information all points to GPs as first point of non-emergency mental health contact.

      Reply
      1. Lizcat

        Hugs that’s tough. Could you find another GP? I switched psychiatrists recently and it made such a difference to be believed.

        Reply
      2. Language Student

        Can you go to a different doctor? At my surgery there’s a few different doctors and you can often get earlier appointments if you say you’re willing to speak to any doctor rather than your dedicated one.
        Writing things down in advance really helped me articulate things though, writing down symptoms with examples of how it affects concrete things (like how much longer you take to shower or get up or write something) made it so much easier to explain and come up with examples when asked for them. Emotion journals can help too – especially ones that are split into morning, afternoon and evening. Honestly, I didn’t realise how bad things had gotten until I wrote everything down and really looked at how I was feeling and the symptoms I had each day, and it’s a helpful recovery tool if you can identify patterns so you know when to focus on self-care etc.

        Reply
      3. rj

        I have had very unhelpful responses from GPs about depression/anxiety in the US and in Canada. I really had to self-advocate in Canada (which is the opposite of what you want to do when depressed). In the US I just gave up. Don’t do that! Try someone else (if where you live in anything like Canada’s system, you will have to wait a long while…).

        Reply
    4. Lizcat

      I saw a new psychiatrist last week and switched from Adderall to Vyvanse for my ADHD and I can’t even begin to describe the difference! I feel so much better. I’ll probably go up next month, but already I’m less anxious and able to focus better.

      Reply
    5. Mrs. Fenris

      I had a couple of stressful things happen at work last week, and they spilled over into this week to create one giant ball o’ anxiety. Fortunately I was able to recognize it and figure that it would probably pass, and it did.

      I also made an appointment with a sleep specialist. I am pretty sure they won’t be able to do anything, but I figured I would at least try. I went to a different one twice almost 20 years ago and got absolutely nowhere…but what the heck, maybe they’ve come up with something new.

      Reply
    6. KatieKate

      I had a mild panic attack yesterday. My sucky grocery store didn’t have some of the ingredients I needed (related to the soup post) and I couldn’t remember what I had at home, so I just brought some premade food and left. I need to work through this cooking anxiety. I’m not trying to impress anyone! I’m the only one eating it!

      Reply
    7. Wrench Turner

      My mental health isn’t well, but I’m surviving. I want to get back to a therapist but even with insurance it was $100/session. Just can’t afford that, so looking for alternatives. I’m proud of that. I took 30 years to get myself to go (my dad was told that I should go when I was younger but he scoffed at the idea) and just the 3 sessions I had I think helped point me in a good direction. It’s a long way to go. Depression, anxiety & suicidal ideation comes and goes like the Great Lakes tides. Sometimes storms in, sometimes just a gentle flow. It’s been that way for so long that I’m not afraid of dying, per say, I just don’t care if it happens and sometimes that nihilism/self destruction hurts others. I’m not proud of that.

      I have a compulsory need to create -I’m an artist outside my day job and hope to some day live off my art- and when I can’t, I feel pretty worthless. My day job keeps me busy and exhausted (58hrs this week) plus I do the majority of taking care of the home so I have very little time to create. It’s frustrating to be too tired to do anything and I know I shouldn’t be judged on my productivity, but… what can you do. I’m anxious about my future here. It’s a whole lot of “I don’t know” that feels like it depends on other people. I hate that.

      So to cope I ride my motorcycle whenever possible; it’s a great meditation that I know will also kill me quick if things go wrong and that makes me feel better. I make as much art as possible whenever I can and have plans for marketing the series of paintings I’m working on when I get enough of a collection together. Whatever works, right?

      Reply
      1. ..Kat..

        So, I just read a Captain Awkward guest post about free/low cost resources. Go to the archives, and the post is between #1026 and #1027.

        Reply
    8. Becca

      Congrats on the weight lifting and the publishings! Good luck and good vibes for what’s next :)

      I finally found a therapist with an opening since moving in August, and I have an intake appointment on Monday! God willing it’ll work out and I can finally get some EMDR therapy for my PTSD…. We’ll see how it goes.

      Reply
    9. Red

      Wow, you’re doing so much, I’m so proud!!

      For me, it’s been a mess. Apparently I’m allergic to Ambien so my doctor put me on mirtazapine for sleep, which is ugh because Ambien really worked!

      I don’t think Lamictal is working at all right now, at least not at my current dose. I’ve just been dealing with this awful irrational rage at nothing that wants me to beat the everloving crud out of everything in the vicinity until it’s all broken and so are my hands and I’m exhausted, which is not the least bit productive. There’s also a fair amount of self loathing involved in that because I’m now reminding myself of my abusive parents, so this is just a clusterfudge of bad. Time to call up the psychiatrist and demand an emergency appointment for the 3rd time in the past couple of months… I also need to find a therapist again.

      Reply
      1. Junior Dev

        Hugs. Getting meds worked out is such a pain. I’m on an antidepressant that works fairly well for me now but the one I tried before that made me incredibly anxious.

        I hope you find a solution that works for you with the meds. Also, I know it’s scary to feel yourself getting angry but you are already doing better than your parents by acknowledging it’s a problem and taking steps to fix it.

        Reply
        1. Red

          Thank you :) I know I’ll get the meds worked out eventually, it’s just a colossal pain in the butt until then because I really need them to work!

          Reply
    10. Shrunken Hippo

      I’ve been sleeping on a more regular schedule but I’m in a lot of physical pain. I’ve had chronic pain for around 5 years but doctors always say that it’s just a manifestation of my mental state. While I was in university no doctor wanted to give me medication for my depression and anxiety because they thought that it was just tied to school work and I would get over it, and now that I’m finally on pills the doctor won’t believe my pain until I’ve been on the medication for a few months. It’s frustrating because there’s a history of fibromyalgia in my family and I have almost all of the symptoms which include depression and anxiety. It’s so annoying that I have to continue to suffer with constant pain because the doctor thinks it’s literally all in my head. I also suffer from extreme cramps during my period that have led to me being rushed to the hospital, but doctors just say that I’m being over dramatic. It’s hard to combat depression when people keep dismissing your pain. It feels like I’m not worth the help and sends me into more depression.

      One thing I’m proud of is I was able to finish a crocheted fox that I designed myself. It’s my first time writing my own pattern for a stuffed animal so I was really happy that it worked out. I’ve decided that I’m going to make another one for my sister because she’s been wanting a fox stuffy for a while now.

      Reply
        1. Shrunken Hippo

          One doctor thought I might but my symptoms are much more similar to endometriosis or fibromyalgia. Though most of the pain in during my period I do have some pain in between as well.
          I love the little fox. I’ve made a second one with an improved tail and I love it!

          Reply
    11. Anonon for this one

      Being unemployed can be such a huge drain on mental health. It sounds like you are really thriving given the circumstances, good for you!

      I am in a place where I am really struggling with my mental health. I am lucky to have a job with great insurance, but I can’t find a therapist who will take me on as a new patient! I’ve been trying for months to get an appointment. I’m on three waitlists. My job as EAP, but it is really user unfriendly–I tried to get an appointment with them and they set me up with something really unsustainable in terms of schedule and location. If I am going to be out of the office during my normal work hours, I have to make an announcement to the entire department about where I am going and why (it is not that it is a RULE exactly, but it is the culture, so if you don’t, people will notice) and I really don’t want to announce that I’m struggling with a lot of mental health issues and need to go to therapy.

      Meanwhile, because I’m in such a bad place, I let my emotions get the better of me and accidentally vented some anger to someone I shouldn’t have at work (yeah I know this is not a work thread, but this is less about work and more about mental health). Of course, I made myself look like a crazy fool in front of someone I really admire and want to have a good opinion of me. I’m trying to figure out the best way to fix this.

      I’m just trying to keep it together enough to act professional and not like a loon until I can finally get some help. It’s so hard :(.

      Reply
      1. Red

        When I was dealing with a similar issue (explaining lots of doctor appointments at work), I told everyone I had a medical problem that was acting up and driving me crazy. It’s not a lie!

        Reply
    12. Detective Amy Santiago

      This week has been hard because of events happening in the world. How do you remain informed while also taking care of your mental health? I’m so exhausted from being angry and scared. But shutting off completely and not knowing what is happening causes other anxiety because I’m not able to mentally prepare for what might be coming next.

      Reply
      1. Language Student

        Do you have a reliable friend/family member who could kind of filter out information and just tell you about a couple of things? My partner is great for this – she checks different sources to get an objective view, watches the videos herself etc., and somehow always knows about things immediately after they happen. So when I can’t engage too much, I get a brief overview from her.
        I also avoid articles and stuff that have numbers like “x people hurt” in the title, it’s just too emotional for me. If you can wait and focus on the articles praising people who helped others or helped stop attacks or fires etc., that might help since you’re still informed, but focusing on the people who are helping instead of hurting?

        Reply
    13. aliascelli

      It’s been a really difficult PTSD week for me, and for a lot of people I know, with what feels like unrelenting news and twitter coverage of Weinstein. I was lucky and got an emergency therapy appointment on Thursday and I’ve been practicing self-care like it’s a religion, but with all that I’m just getting by. Add work stress on top, and this week feels like a year.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        I can relate. There was a Twitter boycott yesterday because of Rose McGowan being suspended on the platform, and though people were saying “Don’t boycott because silence is what they want!” I HAD to step away and take a break.

        Reply
      2. Sonia

        Feeling the same way about the constant coverage. I’m definitely taking a break from tracking the stories. You’re not alone – and I hope you can take extra good care of yourself this weekend. I know even the simplest things can feel like a huge mountain.

        Reply
    14. DanaScully

      Thanks for asking. I’ve been struggling with my anxiety and intrusive thoughts recently.

      I’m away from home at the moment and I’m convincing myself that my apartment is being burgled or my car is being stolen. It’s difficult for me to relax despite us coming 100 miles away from home *to* relax.

      Reply
    15. A. Non

      I’m really excited! I’m back at work after a six week absence for my health, and I feel awesome!

      …except that my energy levels are still recalibrating. I know I have to get to the gym more than I do (right now it’s 1x week, but it really should be 3x week) and be more active, but it feels like if I add one more thing on top of getting back to work I might sink instead of swimming. I’ve let myself ‘have’ the last two weeks to ease back into things, but I think this coming week I really need to step it up with the physical activity, especially as it gets colder and darker and we ease toward winter.

      Reply
    16. QualityControlFreak

      I am doing okay. Struggling this week with a respiratory virus that has hit both me and my spouse, who is fighting stage 4 lung cancer. Bad night Thursday, waking up every five minutes to check on him and try to keep his oxygen levels from tanking. Panic attack in the wee hours of Friday morning. To the doc Friday afternoon, and his oxygen levels were good on our portable O2 generator and on the medical facility’s equipment. So, home again, called the techs at the oxygen company, and they easily identified and walked me through a simple fix for our O2 generator. Spouse is still miserable of course, but his O2 levels have stabilized, so that feels like a win. One foot in front of the other. Thanks for asking. ;)

      Reply
    17. Mischa

      First of all, I cannot thank you all for your support. You have no idea how much it means to know there are supportive and understanding people who understand.

      I had an evaluation with a psychiatrist to discuss medication. I was very nervous, but turned out I didn’t need to be. The doctor was so wonderful. My experience with the campus counseling center has been nothing short of fantastic. Everyone has been amazingly kind, affirming, and understanding. No one has treated me as broken or messed up. I started on a low dose of sertraline this morning. I’m not sure if it’s helping, but I do feel a little bit more “level.” Of course, it’s only one dose so we’ll see how things go.

      In addition to being an extrovert, I find my depression gets worse when isolated so I made a point to study at a coffee shop with some friends today instead of spending the whole weekend alone. Next, I need to work in exercise.

      Reply
      1. Junior Dev

        Congratulations on studying with friends! I also get more depressed if I don’t see people. It sounds like you found a really smart way to study while also getting your social needs met.

        Reply
    18. Mimmy

      I’m doing okay thought the crap with our house remodeling isn’t help my anxiety levels! I’ve always been the type to let little things add up into one giant ball of agitation.

      I’m also thinking of changing therapists. I’ve been seeing my current one for 5-6 years. She’s really lovely, but her schedule is very limited and now that I’m working, it’s a lot harder to work around. I have her this Wednesday at 6:30 pm, which will cap what will probably end up being an exhausting day: Work, council meeting, therapist. Yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment.

      But at least I’m proud of finally admitting that I probably need this change.

      Reply
    19. WriterLady

      Honestly, I’m proud of you for taking steps to manage your health effectively, and proud of you for recognising burnout when it arrives. Just know that if you need to take some time for you, it’s well worth it and better in the long run.

      I’m doing okay – actually, much better than I used to be. The anxiety flare ups are becoming less (and I can negotiate with my brain regarding some of its more common ones) and I’m on a fairly low dose. My doctor advised me that he wants me on them for the time being

      Reply
    20. NaoNao

      I feel like the tone of your comments has changed for the better since leaving Awful Job! I know it’s scary but honestly, I’m happy to see a more relaxed and hopeful you, Junior Dev!
      Well, um, a lot of developments.
      I found a therapist to deal with the emotions that are coming with not drinking. I joined a supportive online community for not drinking, and I’m approaching two months sober. It’s been kind of a breeze!
      I’ve dropped a few pounds and feel great in general. I’m sleeping better, my skin looks great, I’ve lost that vague weak feeling in my body, my acid reflux is all but gone (it was awful, like almost every hour I was awake). I have so much time to get stuff done!!
      My struggle right now is dealing with some unpleasant memories because my brain is always sharp and “on” and some stuff is coming back to me. Not anything terrible, just…some things that were better left in the dusty attic of one’s mind.

      Reply
      1. Junior Dev

        Wow, congratulations on two months sober! That’s awesome!

        And thanks for noticing about my comments…I have heard similar things from a bunch of people and it’s making me feel better about the situation. I have all kinds of complicated feelings I can’t discuss without getting too far into work talk, but I am glad to be out of that situation.

        Reply
      2. Ramona Flowers

        Huge congratulations on your recovery so far. I’m so sorry you’re struggling with bad memories – I hope you can work out some strategies for self-care.

        Reply
    21. Lindsay J

      Frustrated. It seems like a cruel joke that there is a 15 day time limit on getting my ADHD drug prescription filled. I didn’t go to fill it until the 16th or 17th day because I didn’t realize the time limit was so short, and the pharmacy couldn’t fill it. So now I have to manage to go back to see the doctor to get another prescription written (and it has to be picked up in person – can’t be sent electronically) then bring it back to the pharmacy and get it filled, and deal with the logistics of doing that during the work day since my psych doesn’t have any after hours or weekend availability. And it’s now made harder because I don’t have my damn meds to help me stay organized and prioritized.

      Reply
  9. SL #2

    YOU GUYS I’M GOING TO CRUMBS AND WHISKERS IN 12 HOURS

    (C&W is a “cat cafe” in LA and DC; basically a bunch of adoptable cats hanging out in a big room and you can order coffee and sit with them for an hour. As someone who doesn’t have a cat but loves them desperately, this is a dream come true.)

    Reply
      1. SL #2

        I mean, it’s entirely possible I might just start crying as soon as they let me in there. “Oh, what? There’s tears streaming out of my eyes? Don’t worry about it, just let me pet a kitty.”

        Reply
    1. nep

      Look forward to hearing how it goes.
      We are planning to go soon to a nearby cat cafe to see whether any one of the lovely beings there wants to come home with us. I’m excited just to go hang out in this place.

      Reply
      1. SL #2

        Ugh, it was pure magic. I recommend going as early as they’ll let you, since the cats are much more active and sociable in the morning. C&W’s first reservation is at 11 am so that’s when I booked my visit, and it was perfect. All the kittens were running around being cute, and even the adult cats who were sleeping weren’t that grumpy and were more than willing to doze peacefully while you pet them.

        Reply
        1. tigerStripes

          Some kitty adoption places have volunteers who do kitty cuddling. I don’t know all of the details, but that might be a great thing for you. It also helps socialize the kitties, so it’s good for them.

          Reply
    2. AcademiaNut

      My husband regularly visits a local cat cafe (I’m allergic). I’ve heard him refer to it as his secret office.

      Reply
      1. CAA

        Funny, that’s our situation here too. DH loves the local cat cafe, but he has to change clothes after going there or I end up with swollen itchy eyes and a runny nose.

        Reply
    3. Triplestep

      That sounds great! I wish there was one of those near me so I could take my octogenarian mother – she would love it!

      Reply
    4. TheDuchess

      Designers and writers out there, what’s your recommendations for a portfolio? I’m thinking of branching out into a few more freelance clients, but my sole writing portfolio isn’t geared to design.

      Reply
      1. Amadeo

        What do you mean? Are you asking what you need samples of or a hosting place for your portfolio? (I’m assuming you meant this as it’s own post but nesting got weird).

        Reply
    5. SL #2

      MY UPDATE: At first, I balked a little at the idea of paying to pet cats for an hour ($25!!!), especially since my friends have one and I could go over to their apartment and pet that cat for an hour for free. But the kitties at C&W were an absolute delight, there were 20 of them today, and the shop was very well-kept. There were lots of little nooks and crannies for kitties to hide in as well as an employees-only area where the cats were allowed to go if they had enough of people for the day, shag rugs and pillows and boxes everywhere for them to sleep on, and so many toys to keep them entertained. And you know, if $25 helps them keep the store open and allows them to rescue more kitties and show them to potential furever families, I’ll take it. I heard that they’ve had over 400 adoptions already and the cafe’s only been open for a little over a year.

      Reply
      1. Paquita

        I never heard of this before. I like cats, DH does NOT. Lo and behold, there is one opening up soon about a mile from me! Thanks SL #2 !!!!!!!

        Reply
  10. Lauren R

    I’ve been reading for a while now but only took to commenting recently, so I feel a little odd jumping in here but could definitely use a sounding board at the moment! My dog Thumper was recently diagnosed with liver disease. She’s 13 and honestly a month ago you would never have guessed she was sick or even old because she was so full of life and energy and fun; the only reason the vet caught it was due to some routine bloodwork. She’s on some medication now and I’m going back to the vet with her on Tuesday. She just seems to not be feeling well at all now, and I can’t tell if it’s the medication or the liver disease itself, but within the past week and half or so things have made a significant decline for her. She’s clearly nauseous a lot and has thrown up several times just in this past week sadly; she does seem to still have an appetite though which is good. She also just seems to want to sleep and is more “groggy” when woken, gets excited about her walks but then doesn’t make it very far before she wants to go back, and at night can’t seem to get comfortable for sleep. She used to always sleep on the bed with me (she wore me down on that one, I fought a good fight but lost badly) but now she’s just up and down all night and when she is on the bed she’ll lay in one place get up and lay in another and on and on. She’s also much less interactive (I guess that’s the word), she’s usually just a very cheerful dog and silly to be around but lately seems withdrawn and not herself which I think is a result of experiencing all the other symptoms and makes me really sad for her – she got her name from her tail always “thumping” but lately she doesn’t seem to have it in her.

    I’m just really worried for her and don’t want to lose her. I adopted her a year ago and I knew that adopting a 12 year old dog would mean likely not having a super long time with her but the reality of that is still hard. I lost my first dog in July of last year and I’d had her for 15 years, and when I lost her it was so devastating and I was just not at all prepared for how badly it would knock me off my feet. I’ve never experienced anything like that; she was everything to me and spent every day since I got her following me around and always wanting to know where I was and what I was doing, and it just seemed like my whole world got flipped around when suddenly she wasn’t there. She helped with my mental health a lot and it declined significantly when I lost her. But then I found Thumper and it was like there was this part of me that came back to life. I’m so scared of what’s waiting for me when I lose her and I’m worried that fear will impact my decision making. I don’t want her to suffer at all and I know that if the way she feels right now is the best that it’s going to be for her, I can’t let her live that way. But then it feels like maybe my emotions have me so clouded that I’m seeing the worst and not thinking straight, and then I feel guilty because that’s likely wishful thinking that may lead to me making the wrong choice for my own comfort, and on and on like that in a circle.

    She’s the sweetest dog and brings me so much joy to be around. I really wish she could stick around forever and am very sad that this is likely the beginning of the end for her. This sounds awful but in some ways it was “easier” when my last dog was going through this because I had no idea how truly broken I’d feel after – it was all just an abstract and I knew it’d be bad but didn’t know how much it would wreck me, but now I know what to expect and I don’t think the fact that she’s only been with me a year will prevent falling back into that state I was in before.

    Typing this out helped in a way so thank you to all who read/skimmed! Does anyone who has been in this situation have any advice for what to do now? Or any questions I should bring to my vet on Tuesday? She’s a very good vet so I feel like just talking to her will help a lot, but I feel so mixed up about all this I don’t really know where to start. I suddenly really wish my vet was available 24/7, though it’s probably for the best that she isn’t for her own sake haha

    Reply
    1. TL -

      Talk to your vet specifically about quality of life for the dog. You can ask what the expected timeline is and what symptoms to look out for that mean things worsen, and what signs mean Thumper is suffering more than she should be. That can help you prepare yourself and it might make the decision easier, when it comes – you’ll have already made the decision when you start seeing the signs.

      I know, in my experience, the vets that work in a larger clinics or cities might be more hesitant to strongly push their opinion, so listen carefully, ask questions, give her a clear picture of your financial situation, and definitely mention that you might have a hard time letting go.

      Reply
    2. Engineer Girl

      One thing to remember is that animals will hide their sickness. It’s a survival thing.
      I think it’s important to focus on giving them the thing they want most – your love and companionship.
      My vet helped me by discussing her own pets battles with cancer. It helped me realize the limitations of what you could do. Perhaps you could start with that question “What would you do if this was your pet?”
      One thing I did when my last cat died was to journal all the things I loved about him – including all his quirks. It helped preserve the memories.

      Reply
    3. Drew

      Lauren, I’m so sorry your Thumper is sick. If it turns out that this is the end, I hope you take comfort knowing how much love you poured into her last year. Sending you e-hugs and happy thoughts.

      Reply
    4. Rogue

      So sorry for the loss of your original pup and that you’re going through this now with Thumper. I haven’t experienced liver disease with any of mine, but I would definitely discuss the drastic change in behavior with your vet. It’s totally possible it’s caused by whatever medication your pup is taking – or not – the vet should know (you could also research online and see if anyone had similar experiences on that med). You could ask about switching meds or pulling thumper off to see if it makes a difference. I feel for you; you’re going to have some tough decisions ahead, but hang in there.

      Reply
    5. Anoa

      Once you know what questions to ask, make a list so if you get too upset you’ll still remember.

      We adopted an older shelter dog in February, and her health had steadily been declining. It helps me to think about how happy she’s been here- as my husband says, she’s probably the happiest she’s been in her little life.

      I’d ask the vet about quality of life, and what to watch for as far as that, and go from there. I’m sorry :(

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        This is a good place to share. The up and down all night is a sign of pain. It could be the meds but it might be the illness. Write down the symptoms that you posted and call the vet. There might be better tolerated meds. I adopted a twelve year old, two years ago. I really understand. Focus on quality of life not time.

        Reply
    6. C

      It’s difficult to read, but the Ohio State Veterinary Medical Center offers a file called “How Will I Know? Assessing Quality of Life and Making Difficult Decisions for your Pet” (comes up pretty quickly in a basic google). It is designed to help you assess quality of life for a companion animal through a series of questions and observations that can be shared with a vet.

      Reply
      1. Onnellinen

        Thank you for this – we had to make the difficult decision with our elderly cat yesterday. Even reading this after the fact helps clarify that it was the right decision and the right time.

        Reply
    7. LCL

      Going through this with my 10.5 year old dog now. Blood work showed liver problems, he’s getting weaker, ultrasound was indeterminate, taking denamarin which is helping some. It took almost two weeks on the denamarin before I saw improvement.
      ,
      I can tell you only want the best for your dog. What has helped me with the decision is I ask my vet about the disease progression and what to expect. So with his wise counsel I could decide when it was time to make the decision. Dogs age much faster than us, so when they go downhill it can be very fast.

      My boy’s appetite was off, but is coming back. I’m putting broth on his kibble, and hand feeding it to him in the morning, and got a nutrient rich canned food for those days he wouldn’t eat.

      Tldr: I’m sorry this is happening, ask your vet what to expect in the disease process and your path will become clear.

      Reply
    8. Onnellinen

      Just hugs and best wishes, for you and your dog. Dealing with health issues is one of the hardest parts of having a pet.

      Reply
    9. TheDuchess

      Ask the vet what options are available. Seeing them laid out in front of you can sometimes make the choice for you – I had to decide to put down my old retriever, who had reached 16 (I’d had her since I was 7), and I was so not wanting to. The vet’s options, all of them causing my girl more pain and no high likelihood of a good recovery, especially at 16, led me to the choice. It’s really hard, and I’m sending hugs and lots of support for whatever you decide.

      Reply
    10. Lauren R

      Thanks for the advice and kind words everyone!! I especially liked Engineer Girl’s suggestion to ask the vet what she would do if it were her own pet – that’s a great idea because I really trust her judgment and know she’s a very compassionate person. I’ll also be sure to write everything down before I go so I have my thoughts organized on paper and don’t have to rely on my head to keep track of it all.

      She seemed to feel more like herself today which was nice to see. She got VERY excited for her food tonight and was in the kitchen bouncing around while I cooked which she hadn’t seemed up to lately. Not sure if it’s a sign of anything long-term but it definitely made me feel more hopeful than I did before. Thanks again guys!

      Reply
      1. Lo Squared

        We’re going through this right now with our 8 year old dachshund (who we adopted 5 years ago). He has bone marrow failure and is on steroids which make him feel amazing. We made the difficult decision to decline further attempts to treat (they are all invasive or come with many potential side effects) with the understanding his life may be shorter. But I watch him trotting around and playing with toys and snuggling and I realize we’ve made the right choice for us.

        It’s so hard with pets. I got our vet to be a little more honest about the potential treatments when we voiced that we understood that this condition is terminal without aggressive intervention and asking more blunt questions. I think vets are sometimes used to cushioning things that people don’t want to hear and offering treatments til the end of the earth- this allowed us to have a more honest conversation.

        But of luck for you and your furry friend.

        Reply
        1. Lauren R

          Thank you. I’m so sorry about your dog – it sounds like you’ve given him a great life and the kind of peaceful ending we would all hope to have.

          I definitely would rather Thumper have a shorter but happier life rather than dragging out her pain just for more time, and I’ll make sure the vet keeps that in mind when discussing options.

          Reply
    11. another Liz

      It’s hard to be objective when you’re dealing with chronic illnesses and end of life decisions. This can be helpful for a lot of folks.

      https://virtuavet.wordpress.com/petqualityoflife/qualityoflifescale/

      The symptoms you’re seeing could be the primary liver disease, and they could be a medication side effect. Liver disease tends to be about supportive care, and reducing the liver’s workload through diet and medications that bind with digestive byproducts usually filtered by the liver to be passed in the stool instead. Pretty much any medication can cause digestive upset, which is certainly uncomfortable. Talking to your vet about adjusting/ changing the treatment, and also repeating the blood work will tell you a lot. Often it’s the changes that are important.

      Reply
    12. Meag L

      This is a super late reply, but first, sorry you are going through this. I posted a few weeks ago about the grief i’ve been feeling having said goodbye to my dog, who I also adopted at 12! (gotta love the oldies). I thought about his death a lot and was worried I wouldn’t know when the right time was. Then one week I just new it was time and I took him in that day. I wanted him to go with dignity and not in a furry of emergency. I wanted (and needed) to decide when it was time.

      I definitely agree with the approach of asking your vet what she would do. It’s clear you know the importance of quality of life, so I just know you will do the best for your dog, whatever that is!

      Hugs and all the positive thoughts!

      Reply
  11. Purple snowdrop

    18 sleeps until I plan to leave the spouse.

    Had a really hard week this week. My course-for-women-in-my-situation was hard this week, thinking about the parenting side of things, which was really scary but also a reminder of why I need to get out.

    I’ve spoken to a different firm about my legal situation (one that was recommended by a friend in a similar situation) and oh my god I feel so much better about things. If he refuses to leave the house potential consequences include prison. I obviously hope it doesn’t have to come to that for many reasons (mainly relating to the child) but hopefully knowing that if it comes to that I’ll do it will mean he’s reasonable.

    I bought a basic phone and new number so that when he leaves I can give everyone else a new number that he doesn’t know and he can just use that to contact me when necessary (and I can switch it off except when I need it – again wouldn’t talk to him at all if it wasn’t for the child). If he harasses me on it, again, I can report that to the police.

    Thinking about what name to use afterwards. I don’t want to go back to my birth surname for Reasons. There are loads of options, but I’m also thinking about changing to a different shortening of my first name (the example I’m using is “Charlie” Vs “Lottie” – both nicknames for “Charlotte” but totally different names, but that’s not my name!). I’m really unsure about this work-wise, as I’ve mentioned in passing before, but I might email Alison about it (I’ll mention that I’ve mentioned it before!). I’m also unsure about what my friends would think- will this be a step too far?! Lots to think about for me.

    Making progress. Loads to do (trying not to think about it all at once!) but I’m getting there. Having a supportive workplace, and friends, helps a lot as does knowing you guys are rooting for me.

    Reply
    1. Annie Mouse

      I am so glad that you’re making progress in getting things sorted and you’re nearly there. I’ve got all my fingers crossed for you.

      Reply
    2. Rookie Manager

      Totally rooting for you!

      You are being so wise, methodical and patient. Glad you feel better about the legal situation now. Keep going, you got this.

      Reply
    3. Al Lo

      I had a friend who legally changed her whole name after a divorce. Her first name is similar to her previous name, but her surname is completely different than any she’d had before. For her, there was a lot of symbolism and spiritual meaning and so on that went into the choice, but she posted an announcement with the new name and the meaning, and I think it was as easily accepted as anything like that might be. That is, some people adopted it seamlessly, others took more time, but it’s her name now, and at this point, I doubt anyone thinks twice about it. It was, in some ways, similar to the name changes and coming out by various trans people I’ve known.

      I think if it’s a step you want to take, go for it. A time of transition is as good as any other to make a change.

      Reply
      1. Wrench Turner

        I changed my whole name when I got married, and if it doesn’t work, I’m not sure what to do with it. My friends accepted my name change with amusement, my family resisted but acquiesced because they don’t have a choice if they want to keep me around. If I leave, I’m not going back to my old name but I don’t think I’ll keep this one, either. Again, my friends will be amused and my family will have to deal or lose me. The rest is just paperwork, and it has no opinions.

        Reply
      2. Changed all 3

        I’m trans and I’m changing my first, middle and last. The first two are strongly gendered and since I have always been treated like garbage by those relatives, I’ve decided to break free of the family name too. I’m also changing it for privacy reasons (much harder to figure out who I was). My mom’s side is worse than my dad’s, so I went with a totally unrelated name instead of her maiden. It feels nice to see my name written down and not have so much baggage come flooding in.

        So far, I haven’t had any pushback. Although it is much easier to misspell my new name, so that’s a small bummer!

        Reply
    4. I Am Still Furious!!

      Glad to see this update, and no, don’t try to think about everything at once, it’s so overwhelming. For what it’s worth, I’m going to change back to my birth name, so my driver’s license, Social Security Card, IRS stuff, payroll, checking account, basically everything will reflect that, but I’m not going to change my name internally at my job. I’ve worked with some people worldwide for 15 years and I think at this point in my life, I’m 54, my work name can remain “Jane Smith” while I’m still working at the same job.

      I am rooting for you, too!!

      Reply
    5. Anono-me

      Pick whatever feels right to you for you. Is sounds like you have positive forward motion.

      Tell the name backstory to the people in your life that you want to know and think will be supportive. Tell everyone else that you will be taking “Snoe” as your last name, that it is a family name. (It is a family name, your new family name. )

      Work probably won’t care very much. Unless you pick something that makes other people’s lives more complicated on a regular basis. (A guy I worked with changed his name to honor something that had had a profoundly positive impact on his life. Everyone was happy for him…at first. The problem was, his new last name was 53 letters long and hard to spell as it was from a little known ‘dead’ language. Additional, most of our forms only had space for 40 or 50 letters so they had to be redone.

      Do try to keep in mind that many people tend to be lazy creatures of habit and will not relearn your new name right away.

      Take care.

      Reply
    6. Detective Amy Santiago

      You definitely have support here!

      I think that your friends will understand that you need to do what is best for you. If that means shifting to a different name, they’ll get used to it.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      You might want to think about a nickname you could use.
      Charlotte becomes Char (rhymes with “car”)
      Cheryl becomes Cher.
      Barbara becomes Bobbi.

      My preference has been to shorten my name down to one syllable. When I hear people say the one syllable nickname it makes me smile. Yes, there are a couple people who think it is odd, but that just makes me chuckle. Most people are fine with it.

      OTH, I have read of a belief some people have that beings go toward what their name means. So when we pick out a name for a being (this could be a child or a pet) we need to think of the name as a goal or an inspiration. I don’t have any children handy to try this with, so I used my latest dog. His name is 6 letters and fairly recognizable. I never knew the meaning of the name but when I looked it up I found it meant “friend, ally”. Perfect. I thought that this would perfectly describe this little pup’s role in my life as he matured. It’s a good strong name and he is the physically strongest dog I have ever had. Yet he has learned to be very sweet and make very considerate choices. I guess this concept works? It’s a nice idea at any rate.

      Reply
    8. Triplestep

      As someone who has been divorced (with shared kids), you may want to hold off on the name change. Even though this will be a relief for you (it was for me) so many changes are coming in the next few weeks, months, and year. You may want to revisit the name question when things feel more stable. There will be decisions that you must make in a certain time frame – you’re already experiencing some of these. I would hold off on the ones that are less urgent.

      You sound really organized and patient; keep it up – you’re almost there!

      Reply
      1. Her Grace

        I had a good friend go through a really acrimonious divorce. I asked her if she was going to change her name.
        She said no, because she was keeping her children’s name, for purposes of stability in their life. (She lives in a conservative community.) By not changing her name, she was able to better keep certain areas of her life private through “invisibility”, which made her life much easier.

        Reply
    9. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement

      Keep breathing! (I know I say that every week, I just think that breathing is always helpful and never overrated) You’re so close. Best wishes!!!!!!

      Reply
  12. ayeaye

    So I just found out I’m pregnant. Only a couple of weeks, and I’m in a constant state of worry that it’s all going to go wrong any moment. I have no idea to reassure myself. I’ve looked at statistics, but they only mean something if you’re not in the unlucky percentage. We’ve been trying for six months so whilst not a long time, it’s felt long enough. I was having mild cramps and the doctor said this means the pregnancy won’t be viable. But if things are ok I’m so happy! I just wish I could know how things were going to go, I am not big on uncertainty.

    Reply
    1. Marzipan

      Congratulations to you on your pregnancy. In terms of reassuring yourself, there may not be much you can do beyond waiting and trying to distract yourself, but if it helps at all it’s always been my understanding that some mild cramping early on is very normal. If you’re able to have an early scan at such time as a heartbeat would be visible, that may help a bit?

      Reply
    2. Jemima Bond

      Remember, people mostly tell stories about pregnancy and childbirth where things are difficult or go wrong; for the drama. As in, “omg I had such bad morning sickness” or “my sister in law had to have an emergency caesarean”. They rarely tell the “dull” stories where everything is fine. Lots of people get pregnant, don’t have complications, maybe feel tired/sick but are generally ok, then have a baby and it’s healthy and everyone is ok. This happens all the time! My friend’s husband said with their first baby that they were back from hospital so quickly he felt like they’d stolen the baby! :-D For every horror story there’s a load of other women for whom it is all fine; who’s to say you won’t be one of those women? Take care of yourself and do your best not to borrow trouble :-)

      Reply
      1. Thlayli

        This. its like period pain and pmt. You never hear sbout the women who don’t get it, only those who do. The majority of pregnancies are uncomplicated and successful, so the odds are good. Good luck.

        As others have said some mild cramping is quite common, so unless the cramping was severe or there are other complicating factors, I think that’s more a sign you should look into other doctors than anything else.

        I find knowing the numbers really helps me. There’s a really good online calculator that shows you the statistical risk of mc day by day once you put in some info about yourself. I’ll find it and post it in a reply below. For some reason being able to say to myself there’s an 83% chance baby is ok makes me feel better. And it goes up every day. However im sure some people might find it makes them feel worse, so if you think it would freak you out then don’t look at it.

        As others have said a “reassurance ultrasound” at 6 or 8 weeks might make you feel better if you can afford it. 8 weeks might be nicer as it can be done on your tummy rather than internally. my U/S tech told me that at 8 weeks if baby is in the right place, measuring the correct size, only one baby and has a heartbeat, the risk is down to only 1 or 2% at that stage.

        Reply
    3. Book Lover

      Congratulations!
      When you say a couple of weeks pregnant, you mean 6 weeks or that literally the pregnancy test just turned positive and you are at 4 weeks? Cramping is totally normal, I am not sure why your doctor would suggest that would be a problem?
      If you are at 6 weeks, the easiest way to get reassurance is with a quick ultrasound (this could likely only be done by an OB or via radiology, though, not your GP). If there is a heartbeat, it is extremely unlikely (though still possible) to lose the pregnancy. Another option if super early is to get a quantitative hcg and then repeat at 48 hours and look at the doubling time.

      All that said, though, pregnancy and having kids is a series of uncertainties. I would try really hard to just appreciate each step and try not to let anxiety rule you. Perhaps I missed something and you are high risk, but six months (actually a year) is a totally normal amount of time to be trying.

      Reply
      1. VerySleepyPregnantLady

        Yeah, I had mild “I think my period is coming later today” kinda cramps constantly from 3.5 (so even before missed period)-6 weeks, and then on and off until 10-12ish weeks (I don’t remember exactly). I was reassured that this was 100% normal, if annoying. “Severe” cramping is a bad sign, but I was told mild to moderate cramping in the first trimester was super normal.

        My nausea and exhaustion was pretty debilitating, but, other than that, I have basically been totally fine with a very normal, uncomplicated pregnancy. And both are 90% better now. I have even fallen all the way down a flight of stairs (!!) with no ill-effects to the fetus. My pregnancy has been described as “textbook,” with everything (other than the nausea), falling well within the normal range.

        Yes, many pregnancies don’t work out. But a normal pregnancy is actually pretty sturdy. Do your best not to worry, and, as Book Lover says, once you see a heartbeat, you’ve got like a 95% chance of having a viable pregnancy. And once you have a good ultrasound after ~12 weeks or normal genetic testing results, odds are very, very high of having a perfectly healthy baby.

        Reply
    4. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.

      “I was having mild cramps and the doctor said this means the pregnancy won’t be viable.” Your doctor sounds … not very reassuring?

      No one can guarantee you that your pregnancy will work out. Anecdata means nothing. There are women who miscarry their first pregnancy very early and go on to have normal full-term pregnancies after. There are women who make it past the first trimester and are “in the safe zone” and then lose the baby later in their pregnancy. You never know. My first pregnancy, I had some early bleeding that seemed alarmingly heavy for an hour or two, then stopped just as suddenly. I went to have a full term, no-complication pregnancy and a healthy baby girl (she’s 10 now.) My second pregnancy, I had a miscarriage a few days after I got the pregnancy confirmed. I had three more full-term pregnancies after that. You just never know.

      Constant worry, though, won’t be good for you or for the baby. Most of the time, pregnancies work out fine and result in healthy babies. It’s more likely that everything will be fine than that it won’t. Maybe you can keep a pregnancy journal so that you have somewhere to work through your fears and then let them go. Good luck!

      Reply
    5. Natalie

      This might be a good time to see someone about coping strategies for anxiety or do some self help online to develop techniques you can use when you are feeling anxious. As counterintuitive as it seems, seeking reassurance when you are feeling anxious can sometimes deepen the anxiety groove in your brain and ultimately be more harmful than helpful. Techniques that help you get through the anxious moment, rather than feeding it, can be more helpful. Whether you’re an anxious person generally or this has just cropped up with pregnancy, treat it as a real issue that you can address.

      Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        Yes yes I can agree with this. I’m an information-seeking person by nature, but my anxiety latches onto data sometimes and makes me spiral pretty badly.

        Reply
    6. Parenthetically

      > I was having mild cramps and the doctor said this means the pregnancy won’t be viable.
      That is… preposterous. I had mild cramps for the first 10 weeks probably and my 11-week-old son was clearly viable. I won’t say get another doctor, but if s/he’s said other things that dogmatic and untrue, maybe… get another doctor?

      > I am not big on uncertainty.
      Oh I feel you on this. I always want to be “prepared” somehow for the outcome. It’s a control and anxiety thing for me. Talking with my counselor, doing some yoga, praying/meditating, other coping mechanisms helped. Research did not because it just played into my fears.

      Good luck! You will *almost certainly* be just fine. Take your prenatal vitamins, try to get some rest, book in a prenatal massage maybe?

      Reply
    7. Legalchef

      Congrats!!

      Your doctor is wrong. So wrong. I had a miscarriage at 5 weeks and had some cramping beforehand, and the next time I got pregnant I had the same cramping, and that pregnancy stuck. Cramping is totally normal and doesn’t mean that the pregnancy isn’t viable. It might not be (though I hope it is!!), but the cramping has nothing to do w it.

      Reply
    8. Janelle

      Some cramping does NOT mean the pregnancy won’t be viable. Frankly it more likely is that you are dehydrated. All you can do is take care of yourself right now. Easier said than done but drink tons of water. It was the best advice I ever received while pregnant and tends to solve a lot of the symptoms I thought were more. No guarantee but worth it.

      Reply
  13. Not my usual handle

    I can’t post this under my usual name as it makes me too identifiable, which is annoying.

    Anyone in the UK watching educating greater Manchester? MR R POVEY WAS IN MY YEAR AT SCHOOL. MR D POVEY WAS IN MY SISTER’S YEAR. (Mr B Povey was, like, 11 and is clearly not old enough to be working, haha). I used to go to a youth club that their parents ran at their church!!!!

    R Povey, when I knew him, was only really interested in playing guitar so I’m really glad he’s now a music teacher :)

    Reply
      1. Not my usual handle

        There are a lot of Poveys!! I’m not still in touch with anyone from school, I’ve never been bothered about this before :)

        Reply
    1. DanaScully

      Yes! I’m really enjoying it. I think I can relate to it more with it being a northern school as I’m from Liverpool.

      I went to a mixed comprehensive so I can see a lot of similarities to my school days. I think the Povey brothers are great.

      Reply
  14. KL

    Does no one even /try/ to do mental arithmetic anymore? The other day in a restaurant we asked to split a bill in half (not in the US so service charges etc. already included) and the waiter had to get a calculator. I don’t think it’s even got anything to do with mathematical ability, I know plenty of people who are fluent at higher-level mathematics who can’t do long division in their head, but this bill was £21.50 and there were only two of us, so it wasn’t even like it was a complicated procedure, and they just…couldn’t be bothered to even try.

    Okay, in this day and age where everyone has a smartphone it might seem like a pointless skill to have anyway, but similar arguments have been made about stuff like handwriting ability. And then I start questioning things like whether we should just move with the times and not worry that the next generation will be almost completely dependent on gadgets. And then I realise I’m thinking way too much about this.

    Reply
    1. Rookie Manager

      I try!! However despite being reasonably good at it I feel rusty, maybe I need to do it even more.

      I do get frustrated at people not being able to do basic calulations in their head though. (Like in a shop it’s £5.30, you give the assistant £10 then say ‘oh here’s the 30p’ and they can’t work out just to give you a fiver because the till says £4.70. Grrr!!)

      Reply
      1. Jemima Bond

        My OH is an accountant so I tell him to do any necessary mental arithmetic. I could do it but why have a dog and bark yourself? ;-D

        Reply
      2. Courtney

        At many stores it’s actually policy to not let people add on the change after. There is unfortunately a pretty common scam in the retail world where people wait until after the cashier has typed in the amount given and then say “Oh, I have the change too.” But then right after tack on “Oh, and let me give you this (20) bill instead of the 10, I need to get some smaller bills.” The idea is to get the cashier flustered/confused and then insist that you didn’t give them enough change back, they gave you a larger bill than you say, etc.

        Because of this, the large retail chain I worked at eventually just said no more – once we had typed in the amount given and been told how much change to give, we couldn’t take more money from the customer.

        Reply
        1. KR

          Yeah,this is a major scam. And it’s easy math for rookie manager, the customer, because it’s one of a few transactions they will do that day. When you’re doing a hundred retail sales a day with multiple methods of payment and amounts, it’s really easy to get flustered or count wrong. Also, if they are wrong it counts against them so a lot of times it’s easier to just give them the original change or change the bills after. Please don’t get frustrated with this and treat your cashiers gently.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            That particular scam is called flim flam. In three exchanges a person got five dollars out of me once. And I think I am solid at math. These people are GOOD at their scams.
            This was when I first started working. After that it became my policy never to do more than 2 changes. I would slam the drawer and tell the customer I had no more change to give out.

            Later, I realized that honest people who need change only have to ask once. And they ask for what they want the first time, they don’t need to keep changing their minds.

            Reply
      3. kc89

        The flip side to that is when I used to work the cashier at my old job and so many customers would be like “oh here’s a quarter” in transactions where the quarter didn’t help at all and I would just have to hand it back to them with their correct change

        Reply
      4. Lauren R

        I know you’re just venting but if anyone’s actually curious about the cashier point of view in that moment: The steps of “input amount of cash given, see change displayed on screen, count change, hand to customer” are done so often it’s the kind of thing you’re genuinely on autopilot for. When I see that someone is due to get $4.70 in change, I don’t really THINK about it because it’s just automatic to me. See amount, count it out, hand to customer, wish them a great day. When someone hands you change, mid-way through the process, suddenly you DO have to think about something you don’t really need to at any other time. So that’s generally what you’re seeing when the cashier appears to have trouble – it’s really not a lack of sense or “not being able to work it out”, just an interruption to the routine they run through dozens of times per shift.

        On the other hand if you’re the one paying, you’re already putting thought into counting out the bills and change, determining how much you have with you and what the best way is to pay for this purchase based on that, so when you switch it up a bit it’s easy to automatically see the new amount you’re meant to get, especially since in this example you’re specifically giving them the .30 in order to reach an end goal of getting the $5 back rather than a bunch of change. Cashiers aren’t really putting that much mental energy into your change, because they have a system in place for how they handle their transactions that doesn’t require them to do that and allows them to get you your change while putting that mental energy toward the other things they need to focus on.

        Really though, you could argue it’s just the other side of the same internal delay you yourself experienced. You handed them a $10 bill not really thinking about it, then realized the change would come up as $4.70, decided you’d rather get a $5 back instead so you changed up your strategy, and looked for the 30 cents to give them. The cashier calculated your change based on the $10 given to them, realized upon getting the 30 cents they’d have to change up their traditional method for closing a transaction, needed a second to switch to a mindset they weren’t previously in to do so, and then switch back to give you the correct amount of change and finish up anything else you needed from them.

        Reply
    2. Ruth (UK)

      Ok 21.50 in half I’m a little surprised no one just said the answer while the calculator was being fetched. This is a case where I think going and getting a calculator is more effort than just doing the sum. If there were more people and a bigger number I would probably use my phone though.

      That said, I’m in a group where once a month we rent a hall together for an extra practice (one of the many morris related groups I’m in…). Anyway, the hall cost is £22 for the time we have it and we divide it by however many of us turned up – typically a number between 4 and 10. We always do this in our heads (whoever gets the answer first says it and everyone else finishes their maths to check it).

      Once back in about 2007, some friends of mine were playing one of those pub quiz machines and a mental maths question popped up. I can’t remember what it was but I think it was a division one. Everyone quickly turned to one of the people in the group who, at the time, was doing a masters degree in maths at Cambridge uni. He visibly struggled for a few moments and then exclaimed ‘oh I don’t know! I haven’t done that sort of maths in years!’

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Ha. None of the professors in the math department at the uni where I work will do mundane math calculations. They have the departmental assistant do calculations for them, saying, “That’s not math; that’s just arithmetic”.

        Reply
      2. Liz

        When I watch Rachel Riley on Countdown I wonder if people realise the sort of skill she’s using is probably very much removed from what she studied for her university degree. People joke that her job is just to do simple arithmetic but I’m willing to bet the majority of people with a higher degree in mathematics wouldn’t be able to do that kind of maths (on television with a live audience no less!).

        Reply
        1. Middle School Teacher

          And with Jimmy Carr peering at her! (I watch the 8 out of 10 cats version, obviously.)

          But I’m actually in awe of both her and Suzie Dent. I think I’m pretty good at anagrams, but then I’ll look at the board and come up with “skin” or something stupid, while Suzie rattles off the three eight-letter words up there.

          Reply
      3. Blue Anne

        Yes! My first serious boyfriend was finishing up his maths PhD at Edinburgh after doing undergrand and master’s at Cambridge… he was terrible at mental math, he always had me do it. “I don’t do that! That’s arithmetic!”

        Reply
    3. DanaScully

      I do *some* mental arithmetic, but in a situation where someone can say, “that’s wrong!” I prefer to use a calculator.

      I have issues with maths so I do lack a lot of confidence in my abilities.

      Reply
      1. KR

        There’s this too. Say the service person did it in your head and got it wrong (or the customer thought they would get it wrong), that makes them at best, not smart or incapable, and at wworst like she’s trying to rip off the customers. Calculators take out the guesswork.

        Reply
        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

          Yes, this. When I was a server I always used a calculator to avoid disputes.

          Reply
    4. nep

      A friend was over a while back with her eight-year-old grandson. While we chatted he was reading a book in the next room. There was a page that included some handwriting. The boy came in and said: “Grandma, what does this say?”

      Reply
      1. Blue Anne

        I’m 28 and I really struggle to read cursive. It’s not relevant to many spheres any more. Unfortunately, I’m an accountant with a lot of elderly clients, so I’ve had to improve on that.

        Reply
      2. Cristina in England

        My four year old’s school has gone the other way: in order to make it easier to teach cursive later on, they now teach them to write their individual letters like cursive, just separated. As in, they do not teach them to print their letters!!

        Reply
        1. Ermintrude Mulholland

          Isn’t that normal? I am in the uk too – by print do you mean capitals? I’d be really angry if my child’s school wasn’t teaching her proper handwriting! (currently in reception)

          Reply
        2. dawbs

          ugh, they did this when I was a child. D’nelian style printing.
          Except I already knew how to print, so they made me recopy everything into fake-psudo-cursive.
          It’s obnoxious

          Reply
    5. Tsalmoth

      Oh, god. I was at a hotel coffee bar the other day, and gave the barista $3 — two $1 bills and a $1 coin — for my $2.15 drink. She gave me a dime in change, and I gently noted that the coin was dollar, not a quarter. She then got a dear-in-headlights look trying to figure out the correct new change, until I reminded her to just add another seventy-five cents.

      Reply
        1. WellRed

          Yes, they are gold with Sacajawea on them and have been around since….1999? They arent widely used. From childhood, I remember Silver Dollars and half dollars.

          Reply
          1. Chris

            Don’t forget the good ol’ Susan B. Anthony coin!
            I loved taking those into the dollar store when I was little and confusing the poor clerks.

            Reply
          2. CAA

            We also have silver colored Susan B Anthony coins from the late ’70s (our buses used to have a poster that said “Susan B agrees with me, paper dollars don’t”) and gold colored presidential coins from the past 10 years or so.

            Reply
          3. Turkletina

            They’re not widely used, but they sure are widely given as change at public transit ticket purchasing machines.

            Reply
          4. Elspeth McGillicuddy

            Also, there is a whole newish series with the presidents on them. We have customers (a customer) who likes to use them. Always fun to see Polk or someone else obscure. I would totally approve switching from dollar bills to dollar coins. Much easier to grab the right number.

            Reply
            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

              Oh, I didn’t know about those! I’ll look out for them next time I’m home.

              It used to be that you’d get dollar coins as change from the stamp machine at the post office. I imagine it probably takes cards now.

              Reply
    6. Kiirsten

      As a former waitress, I’ve been yelled at by enough customers because their mental maths and mine resulted in different answers (guess who got it right?) that I stopped trying and insisted on a calculator in order not to get into the “Are you calling me stupid?” argument yet again.

      Reply
    7. Overeducated

      Honestly I can do math just fine in my head but if I were the waiter I would get a calculator too. My first job was as a bank teller and I found that mistakes are easy to make, so when its your job on the line, always double check.

      Reply
    8. Zathras

      In addition to what others have said, it’s *significantly* easier to do the mental math when you are the customer vs. when you are the employee, and the customer is sitting there just hoping you will give them a chance to launch into their “Kids These Days” rant. (I’m not implying you do this KL, but it is a common thing. It’s part of the overall trend of people deliberately being jerks to customer service folks because they can.)

      It was also super common for the customer to be wrong and hand me some amount of change that didn’t help them – like, sure, but now you will receive 19 cents in loose change instead of 10 cents. I guess maybe they wanted more pennies?

      One thing I took away from working customer service – the person behind the register may help 100 people in a shift. Your only experience of their performance is their 1 interaction with you. You never know whether someone is truly incompetent, or whether you just happen to be the unlucky customer who caught them in a brain fart. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.

      Reply
      1. Crafty

        Yup! Waited tables for a decade in upscale spots with tourists, so lots of check splitting. I didnt mind doing it but after the 100th time in one shift you split something up, you *have* to go on autopilot and run the math on the calculator. Servers have to keep 100000 thoughts in their heads at once, many of which are number based (ex: “table 702 needs 3 straws” so it’s just smarter and safer, especially since check splitting has become more popular in the past 10 years.

        Reply
      2. Bryce

        Clerks get such a look of relief when they need to change the receipt paper or some other issue crops up that means a delay and I say “no problem”. Paper runs out, ship happens, no need to take it out on them. It’s a shame so many people see it differently, whether out of entitlement or because they have scheduled their lives so tightly that an extra two minutes throws everything into chaos.

        Of course, maybe most folks are as easy-going as I am. You only remember the bad ones, after all, nobody comes home and says “I had 99 great customers today”..

        Reply
    9. Wrench Turner

      Sometimes my use of a calculator, even on a simple problem, is more for them than me. It’s a performance so they can see I’m not cheating.

      Reply
    10. Blue_eyes

      I used to be a teacher and tutor and I would frequently stop kids from reaching for their calculators, especially if it was an easy calculation to do mentally. One time a 15-year-old reached for his calculator to do a problem that involved dividing by 10. I put my hand over the calculator and asked him to just think about it for a second. He was easily able to do it in his head. I think it’s important for kids to still learn how to do simple calculations mentally – and more importantly, that they learn how to quickly identify which problems are easy to do mentally and which ones would probably be more efficient with a calculator. A calculator should be a tool, not a crutch.

      Reply
    11. Red

      I do mental math all the time, but I’m a math major with a full time job. I just don’t have the time to pull out a calculator for ever little thing lol. Mental math is just faster when you do it a lot.

      Reply
    12. Epsilon Delta

      I can do mental arithmetic, but slowly, (always have been, even when we had to do arithmetic worksheets every night for homework) and I feel put on the spot when someone asks me to do any kind of arithmetic with non-round numbers like 21.50. And I have a BS in mathematics. I tell people math got easier when you take the numbers out!

      I do agree it is an important skill for everyone to have though. If you key something into the calculator you should know approximately what the answer will be, so that you don’t split a bill of $21.50 into two $5.86 halves by keying it into the calculator wrong and blindly accepting the answer.

      Reply
    13. fposte

      I think it’s not just calculators but that people work on tills that do the work, so they don’t have much practice.

      And I thought handwriting ability had lost that battle (it certainly has with mine; it’s gone from bad to terrible). I also wonder about analog clock reading; I had a medical appointment and site identification used clockface directions. Wonder if that will need to find somebody else, or if a bunch of medical personnel will have to brush up on telling analog time in their professional studies?

      Reply
    14. Thlayli

      I think there were always a lot of people who were bad at arithmetic and 40 years ago they probably had it affect their lives badly. Try to reframe it in your mind like: Smartphones / calculators are assistive technology that allow someone who could not have done the job 40 years ago to do it now.
      Also I believe the UK school system does not teach mental arithmetic anymore in primary school, so it’s not just the fault of the smartphones.

      Reply
    15. Lily Evans

      I’ll do mental math when it’s low stakes, but if someone asked me at my job a math question that wasn’t immediately obvious (like half of ten or something) I’d use a calculator to be completely sure I was giving them the right number. If they had tried the math in their head and been wrong, would you still be complaining that no one can do mental math anymore?

      Reply
        1. Blue Anne

          Come on, “worry that the next generation will be almost completely dependent on gadgets” is very “kids these days!”

          Reply
        2. Lily Evans

          Everyone interprets tone differently through text and to me the very first line gave it a tone of complaint with the way “/try/” was emphasized. If it wasn’t meant that way, I think there’s value in knowing how your words are interpreted by others when there’s such a diverse audience reading them. I’m 25 so comments like this might rub me the wrong way more quickly than they would for people of other ages, just because so often they are meant negatively.

          Reply
    16. Myrin

      With that particular example you chose I agree with others re: it being harder to do even simple things while others are watching and waiting, service folks preferring calculators as “proof”, and the amount of interactions like this waiters and retail workers experience on an hourly basis.

      In general, though, I’d agree that people don’t try as hard with this stuff anymore (probably because they don’t have to). I’m quite good at mental arithmetic but that’s because I intentionally do a bit of it every day so I’m used to it (it’s a weird thing my whole family does). It’s certainly something that has to do with practice.

      Reply
    17. Not So NewReader

      Uh. That waiter’s boss may not allow anyone to work without a calc. Please don’t slam him for following company policy.
      As an aside, using a calc slows down con artists who are trying to rip off businesses. It cuts the flow of conversation so it is easier for the employee to control what is happening. Many cons run on speed, do it fast so there is massive confusion and things seem right but really aren’t.

      I made the mistake of paying for a $2K item in cash. The man became so rattled that I went and sat down. I said, “Take your time, prove to yourself that the money is there. If your drawer comes up short tonight you will want to blame me. So go slow and prove it now. I will wait.” It took him a good 15 minutes to count it. That was the last time I bought a big ticket item with cash.

      Reply
    18. Blue Anne

      I’m good at mental math, but still, I always remember when my 3rd grade teacher was going over times tables with us and said “You won’t always have a calculator in your pocket!”

      I do, in fact, now always have a calculator in my pocket. There are so many things people have to keep track of that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with offloading that bit of mental processing to their phones. I don’t have a problem with them setting themselves reminders, using GPS to get somewhere, or googling the definition of a word, either. It’s all the same thing.

      Plus, many servers are instructed to use calculators in that situation so you don’t end up yelling at them if you think they’re wrong.

      Reply
    19. Won't Be Fooled Again.

      If you don’t get a calculator, someone at the table is going to disagree with your math and/or try to scam you out of money that you will then have to pay back to the establishment. If a customer does the math, you still have to check with the calculator. It’s not about not being “able” to do it. It’s about not being stolen from. Sorry, but please be aware nobody can tell how honest you are by looking at you.

      Reply
    20. Elizabeth West

      Well, I CAN’T do mental arithmetic, so my answer would not be representative! But I do feel like we should still at least be able to write legibly, tell time on an analog clock, SPELL PROPERLY (seriously, it has repercussions for communication), and have some semblance of public decorum. These are all skills we may need after the zombie apocalypse, or the giant EMP from the sun that will decimate all those little gadgets.

      Now get off my lawn! ;)

      Reply
    21. MsChanandlerBong

      This sort of thing drives me nuts. I try to be patient and recognize that not everyone is lucky enough to a) not have learning disabilities and b) have good math teachers, but I still get annoyed sometimes. My cousin (who is a math teacher) and I were shopping at JCPenney a while back, and one of the items rang up incorrectly. It was supposed to be 75% off. We alerted the cashier to the error, and she started mashing buttons on the calculator with a panicked look in her eye. Finally, she said, “Well that’s not how we do percentages here.” We had to ask for the manager to come down and figure out what the price was supposed to be and tell the clerk to ring it up that way. That’s why it’s so important to know how to do mental math–if you don’t know how to do the math, you aren’t necessarily going to know which buttons to push on the phone/calculator.

      Reply
    22. Courageous cat

      I definitely wouldn’t do that in my head, especially at work when I’m juggling a bunch of things at once. Math, even simple arithmetic, is very much a skill that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. Worse yet, it’s frequently something that people get made to feel bad for not having, so it’s kind of a double whammy.

      Reply
    23. NaoNao

      I think there’s two reasons many people aren’t strong with mental math: easy access calculators, and reliance on service people to do the math for them!
      When I worked retail, I used to joke that a % off sign (without one of those little charts that spell out “If price is 5.00, 20% price is now 4.00! and so on) is scarier than the silhouette of a knife on the other side of their shower curtain.
      Customers would ask me every day what the price of a 9.99 item was at 50% off. What 30% 30.00 or 60.00 was.
      Customers would sashay into the dressing room with absolute heaps of clothing and then be shocked at the register when the total would be 500.00. Uh, you have 6 items, all of which are 80.00, hon. What did you think the price would be?
      When shopping, I have a trick I use to add items and get a rough estimate of how much it will be: all basic grocery items (such as bread, eggs, etc) are 2$. This accounts for items that are both less than (.79 cents) and slightly more (2.22). Specialty items such as shampoo, pastas, baked goods, cheeses, are 4$. Any unusual items like cat litter or cosmetics get added at the price I know they are.
      Generally, I’ll be within 10$ of the total if I quickly add my cart up and ensure I’m within budget.
      I can also add, do % off, and do tip.
      I’m like a magician to my friends and family : )

      Reply
      1. Al Lo

        My Costco trick is similar: Excluding big purchases, my cart will be within $10 one direction or the other of (# items x $10). If I’m doing just a regular Costco run, it works like a charm.

        Reply
    24. Bryce

      I can understand the waiter doing it because for something like a bill you want to be sure you don’t mess up somewhere. As for higher-level math folks, it was a running joke in my group of physics majors that in order to learn advanced math the brain discarded the basic stuff. The reality of it is when you’re looking over an equation making sure all the high-level complicated stuff is correct, it’s easy to miss that you added 1+1 and got 11.

      Reply
    25. Lauren R

      Okay no offense, but if you knew the answer and to you it was easy, why didn’t you just…tell them the answer? The “she couldn’t be bothered to try” part just rubs me the wrong way when clearly she DID try – she went to get the calculator and do the math, she didn’t just stand there or tell you she wouldn’t split it for you. I get the overall point about mental math but using a waitress example to make the point just seems off, for reasons many have stated (power dynamic, store policy, etc).

      I have so much gratitude for people who are understanding about my calculator use at work (at a grocery store) because I definitely get the deer-in-headlights look when asked to do mental math in front of customers. In my case I actually have a learning disability that makes it difficult (I can do it, it just takes more time and if I’m under pressure I’ll probably get it wrong, ironically due to being embarrassed at the time it takes) but even if I didn’t and was just bad with numbers, it doesn’t make sense to me when people get high-and-mighty about a calculator. It’s so humiliating and upsetting when people treat you like you’re stupid because they’re able to do the math quickly while under no pressure to perform and you’re struggling to figure it out while pleasantly serving them and juggling a million other things in a noisy store after being on your feet for hours while a bunch people are in line behind them getting antsy (all while having to maintain a calm and cheerful exterior no matter what they throw at you).

      Basically: if you want your bill split, I will gladly do that because it’s my job and I really do want to make your experience a good one. If you want your bill split without a calculator, a) why? this is a simple transaction, not a principled statement about the state of mathematics education, and b) too bad because I’m just trying to get you in and out and serve the next person and if using a calculator makes it faster and more accurate, that’s what is best for everyone including you. (To be fair though, I do keep a calculator on me so no one has to wait while I run get it or anything.) I don’t mean to be harsh here but this is definitely one of those mundane things that strikes a major chord with me. Doesn’t sound like you were rude to her but a surprising number of people choose to be and it’s very nerve-wracking when you aren’t sure which way even a seemingly very kind person is going to react.

      Reply
      1. Tassie Tiger

        Fellow cashier here! I have a disability and using a calculator helps me be faster and calmer, and give a better guest experience. -Jedi hugs-

        Reply
    26. tigerStripes

      The waiter probably has a lot of other things to do during work than mental arithmetic. Why is this so important to you? A waiter spends a lot of hours hurrying back and forth, reciting the specials, getting food, avoiding spilling food on customers who suddenly get up and are right in their way, dealing with obnoxious customers (not you, I’m sure, but others), on their feet all day. I think it’s reasonable to cut people a little slack, especially people in a low paid, tough to work at job.

      Reply
    27. Not Australian

      OMG, I’ve *so* been there. It’s not that long since I had to tell my doctor – who has presumably had an extensive scientific education – that 8 is roughly 66% of 12.

      Reply
  15. Rookie Manager

    Today I hurt. The change in weather is affecting my bones and they hurt. I think I also have the start of a cold/sore throat. I’m also mid fight with my partner, I don’t know which of us will cave first.

    However, I am up early on a Saturday because I am determined to paint my bedroom today. Did all the prep after work last night (inc moving furniture etc) so all ready to get going. So despite feeling rubbish and grumpy I am going to have a really purposeful weekend.

    Anyone else doinh something useful/needed despite not feeling it this weekend?

    Reply
    1. Jemima Bond

      I’m sure you’ll feel better for it – a sense of accomplishment is bound to help your mood!
      I am planning to spend the weekend not achieving very much except demanding attention because I turn forty on Monday and I’m really not sure how I feel about that.

      Reply
      1. Bibliovore

        Working a book fair. Up way too early. Laying on ice packs. Have to walk the dog in ten minutes. Have to get started on my day. Achey bones. Dreading the day.

        Reply
    2. WellRed

      Have a mild cold that is sapping my energy. I need to go to the mall for new jeans ahead if work trip next week. Also need groceries and to cook for lunches. I don’t want to get off couch.

      Reply
    3. Wrench Turner

      The exercise of painting a room might help you feel better, boosting your metabolism a bit and maybe helping you fight the cold, too. Partners, not so much. Good luck with that.

      Reply
    4. DanaScully

      I find changes in weather really impact my pain levels. I am diagnosed with ME and possibly also have fibromyalgia.

      I find painting to be quite therapeutic and calming – hopefully you have a similar experience.

      This weekend my OH and I are in the countryside. The drive up here was slightly grueling but now we’re here it’s really quiet and serene. As it’s not our house I’m not looking around worrying about all the chores I need to do whilst attempting to relax!

      Reply
    5. Not So NewReader

      Dunno if this counts. I had two teeth pulled yesterday. My big goal for the day is to read AAM and catnap. No, not really working on anything.

      Reply
    6. Elizabeth West

      Ugh, me too. I didn’t sleep well last night and tried to take a walk this afternoon–I was only able to do one lap instead of two, so that’s all I did. And the ragweed must be happening because I’ve been sneezing my fool head off. :P I am taking it easy today as tomorrow is my usual cleaning day.

      Reply
    7. Rookie Manager

      A mini update… 3 coats went up today and I love the colour, going to do the woodwork in the morning. I now have a full on cold but painting distracted me from my pains but gave me hand blisters! Definitely feel that sense of achievment. (Partner took himself off somewhere for the day. We can un-fight tomorrow)

      Hope the various walks, relaxing and painting went well. Thanks for the encouragement earlier.

      Reply
  16. Doing the right thing is exhausting

    So on Wednesday this week I was walking merrily along to the bus stop when I spotted a purse on the floor (note I’m in the UK, where a purse is like a wallet, not a bag).

    Three other women converged on it just after me and we all stood around hoping the owner was going to materialise so we didn’t have to decide what to do. Unfortunately they didn’t, and when we peeked in there was money in but no ID.

    As the first person to pick it up I somehow ended up being the person to take it to the police station. I called the police to check where to take it and they told me, and said to get a receipt so I can have the money if it’s not claimed (I probably wouldn’t have thought of this if they hadn’t said).

    The police station is now right at the other end of town from where we were and I ended up getting the bus… except 1) I initially got on the wrong bus as the stops have changed, then 2) when I got into the right bus I tried to use my bus pass, forgetting that it doesn’t cover that part of town. So I had to pay to get there.

    When I got to the police station I had to wait about ten minutes as there was only one person on the desk and he was dealing with someone else who seemed to have a very complicated situation. Then when he finally took a break from them to deal with me it took approximately one hundred years for him to a) understand there was no id in the wallet, b) find out that no one had already reported it missing, and c) I wanted a receipt so that if it’s not claimed I can get the money.

    By the time I got back to where I’d started it had taken 90 minutes out of my afternoon.

    By which time I heartily wished I’d let someone else deal with it.

    If someone who was having money troubles had found it I would not at all blame them for ditching the purse and keeping the money, because it was such a bloody faff.

    Reply
    1. DanaScully

      You did a good thing! Despite all the faff which I’m sure you could have done without.

      Where I live, we have a lost and found page on Facebook. Sometimes people post on there to ask if anyone has picked up what they’ve lost. There seems to be a great success rate. I wonder if you might have one where you live?

      Reply
    2. Nye

      I once found a diamond ring (very likely an engagement ring) on the sidewalk in my neighborhood. It was a busy commercial district so no way to determine whose it was. I called the non-emergency police line, they were great, and told me I could bring it to the station and turn it in (in case someone reported it missing). Great! Will do. Went to the station and had a miserable experience like yours – took forever, the officer on duty clearly had no idea why I wasn’t just keeping it, and made me fill out an incident report despite the lack of an incident. It was made clear to me that this time would go into evidence (because of the incident report) and then “destroyed”. Made me feel like turning it in was absolutely the wrong thing to do and that keeping it and putting up fliers would have been a more likely way of reuniting it with its owner.

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        I found a diamond ring, too! I took it to the police station (four miles away) and they wanted me to do all that stuff. I said, Nope, I’m busy. Not going to do that.

        I left the ring on the counter and left. After reading what you went through, I am really glad I left!

        Reply
        1. Not Australian

          Even handing in lost property you find on a train is complicated. It took ages to fill in forms for the scarf I found on a train at Euston, so when I later found a pair of gloves I just handed them to the guard.

          Reply
    3. Jean (just Jean)

      Sympathies! It is so annoying when doing the right thing is met with incomprehension, thick-headed-ness (if that’s not a word, it should be), arguments, and other unhelpful human behavior. As the saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished” but I also like your posting handle.

      I hope you had/have another day this week that is amazingly free of irritants, just to balance things out.

      Reply
    4. tigerStripes

      You never know though, maybe this was money that someone had saved for years and was going to use it for something important and is freaking out, and maybe because of what you did, they’ll get it back.

      I may have watched too many Disney movies. Then again, I once dropped about $5 when I was in college and fairly broke, and someone picked it up and gave it back to me, which I deeply appreciated. You did the right thing.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        I once left my handbag inside a display car in a mall. In Saint Louis.
        I realized it pretty quick and we made a hasty return to the car, which was empty. So we went to the information desk, just in case, and someone had turned in the purse. All contents intact. They didn’t even unzip it.

        In SAINT LOUIS. #fookingangel <3

        Reply
    5. M is for Mulder

      I feel your pain.

      Back in July there was a stray dog in the road on my way home. A guy passing the other way in a pickup stopped and pulled onto the grass shoulder to help, and I had no choice but to stop since the dog was in my lane.

      Before all was said and done, the pickup guy had been rear-ended by a woman speeding and using her phone while driving. I was bitten by the dog, and my doctor reported it to the state who started calling and sending me harrassing letters to get rabies shots, despite the doctor saying I didn’t need them.

      I’m basically no longer inclined to help anyone do anything.

      Reply
      1. Bryce

        Years ago while waiting for the bus a woman came up to me asking for bus fare, gave a sob story about needing to get across town to her kids. I didn’t have any cash on me, so I gave her my bus ticket, the last one I had. She went ballistic, “what the **** am I supposed to get with this” tore it up and stormed off. Naturally, halfway through my 4-mile walk home, it started raining. Not badly, but it sure enhanced the mood.

        It’s been real hard to take anyone at face value after that.

        Reply
    6. Doing the right thing is exhausting

      I like that both Scully and Mulder commented on this.

      Thanks all. I’m still glad I did the right thing but it helps to hear others understanding the frustration!

      Reply
  17. Not My Usual Name

    After my post the other week on attending a fitness studio with somebody from a former job which did not end well, I am finding the classes are not so enjoyable, so I am attending and hoping they are not there. I think this is more personal then work related, as I think the same feelings would apply if it was somebody who used to be a friend with whom I had fallen out/they had suddenly decided to break contact. Basically, every time you see them, it reminds you of a situation you would rather forget. It doesn’t help either when the classes are quite full and there is little room to move.

    Reply
    1. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement

      Ooh, that sucks. Is the studio a single location or a chain where you could perhaps transfer the classes to another location?

      I understand that gut-punch feeling, even if you’re mentally prepared to see them it can still take you by surprise, and it’s never a good feeling to have when you’re trying to get your workout on. I don’t have any advice, as I’ve found for me taking some space is best and then through gradual repeated exposure the gut-punch feeling tends to go away. Do the classes expire/are they on a strict timeline or could you perhaps take a few weeks away from the studio?

      Reply
    1. nep

      Winter is coming and I’m now remembering I was supposed to move to another part of the country (or world) so as not to have to deal with another winter.

      Reply
      1. Wrench Turner

        I was hoping for my career to change enough to buy a place in the Virgin Islands, but that’s not happening. Looks like another season of big jackets.

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        I was supposed to move to California and be lolling on the beach well before it got cold. No dice. Storms late tonight, and the low tomorrow night will be 39 F. It’s 87 right now. In October.

        The only thing I am happy about is that I get to wear my scarves again. It was just too bloody humid this summer for even the lightest ones.

        Reply
    2. London Calling

      Yay! summer kit packed away, jumpers out, fleeces and throws ready. And I made my first batch of soup today – my go-to weekend lunch through the winter. Now all I have to do is master the thermostat on the new boiler and I’m set (heating currently not needed in London as it’s low 20s and I have the windows open).

      Reply
      1. Jean (just Jean)

        Reading that as “low 20s Farenheit” got me started on a double-take. Then I reminded myself that London (and much of the rest of the world) uses Metric.

        Heh. I like cold weather myself but open windows are not a long-term event in winter.

        Reply
        1. London Calling

          Ha, I’m tough but not that tough. Probably the last weekend I’ll be able to have the windows open like this.

          Reply
    3. Applesauced

      Me too! My husband and I are thinking of leaving the northeast (I’ve posted about it before) and his current pick is Austin – I hate his idea as it means 7 months where it’s too hot to go outside and no fall or winter!

      Reply
  18. AnnaleighUK

    Life advice: don’t leave your hand in the path of the auto-closing weighted door of a walk in freezer. It blinkin’ hurts, as one of my fiance’s employees has just found out. Bless her. I’m sat here being nursemaid (I am a first aider) while we wait for her mum to come and get her. Nothing broken as far as we can tell but she learned a little lesson today about industrial freezers! Ouch!

    In other news, the cafe is really thriving. And we had our offer accepted on the flat so that’s awesome. We’re moving in December and living above work will make life easier for Fiance and I will have a shorter commute. Hurrah!

    Reply
      1. AnnaleighUK

        My work is still a couple of miles away, but he’s going to be living over his work. I was unclear while typing and nursing Teenage Employee’s hand! She’s fine, bruised and a bit teary and her mum was more amused than worried.

        Reply
        1. nep

          Glad she’s OK. (In initial comment, I was so enchanted with your set-up there, forgot to ask about the injured one.)
          All the best.

          Reply
          1. AnnaleighUK

            The door now has a very large sign on it saying ‘Please remember this door is weighted and closes automatically’. And underneath, because the cafe employees are hilarious ‘victims claimed: 1’.

            It’s kind of nice that we have such a goofy, good natured staff. Teenage Employee who was hurt phoned in to say she’s okay but the doctor has strapped up her hand and in her words ‘no omlette flipping for me for a week’. She’s allowed to work but obviously cuz her hand is strapped up she can’t pan-wrangle.

            Busy day! I’m working my usual job during the week then working the till/register in the cafe on Saturdays. I’d love for the cafe to get to the point where I can kick in my 9 to 5 and work there full time but not quite yet…

            Reply
  19. DanaScully

    We are spending our weekend in the Lake District and it’s so *beautiful* and quiet here. The weather isn’t great but it’s so wonderful to look out of the window and see this: https://imgur.com/a/83DL6

    I hope all of you have a great weekend.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      Well, my cat is now wearing a cone of shame and is not very pleased about it. Another cat attacked him. He is the sweetest cat and all the staff are just in love with him. He is okay, though he has some nasty wounds. I am basically a complete wreck however. And trying not to believe it’s my doing because the other day I was thinking about how awful it would be if he died (thanks, anxiety Jerkbrain).

      Reply
      1. Caledonia

        Poor kitty. Hope both you and kitty feel better soon.

        Mine was ill about a month ago and it really scared me :( my anxiety was pretty awful for a few days after until I knew my cat was on the road to recovery. You’ll get through this.

        Reply
      2. Mm Hmm

        Poor kitty, poor you.
        I keep hearing about people using paper plates instead of cones of shame for cats. Cut a x in the center big enough to slide over the head. Trim to fit as needed. Fortunately haven’t had occasion to try it yet.

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          Nope, he’d have that off too! Won’t tolerate anything, even a collar which I refuse to put on him anyway because I worry about him getting caught on tree branches plus I’m a hippie who thinks collars are selfish human inventions

          Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      The patient just actually ate the medication I put in his food, to my considerable surprise. He is doing well but furious at his humans for refusing to let him out / much singing the song of his people.

      Reply
  20. Cynthia

    Eep. I’m in a cafe having a lazy Saturday morning (in the UK if you’re wondering about time zones) with a nice coffee and pastry…and then I go drop the plate and it’s broken.

    The waitresses were really nice about it and cleaned it up with no fuss at all, but I’m still so embarrassed! I’m still here because I haven’t finished my coffee yet but I feel like I should run away.

    Reply
    1. nep

      Stuff happens. Pastries fall. Plates break. (I get it, though — I think anyone would feel a bit embarrassed in the moment.) Hope you got another pastry. Enjoy your coffee and your Saturday.

      Reply
    2. Wrench Turner

      Leave a nice tip for the waitresses. Not that they don’t deal with a hundred broken plates a week but it may make you feel better.

      Reply
    3. fposte

      Once, at my local hardware store, I got a quart of bright blue paint mixed. Then, when I was waiting in line to pay, I somehow let it slip out of my hands and it hit the ground and absolutely *exploded*. They were incredibly nice about it, in a low-key way that really seemed like they were taking it in stride, but I was glad when they remodeled a couple of years ago and I could no longer still see blue paint around the bottom edges of the front counter.

      We’ve all done stuff. It’s okay.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        I did this once with a gallon of milk at a small grocery. Luckily it was in the parking lot, but what a mess. They gave me a new gallon, for which I was exceedingly grateful as that was my last money!

        Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      All the waitress wants is for you to let go of the embarrassment. It’s a pretty normal thing and not worth getting upset over. You apologized which is more than most people do. She’s fine.

      Reply
    5. Middle School Teacher

      You apologised, which is more than most would do!

      When I was living in Poland, my friend and I were at a restaurant during the spring (so we were sitting outside). I was facing the restaurant door, so I had a front-row seat when the waitress walked out, stumbled on the little step going down from the door, and dropped a tray with four beers, two of which went down the neck of the man sitting off to the side. To her credit she picked everything up, helped the customer mop off, cleaned up the broken glass, and got more beers, all by herself. I was so, so embarrassed for her. My friend and I agreed she was very classy and cool about the whole thing; we would have run home and never shown our faces again in public, ever.

      Reply
  21. Not so sweet tooth

    In the category of ‘stuff I’ve always done that I didn’t realise was probably not normal’: I’ve never been able to eat sweet stuff without having water at hand. Even a small (like, fun-size) piece of chocolate. I just hate the lingering ‘stickiness’ (for lack of a better word) that it leaves behind. Similar for stuff like cake or even ice cream. Sometimes I’d see something eat an entire chocolate bar without having to take a drink (or worse, drinking something sugary along with it) and can’t understand how they can stand it. Maybe it’s just my palate, but it’s not like I don’t /like/ those things, I just can’t stand having the feel of it linger. Is that odd?

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I’m the same! And I don’t get how anyone can eat a meal without drinking something after the last bite.

      Reply
      1. Cristina in England

        I am the opposite! If I have just eaten something particularly good, especially something warm/hot, I don’t want to erase the taste with (most likely cold) water for at least 5 minutes.

        Reply
        1. The Other Dawn

          And I had gastric bypass, which means I actually shouldn’t drink anything for a half hour after eating. It was hard initially because certain foods just require water with or after, but I’m used to it now.

          Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it draws water. If a person is low on hydration to begin with then eating sugary things could make them notice that they really need a drink of water.

      Reply
    3. Blue Anne

      I understand. I have that feeling with fruit juice. I like orange juice, but I only have it very occasionally because I need to drink a glass of water straight after.

      Reply
      1. Bryce

        I tend to cut juice half with water, particularly orange and grapefruit. Cuts down on the sugar and I’ve also found it takes care of that issue for me.

        Reply
    4. M is for Mulder

      I think chocolate has a strange texture, which could be part of it. I can be doing the groddiest, filthiest yard work or car repair and be fine, but if I get chocolate on my hands I must wash them RIGHT NOW.

      Reply
  22. Brunch ideas

    I’ll be having 6 adults and 3 kids <5 over Sunday for brunch.

    It's my 4 year old's birthday and she's requested cinnamon rolls- done.

    What else do I serve? No dietary restrictions. Was thinking smitten kitchens asparagus goat cheese frittata but I need more food. Don't really want to deal with a ham, but should I?

    The more prep-ahead-friendly the better.

    Reply
    1. Loopy

      Having a nice assortment of cut up fruit is easy and a nice balance to sweet bread stuff :) Cantaloupe and some berries or something.

      Reply
    2. Colette

      Fruit tray. Muffins. Hash brown in the slow cooker (a package of frozen hash browns, layer with cheese (and onions if you want), beat a dozen eggs and pour over the top, cook on low overnight or on high 4 hours). Yogurt.

      Reply
    3. Natalie

      You can do a lot of stuff that you prep the day before and then cook in the oven – bacon, potatoes, egg bakes, etc.

      A simple green salad is easy to throw together and a nice contrast to breakfast food.

      Reply
    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      Look up overnight crockpot breakfast casserole recipes. There are a ton! We’ve done that for Christmas brunch the last couple of years.

      Reply
  23. Loopy

    I’ve never been huge into costumes but tonight I’m doing my first (sort of) cosplay for a decently sized event (300-400 people). It’s not a real con but it’s costly themed. The friend and I didn’t really have the money, time, knowledge, or patience to do it super right or great so I think we found a decent middle ground. We are going to be generic members of the night’s watch from Game of Thrones and be recruiting for Jon Snow.

    I’m thinking of making a sign to carry around that says something like “Winter is Coming. Join Today” and we have these little cards I made to hand out. We also have super fake kids swords for some “demonstrations” (if the opportunities arise).

    I’m really hoping the quirkiness makes up for the fact our cloaks were made with not enough fabric or any research on how to actually make a cloak (no sewing was involved haha).

    I’m weirdly nervous. Has anyone else done anything like this who is not a super crafty person??

    Reply
    1. Thlayli

      Not cosplay but I do have a crappy Halloween costume story – one year my cousin and I zipped our jackets together and went trick or treating as conjoined twins.

      Reply
    2. LCL

      You will have more fun than you ever imagined. Make sure you all have candy to hand out, make it part of the shtick. I think your idea is awesome and fun!

      Reply
      1. Loopy

        Ahhh this event is totally food centric so the candy wouldn’t quite work BUT I am super excited I found this Raven Halloween decoration at the dollar store and in the show they use ravens to send messages so I bought it and figured out how to attach little messages and now we can throw it to people!!

        Feeling better about my costume’s lack of effort. At least we have a Raven!

        Reply
  24. Mela

    Any recommendations for short story/essay collections?

    I love Lydia Davis, Roxanne Gay, Leesa Cross Smith, Chuck Klosterman. I haven’t read anything by her but Carmen Maria Machado seems to be up my alley.

    Reply
    1. Julia

      I used to read Sylvia Plath a lot when I was in middle school. (I was a weird middle schooler.) Her short stories and essays are less depressing than The Bell Jar, if I remember correctly, and she was a terrific writer.

      Reply
    2. NeverNicky

      My favourite short story writer is Alice Munro. She is amazing.

      Totally different but also excellent is Neil Gaiman.

      Others I like: Annie Proulx, Ray Bradbury. The Granta anthologies can be a mixed bag but can offer up authors to explore

      Reply
      1. nep

        A friend gave me a book of Alice Munro stories a while back — she was raving about her saying I just had to read her. I’ll have to pick it up.

        Reply
      1. Mela

        Hah, I wouldn’t say she’s particularly well-known, but I do love her work! Feel free to tell her that a random internet person literally *cannot* wait for her novel coming out in March. As in, I was on a date last Tuesday and was telling him all about how excited I am to see where these characters’ story goes.

        Reply
    3. PM-NYC

      If you like funny essays, I can’t recommend “We are Never Meeting in Real Life” by Samantha Irby enough. It’s very irreverent & full of swears (not sure if that’s your thing) but it’s as great mix of humor and serious.

      Reply
    4. Middle School Teacher

      Anything by David Sedaris for essays, and Shirley Jackson for short stories, especially if you like weird.

      Reply
  25. savory dishes

    A friend of mine is having her birthday soon and I would like to cook/bake for her but she’s not into sweets. Any savory treat ideas?

    Reply
    1. Jiddy

      In similar situations, I usually make a really nice quiche and just try to fancy it up a bit with higher quality cheese/meat than I would normally use if I were just making it for dinner.

      Reply
    2. Aealias

      Cheese-stuffed soft pretzels. Enough of a pain that you know you’ve made an effort, and SO good. Better Homes has a good pretzel recipe, and I just roll it around strips of fancy cheese.

      Mushroom/Brie/thyme turnovers are relatively simple, and also delicious.

      Or twice-baked-potato wedges, the world’s most awesome cold leftovers.

      Reply
    3. peggy

      My now-wife had her 32nd birthday about a month after we started dating. I’ve always been a baker but she hates sweets, and I still wanted to do something special. I made her a huevos rancheros casserole that I decorated like a cake (puréed avocado piped on with a pastry bag, “Happy birthday” with crema, candles, etc.). I also made taco cupcakes (wonton wraps baked into little cups in a muffin tin, filled with layers of meat, cheese, beans, topped with salsa, more avocado “frosting”).

      Pretty sure that’s how she fell in love with me so be careful making these for your friend. ;)

      Reply
  26. nep

    Trigger warning: Mention of sexual assault.

    I was sexually assaulted as a child. By someone we knew. I’ve never told anyone about it, save for a vague reference while talking with a close friend on one occasion, when he was sharing (vaguely) something similar. It’s about 40 years later and I can’t envision myself saying it to someone.
    It doesn’t weigh on me (at least as far as I know), but I do think of it from time to time, especially in times when there are revelations of such things in the headlines.
    Alison feel free to delete if you don’t want this kind of comment here. Thanks.

    Reply
    1. JenM

      I’m sorry this happened to you. There’s no one way/right way to deal with trauma and you are the only person who gets to decide whether you talk about it or not. I’m glad you’re doing well.

      Reply
    2. fposte

      Nep, I’m so sorry. I hope it’s helpful that we’re here to listen.

      I know about stuff that doesn’t feel like it’s left you deeply scarred but you also don’t really have a venue to acknowledge.

      Reply
    3. Not So NewReader

      I am so sorry.

      I have met people who never wanted to discuss it. I don’t know first hand, of course, but it seemed like it was the right decision for them. Others go the opposite way. I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer.

      May life show you many, many kind people of integrity.

      Reply
    4. Parenthetically

      Not discussing it made sense for most of my life, until it didn’t. I found an excellent counselor who helped me talk through the parts of my life that had been changed/impacted by it. We met for only a short time but it made a huge difference. I think everyone’s responses and needs are different and openness to those needs changing is important. If any of that makes sense.

      Good thoughts to you.

      Reply
    5. Elizabeth West

      *lots of hugs*
      I’ve been a lot more open about things that happened to me, especially lately. But that is a personal choice. I only have lingering effects in certain situations, and if I think I’m going to be in those situations, I warn the person I’m with so they won’t inadvertently cause me to panic. People deal with things in very different ways and there is no right or wrong way.

      Reply
  27. Mallory Janis Ian

    Once in a while, my cat will chase her tail, and when she catches it, she will hiss at it. I’ve seen plenty of cats playfully chase their tails before, but I’ve never seen one hiss at their tail, and I wonder what in the world it means. Usually there’s just hissing, but this morning she caught her tail and there was hissing and some growling. She seems healthy and fine. My husband examined her tail to see if maybe she had some tenderness or pain there, but there didn’t seem to be any. She had a urinary tract infection once, and the pain from that caused her to hiss in the litter box, but we can’t figure out if this hissing comes from some sort of pain, or is just part of the game of chasing her tail.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      You could ask at her next vet visit but I’d wager it’s just part of the game. Tail chasing is a kind of hunting game, some cats get excited about it and show minor aggression signs at their tail. As long as she’s not hurting herself it should be fine. I’ve had cats bite at their tails when they catch it too – just a personality variation.

      Reply
    2. nep

      I once saw a video in which a cat was chasing the tail — hissing quite a bit while chasing/playing. Perhaps some just do that as part of the pursuit? I’ll be interested in the responses.

      Reply
    3. dawbs

      I had a dog who tried to chew hers off every time she caught it (but I think that’s an IQ thing, for that dog–loved and missed but we’re realistic about her level of dumb)…

      I’d assume game if that’s the only time she’s hissing–it might be that when she catches it, it hurts a bit, so she’s hissing at herself the ssame way I swear at myself when I stub my toe

      Reply
    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      My guess is that she gets overexcited, then scares herself a little when she feels something grab her tail! Remember, they can be clever, but they’re still cats. :)

      And I would have done the same, handle her tail just a little firmly to see if she reacts more than usual. As someone said earlier about the dog, animals are good at hiding some discomfort as a defense, so when their behavior changes we try to check ours for guarding or tenderness.

      Reply
      1. Red Reader

        Haha. When my dog was a baby-baby, like 10 weeks old, she used to sleep in my lap with her paws in her face. She’d wake up just enough to grizzle at them, then nip at them, and then get very upset. In my head, it went “mama, someone has their toes in my face. If they don’t get their toes outta my face I’m gonna chew on em. MAMA SOMEONE IS CHEWING ON MY TOES.” (I narrate both my dogs a lot. It entertains me during the day when I’m the only one home, and carries over into the rest of my life by habit. Hah.)

        Reply
    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      Sounds like all of this confirms what I initially thought: that this is just part of the game. She doesn’t exhibit any odd behaviors outside of the tail-catching game, and the game itself starts normally (with her gazing off into the distance and pretending to ignore her tail while tempting herself with tail twitches in her periphery). The hissing and growling was just more animation than I’ve ever seen from any of my other cats. Which, come to think of it, is actually characteristic of her — she’s a real piece of work :-)

      Reply
      1. nep

        Isn’t it hilarious when cats do that aloof thing — when they know they’re going to go after something, and they stare off as if ignoring…they lick a paw…all the while plotting the attack.

        Reply
        1. Rainy

          Our younger cat does that and I always call it “luring [thing] into a false sense of security”. She’s the first cat I’ve ever had who chases her tail (and I’ve had a lot of cats), and the first few times she did it I was convinced there was something wrong with her.

          I still am, honestly, she is a weird-ass cat. But adorable.

          Reply
          1. nep

            Exactly — that’s what it looks like. The cat’s saying “Ah, I’m done here. Not paying attention to that thing anymore…” Then POUNCE. Love it.

            Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        Funny tail-chasing story:

        When we were kids, we had a mostly outdoor cat who liked to chase her tail. She would go round and round in circles after it and it was hilarious, but she only did it when she didn’t think anyone was looking. One time she was doing it in the back yard, and I was watching her through the sliding glass door. I got up and opened the door, and she immediately stopped and sat up with both paws together in this very dignified pose and looked at me like, “YOU SAW NOTHING HUMAN.” LOL

        RIP Riggy! Here is a picture of her in the world’s ugliest chair, under the world’s ugliest curtains. XD
        imgur.com/1vqifxN.jpg

        Reply
    6. fposte

      I think as long as it’s only once in a while that she chases her tail, it’s probably just part of play, especially if her tail doesn’t seem tender otherwise.

      Reply
    7. Not So NewReader

      Is she bored?

      My dog will do some weird stuff that I won’t describe here. I talked to the vet and she said he needed exercise and he was bored. I got him more toys and redirected the behavior when I saw him doing that behavior.

      Reply
    8. M is for Mulder

      One of my cats attacks and bites his own foot, like it’s an enemy to be subdued. It’s always the left rear foot. I think it’s just part of their crazy.

      Reply
    9. blackcat

      It took my parents cat growing out of kittenhood before he would stop *attacking* his tail. He’d chase it, bite it, yowl, sometimes hiss, and then sit there mournfully grooming it. Once or twice he broke the skin. I think the hissing was pain related. Eventually (around age 1.5-2), he grew out of this habit. It was baffling, though, particularly since he is otherwise a highly intelligent cat. (Unlike my cat, who is dumb as nails, but has never been a tail-chaser).

      Reply
    10. Sibley

      It’s quite common for cats to vocalize while playing, and that can change with age and circumstances. I’ve heard hisses, growls, chirps, trills, meows, and plenty more out of mine. Other cats are much quieter. I’d just enjoy the entertainment. :)

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        This cat is entertaining, alright. She has crazy high levels of energy, so she’ll run through the house with her ears plastered back and her pupils dilated until her irises almost disappear (then we say she’s “turnt”).

        At the height of this craziness, she’ll jump up the door frame and hang there with her front and back claws sunk into the wood and look at us with this wild gleam in her eye; at this point, we say she is “the great Cornholio” (Beavis and Butthead). If she jumps five feet up the door frame, we say she’s five feet of crazy. She’s eight years old now, so she usually only gets three to five feet of crazy. When she was younger, she’d regularly get six or seven feet of crazy.

        Reply
  28. Kat

    I want to go to Berlin at the end of the month for a few days, alone, but I’m on the verge of not doing it. I haven’t been travelling alone for a long time and I am scared of flying, which is always worse on my own. I booked a hotel but I might cancel. I am tired of being scared and anxious about everything. I thought I was getting better, but then realise it’s just that day to day I’m fine, but if I try to do a new exciting GOOD thing I freak out in my mind and chicken out. :(

    Reply
    1. nep

      You’ve gone as far as booking the hotel — that is an important step. Of course it can be canceled if need be but there is a part of you wants to make this trip. What’s the hotel like? Is it one you already know?
      I hear you. I talk myself out of soooo many things — but what if this happens? but what if I get in this situation? but what if…? who am I kidding — I can’t do this…and on and on.
      I invariably find that when I shut that fear and negativity off, or at least just acknowledge it and move past it (however one prefers to look at it), the outcome has been amazing. I can think on my feet and handle far more than I give myself credit for. There is nothing like that rush of doing that thing you were afraid of.
      I would also say, don’t be hard on yourself if this time you don’t do it. Every day gives us occasions to move past the fear. Sometimes we cave, sometimes we step up and act with our full power.
      Peace — whatever you decide about this trip. Hope you’ll let us know.

      Reply
      1. Kat

        I’ve never been before so I don’t know the hotel but it looks nice and central. But I’d have to get to it from the airport and I do speak some German but I wouldn’t be fluent. I guess that might not matter. I mean, these days I *always* cave! So I do try to be kind to myself when I don’t do something but eventually that’s all I do is not do things. I just don’t know how to push myself into doing it any more. I was good for a while but I seem to be back to anxious more often than not. Bored of me, to be honest.

        Reply
          1. Kat

            I can’t say exactly. Just sheer will, I guess? The thought that ‘it’ll be worth it’, maybe. And the old ‘in X hours it’ll be over’. But I think this time it’s worse because it’s all on me to do fun things and entertain myself, so instead of thinking ‘I’ll see my friend for a holiday and it’ll be great’ I’m probably also thinking ‘I’ve got to get on a plane and then do stuff on my own for a couple of days’.

            Reply
        1. Julia

          In Berlin, you can totally get by with just English, if that’s your major concern. Even I as the rare true born Berliner sometimes get approached in English by people who live there – to be fair, I get lost quite often.

          Do you need travel tips or ideas where to go?

          Reply
          1. Kat

            I heard this, so it did make me feel better, although my German is actually OK for basics and I hate being that tourist who turns up expecting everyone in the country to speak English. But that’s good to know!

            Ideas would be great thanks! I have looked up a few things but nothing concrete because of said anxiety. I like museums, books, music, wandering, shops, cake, nice food… I am an introvert but social so happy to try a class or something (if such a thing is possible!) and I wouldn’t mind suggestions for places to eat alone, which is my main concern (I am fine with coffee/lunch as I do that here, but I don’t go out for dinner alone).

            Reply
            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

              I’ve been to Germany several times and I only know a handful of tourist phrases. Nobody has ever been the least bit unkind, and are often excited to practice their English with me.

              Reply
            2. LaurenB

              I went to Berlin some years ago expressly to practice my German and had a hard time getting to use it – the average Berliner was very helpful and preferred to just use English rather than listen to my halting German.

              Reply
        2. Red Reader

          Berlin is gorgeous. I did a six week trip around Europe a few years ago and Berlin was hands down my favorite stop. Very easy to navigate, everyone was nice, and I had no trouble getting by with just my 2 years of high school German from 20 years ago.

          Reply
        3. Candy

          Don’t worry about the language! Tonnes of people in Berlin speak English. I spent two months there and literally every person I stopped on the street and asked, “Do you speak English?” would say, “Oh no very little”… and then would proceed to speak perfect English. Plus I think German is actually very similar to English so once you have the context you can easily guess what the signs are trying to say.

          Which airport are you landing in, Schoenefeld or Tegel? I’ve only ever flown into Schoenefeld but the train is right outside. Just remember to validate your ticket after you buy it!

          Reply
          1. Kat

            It would be Schoenefeld, and I think the hotel is quite central, although I wouldn’t know for sure (it said so on the website which is why I booked it, but a big city must have a lot of ‘central’!). So I can get a train? Was wondering if taxi would be easiest, but I’m not sure how far it is. Better look it up!

            Reply
        4. Natalie

          My ex and I made it all around Paris with just “je ne parle pas français, parlez-vous angles?” and we were perfectly fine. I bet Berlin would be easier.

          Reply
          1. nep

            This reminds me — when I was learning Wolof, the young man teaching me had this terrific positive energy. He wouldn’t teach me “I don’t speak Wolof,” only “I speak / understand a little bit.” (Even though the former was the case, pretty much, and I was just looking to know the grammar of such a sentence, but he was adorable. No — you’re not going to say that…)

            Reply
        5. A. Non

          Kat, can you call the hotel and see if a) they have a shuttle, or b) they know how to get from the airport to the hotel? Most hotels will know this information, it’s a basic piece of what they get asked all the time, and they should be willing to walk you through it. That may take some of the anxiety out of ‘how do I get there???’

          Reply
    2. Overeducated

      Way back when my life was more interesting, I traveled on my own internationally quite a bit, and I found the confusion and awkwardness of travel logistics was emotionally easier and less embarrassing than when I was with others. You know why? Because literally nobody there knew me or was waiting for me or would remember me. If it took me an hour to figure out how to get out of the airport, fine! Who cares? (Once I did get lost on a Russian marshrutka bus, and someone did worry because I was 3 hours late, but that wound up ok too.)

      Not having anyone to be anxious *with*, but also not having anyone else’s expectations to worry about, takes off a lot of pressure. Also, there’s no choice, you just have to figure it out and you do. I find that I am still more calm and patient traveling on my own than with companions, even domestically, I get less upset about delays and such.

      I don’t know if this helps at all, but I am a pretty anxious person generally (though I have never been diagnosed with a clinical condition), so maybe it could also work that way for you. I hope you go and have a great time!

      Reply
      1. nep

        Good point. When I’m driving somewhere I’m not familiar with, I’m far better on my own than if someone else is in the car. Just calm and able to process things on my own, rather than having the added load of another person. I suppose now that I think of it, it was the same when I traveled internationally alone. There is something to that.

        Reply
        1. WellRed

          Yes. I had to drive to Cape Cod and back a few weeks ago (4 hours each way, through Boston). I could talk myself through the worst parts and take my own time. No witnesses.

          Reply
        2. Elizabeth West

          I prefer to drive with another person since I have HUUUUUUUGE travel anxiety. But flying I’m okay with on my own, still anxious but not as much. Probably because if there is a mistake or a delay, it’s not my fault usually, but if I get lost, that’s on me.

          Reply
    3. Caledonia

      I hear you.

      About flying – up until this year I hadn’t flown in about 12 yrs (since I was 19) and never on my own. I got some anti-anxiety meds from my Dr which helped. I keep busy on the plane, music/podcasts and read to distract myself. I sit on the aisle because I don’t want to be next to the window and freak myself out.

      What helps me is planning. Planning how to get from airport to hotel. Which stop is the right one to get off, google maos to look at street view so I roughly know what the streets should look like. Planning what I want to do/see and how to get there.

      I visited Berlin myself in Sept. I really enjoyed it, it’s a very interesting city given its history. I was only there Sunday pm until Weds morning but I packed a lot in my time which also helps me.

      If you do go to Berlin, find one of those photobooths they have in the streets. Old style black and white photos that take 4 photos for a few euros.

      Reply
      1. Enya

        I also got something from my doctor to calm me down- the pills worked wonders. I wasn’t even afraid during turbulence, and I usually have to hold myself back from screaming in fear! I’m another one who doesn’t sit next to the window, and that helps, too. Good luck, you can do this!

        Reply
        1. Kat

          Yeah I need that! I thought about it before and wished I had got some before going to Canada, which was anxiety-inducing to say the least but my friend was with me and she’s the opposite, so her calm helped. As did a lot of wine. I can’t drink that much alone, though, and still function in a foreign country I’ve never been to, so maybe drugs are the answer. Did they impair you in any way when you got off the plane? Just wondering what to expect.

          Reply
          1. Caledonia

            No, they just take the edge off. I am not spacey or anything. They do recommend you take one as a “practice” a few days before you fly in case of adverse effects.

            Reply
    4. fposte

      Anxiety really is tiring, isn’t it? Fear of flying is a particular specialty of mine, so I second Caledonia that you can ask your doctor for something for that. Even if you’re talking a short flight (thinking you’re in the UK from the spelling) it can help with general travel anxiety too.

      One thing that’s common with this kind of anxiety is that it’s at its worst *before* the thing, and it’s a lot better once you’re at the hotel. If that’s you, that might help remind you this isn’t permanent and that you’re going to be able to have a better time soon. This is just the tunnel you go through to get there.

      Reply
      1. Kat

        It is totally tiring. I’d forgotten how much till recently, when it’s flared up again, but stealth flare-up, so I didn’t really *know* I was anxious till I felt a lump in my throat?! What, body, is that. Anyway. Yes I am in Scotland so the flight would be only about 2 hours. I’ve done solo flying before but always meeting a friend on the other end, so getting there alone will be so weird. But I know I *can* do it… I just have the mind-fear.

        Reply
    5. Kat

      I don’t think I’ll go on this occasion. I really want to, but the anxiety is becoming physical. I have a lump in my throat and I’m feeling on edge. I don’t think I should make decisions feeling that way. I will wait till spring and then go when it’ll be lighter and the weather will be better. I will go, though!

      Reply
  29. nep

    The question about savory baked goods has me thinking — does anyone eat savory rather than sweet oatmeal? Think savory seasonings as opposed to honey, fruit, and the like? What do you put in it?
    I was at a friend’s once — we were having oatmeal and he and his mom added Maggi seasoning sauce.

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I don’t eat oatmeal very often, but I like just salt on mine. I mean, I like brown sugar, too…sometimes both! But usually just salt.

      Reply
      1. nep

        Yes — I always have to add a pinch of salt, whether I’m adding some sweet things or not. Makes all the difference.

        Reply
    2. Mela

      I think it might have been someone on here that got me on it, but yes! I prefer savoury to sweet now. Usually chicken chunks, grated cheese, avo, cherry tomatoes. That’s a standard go-to, but sometimes I just kind of put leftovers on top and call it a day.

      Reply
    3. Rainy

      I had braces in my 30s and when the big movement started my diet (when I could eat anything) was 30% coffee, 30% rum, 30% savory cream of wheat, and 10% soft molasses cookies dipped in coffee until they almost fell apart.

      My favourite cream of wheat has goat cheese and super soft caramelized onions in it. Sometimes I’d make it extra soupy and poach an egg in.

      Reply
    4. Jessica

      Yes! I cook mine with dried onion flakes and red pepper. Then afterwards I add stuff like tomato (sometimes I’ll let that cook w/ the oatmeal), canned mushrooms, and cheddar cheese chunks (so gooey and lovely). I’ll also add milk, and I’ll sprinkle popcorn cheese/seasoning on it.

      It’s really, really delicious.

      Reply
    5. Thursday Next

      If I make oatmeal on the weekends I sometimes make a fried egg and put that + paprika and salt on the oatmeal.

      Reply
    6. Kewlmom

      Bacon bits, or sometimes just salted butter. Once in a while, I will make a well in the center of the serving and put an egg in there, cover with a glass lid, and cook until the white is done in the microwave

      Reply
    7. JulieBulie

      Yes. Butter, a dash of cream for texture, onion powder, sometimes garlic powder, a little pepper sauce.

      Basically I just make them the way I do grits.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t want sweet oatmeal.

      Reply
  30. AnonAndOn

    I tried reading 4,3,2,1 and I couldn’t get into it. The story had an interesting premise but I felt the divergent storylines were too similar and the lead character had too much sex on the brain.

    Reply
  31. The Other Dawn

    Well, my business trip/vacation has come to an end and it’s time to fly back to the east coast today. Have to say I’m glad. Not because I didn’t enjoy CA–I did–but because my cousin and I are fundamentally mismatched when it comes to our daily living and eating schedules.

    This was our first long trip together and it was tough. She’s retired and is home all day while her husband still works. She’s used to sleeping late, eating breakfast either after 11 am or not at all, and lounging all day. Me? Used to being up around 7 am even on the weekends, eating by 8:30 am or so, and either working or being out and about (usually errands).

    The eating part was tough. When I was hungry, she wasn’t. When I wanted a sit down meal, she was happy just grabbing a few cookies. I’m used to having meals. I dont mean a three course meal. Just something more than grazing on junk. I had to buy a few healthier items from the shop in the hotel and keep them in the fridge. I was actually happy when it was time to attend the three day conference for work: I was guaranteed a hot breakfast and lunch! What complicated, too, was that she’s on a medication that she takes when she wakes up and she can’t eat for two hours afterwards. Unfortunately she can’t wake up early, take it and go back to sleep, as it doesn’t work for her. So if she slept until 9 am (early for her) that meant no breakfast until at least 11 am.

    And then there’s the activity levels. She came away feeling like we had done a lot, seen a lot and did a lot of walking, while I feel like my body barely moved at all. Granted, she’s much older than me and used to be extremely sedentary, so i know that explains it. Thankfully I brought my back brace, which helped the pain from sitting too much, and i took the steroid pack the doc prescribed. So my back isn’t a mess thankfully. Although I do have to sit on a plane for 6+ hours today.

    I dearly love my cousin and I like being with her, but I’ve determined that “vacation” for us means visiting each other’s home for a few days where we can each have more control over our own routines.

    By the way, my heart goes out to those dealing with the wildfires. The news footage is absolutely devastating. I hope there’s relief soon.

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      Oh, meant to add that we saw The Living Desert and the Joshua tree national park. Both were beautiful and well worth it. We drove the park from the west entrance to the south entrance. Cousin really didn’t want to get out of the car much because she was afraid of snakes and tarantulas, but it will still a nice drive and I got some good pictures.

      Reply
  32. AnonAndOn

    Clearing my head here.

    I felt so overwhelmed this week with two social events that I attended. A few days ago I attended an anniversary party for an organization I’m involved in. I walked in and felt bombarded with sensory overload. There were a lot of people there, small children running around (I am not a fan of kids), people bumped into me and I bumped into them (crowded), one woman put her hands on my shoulders as she walked past me, and there was a lot of awkward small talk. Acquaintances of mine whom I haven’t seen in a while chatted with me, but they asked me about things that we’ve already spoken about that they’ve forgotten (asking about my “new” apartment though I’ve been there almost two years, and asking about a cat I had but had to surrender to the shelter since I could no longer afford to keep it – which hurt because I had brought this up with one of them before, and during the previous time she said I could visit her and spend time with her cat, but she did apologize for bringing up the painful reminder). We were also called on stage as a group too, but thankfully I did not have to give a speech (I was not prepared to). This organization is great but that party left me feeling drained and miserable.

    Yesterday I attended something more low-key and focused on meditation. While I wasn’t overstimulated by noise I still couldn’t relate to the people there (the people were nice). I was not a fan of splitting into groups and having to speak for three minutes to discuss a topic. (This was not Toastmasters.) I speak when I have something to say and I had nothing to contribute. I told the people in my group that I simply wanted to observe and didn’t want to speak for the sake of speaking, so I let them use what would’ve been my time to speak to continue their discussions. When the meditative part of the group ended and it was open to mingling and socializing, I left. (I had a bus to catch, but if I enjoyed myself more I would’ve been willing to stay later.)

    I struggle to make deep friendships as an adult. A lot of my issues stem from growing up bullied and abused, dealing with depression and anxiety, being introverted, and being a highly sensitive person (HSP). I remember being a kid and being so social, happy, and outgoing and excited to meet people. I’m a 180 of that today. Being unemployed doesn’t help since I don’t go out much to save money and I’ve become even less social than I was when I was employed. I feel so different from everyone else: I’m not into happy hours and bars, don’t drink (haven’t in years but barely did when I did drink), hate crowds and noise, am not interested in having kids, etc. I live in a place where it’s about who one knows and what they do, and I’m not about that.

    I miss going to therapy and I felt it helped me greatly. I can’t afford it because I don’t have health insurance due to being unemployed. I tried a service that offered free and low-cost therapy in my state, but they set me up with someone who’s an hour away on the bus, had me come in for a 15-minute intake that could’ve been done over the phone (bus fare here is not cheap!), who was supposed to be “free” but wanted to charge me (because she felt people who paid took their therapy more seriously), and who patronized me (assumed I didn’t know who Jung was and spelled his last name for me). Ridiculous.

    Thanks for letting me vent here.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      That sounds like an awful experience to have had with that therapist – I am so sorry that happened to you.

      Reply
    2. Allypopx

      My therapist would tell you that bad therapists don’t mean therapy is a bad choice. Which is true. And it sounds like you know that.

      But damn do they leave a bad taste in your mouth.

      Reply
      1. AnonAndOn

        I definitely know that. I’d prefer to find one when I’m employed and have insurance again so I can have more choice and say in who I see.

        Until then, self-help books and sites like Captain Awkward have been helpful to me.

        Reply
    3. Anono-me

      1. I hope you reported the ‘therapist’. To me it sounds like a scam. Telling the state she is offering pro bono services, but telling actual clients to pay once they show up.

      2. Have you looked into catsitting? (I’m not suggesting it as a solution, but as something that might be a nice addition to your life.) I’ve dogsat and found it to be a big help with the puppy time cravings. A little extra money is not a bad thing either (you might want to check with unemployment to avoid complications). Interaction with dog’s owner tended to be limited and purpose driven.

      Reply
      1. AnonAndOn

        The program contacted me about the service with a survey. I only attended two sessions (more like 1 1/4 sessions since that intake was barely a session). Her fee was only $5 which when I’m employed is barely anything, but would’ve been a lot for me. I didn’t report her, but I did say I wasn’t satisfied.

        As for cat sitting, I tried to apply for a job with a local pet sitting service, but they’re only looking for dog sitters/dog walkers at the moment. I also used to volunteer at a shelter, but got let go from that (apparently people can be fired as volunteers). It’s my fault – I openly talked about issues I had with the behavior of some shelter staff and how some things were run, so my being let go was for the best.

        As for unemployment, mine ran out (I don’t think I can get an extension either) but if I made below a certain amount during a week I claimed for unemployment then it wouldn’t affect my my benefits. However, if I made above a certain amount for a week claim, my benefits for that week would be deducted.

        Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Small consolation, but I think a surprising amount of people would find those social events difficult. I think your examples of awkward conversations kind of telegraph that those people were having a difficult time, too.

      I dunno, I do something like that maybe once a year. Not my cup of tea at all, I think you can be proud of yourself for even trying.

      Reply
      1. AnonAndOn

        In my case it’s more than social events, but to get into my life history would be a blog post in itself.

        But I do like to limit the amount of social events I go to as well. I prefer to be home before dark except for special occasions.

        Reply
  33. Allypopx

    An old, very dear friend of mine killed himself last weekend. It’s been a long week of reconnecting with old friends, going home for the memorial, drinking slightly too much, trying to muddle through work and school while declining extra time off (because really, who wants to be alone with their own thoughts), trying to deal with my own grief, processing feelings of regret because we were somewhat estranged, and reading constant streams of other people’s grief on the memorial page. My partner has been an amazing support system but he can only do so much.

    I’m so emotionally exhausted. I don’t even know what to do with myself today. I’m at work but I’m not terribly focused. I just want to sleep. The five stages of grief seemed contrived until the depression hit.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      I am very sorry for your loss. Grief does pull vitamins and minerals out of our bodies at an accelerated clip, and yes, depression can kick in. While you sort your next steps you may get a small benefit from a drink with electrolytes in it. And yes, do plan on extra rest. Through it all, talk kindly to yourself, pretend you are talking to another friend and say those types of things to yourself. Again, very sorry.

      Reply
    2. beem/meemzi

      I’m sorry for your loss. My partner completed suicide earlier this year. I’m sorry to have you among us.

      If you’re interested . . . The two things that are helping me the most:
      – SOSL (Survivors of Suicide Loss) meetings: May be under a different name in your region. It’s nice to hear about other people’s experiences with this type of grief. Everyone has a different situation and perspective.
      – A dear friend’s advice: If you’re crying, you have to be drinking water (or eating, if you’re having trouble with appetite)

      Reply
  34. I Am Still Furious!!

    I got a copy of the letter my attorney wrote to my soon to be ex husband’s attorney, who hasn’t officially entered as representative for him most likely due to the whole payment issue…anyway…the last paragraph says “Finally, I am requesting that your client forward a comprehensive settlement proposal to me after your next meeting with him.” So, as I requested, we are cutting to the chase.

    I moved out 1 month ago yesterday. It doesn’t seem that long, really, and I’ve learned that I am incredibly lonely. I was lonely before, but at least I had my cats. I couldn’t bring any of them with me because my friend is allergic to cats. She has a small dog, and he’s nice enough, but he’s not my pet, if you know what I mean.

    My friend is visiting her daughter again this weekend, so I’m rattling around in this big house by myself. I decided to get cable TV here, so on Monday at least I’ll have something to distract me plus real internet. Using the neighbor’s Xfinity hotspots is proving to be unreliable and streaming Netflix is nearly impossible. My plans for today and tomorrow include bike riding, yard work, house work, and that’s about it, I need to make more friends or get out and meet some more people. The people in my new neighborhood are either much older than me or married with families, so I don’t really have anything in common with them.

    So now I just wait to see what he wants to go away. I want it done quickly. As it is, this won’t be over until early 2018, best case scenario. I think I’ll feel better once I know when my freedom date will be.

    Reply
    1. AnonAndOn

      I am so glad that you keep progressing towards the end of this marriage. I’m sorry to hear about you not being able to have your cats though.

      Reply
    2. Jean (just Jean)

      You are being so brave and methodical, and you totally deserve to be free of the distressing, dishonest and unhelpful person aka your soon to be ex. Keep telling yourself that when you feel stuck in limbo. I’m sorry you can’t have your cats with you! They can be such warm and comforting companions. (This is all secondhand knowledge because of my own allergies.)

      Random thoughts (with apologies if it’s not helpful because it would be a logistical nightmare, and/or if it just rekindles your cat-loneliness): Can you work with an animal shelter or rescue organization to find a foster home for your cats until you are able to reunite with them in your own residence? Bonus points if you could go visit your cats in their intermediate dwelling place.

      Reply
    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      I’m so glad things are progressing for you! I hope you’re able to settle easily and move forward.

      Reply
    4. Not So NewReader

      Keep talking to us here. We will just keep following along.

      A couple thoughts, older people make great neighbors sometimes. They can be very grateful when someone pays attention to them. I live next door to an older couple, their family is gone and living their lives. The wife in the couple has become my big sister. We chat about life regularly. She knew I had teeth pulled yesterday and she called about 8 pm last night to tell me to call her if I had difficulty in the night. I knew right then that I would be okay, my big sis is watching.

      People with families can be open to new relationships also. As you bike around say hi to everyone or wave/nod.

      I think it’s really good that you have identified this friendship thing as a gap in your life. I found the same gap when my husband died. So maybe we can think of something here that you could do this upcoming week to start to incubate some future friendships. Do you have a library card for the library in your area? That might be a good starting point.

      Reply
    5. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement

      Oof, loneliness + unreliable internet access is a difficult combo, glad that you only have to last till Monday. And at the same time, being at your friend’s is still better than before because you’re physically out! Sorry about your cats though.

      Having an physical end date will help too, even if it is early 2018.

      I second NSNR’s library rec!

      I don’t have a ton of advice, just commiseration. What would you think about signing up for a weekly exercise class? It’ll get you out of the house, give you an adrenaline boost, and maybe meet other people. You could try something you’ve never tried before or something you’re very comfortable with. Also you could look for women-only or women-dominant classes.

      I think if you can find a safe space/s for yourself, just for you, so that you don’t feel like you’re imposing on anyone it’ll be good for you (a library, a cafe, a weekly class, etc).

      Good luck!

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        exercise class

        I have made lifelong friends in exercise classes. I met my friend Lenore in 1987 at a Jazzercise class in Austin. We no longer live in the same city, but we see each other a few times a year and I count her as one of my best friends.

        I met my friend Lois at BodyPump at the Y nine years ago when I moved here. She is 15 years older than I am and through her, I have found my hairdresser (who has also become a friend and has also become Primo’s hairdresser), learned about the Repertory Theatre (to which Primo and I have been subscribing for eight years), and found really good local restaurants. And, of course, she is my friend. :)

        The nice thing about exercise classes is you can get to know someone without making a commitment. You can figure out if you like someone enough to take the friendship to the next level – actually doing something together outside of class, even if it’s just, “Want to grab coffee after class?”

        Reply
  35. Sandy

    Recommendations of cool things to do in London (UK)?

    I am going for a solo trip this week and could use some fun ideas. I have been several times before, so the usual tourist stuff has less appeal.

    So far I plan to see the Harry Potter play, eat some Ottolenghi dishes, and eat a lot of Indian food. Maybe find a cozy spot somewhere to read a good book (it’s been a while since I have travelled without a toddler…)

    I hear the British Museum has a Harry Potter exhibit starting up next week but it is sold out already- all the way to end of November!

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      I had no idea about the British Museum exhibit. Thanks for the heads up! Do you have tickets for the play? I think they release a few last minute ones each week but I don’t know how easy they are to get. We are going in February and we had to book 13 months in advance!

      I suck at recommending stuff for visitors to do but the Sky Garden is fun.

      Reply
      1. Kate

        I do! My spouse got them for me as an early Hanukkah gift.

        That said, if you are willing to use StubHub, there seems to always be a few up on there.

        Reply
    2. Buu

      The Potter exhibit is at the British Library not the British museum, it’s still showing some slots free in November for me so perhaps some spaces freed up ( https://harrypotter.seetickets.com/tour/harry-potter-a-history-of-magic/calendar < this is what I looked at)

      There are a few other Potter things to do in London if that doesn't work out so don't worry!
      – Platform 9 3/4 and the Harry Potter Shop – In a corner of King's Cross there's a Harry Potter shop and if you're willing to wait a photo op corner will a luggage trolley in a wall so you can have a pic taken.
      – House of Minalima ( http://store.minalima.com/house-of-minalima/) – Round the corner from the theatre where Cursed Child is playing. This is a shop owned by the graphic designers of the Potter films, it's around 3 floors of a converted house. It's a mixture of shop where you can buy prints of posters and books in the films and exhibition with props and original art from the films.
      – Wb Studio Tour – I haven't been yet but this is a thing with reconstructions of sections of sets from the films.

      Random other suggestions:
      http://www.novelty-automation.com/ – A shop/arcade with weird homemade automatons. You pay up front for some tokens then can use all the weird hand crafted machines in there. One for example is holiday themed, you sit on a sofa chair and a screen shows a holiday from start to finish but its all handmade. Another lets you put an object inside and the machine tells you if it's art.

      Camden Market – There are two main sections of market, lots of art, clothes and food stalls.

      Brick Lane – Famous for it's good curry shops though some of the curry shops can be agressive in trying to get you to go to their shops so plan ahead.

      Reply
    3. AnnaleighUK

      Go and see the Wallace Collection – it’s a bit off the beaten track but it’s a lovely museum. The Royal Academy, they have good art stuff. And if you want something a bit different, check out Box Park up in Shoreditch, lots of little trendy shops. I’d also recommend a night time walk along the South Bank. London is so pretty lit up. Plus there’s a fab collection of street food stalls outside the South Bank Centre.

      Reply
    4. Kate in Scotland

      I think the Harry Potter is at the British Library? I’ve mentioned it here before, but I went on an architecture tour at the Barbican which is my favourite thing that I’ve done in London recently. Walk along the South Bank, Borough Market, pop in to Southwark Cathedral is a nice wander. One time I went to St James’s Park to see the pelicans just because they’re in my favourite poem (Immigrant by Fleur Adcock). When I was in London a couple of weeks ago I went for a walk along Regent’s Canal starting near King’s Cross, there is also a little wildlife garden near there that my friend recommended (Camley Street Natural Park) and the Wellcome and the Crick Institute which have some more unusual sciency exhibitions.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        My daughter wanted to go to the British Library decades ago when we were in London for Christmas and I thought it was a weird idea — it turned out to be amazing. They have things like Guttenberg Bibles and original Magna Cartas on display. Just fascinating place. And a pretty fair cafe for lunch.

        Reply
        1. Elizabeth West

          I LOVE that place. I did research there in 2015 for Secret [POS] Book and I had to get a reader pass to access the newspaper collection. It’s long past its expiry date (April 2016), but I refuse to take it out of my wallet. Nerd cred, don’t ya know. :D

          Reply
    5. Kate in Scotland

      Do you like beer? If so, the Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell is a quirky old place (building from 1720) with great beer – only open weekdays though.

      Reply
    6. caledonia

      The newly opened Postal Museum looks fun!
      I visit Foyles, the Daunt Bookshop in Marylebone (gorgeous stained glass at the back), there is also the very charming book barge at King’s Cross called Word on the Water and the London Review Bookshop has books and cake – what’s not to love?

      Reply
    7. Megan

      I just went to London a month or two ago with my sister, and my favorite things were Leavesden studios (which has a bunch of the props and sets they used to film Harry Potter) and a verger guided tour of Westminster Abbey. Leavesden tickets sell out pretty quickly I think, at least in summer, but we got tickets through trip advisor or something with included bus transportation from the Victoria coach station, so those might still be available. Also really enjoyed the plays we went to, including Harry Potter, but be warned that the plot isn’t great.

      Most of what we did was the regular touristy stuff – the one thing that wasn’t was scarf weaving, which was a fun change of pace. It was the London cloth company in Epping, and it was offered through air bnb experiences.

      Reply
    8. Lily Evans

      I’ve definitely recommended this on here before, but if you like walking tours I highly recommend Undiscovered London’s tours! The two tours I went on with them was one of my favorite things I did when I was in London.

      Reply
    9. Anono-me

      The most unexpected (someone else’s idea) thing that I really enjoyed was a “Jack the Ripper” walking tour of London.

      Reply
    10. Parenthetically

      I really like walking around markets. Ropewalk is nice, and it’s such fun to do the Bermondsey beer mile of a Sunday morning! We did the cruise down the Thames to Hampton Court and it was so cheap and relaxing and fun. Lantana in Fitzrovia is down a really quiet lane and has a cool covered outdoor seating area.

      Reply
    11. Artemesia

      On a trip to London years ago for Christmas, my son put the John Soanes Museum on our list. It is the home of a collector and an architect from the time of Christopher Wren, who has his collections plus architectural drawings on display. It was extremely interesting. It is small and I think you have to arrange tickets/reservations ahead, but it was very cool.

      The British Museum is of course an absolute must. The first time I took my daughter there, she was 12 and I have a picture of her somewhere standing next to the Rosetta Stone which was just sitting out on the floor with other artifacts. Now it is encased in a plexiglass case. The Elgin Marbles and other loot from antiquity are beautiful displayed.

      Reply
    12. Fake old Converse shoes

      Matt Grey and Tom Scott made a couple of videos about non touristic places to visit in London, please check their Youtube channel. The V&A Museum has a stunning cafeteria, which has nice spots for book reading, although I can’t remember if it’s quiet enough.

      Reply
      1. Ramona Flowers

        I’m going to have to disagree on the V&A cafe. It’s overpriced as all hell and they were terrible when we asked about ingredients due to my husband having an allergy – culminating in two staff standing there talking and pointing at him and they wouldn’t just give us the damn ingredients list to look ourselves. I’d give it a miss. Good museum though.

        Reply
        1. Kate in Scotland

          An amazing space though – I’d say it’s worth having a cuppa there just for the surroundings. I enjoyed the ‘Designing the V&A’ architecture/history tour (which is free).

          Reply
    13. Bagpuss

      The Harry Potter exhibition is at the British Library. It’s sold out at weekends but there’s availability if you can do a week day. (And yes, the HP Play is lots of fun.)

      There is an exhibition about the Scythians at the BM which is supposed to be very good (I haven’t seen it yet, but friends have said it’s very good)

      If you haven’t been before, try the Sir John Soane museum, and maybe Leighton House. The Grant Museum of Zoology is interesting, lot of Victorian exhibits.

      Enjoy your trip.

      Reply
    14. Thursday Next

      I haven’t done this, but have you done any of the towns/palaces that are a day trip out of London? Cambridge is less than 2h away by train (I’ve been there) and the campus is lovely for walking around and there are some nice churches/museums.

      Reply
      1. Elkay

        Cambridge is 50 minutes if you take the flyer from Kings Cross. To be honest though there’s more than enough to see in London without bothering with day trips. My preferences are the London Eye and the National Portrait Gallery. Others have mentioned walking tours which are always worth doing.

        Reply
      2. Parenthetically

        Oxford is cheap and easy to get to by bus as well. Did a lovely day trip there by myself last time I was in London. Lunch, pub, walking tour, plenty of time to browse in the shops and wander the laneways, and back in time for dinner with friends.

        Reply
    15. Elizabeth West

      I don’t know where you’re staying, but if you can get out to Greenwich (southeast London; take the DLR), you should visit the Cutty Sark. It’s a Victorian clipper ship in drydock that is meticulously restored and you can crawl all over it. In its heyday, it hauled tea and wool and you will learn a lot about tea. One of the coolest museums ever, and it’s very close to the Royal Observatory and the prime meridian in Greenwich Park. I know that’s a little touristy, but I’m a huge museum nerd.

      Greenwich Market–tons of fun stalls. And on King William Walk, not too far from the park and the Cutty Sark, is Goddards at Greenwich. Go there and have some pie and mash for lunch. It is so freaking delicious. :)

      Reply
    16. Rookie Manager

      I always try and find time to hang out at South Bank, there is always something going on and interesting wharf or two.

      Reply
    17. Visiting in December

      This is a very timely question as we are going to London in mid-December! We’ve always been there in summertime so I’m super excited to see everything decorated for the holidays. I’m stealing some of these wonderful ideas – we do have tickets to the HP British Museum exhibit. I’d love tips for the best Christmas market if anyone has thoughts on that (not to hijack the original post too much!) or any other special holiday things to see/do.

      Reply
    18. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

      We finally went to the Wellcome collection the other week (across the road from Euston station). It was pretty neat if a bit small, with lots of strange NSFW objects mixed in with random stuff like Charles Darwin’s walking sticks.

      Brixton market is fun for food.

      Reply
    19. HannahS

      I loved the Victoria and Albert museum. Heaven if you’re interested in furniture, clothing, and textiles. Hyde Park was so nice to walk in that I went twice. Camden Market was fun to walk around, but a bit generic, TBH.

      Reply
  36. Roseberriesmaybe

    I’m trying to control my irritation (jealousy?) at a friend who appears to float through life. Every time I talk to her she’s travelling or about to travel somewhere new, even though she doesn’t work. And myself and my partner haven’t travelled this year and work constantly (especially my partner) I’m pissed off tbh

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      Do minister to your own feelings and be kind to yourself.

      But don’t forget that we all have our hidden battles.

      Reply
      1. Fiennes

        Yes, this. I went through a few years of extensive travel (can work remotely), and a few friends made snide comments a la “must be nice, not having to worry about kids’ school” etc. I could only wonder how every single one of them had forgotten that I’d just ended a long, unsuccessful fertility battle, that I would a thousand times rather have had kids’ school to worry about. Their resentment of the trips I took to comfort/distract myself is, honestly, something that’s going to shadow those friendships forever.

        Try not to envy other people’s pleasures when you don’t know their pain.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Adding, where ever you go, there you are. Meaning we can’t out run our pain no matter how we try , the pain is still there.

          Roseberries, perhaps this friendship needs to go to the back burner for a little bit. It’s pretty normal to hang out with people who are doing things similar to what we do. And yeah, it can be a stresser if people’s lives our radically different from our own.

          As a much simpler example, I have a family member who HAS to go out EVERY day, even if she is not working at the moment. So she goes to the store and buys something, EVERY DAY. This is nothing I can afford, it’s nothing I can imagine me doing. This is a part of her and who she is. She can’t understand why I don’t need anything from the store today. It’s interesting to say the least.

          Reply
          1. Roseberriesmaybe

            Thanks Ramona, Fiennes, and NotSo NewReader :) She is a very cheerful and happy-go-lucky person, and I never see her stressed or doubtful about her path…it’s helpful to be reminded that all I see isn’t all that’s there

            Reply
    2. Caledonia

      There are always some of those people.

      But like Ramona says, there are other things likely going on.

      This year has been good to me for sure. But the previous 2 were awful. I am not very happily single. I am estranged from almost all my family.

      Or take my friend – job, long term partner, has been on several holidays this year but hates said job and her relationship definitely has some negatives (ie her partner refuses to move away or even move apartments).

      Therapy may help.

      Reply
    3. Temperance

      I feel this way about one of my SILs, who I absolutely hate. She grew up in a well-off household, and has always gotten everything she wants in life. She’s naturally super thin, has 2 sons in a family that prizes boys, etc.

      Booth always reminds me that a.) she’s a huge jerk and doesn’t have good friends, b.) his brother is miserable because he married said jerk just to have babies, and c.) we get to do more fun stuff than they do because she doesn’t have a good job.

      Reply
  37. AnonAndOn

    Has anyone here listened to or read the “Dirty John” series that the LA Times recently ran? I read it because it’s faster for me to read than to listen to a series of 40-something-minute long podcasts (I listened to the first one after the fact and prefer the written version because the podcast sounded hokey to me). That guy was a disgusting abuser, con artist, liar, and thief.

    I’ll link to it in a response to this post.

    Reply
        1. Temperance

          Oh there are NO WORDS for how I feel about that woman. I was angry enough to want to punch a wall after what she had done. Despicable.

          Reply
    1. Christy

      Holy goodness, I just read through all six of them. Yikes. I don’t think my 3x-divorced mom would fall for a guy like that but it’s still really scary to think about.

      Reply
    2. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.

      Yes, I just read through them a few days ago! That last installment … Whoa. I could sympathize with Debra at first because no one wants to believe that they’re being conned or that they’re a colossally bad judge of character, but after a while it was like, “Get a grip, lady.”

      Reply
      1. fposte

        I think between her pattern and her sister’s, there was something deeply needy happening in that family.

        But I liked how much the report focused on the agency of the younger women–not just Terra, but Jacqueline and of course the fourteen-year-old (fourteen-year-old!) who leapt to intervene.

        Reply
        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          They were raised by a woman who valued “forgiveness” above everything, including the murder of her daughter. I have many feelings about that woman.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I think that was a great item for the story, but I think there was more to the background that that, and I would have liked to hear more about Debra’s father; I wondered if Debra’s mother had been “forgiving” of abuse herself.

            Reply
        2. Fiennes

          Yes, agreed strongly on both those points. Debra was raised to believe that you forgive people (especially men) for ANYTHING or else you’re a bad person. Factor in her loneliness and his smooth game–it’s no wonder.

          The courage of that 14 year old in the last installment fills my heart.

          Reply
          1. fposte

            I thought the lifeguard experience might have been a factor–once you get the idea that it’s your job to take action, it seems more natural.

            Reply
        3. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.

          I was on the edge of my seat reading that last installment and I had tears come to my eyes when I read that the 14 year old girl ran out to save her. For a while I thought she was going to be the one to take him down! In the end, I’m glad anyone did. That picture of Terra in the hospital afterward is everything.

          Reply
    3. Rainy

      Yes, I’ve been reading them, after my fiance listened to them (we definitely have different preferences on media consumption–give me written material every time!). Pretty grotty.

      Reply
    4. D.W.

      I just finished this series, and I promise I’d heard it before now, but it was so stressful to hear. Poor daughters. I couldn’t even imagine the horror of it all.

      Reply
    5. Windchime

      I listened to the entire series in less than 24 hours. It was horrifying and I couldn’t understand why the mother kept taking him back, over and over again. The ending was less horrible than I thought it would be because I was afraid that the roles would be reversed as far as who was the victim and who was the victor.

      Reply
  38. Overeducated

    I read the first, interested to read others.

    I have to say, being married to someone who wears scrubs at work, that people who wear them outside of medical settings throw up red flags based on that alone. Destroys the entire point of them.

    Reply
    1. AnonAndOn

      That had my Spidey Sense going too. It was like he was trying hard to come off as a doctor. And he wore them to a fancy charity event, at that!

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        Two kinds of people where them outside work: new interns who are showing off and cons who are trying to give off the image of being doctors.

        Reply
        1. KAZ2Y5

          There is a third kind – night shift workers who go out to eat with friends before work and don’t have time to change before work!

          Reply
      2. nonegiven

        I knew a factory worker that wore them. She had previously worked in a hospital cafeteria. She found them comfortable, practical and economical for work.

        Reply
        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          I had a job as a cashier in a surgical supply store, and we wore scrubs. Since then, I’ve always said that, in the future, if we’re all wearing the same outfit (a la an old sci -fi film), it should be scrubs (as opposed to a silver jumpsuit). They are so comfortable and effortless.

          Reply
    2. Temperance

      I always just assume that the person has bad hygiene! I just think, eeew, that person is probably coated in bodily fluids. (Germaphobe).

      Reply
  39. Language Student

    Just popped my knee out of its socket earlier today (which, uh, I do not recommend). Apparently I’m hypermobile in my legs, which is how my gran says her hypermobility started and she gets injured just about every other minute, so looks like I have that to look forward to. At least I found out young but I’m starting to worry that all these near-constant injuries are inevitably in my future now. :/

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      My knees do that. Did you pop it back in yourself? Hurts like a mother for a couple days. I recommend buying a knee brace at walgreens/cvs/whatever and keeping it on hand – even if it’s just at home.

      Reply
      1. Language Student

        Yeah, it really wasn’t fun (and I may have swore loudly in public – luckily there weren’t any kids nearby). I’ll definitely get a knee brace, thanks! My gran showed me how to test if the cartilage is weak by circling my ankles, so hopefully using a knee brace when it starts seeming weak will stop it from happening again, at least in the short term. Thanks!

        Reply
        1. Cristina in England

          Can you describe this test? How do you know if the cartilage is weak? Is it a feeling or isn’t it something you can see in your movement?

          Reply
          1. Language Student

            Basically, you circle your ankles (both at the same time, even – or especially – if one is usually stronger than the other) clockwise five times, then counter clockwise five times, focusing on how your knee/the area around your knee feels (repeat if necessary). It’s supposed to be done daily. It’s a feeling so it’s really difficult to describe, but one knee just feels stronger than the other.

            Reply
    2. Shrunken Hippo

      Ouch, that always hurts. I have hypermobility too and the first thing to move was my left knee, shorty followed by my right knee. Mine decided to pop out during gym class when I was in high school. It was an extremely quiet moment when it first decided to pop out and the sound echoed which made it feel much worse. I’ve learned to get good knee braces and figure out which movements make them shift more than others. For the last 10 years they might have slipped out maybe a dozen times. Once you know about it and talk with a doctor it is much easier to control.

      Reply
      1. Language Student

        Yep, left knee here too. It’s happened once before now, a couple years ago, so looks like this’ll be a semi-regular occurrence. I’m glad you’ve found ways to control it better – that gives me hope! Thanks for sharing. :)

        Reply
        1. Jukeboxx32

          One of mine likes to slip out when it’s bent, think kneeling or squatting. Instead of just straightening out the leg to “pop” it back in (which hurts like a mudder), try leaning to one side and slowly lifting the ankle toward your body until it slides back into place.

          Reply
    3. Lily Evans

      In one of my dance classes we were having a conversation about hypermobile people and the teacher recommended talking to a doctor or a physical therapist as early as you can to try to counteract the problems that come up with it. There’s no magic fix or anything, but they can teach you exercises to try to keep things in check.

      Reply
        1. Reba

          Yes! I sought PT for my knees and that is where I learned that I am hypermobile — though not as severe as what it sounds like you are facing. We ended up doing a course of exercises to strengthen the muscles around the vulnerable joints. Sort of have to keep it up for life but it’s been very helpful.

          Reply
    4. Sylvan

      Do you have any opportunity to go to an orthopedic clinic or see a doctor? You really don’t want to leave this untreated, even if you pushed the bone back into its correct position without doing any unusual damage. Good medical care now can help you prevent this happening again later.

      Reply
      1. JD

        My doctor said not much I can be done minus a good knee brace. Some specific work outs help but I broke me femur years ago and am simply always going to have issues that will eventually require new knees and hips.

        I did myself in big time last night and I can barely walk today. :(

        Reply
  40. Rilara

    Not sure if anyone would remember me at this point, but I posted a few weeks ago about moving to Massachusetts a few weeks ago and needing some advice on living here vs Florida.

    1St of all, thanks to everyone who commented! I am ended up getting a nice coat from LL Bean and snow boots from Sorel, although with this weather I don’t think I’ll need it for a while :D I just started a new job a couple of weeks ago, so when I get paid I plan to get the rest of the smaller things you all recommended.

    Just out of curiosity, how do people up north usually feel about winter time? A lot of people I talk to tend to go on and on about how dreary and awful the winter is here. Is the winter here really that frustrating every year, or are people just overdoing it with the doom and gloom because I’m from Florida? If I’m being honest, talking about how bad winter is is actually starting to annoy me a bit!

    On another note, fall is beautiful here! I haven’t been somewhere with colorful leaves on a while and I love it.

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      I like winter. I grew up in the northeast. I love snow, it’s beautiful. Snow days are great! It’s cold but it’s fine if you’re properly dressed.

      To be fair, a lot of people in the northeast are medically low on vitamin D, and seasonal affective disorder is pretty common, so some people really do feel quite dreary in the winter. I have both those things but I also think it’s a lovely time of year.

      Shoveling takes getting used to, and if you aren’t used to driving in the snow please be careful! The northeast doesn’t shut down for snow the way that the south does. I remember living in Virginia and everything being shut down over a quarter inch of snow. Very different.

      Reply
    2. katamia

      It really depends. Not everyone handles frustration well, and some people have certain types of frustration they handle better than other types. Some people get frustrated, but they also enjoy the general vibe of winter or do a lot of winter activities or whatever, so it balances out. Some people just don’t get all that frustrated, comparatively speaking, with the trials and tribulations of winter. And then some people (I fall into this last category) spend winter in constant misery or rage because they loathe EVERYTHING about winter. And it can be really hard to tell which type of person you’re talking to.

      I grew up in an area with a much more mild winter than Massachusetts (although we did get snow/snow days and all that) but went to college in an area that would definitely be considered “up north.” And from my perspective, yeah, it was awful and I’ll never do it again (to the point where I’m unwilling to consider jobs in areas with that type of winter, and tbh my tolerance for it is decreasing with age). But other transplants enjoyed it.

      Reply
    3. Becca

      Welcome to MA! I just moved back here in August (just from RI, though). With the winters—the cold is manageable, I think. You just need to have gear, which it sounds like you do! I almost always wear fleece-lined tights/leggings under my pants once it gets close to/below freezing.

      The worst part about the winters is the snow—particularly if (a) you have to shovel, (b) you have to drive/park in it, or (c) transit you rely on is affected by it. And I suppose the grey weather does put a damper on things, but a good attitude going in helps. Good luck!

      Reply
    4. mandalee

      Glad you are settling in and enjoying fall up here! New England really does shine in the fall. I grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in a few other states before settling in Massachusetts 6 years ago, and fall here is even better than PA. Drives up to Vermont, NH, and Maine are gorgeous this time of year as well, and not a far trip.

      As for winter time, I think people enjoy complaining a lot about it, but I personally don’t think it’s terrible for the entire length of winter, but it depends what you can tolerate. I love snow and scarfs and boots during December, when everything is sparkly with lights and dressed up for the holidays, January can be downright freezing but the first big snow fall using happens then (in the Boston area anyway, other parts of MA get snow more frequently) and the novelty of snow is still nice. The amount of snow depends on the year ( Winter 2015 was a doozy- over 100 inches in 5 weeks) but on average isn’t terrible. I find February and March the only dreadful months. They can be very gray and the snow/mud seasons drags on much longer than you would like, well into April most years. Spring is beautiful up here but about 2 weeks long lol I moved from Maryland to Boston in April in 2011 and I left Maryland in shorts and a t-shirt and arrived in Boston to 50s with a freezing wind. So, coming from Florida, you may find you enjoy the change of seasons and weather or you might not, but definitely don’t anyone’s complaining sway you. Complaining about weather and especially winter is a sport up here.

      Reply
    5. FDCA In Canada

      People bond by complaining about winter. Really. It can be immensely frustrating–think of every single daily activity you have (going to work, going grocery shopping, going out with friends) and then multiply the difficulty level by anywhere from 2 to 5, depending on what you have to do. Street park? Shovel your driveway? Slog through a parking lot six inches deep in snow? It’s exciting for a little while, and then it gets downright exhausting. Since the weather is one of the very, very few things that absolutely everyone shares, experiences, and is affected by, it’s easy to talk about and to find common ground around.

      Winters definitely vary. People in more rural areas who are into winter activities (skidooing, winter camping, snowshoeing) might complain less, while people in urban areas who love patio weather in the summer might complain more. It depends totally on who you’re talking to and what the weather is like.

      Reply
    6. anon24

      I hate winter. It’s always dark, always cold, the world is dead and grey, and I always have to be bundled up and inside. For 6 months every year :( I also get really awful seasonal depression so feeling crappy 6 months out of the year takes a long term toll on a person. My seasonal depression started early this year, a couple weeks ago. I will now be feeling awful about myself and about life until April or May, depending on the weather. And I hate snow. I hate being in it, shoveling it, but I wouldnt mind driving in it if other people weren’t such idiots about it. I also hate working in it. My last job was all outside which I loved but we were not allowed to wear snow gear (company policy, we had the same exact uniform for 95 degrees F and 5 degrees F) I hope to move south in a few years.

      My parents on the other hand love the winter and stare at me with horror anytime I complain, so YMMV

      Reply
    7. Red

      I love the winter. I love long sleeves and jackets and boots, I feel so much less exposed that way. I vastly prefer snow to rain, and I LOVE the lack of humidity.

      I’m from Buffalo NY btw, so we get lake effect snow and all that.

      Reply
    8. Zathras

      People are playing it up because you recently moved from Florida. In my experience (I grew up here), between locals the complaints tend to cluster more around specific bad weather events, until late February/all of March when everyone is sick of being cold. In late winter we can get a lot of gross “32 degrees and sleeting” weather right when everyone is looking forward to warmer weather. But people love to show off and tell their weather horror stories to people they perceive as weather greenhorns.

      Reply
    9. Tris Prior

      I am in Chicago and I hate winter. I would hate it less if we weren’t still expect to function, get to work on time despite the roads all having gone to hell overnight, etc. in snow and ice and below-zero temps – I always get so jealous of cities farther south that shut down when it snows. If I could just stay inside and make soup and hot tea and be cozy, I wouldn’t mind that nearly as much.

      I don’t like to be cold (and we get COLD here, I will never forget that -50 windchill day we had once), I don’t have a car so I rely on public transport, which becomes more unreliable as the roads get worse (though in my experience the el is usually more or less OK), and in my old neighborhood NO ONE shoveled or salted, EVER, so the walk to the el was an exercise in trying not to fall on your ass and break something. As is the walk to the grocery store; there were times when we just had to skip it because there was no way our granny cart was going to make it over those huge wads of snow and ice on every sidewalk. I’ve since moved, to a neighborhood with more houses and fewer apartments, so here’s hoping people shovel more here.

      I do think that people work hard, maybe harder than they need to, to impress upon transplants from the South that winter here is seriously No Joke, frostbite is A Thing, and yes, you need to wear a hat and invest in decent footwear. I had a co-worker who’d moved up here from Orlando. His idea of a winter coat was….. let’s say not anything that would actually protect him from frostbite. I was genuinely worried about him when it got to be below zero.

      Reply
    10. Lily Evans

      Most people I know hate winter. But not enough to ever move away, just enough to complain about it all the time. The only people I know who love winter are the outdoorsy types who love winter sports. I feel like in general New Englanders just complain a lot about everything, though.

      Reply
    11. NicoleK

      I’m in the upper midwest. And it can be “that bad” if you’re not into winter activities. And it’s especially terrible by February cause you’re so ready for winter to be gone.

      Reply
    12. Not So NewReader

      Notice how the complainers do not move to another climate.

      Some people love to complain.
      Some people actually have a horror story that still upsets them.
      Some folks like winter sports.
      And some people appreciate how life slows down a little bit in the winter.
      It’s a mixed bag of reactions. I don’t like winter that much but I could not live where I had summer all year, so there is that.

      Reply
    13. Kathenus

      I think a lot of it depends on your perspective. If you spend time dreading winter or focusing on only the bad aspects of it, sure you might hate it. I love it myself, in spite of the occasional problems. Fall and winter are by far my favorite times of the year.

      I hate much of the summer. If it’s above 85-90 degrees, and where I am that’s a mild day certain times of the year, I’m really miserable. But recently I realized I was making it worse on myself by dreading it. The anticipation of the heat and humidity made me unhappy even before it was hot and humid! I was doing that to myself. So while I’ll never like that weather, I’ve shifted my mindset and stopped dwelling on it, and it has helped me get through the summer – less miserable anyway :)

      Reply
    14. Artemesia

      I moved from the South to a big Northern City when I retired. I like winter. If you have the down coat, the hat, the gloves, the warm boots than anything above about 15 F is fine. Of course being retired, I don’t need to get out in it when it is terrible, but I do most of my shopping on foot in winter as well as summer (and this morning the farmer’s market in the pouring rain).

      I hated summer in the south as it was humid and pollen filled and the sky was never blue — always white and hazy. We didn’t live on the coast so we didn’t have the compensation of the beach.

      Fall is beautiful and long in the north as is spring; it is nice having seasons.

      Reply
    15. Reba

      I really enjoyed winter when we lived in MA (caveat–this did not include the Snowpocalypse!). I love winter weather with the right gear. When we visited Norway we heard the philosophy that “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”

      We are nature people and the best of winter was all of the birds. We lived by the coast and got to see buffleheads (my faves), eiders, and unusual ducks regularly, not to mention eagles and osprey.

      But yes, weather is such an evergreen topic of conversation, especially with someone new to the area! I hope you continue to enjoy the seasonal changes.

      Reply
    16. Courtney

      Depends on the person- some people want to whine to the new person, and some people genuinely hate winter. I live in Michigan and I freaking loathe it. It’s dark and gloomy and cold and there’s ice and waking up early to shovel and I hate it with a passion. I am not generally someone who would share that with someone who just moved here, but you’re asking. Many people do like to go for the dramatics regardless – it’s like the high number of people who love to tell pregnant people awful stories about labor and childbirth.

      I should add that no, it’s not that bad EVERY year. The gray, gloomy sky is an every year thing that I don’t love, but my main hatred comes from shoveling and driving on bad roads. And some years aren’t too bad as far as actual snowfall goes.

      Reply
    17. blackcat

      If you are in Boston, I think there is still residual doom and gloom about winter after Feb ’15. It was a slow moving natural disaster that did billions in economic damage. It was really, really, really awful. The most snow ever in a season, and 90% of it came in 5 weeks, which meant there was little melting between storms. And I think many of us have sorta felt like we could just do without winter completely for a few years after that! I’ve done five winters here (originally from CA, so 55 degrees and rain was “winter” when I was a kid), and only that one bothered me. I do take vitamin D Sept-March, which I find helps a lot with my mood in the winter.

      I find most people enjoy winter, at least January, with there being more complaints about the dark (generally in December) than the cold. And people complain when it is still 15 degrees in March or snowing in April, but that’s more just wanting the seasons to change. It’s just how people generally enjoy Thanksgiving or pre-Thanksgiving snow, and will gripe about 75 degree days in October (for realz, my neighbor was just complaining about the forecast high tomorrow).

      A lot of people love winter here. Some are “meh” on it. I have found few people who hate it (or did prior to 2015), I think because they mostly move away. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, and it’s hard to not have some of their joy over snow forts and snowball fights rub off on me (it also means I have a supply of youngsters I can pay to deal with my driveway, which makes me less frustrated by the snow).

      Reply
    18. M is for Mulder

      I think upper New England winters are better than winters near the freeze/thaw line, like heading into southern NY and PA. I’ve lived in both climates, and when it stayed cold enough for the snow to just pile up, that was one thing. When it would melt into slush and refreeze into ice, that was something else altogether. The border of cold/warm is the worst part, IMO.

      Reply
    19. IntoTheSarchasm

      I live in Northern Lower Peninsula Michigan, we get lake effect snow and some great winds off Lake Michigan. I don’t do winter sports but I don’t mind winter, there is something exciting about the change of the seasons. For us, it is about preparation, making sure we have someone to plow the driveway, shovels, coats, etc. all ready to go. Travel can be difficult and mess up your plans, but being in a cozy house when a snowstorm is blowing is a great feeling. You will have to cope with the aftermath, but watching it happen is pretty cool.

      Reply
    20. nep

      I can’t stand winter — hate being out in the cold, hate the treacherous driving (when most people out there continue to drive like jerks), hate shoveling esp when temps really low (love the workout of shoveling but concerned for heart, fingers, and toes), hate clearing snow off the cars. I’m not keen on using the word hate but it really applies here.

      Reply
        1. the gold digger

          Yes. It’s dark when I leave for work. It’s dark when I come home. My workspace is in the middle of a low-ceiling building with almost no windows (converted factory and not the cool, downtown kind). We do our own shoveling, which means if it snows at night, we have to shovel before I leave for work – and we have a long driveway that is bounded on both sides by houses and at the end by a fire hydrant, which means we very quickly run out of places to put the snow, which means carrying shovelsfull of snow to the yard. The plow always comes after we have shoveled and throws plow poop into the driveway, requiring further (harder) shoveling.

          It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s dreary. Doing anything takes ten times longer. Even just changing clothes to work out at lunch is a pain the neck because I have to have so many more layers than I do in the summer, including – yes, I will say it – PANTYHOSE. Because there is no way I am having bare legs in the winter. I already have a space heater and a blanket at my desk and my personal brand at work is, “That Lady Who Is Always Wearing Her Winter Coat.”

          I. Hate. Winter.

          The second my husband is dead, I am moving south.

          Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        For nep or anyone who hates clearing snow off of cars, you might like to consider getting something like this snow broom. (Link in reply below.)
        My husband bought it and I thought what a waste of money. Well I am eating those words. I love it and I give them as gifts. It has changed my morning routine on snowy days. I can clear a car in a few minutes and be on my way. At work, I can quickly clear off someone else’s car for them (usually for older people when I know the snow is giving them a rough time).It’s no effort on my part with this thing.

        My link is not the one I bought, it’s just to show what I am talking about. I bought my husband’s at a car dealership. It. will. not. wear. out. Generally, the bigger the broom part the quicker you can clear your car. If you have a choice pick the bigger broom.

        Reply
    21. msroboto

      Winter can be cold and snowy and all that can be not too fun.

      Or you can choose to embrace it and learn to snowboard or ski. Suddenly you will be looking forward to cold weather / snow. There are small places that you can learn at that probably people that are advanced would scoff at but learn at those places and then as you get better you can advance to the bigger places.
      This could be a good way to meet people too.

      Did you know that some runners do snow shoe racing in the winter? It’s a thing. A weird thing to me but it’s done.

      Reply
    22. Overeducated

      I miss winter in New England! (And fall and summer, though I feel like spring is mostly a long cold wet letdown.) I miss it so much I am applying for jobs to move back north.

      Many of the relocated Texans and Californians I know in New England are pretty miserable about the weather, though, so I think there’s no objective perspective here. It’s all what you like and what you’re used to.

      Reply
    23. SnarkyLibrarian

      I’d love to hear an update from you once you’ve gotten more winter experience! I’ve lived my whole life in Florida and I dream of moving somewhere that experiences real seasons. The sun is so…aggressive here. I think I’d enjoy somewhere with LESS sunlight, as weird as that sounds. But I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle real cold. I hope you have a great fall/winter!

      Reply
  41. Rilara

    I just posted but I realized I had another question that wasn’t related to my previous one.

    How did other people here adjust to grad school? I just started a grad program (in engineering if that’s relevant) last month and I’ve found that I’m really struggling with the homework. The homework is significantly more challenging than in undergrad, and it’s making me a little worried that I want cut it, partly because it doesn’t seem like anyone else in my classes is struggling. I’ve always done well in school, and in undergrad that was true most of the time as long as I studied. If anyone else was a similar student, I’m curious to hear about your experience!

    Reply
    1. Julia

      I am in grad school right now and never studied much as a kid. That said, my undergrad included a lot of reading and papers, so I’m not completely unused to it, although it’s been a while. I definitely find grad school with my current courseload (seven classes plus thesis prep) more work than a 9-5, even though I technically also spend some time at school talking to my classmates instead of working.

      I’m not really sure what to do tell you, though, because I haven’t been this stressed out in quite a while, but eating healthily, trying to get in at least some exercise like walking and maybe a short meditation every day to battle anxiety?

      Are you sure everyone else is breezing through, or does it just seem to you like they are? Because my classmates are all as stressed out as I am, and some of them have to work on top of this. And some of us are definitely cutting corners by not reading every article we’re supposed to read..

      Reply
    2. Sarah

      I don’t have a graduate degree, but I am an coordinator for a top-20 graduate Engineering program. Please email your advisor and let them know how you’re feeling. I say “email” because they might then connect you with a different person in your department you can set an appointment with. (For me it would be the program Director, who is also faculty, and can speak more to the details of the curriculum) My Director has said about a few students that they wish students had come to them earlier, when they began struggling. I know you’re probably afraid of seeming like you can’t keep up, but don’t be! You’ll come off as someone who is dedicated to succeeding, and administrators will look on that much more kindly than someone who comes in after they’ve bombed their courses. It’s not necessarily that you’re looking for an immediate outcome, but that you want to stay on their radar as trying to succeed, and picking up any constructive advice that you can. Best wishes, and hang in there!

      Reply
    3. Zathras

      I suspect more of your classmates are struggling than you think. People hold themselves to different standards – you sound like someone who puts pressure on themselves to do well. I am like that too and this was always hard for me to understand, but there are people who really don’t care at all about their grade as long as they pass. So they may seem less stressed about the class even though they are not doing as well as you.

      I have an M.Eng and I graduated wishing I had taken more advantage of internships and opportunities for practical experience. I was working 20 hours a week in retail to bring in some money and kept it because I liked my coworkers and the schedule was flexible. In retrospect I would have been better off quitting and either getting my time back for studying, or spending the time working in a job or internship relevant to my field. It worked out OK but in my first job out of the program I was super underpaid because I did not have much relevant practical experience. Once I got 2 years experience I switched jobs for a 50% salary increase.

      Also, to be brutally honest, I was almost certainly clinically depressed for most of grad school just because I was not sleeping anywhere close to enough. Please do everything you can not to do that to yourself. There was one semester that I dropped to part time just because of course availability, and I suddenly felt SO MUCH BETTER just because I was no longer chronically sleep deprived.

      Reply
      1. Zathras

        Oh, also, something that I caught onto too late coming from a non-technical undergrad degree – in many cases if you go to office hours / study sessions, the TAs basically give away the homework solutions. If you’re not going, the people around you may getting better homework grades with less effort just because they go. To do well on the exams and really grasp the material you still need to spend time studying the solutions to make sure you understand them, but you waste less time struggling. I still found it was best to try the problem before going, but I eventually learned not to spend hours on a problem that stumped me.

        Reply
    1. Candy

      Didn’t see the pills letter, but on the whole I find her Prudie column a bore (and I loved the toast!) Her answer to everything is to see a therapist. Which is totally valid advice, but everyone knows they can see a therapist! But because of time or money or whatever reason the OP is writing to her to act as their therapist for a minute so maybe try offering some actual advice instead of pawning them off on someone else? Not to mention, it’s super boring to read

      Reply
    2. Mallory Janis Ian

      I feel like, as long as I have Hax for general life advice and AAM for work and general life advice, I don’t really need any other columnists. I used to read a wide variety of advice columns for edification/entertainment, but Carolyn and Alison have ruined me for anyone else.

      Reply
      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I just read my own post and realized it may sound dismissive of your original question, which is not what I intended. /foot in mouth

        Reply
    3. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.

      I mostly enjoy her column. All advice columnists miss the mark sometimes and she’s new, so it’s probably hard to judge when something is beyond the scope of your capabilities. My favorite advice blog is Captain Awkward.

      Reply
      1. Casca

        I visit CA, but I find it too repetitive to go regularly. I was also very distraught by a guest columnist’s advice once so I’m weary because that should not have been endorsed (the “as a non-disabled person, it’s your duty to carry the pwd up the stairs” WTF??)

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Yeah, that one was, I think, a legendary wrong-foot. More recently there was a comment stream about how adoptees should be grateful, and that was the reason to adopt older kids. Nobody pushed back or even batted an eye at that, and I took a horrified break from the place.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            What?! I missed that one.
            Oy vey. I still remember the poor guy who wrote in with pretty clear social anxiety and was told he should worry about talking to women.
            The problem with CA is that when something is wrong, it doesn’t tend to get called out. Or if it does, it’s always countered by a “your privilege makes you think that” argument.

            Reply
          2. Sylvan

            “Adopt older kids, they’ll be more grateful for it?” What?

            I’ve been thinking about checking out this column because I keep hearing good things about it. Maybe not? What do you think?

            Reply
        2. Sylvan

          I don’t think that specific guest columnist, Elodie, has written any guest articles for CA since then. (I just deleted a paragraph-long complaint about that advice from this comment, lol.)

          Reply
    4. Crafty

      I love Hax because even when I don’t see things from the same perspective, she always cuts to the heart of the issue and makes me think. Her insights have had actual, concrete benefits in my life. Same for Cheryl Strayed and AAM and Captain Awkward. I’m just not getting that with Mallory. I wanted to love her and I think her writing is great! But she misses important details a lot and takes too long to get to the point. Ive never started with a columnist from the beginning though, does it take time?

      Reply
    5. fposte

      I find her writing entertaining, but I think she’s at her best when she’s had more time to consider her answers, so the online chats are hit-or-miss depending on how close they hit to her wheelhouse.

      Reply
        1. Rainy

          I certainly don’t. When I’ve gone back and read stuff from earlier in her run it was okay, but by the time I was reading her Prudence stuff she’d turned into a disgusting rape apologist constantly whining about how girls these days were trying to make her sons into rapists.

          Reply
            1. Ann O.

              Doesn’t she have both a son and a daughter?

              She definitely turned into a rape apologist by the end of her tenure as Dear Prudence.

              Reply
                1. Rainy

                  Maybe? I remember there being a pic of Emily Yoffe next to it.

                  Regardless, she *is* a rape apologist, based on a lot of her column answers over the last two years of her tenure as Prudie.

                2. Elizabeth H.

                  I don’t feel that she is a “rape apologist.” That’s incredibly strong language for what is just an opinion. I like her writing about sexual assault and college drinking culture.

    6. Rainy

      I loved the Toast of course, but honestly her advice is not great. The stuff that’s in her bailiwick tends to be great, but there’s not much in her current bailiwick, and when she ventures outside, her advice is actually pretty bad. (THE DOG LETTER OMG)

      Reply
      1. blackcat

        Yeah her pets advice is bad. I was pissed about her advice on the sister with cats letter this week.

        Anyone, including family, who suggests that I get rid of my cat or keep him outdoors (where he would totally get run over) doesn’t get to stay at my house. All the Nopes. I expect severely allergic people to decline invitations to my house since they know the cat is part of the deal (I always make this clear). I have friends who I love who are allergic, and if they want to visit me, I suggest hotels and AirBnB. They understand this is not a slight, and I am not at all bothered if people decline to come over/stay with me based on the cat. The cat is a member of my family.

        I also view people who refused to even occasionally give kids allergy meds ridiculous. I am allergic (not severely) to my own damn cat. I was allergic to my family cat growing up, and my mom chose to medicate me rather than get rid of the cat (her decision was also informed by the fact that I am mildly allergic to nearly everything in the world, so unless I stayed away from all dust/pollen/grass, I would need daily meds anyways). Allergy meds are safe for all but a very few people, particularly if taken only short-term.

        Treating that letter writer as reasonable was… not reasonable.

        Reply
        1. Call me St. Vincent

          My goodness I was so angry at that column! Basically, the only reason she agreed it was okay reasoning by the sister was because the dog could be eaten by a coyote since there are coyotes in the area? How about because you wouldn’t shut a child out of their house for an entire weekend because it’s child abuse? That’s the animals’ home! If someone asked me to leave my dog outside for an entire weekend, I would tell them not to bother expecting to visit me ever again.

          Reply
          1. blackcat

            I mean, I don’t always buy the “what if it were a child” analogy. Pets are pets, they aren’t human. But they can still be beloved family members–they’re not just possessions!

            My most baffling “people think animals are possessions” moments have always happened around horses. I guess because they’re less cuddly/have more of a working history, people don’t think of them as beloved members of a family. When I was a kid, my mom picked up a rescue pony to keep along with the 4-5 horses we had at any given time. We kept them at a stable just around the corner (so not on our property, but very, very close, so sometimes we’d bring the horses into our backyard for a day–our property was legally too small to keep them there). Once the pony was healthy, this woman kept bugging my mom to sell her the pony for her daughter. I remember her being SO persistent! Saying things like “There’s no way you’ll get anything near what I’m offering for her.” She seriously did not get that that was not the point. I remember my mom retorting, “She’s not a car, and she’s not a toy for your daughter to play with until she gets bored. I’m keeping this animal until she dies.” And we did. Because the pony wasn’t a toy for a child, she was an old, sweet, severely abused animal who deserved a comfortable, loving home in her old age. And we gave her that, including lots of attention from our cat. Like any member of my family, that pony loved cats.

            Reply
    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I’ve been so disappointed in her Dear Prudence.

      It’s repetitive and uninsightful. I’m not sure why someone would go to her for advice.

      Reply
    8. Artemesia

      She was terrible on this. When she doesn’t know something she just blathers along with her ‘common sense’ dispensing inaccuracies about FMLA in this case and a total cluelessness about workplace norms in others. That letter was particularly badly handled, but she blows pretty much every workplace letter. And the WaPo’s workplace columnist seems pretty inexperienced as well.

      Reply
    9. Florida

      Sometimes I feel like an old soul. I miss Ann Landers (who I read in high school/college). It’s been more than a decade since she died, but I thought she was practical and straightforward. I also like Carolyn Hax for the same reason.

      At first I liked Mallory Ortberg – she was a breathe of fresh air compared to Emily Yoffe. But really her advice is terrible. Sometimes I wish she would just say, “Talk to a therapist.” Because if the person follows the advice that Ortberg gives, they are going to make their life worse and require significant therapy.

      The prize for the worst advice columnist goes to Miss Manners. The trio that writes it focuses more on being snippy than answering the questions. And really if your are writing about manners, snippy is probably the worst persona you can have. Maybe she should try for gracious.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        In her heyday, Miss Manners was wonderful–occasionally acerbic but incisively intelligent and hospitably humorous. It’s not the same as it was when it was just Judith Martin.

        Reply
      2. Jean (just Jean)

        If you are an old soul I am positively ancient because I read Ann Landers in elementary and junior high school as well as high school/college. (I started reading right after she presided over the final flareup of The Meatloaf Recipe Controversy.) She was a gem–a breath of fresh air but also full of old-fashioned appreciation for hard work and self-discipline. If she didn’t originate the phrase MYOB she certainly popularized it. She also created “wake up and smell the coffee” and The Ann Landers Question for dissatisfied spouses (“Would your life be better or worse without him?”).

        Okay, I’m going back to the Dinosaur age now. If anyone needs me I’ll be chipping away at a stone tablet.

        Reply
    10. NaoNao

      I didn’t see the “pills” letter but I’m amused by some of the situations. I actually didn’t like “Old Pru”, I hated her need to make puns or wordplay out of sometimes serious situations and I didn’t like the vague way she dispensed advice, that made it hard to actually apply (“Your husband needs to have a serious think about life”)
      I like Slate a lot and read about 30% of any given “paper”, and I’ll only click on the most outrageous situations, because I know her advice will be very dry and literal.
      My absolute favorite advice columnist used to be Cary Tennis, but as I got older, I found him a bit…unrealistic? Some of his stuff is great, others he kind of uses the question as a prompt to riff on life. Not super helpful.
      I religiously read “Ask Polly” at The Cut (and read her “Awl” stuff too, it’s great). She goes on tangents and she sometimes references Tennis in what seems to be a negative way, which seems odd, because to be frank, she’s the female Tennis! (And her womanhood and motherhood factor heavily in her answers).
      I devoured all of Cheryl Strayed and read a lot of Hax. Captain Awkward too. There’s some good stuff out there. NuPru is like a solid “C’ in my book.

      Reply
  42. Keladry of Mindelan

    Were you in Girl Scouts as a kid? I’m a Daisy Girl Scout leader, with 12 six-year-olds to wrangle and find activities for. What were the things that you liked/didn’t like/wanted to do more of? It’s a lot of fun, but everything has to be done in 5-9 minute chunks because their attention spans are so short and they get the wiggles.

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      I was, though at that age, it was called “Brownies”. Not sure if they still call it that. I do remember being in Girl Scouts a few years later, but only remember things vaguely (I had a lot of issues in childhood that I think marred my memories of some of these things. Nothing with my family, no worries!). I think I mainly remember camping trips.

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        IN the US Daisies are the younger group before Brownies. I had a scout troop of 10 and 11 year olds It is hard to plan things. Our biggest successes were camping trips. For meetings we tried to have craft projects. One thing we did was write and illustrate poems and make a book that everyone got a copy of. With very young kids I’d probably be planning nature studies and crafts.

        Reply
    2. Language Student

      I was a Rainbow (age 5-7), Brownie (7-10) and then a Guide (10-14), so it’s similar. I really loved doing arty things that I could take home and show off – seasonal stuff was great! Is there any kind of “badge earning” or group system with Daisy Scouts? I really enjoyed doing something towards earning badges, and doing something competitive that earned my group buttons (we used buttons for points). Activities about the local area, or involving helping the local area in some way were good, too – I remember enjoying feeling like part of something. Physical/funny/loud songs were fun (the type with specific moves or where you basically end up screaming – understandably, we weren’t allowed to do that often) and physical stuff in general was good, whether it was more sporty or games like blink murder.

      Reply
      1. dawbs

        daisys ae in that rainbow age range–and there are definitely badges.
        There are petals (for your daisy) and badges for the front–as well as ‘unoffical’ badges for all sorts of stuff (so, for example, our troop does the local holiday light parade. If you went, you get a patch that can go on the back of your vest/smock)

        The lessons were a pretty good mix of ‘big picture’ things (lets talk about honesty) and nitty gritty (if there’s an emergency, there’s some information you need to know. Do you know your phone number and address) that’s age appropriate.

        My daughter just aged into brownies :)

        Reply
    3. Elkay

      Google for Interest Badges. Lots of units run them in the UK as a fundraiser but the resources are always free online. I use them with my older Guides all the time. They’ve been a lifesaver because they love to earn badges.

      Reply
    4. Chris

      I always remember that I wanted to do more practical activities.
      We seemed to do mostly art crafts when I was in the scouts, which was fun too, but I wanted to learn cool stuff like my friend’s brother in the boy scouts- how to tie knots, use a compass, make a potato battery (ok maybe not practical so much as cool looking)

      And now that coding has so many kid friendly options if I were a kid again I would love exploring that as well. A guy I used to work with did something with robots as a summer class in that age bracket and his class was always sold out/overbooked.

      Reply
      1. EddieSherbert

        +100!

        I was always sooo jealous of my brothers’ amazing trips and programs in Boy Scouts. I had zero interest in sewing, cooking, or arts and crafts.

        Reply
      2. dawbs

        This seems to be really troop dependent.
        My kid has been in daisies and has learned archery (as best a 7 year old can :) and some knots and knife safety (during which she cut herself :) –but some of the other local troops are much more ‘learn to sew’.

        Reply
    5. CAA

      I was a Girl Scout as a kid and a leader for my daughter’s troop from Daisy through Ambassador.

      For Daisies and Brownies we did a lot of outdoor running around games, often changing the theme to whatever we were working on. Something like tag can be modified so that each child is assigned to be an animal or plant in the food chain and the top “animal” has to catch the next one in the chain and hold hands, and so on until they’re all holding hands in a line. They also loved “steal the bacon” (sometimes we used themed words instead of numbers) and “human knot”. Any game that requires cooperation and doesn’t have a winner (and hence no loser who needs to be consoled) is good.

      My troop always really liked art projects (two of them make their living in art now), and when little they were especially fond of glitter glue and neon colored paint. We painted pots and then planted day lilies in them for Mother’s Day. We also painted hats and socks for one of the Brownie Try-Its.

      Also, tap your troop parents for their skills. We had one Mom who was a hobbyist photographer and one who was a veterinarian. My DH has a telescope so everyone got to look at Jupiter on one camping trip. The girls love it when their parent comes in and shares something with the whole troop.

      Reply
    6. dawbs

      for the day to day nitty gritty, tag in parent helpers as needed. I don’t have the time to be a troop leader, but our troop, for daisy and brownie, will have a spot for 2-5 parents to sign up to help–so I can’t commit to every week, but 1 time a month, being an extra set of hands/extra authority? absolutely! (I just saw a facebook post of “need more parents for tuesday”, and I can’t do tuesday, but I”m seeing if Grandma can–because that’s how we do it)

      Also dont’ hesitate to ask for other group buy-in, and parent buy in. I work at a science museum, so I’m always game to do a project w/ the kids–but I also can sometimes hook them up with the ‘hey, do you want an outing” stuff

      Reply
    7. Florida

      I always think field trips are cool. I’ve seen scouts take a backstage tour of the grocery store or fast food restaurant. Once when I was at the bank, there was a scout group taking a tour. I wanted to back in the vault too, but I’m pretty sure that would’ve gotten me arrested. Our USPS distribution center does scout tours.
      As an adult, I was in a program that went to the county facility where they makes street signs. That was great. I’m sure your city/county commissioner could arrange that for you.
      There are a million places you can go that are really just normal places, but if you get a backstage tour, then it is super neat. And remember that a backstage tour of a grocery store is not that interesting for adults, but kids have never seen a freezer that big.

      Reply
    8. Elizabeth West

      I was–all the way up to Cadette, but at that point all the other girls discovered boys and clothes and we disbanded the only troop. In Brownies from about age 7 on, we did a LOT of crafts. And cooking. Once we made butter from scratch. Oh, and doing this thing where we picked up autumn leaves and then ironed them in between sheets of wax paper. That was super fun.

      In Juniors, we did crafts and food too, but we also had pocketknives (!!!) and learned outdoor stuff and went camping. How to make a campfire, a Buddy Burner, and a little stove out of a coffee can. I was rubbish at tying knots, LOL. I got a kit with a book recently because I want to really learn it now. But I loved the outdoor and nature stuff the best–learning to identify trees, etc. Probably because I lived in the country and played in the woods so much.

      I guess taking them outside for short bursts would be fun. Spot squirrels, and birds, clouds, and stuff like that. I don’t have the handbook anymore or I’d look.

      Reply
    9. Colette

      I was a girl guide as a child, and have been a leader for … a lot of years. I like to try to introduce the girls to experiences they wouldn’t get otherwise. Bake bread (or pizza crust), go to a kids workshop at your local hardware store, go for a hike in the woods, go snowshoeing. Put up tents, make cookies in a jar, cook hot dogs over a fire.

      Reply
    10. JD

      We really liked our sewing crafts. My favorite were these towel pouches you tie around your waist for camping. You put it on when walking to the bathroom and it stores all your essentials. You fold a hand towel in thirds, sew a rope into into it to wrap around your waist, sew pocket for toothbrush, paste, etc. then you fold the top over so it almost looks like an apron. I feel like I am butchering this explanation. lo

      Reply
    11. Girasol

      I was a US scout from Brownie (youngest at the time, age 7) to Senior. As a young Brownie with a short attention span I could be kept on task with simple paper crafts, anything involving simple food prep that led to eating afterward, unstructured walks where we could play with things we found in nature, and simple active games where we might run around and scream our heads off. Speaking of which, one of our finest days was being on the “Cap’n Mitch Show,” one of those old TV shows where the host asks a dozen local children each child’s name and some humorous question to amuse the audience and intersperses that with short cartoons. The event was not, as we had imagined, on a real riverboat, but in a studio next to a wrestling ring. It was some compensation that we were allowed to stay for the filming of wrestling. I still wonder what that looked like on TV: two men mashing each other while eight uniformed Brownies screamed their heads off at ringside as though they had big money riding on the outcome.

      Reply
  43. Mimmy

    Our remodeling work is inching along. But now we’re really regretting our choice of contractor. The work is starting to look a little sloppy. The kitchen cabinets have all been mostly installed, but hubby noticed some visible problems, like a crooked drawer handle (the first and only one installed so far) and one cabinet that has drill holes because they’d inadvertently put it in the wrong place. My husband also noticed a spot in the hallway where they didn’t paint.

    I think part of the problem is that our contractor almost never has the same helper with him for more than a few days at a time. I guess this makes sense – you bring in one guy who has skills with painting and trim work, another guy who’s good with cabinets. Yet, it all just feels so random and haphazard. I have a feeling that once this is done, we’re going to find ourselves fixing some of the things that they messed up or forgot. It doesn’t help that they all speak little English. The main contractor speaks some English, but not very well.

    As I said last week, we went with this guy because he offered what we thought was good price to do THREE rooms whereas the other contractor we were looking at would’ve done just one room – the price was higher too. In hindsight, I do recall having some misgivings at such a low price, but no….being rather inept with these type of decisions, I trusted my husband’s judgment.

    *Sigh*

    Reply
    1. Mimmy

      Annnnnnd we just discovered that his licensed has been expired since March, with a status of “terminated” per our local consumer affairs division! I’m hoping the site just hasn’t been updated. Note to selves: Check for proof of licensing!

      Reply
        1. Mimmy

          That’s what we’re probably going to do. I think he’s due to come tomorrow. So glad I’ll be at work tomorrow – I’m nervous just thinking about it.

          Reply
    2. Kathenus

      This may not help with your project, but something someone told me about contractors/projects has really helped me have more realistic expectations. There are three main facets of a major project – price, quality, and time. You will almost never get more than two of these. So if you get good quality done quickly, you’ll pay more. If you pay less, you might get good quality but it takes forever; or it might be done quickly but lower quality. You see the point. I’ve found this to be so true in my experiences since then, and letting go of expecting all three aspects to be priorities has helped reduce my frustration. So you got a lower price, you probably will be sacrificing either some amount of quality, or how quickly the project is done. Decide what’s most important to you between these three, and let that help frame your selection of contractors in the future – or in discussions about your concerns with this one. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. Anono-me

        This is an immutable law of the universe. “Cheap, fast, good; Pick 2 and hope. ”

        Is there someone you know who is fluent in the contractor’s primary language and would be willing to help with a conversation about the quality of work you expect?

        Good luck Mimmy.

        Reply
    3. Dainty Lady

      I feel your pain. Or at least I will feel your pain whenever my husband and I get around to doing the work we want to do! There’s a local design-build firm that does exquisite work and is $$$$. But they are absolutely top notch. My husband wants to take their ideas and shop around and go for a less expensive contractor and I know for a fact that he will be annoyed at every tiny delay and every tiny less-than-perfect angle and every puff of dust left on the floor. So I’ve told him that we can’t do this until he retires and has ooo-gobs of time to oversee it and fuss about it, and I *won’t* be the person to complain about small problems. If he doesn’t want to pay for the excellent work up front, he can be the one to pay for it in supervision.

      Good luck, Mimmy.

      Reply
      1. Cheesehead

        I’m at the tail end of a kitchen renovatation. The contractor who we used before with just a few issues had many this time a around. Every time there is a problem he explains in a reasonable voice that I am the one who is being too picky. The kitchen floor tiles were installed unevenly. The first fix didn’t work. The second try worked somewhat not perfectly ( there are about 12 tiles still with uneven edges and that aren’t plumb with each other but I am living with it. Someone on his crew mismeasured and the stove is 3/4 of an inch he higher than the counter. It’s a slide in. The microwave above the stove was installed with about a foot clearance from the stove top. And has to be reinstalled. The is a built in piece that his carpenter made that is not squared but would have to be torn completely out to fix and that seems a little crazy to do that, so we are goi to live with it.
        And he just presented us with another bill for an additional 3,000 for the additional work. We paid above market rate for this renovation. It was supposed to be done by the last week in August. When the contractor makes the error, who pays for the fix?

        Reply
  44. katamia

    My move hasn’t gone well at all. I’ve run into issues with people not accepting my credit card for the first time. It’s an American card, yes, but it’s chip and pin (even though everyone’s still making me sign things, WHY????). It’s a travel card. I’ve used it on two continents without any problems in the past. I cannot for the life of me figure out what the deal is and why people are so unwilling to accept the card. I finally do have a bank account here, but they’re sending me so many letters with weird dribbles of information in the name of “fraud prevention” that I finally had to ask the bank if I could deposit money yet because I couldn’t tell if my account was set up or if I still had to wait for more weird letters.

    One company, A, (who doesn’t, as far as I can tell, have competitors, so I couldn’t go elsewhere, and this was a service I desperately need–and still don’t have yet) was given my American phone number instead of my new local phone number because it took me so long to get a phone because it took me so long to find someone who would accept my American credit card. I updated my number with Company B (who facilitates communication between me and Company A). More than a week later, Company A was still calling my American phone number despite having been given my new number (which I’m confident they were given because Company B is pretty with it) and also having my email address, which they never even tried to contact me on. Company B finally gave me Company A’s number. I think Company A would have continued calling my old number for months if I hadn’t finally been given their contact number.

    I haven’t been able to do any sightseeing. I don’t even know what to say when people here ask me if I’m enjoying their country because I’m so angry at how things have been going. I’m not focusing at all on my studies and am just obsessively planning potential school break vacations as therapy. After my miserable experience trying to get a visa (I didn’t share much of it here, but I think it was, no joke, the worst experience of my life, except for maybe trying to find an apartment here), I really needed things to go better here, but they’re not.

    I don’t really have any specific questions. I’m just tired, ready to be out of here, and glad my grad program is only a year long.

    Reply
    1. katamia

      (And, no, this really isn’t “just part of moving to a new country.” I’ve done that before. I didn’t have anywhere near the amount or magnitude of problems I’ve had here despite a significant language barrier in the other country.)

      Reply
    2. caledonia

      I’m really sorry it’s not been a positive experience. I hope it gets better. Maybe seek therapy from your uni as a way of processing the negatives so you can focus on your studies (as that’s what you came here to do).

      Reply
      1. katamia

        Yeah, I’m planning to look into it. But, knowing my luck, they’ll probably already be booked for months in advance.

        Reply
        1. caledonia

          I can’t remember where you’re studying but even if your uni one is booked, hopefully a) they can recommend somewhere else or b) if you’re registered with a dr they might be able to. c) there may also be online resources as well.

          Reply
    3. Zathras

      Yikes, my sympathies! I hope things get sorted out soon and you are able to start enjoying your new home.

      I think all American chip cards, even ones that technically have a PIN, will default to signature anywhere that has the capability to accept a signature. They fall back on the PIN only as a last resort, like in an automated machine that can’t accept signatures.

      Reply
      1. CAA

        Actually there are several U.S. credit unions that issue PIN priority cards. If you can’t get one of those due to membership requirements, then Target’s and Walmart’s MasterCards both have PIN as the priority CVM.

        Reply
    4. CAA

      Every credit card has a list of authorization methods it supports in a priority order. Your card’s first choice method is signature. As long as you’re making a payment at an online location with an attendant, you will have to sign. The PIN is only used at unattended online terminals (like at a train station) or at offline terminals. You can see the exact order of your card’s verification methods by going to spotterswiki.com/evm and entering the relevant info in the search boxes.

      I don’t know what country you’re in, but I have seen some online comments recently that some places in the EU are refusing U.S. cards due to the difference in the interchange rates allowed by law. This seems to be a particular problem in Denmark, although I was there in August and had no problems whatsoever with my Wells Fargo Visa card (I did have to sign everywhere except at automated kiosks though). It sounds like you have a local bank account now, so you may be able to use a debit card against that account when your credit card is refused, but if you’re still having troubles, you might try using a U.S. debit card with a Visa logo if you have one. That seems to work for many people who are having trouble with their credit cards.

      Reply
      1. katamia

        Huh, interesting. I don’t think I’ve encountered that specific issue here. It’s more that I get told when I try to pay for things that I need a specifically UK bank card–I think I’d have the same issues if I were trying to pay with a French card or any other card. And when I tried to add money to my Tube card using my US card, it wouldn’t accept it, so I had to go running around to find an ATM.

        I do have a local bank account now, but I haven’t activated the bank card because I’m supposedly still waiting on yet another incomprehensible letter from them that may or may not have something I need before I can activate the actual card. (Also because I need to activate it first at one of that bank’s ATMs and I haven’t been near one in a few days, but, honestly, I’m done even trying things with this crappy bank before I can confirm it because their written communication makes no sense and I don’t want to annoy myself by trying and failing to activate the card before I’ve confirmed that it can be activated because I just don’t have the energy for that anymore. If it wouldn’t take so long to get another account and if I didn’t suspect I’d face further incoherent letters from any other bank around here, I’d just switch banks because I’m already so fed up with this one.)

        Reply
        1. Jules the First

          Welcome to the UK, land of absurd bureaucracy! Sounds like you’ve got a case of culture shock – bear with me! – which is far easier to get in the UK than in somewhere which is much more different…the tricky part is that you’re not expecting to have culture shock here (since superficially not much is different…the language is the same, your credit card should work, etc), so you’re unprepared for it when it arrives.

          The banks are all sh*t, with the possible exception of Santander; I once had a Barclay’s teller inform me that my Canadian passport (which I’d used to open the bank account and, you know, *enter the country*) was not valid ID for making a cash withdrawal….

          The tube/cash problem is easily solved – go online and register your Oyster card and then you can link it direct to your bank account and it will top up automatically when you go through your “home” station with less than £5. But you should also apply for the student Oyster (your uni can give you an application), because that saves you a fairly big chunk of change.

          And, one expat to another, you can always ping me here and I’ll buy you a pint and untangle the bureaucratese for you…

          Reply
          1. katamia

            LOL. Santander is my bank here because they have a convenient branch near my school. Nice to know my instincts about other banks not being better were on target.

            I do have a student Oyster card now finally (the one time I actually WANTED additional notification because I had no idea whether the picture was good enough or that it had even been sent). I don’t do any kind of autopay tied to my bank account, either, but adding to it won’t be a problem once I activate my debit card here. It just seems bizarre to me that such a large institution as the Tube that sees so many tourists can’t handle a credit card. (And on a larger level, I just feel like if you want people to come to your country, and presumably students are at least sort of wanted here still because they can charge us so much, then…maybe you should make it possible for us to actually pay for things.)

            Reply
            1. Jules the First

              Unfortunately the problem seems to be limited to American credit cards – I used to help international staff settle into the UK as part of my job and only the Americans ever had problems with payments (I think US bank security and EU bank security are not always compatible), especially if you had a more than 4 digit PIN or additional security set up on your card. I find it particularly entertaining that I can pay for transport with my contactless credit card, but I have to enter my PIN to top up my Oyster at a machine….

              And cheer up – when I first moved here 12 years ago, online banking used to have opening hours. Mmmmhmmm.

              At least as a student you won’t have to grapple with the existentialist theatre that is obtaining a National Insurance Number (which you can only get if you have a job, which would be all hunky dory and reasonable except that you can’t get a job without the number….)

              (Also, the a British don’t actually want anyone to come here…if they make it fun and enjoyable, foreign people might want to stay….horrors!)

              Reply
    5. Artemesia

      The American banking system decided Americans were too dumb to remember another pin code and so adopted the chip and sig system. Unlike Europe where you can use the pin right at the table when you dine, the chip pin is rare here and most vendors will not have dealt with it. It is very frustrating. We travel a lot and are annoyed at our Chip/sig card when we are in Europe and of course if it gets stolen it is easily used by a thief unlike the chip/pin cards.

      Reply
    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?

      Welcome to the UK – the land of incessant and usually confusing bureaucracy. Some days it seems like to do anything there is a hurdle of epic proportions and paperwork, and thats before you even get to the unwritten rules of social behavior and class. This is the third time I have lived in the UK and honestly the first two times were easy compared to now. Also the political environment right now really doesn’t help much. This used to feel like a forward-looking country and now well, after spending almost three weeks home in the US where I could quickly and easily get things I needed, its really starting to feel like its all just slipping into a dark, backward place.

      Try reaching out and joining in with other students on your course though, it could help alleviate some of the issues as well. Or look up and see if there is anything going on around town you like to do etc. Being out and connecting with people can go a long way towards making things feel a lot less confusing.

      Reply
      1. katamia

        I am…kind of glad that’s not just me, actually. I’ve mostly tried to avoid comparing things to the US because as a US citizen I know I face fewer hurdles there than a non-citizen would, but having also lived abroad elsewhere, I’m having a harder time controlling the “UGH this was so much easier in [Othercountry] even though I wasn’t a citizen there either” thoughtstream.

        Most of the classmates I’ve spent time with aren’t from the UK either, but they don’t seem to have faced the same degree of struggles that I have. I don’t know how they haven’t managed to run into the constant stream of “You can’t do X without Y, but you can’t do Y without X” that I’ve been running into.

        I’ve been trying to look at everything I HAVE accomplished in getting settled in here, but it’s been so rough that these things still don’t really feel like an accomplishment, just a waste. Like I wasted money on an Airbnb because I couldn’t find a place before I got here (and wasted time and money on an apartment I had to walk away from because I found out after I’d already given the deposit that this company only accepted payment one single way that was impossible to me), Tube tickets because it took so damn long to get my student card, etc. (And I’m trying like hell to not resent having to pay 6 months’ worth of rent up front, which seems to be standard for international students here, and failing miserably because THAT IS SO MUCH MONEY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE.)

        There’s stuff I want to do, I just don’t want to do any of it because I’m so exhausted from having to deal with being here.

        Reply
        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)

          What part of the country are you in? I know a few expat groups, especially in Newcastle and London (though the latter is mostly political).

          Reply
    7. misspiggy

      The UK is a pretty dreadful country in many ways. It’s also pretty wonderful in other ways, – travel is easy, there are so many beautiful corners and free culture. One way to get through it is to seek out more of the beauty to