weekend free-for-all – January 23-24, 2016

Eve and OliveThis 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. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book Recommendation of the Week: Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters, by Mallory Ortberg, who is the awesomest, and you should also be reading her at the-toast.net and as the new Dear Prudence.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 785 comments… read them below }

  1. salad fingers*

    Hi guys! Anyone else out there have dental anxiety? Until recently, I thought I was the chillest of chill dental patients. Turns out when I came in for a cleaning last December after (ahem) several years of not going to the dentist, I have full blown, crying shaking hyperventilating dental anxiety! How does this just happen to someone out of the blue in their mid twenties? Advice, other than taking three times the prescribed amount of valium?

    1. StudentPilot*

      YES! Me!

      I like to wear the large x-ray vest while I’m in the chair (x-ray or no x-ray) the weight helps calm me down. I also like to listen to my own music – not hearing the drill helps me loads.

      I just started seeing a new dentist (after 18 years of no dentist) and I’ve been in once a month since last June. We start off slow – a short cleaning, filled two cavities (with extra freezing), and worked our way up to wisdom teeth yesterday. I found as I went along I needed less freezing agent, as my anxiety was lessening.

      You’re not alone!

      1. salad fingers*

        Wow — way to go! How is your wisdom tooth recovery going?

        I brought in music for the cavity filling appointment, but I noticed that I was then really nervous that my dentist was going to need to ask me to do things and I wouldn’t be able to hear him. I settled last time for one earphone in, the one on the side he was working on out.

        I like the x-ray vest/human thunder blanket suggestion! Did you ask for it or did the dentist suggest it?

        1. StudentPilot*

          Recovery is good – I’m on to real food (I was getting sick of smoothies, pudding and apple sauce.) And the pain isn’t bad!

          When I first went in to have a check up, and they took x-rays I mentioned how comfortable the vest was, and my dentist said some patiences like to wear it for appointments. Now when I go in, they had it to me :)

          1. salad fingers*

            Excellent! In a similar vein, my boyfriend has allowed me to wear my favorite of his super soft sweaters for every appointment, and I’ve been wearing a not suffocating amount of my favorite, most comforting perfume.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Tell your dentist! My dentist (and a lot of others) have practices that are specifically focused on helping people with dental anxiety. Treatment coordinators can do an awful lot in terms of reducing anxiety–nitrous even for routine cleanings, other sedatives, a different position in the dental chair, the ability to zone out with headphones and TV/netflix/music, or even some people find their dental anxiety is really helped by just sitting down and having someone explain to them exactly what is going on, what’s going to happen, what the different tools are, and so on.

      If your dentist isn’t receptive, or tells you to suck it up or whatever, try to find another dentist. There are many, many dentists out there who are really helpful and more than happy to help out dental-phobes.

      1. salad fingers*

        Oh, he knows. It became really obvious when I burst in to tears when I sat down in his chair for the first time. D:

        I’ve read that it’s a good idea for those with dental anxiety to seek out dentists who actively want to work on patients with anxiety, not sure whether current one is one of those people. He’s nice and accommodating, but he hasn’t (nor has his assistant or anyone in the office) gone out of the way to offer the kind of things you mentioned. I actually considered asking, “hey, do you want to/find it fulfilling to work on people with anxiety?” but I feel sheepish about being that direct for some reason. Also, wasn’t something I took into consideration when I found him because I actually had no idea that I was anxious at the dentist, which I find really weird.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Can you take a look around to the websites of the dentists in your area? The practice I go to has a whole section about dental anxiety and what they do, and on the intake materials it asks if you have dental anxiety or any phobias. They’re really, really upfront about it. I’d look around at different dentists and ask what they about dental anxiety. Lots of practices are made up of patients like this and make huge efforts to get people to come to them after years and years of being afraid!

          1. salad fingers*

            Oooh, so I just googled “dental anxiety chicago” and it seems like a lot of places are using that term for SEO now. Will be checking them out though. I think at my next appointment I am going to just ask my dentist outright if there’s anything else available to help or if I should seek out a dentist who more explicitly treats anxious patients.

            1. Tris Prior*

              I’m in Chicago too and would be interested in anxiety-friendly dentists. Mine is…. OK, she doesn’t shame me or anything, but doesn’t do anything to alleviate anxiety.

              I’ll never forget the dentist appointment I had on the day of the Boston marathon bombing – they would NOT turn off the TV coverage of it (on the TV screens in each cubicle that are supposed to distract you from the drilling) because “other patients requested it.” Talk about anxiety inducing…

              I used to have a dentist who specialized in anxious patients and I liked him a lot… unfortunately he was the one who accidentally killed someone with anesthesia about 10-ish years ago….

            2. Rebecca*

              I love my dentist in the west loop (skyline smiles). I can’t attest to how he deals with anxiety, since I am pretty calm at the dentist, but I love the fact that they have Netflix on each tv right in front of each chair, and give you headphones. He also takes a lot of time to educate on each process, which I like. Hope you find someone great!

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, one dental practice around here runs television ads billing themselves as a ‘dental spa’ with the slogan “We cater to cowards.” My husband has dental anxiety to the point that he has not gone to the dentist during the whole of our twenty-year marriage.It is my goal to get him to the dental spa.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I have it too, which stems from having a lot of painful dental work done over the years, including two horrible root canals done on the same front tooth! Ick! I ALWAYS shrink and cringe when I see the novocaine needle coming my way even though I know what to expect!
      Tell your dentist you have anxiety. Most are prepared for this and can find ways to ease you in. If it’s really bad, they can prescribe a pre-treatment relaxer you can take.

      1. salad fingers*

        Youch – I’m sorry you had to go through that and I hope for no root canals for you in the future. I had a one about 4 years ago and I almost fell asleep during it — zero anxiety whatsoever. Now, however, I’ve been taking Valium before hand, still end up wanting to throw up/crying during fillings. Bizarre.

    4. GOG11*

      I have dental anxiety as well, and I always have. Mostly it’s the needles aspect for me, and I also think it’s because I didn’t go regularly as a child, so it’s kind of a strange place for me. I haven’t been in a few years now because I’m too scared to go. Best of luck to you. I wish I had some tips or advice, but I can only say that you are definitely not alone.

      1. salad fingers*

        GOG11, thanks for the comment. I also didn’t go as regularly as I should have as a child (thanks parents) and don’t remember having a consistent trusting relationship with a single dentist. Wouldn’t be surprised if that contributed in some way.

        I hope you make your way in soon. I think I’ve been subconsciously (didn’t realize I had full blown anxiety about it) avoiding the dentist for the last several years until my best friend who was kind of in the same boat finally went in. She was told all sorts of scary things about her dental health but took the bull directly by the horns and booked a month of much needed appointments. She motivated me to do the same. Whatever the push is for you I hope it comes soon!

        1. Myrin*

          I’d guess it has something to do with how regularly you went as a child, as well. I was at the dentist’s all the time as a child because basically all of my baby teeth had to be removed – not all at once, but consecutively, since my incoming adult teeth were way to big for my jaw so when a baby tooth fell out the one next to it had to be removed so that the real tooth could grow correctly (which they didn’t anyway and I had to wear braces for several years but whatever).

          But because of all these visits, I’ve never felt any anxiety around dental stuff whatsoever. Add to this some horrid complications with my removed wisdom teeth four years ago and I’m basically the chillest. So yeah, I really do guess it gets easier over time and with how used you are to it and how you know it and so on.

          (One thing, though, is that I got pretty annoyed with my dentist last year. I switched to them [they’re a husband and wife] after the aforementioned horrid wisdom teeth experience and they’re great! However, somehow when I went there last time, she kind of talked down to me a bit? I don’t know, it wasn’t really “shaming” or anything but I was quite annoyed with her practically chastising me for brushing too hard – which is not a thing I do, actually, it just looks that way because some of my gums are receded because pre-braces my teeth were all over the place and so crooked the gums just disappeared over time. But yeah, please to go on lecturing me and then not letting me get a word in edgewise! I was really angry about that, especially at myself for not insisting to be treated by the husband who is a darling and who I go to usually but who wasn’t about to be free for new appointments for some time. Gah, now that I wrote it down I’m becoming angry all over again! ò_ó)

          1. edj3*

            Yeah I see it differently. I had great dental care as a child (as in regular visits) and have awful dental anxiety.

            Part of it stems from eight deep cavities filled when I was 12 with zero Novocaine–two a week for four weeks.

            I still went and continue to go regularly for check ups and I’ve always been great about at home dental care.

            Despite that, I get horribly anxiety even for the normal six month check up. So YMMV.

            1. salad fingers*

              For me, the really confusing thing is why 3 years ago I was able to just about completely fall asleep in the chair while getting a root canal. I liked the dentist, didn’t think he wanted to or was going to unintentionally hurt me, wasn’t afraid of needles, etc. I still feel all of those ways, so was very surprised by all of this latent panic stuff.

              Myrin, it seems like there are so many nice dentists at this point it doesn’t seem worth it to put up with one you don’t get on well with. Might be nice to give some of that feedback to the office staff, if that’s something you feel comfortable doing. Also, you have earned your immunity to dental anxiety with all of those baby teeth being pulled D:

              Ed, ahhhhhhhhhh@the zero novocaine part. I’ve been trying to remind myself what a blessing it is to have cavities in 2016, and this is one of those great reminders. Do you take anything for anxiety before your appointments? Valium has helped me a little.

              1. fposte*

                I think phobias can have some kind of sneaky tipping point. That’s how my flying phobia was–I loved flying and then suddenly was freaked out. The problem is that once you get to freaked out, it’s only going to get worse if you can’t find ways to address it.

                I had mild dental anxiety as a child and in early adulthood and then had a string of really good dentists and hygienists, so it’s pretty much nonexistent now, save for holding my breath and tensing up while the needle’s actually in me.

                1. MissDisplaced*

                  I think you might be right about them sneaking up on you. Or it may have been one pain point that suddenly made a minor thing turn over into a phobia.
                  I find I’m extremely squeamish about needles (shots or novocaine or blood samples). It’s not that it hurts me all that much, it’s just the IDEA of the needle. If I don’t see it, it doesn’t bother me as much. My method of managing this is to simply not look at it. And I can’t by any means watch that needle go in. So I always just tell the nurse or whomever is giving the injection that I have to turn away. They’re always really nice and cool about it. Guess they get it a lot! :-)

                2. Anna*

                  I think it’s also mixed with shame. Like you have anxiety so you avoid going, but then you feel shame for not getting your teeth cleaned so you feel anxious about that. It’s a death spiral of shame and anxiety.

              2. TootsNYC*

                Maybe there’s some underlying stress you aren’t recognizing, and it took this opportunity to make itself known, camouflaging itself as DENTAL anxiety.

                And of course, there’s the “sneaky tipping point” idea. Allergies can be like that too.

                1. Anxa*

                  I have a blood phobia and I’m much more likely to faint if I’ve been anxious in general leading up to a situation. Also if I don’t sleep the night before

              3. edj3*

                I did have sedation before the two root canals I had done in later years. My anxiety was over the top, enough so that the endodontist said hey let’s get you something to take before you come in here. The procedures was still not fun (didn’t hurt, there’s a difference) but I wasn’t absolutely freaking out.

                Keep in mind, I’ve had 7 major abdominal surgeries and for most I’ve refused pain meds afterwards. This isn’t about the amount of pain, it’s about where things are being done.

            2. Lindsay J*

              Yeah I never minded the dentist as a child. I haven’t been able to bring myself to go as an adult recently thought.

              I think part of it is shame that I’ve let things go so far at this point. My teeth are gross. I know they are gross. I am pretty sure I have at least one cavity, probably more. And I haven’t been to the dentist in years even though I know I should be going every six months or so.

              Some of it is straight up anxiety regarding the pain, etc.

              And some of it is anxiety over cost. What if I think it is going to be one price but then it winds up being more and I can’t afford it? What if they tell me I need really expensive work done?

              I’m kind of following ignorance is bliss theory at the moment – my teeth feel fine so if nobody tells me there’s something wrong then nothing is wrong. Objectively I know that’s not true and I’m going to wind up with gum disease like my aunt and need all my teeth pulled before I turn 50, but my logical brain and my emotional brain aren’t working together on this one.

              1. Anna*

                One of my points of anger in life is that dental care isn’t considered part of preventative health care. The coverage for dentistry is abysmal and it’s no wonder people avoid it if they can. It’s treated as if it’s some special thing rather than care that can prevent infection and pain and disease. It makes me really angry.

          2. Tau*

            Horrid complications with wisdom teeth high five! I am moderately anxious at the dentist but it honestly helps to have that to look back to and go “no *way* is getting a cavity filled going to be worse than that, right?” (Although I think if I ever need a tooth removed again, I will run screaming.)

            1. StudentPilot*

              Heh – I had complications with my wisdom teeth removal the other day – it was supposed to be a routine extraction, until my dentist packed me with gauze and sent me down the street for emergency dental surgery. I’m hoping the recovery is complication-free!

              1. Tau*

                Crossing my fingers for you that all goes smoothly! Almost all my complications happened during the recovery phase (apparently my mouth is inhabited by some kind of standard-antibiotic-resistant super bacteria…) but I get the impression that what happened to me was pretty unusual – at one point the dentist apologised deeply and said that in all his years of practice this had never happened to him before – and it’s usually fine.

                PS If you’re struggling when it comes to meals, I found scrambled eggs to be an excellent food for when you can’t chew. (I was forbidden dairy out of worry about infection, so no yoghurt or the like. Not that it helped any on the preventing infection front.)

    5. Noah*

      I avoided the dentist for years because I didn’t have the money to go. When I was 27 I finally went back and found out that I really, really disliked the experience. I guess I was lucky because the dentist and practice I chose was really understanding. I eventually went through with having a few cavities filled and then delving in and going through Invisalign, which required appointments every 4 weeks.

      I feel like a complete douchbag, but I wear really dark sunglasses while I’m in the chair if they are doing much more than just taking a look. I also bring headphones and listen to my own music. Both help me to zone out and ignore what they are doing. My dentist knows what’s up but if there is a new dental assistant I usually take a few minutes to explain that I’m not trying to be rude just get through the experience without freaking out.

      1. salad fingers*

        This sounds pretty consistent with my experience – sounds like you manage it well. What was your experience with Invisalign? That is a possible option for the little bit of crowding happening on my lower teeth.

        1. Noah*

          I loved my Invisalign results. I had braces long ago (jr. high) but stopped wearing retainers when I was in college. Over time I developed gaps in some areas and crowding in others. My Invisalign treatment took about a year, then retainers full time for three months, then night only for nine months. Now I just wear retainers a few nights a week, you can tell if they are tight and you need to wear them more often. The only annoying part of Invisalign for me was going out with friends. If you go to a bar or something you just end up not wearing the aligners for a few hours, then deal with the tight feeling when you can put them back in.

          1. salad fingers*

            Nice! Yeah, I’m really not sure I have the fortitude to deal with regular adult braces (vain, I know) but Invisalign seems very feasible. I actually don’t care much about the appearance of the slight crowding but am a little concerned about uneven wear.

      2. nep*

        I like to have dark glasses on while the dentist is working — that light is so intense. Somehow helps to tune out a bit too.

    6. Dear Liza dear liza*

      Me! Lots and lots of dental work when I was young, with a dentist who yelled at me all the time. It got so all I had to do was sit in the chair for me to start crying. I’m much better now. In addition to the above suggestions, I have also found it useful to do little self hypnosis things, like lifting my right foot up a couple of inches and keeping it there.

      One recent development I don’t like: the chairs tilt much further back, so that my head is lower than my body! I’m sure this is helpful to the dentist but it kicks off my easily-triggered gag reflex.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Dentists should not be jerks, especially to little kids. That is how my husband got his dental anxiety; his childhood dentist lacked patience and snapped at him and told him he was going to drill a hole in his lip if he didn’t shut up and be still.

          1. Catherine from Canada*

            Mine is from a dentist that didn’t believe in anesthetic for children (WTF?) and would hit me if I flinched, twitched or moved in any way. I can still remember the pattern of branches outside the dentist’s window that I would focus on to “leave my body behind and get away.”

            1. anonintheuk*

              I have EDS III and therefore local anaesthetic does not work particularly well on me. My obnoxious ex-dentist insisted I must be numb, and stuck me in the gum with that hook thing. Since I was not numb, my reactions were fast as ever. I bit him.

              Left that practice when he tried to convince me that my TMJ was a psychiatric issue and I needed to take on a manual job to have less stress. Note, as above, EDS III (chronic pain, hypermobility), which per my current dentist, my rheumatologist, and anyone with half a clue, both explain TMJ and prevent me from undertaking a manual job. Idiot.

    7. Lore*

      I always always bring my own music and ask them to tap me gently on the arm if they need me to do something. Also, they ask me to raise my left hand if I need them to stop. For a while, I had a hygienist who didn’t use the WaterPik thing, just the hand tools, which I actually preferred–I think the vibration contributed to my anxiety. I also always make early morning appointments–that way I don’t spend all day in dread.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, my current dentist only uses the hand tools for cleaning because the waterpik freaks me out.

    8. LibraryChick*

      Find a dentist that practices sedation dentistry. Basically, you are knocked out so they can do their thing. I don’t have the sedation done for every appointment, but I noticed over the years that my sheer terror and jumpiness was making it difficult for the hygienist to do as thorough of a cleaning. So, I have a sedation appointment like every other year so they can scrape away ’till their hearts content.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yeah, if it’s bad enough. Though for a cleaning I wouldn’t think you would need this?
        For major work, yes. Having had 2 painful root canals I wish I could’ve been sedated.
        When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I was definitely sedated!

        1. Honeybee*

          IT depends on the person. I have pretty moderate dental anxiety and my hygienist suggested it so they can do a deep cleaning. Part of that is because I can’t really tolerate the vibration of the WaterPik thing they use.

    9. Alma*

      I was well prepared for Big Girl dentist appointments after years of brutal orthodonture. And having four first molars pulled (yeah, with plier-like tools, while I was unsedated) for the process.

      My low pain threshold (as well as hating three or four hands in my mouth that is not big enough to accommodate 1st molars, ya know) was to learn to breathe through it, and the slower and more deliberate I am about deep breathing the calmer my body gets. When something is uncomfortable, or fear inducing, I exhale through it (like one might do during during childbirth). It can be done without pursing lips and having one’s knees up by one’s ears.

      Giving your body and brain the oxygen it needs has a lot of benefit. For one, your body doesn’t feel like it has to struggle for this basic need.

      Also, if you need to have more frequent stops in the action to have your mouth rinsed and vacuumed, let your dentist or hygienist know. It goes faster if you are able to let them follow their accustomed method, but don’t leave somehow unspoken. Discussing what your issue is may result in another way they can accommodate you.

      I like the idea of the x-ray apron. I always bring a heavier sweater and warm socks, because I freeze in there.

      Care in between visits goes a long way to get you in and out of the dentist’s chair. If you are unable to floss, try floss picks. Ask your dentist about Water Pic type instruments – a dentist told me once if I did that water irrigation regularly every day, I could do without flossing. Your Dentist May Vary!

      1. salad fingers*

        Yes to the Waterpik! I’m actually obsessive about flossing and have been told that I cannot substitute flossing with Waterpikkin, so I do both. Only way my teeth feel really clean at this point.

        1. Artemesia*

          AS I age my teeth are moving around and now food lodges in very irritating ways and is difficult to remove — flossing alone doesn’t always do the job and the waterpick — I just got a cheap one — is incredible. I use it a couple of times a day and in addition to flossing in the evening. My dentist told me you could skip flossing with it too — but I don’t see how that can be true since floss disrupts the film of bacteria that cause cavaties — I don’t see how the waterpick would do that.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I think there are varying schools of thought on how well the Waterpik deals with plaque. My hygienist falls into the “It doesn’t” camp so I still floss along with it (though I secretly suspect it does help some with it, based in my teeth).

    10. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I do not have dental anxiety (possible explanation to follow) but a few years ago I was waiting in a lonnnng line and fell into conversation with a dentist and this topic came up. His theory was that dental anxiety is the normal instinct and that basically lack of anxiety has to come from conditioning. He felt that the act of opening one’s mouth not only exposed the airway but also the base of the brain through the soft palate to a potential predator. He was kind of sheepish when he said this but he was pretty certain after 30+ years in practice. He felt that repeated exposure to a dental exam at a young age in which there was no negative stimulus was the key to never developing severe dental anxiety. And for people who already had anxiety, he advocated for sedation.
      As for me, my mom always had good dental insurance and we went to the dentist every 6 months like clockwork. For whatever reason, I never had a cavity as a kid and had a *slight crush on my dentist. Every exam and cleaning ended with Dr W telling me how great my teeth looked and what a great job I did brushing.
      *So slight was my crush, that at age 20, Dr W had to politely refer me out of his pediatric practice to another dentist since I was no longer a kid and and hardly fit in the special exam chairs :)

      1. Bibliovore*

        I am in the middle of since before Christmas dental nightmare. Infection. A root canal And a pulled tooth next to it. Because of a connective tissue disorder slow healing. Dry socket. Still in pain. Love my dentist And I am an anxious patient and he is terrific. I take 5 milligrams of Ativan an hour before. Very warm clothes. They give me a blanket. I wear muff style headphones and listen to Bruce Spingsteen turned up to 11. I raise my left hand that is holding a squishy stress ball shaped like a brain if I need to stop or spit. Right now pretty miserable. Can’t work because I am stupid on lain meds. Reading non work related memoirs and watching the mid Atlantic snow reports. Grateful I am not there now, stay safe people.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I don’t know. I went ALL THE TIME as a child to a special pediatric dentist.
        I don’t remember him being horrible to me, but I hated the experience, noise and the whole thing. We even had nitrous back then to knock us out (which I began to love a teenager!–HA!)

        I’m still a rather anxious patient, but I’ve only required sedation for my wisdom teeth removal as an adult.

        1. Artemesia*

          My grandchild goes to a practice that is like a spa — in addition to toys in the waiting room, they have a whole array of cleaning paste flavors to choose from, their choice of video for the ceiling, and stickers. And when they are done they get a token they can put in a giant gumball type machine in the lobby with little plastic containers with balls, and other small toys. When I was a kid, the dentist was mean and rough — really awful.

      3. Honeybee*

        That’s awesome and rings true. I didn’t have regular dental visits as a child, and the only time I ever went to the dentist was either when something was wrong (I broke my front teeth multiple times as a child) or to my horrible orthodontist. Add sensitive teeth and gums to that and we have a recipe for disaster.

    11. North*

      I had wicked anxiety for a long, long time stemming from genuinely traumatic childhood experiences with a sadist. When I turned 18, I refused to set foot in a dentist’s office, and that lasted until I was 28. At which point I had to get 15 cavities filled, gum surgery, and two crowns. :(

      What helped me:
      – noise-cancelling headphones
      – novicaine gel used even before the needle (a lot of my trauma was from a series of teeth I had to get pulled to make way for braces)
      – dentists who explained what they were going to do
      – asking questions and forcing everything to slow down
      – not being shy about asking for a break if I needed it

      Still, really not my favorite thing.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Yes all of that. I didn’t even know my dentist was an asshat until my new husband picked me up one day and it was obvious that I had been crying. The dentist had told me to stop being such a baby. The husband parked the car. Stormed into the office. Demanded to see the dentist. The husband ( who rarely raises his voice except to berate Comcast ) read the dentist the riot act in front of a full waiting room.

        When I moved to NYC and found my dentist ( Manhattan Dental Spa) the dentist discovered that Novacaine wasn’t working on me and for years I was having dental work with no numbing .

          1. Bibliovore*

            seriously- I didn’t. I was so phobic that the minute could I stopped going to the dentist. Then of course in my early twenties had all sorts of problems not the least wisdom teeth that had erupted and broken. Went to the dentist because I had to.

              1. salad fingers*

                That is nuts, I’m sorry you went through that! I’ve also wondered whether I have a high or low pain tolerance and have how to measure it. That is a terrible way to find out your pain tolerance is high :-/

                1. Bibliovore*

                  my physical therapist a few years ago explained it to me.

                  I have a high pain threshold because
                  I have pain all the time because of the connective tissue disorder. EDS Type III
                  On a scale from 1 to 10, a pretty constant 5 or 6 when regular people don’t have any or have “some discomfort” then there are the “bad” days.
                  I just push through with NSAIDs. I can ‘distract’ myself with work or tv or reading. Then I crash. 10 is send me to the hospital and cut off this limb. No drugs can touch it.

                  I was in physical therapy about 5 years ago learning how to walk again after surgery (long story) and I would get really dizzy and nauseated and have to stop. She figured out that because I “ignore” pain- my body’s way of signaling “please stop” I get shut down with puke signals. Mostly horrible burping and wanting to vomit. TMI?

                  So I am supposed to take my pain reading a couple times a day so that I take my meds before things get really bad. I am supposed to NOT ever “push through pain” as that is how I get hurt.

    12. asteramella*

      I developed dental anxiety after trying to switch from my childhood dentist (worked on me from age 8 to my mid-twenties) to a local dentist (after I moved about 3 hours away from my hometown). The local dentist was very condescending, told me I needed fillings when I didn’t*, messed up a couple of the unnecessary fillings he did under ineffective anesthesia, shut down my concerns about the messed up fillings, then left me a super long voicemail (that I refused to listen to) when I cancelled my next appointment for even MORE unnecessary fillings and left a bad Yelp review about my bad experiences.

      During the work, I try to practice mindfulness and calm breathing. I tend to hold my breath and tense up in the chair a lot, which makes me feel even more anxious. So consciously choosing to relax my body and breathe evenly really helps. It also helps to know that my dentist is very experienced and knows my teeth and my particular issues very well. He knows that I prefer to “watch and wait” and be very conservative with fillings and dental work and he’s been great about emphasizing preventive care instead. (His tips: using toothbrushes with very soft bristles, chewing xylitol gum after meals, and using an alcohol-free hydrogen peroxide mouthwash like Crest Pro-Health for gum health.)

      * I went back to my childhood dentist and just accepted that I need to take a long weekend to visit my hometown and see him every six months. Childhood dentist was like, “Uhh, that dude told you you needed three more fillings? You really don’t. And the fillings he did are shaped really poorly.” That was really validating to hear after I had full-on crying panic attacks about local dentist’s work, and local dentist totally blew off my concerns.

    13. Not Karen*

      I haven’t been to the dentist in >10 years, but I found out in my new town that there is a holistic dentist that specializes in anxious patients, including having a therapy dog available. If I do try to go to the dentist again, it will be there.

      But really, do you need to go to the dentist at all? How were your teeth at your last visit? I’m not convinced people need their teeth cleaned professionally if they brush twice a day.

      1. salad fingers*

        Yes, I definitely do. My teeth aren’t great, had to have work done and wasn’t surprised. Have more work to go. I would LOVE a therapy dog at my dentist office, though. Your new town isn’t Chicago is it?

      2. TootsNYC*

        You need to be flossing. And you need to be checked for cavities.

        Most cavities start between the teeth. And an untreated cavity will turn into a root canal or worse.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Most cavities start between the teeth. And an untreated cavity will turn into a root canal or worse.

          This. You absolutely do need to go to the dentist so they can see between your teeth. I too neglected my teeth for years (especially in college) due to trauma suffered as a child (had a tooth pulled and the procaine hadn’t fully numbed my gums), and I ended up with five cavities and gum disease. Then after getting back into dental hygiene (I didn’t want anymore fillings), brushing twice a day and flossing after just about every meal, I still ended up with a sixth cavity between my back teeth.

    14. TootsNYC*

      I wonder if this is not so “out of the blue”–why is it you haven’t gone to the dentist? Is some of that anxiety?
      Or, the fact that you haven’t gone means it’s unfamiliar, and so the anxiety has a place to anchor.

      Good luck!

    15. Stephanie*

      I used to not have it (I have my share of cavities due to having large, crowded molars) and then I went to the dental school (when I was without dental insurance). This wasn’t to say that they didn’t know what they were doing, the students were just slow, so everything took twice as long.

      1. Anxa*

        I went to get screened at a dental school. The oral exam was fine, but the student had a hard time getting my blood pressure- I have BII phobia. Most uncomfortable blood pressure test of my life, but it was probably a good learning experience for him. And really made me appreciate doctors and nurses

    16. F.*

      I’ve had horrible dental anxiety all my life, and it gets worse the older I get. I believe it is due to ineffective novacaine for fillings when I was a child, then four permanent teeth were extracted in the dentist’s office, then three years of braces (the old fashioned kind that cut your mouth to shreds) followed by five years of a retainer. I also have large teeth in a very small mouth and TMJ. I am starting to feel physically ill just writing about this.

    17. Clever Name*

      This may sound weird, but I just found out that my dentist of 9 years died of cancer, and this thread is making me sad. She was such an awesome dentist. She really cared about her patients. I’ve always had needle anxiety and she was always great about it. She also realized that I don’t need as much Novocain as other patients. She was such an amazing person. I’m so sad she’s gone.

  2. Mimmy*

    How’s everyone making out so far with the snow? The storm was originally supposed to not get into New Jersey until late last night, but it was already snowing by maybe 8 p.m. There was about 10 inches by the time I woke up this morning at 9, and I think our neck of the woods–central NJ–is expected to get the heaviest snow totals, at least among the tri-state area.. It is getting windy, and there is already flooding in some coastal areas (mainly South Jersey I think).

    Hoping everyone in AAM-land impacted by this blizzard stays safe and warm.

    1. Mimmy*

      Regulars I’m thinking of off the top of my head: NJ Anon, Katie the Fed, AAM, Wakeen’s Teapots Ltd. I know there are others too.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        So sweet – thank you! I’m doing ok. Got a big pot of chili simmering and am cudded up with the dog.

    2. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

      Westchester County, NY here (actually almost in Putnam county). Snow started around 6 am, coming down fast & furious. Probably have about 6 inches in 6 hours. If it stays like this, figuring on at least 15 inches likely.

      1. Audiophile*

        Hey, I’m in Putnam, really close to the Westchester county line. They were pretty off on their projections that it wasn’t going to hit us hard. There’s been a lot of snow in the last few hours and it’s not supposed to finish until midday tomorrow.

        1. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

          Still snowing. I’d say we have over a foot? Been outside a few times to play in it with my grandson who’s been praying for snow everyday! Now sitting inside by the fire. Tomorrow will be the big dig out.

          1. Audiophile*

            Last time I looked it had still been coming down. I’ll have fun digging out tomorrow to go to work on Monday. Thankfully, my car is towards the end of the driveway, so I’ll just need to dig a path to it and behind it.

    3. Artemesia*

      I live in the northern part of the midwest and snow is an everyday thing; I am looking at a frozen lake as we type. So even a foot of snow is only a minor inconvenience. I noticed that the highway through Kentucky had people stuck in the weather for hours. Years ago driving from Chicago to Tennessee after Thanksgiving we had a scary 3 or 4 hours around Louisville as a storm brewed up and I have been stuck on the road driving from Indianapolis south several times. I am stunned that people were attempting it with this weather report. It takes nothing for those roads to be a disaster; I would never have tried it with a snow advisory like this one.

      1. danr*

        During winters when snow is an everyday occurrence things are better out here in the NJ/NYC area too. After the second snow the worst drivers are off the roads and the better drivers have a chance to drive normally.

    4. Noah*

      Everyone in Charlotte has been freaking out the last two days but the roads are clear for the most part and everything is fine. They did cancel almost all flights in/out.

      1. Laura*

        I just moved to the Charlotte area from western Mass and I am finding the reactions here adorable. And I am staying off the roads! There are no plows or salt of course y’all can’t drive ;)

        1. GraceT*

          We just don’t get snow often enough in the Piedmont in NC to be good at dealing with it. 5 people died already from weather related accidents, including a child. :-(

          1. Laura*

            I heard, so sad.
            I have been really impressed by how much people are staying home. There are fewer idiots than I’m used to.

        2. Alma*

          Being an hour from CLT in a largely rural area, the towns have shut down. The utilities have been very aggressive in trimming tree branches and removing dead trees in the past year, so we have electricity.

          Having lived in “da tundra” for a few years, I am glad I kept my snow shovel.

        3. Weasel007*

          Native Charlottean here: even we laugh at the drivers, and those who raid stores. But I’m just as guilty. We stocked up and aren’t going anywhere until tomorrow. I figure it is a great day to read, watch movies and maybe start taxes.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            In Arkansas, we raid the stores as soon as there is even a flurry. I was going to the store weekend before last just to pick up coffee that we were out of, got outside and saw three snowflakes fall from the sky, and came home with $225 in groceries, including hot chocolate and all the cold-weather comfort foods.

            I think the urge to stock up comes from ice-storm trauma of being without electricity or the ability to leave one’s own driveway for at least a week. After the 2009 ice storm, every time there is a threat of inclement winter weather, I’m clutching my family and swearing, “As god is my witness, we’ll never be cold and hungry again!!!” Yeah, with three exclamation points.

            1. Artemesia*

              I lived in Nashville for decades and at the hint of snow the milk and bread would be gone from the stores — Once in 35 years we had ice storms that really did paralyze the place for several days and people in outlying areas were without power for a week or so. But most of the time, disruptions didn’t last for more than a day.

          2. ginger ale for all*

            On a librarian facebook page, there are a lot of people posting photos of emptied library shelves and reports of long lines to check out. So the public made a lot of librarians happy this weekend. :). I bet the e-book check out stats are going to be good as well.

    5. mkb*

      I’m in Connecticut and I think we’re going to get more than initially thought too. Looks like 4 inches or so now and the weather report is saying 8-12.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m in the middle of CT close to Hartford. Right now we have about an inch or two. We’re right on the line between getting a lot or a moderate amount. Not sure which it will be.

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      I also hope that everyone here is ok. Seen some pictures and WOW. time to netflix and chill, if ever there was a time to do so. Keep safe AAM-ers!

      1. Alma*

        I’ve read a book every day and a half. The beauty of e-books when the library is closed!

        I’m starting Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese for the second time. It was several years ago that I read it, and I’m really savoring it this time.

    7. mondegreen*

      They’re saying 20-25 inches in NYC (as opposed to the 8-12 predicted yesterday) and I believe it. The corner bodega is open but I just got a notice about a vehicle travel ban (including taxi/Uber) and subway closures, and there’s no way I’m leaving my block on foot.

    8. danr*

      Top of Central NJ here too (or bottom of Northern Jersey [g]). We have at least 18 inches now and it’s still coming down hard. Dinner is done, pot roast, and if the power stays on we’ll watch a movie with popcorn and wine. So far the snow is all powder, which will make cleanup a bit easier. Remember, if you’re shoveling, push the snow and use small bites when you lift.

    9. could be anyone*

      Harrisburg Pa area has way more then predicted. Probably up to 2 feet in areas. Drifting is bad. Easily 4 feet outside my door.

      1. Brit*

        Pittsburgh PA got more too, though definitely not in the feet area. We were originally in the 1-3 inches range, but then they kept moving that a little further north. I think the snow is down out west here, but we probably got about 6 inches or so.

      2. hermit crab*

        You guys are getting walloped over there! My cousin in Carlisle says she has at least 25 inches.

      3. Snowing*

        That’s where my parents live (well, Carlisle). More snow than I ever had as a kid.

        I now live in Boston and it looks like we got maybe a little more than predicted, but still not that much.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, outside my door this morning, I see about 8.” That’s certainly more than the dusting to 2″ that was forecast, but it’s not an amount that causes any problems. My street’s already clear.

          But it is enough that my town sent out an email at 9pm last night basically saying “It’s too late for us to declare snow emergency parking, so we’re not *requiring* people to only park on one side of the street. Please do so anyways. It’ll make snow removal easier. Please? Pretty please?”

    10. Katie the Fed*

      I’m at 22 inches in the Northern Virginia suburbs. EGADS!

      The neighbors took pity on me and used their snowblower on my driveway – thank god. I have such a bad back I would have been stuck here for ages. I’m baking some bread for them right now :)

      1. Ghost Umbrella*

        My apartment complex does the walkways and sidewalks. One of the few times I appreciate renting!

        1. Artemesia*

          One of the nice things about high rice living is that the sidewalks are cleared and the garbage hauled without effort on our part. And the city I live in is pretty good about enforcing sidewalk clearing rules.

    11. hermit crab*

      Close-in DC suburb: about 15 inches here and counting! Apparently there are only minimal power outages in the area. The snow is light and fluffy, lots of fun to run around in, but the winds are supposed to pick up this afternoon.

    12. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Yesterday, the apt mates & I had enchilada and corny music video-watching night (reggaeton, k-pop you name it). Today, it’s movie night. Also took a couple wintry “fashion” selfies lol.

    13. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m in a somewhat distant DC suburb, and we’ve got at least 20-24 inches so far. The predictions for our part of the DC suburbs were showing 30-34 inches. I thought about shoveling a few minutes ago, saw snow flying sideways, and decided to wait for it to stop. Luckily, we don’t have anywhere we need to be until Monday, and we can always telework if the roads haven’t been cleared.

      Our power lines are underground, so we’re not too worried about losing power, but we have gas heat, so we could always heat up some water if we have to. Right now we have stew in the crock pot and we’re watching the 1989 Batman.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        UPDATE: OK, my wife and I are shoveling in shifts, and after one shift each we’ve shoveled a path from the door to the driveway. I’m 5’11”, and the snow is up to my waist. O.O

        Lunch, Netflix, then another shift (or two), but I’m not sure that our street will be cleared by tomorrow morning, so I might be working from home again anyway.

    14. Today's anon*

      They’re saying 30 inches now in NYC and I can see it happening. I made pancakes this morning (I’ve never made pancakes from scratch LOL) and went snowshoeing in my local park and it was so much fun!!! it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to snowshoe so that was exciting. I can’t watch the news, they make it sound like we are about to all die, but at least in NYC, I find you really can always go out the front door – I grew up someplace in never snows so knowing in my head I can go out even if it’s just a block, and then actually going out, is a huge thing for me.

    15. Mimmy*

      Well %#@^%^& my husband just broke the snow thrower!!! With probably 2 feet of snow on the ground. What’s worse, we had someone come by a couple hours ago offering to help shovel, and we turned him down!!

    16. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We’ve got about 15 inches so far, and more is coming down quickly. I have a fire going, a book (And Again, by Jessica Chiarella, which is great), cats all around, and a kitchen full of food, so life is pretty great.

      My poor husband insists on going outside every few hours to shovel out the cars. I am not down with that plan, but he is from Chicago and cannot be stopped.

      1. Mimmy*

        My husband lived in Chicago for 5 years – might be partly why he decided to give the digging out a try now. No such luck – he didn’t see a brick that had been holding down the tarp, breaking the engine pulley :(

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I agree with the every few hours approach. It’s just too much to move all at once. We have to push the snow back because by February the huge mountains are in the way if we have not pushed the snow back when the season started. This means even more work.

        Three years ago, I waited too long to go out with tractor. The snow was piled up well over four feet in the mouth of my driveway. whoops. It wasn’t snow. It was ice. I darn near broke my tractor trying to open up the driveway. It took three hours that day to do the whole driveway. Then the walks and such had to be done. Usually everything combined takes about 50 minutes.

        1. blackcat*

          ” We have to push the snow back because by February the huge mountains are in the way if we have not pushed the snow back when the season started. This means even more work.”

          This was one of the BIG problems in Boston last year. We all assumed that the snow from blizzard #1 would melt (at least somewhat) before another significant storm. And then it stayed below freezing until blizzard #2. And then until blizzard #3. And some melted before storm #4 dropped the last 2ish feet, but by that point we had no where to put it and the piles were already like 8ft tall. Here in the ‘burbs it wasn’t so much a complete lack of space as a lack of strategy for where to put it. By the last storm, people were using wheel barrels to put it in their back yards, which would have been WAY easier with storm #1 or #2.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, it’s a big deal. My neighbor has a lot that is smaller than mine. Three years ago the snow was piled up to her second story window. The snow thrower would not throw the snow that high and hand shoveling it up there was not an option either. We got another 14 inches and there was no place to put it. It gets to be a huge problem. One thing among the many issues is pulling out from a side street on to a main road. You cannot see if there is a car coming or not, so you make your best guess. Richer communities can afford to have it loaded on trucks and taken away.

            When they plow retail parking lots, the piles of snow are sometimes bigger than the retailer’s building. It’s interesting to see how long it takes them to melt– like sometime in April? ha!

            1. blackcat*

              Boston’s snow farm from last winter finally melted in mid *July.*

              And, yeah, my town paid to truck some out of the main business district, but not around my house.* Turning was treacherous!

              *They dumped the snow from the main business district in the green space of my neighborhood. It’s not quite “park” but is city-owned land with good drainage into the creek. That pile was there until mid-April. People who lived next to it were quite cranky–it’s a perk of the neighborhood that got really nasty…

    17. katamia*

      We’re doing pretty okay, actually. Of course we have a ton of snow, but the wind doesn’t seem as bad as I thought it was going to be. We haven’t lost power, and I’m starting to hope that maybe we won’t lose it at all.

      Of course, this means we’re going to lose power the second I post this.

    18. pieces of flair*

      I’m in a close DC suburb. We have power, so it’s been fun. We’re watching netflix and there’s beef stew in the crockpot. We’re in a high-rise, so my 6-year-old is making snow angels on the balcony. Things will be less happy if the power goes out.

    19. OfficePrincess*

      I’m in east central PA and we have about 30 inches and counting, even though the forecast was 8-14 inches. Apparently there is a band coming to dump 3-5 inches per hour. For comparison, our season average is only 29.5 inches.

      We’re doing projects around the house with a little wine and Netflix mixed in. A couple hours ago we declared that we won’t dig our cars out until tomorrow.

    20. Stephanie*

      I’m sitting outside in 70-degree weather in Phoenix. :D

      (But I was in DC for the 2009 storm…yeah, that was bad. My street wasn’t shoveled for like 3 weeks).

    21. F.*

      About five inches in the ‘burbs west of Pittsburgh. I didn’t go out and shovel yet, since I’m not feeling very well and think I’m coming down with a cold. I figured I’d give it a day of rest and zinc lozenges to get rid of the cold before I get out there. Fortunately, I went to the grocery store Friday after work instead of my usual Saturday morning, so I don’t have to go anywhere until work on Monday, assuming I feel well enough to go. At least our cars are under the carport.

    22. Florida*

      The sun is shining where I am but there were reports of snow flurries in north Florida. You know it’s cold when there is anything resembling snow or ice in Florida.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      My best and worst were the same. Went to a live taping of the NPR podcast Ask Me Another. It was hilarious, but my spouse was super tired after a long day at work and so was a bit miserable, even though she was cracking up laughing, too. Why do they do these tapings on a Thursday night instead of a Friday night? Some of us have to get up super early for work the next day…

    2. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Took yesterday off. I won’t get paid for it, but I don’t care. I needed a mental health day.

      WORST: Paycheck is dismal. I was promised certain amount of money with this job, but that hasn’t ended up happening so now looking for another gig.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Thanks for the sympathy, but it’s OK. This job got me out of a horrible environment and I absolutely adore my co-workers now and my boss is cool. So there are definitely plusses and I am grateful to be there for now given the horrible environment I had. I just can’t survive on the money they pay without someone supplementing my income, which I actually already do through some work at home stuff. Given my degree and license though, I should be making nearly 1.5 or 2x what I am making now. They billed this job as salary. It’s not, it’s hourly. So, moving on, but sticking with it until something else comes along.

          1. Mimmy*

            Oooh that’s not cool. Did you bring that up during the offer phase? (You don’t have answer – don’t want to get this deleted since this is the weekend thread :) )

            1. Ruffingit*

              Mimmy, I’ll be happy to answer this in the work thread that was posted Friday. I’ll put your name in the answer so you can find it.

    3. I am Detective Stabler's short temper*

      Best: finishing work for the week.

      Worst: lack of money, I still need to write 1000 by midnight tomorrow.

    4. LizB*

      Best: So many social events! I met up with a former professor for happy hour, had Friend A over for dinner, went out to breakfast with coworkers, arranged to do pub trivia in a few weeks with Friends B & C, got invited to Friend D’s birthday party… I’m an introvert who craves social interaction, so I need exactly the right level of it to be happy, and this week definitely hit the sweet spot of just enough events to make me feel loved but not enough to wear me out completely.

      Worst: My car is having troubles. First it straight up ran out of oil on Wednesday because I’m an idiot and hadn’t taken it in recently enough. Random tires keep getting mysteriously low every few days. It’s been running loudly for months, and the mechanic I took it to blamed a cracked something-or-other in the exhaust that I didn’t have the money to fix at the time, but this week it started running REALLY loudly and I’m terrified that something is horribly broken and it’s all because I trusted the mechanic who said it wasn’t an issue except for the noise. I have an appointment with a different mechanic on Monday and almost $500 budgeted for repairs in YNAB (plus a bit more in an emergency fund), so I’m just crossing my fingers and using it as little as possible this weekend. I don’t have the money for a new car, and I need one for my job, so if it’s really broken I’m screwed. :(

      1. danr*

        For oil… pay attention to the oil light and add some when it turns on. Learn how to do that. For the tires, either they’re worn and you need new ones, or the seal between the tire and rim is loose and they need to be remounted. A good mechanic or tire place can tell you which one it is. A loud muffler is just a loud muffler. If you can stand the noise you don’t have to do much unless it breaks off. I’ve had that happen more than once. Good luck!

        1. LizB*

          The problem was the oil light didn’t come on until I was literally out, and then it was the “STOP NOW” scary version. Fortunately I was a block away from a mechanic my friends have recommended before, so I just coasted in and they topped me off, but there was no earlier warning. I’ll just have to be more proactive about checking it in the future.

          1. Artemesia*

            You really have to check every time you gas it up; especially if it has ever had a problem. My husband doesn’t do this and I ended up with the scary stop now message , no money and far from home. Not fun. ANd it is the easiest way to totally ruin a car engine in 10 minutes.

            1. Mander*

              Yeah, it’s good to get in the habit of doing this. It’s not hard and only takes a few minutes. I once had a car that seemed to use up oil with no warning, and after a near-disaster I was much more diligent about checking the oil, and I always carried a spare bottle in the trunk.

              Plus you will feel much more empowered knowing that you can do that job yourself instead of having to get someone else to do it!

              1. Artemesia*

                I was stunned to discover after 40 years of marriage that my husband didn’t routinely do this. At some point most cars start using oil and if you aren’t vigilant you can ruin the engine. We always each had our own car until we retired to the big city and now only have one (it is expensive to garage and insure so we may eventually go to no car and use the spot rentals). I always just checked oil when I gassed up and taught my kids to do the same; it wasn’t until I was stranded with no oil in the car that I realized my husband doesn’t do this.

          2. Alma*

            LizB, my mechanic made me swear on my checkbook that I would check the oil, the coolant, and the tire pressure once a week. If you do this before you start the car, there is no wiping of the dipstick as the oil has settled. Also, you want to use a small or pen-sized flashlight and shine it through the overflow tank – if it is not at “full” you can usually add water. If it happens more than once, call your mechanic. Your own tire gauge should cost less than $4. I know where all the free air stations are in my area. If you have to insert quarters, ***remove ALL of your valve caps before you put money in the machine, because you’ll be on a timer***.

            My car has 293,800 miles on it, and I like not having car payments.

            My gas gauge doesn’t work, so I have learned to not rely on lights to tell me anything. I reset my trip odometer and do my safety checks. You don’t want to have to replace or rebuild an engine – mucho dinero!!!

      2. Lizh*

        Is your vehicle a Toyota model by chance? There is a big to do right now with excess oil consumption on certain Toyota models. No recall because they say not safety issue. Google Toyota excess oil consumption, and you will see all kinds of stuff about it.
        Good luck with all of it.

        1. LizB*

          It’s a VW Passat, actually, but it’s 15 years old and I just hadn’t been paying attention to the oil level. It’s the first car I’ve ever owned, I bought it in June, and I haven’t done a good enough job of learning about car maintenance and what I should be paying attention to. Thanks for the good wishes!

          1. Schnapps*

            My dad always said that by the time the oil light comes on, damage has already been done, unfortunately. So despite the fact that I have newer car now (2007 fit) that has never had any issues, I still check the oil every time I gas up.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      Best: Being home in my jammies and hanging out with the cats and husband while the snow falls.
      Worst: Knowing that the Def Leppard cruise is likely in the Bahamas by now. I couldn’t afford to go. :(

    6. nep*

      Best: My dentist and all staff involved really went out of their way to help me out with something this week — their kindness blew me away; might sound crazy but really it turned into one of those moments that restores my faith in humans.
      No worst.

      1. Alma*

        Best: making hearty bean, whole grains, and veggie soup from scratch, cuddling with my dog, staying up all night to finish a book if I want, having a backup generator if it is needed…

        Worst: I can get to work, but out of an overabundance of caution, it has been closed – which means I won’t get paid for this week, and won’t be able to pick up my check for last week, and I have bills That Must Be Paid this week.

      2. Artemesia*

        I had a happy dental story too. My dental office has a bit of a reputation of upselling and pushing services. I lost a gold inlay this week (not quite a crown but huge) that had been in place for 45 years. I figured I was looking at at least $2000 for a crown and maybe even a root canal. The dentist on call (it was MLK and the dentists were taking the day off although they had skeleton staff) decided he could reinstall the inlay as there was no decay or damage beyond losing it and also coded it as an emergency office visit rather than a crown installation since I have no insurance. This meant that the x-ray and the reinstallation of the inlay cost $134 which if it holds up will be the bargain of the century.

    7. Just Wondering*

      Best: had a teacher jump at the chance to substitute teach my class for my vacation coming up – glad my kiddos’ reputation preceded them! Also, get to see my brother’s family for the first time in three and a half years. Long distance intercontinental family here!
      Worst: (Oh first world problems!) My cleaning lady opened all the doors and windows to air out the place while I was at work and left the house like that, so I got home to an internal temperature of ten degrees above freezing on what is supposed to be the coldest night in ten years here. On the other hand, I live somewhere where all the doors and windows can be left open for the day and there’s no real risk of anyone breaking in. I have been huddled under a blanket with a hot water bottle since I got home, though. Not how I had hoped to spend the evening.

      1. MT*

        Congrats on the smooth vacation cover! I can only imagine how proud it must feel for a teacher to have a class of notoriously good kids.

        Also, a home that’s ten degrees above freezing inside sounds like it would be a problem anyplace in the world – Yikes! Try to stay warm!

    8. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: I was awarded a fellowship (volunteer hours). Also, folks at my day job like what I’m doing (so far, knock on wood). Also, the apt mates are doing fun blizzard shindigs.

      Worst: I miss my boyfriend…..he lives over 1/2 an hr away but in this blizzard that’s like, clear across Siberia. Le sigh :/

      …Although when he was here 2-3 days ago, he told me he might ask his guy friend to give him tips re: engagement ring shopping, he saw my ring style on pinterest. And I told him I was reading theknot (wedding magazine) and he thought it was cute. (I was worried he’d freak out but he’s awesome) <:)

    9. Not Gloria, A.A., B.S.*

      Best: It was a short week because my company closes for MLK Jr Day.

      Worst: I just signed up for income based student loan repayment. I feel like a failure. :(

      1. Al Lo*

        I live in Canada and went to grad school in the U.S. (and have a dual citizenship, so I had U.S. loans; I wasn’t an international student), and in the past 2 weeks, I put my biggest loan payment on forbearance for a while, because the Canadian dollar is so crappy. I can’t afford to pay an extra 40% on my loans right now, so I’m hoping that by pressing pause for a little while, things will straighten out (both with the economy and with our finances). Not fun.

      2. asteramella*

        You’re not a failure! You’re being a great champion for yourself by being proactive about your finances.

        1. Not Gloria, A.A., B.S.*

          I really meant more of a failure because I don’t make any more now than I did before the degree. I went back to school as an adult to improve my earning power. Hasn’t helped a bit. I’d be better off with no loans and a minimum wage job.

          1. Vulcan social worker*

            I got an MSW and it basically qualified me for a pay cut. Apparently getting one nullifies years of non-profit experience I had with just a BA.

          2. Anxa*

            I earn less with my degree.

            One good thing about Ibr is even if you are paying just $5/ mo that can count toward the 25 year forgiveness period

      3. Ruffingit*

        I’ve been on income based repayment for quite sometime. That doesn’t signify failure on your part, it signifies something seriously wrong with the fact that we’re in debt until we die to become educated in this country. Don’t want to get into politics here, but just know this is not a failure for you. You are making the payments, that is success.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Echoing this, because it’s really important. Our system has failed a lot of people. It’s extremely hard to get a job that will allow you to pay off your education and yet, still have a life.

      4. Mander*

        Good for you for signing up! I avoided looking into it for years and just applied for forbearance after forbearance until someone finally told me about IBR. I could have had 2 extra years toward being “in payment” even though I made so little that my payments are, in fact, zero.

        I definitely educated myself into poverty. I really wanted a PhD so I took out loans to pay for it; now I owe about $150k in total and I barely make minimum wage at an unstable job. In some ways it was the stupidest thing I have ever done.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I have about the same amount of debt from law school and I don’t make a whole bunch either. I’ve made my peace with it. It is what it is. I pay what I can and I move on. There’s just no point in being angry or upset or emotionally flogging myself for it now. Get OK with your past choices because you can’t make yesterday’s decisions with today’s knowledge. You’re doing what you can and that is enough!

    10. brightstar*

      The best is that this week is finally over and I’m doing very little today because I’m exhausted.

      The worst was the reason for the exhaustion: working 10 hour days because half my staff was out sick while it’s our busiest time of the year.

    11. Editor*

      Best: Indulging in pot roast and roasted vegetables while watching the snow and listening to the Empire Brass.

      Worst: Job ended a week ago and there’s no replacement on the horizon yet.

    12. Al Lo*

      Best: I’ve been searching for a jewellery armoire for ages, and have never found something that I love in my price range. So, this month, I finally made my own Ikea-hacked version, and finished it up in the last week: http://imgur.com/a/izBtB

      Take a BRIMNES cabinet, 3 MALMA mirrors, a KOMPLEMENT drawer liner, two MOLGAN battery-operated motion-sensor lights, and a bunch of supplies from Michaels, and I’ve got a lovely jewellery cabinet.

      It’s got room for fascinators, storage for every type of jewellery I currently have, and space to add more hooks/rods/etc if I need to down the line. I used this tutorial (http://www.shanty-2-chic.com/…/02/jewelry-organizer-diy.html) as inspiration for the different types of storage inside, and modified to suit the quantities of stuff that I’ve got. I’m very pleased!

      Worst: Nothing in particular this week, I don’t think. It’s kind of been a pretty even-keeled week all around. Nothing super exciting; nothing super sucky.

        1. Al Lo*

          Thanks, both of you! It was fun. And my living room was covered in sawdust because I had to work on it in front of the TV, instead of in the basement, like a normal person.

    13. asteramella*

      Best: My boss told me that he and my dept head advocated for me when setting the 2016 budget and got me a 13% raise! Both boss and dept head are very hands-off and getting feedback from them is like pulling teeth, so I was excited to hear that they have liked my work.

      Worst: I’m still job-hunting. Even with a 13% raise (that hasn’t kicked in yet), I’m still paid below-market, my commute is 1+ hour each way, my benefits got even worse this year and are very expensive, there’s no upward mobility for my skill set within the org, and while I like my departmental coworkers I believe that the org as a whole operates unethically. I think the raise was partially motivated by the fact that several coworkers have quit recently for higher-paying jobs with better benefits, and their positions have not been filled… So I will feel slightly guilty about leaving. Not guilty enough to stay though.

    14. periwinkle*

      Best: I had posted a few weeks ago about adopting an active kitten to be a playmate for my bored young adult cat. Well, we decided we needed an even number of kitties so we went back to the same rescue group and brought home a lovely blue-cream girl who was described as “a tortie without an ounce of torti-tude.” We felt pretty certain that this would be proved wrong once she was settled into her forever home. We were right. Yay! So we have the chaos and fun of 6 happy kitties, 3 young & active and 3 sedate seniors.

      Worst. So, so, oh so much litter box scooping…

      1. :)*

        awww! I want a kitty soo bad, but my apartment is too small and with my new job I’m not home as much :( I had 2 at my parents house, so I visit them at least once a week to cuddle.

    15. Mimmy*

      BEST: One of my councils held a brief presentation on a topic based on a suggestion I made. Unfortunately, the information made zero sense, at least to me.

      WORST: Hubby breaking the snow thrower IN THE MIDDLE OF A BLIZZARD!!

    16. mondegreen*

      Best: Blizzard party in the basement! My best friend is bringing glow sticks and someone else borrowed a fancy sound system.

      Worst: I tried to venture out earlier this afternoon, then slipped and hurt my foot. I don’t think it’s a break: I can put weight on it, albeit uncomfortably. But I’m still limping around in padded slippers and worrying about not having followed up on my doc’s concerns about bone density.

    17. Stephanie*

      Best: Finished the 10K on Sunday! It was exhilarating that I could do that!
      Worst: Ugh, just money anxiety. I realized when I was up last night at 1 am, figuring out if it was worth the gas back to the Nice Mall to return the earrings I bought on a whim, that I need to find a better-paying job. (Or at least be doing something for myself, like school or doing my own business instead of assisting in the profits of a multinational corporation).

    18. Lindsay J*

      Best: Found a new board game group to play with via Meetup.com. (My boyfriend had started one last year or the year before that, but he had to step away because of an extended business trip and I had to step away because of my work schedule. When we came back it had been taken over by an arrogant douchebag who had to out alpha-nerd everyone and made it not fun anymore, so we quit). This group is bigger than the last one was and everyone seems open and welcoming. And they start earlier, too.

      Also, I’m starting to get more into the swing of things at my new job. I have my parking pass and id card and am starting to get to know people a bit.

      Worst: finances. The cost of my apartment basically doubled in October because I used to have a roommate and now I don’t. (She moved out, and with a pre-planned vacation and different trainings and transitioning to my new job I haven’t had time to find a new roommate because I’ve been out of state more than I’ve been here). My property manager has been understanding about the whole thing and letting me pay when I am able to rather than everything at the beginning of the month, but the owners are getting understandably antsy.

      1. SAHM*

        Oh man, I love board games. I don’t generally get to play unless I’m at my moms for Christmas/Easter/a birthday and all my sibs pull out a new board game they’ve been playing and I get one night of fun. Can’t wait until my kids are older and can play something other than candyland!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I always considered the Candyland and Chutes and Ladders years my investment toward having partners for more interesting board games in the future. Those games can be excruciatingly boring!

        2. Kyrielle*

          They actually can, probably. My boys are 4 and 7, and among the things they can play are Sequence for Kids, Life: Despicable Me (it doesn’t have the little people of the main Life game, and is somewhat funnier), Star Wars: Star Destroyer Strike (this one I’m dubious about, it annoys me a bit with falling-apartness), Skylanders Giants: Portal Master Game, and for the older one Hive and Dungeon Roll. (And sort of Monopoly Junior, sort of.)

          1. ginger ale for all*

            My niece was able to master Uno at age three. I think the cards had Elmo or something like him on them which made her want to learn the game with a desperation that surprised me. She was able to beat adults by age four.

        3. Editor*

          My mother always likes playing Sorry with kids because the element of chance levels the playing field between players of different ages.

    19. Kyrielle*

      Best: Got to visit with much-loved relatives and they gave us presents! (Belated Christmas get together.) Plus we ate out and I actually managed something I _could_ eat and liked. :)

      Worst: One of our kids pushed the wrong buttons on the refrigerator and somehow set the temperature to 44 degrees and, yes, things spoiled because we didn’t notice at first. >.<

    20. F.*

      Mine’s more like bad, worse and worst:
      Bad: Coming down with a cold, a dangerous thing with my asthma.
      Worse: Snow. Too damn much of it!
      Worst: 84-year-old husband has a chest cold, and I’m getting worried, since he never gets sick.

    21. Doriana Gray*

      Best: I have a couple this week starting with my new job. I was in training all week and, when one of my coworkers went out on vacation, I took over three of his files and nailed the evaluations. My new manager told me I did a great job with that piece, and then Friday told me that instead of giving me my own files to work at the end of February, they may cut my training short and give me my own stuff in two weeks since I’m picking the work up much quicker than they expected. I was so nervous I wasn’t going to be able to do Senior Teapot Level work (after only doing Junior work for a little over a year in a new-to-me industry), but it looks like I didn’t have much to worry about – I get this stuff. My promotion wasn’t a mistake/premature.

      My other best is my brother and niece came to visit this weekend! I barely see this kid anymore, and I miss them both. I got to snuggle my niece and play games with her, and she hasn’t forgotten me yet even though she barely sees me. Plus, she’s a little badass like I was as a baby, so I find her hilarious. We all went out to eat (on my mom) and had a good time. I can’t wait until they move back near me.

      Worst: My joint pain is back something fierce thanks to the cold. It hurts just to stand sometimes, so I’ve got to find a way to better regulate my body temperature and surroundings.

    22. Vdubs*

      Best: I have more than $2,000 saved for the first time in like forever (and no debts)! Thank you, years of following Dave Ramsey and almost always working 2 jobs.

      Worst: the uncertainty of waiting to hear back from someone in the world of online dating, a after an awesome Skype call.

      1. Artemesia*

        Love your best. While Ramsey’s political and religious stuff is something I find fairly odious, his advice for average families keeping their heads above water is gold. WE did this all our lives — when we had almost no money and when we both were working and doing well — and we never lost a night’s sleep over unexpected expenses or unemployment for one of us because we always had that emergency cushion. And now because we lived below our means and squirreled it away for a lifetime, we can retire and live very well. Sounds like you are well on your way.

    23. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: Found a great bargain on Craigslist for a credenza to put under the tv. It was from a couple of old ladies who were helping their elderly mother move out of her retirement village and in with one of them. The piece was solid wood, no particle board anywhere, excellent condition, and they were asking $125. We didn’t even try to haggle, just paid up and were happy to do so.
      Worst: Feeling depressed/anxious (I can’t tell which) and knowing I need to make the phone call to get help either through EAP or by visiting my GP but procrastinating on doing so because I feel anxious/depressed.

      1. KarenT*

        Hang in there. I know it’s hard to push through to make the call (there is seriously some sort of hellish irony that one of the most anxiety producing things is reaching out for help about anxiety) but it’s always been worth it in my experience. I hope you find some relief soon.

    24. A Payne*

      BEST: This week has been the best! We got approved for our new apartment, I got a job offer from a wonderful company, and my cat has been especially cuddly.

      WORST: I fell off my bed earlier this week and have a guitar shaped bruise on my arm.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Best: Managed to buy a replacement for my conked-out printer in the sale, and got toner as well.

        Worst: I signed up for a dance class to meet new people, and have been told I am on the waiting list, but could be accepted if I brought a partner with me…

    25. Overeducated and underemployed*

      Best: Yesterday I had to work on a job talk for a few hours, so we invited local friends over for games, snacks, and cocoa to keep husband and kid company. They stayed into the evening, so I got to hang out, eat way too much junk, and watch kid being Mr. Charming and having fun too.

      Worst: kid being so sick he had to stay home through Wednesday, and me and husband picking up a milder version of the illness. It really made my morning miserable even today.

      1. phyllisB*

        Best: My daughter finally admitted she needs help for her drug problem. She’s in detox as we speak. Worst: Finding the right treatment center for her. The one she wants to go to has closed, but she doesn’t want to go to the one they recommend.

  3. Anonymous Educator*

    I feel inept, but can someone who’s seen The Dinner (original Italian title is I Nostri Ragazzi, which is actually “Our children” and not “The dinner”) explain what happened at the end of the movie?

    Feel free to qualify it with “SPOILER ALERT” or whatever warning you deem necessary.

    1. GraceT*

      I haven’t seen it, but I googled it after I read your comment. I searched and searched for what the ending was to the film. Sounds like people were either shocked by it or disappointed, but nobody said what it was. Now I’m super curious.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, same here. I Googled for “spoilers the dinner” or “what happened at the end of the movie the dinner” and all sorts of other things. I got only reactions and not explanations. I really don’t think I’m that imperceptive, but apparently I am! I kept rewinding and rewatching the ending…

        1. Myrin*

          Okay, now I’m really curious about what happend there that made everyone so confused and/or mad. I don’t think I’ve seen this movie (it doesn’t seem to have been released in my country, even) but I can’t even find a decent summary or anything like it.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, I’m not sure where it’s available. Right now in the U.S. it’s available on Netflix streaming.

    2. Anonymous Educator*


      Okay. I just watched the ending for the fourth time with my spouse, and she was able to explain it to me. Still not sure why they didn’t make it more straightforward instead of leaving the action off-frame. Basically, the doctor saw his lawyer brother out on the street and then killed him with his car.

    3. Editor*

      Film-related comment: I find it interesting that understanding some things in films depends so much on personal experience. Don’t beat yourself up when an ending is inferential instead of explicit.

      I had an experience where I understood the ending much better than a friend of mine. She’s a film buff, and she showed me a film set in Iran or Iraq about a couple that marries in the teeth of his family’s opposition. It turns out she can’t have kids and her mother-in-law makes life hell for her, so she tells her husband to get a second wife to have children, and she turns out to have a hard time dealing with the second wife and sharing her husband. She returns to her family and the husband gets the long-desired child.


      The much-awaited heir turns out to be a girl. The mother-in-law is still not happy, but the husband dumps the second wife and keeps the child. The first wife invites the husband (I can’t remember if they divorced or if she just went home) to come to an event her family is having. The husband shows up with the little girl.

      My friend informed me that the film is so sad because the couple has split and the husband just has a daughter to raise. She’s not from a happy family and doesn’t read a lot of happy-ending fiction like I do. I had to explain that the husband showing up at the family event meant the original couple was going to raise the daughter and the heck with the MIL. She’d seen the film a couple of times and never registered that the reconciliation had happened because the first wife sees the husband and daughter show up from her window — they don’t run to each other through a meadow or announce they’re reuniting. We saw it with subtitles, so I don’t know if the original language version is more explicit. I wish I could remember the title.

      And… she didn’t like the film nearly as much once she found out it was a conventional happy-ending romance.

      1. katamia*

        I find it interesting that understanding some things in films depends so much on personal experience.

        Oh, definitely. I was watching an older Indian film (from the 70s, I think) a few years ago and got very confused because I already knew (I’d seen the remake, which was basically shot for shot) because I knew a certain character died in the beginning. In the remake, we get a brief, non-gory shot of the character lying on the floor, dead. In the original, though, at one point someone just says “X is dead.” These days we’re so used to characters not being dead unless we see the body that I was genuinely confused by how she could be not-dead in the original and dead in the remake when this character’s death helps to kick off the entire plot. Took me awhile to realize that back then, saying “X is dead” would have been enough.

        What movie are you talking about? It sounds interesting.

  4. Felix*

    Hi all! I just joined a 10k run group and went to the first session. I’m pretty excited but am also nervous since I’m not a runner!

    So my question is, do any of you runners have tips or tricks for anything to do with running? I’m a total beginner and would love to hear your thoughts!

    1. StudentPilot*

      Listen to yourself! Especially at the beginning – if you need to walk – walk. Don’t stress about ‘But I’m supposed to run for X minutes before I walk’ – if your lungs hurt/legs cramp, it’s ok to walk.

      Also – any run is a good run, because you went for a run. Even if it’s a crappy run, where you walk more than run, you have trouble breathing, you’re not into it, your legs feel like 300lb weights….you went out for a run, so that’s a win. :)

      1. GOG11*

        I agree so much with all of this!!! I have some health problems tied directly to exercising (like exercise-induced) and by listening to my body and keeping at it I worked my way up to low 20’s mileage for long runs. Doing intervals or dropping back on the pace a bit may seem like a step backwards, but it’s not. Quite a few friends of mine run ultra-marathons and they all say miles are miles (so if anyone knows what to do to stick with it and do the seemingly impossible, it’s them).

        Personally, I also find it helpful to think of things in objective numbers “11 minute/mile pace” or “4 mile run” rather than “slow/easy” and “short.” Yes, you want to go by effort in terms of listening to your body, but it’s helpful for me to not attach subjective terms to things that I then compare myself to. “This should be easy! I’m only doing 11 minute pace!” 11 minute pace is 11 minute pace and easy is whatever is easy for you. I wish I’d learned this earlier as it makes validating what I’m feeling and heeding feedback from my body a lot easier.

        Lastly, I’d recommend technical fabrics rather than cotton for any areas that may chafe. For me, socks are especially important. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive or made for running, but if you’re getting blisters or things start rubbing and you’re wearing cotton, giving technical fabrics a try could help (I’m not at home and can’t recall names at the moment). I’d gone to a running store and the associate was practically rabid in her hatred of cotton and I had written her off, but I’m glad I made the switch – anything that’s a little uncomfortable for a short time will grow very uncomfortable or downright painful over the course of 6 miles.

        Good luck!

        1. StudentPilot*

          Oh yes, “cotton is rotton” – go for techinical clothing, even if it’s from Walmart (which is where I get mine)

    2. mkb*

      Don’t increase mileage by more than 10% a week. I used to run the same distance 3 different days before I would add on a little more. Overtime I steadily built myself up from barely 1 mile to 8 or so. Good luck and have fun!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I know this sounds weird, but try to run as smoothly as possible—think locomotive. The less up-and-down motion and less thumping on the ground with each step. It’s more efficient and better for your knees.

      1. hermit crab*

        I did one of those couch-to-5k podcast programs one time, and it stated that advice in a way that I found really useful. Basically, it said to picture yourself running past a wall that comes up to your shoulders. Someone on the other side of the wall shouldn’t be able to tell whether you are walking or running, except for your speed — you shouldn’t be going up and down, just forward.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          That’s a great way to describe it. Reminds me of those mimes who pretend to be walking down some stairs or taking an imaginary escalator.

      2. fposte*

        I was out for a walk today and saw a runner who reminded me of another one: don’t pump your hands across your body but instead just forward and back. We’ve got a lot of cross-body runners around here (and this one had quite spectacular winging out action on the left foot as well).

    4. nep*

      All great tips so far.
      Invest some time in strength training — esp legs and core. Even bodyweight exercises. Can do wonders for your running.
      All the best and enjoy.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, seconding this. It’s a lot better on your knees if you’re running from your glutes and core (versus your quads).

        1. CheeryO*

          Your glutes are always going to be doing a lot of the work, and that’s okay – the problem is that most people have tight hip flexors and glutes that don’t fire effectively as a result of too much sitting. Strength training definitely helps correct those imbalances!

      2. nep*

        (I shouldn’t even say ‘even’ bodyweight exercises. As if they’re somehow inadequate. So many bodyweight exercises are fantastic for strength and stability.)

      1. Stephanie*

        Go get fitted! I was skeptical, but I noticed a difference when I ran in some properly fitting shoes versus Cute Sale Nikes.

    5. AnotherFed*

      Blister sticks are your friend! Inevitably, something like a sock wrinkle or new pair of shoes that seemed fine at first will give you a blister, or you’ll discover you’ve got a spot that blisters easily. Blister sticks are good afterwards, to prevent it from getting any worse, and if you remember to put some on before you run, they do a good job of preventing blisters, too.

      1. GOG11*

        I use gel antiperspirant on my feet and it works wonders. I can run in the rain and through puddles and across rivers without blisters.

    6. Beginner*

      Tagging onto OP’s question: How do you build up endurance? I’ve been waking about 2-3 miles a day quite easily, but when I run, I have a lot of trouble breathing even for less than a minute. My leg muscles don’t feel sore or tired, but I have to stop because my lungs burn and then my stomach cramps up.

      1. Today's anon*

        You may be going out too fast, which is a common thing for beginner runners. I find that even when I just take a break, it takes me a while to figure out what pace I really can comfortably run at. Try singing or talking to yourself (or to someone else if you are doing it with someone), that usually will keep you at a pace where you can sustain your breathing. Eventually you will get to know by feel where you should go pace-wise.

        1. StudentPilot*

          Oh yes this!

          I find when I run, every time I run, the first run bit is the worst. I run for a few minutes, and have to start walking because my lungs are mad at me, my legs feel like weights…..but then the next run bit is better.

          One thing I do is I go by landmarks – I have to run past that tree, or to the far side of the bridge, then I can take a walk break. (The landmarks aren’t that far away, but they are juuuuust past what my lungs feel I should do.)

        2. GOG11*

          I completely agree! Slow down, perhaps way slower than you think is necessary, and that should help a lot. Go slow enough that you feel decently comfortable but aren’t walking, but don’t be afraid to take walking breaks if needed. Over time, you should be able to go further at that pace or take fewer walking breaks. Try not to increase speed and distance at the same time. So, once you can go 2 miles at a certain pace, you can work up to three OR you can work on going the 2 miles faster, but don’t try to run 3 miles at a faster pace. That can lead to injury or just burning you out.

          As far as your stomach goes, is it like a side stitch or is it like when you get a normal stomach ache?

          1. Beginner*

            I think side stitch is the way to describe it? It’s sometimes to one side, but always in the area right under my ribs. Slightly higher than a stomachache from eating something bad.

            1. GOG11*

              I rarely get them anymore, but when I used to, I would switch to breathing in on the other side. So, if you have a cramp on your right side, delay your intake of breath a little bit so you can breathe in as your left foot hits the ground. Continue timing it that way until the pain subsides. I can’t recall why it works, but it’s worked many times for me.

        3. Beginner*

          I think my speed is what bothers me the most. Doing an exhausting first day couch to 5k, my “running” pace was barely faster than my walking pace at the same distance. And I’m kind of a slow walker too. I take 27 minutes to walk 1.5 miles and when I intersperse it with running, it’s something like 23 minutes instead. =\

          1. Today's anon*

            I totally understand your frustration but as you build your strength and cardio, you will get faster if you keep at it regularly. Especially at the beginning, the gains will come. And, as a very slow runner, we come in all varieties :)

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Ha, yeah. I found it pretty irritating when I was jogging and my husband would just be casually walking beside me. I’m a slow runner, plus I’m 5’5″ and he’s 6’3″.

            I always went by my heart rate. I didn’t even set out to become a jogger. My goal was to walk for 45 minutes, keeping my heart rate at whatever was suggested for my age at the time. But I couldn’t get into the target range by walking, so I had to go to a slow jog. Whenever my heart rate would go above the target range, I’d slow to a walk. I kept using the target heart range as my guide until I was doing a 70-minute run six days a week with little to no walking.

            My current level of fitness, since I’ve been sedentary for so long, means I now need to start the process at the beginning. I’ll have to start with mostly walking and work up to jogging again. Probably I’ll shoot for five days a week rather than six, now that I’m ten years older.

          3. skyline*

            I started with Couch to 5K and now run half marathons. And I will say that the first weeks of Couch to 5K were harder than any of my training for later races has been, because I was doing something new and trying to establish a new habit. It truly does get better!

      2. cardiganed librarian*

        That’s what happened to me when I started running. I walked a lot, but I couldn’t jog a block without my heart thudding and having to gasp for breath. I just kept running till I couldn’t do it anymore (NOTE: I was young and in very good health apart from being out of shape AND I’m a huge wuss so I didn’t hurt myself, but I know “pain” can be “next to death” for some people) and walking it off. A couch-to-5k does pretty much the same thing but in a more structured way.

        I found the big turn was around 5km. I was doing 3 or so km, mostly jogging but with breaks, and then I tried pushing it up to 5km. I actually found that much easier, and after that I was able to increase my distances regularly. I think it took me longer to go from 0-5km than from 5km-half marathon!

    7. Stephanie*

      So if you go to a race, you will notice A TON of people are walking. I mean, there will be always be the elite professional racers at the front and then the super fast amateurs, but in the middle and toward the back, plenty of people will stop for walk breaks.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        I’ve done sports all my life but never ran more than a 5k. I trained for a 1/2 marathon and then full marathon using the run/walk method. (See Jeff Galloway: http://www.jeffgalloway.com/)

        Like Stephanie said, lots of people walk in races. Using run/walk, I keep a steady pace with people who are running. Building up my endurance this way, combined with strength training, brought me to a level where I can easily run/walk 10 miles in training and run a 5k with no walking.

        Give it time and patience and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Running is for you.

    8. KarenT*

      Push through fatigue (the feeling of a second wind kicking in is amazing!), push through boredom, but never push through pain. You can really hurt yourself if you push too hard–listen to your body.

      How does your group work? Are you building up to 10k?

      1. Felix*

        Yep the run group is building up to running 10k in 14 weeks. We started last week running for 30 sec and walking for 3 min, we will build up from there to running the whole 10k by the end. Last week was pretty easy for me, but I’m worried it will get a lot harder really soon!

        1. KarenT*

          That’s cool! I taught myself to run in a similar way, but I used an app :)

          And it will get harder, but that’s the fun part :)

    9. CheeryO*

      Get fitted for shoes at a running store and buy your first pair there, and then look for older models online – you can save a bundle! Keep track of your mileage on the shoes and replace them around 500 miles, or even a bit earlier if you notice that you’re unusually ache-y.

      Get a tube of BodyGlide if you’re chafing anywhere (you’ll know if you chafed when you take a shower after, trust me). And +1000 on no cotton. You can get away with a cotton t-shirt if it’s warm out, but otherwise, you’re going to want tech tights/shorts and a tech tee/jacket/hoodie and socks. The C9 line at Target is awesome if you want to start cheap.

      As far as form, whatever comes naturally is probably fine, but you could have someone more experienced watch you to make sure you aren’t over-striding – that can cause shin splints. In general, you’re better off taking shorter, quicker steps. And +1 on not letting your arms cross the center plane of your body – that just sets off a chain reaction of inefficiency.

      1. CheeryO*

        Oh, and if you ever have a pain that is bad enough to alter your gait, you need to take time off and let yourself heal. It’s fine to run through soreness, and a really slow run can actually be great for recovery.

    10. Felix*

      Thank you all for the wonderful advice! I wasn’t expecting so much great feedback. I really appreciate it!

      1. Grumpy*

        Youtube has Lululemon’s “Seawheeze” yoga videos for stretching out runners.
        Even if you’re not into yoga they help prevent injuries and reduce soreness.
        Oh, and congrats! (check out runsforcookies dot com and nycrunningmama for inspriation)

    11. hnl123*

      Things that have helped me:
      – Focusing on form. Your group, friend, YouTube, taking a video, can tell you alot about your form. Once I recognized HOW my form was off, and made corrections, running felt better
      – Strength training. I had weaker hips/glutes so that led to shin splints, pain. I spent a lot of time doing hip strengthening exercises, ab exercises, helped me be a better runner
      -Sllllloooowwwwly increasing the miles (first few runs I did, I just tried to run ONE MORE MINUTE than the last run)
      – shoes. Makes a huge difference
      -foam rolling the ITB and calves
      – don’t worry about all the gadgets and gizmos until you’re in half marathon+ territory. Just get comfortable with the mental and physical aspects of running
      -you running speed is the least important thing in the whole equation. In fact, how fast you’re running isn’t at all important
      – don’t know if you train outdoors/indoors, but running outside and on treadmill is different

  5. Angelica*

    I need to mention work a little bit to provide context for this question, but it’s not work related!! I’ve been working in my current position, full-time, since September. It also happens to be the first “real” full-time job I’ve ever held (not counting summer jobs, etc.). I’m noticing that for the past 6 months I’ve just become a zombie. I work, come home, surf the internet, eat dinner, maybe watch a movie, then sleep. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. I’m getting fed up of this dull routine, I’m getting “nothing” done in my personal life. (Not that I have any specific goals.) WHAT should I be doing AFTER work to make my life more interesting? I was thinking about going to the gym for an hour or so after work, to get my head into a different state, but I’m not sure.

    1. mkb*

      Can you meet friends for dinner a few times a month? Or grab a drink with coworkers once in a while? I feel like that can help to break up the cycle. I am currently pregnant so I literally come home from work and lay on the couch until I go to bed then wake up and do the same thing. In the past though my husband and I would go out to dinner a few times a month or go to a happy hour. Sometimes I would go to dinner or happy hour with coworkers or friends. I think the gym is a good idea too.

    2. Felix*

      Oh man I hear you. That was me not too long ago. I’ve started going to events that are really varied to get me thinking outside of my routines! Some ideas: local art gallery and museum often have evening/weekend events, theatre (universities often have theatre programs with live theatre at reduced rates), join an exercise class, if your town has a cultural scene you might find some slam poetry readings or open mic nights to watch. Universities sometimes have free lecture series!

      Look for a community calendar and a community calendar for your local university (if you have one).

      This is silly, but my boyfriend and I also started regularly using his buildings rec room for ping pong nights and we have so much fun playing and listening to music!

      I’ve also started organizing a monthly ladies night for me and my girlfriends. Everyone seems to really enjoy it and are grateful someone stepped up to organize!

      It feels exhausting to think about a new routine, but I promise it really will help with your level of happiness!

        1. Felix*

          Aw, that’s so sweet! I have to put in effort to not just end up binge-watching netflix after work, but it’s totally worth it. Thanks for saying that though – great pick me up after a LONG week of tons of overtime! :)

    3. GraceT*

      You could try a weekly Zumba class (or whatever workout interests you) after work. That way you can be around people other than your co-workers and have fun.
      Have you thought about exploring a new hobby/interest and maybe taking classes for that? I’m taking sign language classes and my dog and I are doing therapy dog classes so he can get certified. Both of those give me something to work on all week long.

    4. hermit crab*

      Volunteering! I’m a super-duper homebody, so knowing that someone is counting on me to show up and help out is how I convince myself to get out of the house. Bonus points if it’s something that you’d love to be paid for, but probably couldn’t make a living doing (example: I volunteer at the zoo and hang out with the reptiles).

      1. GraceT*

        I love the idea of volunteering for something you’d love to be doing as a job but can’t ( like at the zoo). I love ballet but can’t do it (and I’m too old to take classes) so I volunteer to help disabled children learn it because it requires no ballet knowledge for the volunteers. I just follow along and help the kids focus, balance and get in position.

        1. Quagga*

          Hope you see this, GraceT, but you are not too old to take ballet! Check to see if any dance studios offer Adult Ballet lessons in your city. I’m in my 30s, take ballet, and it’s often the best hour of my week. There’s a a good age range in my class as well; I definitely have some classmates who are in their 60s at least.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Plan something – anything really. Instead of saying I am going to get out and something, say I’m going to go to X on Wednesay. With nonexistent or vague plans, you end up not leaving your couch. Join an adult sports league where you’re obligated or pick some activity (trivia, story telling, open mic night) that happens once a week or month so you can’t just tell yourself you’ll skip tonight and go tomorrow. Mostly, though, I think it’s the idea of making plans when you’re not tired and knowing for a few days that come Wednesday after work you’ve got plans. You’re not likely to skip out on them then.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. The thing that helped us get a new social life after move to a new area was just committing to finding things to do and getting out. Meet up offers tons of options for every type of interest and the other people who participate are also looking for friends. Join a monthly book group, join a group that goes to plays or films, there may be weekend community walks, a group for 30 something professional women — etc etc. Classes — take an art class, or seminar or whatever. If something doesn’t turn out to be fun, drop it and try something else.

        We are great at couch potatoing, so I make sure that I have scheduled something for Sat night and subscribe to a couple of cultural things.

        This is one of those things where you just have to do it. And then adjust it as you see how it goes.

    6. asteramella*

      Set yourself up for success! In the morning, for me, setting myself up for success means I’ve laid out my clothes and accessories the night before, I prepared my lunch the night before and just need to take it out of the fridge, my bag and keys are in an obvious place, and everything I need to do or pick up before leaving the house is ready and accessible.

      So for the evening, think about what you want to do and set yourself up for success. If you want to go for a run in your neighborhood, lay out your running clothes so that you can walk in the door, change, and walk right out again. If you want to go to the gym, pack up your gym stuff and put it in your car when you leave in the morning, so you can go straight from work to gym. Sign up for a class and pay for it in advance so that you have an incentive not to skip. Put your dinner in the slow cooker in the morning so you have a ready-made meal when you get home and can spend time doing something other than cooking. Etc.

    7. Editor*

      A couple of years after I was widowed, I realized I was in a rut. I found a couple of websites that listed activities in my area (one spot was the local newspaper), and I did one new thing every weekend.

      Even though I didn’t have anyone to go to this stuff with, getting out was a big help and finding something to do became part of my routine. I don’t do a new thing every weekend now, but about six months of that really made a difference. There were some groups that sponsored events I liked that I now attend sporadically, so there was a long-term benefit.

      Winter is the easiest time to fall into the come-home-and-stay-home slump. I find craft and art classes, the gym, and concerts easier to go to in the winter, but in summer there’s a lot more to get me out of the house and out of my routine.

    8. Mando Diao*

      You have to take it upon yourself to do the “work” part of maintaining friendships now that your window for enjoyable socializing has gotten smaller. It’ll make you feel self-conscious at first, but you really do have to schedule your friend time.

      Ask your friends if they want to get a game night going. Start playing D&D (or whatever), even if it’s not your thing. That kind of game lends itself to weekly get-togethers.

      I started a coloring club. We take our coloring books/knitting/small crafts/books and have mimosas and don’t say much. It’s a good way to get out and be around people without having to be “on.”

    9. INTP*

      First, life with a full-time job can just be kind of zombielike. Once I got fed up with being sick all the time and decided I needed to actually sleep enough every night, I found that I just did not have time for a social life on weeknights. Factoring in decompression time, eating time, and the necessary grooming (which I’m on the lower maintenance end of), I have time for either an hour workout OR to cook dinner (a real recipe dinner, not throwing things in a pan and heating them up dinner). It’s just very, very different from college or a job with more variable hours.

      Second, maybe odd after I just said that working life is inherently zombielike, but routine is your friend. It will never seem like a great time to spontaneously do something fun and frivolous but if you can develop a daily routine that gets everything done with some time left over, you can plan to do things on that day. And if you have long-term goals that you want to work on in your personal life, a routine that allows you to work on them 10 minutes per weeknight or so will allow you to make steady progress, versus doing it for longer periods when you feel like, and then it will never seem like a good time. Since you might only have time for an hour of something that isn’t work/sleeping/eating/grooming/commuting per day, you have to plan out your week in order to fit in the things you want to do (say, you want to go to the gym three times, and need to visit the grocery and drug stores, and want to check out the museum that’s open late on Thursday – if you’ve planned out and been to the gym on Monday and Wednesday and the store on Tuesday, then you can easily swing the museum). (Maybe all of this is obvious to some people? I am not a planner by nature and I do not develop routines organically – without concerted effort, my schedule falls into chaos rather than naturally falling into patterns – and earlier in life I managed to get away with being spontaneous and never planning stuff, so these were things I had to learn the value of as an adult.)

    10. NDQ*

      You say you don’t have any specific goals. I guess that’s where I will suggest you start.

      Where do you want to be next year? In five years? In 10? What do you want to be doing professionally? Do you have financial goals? Goals for building or improving relationships with friends or family members? Once you figure out what you want your future to look like, then it’s a lot easier to plan out your time, both during and after work.


    11. Felicia*

      Things I do / have done after work: drop in choir, dance class, dinner with friends, volunteering, various meetups, language class, places where you can make art as a group (this one was primarily painting). Basically think of things you would like to do, and then you can plan ways to do them. If you don’t have easy access to friends to do stuff with, classes or meetups were the easiest for me. Also with friends, with a full time job, versus like college or something, you have to plan more in advance and more specifically. You can’t really decide 5 minutes before or just run into peoplee

    12. skyline*

      My work days can be long and rarely leave me with energy for socializing. (Introvert here.) So I’ve given myself permission to keep weeknights as “me” time. So I usually don’t meet up with people after work, but I do try to run on 2-3 weeknights every week. They really help me decompress after a day at the office.

      I have been making a point of doing something social every weekend, even if it’s just coffee or a meal with a friend. I’ve also been buying tickets to concerts and similar events to encourage me to get out and break up my routine.

  6. Felix*

    Second question- I’m in the market for a new douvet. Have been using my childhood one (!) for much too long and it’s wearing thin. Anyone know anything about douvets? Recommendations?

    Here’s what I’m needing:
    – I’m always cold so it needs to be warm
    – I’m open to down or down-alternative
    – I like weighty blankets, so heavy is ok!
    – double or queen size
    – I’m in Canada
    – budget is around $250

    1. StudentPilot*

      Another Canadian here. We got ours at Beddington’s – can’t remember how much they were. We got a winter and summer, and honestly – the summer one is all we use. (For two people and 3 cats, for what it’s worth). I’m also always cold (if it’s below 20, I need a blanket. Umm…that’s 20C) and I find the winter one too much.

    2. Sandy*

      Try Costco. I have pretty much the same preferences as you, and I was really pleased with the selection at Costco.

      I think we ultimately got some super-thin ones, some kind of a down alternative, and I’m not sure I would get the again. They are generally rest, but I really like a good, weighty blanket.

    3. Alma*

      Oooooh, oooooh!!!!

      Check out Crane & Canopy. They have a new duvet design that has a zipper on the top hidden under what looks like a contrasting flat sheet folded over the top of the duvet. They have a video on YouTube demonstrating this new cover.

      They also have a YouTube video of “the burrito method” of putting a standard duvet cover on. It is so clever!! Don’t ever struggle with a bulky duvet again!!

    4. Bibliovore*

      I don’t know about price but for warm and heavy blanket. Faribault mills. For a heavy and warm comforter to put in a duvet look on-line for a wool stuffed comforter. I live in MN and love mine

    5. Al Lo*

      We got our down duvet at Ikea a few years ago. The down comforters are always my favorite things at hotels, so a few years ago, my husband bought me (us) one for my birthday. I’m happy with it! It’s my favorite thing to curl up in bed, like, all day, and have such a great duvet that you sometimes can’t tell there’s a person (or a cat) in there.

      Ikea has a few different weights and qualities, depending on what you’re looking for, and samples to compare. We spent at least an hour feeling all the different options and deciding on the best intersection of quality and price for us.

      1. SL #2*

        IKEA has my fave selection of down duvets. My parents bought one for me and one for themselves when I was in high school, and then I bought 2 new ones for college– one in freshman year, and then another when I spent a semester at a different campus on the other side of the country and it was easier to just buy new bedding over there.

      2. Sarianna*

        Thirding IKEA–I picked up a king down duvet and cover last year. I loathe being cold and live in New England in an apartment with electric heat so a heavy toasty duvet that wouldn’t slip away was a priority. I definitely paid <US$150 for everything and still love my "floofvet" dearly. :)

    6. Dynamic Beige*

      If you can hold off a bit, I think the sales should be starting in March. Depending on where you are, you could try Down Under http://www.downunderbedding.com/

      But having said that, after years of down duvets, I switched to a silk one that I bought in China. It’s actually 2 that are kind of pinned together so that you can use just one for summer. When it’s super cold out, like -10 or lower I put a fake fur throw over it across the bottom part and I’m fine. If you stick with down, you want to get one that has individual pockets for the down — baffle box construction. I have a front loader washer, so I was able to put my down duvets into it and wash them myself, which saves on having to get them professionally cleaned. After that, it’s a matter of choosing the weight of down you want. Usually, they have a guideline that tells you what temperature they’re good in.

      I would say that if you’re always cold, look into a heated mattress pad. They are the ultimate in winter warmth decadence (I did have a feather bed for a while, but didn’t like it). Like heated car seats, but for your bed. Unfortunately, after I washed it, I found that the heating just wasn’t as good as it used to be, but it does still work and I’ve had it for 5(?) years now. There’s nothing quite like turning it on and then getting into a warm toasty bed a few hours later (it does take time to build up the warmth, I usually have mine on 5). It’s better underneath another mattress pad so you don’t feel the wires, which can be distracting.

      1. Al Lo*

        A handful of years ago, I was looking for a heated blanket or mattress pad for my parents for Christmas, with individual controls for each side of the bed. They’re a little weird (hee) and share a double bed, and it was impossible to find something with separate controls in that mattress size. Queen, King, no problem, but the default seems to be that a double bed is for one person.

    7. Sutemi*

      We have had a wool duvet for several years, it is the warmest I’ve ever used and has a nice heavy weight to it. We got organic but there are conventional ones too. Wool doesn’t migrate like down does, we never have to worry about thin spots and thicker spots.

    8. Artemesia*

      goose down duvets are on sale on Lands End right now — down really is the gold standard for warmth. I have a down coat from Lands End that I got on sale for $75 — it is long has the inner zip and outer snaps, hood etc — and it has made winter in big northern US city comfortable — so I have confidence in their quality.

      we tend to run hot so we have a summer weight Chinese silk quilt that we got in China which works great in our duvet cover for all but winter. In winter we add a wool blanket between the duvet and the sheet. I was stunned at how much wool blankets cost having not bought one in 40 years. We liked the Hudson’s bay blankets but they were too pricey but I finally got a really nice one from Pendleton on sale.

    9. Felix*

      You are all awesome! Thank you for this advice! I’ve been looking at ikea ones specifically since my buying options are limited where I live, so it’s good to hear other folks have liked the ones they got from there.

    10. skyline*

      I generally run cold, and I keep my apartment pretty cool. (I am also cheap!) I don’t find a down or down-alternative duvet warm enough by itself, so I now have a Pendleton washable wool blanket on top of my duvet. It’s made a huge difference. I also added flannel sheets, which are great, but the wool blanket on top of my down-alternative duvet was the game changer. I love getting into bed every night because it’s so cozy!

  7. sarakg*

    Anyone have suggestions for a professional looking backpack? Would need to hold my computer and be somewhat water-repellent if possible. Basically, a backpack that doesn’t look like I’m going to school!

    1. Noah*

      I actually went to a messenger bag after someone at work made comments about backpacks. It is somewhat amusing to me because I used a messenger bag from jr. high through college. Then started using a backpack when I was traveling all the time for work because it was easier to schlep through an airport.

      1. sarakg*

        I wish I could use a messenger or similar, but I walk commute for about 45 minutes each way, and I don’t want to end up lopsided! I should note that I don’t work in a super formal environment, more casual to business casual.

          1. fposte*

            It might happen without you knowing it, though. I only realized I’d gone lopsided when I was getting a dress altered and the seamstress mentioned it; then it came up in physical therapy. I never felt it.

    2. hermit crab*

      Around here, it seems like everyone and their brother has North Face “Jester” backpacks (or similar). They are sort of professional by default, because all the professionals are using them!

    3. lovepotato*

      I have the Ogio Hudson pack in black and it’s pretty professional for me. I use to carry the Ogio Hampton tote and the material is extremely sturdy and waterproof. I got the Hudson pack in particular because not many backpacks have narrow straps for smaller shoulders, might be a plus for you.

    4. Bibliovore*

      Mine is a Black Northface backpack that has separate computer compartment that opens flat for TSA . I tried to go more ” professional” but started to have back problems with briefcase and messenger type bags.

    5. LisaLee*

      I have a Timbuk2 one and I LOVE it. Some of their colors are less professional looking than others, but mine is a taupe-y tweed fabric with dark brown accents that I think looks quite grown-up. I really adore the design. I can pack it to bursting and it will still stay slim and flat against my back so the weight is evenly distributed rather than pulling me backwards. Its super tough too–I am very hard on my backpacks and this one still looks like new.

      I have the Parkside, which is the low-end style at around $70 (although the run sales fairly often) for the pre-designed colors and a bit more if you want to customize your own backpack. I’ve been lusting after the Cask one though, which is a definite luxury item (leather and waxed canvas). The Leader style is also very nice. If you live in/near San Francisco, they do a warehouse sale every year where you can get some excellent prices.

    6. AnotherFed*

      I have a very nice, heavy-duty camelbak one, bought to fit my work laptop plus all the gear I’d ever want to schlep around. It’s black, with no real decoration, so it’s fine for our office on a professionalism standpoint. It’s the heavy duty semi-waterproof fabric they make their military line out of, and it’s very well built, so I expect it to last pretty much forever. Camelbak also has a good warranty program, in case anything ever does break.

    7. backpacks*

      I love my Osprey Spin 22, it’s compact (but you can expand it if you are carrying a lot on a certain day), it has a laptop sleeve, it’s water proof and has a rain cover, and looks really nice. It comes in black.

    8. periwinkle*

      It depends on your budget. I have an “OMG I spent how much?” Tumi T-Pass Business Class Briefpack that’s TSA checkpoint-friendly and can hold several days’ worth of clothes. Tumi also has some really nice unisex and women’s backpacks that are more on the elegant side than the collegiate one – price point is the $300-600 range.

      For my daily commute, which currently includes a 1.5 mile roundtrip trudge through an endless parking lot, tunnel, stairs, rain, & wind, I just replaced my ancient REI backpack with a Timbuk2 Sunset (canvas). I’ve also got one of their messenger bags for short trips, love it.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        I bought my husband a Tumi for Christmas because he’s been using the same one that he bought at OfficeMax for, like, ten years now. It needs to be covered in naphtha and set on fire.

        The Tumi is still sitting on the floor with plastic wrapped around the handle. *insert sobbing emoji*

        1. periwinkle*

          If your husband isn’t making the switch because he’s frugal, whisper these three sweet words into his ears… “Tumi lifetime warranty.”

          My husband used to work at a good luggage store; through an incentive program he was able to earn enough points for a large Tumi ballistic nylon briefcase. That’s still his (overpacked, dragged around on the Metro and airplanes and elsewhere, part-time cat bed) briefcase, 20 years later. Some bits have needed replacement and those repairs were all covered under the free warranty. (FYI, for luggage he recommends TravelPro with set-in wheels and Hartmann if you’ve got a bigger budget)

    9. BRR*

      I’m not sure about water repellent but Herschel supply co is popular right now. I became part of the bridge and tunnel crowd this fall and ended up just using my jansport from high school. I realized i don’t care if someone is judging my backpack. They can buy me a new one then.

    10. INTP*

      I’ve never seen a functional backpack that didn’t look campus-y – there are stylish leather or canvas backpacks, but they tend to be more bucket-style without useful compartments or laptop protection. That said, when I finally gave in and got a backpack, I went with Dakine and am happy with my choice. They have a ton of different patterns, but I got a sleek black one with some subtle detailing that you can see up close, so it isn’t too loud or too dull and utilitarian. It isn’t bulky looking at all but has a ton of useful compartments – a soft compartment for touchscreen devices, a padded laptop sleeve, a sandwich-shaped insulated compartment, water bottle pockets, etc. You can find the older patterns on Amazon at a discount.

    11. sarakg*

      Thanks for all the backpack suggestions! Leaning towards a timbuk2. I’m in Canada, and they look to be the same price in an outdoorsy store here (MEC) in Canadian dollars as they are on the timbuk2 site in US dollars. So, basically 40% off… Plus being able to try one on. If I don’t like it, though, will have to further investigate!

      1. irritable vowel*

        I just started using a Timbuk2 Madrone backpack after using a Timbuk2 totebag for years. It’s a great brand–I used that totebag every day and it never had a mark or a fray on it. (It was killing my back to have all that weight on one side, though.) The Madrone backpack says it’s for cycling but I think it’s a great, low-profile and professional looking backpack for commuting, too. I like that it’s designed for a woman’s torso, and you can easily remove the extra straps that you don’t need if not cycling. The only thing I don’t like is that its easy-access points are designed for a right-handed person, so as a lefty I have to take the whole bag off to get into it.

        Also, FWIW, I found that Timbuk2 bags were much cheaper on Amazon than from the Timbuk2 website.

  8. anon709*

    Hi all, hoping for some advice to finally decide on a new smartphone. I have an old, old one now (one step up from a slide-out keyboard which I miss terribly) and I started a new job and I’d like to be able to quickly check my email and have apps and things like that.
    Part of me wants to dive right in to the deep end and go for the newest iPhone, but I don’t know if that’s right for me. I’ve heard good things about new Samsungs (Galaxy 4 through 6) and the LG G4. Am currently maybe leaning towards a Nexus 6P. Anyone have experience with either of those? Or with a different one that you like more? Argh – I started this process a year ago or more, got overwhelmed with all the contradictory reviews and advice, and just dropped it. But now I need one so any last-minute tips would be appreciated!

    1. Felix*

      I’m by no means a techy person, but I adore the iPhones I’ve had. They are so much more intuitive than androids for me. Currently have the 5c and it is great for emails/surfing/texting etc. Actually come to think of it the majority of people in my department have iPhones.

      1. anon709*

        Thanks, Felix! Their ubiquity and intuitiveness is part of why I’m thinking about them. The reason I’m second-guessing it is that the frequent releases and planned obsolescence irks me, because I’m someone who uses my phone for years.

        I appreciate the food for thought!

        1. Felix*

          Oh good point. I would say I’ve had each of my iPhones for about 2-3 years before wanting/needing to upgrade. (That includes the one I accidentally dropped in the toilet )

          If you are looking for longevity an iPhone can work. I have a friend that is still using a 4… But they definitely start to slow down and you can’t upgrade to certain iOS after a while (which will limit your app choices).

          I’m ok with upgrading every 2-3 years and it doesn’t bother me, but definitely consider that in your decision!

        2. Get the iPhone*

          You can absolutely keep your iPhone for years. They really do not go obsolete the way you’re thinking. I JUST replaced my iPhone 5 with a 6 on Monday after having it for 3 years and I only did it because I wanted a bigger screen. It functioned perfectly. Same as it did on day one.

          The updates are not prohibitive. You’ll get a message when an update is available and you pretty much just agree to the terms and it updates all on its own. No plugging into a computer or anything else required. The iOS will function nearly identically to future iPhones. And you can choose not to install the updates at all and I doubt you’d really notice it. I always wait forever to do mine and it never makes a difference.

          I used to be one of those people who wanted a new phone whenever a better one came out. But I’ve never been itching to update my iPhone the second a new one was available and when I have replaced them, the major differences have been with the look and feel of the phone itself, not the iOS. It’s barely noticeable.

          Another positive, they keep their value. I always pay the $200 for the phone and get a new contract. Then when my contract is up and I’m ready to replace, I sell it unlocked for $200. So $200 goes out and comes right back in again. I laid out $200 for an iPhone back in 2006 and I haven’t spent another dime on a new one since. In that time I’ve had 3 iPhones (4 starting this week). So I’m not replacing every year, more like every 3 1/2 years. Even if you are itching for a new phone it’s not cost prohibitive to do so because they still work so well after that long that people still want to buy them. Of course that means you need to keep it in good condition, which you can easily do with a good case.

          So there’s my iPhone pitch for you. But all that said, I haven’t used the other phones. They offer the same results. But I do t want you to think of an iPhone as something that will fail, get old and stale, or go completely obsolete with time. It won’t. Apple products work for the long haul.

          1. Get the iPhone*

            Correction to last paragraph: they *may* offer the same results. I don’t know since I haven’t used them.

            Also, I don’t think Apple plans for obsolescence more than other companies. Android phones often can’t be updated to new OS’s while iPhones can. Since you’re planning to stick with the same phone for a long time that may not matter but I don’t think it’s something to be irked about specifically in regards to Apple. They all make new products to keep up with demand.

            The fact that Apple products maintain their stability even 3-4 generations after you’ve purchased it speaks to the fact that Apple really does try to make products that people can use for years. They’re not coming out with new ones because their old ones don’t work. They’re coming out with new ones because people like new things.

          2. Lee Ann*

            And I held on to my iPhone 4 for *years* because the bigger ones will not fit in any pocket I own, and then once I finally got a 5, handed it down to a friend who was still using a dumbphone! Rumour is the the 5 is getting an upgrade in March. It’s not as pocket-perfect as a 4, but it works.

        3. Anonymous Educator*

          All electronics have planned obsolescence, though. Microsoft wants you to upgrade to Windows 10. Samsung wants you to buy a new phone. Apple wants you to buy a new Mac. Google wants you to buy a new Chromebook. It’s not that the old products die or stop functioning, but at a certain point they stop getting security updates (important for any Internet-connected device). I have some friends (both iPhone- and Android-using) who keep the same phone for years (4 years or 5 years even). Most people I know, though, with smartphones tend to upgrade every two years, just for the new features.

          The Nexus 6p and the iPhone 6S Plus have significantly better cameras than the Galaxy Nexus or the iPhone 3GS. They also have fingerprint sensors. They’re also just much zippier and have better battery life.

          For the battery alone, you may have to upgrade every 2-3 years, because smartphones don’t operate like the old feature phones do. They’re basically mini computers, so you’ll have to recharge every 1-2 days instead of every 2-3 weeks. And lithium-ion (or similar) batteries just don’t hold the same capacity after a few years, so the battery will hold a long charge the first year or two, and then it will steadily hold less and less of a charge as the years go by (that’s how lithium ion works), so if you start going smartphone, don’t be surprised if you end up upgrading every 2-3 years, despite how long you think you want to hold on to your phone.

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            This is what’s killing me. I don’t want to trade up from my 5S because I like the smaller size, but I’m going to have to because the battery is starting to poop out. :(

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              You may want to wait a little longer. There are rumors Apple’s next iPhone will be a smaller one called iPhone 5se.

            2. prettypony*

              When I was looking at battery issues with my 5S, the Apple Store had the option of a battery replacement. Maybe that would be an option for you? I ended up going with the newer phone for various other reasons, but I was seriously contemplating just a battery fix.

        4. Tau*

          I like to use my phone until it actually stops working and got very, very irked about the planned obsolescence thing with my iPhone. I used a 3G up until this summer and was effectively unable to buy new apps for quite a few years at the end… I just switched to an Android, and although I can’t say whether the obsolescence issue is better or worse yet, I will say that if I do end up having to buy a new phone every few years I’ll be a lot happier doing that at the Android price point rather than the iPhone one.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            ” . . . if I do end up having to buy a new phone every few years I’ll be a lot happier doing that at the Android price point rather than the iPhone one.”

            Good point! I am the kind to use everything (technology, appliances, etc.) until it dies and then I want a cost-effective replacement. I don’t want to be paying premium prices every time a new, improved item is available. I’m kind of cheap like that.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I have the Nexus 5x, and it’s an amazing phone. If you can stand for the enormous size of the 6p, I’d go for the 6p (it’s basically the 5x but with stereo speakers, more RAM, and one additional camera feature).

    3. Noah*

      The new Blackberry PRIV runs Android and has a slide-out keyboard. I’m really tempted to jump ship from iPhone back to Blackberry now that they use Android software. I really, really miss my Blackberry keyboard.

      1. hermit crab*

        I still use a non-smart phone with a slide-out keyboard (my dad, a proud iphone user, calls it a “typewriter phone”) and I plan to hold onto it until it dies!

        1. F.*

          I still use my clamshell LG phone for personal use! It is nearly ten years old, a little scratched, but has the best sound for actual phone calls. I don’t text or use data on it, so the keyboard doesn’t matter. I do have a LG G3 for work that I use for texting and data. I find it hard to hear people on the G3, but I do have a hearing difficulty.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I have a Galaxy S6, after upgrading from a Galaxy S4 mini, after upgrading from a Galaxy S2. I have really loved all of them. I don’t like iPhones, I find them nonintuitive and tricky to use, I generally prefer Android and its customizability. The S6 is great–fast, great camera, easy to use. My husband has switched to Android after a series of iPhones and he loves it–he used to have issues and problems with the iPhone and various updates or just general problems with working it, and I’ve never had any of those type of issues with the Galaxy phones. I like them.

      My problem with it is the size–I have very small hands, and once I have an Otterbox case on it they’re slightly bigger than I prefer. It’s not a huge problem or anything, I just wish it was a teeny bit smaller.

      1. GraceT*

        Have you had any issues with your battery life? Lately my S6 will die before the end of my workday even though the only time I use it is at lunch. I tuned ‘location’ and background apps off and that helps a bit, but I feel like a phone should be able to last longer than 8 hours.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          At first I did–I disabled a bunch of preinstalled apps I was never going to use (OneNote? Smart Remote? No thanks, keep it on power saving, and the biggest thing for me was keeping the screen brightness down. I actually had way more of a problem with the battery drain on the S4, and what actually helped was taking out the battery and putting it back in. It’s weird, but I would do that every couple of months and go from a superfast drain to a normal battery life.

        2. edj3*

          I read some good suggestions online (sorry, forget where) about extending the S# battery lives (substitute your number for the # sign) and the best for me was replacing the lock screen photo with a black image–basically it’s an image that is pure black. So you use less battery when you check your lock screen for any alerts.

        3. BRR*

          My Samsung had terrible battery life. It then broke and I got a refurbished one which also had terrible battery life. At least for me, I’m turned off for now.

      2. March*

        I’d second all this. I went from an S2 X to an S5, and I love it. Much like Diet Coke I find it can be a little big, so trying to swipe with my thumb can be a tad awkward, but the phone is otherwise really nice. And when I try to look at pictures, the bigger screen is nice, though otherwise it is just a tiny bit too big for me.

    5. Melissa B*

      I had a Galaxy 4 and was constantly having issues with it. Had to factory reset every 6 months or so. It was constantly crashing and freezing. Then I updated the OS and everything stopped working. It couldn’t hold a charge for longer than 4 hours, even when it wasn’t being used. I initially bought it because it was customizable and the battery was replaceable (I go to a lot of conferences so it was nice to have a spare battery with me for when I couldn’t recharge). I hated life with that phone.

      I finally switched to an iPhone and I love it. No issues whatsoever. Now that I’ve found Swype for iPhone, I can’t imagine ever going back to an Android device.

      1. Rubyrose*

        I have a Galaxy 4 and love it. Sorry for your problems!
        Do you have a tablet? If so, I would recommend making sure the phone and tablet are from the same manufacturer. It has really worked out for me with both my phone and tablet having the same base operating system.

        1. anon709*

          I don’t have a tablet. That’s a consideration I hadn’t thought of, though, and I may get one in the future. Thanks!

    6. Fleur*

      Sony’s phones are a little less well known but I’m loving my Xperia Z3. Battery life for days, great day for music which I listen to all day at work, microSD card slot, and just on the very edge of too large for my hands. If I could do it over I’d probably buy the compact model instead.

      Personally, I’d ask what features are important to you. My top features are 1. Battery life 2. SD card 3. audio quality for headphones 4. Enough speed/RAM so my programs feel snappy.

      If the LG G4 were smaller, that would have been a first or second choice for me. I’d recommend against the S6 because of the touchwiz bloatware and reputation of bad battery life (plus no SD card).

      1. Schnapps*

        I love my Xperia Z2. I want to upgrade this year because the battery is finally starting to go a bit.

        It’s tough. It’s waterproof and I do some work where I need to video around swimming pools so it’s perfect for that. I accidentally slammed it in the hatch of my car (it was in my coat pocket, and the pocket was draped over the edge so when I closed the hatch, I could have totaled my phone). I pulled it out of the pocket, looked at the screen and it was fine. The next morning I flipped it over and the back was shattered but it still works fine. I ordered a new back, husband-type installed it for me (and then I promptly dropped the phone the next day – I got a better case after that). There are two small discolouration spots on the screen from that incident, and the flash on the phone kind of messes up photos, but it still works (and I’ve switched providers since then).

        I’ll upgrade this year because the battery is starting to go. But it’ll probably be a Z3 or Z4.

        And I have to say, it has an awesome camera.

        1. Fleur*

          Sony is releasing the Z5 / Z5c in the US in February, if that’s within your budget!

          I’m happy enough with my Z3 though, paid about $300 for like new from ebay, which is about half the projected price of the Z5.

    7. Nella*

      I have an iPhone for 4 years and it was good for the first yet but then I started hating it’s iTunes for everything. During that time I got my husband a Note 3 and he really enjoyed it. I switched my iPhone up for a Note 5 and am loving it. I do not even use my tablet at home anymore as the Note 5 is sufficient for my normal emailing and looking up stuff and reading books on it.

    8. katamia*

      I have a Galaxy S5 and like it overall–it feels very intuitive to me, although some of that could also be that my previous smartphone was also a Samsung (Stratosphere, so a pretty old one). My parents have LG G4s, and while a lot of people seem to like them, I don’t like them at all. My parents have a hard time figuring out how to do certain things, and sometimes when they ask me for help, I can’t figure it out either. Much less intuitive than the S5, IMO.

      The best thing you can do is go to stores and test phones out to see what feels good in your hand, how you like the speakers, etc. to see what works best for you. Different features are important for different people. I actually would have preferred an HTC (M9, I think) because playing music is the thing I do most with my phone, and when I eventually upgrade I’ll probably try to get a phone with better speaker quality, but my S5 does everything I want/need it to do, and I don’t have to spend a long time figuring out how to do everything.

    9. Audiophile*

      I was in the market for a new phone and was looking at the two Nexus phones, as well as the LG4. Then a friend of mine suggested a Motorola X Pure. As an Android user for a while now, I really wanted pure Android. LG isn’t too bad with bloatware. But the carriers can be just awful. So I did a fair amount of research and ultimately settled on the Moto X Pure. I used Motorola’s website to customize it, so mine is dark teal with red speakers and camera. The things I liked about the phone, were it had really good camera and it’s larger than most of the other phones on the market. So far I’m pleased with my purchase. My service has been excellent, I even had service on the subway a few weeks back as I went underground. That’s never happened for me before. I was thrilled. I know some of that is carrier related, but it was really useful at the time.

      1. anon709*

        Interesting, thanks! I hadn’t come across that one in my research so far but I’ll take a look.

      2. Mander*

        I despise iTunes so I avoid Apple. It’s ok if you are in the Apple “ecosystem”, so to speak, but I use Linux most of the time and I resent having to reboot in Windows in order to update my iPad or put music on my Nano 6.

        Anyway, I have a Moto E that I bought for less than £90 last summer when my old phone died, and it’s great for the price. Though this particular model is a budget phone and doesn’t have the processor speed or other bells and whistles of more expensive phones, it left me with a very good impression of Motorola phones.

        My husband persuaded me to buy a Oneplus X when it came out, so I switched to that, and it’s also a great phone. The specs are roughly equivalent to an iPhone 5 but it runs a custom version of Android and has a lot of geeky features. It is very easy to customize, and particularly to install an adblocker on. The only problem with this one is that you have to get an invitation in order to buy it. You can get the fancier version, the Oneplus 2, without an invite; but it is a bit bigger and I wanted something that would fit in my pocket.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I’d like to offer that I don’t despise iTunes or Apple, and I have a MacBook Air (which is great), but I still favor an Android phone over an iPhone. Macs are fairly customizable and give you quite a bit of control (as much control as you can get in a closed-source operating system). iPhones on the other hand don’t even give you the choice of what default app to open (always has to be the Apple one). I’m not a fan of the lack of filesystem in iOS (“Where did this save to? Oh, there are no files or folders accessible to the user…”) and the weird little iOS bugs that never seem to get fixed (for example, Google iphone music won’t remember where i left off).

          I’ve had to deal with enough supporting iOS users putting up with iCloud headaches and transferring/ownership of apps that I just avoid it like the plague. I’m also a heavy Google Voice user, and on the iPhone you can’t dial out of Google Voice with the regular dialer (you have to use the GV app).

          To each her own, though. For anon709, I would say just play around with an iPhone and an Android phone in person, and you’ll know pretty quickly which you prefer.

    10. Cordelia Longfellow*

      I just got my first smartphone last month – I ended up going with an iPhone 5S. For me, it was mostly familiarity; I have an iPad and while I was living overseas last year I borrowed a friend’s old iPhone 4, which still worked fine. I am not terribly techy, and while I prefer PCs to Apple for my computers, I like Apple’s mobile tech. My family had Samsung Galaxy phones, though they’ve ended up with iPhones. On the other hand, some of my friends swear by their Galaxy phones. I think they’re both solid, so get whatever you’re comfortable with. Good luck!

      1. Kristina L*

        That is so cute! I love how relaxed Olive is. I have a cat that likes to clean my other 2 cats’ faces, and the cat who is getting cleaned tends to seem somewhat nervous about it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Olive will walk right over to Eve and collapse against her like she did in that video, and then just stay motionless so Eve will wash her. She loves it!

          Olive also likes to bathe Eve, but for some reason she’s obsessed with cleaning inside her ears and Eve, who is normally very patient, eventually wants to get away.

  9. CoffeeLover*

    Cat question here. My kitten is a meower. It doesn’t bother me usually except for her early morning wake-up calls. The usual advice is to ignore until she stops. The problem is she’ll start meowing at 6 and I need to get up for work around 7. She’ll meow on and off for that whole time. I can’t just stay in my room until she stops. I have places to be! It’s gotten a lot worse since my husband came to visit since he would always respond to her meowing (he’s basically trained her to stand outside my room and meow until I let her in at this point). I sometimes let her sleep with me, but she gets up at 6 and starts running around my room and making noise. How do I stop the meowing? It’s driving me crazy in the morning!

    I’m thinking of getting up and putting her in her crate every morning when she starts meowing, but I’m not sure if that’s an effective way to train her. For what it’s worth, she stops meowing when I put her in there, but I don’t know if that’s teacher her not to meow in the first place.

    1. danr*

      She might want attention. Can you give her 5 minutes of petting and ear rubs? Or even a couple of minutes.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        She 100% wants attention (forgot to mention that). When I get up she’s constantly rubbing against me and cuddling. She completely ignores her food/water/litter, so it has nothing to do with getting her basic needs met. Getting up and petting her just reinforces the meowing behaviour :(.

      1. jamlady*


        I have two middle-aged cats. One is very talkative by nature and the other is small and walks all over me. They’re trained to leave me alone on weekends until 6:30 am and they’re always ready for me by the bedroom door at 5:30 am on weekdays. I’ve retrained them with my new schedules/jobs a few times. Ignoring them is the only way to go (and keeping plenty of toys and trees in the house to distract them).

    2. Marcela*

      I guess all depends on what is she mewoing about. For example, our cat talks all the time. Except when he is having his two big siestas, before midday and after lunch, we always know where he is because he simply does not stop talking. When we got him, he would wake us up at 6am. We tried ignoring him, scolding him, gently smacking him, pushing him out of the bed and room. Nothing worked. So my husband bought an automatic feeder, and every morning at 5:30 our cat gets some treats, not so much, but enough so he can wait until 7, 7:30 to get his normal breakfast. He hasn’t wake us up anymore.

    3. Maybe Tomorrow*

      Lol No advice, but be glad she doesn’t bite you.
      One of my cats would go into my son’s bedroom at night and bite his ear while he was asleep. He would wake me up crying about Mitzi biting him. I would get up and check the food bowl….it was always empty. She had quite the system for getting food in the middle of the night.

      Once I started checking on the food bowl before I went to sleep, she stopped biting his ear.

    4. IT Squirrel*

      If you’re consistent at ignoring the unwanted meowing (and hubby will need to be too when he visits!) she will eventually learn that it’s pointless, honestly! It just takes time.

      And if you do want to have her in the room with you (I like having mine on my bed when I sleep) you can also train her that the bedroom is a quiet place. Let her in, and when she does what you want – curls up on the bed, in her basket, whatever – she gets to stay. If she starts running around, she’s put out and the door closed. After her ‘training period’ mine will now come in and curl straight up on the bed – with the odd refresher course when she decides she just HAS to get in the wardrobe RIGHT NOW. It really is possible to train cats in good behaviour :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I use the command “bed time”. I think the “worst critter” had to be kicked out of the bedroom 3 times before the behavior stopped. And that was one of my smarter cats. But, yeah, I treated my cats and dogs the same way- they all had to learn what “bed time” meant and comply.

        To train them, I would give the command 3 times, “bed time”. If they did not settle down, then out the door they went and we’d try again the next night. Sleeping with humans is a big motivator for good behavior, the only bigger motivator is food. No one ever had to be kicked out more than three times.

        They are allowed to get up and shift around, but they have to lay down shortly after getting up. My targeted behaviors are no play, no antagonizing the other animals and no excessive moving around . And they are not allowed to step on me, but snuggling is okay. I have had 3 dogs and 3 cats over the years and all of them have mastered the”bed time” command successfully.

  10. LizB*

    So I bought some new bras a few weeks ago — high-quality, fairly expensive ones, because I’m a weird size and don’t have a choice. I noticed last week that on one of the bras I bought, a few of the “eye” parts of the hook-and-eye closure are starting to pull out of the band. They haven’t come completely detached, but they’re pulled out about twice as far as the other ones, and I can see the bottom part of the hardware which was obviously meant to stay put under the fabric. It’s only a couple scattered throughout the closure, not all the ones in the same row or anything. The bra fits fine; I was actually fitted for it by a representative of the brand that makes it. I bought the same model & size of bra in a different color, and all the eyes on that bra are absolutely fine.

    All of these facts added together make me think this may be a manufacturing defect on this particular bra, and I’m wondering if I should write to the company about it. The problem is, I’m not sure what I would be asking for. Would it be reasonable to ask for a replacement? The bra is still functional, but I’m worried the eyes will come out entirely, and I spent too much on this one dang bra for it to break after less than a month of non-daily wear. Thoughts?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Go back to the store. Because you bought one that “works” and one that doesn’t, there is a good chance they’ll exchange it for you. Just take both with you so they can see the difference. That’s your first step.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This isn’t much different than a zipper that fails shortly after purchase. Those hooks should not be coming out like that. You are correct to be concerned. Definitely take them back to the store.

      You might also check online to see if others are noticing the same thing.

  11. Carrie in Scotland*

    So I’d like some advice.

    I’m part of a journal website (like livejournal I suppose) and have been friends with someone there for years. We met up not last year but the one before, exchange texts etc. When things were awful in my relationship she was always first to say “come stay at ours!”

    Anyway: we both turned 30 a few months ago and we said we’d send each other gifts. I did, slightly late but hers has never been posted. I know she has a young baby but still…now she’s saying she’s most likely packed it (they’re moving house) and maybe I’d get it next time I’d see her. Only she lives several hundred miles away! With my life the way it is, I’m not going to be going anywhere til next year.

    I just can’t think of a way to word “please mail me my present as I’m not going to see you” or explain without coming across as a bitch (to my mind anyway).

    1. GraceT*

      Did you ask for something specific from her that you can’t buy yourself? Because it sounds like you’re going to have to accept that you’re not going to get your present. There really isn’t a polite way to say “Give me a gift.” It may feel unfair since you both agreed to exchange gifts and you held up your side of the bargain, but such is life.

      1. I am Detective Stabler's short temper*

        No, we just agreed we’d swap presents. I was supposed to take a trip and see her but due to finances, it never happened (I’m actually wondering if the gift exists!)

        Yeah, it wouldn’t normally bother me that much except that I’m doing this pay it forward thing and she signed up for me to send/gift/do something nice for her!

        1. fposte*

          It could well be there’s no gift and she’s embarrassed, but also you’re talking about somebody with a baby and a house move, so it’s reasonable that this is not high on her list of priorities even if there is a gift. Let it go and consider yours to her to be a karmic gift to the universe.

    2. Nonny today*

      Sadly, I don’t think there’s anything to be done, but I sympathize. It feels petty to ask for a promised present, but it’s also hurtful to be forgotten when a mutual promise has been made. I’m an artist by profession and agreed to do a painting for a friend for her birthday at her request, and asked for one of her gorgeous creative projects in return for my birthday. Spent months on the painting, she loved it, and I never received my gift in turn (it’s now been 3 years). I don’t have any real advice on this front except to try to let it go, so the present if it ever materializes is a pleasant surprise instead of disappointingly belated. I know it’s easier said than done! But letting go of the hope and expectation makes the disappointment fade so you can just enjoy being friends again.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The next time you see her? Maybe she is planning on visiting you in the future?

      If she mentions it again, you can just say that it could be a bit before you see her again. She probably lost it and does not want to tell you.

      As an aside, I had two people on separate occasions buy me gifts that I reeeally wanted. I assumed I would be receiving it for the holiday or birthday. Nope. In both instances I did not receive the gift until almost a decade later. It bothered me, because I really wanted the item. So I just made it my habit to buy the stuff I really wanted rather than wait for others.

  12. I am Detective Stabler's short temper*

    My friend has an 8 month old baby. She’s now planning baby number 2, trying within the next month.

    Now, I’m not a parent, married or even a relationship (which is most likely clouding me) but to me I just think…do you not want to enjoy your first baby a bit more before having another? I mean, I know it can take time etc to conceive but I’m just trying to understand what the thinking is behind it. I guess one of the reasons might be to limit the time off from work?

    1. GraceT*

      They may want their children close in age so they’ll bond more and hopefully have a close relationship. My brother and I were 6 years apart which means we never got very close. I always wished I had a sibling (or even a cousin) close in age to me.

      1. Myrin*

        Weirdly enough, my sister and I, who are five years apart, are eons closer to each other than my cousins, who are only two years apart. So if I were a parent I wouldn’t really bet on that tactic (although I can obviously see the reasoning behind it).

      2. Marcela*

        My brother and I are 4 years apart and he is my best friend. My two (female) cousins are 2.5 years apart and they hate each other’s guts. My husband’s brother is 2 years apart from him and they can’t be in the same country. By now I believe the years in between are not decisive in the relationship between siblings.

        1. Vulcan social worker*

          I agree with this. My sister and I (seven years between us) are the closest dyad among our siblings. It has been that way since she was old enough to assert her personality. We have a brother between us. Unlike the closer-in-age siblings in your family, we both get along well with him too. I think closeness is just dependent on the people one’s siblings are rather than the age difference, at least once everyone is an adult.

    2. fposte*

      Or because she wants another and she thinks she’s ready for it. Many people are capable of enjoying more than one child at a time :-).

    3. Myrin*

      Re: the thinking behind it – my aunt actually had my two cousins within two years of each other because she didn’t want to have to deal with “the annoying baby/toddler stuff” for longer than necessary. I’ve always found that mildly amusing since my uncle actually was a SAHD with both kids and definitely was the one dealing with the baby/toddler stuff much more intensively than my aunt, yet he’s never expressed any sentiment like that. (I’m not judging anyone for planning their life like this, btw. It’s just been kind of funny in this particular situation, which doesn’t make it less valid.)

    4. Marcela*

      My mom used to say that she regretted waiting too much between her children. I am 4 years older than my brother. The main problem, she said, was all those diapers. She’d rather deal with them just once without pause and be done with them, instead of what she did with us, waiting for me to be old enough and they doing everything from scratch again. But she and my grandmother had very weird rules about diapers, and she needed to wash them every day, by hand, to prevent fraying and to keep them snow white. I still remember the fights about them 19 years ago when my niece was born, because my sister used disposable diapers and my mom absolutely disapproved.

    5. could be anyone*

      It is not uncommon to start trying for baby no. 2 at this point. The first child is starting to be more independent and some women miss the baby part. But there are so many reasons for birth timing choices. I personally had no interest in another child till my son was 18 months old. I thought 3 years would be a good gap. So I have 3 kids with gaps of almost 4 and 6 years. Anything can happen.

    6. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Well, even if she got pregnant bang out of the gate, her kids are still going to be 17 or 18 months apart–by 18 months old, most babies are toddlers, who are running around and learning to talk. Nine or ten months is an awfully long way away, after all. Combine that with the very normal possibility that she won’t get pregnant right away, and you’re looking at closer to a two-year age gap, which is really common.

      And lots of parents want to have their kids close together in age. If she’s over 35 or so, her own body might become a major factor in this as well. If your kids are all young at the same time you get a lot of the stages over at once–lots of parents who have their kids far apart lament that as soon as you get one potty-trained and reasonably self-sufficient, you have another one in diapers and bottles. It can be easier to do it in chunks.

    7. Sparkly Librarian*

      Reasons I can think of, off the top of my head:

      -concern about age & fertility
      -the last pregnancy took a while to conceive / history of miscarriage
      -wanting to have a shorter period of career disruption
      -wanting to get the diaper years over sooner / all at once
      -wanting a close sibling relationship
      -already having baby supplies
      -planning a large family

      Even if she conceives right away, the siblings will be a year and a half apart. That’s not unusual or unreasonable!

      1. Tomato Frog*

        Have a friend who’s planning to have hers as quickly as possible because there’s a surgery she needs, and they recommend against having it until you’re done having kids.

    8. Jen*

      Not sure how old your friend is, but that could be a factor. I am mid 30s and have several friends that want more than one and they are planning them very close to avoid being pregnant into their late 30s.

      1. Mander*

        I have a friend who had hers very close in part for this reason. I think she was 35 when the first one was born. I do think it makes it more convenient for her, because she was able to save a bit of money by keeping the toddler out of day care while she was on maternity leave with the second one (we’re in the UK so she had about 9 months off). Also, she still had all the baby stuff from the first one so she didn’t have to restock, so to speak.

    9. The IT Manager*

      I think that timing (about 2 years apart, maybe a bit less if they get pregnant right away) is perfect. Of note my mom had 3 kids each separated by 2.5 years. My brothers and I aren’t best friends and we argued growing up, but we grew up together.

      – Kids grow up together, can play together without a huge age gap where ones serves as babysitter instead of playmate.
      – kids spend lots of years in same school and doing same activities rather navigating high school sports/band/etc with a much younger child
      – get through diapers, terrible twos, teenagers, child-rearing years faster versus dragging it out

      I think a lot of it is how we were raised seems right to us. I wonder at your description of using her time to “enjoy the baby.” Are you an only child or had a big gap between sibling? Because there’s something about that phrasing that seems to me you imagine that the baby should be the center of attention and another child would take away from that.

    10. SAHM*

      Honestly, having more than one kid is a lot easier once they’re 2 or so. My youngest is constantly bothering me when his siblings in school and I’m trying to get things done, you can’t spend the whole day playing with him while you have chores to do, nor is it fair to have him do chores all day or watch TV all day. So I borrow my neighbors kid or my nephew a lot (both toddlers) and I can actually get my house clean and stuff done because they’re occupying each other’s time! He’s not even my most demanding child, he’s just bored without his sib. I’m pregnant right now and there will be a 4 year age gap between youngest and new baby and let me tell you, I’m not looking forward to diapers after I haven’t had to deal with them on over a year. I’m going to try for my next one very quickly after I have this one just so I don’t have a break between diapers again.

    11. Mike C.*

      My brothers are 16 and 17 months apart. She just wanted them out of diapers as soon as possible. I will say that as adults we have a great relationships and it’s nice that we’re going to similar life stages at similar times.

    12. Mando Diao*

      I’ve known a few women who had kids close together in part because they only wanted to lose the baby weight once. It’s not the only reason, but sometimes it can feel a bit demoralizing and frustrating to finally lose the weight and then consider gaining it back.

      1. SAHM*

        Just gained my first two pounds in this pregnancy and I found it rather depressing after I worked so hard to loose weight from prior pregnancies.

    13. ginger ale for all*

      I am almost exactly one year younger than my brother. Our different personality types don’t mesh well so we are not friendly, it isn’t anything about our closeness in age. I don’t think the spacing was planned that way, it just happened.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        Forgot to add, people have different preferences with family planning. Her choice isn’t yours but neither is wrong. Your choice is the right choice for you and her choice is the right choice for her.

    14. Anxa*

      That’s about how old I was when si bling was conceived. I loved having a sib so close in age. I don’t think mom had any regrets on the timing and I’m pretty sure we were plenty bonded

    15. Tara R.*

      I think there’s really something to be said for siblings who are close in age. I’m 9 years older than my brother, and I was essentially a third parent. No surprises there. And yeah, a lot of the closer-aged siblings I know don’t exactly *get along*… but they had the experience of growing up with someone to play with, of having a companion for video games and make believe and hopscotch, and without exception they are way better at having fun than me. I was the kind of kid who read constantly, had few social skills, and was better at talking to adults than talking to fellow 8 year olds. There’s also a very different dynamic between (many) closely-spaced siblings… the ‘you annoy the hell out of me but you’re my sibling and when it really matters I’ll be on your side’. I think it’s just more of a chance to be a kid.

      Especially now when the idea of just running around outside with the neighbourhood kids for the majority of your downtime is relatively obsolete– if you don’t have a sibling around your age, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your house alone, and it’s kinda sad.

  13. CoffeeLover*

    I’m moving to Sweden to be with my husband. I’m worried about work related things (which I asked in the Friday open thread), but I’m also worried about personal things. I moved a lot growing up and have been pretty good at adapting to new place, but this is the first time I’ll be moving post-graduation. I feel like it’s so much easier to get to know people and the city when you’re in school. Anyway, the main reason I’m a bit anxious is because I lived with him for 6months in Sweden a while ago, and well, basically it didn’t go very well. I made no friends and barely knew the city I was in, and while I was really happy to be with him, I wasn’t happy about the situation at all. I think a small part of it was on him (he’s a bit of a home body and wasn’t that into showing me around or introducing me to people), but a bigger part of it is on me. At the beginning I tried to make an effort to put myself out there, but after a few months of little success, I essentially gave up. It doesn’t help that I don’t speak Swedish, and while most people speak English perfectly, there’s still a barrier there (a shyness to speak English). Plus I was living in a smaller city, without the resources available in big cities (i.e., meetups). I’m hoping things will be different because I intend to find a job this time around and really establish my roots. Does anyone have advice/experience about moving to be with a spouse as an expat?

    1. Marcela*

      I am the trailing wife of a scientist, and I am currently in the third getting-used-to-a-new-place time. It’s been more than a year now since I moved to California and I am still very much alone, no friends in the area. I don’t truly mind, for I have plenty of social interaction with my friends in other parts of the world (Hangouts and Skype are the best for this) but yes, it can be an absolutely tiring and sad time if you are not a lone wolf as I am.

      In my experience being an expat in the middle of other expats, the best way to get friends is to do things. For example I made several friends when I took a French class when it seemed we were going to France. Later the same thing happened when I took an English class. A German friend of mine, living in Spain, has made several good friends via a German academy where she volunteers to help people to practice German. She also participate in Ravelry, a social network for knitters, and she has some local friends with whom she walks gathering raw wool. Ah, and also she has friends from his Spanish class. Now I am doing pilates and I have a couple of acquaintances that I hope will become friends.

      But in truth, I’d say the thing we need the most it’s patience and take this time as it is. I know it’s annoying to hear that, but to move from your country and your network is truly a big thing, and it is inevitable that’s going to be difficult and isolating, more if you don’t speak the local language. And I guess the first 6 months to a year are the most difficult, for you don’t even know your environment and where to go is something happens. So not only I feel isolated, but “unsafe” too.

      As for the work, yes, it will be better once you have a job. For me it’s not only the interaction with other people, but to feel valuable as a worker, as a contributing member of society. I am not exactly comfortable with my own thoughts, since I believe the support I give to my husband is the most important thing I can do, and part of that is creating a home for both of us, but I can’t help feeling more valuable when I have a job.

      All in all, good luck!

    2. Just Wondering*

      Not from moving with a spouse, as I’m single, but I’ve moved countries with a language barrier three times, and can offer insights.
      1. It will suck in many ways for the first six months to a year. You’re getting used to things, everything’s different, your support network is far away… If it still sucks after a longer time, perhaps the place isn’t for you.
      2. Join Facebook groups for expats in the area, as well as groups for your own interests. (Get a friendly local person to help you find and join the groups online in Swedish, and then post in English.) Post a few questions about local amenities, and if someone responds in a friendly way, be the one to make an invitation to do something together. I spent too long wishing people would include me in their stuff, when they were actually perfectly willing to join me for mine.
      3. Find a language class if you can. I made some of my closest friends there, and felt a great sense of achievement when I could handle my own business.
      4. Understand that the people you meet at first may not become your closest friends, but they will satisfy a little of your need for social interaction until you find “your people”. It usually takes me half a year of unsatisfying semi-friendships before I stumble across the people who will become the backbone of my friend group.
      5. Go exploring on your own. People will often strike up conversations with people who are doing stuff by themselves. If something might interest you, don’t wait for someone else to take you there.

      Hope that helps! Good luck!

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      There is an expats blog which has links and a forum. The web address is simply expatsblog (dot)com

    4. Mander*

      I’d definitely search for an expats group. Many of my friends now are people that I met this way. Some of them are people that I probably never would have met or gotten along with except for the bonding experience of being foreigners here! We don’t really have a language barrier but another American friend of mine moved to Finland, and she made a number of friends through language classes there. Getting some sort of job, if your visa status allows, can also be helpful. I’ve met a bunch of people in my new city through work.

    5. Yetanotherjennifer*

      Honestly, I’d give it more than a year. Some people and areas have an extra layer of reserve and I think Sweden is one of those places. You will likely have an easy time making friends with other ex-pats but the locals may take longer. The trick is to just keep showing up. Also, create what you need. If you want to belong to a book club, start your own. Start an expat email group. Etc. good luck!

    6. Iain Clarke*

      Hi CoffeeLover – this is probably too late, but I was in similar circumstances a few years ago. I moved to Sweden from the UK a few years ago, to be with my (then) fiancee. I don’t live in one of the big three cities. If you want to ask any questions, you can find me via the link in my name.

      I hope your hubby has at least taught you about Melodifestivalen?

    7. Caffeine Free*

      Also late but wanted to add, I spent two years as an expat in Northern Europe with my (then/there) local husband.

      Take a language class. Not only is it really important to learn the language, despite how well the locals speak English (and Swedes speak it well!), but it’s also a great place to make friends.

      Look for another class or activity to do. Think: art class or joining a gym with athletic classes. I took “yogalates” led in my non-native language(s) in order to get out of the house, hone my language skills (lots of body parts and movements to learn!), and meet new people. It was hard (so out of my comfort zone) but helped.

      Go to expat meet-ups. They can be kinda goofy, but if you go then you never know what kind of people are also going. My ultimate goal was not to have all expat friends, but honestly it can be incredibly hard to make friends and the easiest people to connect with (initially) were those in similar situations. Just be wary of expat negativity. Let yourself enjoy your new country and don’t always compare it to home. Enjoy it for what it is.

  14. Considering a change*

    Hello all!
    I’m considering a move to plant-based eating, specifically the Forks over Knives program. I’m looking for pros, cons, and tips, as this would be a fairly big shift for me. Thank you to anyone who can help!

    1. nep*

      I can’t think of any cons — I suppose some of that depends on your family situation and how many people if any for whom you prepare food.
      Plant-based = Good for whatever ails you, is what I say. All my digestion problems disappeared when I got off all animal products and processed foods. Female-related: Went from sometimes debilitating menstrual pain to scarcely a twinge. I work out regularly, including lifting heavy-ish weights / kettlebells. More energy than ever before. Clearer head. Feel calmer.
      Explore, explore, explore — Such an abundance of purely plant-based foods / meals out there.
      Interested to know — has something in particular triggered your interest in doing this now?
      All the best.

      1. Considering a change*

        Hi nep, thanks for responding! I have Lupus, which is an autoimmune disease which, among other things, causes inflammation. I read on the FOK website that a plant based diet can help with that. I also have constant fatigue as well as digestive issues, and headaches all of which I read might improve with a plant based diet. I’ve been eating whole foods and no sugar for years, but that has included meat and dairy. Family is used to me eating differently, so they’re somewhat skeptical but as long as they don’t have to do it they’re fine (two teens and a meat and potatoes husband). I’m easing into it slowly! Thanks again for your input.

        1. nep*

          Thanks. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes for you and what effects you see with plant-based eating. Keep us posted. All the best.

        2. asteramella*

          If you’re not yet vegetarian, it might be easier to cut out meat first, then dairy (or vice versa).

          I think a lot of people who eat meat and try to go veg*n cold turkey (so to speak) have trouble psychologically because they often have trouble seeing a meal without meat as a “complete” meal.

          1. Winter is Coming*

            Great advice…I am easing into it slowly, and am not putting any hefty expectations on myself.

        3. GH in SoCAl*

          I saw a big reduction in my physical issues when I cut out dairy. It was difficult at first but now comes easily. (I still eat meat, in moderation.)

          1. Winter is Coming*

            Good to know you can still eat some meat and still experience the positive effects. I was wondering about that.

        4. Cordelia Longfellow*

          Hello! I also have chronic health issues that can be affected by diet. What’s helped me is making diet changes slowly and with one food type at a time, so that I can really pinpoint what makes me feel better or worse. I’ve kept food diaries and also used the allergy-testing strategy of cutting one food out for a week or so, and then eating a bunch of it to test my body’s reaction. It can be a tedious process, but it’s helped me figure out what diet changes can improve (or at least not aggravate) my health issues.

    2. TL -*

      Iron and b12 can be an issue – make sure you track how you feel and if you get tired, cold, or start bruising easily, worth chatting to your doctor about.

      I definitely have an iron deficiency that only comes about when I don’t eat a lot of meat. But it varies from person to person – some people never have a problem at all.

        1. TL -*

          Be really mindful, then! Some people can’t be healthy on a vegan or vegetarian diet (lots of people can) so be flexible – maybe you’ll end up eating a lot less animal products but not cutting then out completely.

      1. Mander*

        Yes, definitely keep this in mind if you have any strange symptoms. I was a vegetarian for several years and my teeth became rather loose. It wasn’t until I became an omnivore again that I realized it was probably caused by some sort of nutrient deficiency, because it went away once I started eating a more typical diet again.

    3. INTP*

      One tip is to make sure you’re getting enough calories. Even if you want to lose weight, adjust to the new diet a bit before cutting calories considerably. I’ve seen a lot of people who are trying to move towards healthy eating do things like replace their fast food lunch with a salad with nothing particularly caloric on it besides the dressing (it’s surprisingly hard to find a meal-appropriate vegetarian salad – you want beans, tofu, etc on it, not just lettuce and raw veggies), or replace their afternoon bag of chips and coke with a teeny tiny portion of blueberries. Don’t stuff yourself to the point of feeling sick, but do try to keep close to your normal calorie intake, and realize that it will involve what looks like a very large volume of food and include healthy fat/protein sources like nut butters and avocados. I think the Forks over Knives program limits fats as well, so to get enough calories you might need to eat larger quantities of starchy carb foods than usual.

      Don’t get sucked into one guru’s view, or the orthorexic faction of the internet. There are a lot of weird extremists on the vegan internet who will say that besides being plant based, you need to stop eating fats, or grains, or anything cooked above 100 degrees, or anything high in protein. Don’t take anything too closely to heart. Even with a less extreme option like Forks Over Knives, many people may find that they need more fat and protein than recommended to feel good. If it’s not an ethical issue for you, you might find that you want to throw in the occasional fish or free-range egg. Don’t be afraid to tweak things that you feel aren’t working for you – short of a period of adjusting to digesting plenty of plant matter (you’ll just have fewer of the enzymes and bacteria used to digest it if you aren’t eating much now), a diet shouldn’t make you feel crappy or hungry or make your hair fall out or anything else sketchy. Don’t listen to any diet advice-giver that tells you these things are “just detox.”

      If you experience some bloat or other digestive issues, try cooking your veggies instead of eating salads. For convenience, broth-based vegetable soups have a similar nutritional profile to salads but can be far easier to digest. I love vegetarian borscht full of beets, carrots, and cabbage for getting through winter.

      Eating out will be difficult if you aren’t going to restaurants that specifically cater to that style of eating. The only vegan option may be an iceberg lettuce salad. I’ve been known to bring a tupperware of beans to a restaurant to dress up a salad into a proper meal. Last time I went to Chili’s, I ordered a side salad and a side of black beans and put the beans on the salad because there were no suitable entrees including entree salads. Look at menus and plan ahead so you aren’t hungry and miserable.

      My favorite sources for vegan (which most plant-based diet meals are) recipes are Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s books (“Appetite for Reduction” especially) and the Oh She Glows blog and cookbook.

      If you’ll limit animal products long-term, consider supplementing with B12 (I recently read that the pill version is absorbed just as well as the sublingual they will try to sell you), iron, and zinc.

    4. anon4this*

      I’ve been seriously considering that myself. My motivation is A1C blood test creeping up. And now high blood pressure. I’m thinking about starting with VB6 to ease into it (vegan before 6 p.m., I think author of the book is Mark Bittman). My advice is to avoid the heavily processed meat substitutes (e.g., TVP, isolated soy protein) as I don’t believe they are healthy. Good luck and let us know how it goes if you try it!

  15. Al Lo*

    I want to get something into the crock pot for dinner, but my MO is that I just spend an hour looking at recipe blogs and videos (I kind of love the new trend of the shot-from-above recipe videos by Tasty and Tip Hero and others) and never decide on anything. And… we need groceries, so I either have to run for ingredients or figure something out from what I have here.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Pick something! I made chili in the crockpot last night and had nice warm chili for breakfast and lunch. (If I had been faster I might have had it last night for dinner. :))

      1. Al Lo*

        I’m going to slow cook a chicken. I’ve got one in the freezer, there are enough vegetables in the house (and should be used up and cooked, since a) our veggie box comes next week and we’ll have a huge influx, and b) they’re not super fresh anymore), and we can use the leftovers later.

      2. Al Lo*

        Also — I’ve been making soup like crazy this winter. Insane amounts of soup. My immersion blender has never gotten such a soup workout. I’m actually making solid food today, but there’s just something about hot liquid food that makes everything cozier.

    2. Collarbone High*

      Do you have a Super Target nearby? Mine has a slow cooker section in the meat department with prepackaged sauces right next to the meat. It’s like Garanimals for cooking.

      1. Al Lo*

        In this case, it’s not the spices/seasonings — we have a pretty well-stocked kitchen full of staples, so I’m never too concerned about that! It’s more about the juuuust needing to do a big grocery shop right now. The veggies are almost out and there’s not a huge amount of meat in the freezer at the moment, so it was kind of a “what can I do with what I have?” I’d forgotten about the frozen chicken, and since I’m starting now, there’s actually time to defrost it!

        We also have a frozen duck, but that’s a little fancier than I want to do tonight. But it’s just about time. We cook a duck every few months, and then the duck fat lasts us for ages and goes in/on everything. So tasty! We add it to everything from pizza to ramen noodles to actual, real cooking.

  16. The IT Manager*

    I’m now living in New Orleans and it’s my first Mardi Gras. I know that the traditional Mardi Gras parade experience is not my idea of fun, but I don’t want to miss out on all of it. I want to want to go to tonight’s Krewe du Vieux parade – the local’s parade, adult and sarcastic themes. And I think I worked through my homebody introversion, frustration with crowds and parking, but temps are going to be in the 40s. I want to want to go, but I’m definitely on the fence.

    Other problem, too, I don’t have anyone to go with. If I did, I’d have committed to go by now and I could tackle the parking problem with them.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Great point! While I don’t plan on fight the crowds and tourist to view the big well-known Mardi Gras parades, this isn’t the only one that’s quirky and offbeat and won’t require staking out a spot very early.

        And I know a bunch of people who are in Chewbaccus.

        1. brightstar*

          My boyfriend and I might go to Chewbaccus. I wanted to go to Krewe du Vieux but am way too tired to deal with it. I also hate crowds and how terrible traffic is during Mardi Gras season. But I think I could deal with Chewbaccus.

  17. Collarbone High*

    I’ve been waiting for this open thread to say thank you to YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist for introducing me to the “oil slick” effect in the thread about unconventional hair colors. I got it done this week and it looks amazing! So far I’ve gotten nothing but compliments, even at work.

    1. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I remember that thread and was fascinated by “oil slick”. So cool that you were able to do it.

  18. Marcela*

    Can I ask you about grays (hair), please?

    I am reaching the point where I am like my tuxedo cat. But I am too lazy to tint regularly. Besides I am afraid of the whole process or in truth, to do it improperly so it’s going to be a pain in the neck in the future. And by this I mean that my mom currently can’t use most of the drug store stuff: it simply won’t cover enough. And her sideburns only keep tint for the first 2 or 3 washes. I wonder if there is a progression, i.e. you start with non permanent coverage and when that doesn’t work anymore you move to semi-permanent and then to permanent.

    On the other side, several months ago someone mentioned color-enhancing shampoos, as in, one that actually deposits color. This sounds more my cup of tea, something I could do without having to organize my life around.

    So, can you tell me your experiences covering grays? What do you like in terms of lasting coverage, ease of use, etc?


    1. periwinkle*

      That’s pretty much the progression I followed – semi-permanent (I loved Clairol Natural Instincts), then permanent, then professional. My grays are resistant to dyeing and I’m now over 50% gray (thanks for the genes, mom!) so the salon route produces the best results by far. I’ve noticed that the pro colors fade more gradually, like Natural Instincts does, but the permanent at-home stuff I used (a variety of brands) resulted in stark roots as my hair grew out.

      One tip – if you’re going to color at home, hit a beauty supply store to get proper tools for the job. The applicator in the box of color is likely to be pretty basic.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I started w/ the 28-shampoos stuff bcs I thought I might get lazy and stop doing it, but I found that it never truly washes out for me; it fades and gets more brown/red, but it never goes away.

      I also found that I have such variation in terms of the base hair (some gray, some now; and a few different types of gray–silvery and white) that I never worry about a monotone look.

      I haven’t switched to the permanent color, but that’s mostly because I’ve told myself that the semi-permanent is easier on my hair.

      I don’t have any trouble w/ the tools in the package.

    3. Trixie*

      Drugstore brands are less expensive but will not last as long as professional. My mom also loves Natural Instincts because it isn’t perm but it’s a regular maintenance schedule. I think she could spend more on hair care products so her hair held the pigments longer. Something like Living Proof or other. I almost wish I knew someone with license to shop at professional salon wholesale so I could keep her in professional products.

    4. LCL*

      I have been coloring my hair since I was 21. When I was poor I did it at home, now I go to the salon. I never bothered with temporary colors, except for the manic panic stuff.

    5. Natalie*

      I don’t color my gray currently, but when I did I went salon. It’s not as cheap as boxed color but it was worth it to me – color matched perfectly, long lasting, and no stains in my bathroom.

      If cost is a concern you could look at a hairstyling school. All over color doesn’t require advanced skills so the students should be pretty good, if slow. And the instructors will fix it if the kids mess up.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      If your gray is scattered across your head you could try is highlights and lowlights with no overall color. Big chunks of gray are interrupted by colored hair and the grays look like highlights. It can be expensive but you can go up to 8 weeks between salon visits because Yoi don’t get that telltale solid growth line. You can also cut costs by alternating between getting your whole head done and just doing the top and sides. And there are some good temporary color sticks that can help you squeeze in another week or two between visits.

  19. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Is anyone else jumping on this 10-step Korean skin care regime that’s everywhere? I just assembled a little starter kit for myself but don’t really know what I’m doing or how to select the specific products to use for each of the 10 stages, and just sort of bought randomly based on what looked or sounded cool. So, I ended up with a couple cleansers, two essences, an amoule, a sleep pack, and all the rest, but I have no idea if I actually picked the right things within those categories. If anyone here is doing this and is more experienced, come give me guidance!

    1. periwinkle*

      Not a clue, but Korean skin care was the theme of this month’s special Birchbox! I haven’t had time to try it out, though.

    2. Dear Liza dear liza*

      I tried the Benton snail essence line last year. My skin was incredibly soft- but then I started breaking out. I was sad because I loved how my skin felt but I wasn’t willing to deal with the cyst level acne.

    3. Port of Indecision*

      I’ve been doing it for a little over a year, although my routine is mostly Korean with a little Japanese and Taiwanese mixed in. I do think it took 5 years off my face, and my breakouts have faded from “Again?!! Really!!” to rare. A huge part of that was because I finally started keeping track of ingredients, and got rid of the problems though.

      As for products, you’re going to blunder around for awhile, it just kind of goes with the territory! The Reddit Asian Beauty sub is nice to a fault (just post questions about your routine in the daily thread, rather than starting your own, please), and we just did the quarterly Routine Thread that will let you know what hundreds of people are using and at least like well enough to finish, and some they even love. One thing you’ll definitely notice- the Holy Grail and Holy Fail threads have almost a 100% overlap. Someone went through and totaled all of the most common HG products on the list. I think I use 6 of the ~30 products on it, and dislike/couldn’t use/ruled out all but 2 of the rest.

      What’s your skin like, and what did you get?

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d say my skin is pretty normal, although on the sensitive side, and I still get the occasional hormonal break-out. (I am 42! When will that stop?) I bought:
      – Banila Co. Clean It Zero
      – Mizon Snail Foam Cleanser
      – Skinfood Black Sugar Mask
      – Etude House Moistfull Collagen Skin Facial Freshner
      – Missha Time Revolution the First Treatment Essence
      – Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence
      – Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule
      – Skinfood Peach Sake Emulsion
      – Lioele V-Line Waterdrop Sleeping Pack

      Oh, I’m having terrible guilt writing that out because it’s such a ridiculous quantity. (For anyone reading this who isn’t familiar with the whole regime, this is normal! It’s very multi-step.)

      1. Mando Diao*

        That looks like a good assortment of products. It’s not too heavy on rich creams. As you use them, try to determine if your skin is able to absorb and use the products, or if you think the last few steps are just sitting there and being blocked by previous products.

        The Peach Sake Emulsion is wonderful. You can use it as a makeup primer.

      2. Port of Indecision*

        Yeah, but all of that still costs less than an ounce of a high-end Western line!

        First things first, make sure you’re only introducing one thing at a time, with 2-4 weeks in between, just so you know what’s working. I went through two bottles of the Benton essence, thought I loved it, and then realized it did nothing when I stopped using it. Do be sure you’re storing the Benton in the fridge, and always check for mold, changes in color, texture, and smell before you use it- their preservatives are not so stable, to put it nicely.

        Personally, I would not use that cleanser- the pH is really, really high. A low pH cleanser has been the second best thing I’ve done for my skin (snail is the first). I use and absolutely love the Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash. It’s cheap and great to travel with, plus it doesn’t overstrip my skin, unlike nearly every other cleanser I’ve tried. It does have SLS if that’s a concern. I’ve heard great things recently about the CosRx Good Morning Gel (also cheap), and the Sulwhasoo Snowise ($$$$), and Su:m 37 White Award Enzyme Powder ($$$$). The Innisfree Bija Trouble Cleansing Gel seems to have fallen out of favor, as has the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick (this one has coconut oil in it, which will do amazingly good or bad things to your skin).

        I would also not use the Benton and the Mizon Snail Essence together, just because it’s doubling up- two layers of snail won’t do more than one. You could just skip that step, or add in a honey or propolis step for healing/soothing (or green tea, or astaxanthin, or some kind of seaweed or…). The Scinic Honey AIO is pretty commonly used, but I’m not 100% sold on it. It’s pretty sticky/shiny, so I only use it at night (and I’ve had this bottle since June, given a 50ml airless pump to my mom, and I still think I have another 50ml to go!). It does seem to calm my skin a little, although my beloved Mizon Black Snail AIO is definitely doing the heavy lifting.

        The Skinfood emulsion only looks ok- water, alcohol and mineral oil are the top ingredients, so not great, but you could do worse.

        I hadn’t paid any attention to the Lioele, but the ingredients there look really interesting. I’m getting low on my sleeping pack, I may have to try that one out! I don’t think it would be good for me for summer (too much silicone does clog me), but it looks great for winter.

        1. alex*

          @ port of indecision
          Wow this is super helpful; I am also interested in the 10 step routine.

          I just got the “Mizon Snail repair intensive ampoule” from amazon (or are you referring to the cream that’s your favorite?) and I was wondering how you apply it and about how much?

          1. Port of Indecision*

            Mizon Black Snail All in One Cream is the one I love, but I’m not sure you can go wrong with a Mizon (or CosRX) snail product unless your skin dislikes an ingredient in it (the alcohol in the regular ampoule irritates my skin).

            If you don’t have a routine at all, it would go after you wash your face, and before your moisturizer.

            As for how much, just enough for a thin layer. If you have a FTE and hydrating toner, using it after those will take a little less than if you’re putting it on bare skin. But half to a whole dropper should be enough.

            Two other snail uses- cuts/scrapes and bug bites. It works better than cortisone on mosquito bites for me, and I get the big ones that swell up to at least dime sized and itch for weeks. Three days of keeping under snail, and it’s gone within a week like a normal person!

    5. Saro*

      Yes, just this last week! I found the links on the sidebar on reddit’s Asian Beauty helpfuk. I’m waiting on my order from memebox. I purchased a winter routine box. I also signed up for some subscription boxes too but that was jet lag induced shopping.

  20. Be the Change*

    You may remember from previous open threads that my husband and I went out of the country for the holidays and it was not a great time. I was really glad to get back home, and am still glad to be home.

    But for the past three weeks ever since we got back, it’s like both of us have been depressed. We get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, and fall asleep on the sofa at 8 pm. If I have a crossfit class I go to it and then come home and fall asleep on the sofa at 8:30. I can’t think of a single thing I’d really like to do or person I’d like to see, or even a movie that would get me in the car.

    Well actually I’d kind of love to go to a Superbowl party. Last year I tried to hold one and not one person I invited could come, bummer. I don’t really want to try that again, but I’d like to go to someone else’s party. Nice and loud and raucous, with lots of bad beer and corn chips. That would be fun.

    1. katamia*

      I’m brushing up on my Hindi. I’m pretty good on grammar, but my vocabulary is not great, especially since it turns out I was taught a pretty heavily Urdu-ized version of Hindi when I first learned it, so there are a lot of situations where I know one word for something, but it’s maybe not the best/most commonly used word.

      I’m also going to start learning Tamil today unless I lose power, in which case I’ll wait until I have power again. (So maybe next month, since I have Pepco, haha.)

    2. GraceT*

      Sign language (ASL). Ok it’s not technically a “new” language to me since it’s still English, but I’ve always been fascinated by it. I took Latin in high school and college and never enjoyed it. Tried learning Spanish and hated it. But sign language is fun for me and it could help me in my profession if I ever have a deaf patient.

      1. Mimmy*

        ASL actually is considered a separate language because it’s a completely different sentence structure than English. I’m trying to learn it myself.

          1. Mimmy*

            I’m using something called “Learn and Master Sign Language”, a set of 25 DVDs. The funny part is that they’re produced by the same group that has similar sets of DVDs for learning guitar, which my husband uses.

            Anyway – The DVDs are good but expensive. Very simple production. There are two instructors, one of whom is Deaf. The hearing instructor, though, is very much involved in the Deaf community, and she’s very enthusiastic. I do see some occasional errors or inconsistencies, but it’s not egregious.

            1. GraceT*

              Found a copy for only $99 on ebay! Do they teach health related words? I’m a Physical Therapist Assistant and want to be able to communicate using signs that would be related to my profession, so words that refer to body parts, pain, movements/activities.

                1. GraceT*

                  Thank you so much for this recommendation. I do a free ASL class at a church to practice with real people but was looking for something more detailed and structured to supplement. I used some polite phrasing I’ve learned on AAM and talked the ebay seller down on the shipping charge. Hopefully I win the bid because I can’t wait to start this DVD program!

                2. Mimmy*

                  You’re welcome! I hope they are helpful. I haven’t watched all the DVDs yet. If you have any questions, please let me know :)

                3. GraceT*

                  In my research on how to best learn a new language I found the site iTalki. It connects people who are fluent in a language with others who want to learn it, as well as connecting people who just want to practice the language together. If you ever join and want to practice ASL together, my link is http://www.italki.com/user/3041641

    3. Ekaterin*

      Spanish! That’s where I’m focusing. I also need to learn some Cape Verdean Creole, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

    4. salad fingers*

      Half assing Dutch because my boyfriend is from the Netherlands and it’s fun to catch him off guard with well pronounced Dutch sayings like “Ik hou van je”. I’m also interested in how strange it looks and sounds when you’re a fluent English speaker and crappy German speaker.

        1. salad fingers*

          Well, we have a lot of books in Dutch lying around the house, so I’ve been looking those over a bit. Mostly I have been looking things up and translating them on the google, and have been asking for little lessons from boyfriend. He and his mom speak in Dutch to each other, so I’ll listen in on those conversations and try to discern. Very much half assing it.

          That said, boyfriend worked for a brief time as an online Dutch teacher/tutor. Everything was done via Skype. Hilariously (to him, at least) there was too little interest for the classes to continue, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that sort of set up still exists somewhere. Sorry I don’thave better advice!

          1. Milly*

            Thanks salad fingers!!
            I have found a book and cds on line which seems to rate well on amazon, but it is just a matter of finding time juggling my small daughter and job ;-)

          2. Vulcan social worker*

            Duolingo has free English to Dutch. It didn’t have it yet when I was trying to learn Dutch when I was spending some time over there a few years ago. I was pleased to see it last year, but also kind of annoyed that it was finally offered but not when I had needed it. I ordered grammar workbooks and vocabulary books online when I needed to learn and also watched videos on youtube. There was no Dutch-language meetup group in my city for practice. I speak several other languages and there are meetup groups with native speakers and language learners for those languages. My Dutch skills have completely atrophied since I have not used it in a few years now, but every so often a phrase will pop into my head.

    5. Nina*

      Hoping to go to France next summer, so I’m trying to improve my French. Although I’ve been studying it off and on since I was little, I never get any farther than the beginner’s level. Can’t afford to take it in school right now, so I’m using the Duolingo app on my tablet.

      1. Anon the Great and Powerful*

        I’m also learning French and have made great progress with Assimil. It’s not free (about $75 I believe) but it the audio is recorded by native speakers. I had trouble with Duolingo because of the computer voices.

        1. Nina*

          Duolingo definitely gets funny when it asks me to record stuff. Sometimes it just wants you to rattle off the phrase without really sounding it out, and it marks it wrong.

    6. LisaLee*

      I’m attempting to learn Turkish, for a possible grad school application soon. It’s difficult, because the sentence structure is very different from English and personally I’ve found that the way people speak is different too. It’s slow going, but I’m hoping it’ll start to click.

      1. katamia*

        Oh, I’d love to learn Turkish someday. I listen to a lot of Turkish bands/singers, and I love the way the language sounds.

    7. Finny*

      Going to be trying to learn braille later this year. Waiting until stupid season is over at work and until the school I’m going to be going through has finished updating their program.

      I don’t know if braille counts as a language, but it’s something I’ve been interested in for years, ever since I read a biography of Louis Braille, and then one of Helen Keller, when I was four or five. And as my vision only keeps getting worse, braille could be useful as well as interesting.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’ve actually thought of learning Braille myself, at least at a very basic level. I am also visually impaired but can read regular print for brief periods and prefer large or magnified print for sustained reading. Years ago, someone suggested I learn it just so I can maybe use it to find files more quickly.

        Good luck with it!

        1. Finny*

          I can read some regular print, but not mass market books. Large print or magnified is best for me–I absolutely love my Kobo Glo HD eReader for that purpose. I also find I love audiobooks, though I have to be firm with myself that it is okay for me to listen to them, as I grew up in a family where audiobooks were only for those with no vision and glasses fixed everything else. Which is so not true!

          Thanks for the luck!

    8. nep*

      I’m more about doing what I can to remain fluent in a language I used to use daily (French) and stay on top of bits I know of a couple of other languages. It’s use it or lose it.
      Studied Spanish a while back and I go back to it from time to time so I can know more next time I visit Nicaragua.

    9. Jen RO*

      I just signed up for German classes again, after stopping for about a year. I am back with my first teacher (whose style I like, unlike the second teacher, whose I hated), and the classmates aren’t bad. All in all, a good investment!

      I started learning because I have a good friend in Austria, I go there regularly, and I got tired of never understanding the conversation around me when we go out for drinks! Language classes are also relaxing to me, and they give me an opportunity to socialize with new people.

      1. katamia*

        Oh, fun. Out of curiosity, what’s different about their styles? Why do you like one over the other?

        I really enjoy language classes for the socialization element, too. I wish I could find a Tamil class around here so I could feel less isolated as I learn it, but there are none offered around here.

        1. GraceT*

          You can learn Tamil online through skype with private lessons through iTalki. There’s a native speaker on there that only charges $5/hr.

    10. Blue_eyes*

      Hebrew! I took a 10-week class in the fall that was mostly focused on biblical/liturgical Hebrew and I just signed up a for a 16-week class focused on modern, conversational Hebrew. I’ve had some exposure to Hebrew from attending services with my husband’s family, but I wanted to actually understand more of what was going on. Plus I love learning languages (majored in Spanish in college, and took French throughout middle and high school). AND we’re going to Israel in just 3 weeks!!! So far the hardest part has been learning a new alphabet; it has certainly given me a lot better understanding of what children go through when they are learning to read!

  21. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    How do guys decide when to propose?

    Just curious……a couple nights ago, bf told me he might ask his guy friend to give him tips re: engagement ring shopping (later probably after grad school ends this year), he saw my ring style on pinterest. And I told him I was reading theknot (wedding magazine) and he thought it was cute. (I was worried he’d freak out but he’s awesome) <:)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This isn’t answering your question all, but I feel obligated to speak up and strongly suggest not reading theknot or thinking about rings or the rest of it until you’ve figured out if you actually want this person to be your partner for the rest of your life. That stuff has a really weird and powerful way of pushing you into marriage mode, even when it shouldn’t, and it can get people focused on the trappings of marriage (like the wedding and the ring) to the point that it blocks out clear thinking about whether they actually should be marrying. Which can lead to a lovely wedding that’s followed by an unhappy life. And life is long.

      Obviously, if you’ve already figured out that this is the person who you want as your life-long partner in money, housing, where and how you live, possibly raising kids, dealing with family, and life in general, then the above is null and void. But based on your recent posts here, my sense is that you haven’t concluded that yet. If I am wrong, ignore me!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I’ll go on a tangent off your tangent, too, and say (having been married well over a decade) that a lot of times people get too caught up in the wedding (bachelor/bachelorette parties, rings, announcements, registries, honeymoons, bridal showers, receptions, seating charts, dresses, venues, flowers, thank-you notes, etc.) and forget that ultimately that part of your life is one day or a weekend or a couple of weeks. It really should be more about the marriage and not the wedding ceremony. Some of the best marriages I’ve seen have been with couples who claim to have had a horrible or not memorable wedding (not recommending a bad wedding—just saying it has nothing to do with your marriage).

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          I like both of these comments! Our wedding was non-traditional and had issues, but in the end, we were married, so we didn’t care. Don’t do things just because they are tradition or because someone says you have to do them: do things because you like them or the meaning behind them. Weddings shouldn’t be a checklist of all the things you have to do to make it a “real wedding,” because each couple is unique and the entire planning process should reflect that. A “real marriage” is whatever you have with your spouse that works, so make sure you’re taking the wedding planning as the sideshow it is and focus on the main event of marriage planning.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Absolutely. And even though I don’t think the wedding matters as much as the subsequent marriage, the most beautiful and heartwarming weddings I’ve been to have been the most non-traditional ones.

          2. Yes*

            My wedding was a $500 bbq in my parents back yard. My now-husband and I had known each other for 3 months when he proposed and 5 when we got married. So many people thought I was crazy and caught up in it and making a mistake while at the same time saying I was making a mistake not having a “real” wedding. 5 years in and we are strong and very happy.

            Meanwhile, multiple friends, who spent over spent over $10k on their weddings are divorced or headed there. I know it’s not because of the wedding but in their mind they believed we would fail because we weren’t as “invested” as they were, which was indicated by our lack of monetary investment in our wedding.

            My point, some of them I think just wanted to have a wedding and got swept up in it as Alison said, and that never makes for a strong relationship. At the same time, don’t completely write off the possibility that getting married could be right even a short time in.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Alison is right. And if you are ready to read wedding stuff, I suggest ditching The Knot and heading straight for A Practical Wedding. Don’t let anyone convince you that you “need” all the trappings of a traditional wedding (unless that’s what you want, but first figure out if you actually want that, or if you just think you should want it).

        1. MsChandandlerBong*

          Wonderful suggestion. And I would like to add, unless someone else is paying for your wedding, do NOT feel obligated to do anything other than what you want to do. It doesn’t matter if Grandma wants your bridesmaids to wear pink or Aunt Susie thinks you should get married in a Catholic church even though you are Methodist. Do what you want to do.

          1. The Sugar Plum Fairy*

            Wholeheartedly agree with this. I’m engaged and planning my wedding now. I’ve never been the girl that dreamed of her wedding day, so I want to keep things pretty simple and on the lower end of the budget. That being said, I’ve pretty much avoided any wedding-related websites and media because it’s so easy to get sucked into it all. For example, my fiancé and I really did not want to have a bridal party because we wanted to keep things simple and didn’t want to ask any friends/family to spend $$ on clothes they’ll never wear again. I’m also walking down the aisle alone, because I hate the idea of being “given away.” You would not believe the pushback I’ve gotten from well-meaning friends and family about these things.

            All this to say – do what you want, within a budget that you can actually afford, and don’t compare yourself to others.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m with you on the being given away thing. My husband and I actually walked down the aisle together, in part because I really dislike the way wedding traditions put so much more of the focus on the bride than the groom (with the aisle march being a prime example of that). I ended up really liking doing it together.

              1. Arjay*

                We did too. We came down opposite side aisles and met at the start of the center aisle to walk down together. Hilariously, the rest of the bridal party had already started walking when I realized my maid of honor went without fixing my blusher veil, so my fiancée got to flip it into place and then back out two minutes later.

            2. Blue_eyes*

              We chose to have bridesmaids and groomsmen, but we paid for their dresses and tux rentals, as well as hotels for those who had to travel. We also chose to both walk down the aisle with both of our parents. We’re both close to our parents and so for us it was a nice way to give them a place in the ceremony while getting away from the icky transfer of property implications of the father giving the bride away. (Although I did jokingly consider having my dad walk me down the aisle because he was the only parent that was always supportive of our wedding, the others took some time to come around.)

              At a wedding I was at recently they had an L-shaped ceremony space with the ceremony happening at the corner of the L. So they had an aisle down each leg of the L and the bride and groom walked in at the same time and met in the middle.

          2. Lamington*

            My sister and her husband accepted the MIL offer to pay for the wedding. Everything was to her taste, she even did the guest list. The only thing she let my sister pick was the colors of the wedding and the wedding dress (because my sister paid for it) but she did had an opinion for each one she tried. It was a lovely wedding but it was sad a lot of the guests did not know my sister at all.

    2. Al Lo*

      When we got engaged, we’d known for ~3 years that we were going to get married, but were mostly just waiting for me to finish school. By the time my husband officially proposed, we’d already planned half the wedding and been discussing marriage for quite a while, so the engagement itself wasn’t a surprise — what was the surprise was the way he did it, the ring, and the time. It was a public proposal, so he had some other elements to pull together, which was a part of why he did it when he did, but for as much as I wanted him to propose on my schedule, he definitely wanted to do it his way. Which was great. I was just really impatient. :)

      For him, it wasn’t any doubt about getting married or waiting until he knew he wanted to marry me in order to propose. I knew (6 weeks into our relationship) before he did (about 3 months into our relationship) that we would get married, so we’d already been planning and preparing for life together for several years before we got engaged. Really, it was just the logistical timing of school, living in the same city, and having family and friends around.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Never proposed. Spouse and I just talked a lot about it and decided to get married. Same deal with my parents. I know that’s not a popular idea, but I just wanted to throw that anecdote out there as one more data point. Sounds as if your boyfriend is already thinking of proposing soon, though, if he’s asking for tips.

    4. Nonny today*

      My now-husband proposed(ish) when we both realized that we’d been calling each other “my husband” and “my wife” to other people as the most accurate short form for our relationship. My brother proposed to my SIL once they’d been together over a decade and had a five year old. :)

    5. Marcela*

      We never proposed in the formal sense. One day we just told each other we could not stand anymore be separated by more than 13000 km, and both of us just wanted to be together no matter what. By then my husband had been 10 months in Europe while I stayed in Chile.

    6. Jessica (tc)*

      My husband and I talked about it a lot and eventually decided that we wanted to get married. We had had the discussions on finances (where we were with debt and income), children (as in, we aren’t having them), where to live (we lived in separate states), future goals for jobs and education, family dynamics, and so on. Add to that the fact that I was/am anti-engagement ring (required disclaimer: for myself, and I don’t care what anyone else does or requires in the way of jewelry), and the idea of an actual proposal wasn’t a requirement for me, but my husband wanted to do something a bit traditionally.

      As far as I was concerned, we were engaged at the point that we both decided and voiced the fact that we wanted to marry each other, but he wanted to do something special and actually propose to me, so he just did it one day when he was visiting me. The way he did it was sweet (and private), but I suppose he decided to just do it because we had already agreed that we wanted to get married.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks–and thanks all, for the tips. The bf and I have talked about homebuying in 1.5-2 years, puppy, kid(s), he mentioned his mom could help out since she’s in the area (and a lot easier than my mom to get along with). I think something changed after these past days/months/weeks leading up to our 2nd anniversary. What we have is here to stay, for a while. Psychologically, I’m able to tune out my mom’s snipes/gripes (ie. date an attorney because you are one/her making fun of his appearance because he’s not the same ethnicity, critiquing his teeth and his mother for not taking him to an orthodontist to get braces) and I feel exactly like I’m in that shift from daughter child/to wife/adult now, vis-a-vis “The Conscious Bride. It it feels like what we have is impenetrable. It can withstand time (has so far), we’re approaching 30 fairly soon in the next yr or 2, and it can more than withstand whatever psychological control my mom thinks she has on the situation.

        Case in point: my mom, to tell me not to date him so frequently (so I could meet someone richer/better positioned in her mind) tried telling me the 10 commandments say “obey your father and mother.”

        However, I did my own relationship online theological research which said if a parent is contravening via Ephesians 6:1 (children obey your parents), Genesis husband and wife become one), the husband/wife unity takes precedence because the obedience was meant to apply to children/minors not consenting, willing, loving adults who are ultimately meant for each other in some semblance of the word (applicable within reason of course).

        I also wrote this as a post-it note and tucked it inside my mom’s bilingual bible, as food for thought….

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Keep in mind, too, that you don’t need to “prove” to your mom or to yourself that you’re not required to obey her — even had you not found that theological reference, you still wouldn’t be required to do what she says. And you don’t need to be in a marriage in order to make your own decisions that she doesn’t like. You get to do that simply because you’re an adult and your own person. Your life is yours.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Colassians 3: 21.
          Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

          Ephesians 6:4
          Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

          Tell your mom to read the whole bible not just the parts that suit her momentary agendas. If she can’t read the whole bible, then it would be best not to use random quotes out of context.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I re-read and had a couple of other random thoughts.

          You guys are talking about house-buying, puppies, kids, all the stuff that is fun to think about because it represents the progression of life. Have you talked about the hard stuff such as finances, holidays with families, what to do if you both vehemently disagree on a situation, etc?

          “What we have is here to stay, for a while.” I think you realize that marriage is more than “a while”. We spend roughly 20 years with our parents, but our spouses can be 40-50 years or longer. It’s really important to consider the capacity of our SOs. Do they have what it takes for the long haul? When something happens that they have no experience or knowledge about, how do they react? Life is full of surprises and full of things we have yet to learn. It is pretty normal to be thrown into situations that are totally unfamiliar to us. Another good question to ask yourself is how does my SO handle things when several things go wrong, one right after the other? This happens too many times in life, also.

          And finally, you are saying that psychologically you are able to tune out your mother’s sniping. That is an excellent step forward. There’s more to it. We still have to learn how to handle situations differently from what our parents did. Do you have a plan for that or at least a rough idea of how you would like to make your life different?

    7. SAHM*

      I met my husband (then boyfriend) really early in life, I was a freshmen in college and he was a super super senior. Honestly I wasn’t looking for anything, but I wasn’t the type of girl to date “for fun”, I liked him he liked me, we hit it off. Within a few months I knew he was worth it for the long haul, and I think he knew before I did that he wanted me permanently. We talked around my sophomore year about timing etc (he graduated and was working by my second semester of college) and he knew I wanted to wait until I got into a specific program at the college before popping the Q and the big date would wait until after I graduated, except Jr year I didn’t get into the program and it was so impacted I could get a COUPLE BA’s before getting in, so I changed courses and he popped the Q over that summer. We ended up with a small-ish wedding, very basic the end of my Senior year. My grandpa was a pastor at a local church so we got married there since the venue was free and we had the reception in the gym of the church, the only thing that cost a lot was the buffet (no alcohol) and we invited EVERYONE. It didn’t matter how fancy it was, we just wanted to be surrounded by friends and family. We didn’t want to spend too much on the wedding either bc it’s one day, but we bought a town home that summer instead (I felt like a crazy young homeowner at 21). We’ve been together 10 years, married for 6 of it and honestly it just keeps getting better. Not that we haven’t had our rough patches, but that’s what “through better or for worse” is about. Also, stop reading the Knot. Better put money toward a home/paying off student loans than on one day. You can easily have a wedding filled with friends and family for 7-5k as long as you don’t have fancy expectations. Get a white dress and marry the man who treats you like a princess, respects your opinion, and makes you laugh.

    8. Jen*

      My husband bought the ring the summer after we went to 3 weddings together and he realized he was ready. However, it took him 2 months after he had the ring to propose; I think, but never really asked, that he kept trying to plan it to be special.

    9. Meg*

      I’m very late on this, but I had to chime in! I *really* dislike the societal perception that a woman is always ready to get married and she’s always waiting for the man to make the decision and ask her. That is putting all of the impetus on the man, and this should be an equal decision!

      So if you actually want to get married, talk about it! It’s not exactly an easy topic to bring up because of all that we attach to proposals and weddings and marriage, but it’s really important that you guys are on the same page and you’re taking everyone’s thoughts into account. Don’t be afraid to bring things up because you’re afraid he’ll “freak out” — that’s not good news for your relationship. Any couple, at any time, should be able to have an honest discussion about their thoughts on the relationship and its future.

    10. De (Germany)*

      “How do guys decide when to propose?”

      They don’t always. In my relationship, I proposed to my husband.

    1. GraceT*

      Death of a loved one is hard. My sympathies. It took me 7 months to be able to “move on” and function normally after my best friend died. I credit getting a tattoo for her as the step that finally let me move on. This was 10 years ago and I still love my tattoo.
      A friend died in a freak pool accident 3 years ago and I saw him several times in a coma in ICU. But it still took me months to move past the “I can’t believe he’s gone” stage. Every time I’d think of him I just couldn’t accept it.
      For both of them, I do a 5k every year with their family and friends for a cause that would be meaningful to that person. There are 5ks centered around suicide. It’s very therapeutic to do something good surrounded by people that loved your friend.

    2. salad fingers*

      That’s terrible, I’m so sorry to hear that. Second the commenter above – please take care <3

    3. Nonny today*

      I am so, so sorry.

      If you’re looking for good resources right now, I’d suggest Captain Awkward. She has some great posts on grief and loss (especially complicated emotions around it). There’s no right way to grieve/timeline on accepting it, so please be kind to yourself.

    4. Stephanie*

      So sorry for your loss. And definitely go talk to someone if you find yourself struggling with it.

    5. LizB*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. If you have easy access to counseling (a free walk-in clinic, perhaps?), I highly recommend going, even if you’re not sure you need it. When my best friend committed suicide, I had a hard time talking about it because all of our mutual friends were also grieving, and I felt for some reason like it would be stepping on their toes to express all the feelings I was having. It was such a relief to do a couple sessions of grief counseling and be able to just say everything I’d been thinking about and feeling and have someone listen without judging me.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      I had a cousin that died years ago. There is still a part of me that cannot believe she is gone. The time it takes for us to process grief is the time it takes, we can’t speed things up. Tell yourself gentle and kind things and take care of you.

    7. Older not yet wiser*

      My heartfelt sympathy to you. That is so very hard to come to terms with. Give yourself lots of time, and don’t hesitate to seek help from counseling if you aren’t doing well at any point.

    8. Jean*

      +1 to what everyone else said, especially about taking good care of yourself and seeking professional support if you need to talk to someone. I’m sorry that this has landed on you.
      Grief is personal, runs on its own timetable, and sometimes expresses itself in unexpected ways. Do whatever helps you to accept this loss without harming your own well-being (e.g., seek help if your grief gives you weeks of insomnia, or inhibits your appetite to the point that you’re not getting enough nutrition…).

    9. Be the Change*

      (((((hugs))))) if you like hugs, otherwise lots of warm thoughts. I’m so sorry. It must be extra, extra, extra hard to lose a friend in this way. Bless and rest her soul.

  22. Today's anon*

    My 17 year cat seems to be so … tired. She will pee and then stand there like it’s too much energy to walk away, and every so often she will just lay there in it (currently, I use puppy pads on a flat plexiglass thing, because the other stuff was no longer working). She sometimes hisses for no reason, which I take as maybe an indication of pain. The last time I took her to the vet, it was so stressful that she was sick/depressed/exhausted for a week after. And now she has a heart murmur and is tiny (it’s a struggle to keep her at 4 pounds) so the vet (and I agreed) did not want to anesthetize her for a dental cleaning, or do anything that would be extra stressful. I am so afraid I will come back from work one day and she will have died but then she is eating normally and can sit on my lap for extended periods. Is there anything I could be doing to make her more comfortable? Or should I take her to vet for a check-up even though it is so incredibly stressful now and my feeling is there isn’t much we are going to do anyway medically-wise.

    1. Perse's Mom*

      Lying in her own urine because she hasn’t the strength to walk away is a sign of something being seriously wrong. I know it’s a touchy, emotional subject, but you have to weigh your grief against her suffering.

      I don’t say that to be callous, but because I honestly believe the last, best gift you can give your pet is an end to suffering. I have been in that state of permanent anxiety over whether or not my cat would still be breathing when I got home. I know it’s not always possible to choose, but it was a great comfort to me (and I believe a comfort to her) that when Perse’s Mom’s time was up (lymphoma), it was my touch she felt and my voice she heard when she went to sleep for the last time.

      1. irritable vowel*

        I agree with what Perse’s Mom says. Think about your kitty’s quality of life and if she is getting much out of this state of being. Suffering doesn’t always mean obvious physical pain. It’s so hard to make the decision to help them pass peacefully, but it’s also the greatest gift we can give our pets after a lifetime of love and care–to ensure that they go quickly and painlessly, and not alone. Hugs to you!

      2. Today's anon*

        Thank you for your responses. Her comfort is my foremost concern. I don’t think we are there yet but I am watching and clearly we are moving to that point, and it is really sad. Other cats I’ve had had medical issues and it was in some ways easier than the slow aging process that seems to be happening here (it’s never easy, just differently difficult).

    2. fposte*

      In addition to what Alison suggests, can you call the vet and talk to her about possibilities and cost-benefit ratio? You could even Skype or send pictures if it would be helpful.

    3. catsAreCool*

      I had to put my older kitty to sleep a couple of years ago, and I understand how hard dealing with this is. Pay attention to how your kitty seems to feel. Take care of yourself, too. This is a tough time.

    4. Allison Mary*

      Are you feeding her a really high quality wet food? Even if it’s not one meant for senior kitties, with a wet food you could probably mix in some extra vitamins that older kitties tend to need. I make homemade food for my own 18 year old CKD kitty, and some of the extra supplements I include are salmon oil (between 500 and 1000 mg per meal, according to my vet); vitamin B complex (pull apart several capsules which go into the big batch of food); and a glucosamine-type supplement called Cosequin.

      Also, love Alison’s suggestion of a vet who will make house calls – I know those are definitely around. :)

  23. Book Person*

    Thought I’d turn to the clever cat people of AAM for advice:

    I’m planning to adopt a cat this spring or summer. Long story short, someone abandoned their pet near my parents’ place, and she had kittens in their barn. The kittens are about 2 or 3 year old cats now, have been spayed, and are pretty affectionate to people despite not being house pets at all. I want to bring one who seemed to take a fancy to me home this summer.

    My questions:

    1) Im worried about the fairness of taking a cat who has spent her whole life outdoors roaming acres of land and moving her into a 950 sq ft apartment (on an upper floor, so no ability to go outside). Any thoughts? Suggestions on how to acclimate her to a smaller, indoor space with a litter box and areas she won’t be able to jump up on?

    2) I travel with some frequency for work (1-2 weeks at a stretch, once or twice a month from Sept-Nov and Jan-April). Any thoughts or suggestions on the relative merits of kennels vs having someone from my office stop by for a bit every day or so to check in on her? Growing up we would kennel my dog, but he needed constant love and attention, which I know not all cats do.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I already adore this fluffy jerk face who likes to try to steal my coffee whenever I’m home, and Id like to provide a house of cuddles for her, but want her to be happy.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      1) Im worried about the fairness of taking a cat who has spent her whole life outdoors roaming acres of land and moving her into a 950 sq ft apartment (on an upper floor, so no ability to go outside). Any thoughts? Suggestions on how to acclimate her to a smaller, indoor space with a litter box and areas she won’t be able to jump up on?

      I don’t have direct experience with this, but close friends of mine had an outdoor cat for years, then moved to an apartment that required them to make her an indoor cat. She was pissed for months! But eventually she just grew accustomed to being inside.

      2) I travel with some frequency for work (1-2 weeks at a stretch, once or twice a month from Sept-Nov and Jan-April). Any thoughts or suggestions on the relative merits of kennels vs having someone from my office stop by for a bit every day or so to check in on her? Growing up we would kennel my dog, but he needed constant love and attention, which I know not all cats do.

      Spouse and I have dealt with this for a long time with multiple cats we’ve owned. Based on our limited experience (with three cats), I’d say the cats would much prefer to be in their usual turf with an occasional visitor than be ripped from their territory and put in a strange place. If at all possible, keep them home and have someone stop by.

      1. irritable vowel*

        Yes–dogs adapt waaaaaay better to being in an unfamiliar environment than cats. A cat will be miserable being kept in a cage in a vet-like environment while you’re gone and might feel like it’s been abandoned. Really the only reason to board a cat rather than getting a petsitter in is if it requires the kind of medical attention that a sitter couldn’t provide. A cat doesn’t even necessarily need a visit from someone every day–you’ll be able to assess this better once you get to know your cat’s personality, some are more needy than others. But a 30-minute visit every other day is usually fine.

        1. Schnapps*

          You could always try to find a cat spa type place (they exist; I’ve used them). They are these cat boarding places that give the cats their own room, playtime, etc. They’re slightly insane, but you might be able to find one that does outdoor time?

    2. Vulcan social worker*

      I usually have a cat sitter at my home when I travel. I needed to do boarding last year, though, and now my usually-placid cat gets anxious on car rides. Every few weeks I go out of town (relationship, another city within weekend driving distance) and take her with me and she meows the entire trip which is not typical behavior. I’m hoping that she will eventually realize that a car ride does not mean I am leaving her for a week. I am going to do my best in the future to find another sitter to come in if my usual one can’t do it rather than do boarding again. The facility seemed great but I don’t want to stress her like that again.

      She was also a rescue kitty who was found outdoors, but as a kitten. She never tries to go outside. My previous cat came from a shelter. I didn’t know her history, but she always wanted to go out and sometimes did manage to slip out the front door. I didn’t want her to because I was afraid she would be hit by a car. She always came back in a few hours, though. Sometimes she was filthy, but that was the worst of it.

    3. Perse's Mom*

      Outdoor -> Indoor: Entirely depends on the specific cat. Most of my family’s cats are former barn/stray cats who relocated into our homes. Only two of them actually wanted to go outside (one adopted as an outdoor-to-indoor adult, the other orphaned as a tiny kitten and raised indoors); the rest were content to sit in open windows and sniff the air. If you feel like you don’t have much floor space, look upward. Cats like to jump and climb and be up high; lots of them are pretty content with a tall perch (or two) and a sunny spot. Even if you live upstairs, you can still explore harnesses and hanging out outside with her.

      Petsitting vs kenneling: In a young and healthy cat, petsitting usually works fine. I would think a single, affectionate cat would maybe miss the attention of their specific person, but a pair of cats would keep each other company, or a single more aloof cat would be fine with someone popping in to fill the bowls and scoop the box.

    4. Liz*

      For the balcony, is it possible to put up some netting and put out a pad of grass/cat grass? There are some tips online about how to line fences so that cats cant jump over them (the two I can think of are PVC pipe that spins so they she can’t grab on, and placing something at a 45 degree angle – something about doing that will stop cats from trying/being able to jump over). Having an outdoor space may be enough to help her transition. And depending on her personality, having a cat tree could help a lot with wanting to explore/scratch.

      My cat spent the first yearish of her life as an outdoor cat but the last 7 indoor, and she still does everything she can to make it in the backyard. Usually she just wants the option and will sit on the step at the door rather than actually roaming the backyard.

    5. catsAreCool*

      I think the indoor/outdoor thing depends on the cat.

      Have you thought about adopting a second cat to keep your kitty company? Maybe a sibling?

      A lot of cats do well with someone coming in to feed, water, and check on them when their own humans are away. It does depend on the kitty. When I have had to board my kitties, I found a place with room for the kitties to move more than most places that was associated with a vet’s office, so I figured if there were any health issues, they’d notice.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you take two of them? They’re probably bonded and would be happier if a friend is with them. Plus, that’s a lot of travel, and if you have a pair, they’ll keep each other company.

      Definitely agree with everyone else about having someone come in to feed and visit them, rather than boarding them. Cats bond to places almost as much as they do with people, and they will be much less stressed if you leave them at home and have someone come in to take care of them.

      But also … it sounds like you’re gone up to half the time for half the year? If I’m doing the math right, it might be better to wait until you travel less? That’s a lot of time to leave a cat alone (which is definitely an argument for getting two if you decide to do it!).

    7. Allison Mary*

      In response to #1:

      I suggest trying to create some vertical space for the cats, where it’s not only permissible but encouraged for them to jump up and hang out on high spaces if they want to do so. Creating lots of vertical space is one of the best ways to increase the total amount of “territory” in an indoor space, especially for a cat accustomed to roaming around outside. Search for “catification” or “cat shelves” on Pinterest – you’ll find all kinds of stylish ideas that could go with different kinds of decor.

      And in response to #2:

      I second Alison’s suggestion about trying to get two cats that are already bonded to each other. It will probably be way easier on them to keep each other company in the absence of any human companionship. I also vote for having someone come to check on them, clean their litter boxes, give them some quality wet food (at least to supplement dry food, which is admittedly easier to do during long absences), and whatever loves they might need. I’m by no means an expert, but I can’t imagine putting a cat in a kennel (for anything other than briefly transporting them somewhere) would do anything other than depress them, possibly cause anxiety, and seriously dampen their spirits.

    1. TL -*

      Depends! Are you guys on the same page with cleanliness, responsibility, people over, noise levels, hours of operation?

      My roommate is a really good friend of my mine and I love living with her but there are tons of stories out there of the exact opposite – one of my friends moved the washer/dryer into her room and locked it in there. Talk to your friend a lot about what they expect their home to be like and see how it compares to what you want.

    2. LizB*

      Risky idea, in my experience. I’ve lived with several friends, and only had a really positive roommate relationship with two; a couple more I had a neutral relationship with, and the rest I absolutely despised living with. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s a definite way to know how you’ll enjoy having someone as a roommate before you actually start living with them. There are a million factors that play into that, but in my experience, the deciding factors in several of my roommate relationships have been these things:

      Cleanliness: being really honest about your pet peeves and expectations is essential, and if it sounds like your styles aren’t going to mesh, don’t risk it. Also, look around at the space where they currently live now — would you be comfortable with your living space looking like it does? If so, that’s a good sign; if not, don’t live with them, because even if they earnestly want to change they might not manage to change enough or quickly enough to avoid having you resent them.

      Levels of interaction: do you want the kind of roommate relationship where a) you chat about your days every evening after work, cook communal meals, hang out on weekends, etc., b) you chat when you come across each other but mostly leave each other alone, c) you pretend the other person doesn’t exist, or d) some other option? Where can you go/who can you vent to when you each inevitably get annoyed with the other person?

      Budgeting priorities: how high do you each like to crank the heat in the winter and the AC in the summer? Will one person’s temperature preferences conflict with the other person’s money-saving preferences? Will one of you want to buy the flimsy 1-ply store-brand toilet paper while the other is willing to splurge on something nicer? What do you expect in terms of furniture or other upgrades to the space — if someone buys a new couch, will they expect the other person to chip in for half even if the other person was fine with the old hideous couch?

    3. Tara R.*

      I’ve seen this go very different ways. Think about everything about the friend that has ever mildly irked you. Can you deal with it in your space, constantly, all the time? How is your relationship typically– the more chill and laidback, the better, in my experience. Do you have similar levels of introversion or extraversion? Are you frank enough with each other to have a HUGE conversation at the beginning laying down all of your expectations and to have smaller conversations along the way as things go wrong? Is there any underlying power dynamic to your relationship– does either one of you try to impress the other one or feel like you’re trying to win their approval, is one of you the Mom Friend whose protective concern might become nagging and overstepping in an escalated relationship, etc. etc. Think about all of it, intensely, and make a giant list of Things That Could Go Wrong and how you would deal with them.

    4. INTP*

      How compatible are you with the friend in the ways mentioned above? It’s more important for roommates to be compatible than friends or not friends – living with a friend isn’t inherently disastrous, but if you can’t get along in that situation, you’ve lost a friend instead of just gaining a hated roommate. Have a discussion about your views on all of the living together issues (which have been covered well by previous commenters), agree to be brutally honest and 100% fine with it if the other wants to back out, and go into details in a way that feels excessive. (Like, to me keeping a kitchen clean means cleaning up anything you spill or get dirty, putting things roughly back in their places but it’s nbd if things that are used daily stay on the counter, and washing all dishes within 24 hours. To others, it means never leaving a dish in the sink or an item on the counter. I couldn’t live with one of those people, so it’s important to get specific, not just say “I’m no neat freak but I’ll clean up after myself in common areas”.)

    5. Pepper*

      Seconding everything everyone else has said. Really get down to the nitty gritty details, for the shared spaces especially. I had housemates that treated the living room like an extension of their bedrooms, to the point I felt uncomfortable being in “their space”. You need to be able to have a completely frank discussion about that kind of stuff, rather than getting a couple of years in and steaming with hatred and resentment.

      Also, do they have a significant other? If yes, will they be spending multiple days and nights in your home? Discuss that before moving in too, whether it be asking the SO to contribute to the household funds because they’re there so often, or agreeing to leave the house every other weekend so they have the place to themselves. Whatever works for you, just discuss it to death before agreeing to ANYTHING.

    6. Christy*

      Personally I could live with my very best friend, but no others. I could also live with my sister, even though we aren’t particularly close (I’m working on it). I would not want to live with someone in a serious relationship. Plus everything everyone else said.

  24. Stephanie*

    So branching off salad fingers’ post from above…anyone else have anxiety around the Well Woman’s Exam? I am having a physical next week that includes one (with a pelvic exam) and am absolutely dreading it. Am I the only one? Tips for getting through it?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Blech. I don’t have any phobia or anxiety with those exams, but does anybody really enjoy them? (No.) Honestly, the only thing that motivates me to actually do the thing is to promise myself a treat afterwards like I was a 6-year-old. A cupcake, or a new book, or lunch out or something like that.

    2. fposte*

      Okay, total TMI alert–skip if you don’t like I, people, because much of it is forthcoming!

      Is it a particular part that you can pin down as kicking the nerves up for you? You mention the pelvic exam–is it just that and the Pap and breast exam is okay? I have some gyno issues as a result of chronic disease, and I have learned much about possible modifications–you can ask for a smaller speculum, or for a single-finger insert in the internal exam, for instance.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, it’s the pap. Just get super anxious, which makes me tense, which makes it uncomfortable.

        Interestingly enough, the “best” one was done by a male doctor. He was very good at calming me and explained everything as it was happening.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, not my favorite either–in thread overlap, it is kind of like getting the shot at the dentist, where you have to hold still while something is being poked at an unwitnessable area :-).

          If getting ongoing explanation was helpful, I’d ask for that again; tell your doc it helps make the situation less stressful for you to know what’s going on. You might be doing other patients a good turn by teaching this to the doctor.

    3. jamlady*

      Anxiety for weeks and panic attacks the day of. Just went through this last week actually. I am still trying to figure out how to deal with them, but my friend’s tips helped a lot. I took the whole day off of work, treated myself to my comfort foods all day, did a lot of deep breathing, and had a really open conversation with him about my anxiety and how I may or may not kick him in the face. Unfortunately, he was horrible about it and I wish I actually had kicked him in the face, but I know that had I gone to see someone else, it would hav actually been much better. The nurse actually sat with me after and talked me down from a panic attack and nausea. That was helpful. I had to go to him for insurance reasons, but had I been able to see a woman, it probably would have been easier this time around. Even though he didn’t respond to my openness well, just getting the words out there helped a bit.

    4. Cruciatus*

      No advice. I’m going backwards with it all. Both the dentist and gynecologist. My gum pockets are large enough that I have to go in every 4 months and lie there while the hygienist talks to the computer every single one of my gum measurements (5 being pretty bad, but not the worst). “5, 5, 3, 2, 5, 4, 4, delete, 4!!!” Oh, it’s the fucking worst. I have that appointment in 2 weeks.

      I never like having the pelvic exam but was always able to get through it because my nurse was calm and would talk about inane things that helped me relax. I hate being there, but (normally) when it’s over I think “I’m good for a full year!” But last time I had a “nice-sized” polyp in my cervix that they scraped off a few weeks later (had to get a doctor to do it–she called it “impressive”). Everyone said it wasn’t a big deal and the doctor said of the 200 she’s done they’ve all been benign. And it really wasn’t too bad but I took the entire day off work because I didn’t know how I’d feel (ended up going Christmas shopping, feeling fine). And then I thought it was all over, but no! The polyp was biopsied and I guess my uterine lining shows signs of hyperplasia (thickening of the uterus lining). So I have to go in again this Thursday for more tests and biopsies and I’m absolutely terrified and a part of me wants to back out because (I think) “I feel fine!”. I googled “hyperplasia” and the first word I saw was “cancer” and I just about freaked out. I haven’t looked at anything regarding my upcoming appointment since. (I will go, but will probably break down in freaked out tears during the appointment).

      And relatedly, at least to anxiety, yesterday at lunch I received a phone call from my OB/GYN office. I googled the number and saw it was related to the lab, so I panic. I calm myself, call back–the person who called isn’t available. I call again later, leave a message. No one calls me back. At this point I have barely been able to concentrate on anything at work and I can feel the anxiety in my throat and my heart beating like mad (and keep in mind I do have high blood pressure)..so I call once more at 4:45 and finally reach the person and….they wondered if I might be interested in joining a study using the next generation Nuvaring (which I’m on) with all expenses paid, but blah blah blah… I was about to jump out of my skin all day…just for a study. Please maybe tell people why you are calling if it is unrelated to their upcoming appointment or health status!

      Sorry if I hijacked this. I’ve just been a bundle of nerves and my work problems haven’t made me feel any better so I’ve had kind of a shitty few weeks. Really, since Christmas Eve when I got the call about the hyperplasia and the tests they want to do.

    5. nep*

      Not really to the point of dread, but I detest the exam and never have gotten past the unease. Thankful that I’ve now found a female doctor who’s been great the two times I’ve seen her. I would be very uncomfortable going to a new doctor / a doctor I’d not yet met for this. When I’ve had to do that, I found a way to just tune out in a way and coast through it, thinking about how relieved I’ll be when it’s over. Good luck.

    6. Amber Rose*

      I don’t do them at all. The last time I let a medical person touch my lady bits it didn’t end well. The mental strain and the physical damage left me ill for nearly a week. Now the very suggestion of it sets me into full blown panic attacks so it’s a non-starter as far as I’m concerned.

      My suggestion would be to, if possible, talk to the person doing the exam and see if you can be comfortable with them. I have had bad luck with bitchy doctors.

      1. Not Karen*

        Same here. I’ve never had one – just thinking about sends me into a panic attack. Somehow the doctors think that yelling at me and scolding me will convince me.

    7. Jean*

      Good for you for taking care of yourself even if you’re not delighted about the idea.
      Now, another TMI warning. I’m going to be blunt (but not graphic!).

      Does it help to think about the fact that experienced doctors have seen it all before because they’ve done so many pelvic exams on different women? From our perspective it’s very personal but from their perspective it’s just part of the job. That said, we patients are absolutely entitled to be treated with respect for our psychological dignity and physical comfort!

      Your comments here present you as a woman of presence, intelligence, and depth of character. I hereby encourage you to present yourself that same way in the doctor’s office. You _deserve_ to be taken seriously and if you’re nervous you _deserve_ to be treated with compassion and respect.

      Usually one’s first contact (for weight, blood pressure, instructions to put on a paper gown) is with some medical professional other than the doctor.As per the long-ago first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, ask if the speculum can be warmed up rather than inserted cold. (Can the doctor warm it by holding it in a gloved hand? Or run warm water over it?)

      I dimly recall reading–also inOur Bodies, Ourselves, ??–advice for women to rebel against wearing those paper gowns and blankets because they diminish women’s dignity. Personally, I’d rather fight about something more substantial but you don’t have to get as undressed as they tell you. So, okay, the MD needs access to genitals and breasts, but there’s no reason not to keep on your socks, or wear a half-slip under the paper gown or a cardigan over it. You can still look and feel like a person instead of a set of paper-wrapped body parts.

      Ask the doctor to narrate what she/he is doing as it happens. “Okay, you’re going to feel some pressure…you may feel a brief prick of discomfort” or whatever. Try to relax your abdominal or pelvic muscles so that the doctor isn’t working against their tension. Never mind making it easier for the doctor: this will make it easier for _you_.

      Believe me, I wasn’t born this assertive. Over time I taught myself to be matter-of-fact instead of embarassed about taking care of matters related to gynecologicial health, whether it was getting through pelvic exam or standing in line at the drugstore to pay for menstrual supplies or contraceptives.

      I may not want to yak about my pelvic health with a male coworker or some stranger on the bus, but it’s are nothing of which to be ashamed. Nearsighted folks wear glasses (or contacts) so that the whole world doesn’t look blurry. Short people stand on a step-stool or ask tall people to get stuff down from a high shelf. Stiff people ask flexible people to pick up stuff dropped on the floor. In the same way, women have a few specialized internal organs that need regular attention in order to continue being healthy. (Actually, men, do too!) End of discussion.

      Yes, it feels awkward at first. It gets easier with practice. Good luck next week. The best part is hearing that everything is fine* and then being able to put the matter aside until it’s time for next year’s appointment.

      1. fposte*

        Ah, another Our Bodies, Ourselves grad! I will note that one big change since that first edition suggestions is that I don’t think anybody uses a metal speculum any more–they’re plastic and disposable. Definitely a boon on the temperature front.

    8. Marzipan*

      As a Brit, the whole US thing with having annual pelvic exams confuses me. Other than a smear test every three years or so (which is the recommended schedule here) I never had any medical professionals poking around my lady bits until I started having fertility treatment. What exactly are they expecting to find?

      1. nep*

        Apparently for some women here (US), the recommendation is now every three years instead of yearly. (I say ‘some’ women, because I think it’s got to do with health status, history, and some other factors.) Anyone know more about this?

      2. fposte*

        Aside from the pap smear, the internal exam can find tumors and other problems. However, I don’t know whether there’s been evaluation of the internal exam’s value at various ages or intervals; it’s a pretty low-risk procedure, but it’s not one that anybody likes, to be sure.

        1. Marzipan*

          A spot of Googling suggests that the American College of Physicians evaluated the evidence fairly recently, and concluded that in asymptomatic women there’s no evidence to support an annual pelvic exam being beneficial, and evidence of negative outcomes (anxiety, unnecessary further testing, etc), so they recommended against them. Whereas, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also don’t think there’s no evidence of any benefit but still recommend them anyway, because it’s a marvellous opportunity for a chat, apparently. (And possibly also because they still want women to visit them annually so they can get paid…) Obviously, I’m paraphrasing somewhat, but it’s certainly not straightforwardly recommended.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, interesting, thanks. Sort of relatedly, I had an interesting conversation with my gynecologist and she said it’s tough to get people in the field these days who are focused on gynecology and not obstetrics. As a result, the gynecological knowledge can be comparatively superficial.

      3. Treena*

        The US is in the process of switching to every 3 years for pap tests as well! It’s just a hard transition because annual exams/paps made up a large chunk of income for these medical offices. From what I’ve seen, most private dr’s still “recommend” them annually because they want $$$. So Stephanie, if you’ve had a pap in the last 3 years and it’s been ok, you don’t actually need it! The frequency goes down even more to every 5 years after 30.

    9. Today's anon*

      Also, FYI, the recommendation have changed and it is not necessary to have a pap smear every year unless you have some risk factor.

      1. Not Karen*

        It’s not “necessary” to have one at all. You have the right to deny any and all medical procedures.

        1. SH*

          Find a gynecologist who is patient and listens to your concerns. If you need to have multiple visits (like “Okay in this visit we’ll just do a breast exam and the next one we’ll move on to an outer pelvic exam…”), a good gyno will accommodate you. After visiting several callous gynecologists, I switched over to a women’s clinic. I’m not sure if that’s a good option for you but I stopped feeling anxious when I switched over.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone here have plastic surgery to remove excess skin?

    I had gastric bypass two years ago and I starting to think about skin removal. I’m about 35 pounds from my goal weight at the moment and my bariatric surgeon has started giving me referrals for plastic surgeons and said I should go for a consultation.

    Before the gastrict bypass I had said that I just wanted to lose the weight and didn’t care if I had excess skin. But not that I’m getting close to goal, it’s on my mind more and more. Not so much because of looks, but because it’s a pain in the ass to buy pants and I’m always having to rearrange the skin in bed (I’m a side sleeper). I started to get a rash every now and then, too. And of course I’d like the outside to match how I feel on the inside. No amount of exercise can repair what multiple weight gains and losses I’ve gone through, so surgery will be the only option.

    1. Emily*

      I don’t have any experience with this, but if you think it will make you happier/your life easier, and you can afford the surgery, I think you should go for it.

      Good luck with achieving your goal weight (and with the surgery, if you decide to do it)!

    2. Nella*

      Go for it. You will love yourself later. I had my boobs done and has a tummy tuck to get rid of weight loss skin and will get more done after I have had my kids. For several years I coold get away with not wearing a bra cause they were perky enough.

        1. KarenT*

          I had drains after a breast reduction. They weren’t my favourite but they weren’t awful, and it was only for 48 hrs. The anesthesia/pain killers made me so hazy that the squick factor I normally would have felt was greatly reduced.

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          I belong to an online fitness group and several of the women have had their “stomach aprons” removed. So far everyone has been surprised by how much easier recovery was than they expected. No drains, that I remember, but their abdomens were wrapped pretty tightly in gauze. No one’s insurance paid for it and the cost ranged from $10K – $25K, depending on amount of skin needed to be removed and if there were any abdominal muscle problems that needed to be repaired.

        3. Nella*

          If you are starting to get rashes insurance might cover it, or part of it. My boobs were paid by the government and I paid for the tummy tuck. Costso will depend on where you go to get them. Drains are not that bad to have and will only be in for a short time. I had two with the tummy tuck. Plus it helps keep the swelling down. I was off all pain killers after 36 hours for both ops. If done correctly there shouldn’t be much pain but more discomfort as mobility is limited due to surgery and you will notice if you do something funky.

  26. Rebecca*

    Do any of you have an elliptical machine at home? I walk outside and ride my bike, though not now because winter in PA is not conducive to bike riding. I tried an elliptical machine at a gym, and it was pretty challenging. I’d love to do at least 20-30 minutes each morning. Any tips or things to look out for?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      The only thing to look out for that I can recommend is… not using it. Spouse and I got an elliptical years ago and used it for a few days… then it became a convenient place to throw our clothes on to!

    2. fposte*

      I have a Pro Form elliptical, and I really like it. However, it’s a really old one, so I don’t know that I can offer any guidance on what’s out there now (I’m guessing the low end Smart Strider from them would be the closest new thing). Mine’s a very low-tech one; it just has a battery somewhere for the display, which can display speed, distance, or laps; resistance is set manually. Beyond that I just pedal. If you’re tall, check to make sure you’re good for ceiling clearance when you’re on the high point–I am not tall, but I’ve had friends who couldn’t use mine without head-bonking.

      This is the kind of thing it’s worth looking for used, and there’s an extra bonus that it will come assembled then. But try before you buy regardless.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      This is probably obvious but I’ll put it put there anyway: make sure it can handle your weight. I have no idea if that would be an issue for you but just wanted to mention it. I didn’t pay attention to that and the damn thing creaked like hell when I used then. Checked if there was a weight limit and there was. And I was over it. Couldnt use it for a long time. I was 343 and the weight limit was a very low 250. Not a problem for most, but it was for me.

    4. KarenT*

      My advice is try before you buy. My gym has a bunch of them and the range of movement varies on them quite a bit. Some are more rigid and some are more free form. I also find some arw more of a back and forth slide motion and some are more of a circular motion. I have one at the gym I prefer to use, but I find most people there prefer the other brands. So I’d try out a few before committing to see what you like.

  27. Elizabeth West*

    US Figure Skating Championship Ladies’ free skate tonight at 7 CST, 8 ET!!! (on NBC, I think) Gracie Gold AND her twin sister Carly Gold are competing. It’s Carly’s first Nationals and she is over the moon! EVERYBODY WATCH!

    Sorry, I’m excited!

    In other news, I got my hair done today, and we are going to go lighter in four weeks. I’m tired of touching up all the time to hide the grey roots, so my stylist is going to do an allover highlighting thing and lighten me up. I chose a lighter shade to touch up this time and the grey is coming off VERY light red. So we’re going to go for something that will be more like this: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/b0/af/e3/b0afe302344d24fc976344503a6d0fad.jpg

    Right now, it’s sort of a dark auburn, which I really like (check my Twitter; I posted a selfie), but the contrast when it grows out is too much.

    1. Skye*

      I love Gracie Gold!!! Sadly I don’t have a TV.

      Did you see Tarah Kayne or Isabella Gamez in pairs? I used to know both of them, from my rink. I don’t know their partners though.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        No, I didn’t get to watch the pairs, sadly.

        You probably know this already by now, but Gracie won!!!!!! She always gets nervous and pressured and blows it. She NEEDED all the grades of execution, even going out there knowing Polina Edmonds may have had it in the bag. Gracie hasn’t been able to do that.

        She skated a COMPLETELY CLEAN program, no mistakes at all!! :D

    2. Merry and Bright*

      Love the planned hair colour.

      I changed style and shade yesterday. It is a good January boost…

    3. the sugar plum fairy*

      Loved the great skating in the top 5 in the ladies event! Nice to see the U.S. ladies on the upswing.

      I saw Tarah Kayne in the pairs event. Even though I’m a big fan of Scimeca/Kneirem, I’m glad that Kayne/O`Shea won – it was a nice surprise. This Nationals has been full of surprises. :)

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I know – it’s amazing.

      Did you happen to catch the Hitler/OPM video that was making the rounds Thursday? I could watch it all day.

    2. TootsNYC*

      It’s all about having the right clothes for the cold weather. Nobody’s better equipped than a panda.

    3. Merry and Bright*

      The panda is awesome. I keep replaying it. I saw it on a UK website too and my sister sent it to me. It is transatlantic now.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      My sister shared that on FB and said “Finally, someone who is enjoying the snow as much as I am!”

  28. Tara R.*

    So, I missed my HPV vaccinations as a kid (thanks, dad). I’m wanting to get them now, but it’s 3 shots, $144 each, only one of which is covered by my insurance. So that’s a lot of money that I can’t really afford. The immunization BC page claims that those born in 1994 or later who missed their shots can get it for free– that’s me!– but both my family practicioner and the student health services here have said that I’d have to pay for it.

    So I guess I have a few questions. Should I just suck it up to the tune of $300? Should I ask if my mom would be willing to pay, with the flimsy reasoning that it’s sort of her fault I didn’t get it when it would have been free? Do I send a link to the immunization BC page to my doctor?? Or do I just forget about it and figure that since most other people my age got it, herd immunity should help me out?

    Advice appreciated.

    1. fposte*

      Can you call the provincial health folks to see if there are public health locations where you could get the vaccine without charge?

    2. Schnapps*

      Go to or call a public health unit – they provide immunizations. I’m in BC too, and when I needed a whooping cough booster (because, small child at home), I just went up there and got it done. They may have to order it in for you though.

      If you go to immunizebc.ca/finder you can pop in your postal code and it’ll find the ones near you.

      1. Tara R.*

        Thank you to you and fposte! That’s exactly what I needed to do. I thought it was something that you’re supposed to get from your doctor… Healthcare is complicated. :(

        1. Schnapps*

          Yeah, it’s complicated. The funny part is, after you have a kid, you start finding out a lot more of what’s readily available.

          Just an FYI, the public health units are staffed by experienced nurses and admin staff who are used to dealing with people asking questions. They’re often your best source for what’s available. My local unit has a stand outside the main office with about a million pamphlets and photocopies explaining exactly what’s available.

    3. INTP*

      I definitely wouldn’t rely on herd immunity for HPV. This is not like other diseases that are deadly but fairly rare – this is something that, depending on the source of your statistics, up to 90% of people in certain age groups have at some point. And many others won’t be vaccinated, especially males, and many of those will be sleeping with people a few years older (many of whom didn’t get the vaccine at all or got it when they were already old enough to have contracted one of the strains it protects against), and those infected can spread the disease for years.

      I think it would be fair to ask your mom to pay, but depending on your parents’ reasoning for not getting it for you in the first place, they might be unwilling (i.e. if they have a religious opposition or falsely think it encourages you to engage in unsafe behavior). Is there a way to contact the agency where you saw the information about it being free to ask for details? I’m not familiar with the Canadian system but I assume there might be a possibility that you have to get the shot at a certain clinic, or request reimbursement, or something like that.

      1. Natalie*

        Keep in mind, though, the vaccine only covers 2 or 4 strains, depending on the brand. There are dozens more which are essentially benign, so many people who are vaccinated could still be in that 90% group.

      2. Tara R.*

        It was my dad who was against it, and it was a mix of “The government is pushing untried drugs on children! You’re all going to die!” conspiracy theory-esque thinking and a moral outrage about vaccinating 11yos against sexually transmitted infections which… the whole point is to get to people when there’s very very very little chance they are sexually active… hence why you do it young!

        My mom didn’t feel like fighting with him, so I went unvaccinated. But they are now divorced, so that wouldn’t be a problem anymore.

  29. fposte*

    Photographs of family and friends. It’s finally dawned on me that I like looking at them but I don’t like keeping them out or hanging up; not sure exactly why, but they make me feel vaguely guilty and scrutinized. I know tons of people who don’t like looking at themselves in photographs, but I’ve never heard of that. Anybody else prefer to keep the little people ghosts safely captured in machines and books?

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      When I was a kid, I went to a friend’s house and she left me alone in their basement playroom for a bit while she did something for her Mom. It was OK, except for the fact that she and her sister had taped to the wall every TigerBeat poster of CuteBoysOfTheMoment around the room at exactly the same height, very close together. Literally dozens of posters of Alex P. Keaton era Micheal J Fox and Leif Garrett and others of that vintage. It creeped me right the hell out because everywhere I looked, there were eyes looking back at me.

      I don’t have a lot of family photos because: reasons. The only photo I do have out in a frame is one of my grandmother when she was about 10 with her family back on the farm. I think because I can’t really relate to them, and it’s a very small photo, it’s OK. I never quite know what to do in people’s houses where they have the big studio “we’re a happy family!” portrait. On the one hand, great you’re proud of your family, on the other the cynic in me wonders what they’re overcompensating for.

    2. Colette*

      I had a coworker who refused to hang pictures of her kids in her house on the theory that they lived there so pictures weren’t necessary.

      I have a bunch of pictures on the mantle and a couple of memo boards. I pretty much don’t notice them, but the nieces like looking at them when they’re here.

    3. Hellanon*

      Nobody in my family runs to family pictures except my dad, but he keeps them on his desk. I always figured it was that we didn’t like each other much…

    4. asteramella*

      I don’t hang photos and have very little framed art. Spouse is an artist and works-in-progress are taped to the office wall, a few heirloom paintings are up, and that’s it.

      The one exception is the refrigerator, which is the natural home of any photos I receive in Christmas cards, wedding announcements, etc. Something about hanging a loose photo with magnets makes it acceptable.

    5. JMW*

      I find looking at photos takes me to another time, and in daily life I really want to live in the present moment, with my family as they are now. I do have a few photos up on a shelf, which I rarely look at unless some memory is triggered that makes me go and look. But mostly, like you, I prefer to look at them in albums or boxes. I will end up feeling nostalgic, and after a short while, I put them back away and come back to now.

      I also don’t really like taking photos, because it also takes me out of the moment.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Am smiling. A good friend has her pictures in books- I mean coffee table type books, not photo albums. Her kids put the books together and gift her at Christmas. She loves them because she said a book is a technology that will never become out of date. She went on to give examples of all the tech we have abandoned- photographic slides, video tapes, 8mm films, etc. She enjoys that she does not have to special equipment to view the pics.

      I have my pics stuffed in a shoe box type container meant for photos and little indexer tabs to help the photos stay grouped with each other. That is it. I am not a photo bug. I cannot tell you how many 30 gallon garbage bags of photos I have tossed. Keeping them was not a joy.

    7. Felix*

      I’m exactly the same, I have two photos on my fridge of friend’s families, one of my fav cat, and one photo of my grandpa in uniform- but that’s it. I get along well with my family now, but photos of them in the past make me remember and feel feelings I’ve worked hard to get over.

      I totally understand the guilt feeling too! Relationships can be tricky and if rather focus on the now. I’ve had a couple of people comment that I don’t have photos around but I just say “not really my thing, like art instead” and that seems to be fine.

      I say don’t worry about it- do what you need to do to make sure your home feels peaceful and relaxing for you!!

  30. Wren*

    Ooh! This is the first I’d heard that Emily Yoffe had passed on the Dear Prudence torch. Hopefully this means an end to shaming victims of sexual assault in the column.

    1. Dan*

      I’ve only read yoffe a few times, but teaching people to not be victims is not victim shaming. I wish we could get beyond that in American society.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Emily Yoffe has a blindspot about woman who consume alcohol. If a woman has a drink and is later sexually assaulted, it is All Her Fault For Being a Drunken Slut, at least according to much of her writing.

        I liked a lot of her family relationship advice (she doesn’t believe that women are responsible for all of the emotional labor in relationships, for example), but anything involving women, alcohol and/or sexual assault was/is cringe-worthy.

    2. Tanaya*

      Yeah, Mallory Ortberg is great! Definitely recommend! I can’t recall any victim shaming off the top of my head, but I did find Emily Yoffe quite slut-shamey and just generally a bit judgemental for an advice columnist. Weirdly enough, I actually preferred reading her. It made me think more because I disagreed with her sometimes and had to think more critically about why.

  31. Thyri*

    When your place is a mess and you need to clean it, where do you start? Not dirty, just cluttered and disorderly.

    1. LizB*

      I try to completely clean off one flat surface. Often this is the floor of my bedroom near my bed, but sometimes it’s the coffee table, or the top of my dresser, or something else. I’m vicious about either putting things all the way away or getting rid of them — nothing just gets moved to another surface to be put away later, I either find a spot where it should go or it’s going in the trash or the donation pile. Once I see how nice that one surface looks without clutter, and how little effort (usually) it took to get it that way, I tend to have energy to move on to one more surface, then one more, etc.

      I also use the Unf*ck Your Habitat strategy of 20/10s: 20 minutes of focused cleaning, followed by 10 minutes of a break. No doing other little tasks, no putting away just a few more things — I take a real break, with a glass of water and something fun to distract me (a book, games on my phone), and if I need to clean more I do another 20 minutes after my break is done. Marathon cleaning is exhausting, and if I try to do that I just end up letting my place get messy again because I remember how awful my last marathon clean was. By breaking it down into chunks and giving myself breaks time, it doesn’t seem so bad, even if it took just as long or longer overall.

    2. NDQ*

      For me, always the kitchen. When the kitchen is clean/tidy, then the entryways. After that, my bedroom. You should read the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by Marie Kondo. Folding clothes is a lot more fun now.


    3. Not So NewReader*

      I start with my kitchen counter/sink, then bathroom then bedroom. I figure those are the areas I use daily and they should be relatively clutter free. My second layer is laundry room and fridge. Then the rest of the place.

      Usually things are laying around for one of two reasons, there is no designated place to put them or they are really not useful and need to move on.

    4. GraceT*

      I read a good piece of advice once about preventing clutter: Every time you leave one room to go to another, carry something that belongs in the other room with you to put away. It’s a small habit that can add up to big changes.

    5. INTP*

      The Flylady method works well for me – Basically, you set a timer for 15 minutes and work on one room. Then you have to move to another room for 15 minutes, then another, and then you rest and do something else for 15 minutes, and start again.

      I have a tendency to hyperfocus and spend 4 hours, like, washing every dish I have or organizing my desk and not realize I’m not prioritizing my time well until I have no more time and it looks just as messy as when I started. This forces me to go to different rooms and take care of the biggest issues.

    6. asteramella*

      Like LizB, I use the UFYH method.

      If you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to pick one flat surface (top of dresser, bedside table, kitchen counter, etc.) and clear it off. Take every item off of the flat surface and put away or throw away everything. Wipe down the flat surface. Replace only items that truly live on the flat surface. Repeat as needed.

    7. Princess Buttercup*

      I discovered UfYH recently here at AAM and just started it today. I did bedroom today – started there because it wasn’t bad (bedroom is pretty minimalist) but there were all these things I just don’t get to often enough. Using 20/10, I stripped bed and washed sheets & duvet cover, cleaned off and dusted bedside tables and bureau, cleaned closet doors (glass / mirror), swept up major dust bunnies (my pug sheds so.damn.much) and ran Roomba. Got it all done in less than 2 hours and feels like such an accomplishment!

      Tomorrow I’m tackling the bathroom. A bigger job by far with shower tile, shower door, tub, sink, makeup table, etc, but after today’s success, I feel like I’m up to it.

      Anyway, the point is, UfYH made me feel much less overwhelmed. I usually look at all that needs to be done and it feels so huge that I don’t even know how or where to start, but breaking it up into small pieces and only doing one small bit at a time made me much less anxious.

    8. Tara R.*

      Well, I live in a dorm room so there isn’t much to clean, but I usually start by clearing my desk and my bed (the two places where the most random stuff gets stacked, and the two places I most need to be clean). Then I do my floor, and then the little ledge where my dishes and food stuff is… and that is my entire cleaning process, because those are pretty much all the surface areas I have available to me. If I’m feeling inspired I’ll organize my closet and drawers.

    9. TootsNYC*

      I start with one small thing that I know I can succeed at. Often the bathroom.

      And there’s an organizing forum that’s gotten sort of quiet, but is very supportive:

      Also: there are different levels. There’s the low-hanging fruit–stuff that has a home but just isn’t in it. Do a few of those. Then do one thing that needs a home.

      1. fposte*

        For the things with no home, it helps me to talk the plan through out loud. “This is a widget; I have space for it in two closets or in the cabinet. It is like these other things that I have stored in these places, and I am likeliest to use it in this place.” Otherwise I may just shove it somewhere in a panic and forget where later.

  32. Nervous Accountant*

    Serious question, I think this should be OK for this thread

    If a takeout placeis open and taking orders for delivery during a blizzard like right now, is it unethical or lacking compassion to order from them?

    FWIW during today’s blizzard I didn’t order, but my spouse thinks ordering in even shitty weather is not very nice for the delivery person. My stance is…… thecompany chooses to stayopen, so why not order?

    Am I wrong?

    1. katamia*

      How many of the people actually making the decision to stay open will actually have to go out in this weather, though? I don’t think the average delivery driver at Domino’s (using them because I know they were open yesterday, not sure about today) really got a say.

      I don’t think it’s outright unethical to order from them, but especially with such a huge storm where we had a lot of notice during which we could get groceries, I certainly think it’s kinder and safer to not order from them unless, I don’t know, your house caught on fire and you couldn’t get your car out of the driveway and you really had no other way to get food.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      If it’s not too awful out, I might still order. If it’s just cold then I’m okay with it. But a blizzard or freezing rain? No way. In fact, it sucks that they’re open at all.

    3. Noah*

      I figure if they’re open and say they’re willing to deliver I can order. I generally give a very good tip though if the weather is terrible. Like 30-50% depending. We ordered Panera yesterday at work and she was there within 40 minutes right around lunchtime. She got a very good tip from us because none of us felt like leaving the office until we had to head home.

    4. fposte*

      It’s not usually the delivery driver’s choice, though; they pretty much have to work if they’re told, same as the rest of us.

      That being said, I’ve ordered in pretty bad weather if not necessarily weather emergencies, and my tip generally goes up to about 50%.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t order during blizzards. The employee has no say about whether his business is open or not.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        But their income is tip-based. If I have to be at work, I at least want to have the opportunity to earn money. Otherwise I dug myself out of my house, showed up to work, and just sit around for 8 hours, earning my crappy hourly rate? Yuck.

    6. INTP*

      I always debate with myself about this. On one hand, the driver didn’t choose to stay open, the owner or manager did (who might not even come to work that day), and if people don’t order during bad weather they’ll have little incentive to keep doing so. On the other hand, if they are forced to spend their time working anyways, I assume they would probably rather be earning tips than making whatever wage they make as a base (I have no idea what this is but I assume it’s pretty low), so refusing to order hurts them more than it helps. So I don’t know, but I think I’d draw the line at truly dangerous, “please leave the streets open for emergency personnel” weather and not just highly unpleasant and difficult weather.

    7. Dan*

      So… The question comes soon to tipped employees. If they are forced to work but dont make money if you don’t order, are you obligated to order?

      1. fposte*

        Heh. Like sole proprietors or freelancers, right? I am letting down the economic side by not hiring a house design optimizer.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      For me, it depends on one major factor– how close the restaurant is to your house. When I lived in Manhattan, I might have ordered from a place only a few blocks away, and I would have tipped majorly. I also probably ordered takeout during the snow a few times, but that’s different– I’m the one trudging out in the mess. (Who am I kidding– we had a restaurant in our building that made a great burger, I didn’t have to go very far.) If someone had to drive (or bike, which is more likely in NYC) to get to me, then no way. Is it unethical? I don’t think I’d say that, but I would say it’s Not Nice. And if you do order delivery, that tip ought to be massive, especially if the person shows up at your door with a smile, covered in snow, red-faced from the cold.

      I also believe that if you go out to a restaurant in weather like this, you should tip extra well. Most of the servers I know had to stay close to the restaurant Friday and last night so it could stay open (one guy I’m friends with in Northern VA stayed in a hotel room with half his staff), and that just sucks.

    9. Tris Prior*

      I would feel like an enormous a-hole if I made someone go out and deliver my food in a blizzard or otherwise unsafe conditions. I’ll do it if it’s a million degrees below zero (and tip VERY well), but not if the streets are blocked or unsafe. To me, it doesn’t matter if the business is open or not because I’m of the opinion that it’s inhumane to make people go to work in unsafe conditions (unless their jobs literally involve life or death).

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      During a blizzard? No, even if they’re open, I wouldn’t want them to be out on the streets when it’s dangerous. But I’ll order when it’s pouring, or for example tonight if our road was plowed AND our driveway and walk were shoveled, but then I’d tip a lot more than usual (and we’re usually pretty generous). But most of the time when we get carryout I go pick it up anyway. It’s enough just to be able to place the order over the phone, there’s no reason I can’t go pick it up.

    11. Elsajeni*

      I have basically the same opinion as most people, it seems like. I’ll order delivery if the weather is just shitty and I don’t want to go out, and tip a little higher than usual to compensate for making the driver go out in it. But if I feel like I shouldn’t or can’t go out — we don’t really get snow or ice here, but if there’s a risk of flooding, it’s raining hard enough to seriously affect visibility, etc. — I won’t order. If I don’t feel safe driving, I assume the delivery driver won’t be any safer, so I don’t think it’s fair to ask them to drive for me.

  33. Emily*

    Does anyone here have ADHD or have experience with the ADHD diagnosis process? I’ve always had some issues with focus and executive functioning, but I feel like I’ve been struggling more than usual recently. I’ve read up a lot on the symptoms of ADHD, and feel like I fit them (mostly the inattentive ones) to a reasonable degree.

    Other probable contributing factors:
    – I’m in my second year of a PhD program, and academia is known to be stressful and unhealthy for many people.
    – I’m really bad at holding myself to a consistent bedtime.

    For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to try *really* hard to work on going to bed at a consistent, reasonable hour to see if that fixes things. If it doesn’t, I might try to find a doctor or psychiatrist to see if I have ADHD or something causing similar symptoms.

    I don’t know exactly what I’m looking for, here, but any advice/comments/commiseration would be welcome!

    1. katamia*

      I was diagnosed as an adult less than a year ago, also inattentive. I was never tested for it as a child and was smart enough to get through school without anyone suspecting (including me), but I had a lot more trouble once I was out in the work world. My biggest struggle, other than focus issues, is with planning and execution. I have a parent who’s great at that stuff (which has always mystified me–seriously, it looks like magic to me), but even when I can come up with a plan that seems realistic (rare), I don’t seem to be able to execute it successfully.

      I was already seeing a psychologist for other reasons that aren’t relevant, and when I brought up my concerns, he basically took me through the DSM-5 questionnaire. I answered honestly, and he said that it did sound like I had it. Being a psychologist, he couldn’t prescribe anything for me himself but recommended a certain common ADHD drug. I spoke with my GP, who prescribed it for me without any major hurdles. I’m not great about remembering to take it (I’m super forgetful, especially in the morning, and you’re supposed to take it early in the day because it can interfere with sleep), but when I do take it, I notice a huge difference in my ability to get things done, especially things that cause me anxiety like writing emails. I hope/plan to keep using them (as prescribed) because I can really see a difference, even at a pretty low dose.

      I don’t know if there’s normally more to the diagnostic procedure or if that’s what most psychs do. Both my psychologist and my GP have known me for years and knew that I wasn’t looking for drugs just to get drugs. I don’t know if there would be more of a screening process for new patients they couldn’t vouch for in the same way.

      Also, just to clarify, I made it clear to both my psych and my GP that I did want drugs if I had ADHD and if they thought it would be beneficial because I was on a tight schedule–I was moving and starting a new job very soon. They didn’t push me to take anything, and if I hadn’t been going through those life changes when I was diagnosed, I probably would have tried more in the way of behavioral methods (I’m still exploring what does and doesn’t work for me there) if I’d had more time.

    2. Tau*

      Can’t really say much on the ADHD front, but I do want to point out that having trouble going to bed on time can be a symptom of executive function problems as well as a cause. I have Asperger’s and executive function problems caused by it, and the “cannot get self to go to bed -> get too little sleep -> be exhausted the next day -> be too exhausted to make self go to bed” vicious circle has been the bane of my life in the past. So I really wouldn’t discount the possibility of ADHD or something similar based on that – quite the opposite.

      Anyway, sympathies and all the best! Academia does serve to seriously exacerbate this type of thing, my PhD was a mess and I ended up needing two years longer than normal, being in ordinary full-time employment has made me so much more functional. The main advice I have is to try really really hard to get into a regular routine, but that is a lot easier said than done.

    3. GOG11*

      I was diagnosed when I was 18. I was having some really serious depression and anxiety problems and went to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me. As I recall, there wasn’t any physical test and it just went off of the conversation-based appointments with him. I tried out medication and found one that worked well and figured out the right dose and schedule.

      I have always been bright and I tend to just plow through things and not give up, so that got me through high school, but college was a whole different ball game. I’ve learned a lot since being diagnosed and the medication is a bigger help to me than I can even put into words.

      It was a long time ago and I can’t recall what particular symptoms were used to determine my diagnosis, but I frequently have difficulty controlling my focus and operating in the meta, if that makes sense. I am decently self-aware emotionally, but when it comes to focus, it gets stuck/too intense/too much, moves from one thing to the next in rapid succession, or won’t hone in on anything at all, no matter how much I want to control it. The medication makes it possible to shape and control my focus.

      As far as advice goes, for coping at least, creating boundaries can be really helpful. I treat a lot of tasks separately – there’s the set up/boundary and then there’s the task itself. For example, creating a structure or boundary would be setting alarms on the phone that mean, “start packing up what I’m doing,” “brush my teeth, take meds, etc.,” “get into bed,” and finally “put down the book and turn out the light.” Then, once it comes time to go to bed, all I have to do is follow the prompts. If I set the boundary and do the thing at the same time, I either have no outside reminder so I have to be meta-aware enough to initiate the process or I start to rework the plan (just one more video, just one more chapter, just one more portion of my assignment), neither of which end well at all.

      Best of luck to you.

  34. HardwoodFloors*

    This is my first time commenting on open thread but I need some ideas, please, if possible. I am buying my house new windows installation. I have venetian blinds and am thinking about going to another type of window covering to go with the new windows. I am sick of the hassle of cleaning the venetian blinds-dust on all the skinny slats – it takes forever. So I am thinking of going to a solid shade or Roman shade. But, I want something that I can pull for privacy; I don’t want see through. What are good ideas? Thanks for the help.

    1. fposte*

      I think a ton of shades could do that job–are you just looking for reports of stuff we’ve liked? If your budget is up to it and you have temperature control issues, honeycomb shades can be great–I put them on my huge living room windows and in my bedroom, and even in the cream shade I chose, they’re not see through (but they don’t completely block light, either). And I think they look nice.

      However, I do have a real soft spot for Roman shades, and if the budget is tight you can do some pretty decent DIY ones; you’d probably want lined ones to minimize show-through.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’re a little bit handy, consider getting some blackout curtains (you may have to install rods to hang them on).

    3. Menacia*

      I love, love, love honeycomb shades. They come in different colors/patterns and allow in light without being opaque. I won’t ever go back to standard blinds, though I like the wood ones on my french doors.

    4. asteramella*

      Another vote for honeycomb (cellular) shades. You can even get blackout honeycomb shades so that there’s no chance of see-through. “Top down bottom up” shades are also available, so you can choose to pull the shade down the bottom half of the window but leave the top uncovered (for privacy).

  35. INTP*

    Spinning off of the earlier thread, how do you find a good dentist when 1) you don’t know many people in your neighborhood and 2) your city hasn’t really caught onto yelp-ing healthcare providers yet? And how do you know when you really need to listen to your dentist and when you should be suspicious of them?

    I don’t have a dental phobia but I’m at a point of not trusting them due to experiences with a few dentists who seemed to recommend unnecessary treatment to generate income. Two found a bunch of new cavities that they wanted to fill on my first appointment (yet never, ever mentioned a “small spot to watch” – and some of those fillings didn’t even require local anesthetic) and in one case recommended very extreme treatment (involving braces and dental implants) for something other dentists told me to take a “wait and see” approach on. One found five cavities, yet didn’t show me a single one, and didn’t mention ANY of the weird stuff on my X-rays that new dentists always talk about (but wouldn’t have led to any immediate income-generating procedures for her to do), and rushed me out before I could ask questions. I’m sure some of the advice was legit, but I just don’t trust a dentist (or any other provider), when their advice is NEVER to “wait and see,” and they don’t find a single problem in the course of any of my visits that they don’t advise me to treat immediately in an expensive manner.

    So…any advice? I keep hearing to use word of mouth but I don’t know anyone in my immediate neighborhood and I have a zillion dentists within a 10 minute drive so it would be ideal to use one of those.

    1. could be anyone*

      Go to the Academy of General dentistry. (agd.org) Go to find dentist tab and click AGD fellows and masters and search in your area. I have a very good dentist and this has been his recommendation when my children moved away.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Unfortunately, my spouse and I went through a few scam dentists before we found a good one (I assure you Yelp reviews are no help in this regard). Finally I just sent a mass email to my co-workers about dentist recommendations, and everyone responded back immediately telling me their dentist was “the best.” So we just picked “the best” dentist that happened to be closest to our apartment. He’s been amazing and has never scammed us. I usually don’t like to spam co-workers with mass emails, but that was so worth it, and I highly recommend it!

      P.S. I was fairly new at the job and wasn’t close friends with my co-workers, so it was a bit awkward to send… paid off, though.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        I agree about asking coworkers. Even if the dentist isn’t in the most convenient location for you, having a great dentist that you trust will be worth it. When I was a student teacher, I mentioned to my cooperating teacher that I needed to find a doctor and she recommended the office she used. Four-ish years later and I still go to that doctor’s office (I’ve even picked insurance plans just so I can keep going there)!

      2. TootsNYC*

        Isn’t it scary to think you need to protect yourself from a scam dentist? Whatever they do to you teeth is permanent!

        Also–I don’t think anybody needs to feel too awkward about asking coworkers for dentist & doctor rec’s.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      First thing: ask the last dentist you liked if he or she knows anyone in your new area or has any recommendations. You’d be surprised how wide these networks go.

      Second thing: if you have dental insurance, try their website. Sometimes they have ratings and feedback.

      Third thing, which is what I did when I moved to a new state: lots and lots of googling names of dentists I passed on the street. I ended up choosing one nearby that just happened to look nice and had a great website. My new dentist has a really great practice, devoted to the latest technology, with very nice staff. I probably just got lucky, but I’m very pleased. One thing to look for is location– if rents are high, then a dentist can’t survive in a standalone office unless he or she has a lot of patients, and a lot of patients often means steady customers and recommendations.

    4. Anon for this*

      I asked coworkers for recommendations–that also helps you find someone who takes your insurance, if you have employer-provided dental insurance.

      Also, are there any consumer publications in your area that rate providers? We have Puget Sound Consumers’ Checkbook. I looked up the dentist who was recommended to me there, and he was highly rated, so I went ahead and made the first appointment. Haven’t regretted it.

  36. ginger ale for all*

    Valentine’s Day is coming up and I thought I would ask what has been the nicest romantic thing that you have given or received? My darling and I are going to a comic con so I told him I would buy him his gift there because his eyes are full of want every time we go to these things. He is particular so giving him a choice will be good for him. But I am sort of wondering about other options. There is a distinct possibility of me baking him something nice as well. And a great card – he has a big display of all the cards that say I love you for both occasions and no occasions over the years so there will be a card.

    1. banana raisin grape*

      I’ve already made my Valentine’s card for this year–it’s a papercraft “I choo-choo-choose you” card à la The Simpsons. I’m thinking this is at least in the top 3 from me; other contenders are all hand-made crafty things of some sort. Baking is a very nice idea; you could have some real fun decorating the food item or making it in the shape of something he’d enjoy.

    2. Yetanotherjennifer*

      The best one I gave was a $2 pack of heart stickers. I didn’t give them to my boyfriend all at once; I just started putting them on things around his place during the weeks leading up to Valrntine’s when he wasn’t looking. It was very romantic and he was very touched. And I was unenployed and very broke so it was nice for something so small to be so successful.

      1. ginger ale for all*

        I love this idea! I wanted to have something small to add to the pick out your gift thing and I think s riff off of this will be great. I keep seeing heart shaped post its and I can write on them and surprise him around his place. Thanks so much for sharing that!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We went to NYC last year for a long weekend– Valentine’s Day was the Saturday before Presidents’ Day. We stayed in our old neighborhood at the apartment of a friend who went out of town. It was FREEZING, and we were there to see our friends, so I wasn’t planning on anything special and I thought he wasn’t either. We’re not exactly super romantic (or, at least, we haven’t been in a loooong time!). On Saturday morning I came out of the shower and my boyfriend was nowhere to be found. I was standing around in a towel, freaking out somewhat, and then he came in with a giant bouquet of flowers from “our” florist, the guy half a block from our old apartment. I had missed those flowers so much (he does an amazing job and specializes in orchids) and I didn’t think my boyfriend ever thought far ahead enough to order those flowers and surprise me. It was the surprise that did it more than anything.

  37. Stephanie*

    Alteration question! I’ve got a cardigan that is super boxy on me. The sleeves are also huge. It starts out okay and then stretches out like crazy. I like the cardigan and was thinking of getting it altered. Is it worth it? I know sleeves and shoulders can be tricky. Otherwise, I will probably drop it off at consignment…

    1. Mander*

      I have altered things like this several times, but I did it myself. I suppose the best thing would be to take it to a tailor and ask what they would charge. It might be designed in such a was as to make it more or less impossible, or it might be surprisingly cheap.

    2. Rebecca*

      You could sew two really nice ribbons at the side seams and tie them at the back…but maybe that would look weird.

      I would probably just take it to Good Will, unless it was particularly expensive/special.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I am almost thinking probably not. I think you are basically revamping the entire garment. If it was just the sleeves or just the sides, you might stand a chance. It sounds like they will have to take the sleeve out, re-cut it, and set it back in again. Once you start ripping apart shoulder seams… ugh….. and cutting knitted yarn, double ugh.
      You might find someone to do it, but you could probably buy one or two new sweaters before it’s over.

      I have an over-sized sweatshirt here and I had a new zipper put in it. The lady looked at me like I was nuts. It came to $30. For lots of reasons it was worth it to me. I am not so sure it would be worth it for you.

    4. TootsNYC*

      You wrote, “It starts out okay and the stretches out…”

      It changes during the time you wear it? and springs back when you wash it?
      If so, I think you’re stuck.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, springs back when I wash and air dry it. It’s a really nice cardigan (lined even), it’s just too damn big.

  38. Rebecca*

    What is a good app or website for sharing baby photos and mini journal entries about your child with close friends and family? Importantly, I don’t want people to have to log in to be able to view the photos or to make comments, but I don’t want my photos to be publicly searchable either. So, something where you need the exact URL or a password to enter, but don’t need to log in. Asking people to sign up and remember their password for yet another website is too big of a barrier.

    Any suggestions?

      1. Rebecca*

        I thought of that, but is it easy to have two Instagram accounts at once? I wouldn’t want to make my current public Instagram account private. Plus, Instagram requires photos. It would be nice to be able to add little messages or milestones without photos.

        1. Sophia in the DMV*

          Hmmm…I imagine as long as you have two different email addresses it works. I use Insta to share photos of my dau, but your right there’s no place for words – unless you take pics of the words:)

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I think the only challenge with Instagram is, if it’s a private account, people will have to log in to be able to view the photos (i.e., they will have to have an Instagram account).

    1. Nicole*

      Google+ comes to mind because you can choose your audience including sending a link via email. I send a link to my photos to my mom but she doesn’t have any social media accounts and isn’t required to in order to view my stuff. Basically you restrict the photos to only the email addresses you choose when you’re posting them.

      You can do something similar with Dropbox but you’d lose the ability to include commentary.

      Also, if you want to share videos you can put them on YouTube as private and then share the URL with people and that’s the only way they will be visible.

    2. Clever Name*

      I think you can make private albums with passwords to get in on Photobucket. Is everyone on Facebook? You can set up a private group.

    3. LizB*

      Google Drive has an “anyone with the link can view” option in the advanced privacy settings. You could make a folder, add the pictures you want to share, then set the sharing settings on the folder to that mode and send out the link to family. It’s also easy to change the setting back to private if you decide you’d rather not share anymore.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, I was going to suggest either Google Drive or Flickr. Flickr has the same thing, plus it has something of a social networking component that allows you to also limit some photos to “friends”, and it has great organizational features (albums, collections of albums, tags) for more advanced users.

  39. KarenT*

    Any concussion recovery experience?I’ve had a concussion for about a week now. Had a cognitive assessment done Friday, and am still have trouble with words and quick recall. I can’t get rid of my headache and pretty much doing anything (walking, driving) makes me really nauseous. My doctor says this is all totally normal but I’m just wondering if others have recovery stories they can share :)

    1. katamia*

      Ouch, that sucks. I hope you’re feeling better soon.

      I had a minor concussion last year (lasted maybe a day and a half–I was in a minor car accident one afternoon, still had the concussion all the next day, and then it was gone when I woke up the morning after that). I was just told that it would just go away at some point. It wasn’t as severe as yours, though–I was just a little spacey and headachey. No nausea or anything, although I avoided driving while concussed just because it seemed like the safe thing to do.

      Some physical therapists work with people who have concussions. I don’t know if this would be beneficial for you, but it’s something you could ask your doctor about. I’ve never done this, though, and I don’t know how long or severe a concussion would have to be before a doctor would write a prescription for physical therapy.

    2. Colette*

      I had a concussion a couple of years ago. It sounds like it was milder than yours, but I still spent every morning that week lying on the couch. Oddly, I was more functional in the afternoons. I was amazed at how much it affected my ability to think. (A commercial started in the middle of a conversation. My attention switched to the commercial and I could not switch back to the conversation until the commercial ended.) It lasted a full week and then I was better. Not something I ever want to do again.

    3. TL -*

      I’m assuming a cognitive assessment came from a neurologist – but it’s really, really important to see a good neurologist for a concussion and then to follow their advice. ERs and GPs are not equipped to deal with/treat them.
      Depending on the severity, recovery can be very quick or take years. My mom developed seizures after hers and they took about ten years to go away, though she still has one once in a blue moon. She had to rest in a dark room for 6 weeks right after before she was functional (and the doc pushed for much longer but she couldn’t take the time off work.)
      I had a friend who took a year for all symptoms but just a couple months for the recall/frequent headaches.

      Good luck!

    4. Rubyrose*

      I am so sorry. Hopefully you will recover quickly and will not have my experience.

      Due to a car accident, I had a concussion that took around 2 years to truly recover from. Was on short term disability for about 4 months and forced myself to go back to work before I was really able to (did not have it together enough to apply for long term disability, forms got filled out but I couldn’t remember to send them in). I was diagnosed immediately but was so spaced out I did not realize how affected I was. Like, the week before Thanksgiving the doctor asked me what major holiday was coming up and I said Channuka, which was a month off. And it took me four weeks to figure out I had given the wrong answer. Never had the nausea, but there was this constant buzz in my head.

      Be sure you get plenty of rest. Do not do anything that makes you nauseous.

      Pushing your brain to function normally when it is not ready to is not good for you in the long run. You do need to do some mental activity every day but at the first sign of strain, take a break, even if it is for the rest of the day. Do not work to exhaustion, thinking you can just power through it. And it sounds like the concussion just happened, so I would be leery of any mental stimulation right now.

      I found myself with severe emotional swings. An offhand comment could instigate in me severe happiness, depression, or anger. Once I made the connection that they were due to the concussion, I was able to be more gentle with myself and that helped me to calm down and not get so agitated.

      I remember going to the health food store and finding something for memory/brain function. I remember taking it but not sure if it did any good. The doctor had me take something which was not useful. He did give me a sleep aid, which did help.

      One of the more frustrating items was that people assumed that since I looked fine on the outside, everything was good inside. Even people I was close to kept “forgetting” that I was having problems, even when I would remind them. They seemed to think that I should be totally recovered within a week, two at the max. I remember my doctor giving me some basic information on concussion and encouraged me to give it to my manager and family. I don’t think they read it. Hopefully you live with someone who can help you monitor what is going on, so you (or they) can give accurate reports to your doctor about how dysfunctional y0u might be and where you are improving. I did not have that.

      Going back to work was hell. I remember things taking two or three times as long to do, because I kept forgetting where I was at in the process. My self esteem took a major hit because I realized I was not the person I used to be, I was not working at my normal pace. It made me scared to take on new tasks, other responsibilities, a promotion.

      The symptoms slowly went away. The self esteem hit did not. It took a lot for me to change jobs. In the new gig I ended up on a project that pushed me to my limits, which showed me I was back to normal and able to handle life again. So life is now good, no permanent issues.

      I think my experience is more of a worst case scenario, so don’t think that just because it was this way for me it will be this way for you. Take care.

    5. Glasskey*

      Hi, Karen, I hope it’s not too late to respond to your post. It sounds like you may have post-concussion syndrome (PCS), which occurs much more frequently in women than in men. It takes about 3 months (give or take) to recover from the worst symptoms and you may need to take time off work. Some symptoms can persist for much longer. I had to lay in bed with the curtains closed and a sleep mask on my face. For THREE WEEKS. No sunshine, no computer, no TV, no iPad–visual stimuli of any kind hurt too much. Couldn’t listen to podcasts or music either. They made the headache worse and I couldn’t pay attention anyway. Some symptoms can persist for much longer. Glad your doctor said it’s normal but did he/she actually give you something for that unstoppable headache? Those are very treatable. I agree 100% with TL below: you need a neurologist. They’re not cheap, but this your BRAIN we’re talking about. In my own experience with PCS, I had a headache that would NOT go away for almost a month. I finally got in to the neurologist, who started me on a low dose of nortriptyline (an old, old antidepressant that we now use for lots of different types of pain) and that headache was gone-and I mean GONE-after the first dose. (l had to take it for another month or so otherwise the pain came right back.) What still pisses me off about the whole experience is that there is a big hospital in town that set up a post-concussion clinic but only related to sports injuries–so when I tried to make an appt. to get treated I was turned away because “you’re not an athlete.” So I didn’t get therapy that I think would have sped up my healing. I mean WTF, people.

  40. After the Snow*

    Well, I think my husband is finally going to get a snowblower. We have lived in the house for 32 years and have experienced 5 of the top 10 snow falls for the area. We are too old for this. Thank God for very nice neighbors. Official record of 30 + inches of snow fall with drifting. I have walls of snow 36 to 42 inches high.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Snowblowers are the best. A few years ago my roommate and I were caretakers for our apartment building (in exchange for significantly lower rent) which included shoveling the building’s sidewalks. The first year it went fine as there was average snowfall and she was a student and I worked part time nearby. The second year we had the 3rd snowiest winter in Minnesota history and we were both working full time and I had a significant commute. Eventually we gave up and hired a guy with a snowblower to do it figuring that even after we paid him we were still coming out on top with the reduced rent. Best decision we ever made.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I keep thinking about it, but I worry about keeping it maintained, especially if we don’t use it that often.

      Also, shoveling is probably the only strenuous exercise I get!

      1. TootsNYC*

        “Also, shoveling is probably the only strenuous exercise I get!”

        That makes shoveling actually dangerous for you. take it easy, take breaks, use good form. Shoveling show is extra dangerous as exercise.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Not sure what you mean by maintaining. Some people put theirs in the shop for the summer so a tech can give it a routine maintenance. For general use, you should learn how to check the gas and the oil. And probably not a bad idea to learn how to put the battery on charge.

        The only other biggie to learn is to listen to the engine. If the engine sounds overloaded, don’t keep pushing it into the snow. Slow down and let the machine work at a pace it can handle.

        Working a walk behind snow thrower can get pretty tough, so you will still get a work out.
        One thing I would do before I purchased a snowblower is to make sure I can move it around myself. Some roll easier than others. If I can’t move the machine from one side of the garage to the other without turning it on, then it’s the wrong machine for me.

      3. Elizabeth*

        We have an electric snow blower that my husband got from Amazon (thank you, Prime). No maintenance required.

    3. Mimmy*

      Snow blowers are awesome – until you hit something and it breaks!! Hoping this winter won’t be as bad as last year when it seemed like one storm after another in the Northeast.

      Cosmic Avenger – Shoveling is about the only exercise I get all year too, lol. We just finished for the day and now that the adrenaline has worn off, the soreness is kicking in.

  41. MsChandandlerBong*

    I have an FDCPA question, on the off chance one of you is a bankruptcy attorney or works for a collection agency or something.

    I know the FDCPA permits collection agencies from making multiple calls to someone’s relatives, but what about original creditors? My husband has been out of work for over four months, has had a few interviews, and hasn’t gotten any offers (except the one that was rescinded because his former employer won’t give references). We’ve had to stop paying on a few things just to keep our rent paid and have heat/light. My husband has a credit card account that is only in his name, but the company has been calling MY parents looking for my husband. They called my mother’s phone six times in a two-day span. In turn, my mother is calling me and screaming at me, telling me to get them to stop. To be clear, my husband has never once lived with my parents. Is there anything I can do to get them to stop calling? I just landed a new freelance gig that pays well, so we’ll be able to catch up on the payments next month, but I can’t have my mother mad at me all the time.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The FDCPA does not apply at all to the original creditors, but Nolo says to check your state laws about what they are allowed to do. Also, you can call the nonemergency number for the police in your parents’ area and ask if this constitutes harassment if they call repeatedly after they’ve been asked not to, but if it is, I’m almost positive that your parents would have to file the actual complaint to get them to stop.

      Sorry you’re going through this. Good luck!

    2. fposte*

      I’m not seeing a way the FDCPA would apply if it’s the original creditor, but there may be a state law–I’d look around online, or call your state’s consumer protection bureau or attorney general’s office and inquire.

      That being said, I would also check with the original creditor to see if they’re actually the ones handling the debt; anybody can say they’re from Capital Twelve or Chase Me, and it’s not unheard of for debt collectors to claim they are when they aren’t.

      1. MsChandandlerBong*

        I am pretty sure it’s the original creditor. I called the number, and the automated menu identifies them as “Explore.”

        1. fposte*

          You mean like Xplore, the federal credit union? That may put a whole new spin on what they are and aren’t allowed to do.

  42. periwinkle*

    Oh, and I just wanted to note that I first heard about “Texts from Jane Eyre” from a prior AAM discussion, bought the Kindle version, and have read it cover-to-cover multiple times. It’s my go-to reading when flying because it requires only a little concentration and is easy to jump back into whenever. If you’re a classic lit geek (aka your basic AAM reader), you must buy this book and then keep your fingers crossed that Mallory has time to write a second one.

  43. Elizabeth West*

    I fell while skating today and hit my head REALLY hard, but the urgent care doctor didn’t think I had a concussion, since I had no neurological symptoms. I did, however, sprain my neck and got a big goose egg, and I feel like crap. I didn’t want to hijack the concussion thread up above. Various online sources are saying 1-3 weeks recovery time but others say 4-6 weeks!!

    I forgot to ask the doctor about it. I really don’t want to feel this crappy for 4-6 weeks!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        No, I got X-rays. I had no neurological symptoms so they just checked my neck and my skull.

        I forgot to take my barrettes off so they showed up on the X-ray, ahahha.

        1. Glasskey*

          Those neuro symptoms can be subtle and are sometimes missed. Some don’t present right away but come on later. Even just “feeling crappy” can be an important sign; please do think about following up up with your regular doc if you’re still feeling bad or even if you’re just not feeling yourself since healing can actually be delayed in those cases if you don’t get treated. (See my post above, under the other concussion thread.) Do I sound like I’m lecturing? I hope not–just have some training + personal experience in this area so that’s getting reflected here :) And if you’re feeling ok now, then ignore this!

  44. SL #2*

    My best friends just got a cat! I happened to be across the street when they were picking her up, so I ran across to say hi and also meet the new kitty. She’s a sweetheart.

    Along the way, I also fell in love with her neighbor, a 2 year old boy with 4 white paws. Ugh. I was so sad that I couldn’t bring him home (my parents would not be happy if I brought home a surprise cat). But what a sweetie!!!

  45. CharlieCakes*

    I have not listened to my intuition at all this weekend and it has culminated in this:

    A man spit on my car today because I parked too close to his black Porsche. I was still within the double white lines mind you. My gut told me to move my car because 98.9% of Porsche owners are d*ckbags, but I didn’t because I was still parked like a normal human being. What he didn’t see was the person to the left of me parking on my double lines, so I had to scooch over ever so slightly to fit into the space. She had just left. I knew I should have moved over. Listen to your gut people!!!

    I saw this man when he got to his car, but he clearly waited for me to leave. I saw the spit when I got back to my car.

    Who does that?

    God, I don’t EVEN want to think it was because of who I am (young female, minority) versus him (older, white male) but he saw me. We made eye contact. This was in the parking lot of a very expensive gym where we are both members. Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Audi, Tesla, Ferrari, Lamborghini are the clientele and then there are a few people like me rolling in with their Honda Accords, woo.

    Anyway, I really want to confront him…but I’m not going to. My friend said karma will get him eventually. I hope he gets ED if he doesn’t have it already. Grr.

    1. Stephanie*

      What?! It’s a car. If he’s that nuts about it getting dings, he should have parked farther out.

    2. ginger ale for all*

      Ugh. I hope karma gets him too. I had to park on the SMU campus once with my elderly car and this 20ish guy told me that I didn’t need to park that piece of trash in that lot and I needed to get back to the ghetto I came from. I just rolled my eyes. Life isn’t going to be kind to him.

    3. Glasskey*

      Wow. Who SPITS on CARS. I just….just…WOW. May he get the ED you curse him with, take a Cialis, and suffer the rare side effect known as priapism (feel free to look that up), which he will never live….um…down.

    4. LCL*

      I totally respect if you don’t want to go this route, but, if you know who he is you might tell the management. Maybe it would be worth a membership credit.

      1. OP*

        I did!!! I emailed management as soon as I got home. Even if they can’t do anything about it I said I wanted them to know because if he did this to me, he can and will do it again (if he hasn’t already!!!)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      He is a giant douchebag. You did nothing wrong. Don’t bother with him, because he will NEVER change. Your friend is right–and I’m phoning Karma right now, muwahahaha.

  46. Malory Archer*

    I’m seriously considering starting a personal blog! I love writing and I don’t really have an outlet for it right now.

    Anyone have an experience, advice, or “Ack! Don’t do that!” warnings?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think the only advice I would give is decide whether you want to make it private or public. If you’re not sure, start off private. And if you make it public, just keep in mind that means anyone can read it, so don’t reveal too many personal details (even though the blog is personal).

      1. Malory Archer*

        Yeah, that’s definitely the issue I’ve struggled with most. I’m hoping to keep it at a level such that it wouldn’t hurt me professionally if I decide to link it to my public identity.

        My sister writes a mommy blog that’s pretty extreme in terms of detail and personally identifiable information she publishes. She has a big public following, but I find it cringe-worthy. I’m definitely not going that route!

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