weekend free-for-all – April 1-2, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Recommendation of the week: The Arrangement, by Sarah Dunn. A couple gives each other six months off from monogamy, and things go differently than expected.

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

{ 1,231 comments… read them below }

  1. Cristina in England*

    Anyone else like fake news stories for April Fool’s Day? Let’s share links to them here.

    1. AstroDeco*

      ThinkGeek always has fun fake products on April Fool’s Day. I just checked the site, the Swim Desk looks interesting!
      http://www.thinkgeek.com/

      Gotta confess, I’m weary from real or fake news or from real news that seems fake, or fake news that seems real, or adverts that read like news… So I’ll stay with The Onion for my fake news.

      1. Emily*

        I agree – I don’t mind obviously fake news, but I want to be able to easily figure out if it’s real or not. (For example, I saw today that George Takei is running for congress – probably fake, but???)

        Those ThinkGeek products are fun, though! I like the swim desk and the Shazaam VHS tape.

        1. hermit crab*

          Definitely fake! I think it’s a publicity thing to raise awareness about Jon Ossoff’s campaign. :)

          1. Very anon for this, thanks. :)*

            Definitely fake, but he allowed about eight hours between the announcements going out (still March 31st) my time, and the “it’s a joke” message, so that bites. :(

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, I was bitterly disappointed by that one. I was all, “Please don’t let it be fake . . . .” Bleh!

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          On Wait Wait, Bluff the Listener featured a story I’d seen a headline for… and immediately dismissed it as being obviously fake. That for a year a reality show would fail to tell the contestants (surviving in the Scottish wilderness, mind you, not in a luxury hotel) that the show had gone off the air due to low viewership.

      2. Amadeo*

        Sometimes those things even get made if they’re popular enough. The Tauntaun sleeping bag was an April fool’s gag.

      3. neverjaunty*

        I am convinced that the “specifications” for the Swimming Desk are deliberately miscalculated to snipe nerds, because OF COURSE someone will check them.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Donald Trump was visiting my home town, in the UK today.

      McDonlads are going to launch a Big Mac sauce flavoured McFlurry.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      My neighborhood is not conducive to playing Ms Pacman. Too many dead end streets. ;)

      1. AstroDeco*

        The Gnome is hysterical. I’m going to recommend this thread to No gifts! in the thread below,
        :-D

      1. Clever Name*

        Inland whale farming from several years ago was amazing. And people fell for it and wrote indignant letters!

    4. JKP*

      Similar to “Recently Added”, today Netflix has an additional category of “Recently Canceled” showing that they have canceled their Netflix live feed. So today is the last day you can binge watch Will Arnett hosting a rambling narrative over live feeds of Netflix’s copy machine and microwave.

    5. Aussie academic*

      I loved the one where the maths professor ‘fixes’ his error of writing on a projector screen, it was really well done

    6. Nervous Accountant*

      I liked PornHub’s April fools joke
      Food and Wine magazine’s Hot dog slushie/margarita (yes its as gross as it sounds)
      Chicken parmesan recipe by Tastemade, the ingredients and recipe itself was hilarious.

  2. jamlady*

    Anyone know how to calm down during physical exams? I don’t love being touched by strangers and I don’t love doctor’s offices. My heart rate for a pre-employment exam was through the roof (seriously, 139 – but my BP was totally fine) and the tech is having me head back Monday because there’s no way I’d pass with that number. I also had to take my inhaler that morning, plus I had coffee and likely didn’t eat enough for lunch, so that wasn’t helpful, but every time I think about the BP cuff and the exam room my heart rate spikes. My stress levels have been kind of out of control lately in general – any tips for keeping relaxed? Short-term and long-term advice welcome!

    1. soupmonger*

      Try beta-blockers. They are used for anxiety and are also great for easing stressy times. They reduce the hammering heartbeat and smooth out the spiky edges but without giving you a doped-up feeling.
      I was prescribed them for anxiety and while I no longer take them regularly, I will take one when I recognise the symptoms poking their heads above the water. My GP said they are ideal for using like that – when needed, not long-term. I found that the reduced my anxiety symptoms to the point where I could think like a functioning adult and thus deal with the cause of the anxiety without resorting to anything too ‘woo’. Won’t work for everyone but boy, they worked for me.
      Good luck!

      1. Sugar of lead*

        I take beta blockers and NB they are prescription only (though I’m sure you can get them off the black market), and you might faint, so drink lots of water and don’t lock your knees.

    2. Gadfly*

      First, tell them right off that you do panic a bit/have a touch of white coat syndrome. And then have them take your blood pressure properly and not the quicky half-assed way most of them do to save time (The big errors are usually not letting you sit for 5 minutes beforehand to calm yourself, choosing the wrong size arm cuff–especially if you are larger or extra small, not positioning you with your supported arm at heart level, not having your feet flat on the floor, and talking with you while taking it). For your heart rate start by getting a good night’s sleep. Use lavender and melatonin if you have to. Make sure your bladder is empty. Breathe deeply and slowly–a box breath is good for this. Try 4 seconds in, hold 4, 4 out (completely), hold 4, repeat. Or you can spend more time on the in and out. Or lengthen all the times if that works for you. It is a very steadying breath, calming. And if you are calm, you heart rate will go down.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Oh yeah. I found at my Endocrinologist and OB/GYN’s office that my BP, that has been high or borderline for YEARS, is all of a sudden near perfect. Because they take it properly, and with the right sized cuff, since they have the larger ones on hand, and aren’t too lazy to have to hunt if down if it’s not in the exam room. Now I refuse to let them take my BP if they don’t have the right cuff, period.

    3. Channel Z*

      I get so distraught for smears that the doctor prescribed me Xanax. I didn’t take it though, as can’t drive. One time a took a long hot bath and had chamomile tea just before, that really helped me relax and being in the bath calms down touch sensitivity.

    4. AliceBD*

      I second the box breath for immediate use and a beta blocker prescription for the future.

      I have acid reflux that is triggered by me getting unusually stressed (also triggered by certain foods), and beta blockers have been a life changer. Instead of feeling super sick and eventually throwing up at every major event, I use them before unusual events like jury duty last week (including a very stressful car ride into the city center at rush hour) and job interviews. They don’t change my brain at all — no drowsiness or fuzziness — but it’s a physical difference of calmness that was almost startling the first time I took them.

    5. C Average*

      There’s this stuff called Rescue Remedy that I love. It’s an herbal supplement from the hippie granola section of the store, which normally makes me highly skeptical, but I swear this stuff really works for taking the edge off anxiety. I rely on it for getting through a handful of stressful situations I have to deal with semi-regularly. (Weird but true: you can use it on your pets, too.)

      1. Rabbit*

        Rescue Remedy is GREAT stuff, but you should not use the regular made for humans kind with pets – it’s an alcohol base, and that can be not so great for animals. They do make a pet one though – which works wonders with my anxious dog and car rides!

        1. C Average*

          Wow, I’ve never known that! Thank you. I started using the stuff on the recommendation of my sister, who was like, “This stuff is great! It works for animals AND people!” I’ve never actually dosed an animal with mine, but I wonder if my sister knows the two are different? I’ll have to ask her. Anyway, thanks for the info.

    6. Anon attorney*

      I have been known to take xanax or beta blockers too. The last smear test i had done i managed to get through it with yoga breathing. Breathe slowly in through the nose, deeply into the abdomen, for a count of four, then exhale through the mouth for four. Repeat, but don’t hyperventilate – slow, deep and balanced is the key. Apparently the long exhale activates the parasympathetic nervous system and induces calm. Idk if that’s scientifically valid, but I find the breathing pattern does calm me. Equally, however, if you need meds, there’s nothing wrong with that. Good luck!

    7. danr*

      Practice on yourself. Buy a good blood pressure device and use it regularly and write down your readings. You’ll get bp and pulse. Omron makes a good wrist device that is easy to use. In the short term, don’t have coffee before the check, eat a light lunch and control the test. Tell the tech that you have to relax first. Have the tech put the bp cuff on but not start. Sit quietly and breathe gently for a couple of minutes. Once you feel relaxed signal to start the test.

      1. gsa*

        True. The hardest part for me is still to sit still for 15 minutes before taking a reading… Maybe I should try after work, not first thing in the AM…

    8. Father Ribs*

      Listen to some calming music as you wait? If you like Cello try Zoe Keating; it’s complex enough to keep your mind occupied but very meditative.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I listen to Zoe Keating at the dentist. I have a raging dentist phobia but it’s both soothing and complicated enough to hold my focus.

        What it’s not is loud enough to drown out a drill so sometimes I go for classic rock instead.

    9. Bagpuss*

      Definitely tell them you are scared, that’s relevant.
      If you’ve ever been taught breathing exercises / relaxation techniques etc then use those (my mother always uses the ones she was taught when she was pregnant, and says they work very effectively for her)

      1. Chaordic One*

        This actually does work. I can actually lower my blood pressure by calming myself and doing slow, deep, rhythmic breathing. I learned the technique from a psychologist, but there are videos that demonstrate the technique on YouTube. Just google “calming breathing exercises.”

        Don’t do them when you’re driving or operating machinery.

    10. Stephanie*

      This may not work for you, but I actually read up on what’s being done and try to visualize it. I used to get incredibly anxious before Pap smears and I realized it was because I had one too many obgyns just start the procedure without much warning (and you can’t see what’s happening down there).

      I would just be upfront with the nurse/doctor/lab tech about your anxiety. I’m sure you’re not the first patient to have that issue.

    11. Anono-me*

      For your heart rate, can the the doctor use a finger monitor and give you a chance to calm down from all of the other stuff?

    12. jamlady*

      Thanks everyone! I followed pretty much all of the breathing/music/doctor request/etc. advice and they gave me a female tech this time and she let me lay down in a dark quiet room and listen to my classical piano for 20 minutes beforehand. They also decided to do the finger monitor since my BP was fine and that helped a lot (that thing is just painful). I was able to pull of an 89 and the tech and I did a happy dance behind closed doors before I had to venture out to the rest of the exam haha!

      For long-term, I think beta-blockers might be a good idea as my anxiety is very quick and my heart is often beating out of control even if I am working through a situation perfectly fine on the surface. And as for the smear fear – I kicked my last doc right in the chest. A little warning is needed, yo. Especially when the patient is very clearly having an anxiety attack.

      I’m curious about the Rescue Remedy – I want to look into that.

      For anyone else with the same issue – I also read about “bearing down” (pushing down almost like you would if constipated) to lower your heart rate in emergency situations.

  3. Ruth (UK)*

    Happy April Fool’s day to everyone. Here’s to hoping you and your friends or people you know play nice jokes on each other that make you laugh, and don’t do ones that worry or upset people, or cause disagreements. (I say if in doubt, do nothing – no one will say ‘hey remember that time when it was April Fool’s day and you didn’t prank me???”. Well they might…). Luckily I don’t have to try too hard – my morris side will be dancing in a “foolish day of dance” along with a good number of other sides today.

    And speaking of silly things, that half marathon I signed up for back in January is now next Sunday! I feel both prepared and not. On one hand, I have trained frequently – I have run almost every day (typically 5 or 6 times a week) since the 5th Jan. On the other hand, almost all my runs have been between 25-30mins (around 5km) and almost never did a longer run (my longest being 10km).

    This is not because I am of the belief one should not run the full distance in training, but rather because I have been able to find many short periods of time I am free to have a run, but have struggled to find days where I have time (and energy) to put in a longer one. On the other hand, I am also fairly active on top of the running (I cycle every day, dance several times a week etc). So I think I should be able to at least finish the half… we’ll see!

    1. Emily*

      Good luck on your half marathon! Hopefully you’ll finish strong AND enjoy the experience. :)

      Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of signing up for a half marathon (never done one, but I’ve successfully run about 7 miles/11km before, so I think I could do it). The one I’m interested in is only two months away and at a potentially bad time for work, though, so I’m not sure!

    2. Harmless Pranker*

      I installed nCage on my boyfriends computer. It replaces every picture with a picture or gif Nicolas Cage, and there’s a way to hide the extension icon so it’s not immediately obvious.
      He found it pretty fast but his reaction was hilarious.

    3. Lady Julian*

      I was out on my run this morning (7.5 miles) and found myself wondering how your run was going. I’m excited for you – be sure to report back and tell us how you did!

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Oops by next Sunday I mean Sunday next week not tomorrow which is now today, so you’ll probably have to wait two weeks tk find out!

        1. Director of Things*

          Have a great race!
          I’ve done a number of races from 5k to full marathon and the best advice I have is to start slow! As in “why are all these people passing me?” slow. You’ll get them at the end!

  4. Tilly W*

    Looking for recommendations from fellow AAMers for Slovenia and Croatia. We are heading there this summer for two weeks and would love to hear about your travels! I’m also trying for to figure out transportation so any insight is appreciated.

    1. 30ish*

      There’s very good public transport (buses and trains) in Slovenia. I really liked the area around Lake Bohinj, and of course Ljubljana.
      In Croatia, I’ve been to the island Mljet, which I recommend to you. If you can, stay close to the lakes. They are lovely. I found Dubrovnik to be a little too crowded, especially in summer. I’ve also visited Istria, which is a lovely region. If you want to use ships for transports, you can check out the “Jadronilinija” website for schedules. I found that it wasn’t all that easy to “island hop” because the ferries don’t always run that often. So it might be easier to stick to one bigger island.

      1. 30ish*

        Also, for popular places like Ljublijana, Rovinj, Bohinj, Dubrovnik or Split you should book your accommodation well in advance if you’re going in July or August.

      2. 30ish*

        I’ll add some more thoughts. Both Croatia and Slovenia are absolutely gorgeous countries, first of all! I think you’ll have an awesome time.

        Given that you’ll be visiting during high season my recommendation would be to avoid the most popular destinations or stay somewhere nearby and take a day trip there. Dubrovnik is the most extreme case (so it could be a good idea to stay on a nearby island, in the old town you basically can’t move because of all the tourists), but some places in Slovenia, like Bled or Piran, get really crowded in high season, too. For me at least, it was little too much. Bled would be so beautiful but in summer it is touristy in the extreme. However, there are many places in Slovenia’s mountains, for example, which won’t be like that at all. And probably man Croatian islands that offer a relaxing stay. So if it were me I’d do some research on calmer, more secluded places that might be a little harder to travel to but where you’ll enjoy the landscapes the most.

    2. Rookie Manager*

      Dubrovnik is beautiful, I would recommending you walk the walls to see the city and sea from above. For a totally different view you can do a canoe tour and see the walls and old town from the sea!

      Near to Dubrovnik is an island called Lopud, it is tiny and therefore cars are banned. The hotel on Lopud is beautiful and if you stay there your transfer from the mainland will be by speed boat – it felt very glamorous. The main beach on Lopud is a sheltered bay with fairly good sand but perfect sea for swimming in, so clear and warm. If you don’t stay there I will still recommend a visit.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’ll be watching this with interest I’m off to Croatia for a couple of weeks later in the year.

      Plitvice Lakes National Park looks amazing so I hope to get there other than that I’m going to spend a few days in Dubrovnik, Split and possibly Zagreb. The rest of the time I’m planning on sailing

      rome2rio . com is worth a look for travel planning.

      1. Uncivil Engineer*

        Plitvice National Park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I may forever be spoiled about waterfalls. The wood boardwalks allow you to get really close to the waterfalls and lakes. The paths are well marked and I think we did every single one of them over two days. There is a path that runs along the rim of the canyon and allows you to look down on the lakes. There was practically nobody up there and the view was spectacular. The tour buses with day-trippers roll in at mid-morning and leave by late afternoon so, if you can, travel there on your own and visit the park early and late so there are fewer crowds. There is a little town nearby with a bunch of bed-and-breakfasts and there is a walking path from this town to the Park so you don’t even have to drive.

    4. Uncivil Engineer*

      In Slovenia: Ljubljana, Bled, Vintgar Gorge, driving through Triglav National Park, an odd little Apiculture (bee keeping) Museum in Radoljica, and Kobarid Museum (very interesting if you are interested in World War 2).

      In Croatia: walking around Rovinj, Split (touristy), Dubrovnik (touristy but there are very interesting cultural sights if you look hard enough), and you must go to Plitvice National Park if at all possible (though the food here is awful… or it was in 2010).

      It would be difficult to get to most of these sights by train. Ljubljana has a station and you can walk everywhere from there. There is a train station outside of Bled but the town is not a walkable distance from the station. Everything else requires a car. There may be a bus. I never checked. Renting a car and driving around Slovenia and Croatia was very easy, though parking was difficult in the more touristy parts of Croatia.

    5. Father Ribs*

      My daughter is going to be in the region for study abroad this summer, staying in the area they use for King’s Landing in GoT. She sends me the occasional photoshop of herself there just to rub it in. I can’t think of the name off the top of my head but it it truly beautiful in the pictures.

    6. Perpetua*

      The recommendations will really depend on your preferences. :) Do you want to enjoy the sea? The mountains? Do more of the “must-see” touristy stuff so that you don’t feel like you missed out on something, or relax more in less popular places? I might be able to give you recommendations for any of those scenarios (I live here, after all :D ), but there are many options so I really need some more info. :)

      When you say “figure out transportation”, what are your options at all? Where are you coming from and with what? What might make the most sense for you as the starting point? Do you have the option of driving here, or renting a car over here?

      I CAN give some general recommendations as well, although they’re highly subjective. :D I love Istria and I think that it’s completely magical, especially Rovinj and the small town of Grožnjan. If you make Motovun your home base, for example, you can reach several lovely places in about half an hour (or an hour max) drive in various directions – Rovinj, Grožnjan, Pula, Poreč… Istria is known especially for its wine and little hills.

      I second Plitvice as something special to see, although you should be prepared for crowds, yes. The seaside has many lovely places – Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik all offer something a bit different, so it’s really a matter of preference and convenience, and the same goes for the islands. Some are more accessible, some less, and it can greatly impact your experience.

      Feel free to ask anything specific that comes to your mind, either now or when you get a clearer picture of your itinerary, from my experience it can be helpful to have someone local tell you “oh no, I wouldn’t do that in a half-day trip, it would be exhausting although it might not seem like that on paper” or “this might be another option how to get there”, etc. I can’t guarantee that I’ll know everything, but I’ll help as much as I can. :)

    7. Dan*

      If you are comfortable driving a manual, Croatia is very easy to drive in (outside of the cities). The roads and rules are a lot like they are here. We rented a car for northernish Croatia (Zadar, Pag, Plitvice, and the surrounding areas) and dropped it off in Split, after which we used ferries and buses, which worked great. I preferred Zadar and Pag over Split/Dubrovnik because I like smaller places, but Diocletian’s palace in Split did blow my mind. Korcula was beautiful too and worth 2-3 days. Croatia is beautiful and has amazing food and wine. Have fun!

      1. Goreygal*

        You can hire automatics in Europe too; you just have to request them as the default tends to be manual.

    8. Tilly W*

      Thanks everyone! So far we’ve booked into Prague and out of Dubronovik two weeks later. I’ve been told there isn’t a great train system to get us down the coast. Not opposed to renting a car but would prefer trains, planes and boats when an option. Perpetua, I’d say I like a mix of history, hiking/biking and wanting a few days to relax in the middle on a beach or resort. (I always love dorky bike tours and wine.) Not sure if that’s helpful but I’d say I like some scheduled excursions mixed with a few days to open explore and see where I end up.

  5. Audiophile*

    With new job, I’m finally making enough to seriously be able to move out.

    I’m debating between considering apartments in NYC (likely Brooklyn, Queens, maybe Harlem) and just focusing my search on Westchester County apartments (White Plains, Katonah, Chappaqua). If I move to Westchester, that means factoring in Metro North monthly train ticket as well as a monthly MetroCard.

    Some cons of NYC living, more taxes. I’m losing almost 500 in tax deductions and that would only increase if I moved to the city, though I’m not sure how much. Might be able to figure that out with an IRS calculator.

    Anyway, my question is about suggestions on where to look.
    I’ve tried all the usuals – Trulia, Zillow, Apartments, etc. I’m also in a Facebook group for a local zipcode, and some people post apartments in there. Haven’t looked too much on Craigslist, because the last time I did I didn’t have much luck.

    I’ve haven’t tried any brokers, since I don’t know any locally. Excited to be on my own again.

    1. Oscar Madisoy*

      I wouldn’t trust Craigslist for anything. I don’t have any personal experience with it but I’ve heard enough horror stories to keep me away.

      1. Al Lo*

        I’ve found a couple of apartments and/or roommates on Craigslist, but it just varies so much.

        The more-used equivalent classifieds site where I live is Kijiji (a local Craigslist exists, but for whatever reason didn’t catch on here), and I’ve actually found almost all of our rentals on it, rather than on an rental-specific site, even though I spent much time on those, too.

      2. hermit crab*

        Interesting – I’ve lived in four apartments in the DC area in the past seven years, and I found three of them on Craigslist. They were all fine places to live! (One had a somewhat creepy/over-involved landlord, but one had the absolute best landlords ever, so I think it more than evens out.) I guess it depends on the city/neighborhood and what you are looking for.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          We found 3 rentals in the SF Bay Area via Craigslist, and they were all fine. The worst rental we had was corporate run, actually, and found through more traditional official ways.

        2. Bigglesworth*

          I’m looking at moving to the DC area this summer and have been looking at Craigslist for apartments. Good to hear that you’ve found good places to live through that!

        3. Wendy Darling*

          Craigslist is actually THE place for apartment listings in my region. Literally everyone advertises on Craigslist, and if you won’t look there you’ll miss 3/4 of everything.

          I think you’re right that you just have to know your region. I suspect the NYC area is its own little rental microcosm.

      3. Sunflower*

        I’ve found all of my apts on Craigslist. The only issues I’ve found are the bait and switch ‘Oh actually that apartment just rented but we have all these others’. I’ve never bothered looking into the ads that were clearly fake- like a beautiful, brand new one bedroom in the heart of the city for like $750/month.

    2. lcsa99*

      I would strongly suggest using Streeteasy, as that’s fed directly from the site brokers use.

      If it makes a difference for your choice between the boroughs and Westchester, my husband and I have been looking since January, so we can attest there isn’t much good in Brooklyn or Queens at the moment, but of course that’s assuming you’re gonna use the same parameters we are.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, Streeteasy is pretty much the biggest clearinghouse for apartment listings in the city.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Great – now I’ve wandered on that site to see how the other half live in NYC. There goes my weekend! :)

    3. Elf*

      I live in the area, and have experience with Westchester apartment hunting. What’s your general budget and what kind of commute timeline are you willing to deal with? If you have a 2K+/month budget, there are some very nice apartments right at the train station in both Yonkers and Ossining, which means no paying for a parking pass, and possibly even foregoing a car. If your budget is smaller (and you’re willing to live in a less nice apartment), I lived for a time in South Yonkers near the rt. 9 end of McLean, which was super convenient because I could take a bus to the end of either the 4 or the 6, and the busses take MetroCard, so $2.50 to anywhere in the city (at the time, a little more now). That’s an especially good option if you’re working uptown, especially on the west side, or in some parts of the Bronx. If you work on the upper west side and can take a Hudson line train in, you should also consider taking the train to Marble Hill and then getting on the 1, it is MUCH cheaper to get a monthly pass that ends at Marble Hill (when I last priced it it was $50something a month vs. well over $200 to Manhattan).

    4. Applesauced*

      Reddit might be useful – AskNYC has lots of “new to the city, what neighborhood should I pick?” kind of posts. NYCapartments is good for shares/roommates.
      Stephanie’s List might be useful too.
      Good luck!

    5. PM-NYC*

      There’s a Facebook group for NYC called “Gypsy Housing” that focuses mostly on reasonably priced apartments. You have to sift, but there are some good places on there.

    6. New York, New York*

      Just a plug for checking Inwood or Washington Heights as to cheaper areas in Manhattan but closer than Westchester.

    7. Call me St. Vincent*

      Honestly, when I lived in NYC, I used craigslist to find two different apartments. Just be careful of the bait and switch brokers and only look in the “no fee” section.

    8. Audiophile*

      You guys are the best!

      Craigslist can be hit or miss, my friends have had decent luck with it.

      Thanks for the Streeteasy recommendation, I’ve found some questionable apartment sites (Naked Apartments?) and figured I’d ask for reputable recommendations.

      My budget isn’t 2k, unfortunately, thus why I’m really leaning towards Westchester. That would definitely make things easier. The other hardship is I have a car, which unless I can unload, makes NYC living more difficult and more expensive. Parking garages are expensive.

      The Facebook groups look promising, I found a few Gypsy Housing groups – one named Gypsy Housing NYC and one just named Gypsy Housing. I requested to join both.

      1. A Girl Has No Name*

        I’m late to the party but as someone who commutes to NYC everyday just wanted to offer a consideration. If you do end up going with Westchester and commuting, see if your employer is signed up with WageWorks – it allows you to pay for your monthly pass and any parking fees you might have pre-tax (each up to a certain amount per month). Not free, but not nothing either…

        1. Audiophile*

          They offer a similar service, I just haven’t inquired about enrolling yet. My monthly parking costs are about $80. My monthly Metro North pass is over $400, not including a MetroCard. Which adds another $100+.

          I wanted to see exactly what my paycheck would be first. I’m not sure if it’s with enrolling in, since my train costs are so high. If I move down the line back to Westchester, I think it will be.

          1. A Girl Has No Name*

            That’s about how much I pay per month. My monthly MetroNorth is ~$350 and my parking is almost $100. It saves me a bit, plus at least it comes out before I see my paycheck so I don’t “miss” it as much…

            1. Audiophile*

              Where are you commuting from? Harlem or Hudson line? Do you combine your MetroNorth and MetroCard? Or not taking the subway?

              With the fare increase, the discount is practically negligible.

  6. Anonymity Ahoy!*

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted about starting therapy with my husband and trying to figure out our sexual incompatibility and how we can work through that. We took a couple of weeks to do some searching, but had our first appointment this week, and I’m really looking forward to the process, as strange as that sounds. I told the therapist that I was kind of excited to be there, and she said that’s… not exactly a reaction she gets that often. Heh.

    One of the big obstacles is that any kind of touch is uncomfortable for my husband — there’s some sort of weird something in the way his body reacts to the world. He describes being touched skin-to-skin as feeling like a combination of static electricity and a mild electric shock and kind of a buzzing through his body, and it’s uncomfortable. Being naked feels a bit that way, when his skin is exposed to the air. Certain locations feel that way (we lived in one house for a very short time that just made him miserable all the way through, because the atmospheric pressure was weird or something). Fireworks or lightning sometimes feel that way. His doctor doesn’t have any solid suggestions for dealing with it, so he mostly just lives with it.

    So, part of this week’s homework for me is examining the idea that it’s somehow wrong for me to be the recipient of touch/sexual pleasure almost all of the time, if that’s what actually works best for us. Touch is one of my love languages, so I feel like I’m depriving him of something when I don’t touch him in low-key, intimate ways; and I feel like I’m being withheld from if I don’t get those touches. So for me, part of the work will be separating those things out and looking at them differently.

    We’re also going on a field trip to a sex store to see if anything there strikes our imaginations as something we can use to make it easier. Is it easier for him to touch me with gloves? Or to be touched with a toy or a feather instead of with skin? We had talked a few years ago about trying to find some tools that would help, but it never really went anywhere. I think the timing just wasn’t quite right yet.

    The biggest thing for me was that it just felt so good to talk about it. We’ve been very private about it throughout our marriage, and I’ve felt the strain of not talking to anyone, even close friends with whom I would normally share this kind of thing. It felt like a huge weight was lifted, just to describe it to someone else. It helps that my husband is willing and invested in being there, too. If we weren’t on the same page, or if I was dragging him to therapy, I think it would feel pretty different.

    1. Gadfly*

      Good luck! I wonder if oils or lotions might help (same idea as the gloves)? Which could allow for giving/receiving massage nicely….

    2. C Average*

      Good luck! Do you guys already have sheets that feel good to him? It might help the process along to invest in some really nice linens. (I have a step kid with tactile issues, and getting the right sheets on her bed and clothes on her back was revelatory for all of us.)

    3. Parenthetically*

      Not exactly sex advice, but you might try pet stores too. They have gloves with soft rubber nubs that are made for loose/shedding fur that are also good for touching humans, anything from a gentle backscratching to stronger (but not painful) tactile sensations. Come to think of it, trying different kinds of gloves might be fun anyway. Some kind of fabrics might be less difficult for him and maybe even enjoyable. You might also try varying the level of sensation. I’m not as touch-averse as your husband but I tend to dislike very light gentle touching and absolutely hate tickling, but I enjoy a firm massage or a mild, thuddy flogging. Maybe it’s just a matter of finding the right level? (If he’s like me he will hate the feather.)

    4. AstroDeco*

      Anonymity Ahoy, I’m sorry you’re going through this & I’m glad your relationship is otherwise healthy!!

      I’m not clear if your husband has difficulty with touch in general or if it’s only more intimate touching; can he shake hands or hug)? There are physical & mental conditions (like PTSD) that can cause one to react negatively to touch. Have those been ruled out?

      Other than that thought, my only other suggestion is for you & your husband should really listen to each other for what does work & to experiment with this.
      eg: If he can’t easily tolerate touch yet you want to touch him to show you really do love him, then understand you can show your love by *not* touching him even though this is counterintuitive for you.
      I like the out-of-the-box suggestions for gloves & such.

      Good luck & you have many wishing you success!!

      1. Anonymity Ahoy!*

        The sensation is the same for casual touch, but it’s easier to handle as it tends to be less prolonged, and on less sensitive parts of the body. He even experiences it to a smaller extent with the cat, but that’s easier because her fur makes the skin-to-skin part less. For that matter, playing with his hair and giving him a scalp massage is something he enjoys, because the hair helps to provide a barrier between skin and skin.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I have some sensory integration issues that make some sensations profoundly unpleasant for me — I wonder if he has something similar. (I can feel my eyebrows touching me. Ugh.)

          Does he have things he really likes touching his skin? I love the texture of that super silky microfiber faux fur and am completely obsessed with the texture of the furry side of this blanket, for instance. Is he cool with being touched if he’s wrapped up in something that has a nice texture, maybe?

          1. Indy the cat (@indykitty)*

            Look into desensitizing treatments. I had one where I exposed my bare back to a fan. ( I have Sensory issues with touch and air currents) when the air currents were too much I wrapped back up in the warm fuzzy blanket and did it again when I calmed down.

            I love fuzzy fleece blankets and need to have them on my bed like a hamster’s nest. Try ocupational therapy for treatment options.

            You are a good person for not quitting on this relationship.

      2. Marisol*

        I wonder if a practice called orgasmic meditation, usually abbreviated to OMing, would help you. There is an organization called One Taste, founded by Nicole Daedone, that teaches classes. I won’t elaborate here but it’s easily googleable if you’re interested.

    5. BRR*

      Good luck! I’ve found from my own expierence the importance of speaking my partner’s love langauge versus mine when it comes to his fulfillment. It’s hard but it helped things so much.

    6. Anon4theDay*

      I hope things work out. I just wanted to share that I can understand since my husband does not enjoy being touched most of the time. Most touch feels like he is being tickled (not in a fun/happy way)! He feels uncomfortable. So it has been a challenge during periods of intimacy. It is a work in progress and we have found that during certain times of the day/evening being touched is more comfortable compared to other times.

    7. Changing my name*

      Just want to plug being on the receiving end 99% of the time if that works for you. That’s how my (lesbian) marriage works and I’ve essentially gotten over the weirdness. It can be hard being the maintainer of the sex life (because if your spouse doesn’t miss it it’s less likely they’ll be the ones initiating/prioritizing). But it’s workable! Good luck.

    8. Clever Name*

      I’m glad you’ve got a path forward! You mentioned your husband had talked to his doctor about his issues with touch. Has he been evaluated for sensory integration disorder? It’s really not something GPs know much about, but it’s a real thing.

    9. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I’m wondering if some of the ‘sensory diet’ recommendations for kids with sensory integration difficulties wouldn’t be helpful. One category is ‘heavy work’ where a kid does something strenuous and then is able to focus for a period. Another category is sensory foods: crunchy foods, foods you have to work at (my daughter loved to eat apple sauce with a straw), etc. Sure, it’s not the average relationship where someone munches a carrot before fun times but I can think of worse. You two could also look at ways to manage his sensory environment so he can handle more touch, or you could work on building his tolerance of specific types of touch.

  7. setsuko*

    So I posted about the long wait before I could do a pregnancy test on the last couple of threads. After 18 months of trying to conceive and all sorts of tests and nasty medicines (I have PCOS), I am pregnant! We are so happy, and a bit confused.

    1. setsuko*

      Thanks everyone. I really don’t know how I would have got through the wait without the Robin Hobb books I broke out. I had been saving them for a special occasion / hoping to hold out until the trilogy was complete. They really helped when time was dragging. I guess I am going to need a massive series to get me through the wait for the actual baby now :)

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        It goes by so fast and so slow at the same time! 23 weeks as of today, and in some ways it feels like it has already been for.ev.er and in other ways, it is zooming by.

      2. Annie Mouse*

        Huge congratulations!!

        I don’t know if this is your type of book but I am loving rereading the ‘After Cilmeri’ series by Sarah Woodbury, starting with Daughter of Time :)

    2. Celeste*

      Congratulations!!! I have PCOS, too, and was able to have a child at 40. I will always be extra happy for any woman who goes through this. I had a hard time adjusting to my body actually working normally. Infertility really messed with my self-image, but giving birth made me feel healed of it. Wishing you a boring, normal pregnancy and a happy, healthy baby!!

    3. Call me St. Vincent*

      Congratulations!!!!! So exciting!!!!! I totally understand. It took a year for us and it was the week before we were about to start IVF. I don’t have PCOS, but I have an endocrine disease that mimics PCOS, so I feel you. Wonderful news!!!

    4. Cordelia*

      Ahhh congrats, that’s awesome!! Your success gives me more hope, I have PCOS too (as well as Hashimoto’s). My husband and I have been trying for 11 months now (and I’m also on all sorts of not fun drugs), so I’m really glad to hear it worked out for you.

  8. AnonForThis*

    Sorry if this is a bit of a TMI thing, but is there anyone out there who is really sensitive to hormonal birth control that has found something that works for them in terms of controlling their periods and having a contraceptive method? Nothing works for me, my periods are hell, I’m scared of getting pregnant and too young too look at things like ablations and tubal ligations (according to doctors, at 31 I think I’m old enough to decide!).

    1. Al Lo*

      I’m probably not as sensitive to hormonal BC as you seem to be, so YMMV, but the Mirena has been a godsend for me. My periods have been virtually nonexistent since a couple of months after it was inserted, and I love not having to think about or remember anything.

      It is a hormonal method, but the hormone levels are lower than many other forms of BC, so they may not be as tough to deal with.

      1. Jen RO*

        I have the Jaydess (I think it’s called Skyla in the US), which is also hormonal, but slightly smaller than Mirena, so it’s better for women who haven’t had children (or who had C-sections, I guess). I’ve had it for a year and my periods were basically gone from the first month.

        (Then again, I also loved the pill and did great on it! I had to stop because I had high blood pressure and my cardiologist recommended an IUD, as it has a lower dose of hormones.)

        1. KR*

          LOVE SKYLA. Im on my second year of it out of three years. I will definitely be getting it again in the future.

        2. Raine*

          Jaydess is used in the US as well. It’s as effective as Skyla, but is being tested to see if it will last up to 7 years (!). I’ve loved mine and it’s covered by more insurance companies than the Skyla or Mirena.

      2. Read the book, watch the movie*

        Yes, I spent years trying different bc pills before finally getting the
        Mirena. It’s the best thing ever.

        1. Kj*

          Chiming in to say Mirena is amazing. I didn’t have periods at all when I was on it and no side effects.

        2. hermit crab*

          Me too, I think getting mine was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself.

          (Possible TMI warning!) I was in my late 20s/never had kids, and my insertion was complicated (like, I had to go home with a Rx for vaginal misoprostol and come back in two days), but honestly it was only mildly uncomfortable. It was inconvenient — I had to go across town because my usual doc practiced at the Georgetown med center, where they aren’t allowed to do insertions because of the whole Jesuit thing, so I had to take two afternoons off work for the appointments — but totally worth it.

      3. Ktelzbeth*

        Mirena was great for me (the second one, after the first one fell out) and I haven’t been pregnant. I’m sensitive to estrogen, but do fine with progesterone. Skyla is a similar progesterone-only IUD that is the first one specifically tested in women who have not had children. That’s where a lot of their marketing about being good for those without previous pregnancies comes from. AFAIK, no other IUD has made a specific study of that population to be able to make claims, so comparing who’s better is tough.

        But I agree with people down-thread that there ought to be some doctor out there who can respect you as an adult. I know someone who got a vasectomy at about your age. He did a lot of searching and fighting, but finally managed.

    2. jamlady*

      Horrible history like yours, responded poorly to all BC, until I got Nexplanon in my arm. I have had it for 4 years and I have no side effects.

      1. blackcat*

        I have heard great things about Nexplanon/Implanon. They aren’t recommended for super long term use (>10 years) or use in young women (<18) b/c they seem to cause some bone density loss. So if you're at high risk for osteoporosis, approach with caution. As with anything, talk to your doctor.

        1. Mela*

          Where are you getting those recommendations from? I’ve never heard of any medical body recommending against progestin only contraception for bone density reasons.

          1. blackcat*

            Weirdly, it seems to be implant specific. It’s most well-documented in teens, mixed results in older women. The effect isn’t often seen in small studies, but is in larger ones suggesting it’s a complication for only a small-ish portion of women. I’ll post a link below (that links a ton of studies), but you can find some info out by googling “Implanon bone density young women” or something similar.

            1. Mela*

              Oh I did google and read about the studies, but I’m not seeing that translated into official recommendations.

        2. Blue Anne*

          I was in one of those studies! I’m on my third implant, was 20 when I got my first one and they did bone density scans when I was getting my second one put in.

          They ended up throwing out my results because 1) my bones look amazing and 2) they thought that might be attributable to years of powerlifting, which most young women aren’t into. But it was really interesting hearing what they were looking for. Apparently the main concern is really just about prolonged use when you started young.

      2. Gaia*

        Nexplanon was the worst thing I ever did. It did wonders for my period but as someone who has struggled with weight I wish my doctor had been clearer about the risk that I would pile on more pounds and not be able to lose anything (seriously – I was sick a few months back and ate literally nothing for 5 days. Gained 2lbs).

      3. Sleepy Cat*

        I got the implant while I was living in the UK (so it was free!) and the only side effect I had was a 3 week long period when it was first inserted (it was off and on, with none of the usual PMS, just … bleeding). Since then, I’ve only had super light menses about once every three months. It is a little weird to feel it sitting there in your arm (you can definitely feel it through the skin), but you get used to it after a few days. Regular HBC messed me up, so this might be a good choice for you, OP.

        I also want to add: your doctors shouldn’t get to say you’re too young for having your tubes tied, especially if you’re over thirty. By most calculations, you’re close to menopause anyway, and have evidently decided that you don’t want children. You can push back – this is your body.

      1. blackcat*

        But that doesn’t work for “controlling periods.” The copper IUD almost always makes periods somewhat longer and more painful. For many women, that’s not bad or totally tolerable. But in some cases, it’s really bad.

        1. Sandy*

          Depends what you mean by controlling periods, I guess. Mine used to be unpredictable and all over the place. With the copper IUD, they are regular like clockwork. They are reliably painful now, which is a downside, but I can almost time it with a watch, and it’s a great form of birth control.

      2. Pommette*

        The copper IUD is not a good bet for controlling irregular periods. No non-hormonal methods have been shown to have a consistent effect on menstrual regularity.

        What effect a copper IUD will have on a given person’s cycle is unpredictable. It worked for you, which is awesome; after having one inserted, my periods from mildly irregular to wildly irregular/unpredictable (and long, and painful).

        I think that the risk of side effects can be worth it. It’s worth it for me because of the peace of mind that comes from having hormone-free and effective contraception! But it’s not something that I would recommend to someone hoping for a more regular cycle.

    3. EN*

      I recommend resding Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden. She’s a doctor in New Zealand who studies natural/nutritional solutions to those problems we’re often prescribed birth control to regulate. Her opinion is the artificial hormones just cover up the problems and don’t actually solve them. After two months of taking some of her recommended supplements (zinc, magnesium, fish oil, etc.) and cutting out most dairy, my cramps are practically non-existent. Normally they’re bad enough to wake me up at night and need to take ibuprofen at least hourly. This last time I only took 3 total. Of course one experience doesn’t necessarily prove anything, but it gives me hope.

    4. C Average*

      Sigh. I never did find a BC method I liked, though I came to tolerate a couple of pill formulations. I finally talked a doctor into Essure when I was 35, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. If you actually are sure you don’t want to have kids someday, finding a doctor who will ablate or tie your tubes is well worth the search. They’re unicorns, but a few do exist.

    5. Elf*

      I have a copper IUD which I love, but it did change the character of my periods (a bit heavier, different distribution across days, etc.) It is an excellent option, but if your periods are already hellish this won’t help with that.

      Also, on the pregnancy note, just a reminder that everything (to include tubal ligation) can fail, even IUDs that are still where they ought to be. IUDs have a 99.6% effective rate, which means that out of 1000 women with IUDs, 4 will get pregnant every year. I have (beloved) two-year-old evidence to attest to that.

    6. A. Non*

      Well, I’m not sexually active, so YMMV, but I found adjusting my diet and making sure I get enough water helps tremendously. I had bad results with oral BC and the Depo shot was hell on earth for me, but my average volume loss on my period has always been alarmingly large. (I use a DivaCup, for reference, which holds 30 mL, and usually have to empty it two to three times a day, for five days.)

      With diet adjustment (no dairy except for aged cheeses, light on carbs, heavy on animal-based protein) it’s two to three days and emptying at the same rate, but it’s still an improvement.

    7. Not Karen*

      Not an answer to your question, but regarding the ablation/ligation – when I discussed this with my doctor, she said it’s not an issue of being too young to decide, it’s that those methods aren’t effective in younger patients. I believe it had something to do with the potential for the tissue to regrow.

      1. LilyPearl*

        And tubal ligation has a not insignificant failure rate compared with IUD/IUD and implants. Vasectomies are much more effective. Doesn’t help the periods though. Tranexamic acid plus NSAIDs is one option for reducing pain/bleeding.

      2. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        My former gyno (who was very progressive, fortunately), told me she wouldn’t tie my tubes until I hit 30. She didn’t mention the effectiveness, but that most doctors won’t because the risk of getting sued is too high. Apparently, doctors have been sued by patients for tying their tubes too young, and then they changed their minds.

        I won’t change my mind (I would have happily signed something to that effect…medically, I can’t have kids without high risks), but can understand completely why she didn’t want to take the risk!

    8. copy run start*

      Wow, I was able to get a tubal at 26, no children, not married. I’m so sorry you haven’t had any luck finding a doctor willing to listen to you. I think reddit’s childfree subreddit still maintains a list of childfree doctors who should be more open to letting you make your own decisions. Maybe they’ll have a few names for you?

      My doctor prescribed me 800 mg ibuprofen for a while to help with cramping and overall volume of flow. I took it for a few days before and through the first few days of my period. It really did help. If you can tolerate that much ibuprofen it might help you.

    9. neverjaunty*

      In the short term, there is a trick where you can take ibuprofen to slow the bleeding. It has been a while so ASK YOUR DOCTOR, but as I recall, it was four regular strength pills as soon as you notice the bleeding and then one every other hour for the first day.

    10. Namast'ay In Bed*

      I was exactly like you, awful heavy periods, intensely terrible cramps, super sensitive to hormonal birth control, and absolutely terrified of getting pregnant. I ended up getting the Skyla IUD and while the insertion was a sucky process, it has been amazing. Since I got the IUD my cycles have been consistent and super light, something I have never ever had prior.
      Skyla is a super low hormone IUD, which originally concerned me since I have had such terrible experiences with hormonal bc before, but I talked with my obgyn and they told me that it was such a light amount it would be just enough to smooth out my cycle without the negative effects I had experienced in the past. And it truly has, I haven’t had any of the bad stuff, just the good!

    11. nep*

      A friend was talking about that the other day — the fact that a doctor would not perform certain procedures on someone in her 30s. I find that offensive and ludicrous.
      No relevant experience so I haven’t got any advice for you — just chiming in that I agree you’re old enough to decide. Sheeeesh.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Yeah, this was my thought, too. I’m 30 years old, and I’m FINALLY moving forward with tubal ligation. My appointment to have my copper IUD removed is on Monday afternoon, and my appointment for the actual surgery is in another few weeks. I’m hoping that having the IUD removed will take care of most of my period woes (they are super painful and usually interfere with work).

        I think if you (OP) are certain that you don’t want (your own, biological) kids, you should be able to find a doctor who will perform the procedure for you.

        I mean, my own thought was that I just don’t need to contribute to the overpopulation of the planet – if later on, I decide I want to raise kids, there are plenty out there in need of adoption.

    12. Simms*

      I have had great results on Depo (odd as that may seem) I didn’t really respond to other BC methods and have been on it for over 10 years now with barely any side effects. My periods were pretty irregular before I got on it and were heavy so I have been enjoying the lack of them while on depo. I do get cramps close to when I need the next shot though which aren’t great. My thought as to why I have responded well to it though is I am a fairly large woman but no proof as that is why.

    13. Dee Cee*

      I’m somewhat sensitive to hormones and had Mirena inserted in January 2016. It was great for the first six months, then started causing horrible breakouts that my dermatologist said would cause scarring in short order. My options were either have it removed or go on Accutane (which didn’t excite me) and upon having it removed, there was a 2-3 week period where I was absolutely miserable, extremely irritable and had no energy at all, which is apparently not uncommon. If it weren’t for the side effects, I would have loved it though! I hope you find something that works–I haven’t yet :(

  9. Newly-adult anon*

    Any tips on navigating making your *own* relationships with family members? I’ve known my aunts and uncles my whole life, and I can chat to them one on one, but I want to develop more individual relationships with them that aren’t just because I grew up around them. Any thoughts?

    1. Newly-adult anon*

      Should probably say that while they see me as an adult now, I’m in the “young adult” category and also most of my aunts and uncles live 4-5 hours drive away, and the ones that do live close by are busy and travel for work (and fun) a lot. It can be difficult to keep up with when they’re actually in the country, at times.

    2. AliceBD*

      Call them! I have nice long chats with one of my aunts a few times a year, and I’d say we definitely have a personal relationship. I also talk to my grandmother every week. (I do not live near either of them, so seeing them in person is not an option most of the time.)

      1. SophieChotek*

        I agree with this. I write (a card) or send some emails to my aunt separately about once a month and though we’ve only had coffee once or twice without various assorted family members (which is usually when I see her) I feel like we do have a separate relationship outside/apart from my parents.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Ask them questions about their own lives. This sounds corny but in some cases you might find out that you were the first person who cared enough to ask about some things. I can’t give specific examples here, but there have been many times I asked my aunts and uncles about some little thing (“Well, how did you end up getting xyz job?”) and they realized no one ever asked before.

      Invite them to do things with you and be willing to go to stuff they are interested in. I had an uncle that was hugely interested in genealogy. Since this was an interest of mine to some degree, it was not a hardship to dive into the topic with him. We had a lot of fun. And I got to know him better. He’s been gone for over a decade but I still carry some of his pearls of wisdom.

      Randomly give them examples of something they said that you applied to your life or your day. They like to know that they are helping you.

      I had one aunt who ran on a tight budget. Since I maintain a strict budget myself, I quickly agreed to a “no gifts” policy with her. And this is where it became fun. We would find random things for each other at tag sales or clearance tables that we knew the other one needed. It was interesting how many times we would find a $20 item for a buck or two. This worked into little surprises randomly through out the year. The gift was relevant and useful to the recipient, in some ways it was better than Christmas gifts.

      You have to go with the connection style they like. Many of my elders preferred the phone. But a couple would use email. I had one aunt who was willing to try stuff online if I talked her through it. I had another aunt who would not even turn a computer on. We kind of have to go where they are, if we want to hear from them.

      I am a huge fan of the idea of having relationships with people of all ages, I think it adds to our quality of life. The beauty of aunts and uncles is that you don’t have to explain family dynamic, you don’t have to explain WHY you worry about some things, they already know this stuff. So you can get into a meat and potatoes conversation. Where a parent might get upset with certain stories or actions, an aunt or uncle will just say, “PHEW! At least you aren’t MY kid!” And then they can continue on to really talk things over with us in a meaningful way.

    4. C Average*

      So interesting you would say this. I’m visiting my mom and she was just telling me yesterday about her close relationship with a cousin of mine who’s in her late twenties. Apparently my mother, who really likes to sew, encouraged my cousin when she became interested in sewing as a teen, and they’ve remained quite close. She really treasures the relationship, and it seems as though my cousin approached her first, for advice.

      Go for it! I think almost all older adults like it when someone younger becomes interested in relating to them fellow human to fellow human.

    5. Whats In A Name*

      Pick up the phone or send a note! It will grow organically from there! Since they travel use text/email/snail mail instead of phone calls. It’s all the same – contact!

      I recently have done this as well, as a 37 year old, actually! I will say that things like texting and social media have made it easier to connect. I have an aunt and uncle I love but have always lived very far from and only saw on family get togethers and at that it was more like once every few years. Now I just shoot off a quick text when something makes me think of them and the other day I sent my aunt something in the mail because I saw it and thought of her. We were also lucky enough to see my uncle while he was in town, so that helped too.

    6. hermit crab*

      I actually got a lot closer to my (amazing) aunt since we became friends on facebook! So my recommendation is to find a method of communication that works for both of you — e.g., do you both like communicating by social media, email, phone, text, letters, in-person chats over coffee, etc.? — and initiate some more contact via that method.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve found that being an aunt has really improved my relationships with my older relatives, because I think about what I hope my relationships with my nieces will be like when they’re adults … and then I do those things with my own aunts and uncles. So for example, I ask them lots of questions about their pasts (because I love it when my nieces have questions about family history, etc.), and I ask for advice (because it feels great when my nieces do that), and I generally express an interest in talking to them and spending time with them. Really, seeing it all through the eyes of the now-older relative myself has been so helpful, and I really think has made me closer with my own older relatives.

  10. No gifts!*

    Anyone else dislike getting gifts? I don’t like having too much stuff, as a rule, and the stuff I do like I am very picky about. I do not give gifts to any of the adults in my life (I buy lunches and that kind of thing for birthdays, but never physical objects). I have a few friends who still give me gifts and I cannot figure out how to stop it. It’s become even more of a problem as I’ve moved to a city that’s a few hours away and I take public transport sometimes to visit my old city for the weekend. My birthday was recently and several friends gave me gifts that I had to tote back on the bus and then worry about getting rid of.

    I realise I am a monster and a beast, and that my friends love me, and of course I always say thank you and act pleased. But we are all in our 30s and 40s! We can all afford to buy whatever nice things we want of our own choosing, and the idea of the waste of money, resources, and time bugs me so much. Plus the awkwardness of carrying an unwanted gift around all day. These friends know I don’t like stuff, and yet it seems like they hear the word “birthday” and are somehow compelled to buy something! Oh dear.

    1. TheLazyB*

      No but i am very similar to you and I’m hoping someone else will have suggestions! :)

    2. Rabbit*

      I’ve had a bit of luck asking people to donate to specific charities in my honor rather than giving gifts!

      I have a list of charities that I support that are “fun” (Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a local Big Cat rescue, a local rabbit rescue, my hometown Roller Derby team, etc) that goes up on my facebook a month before my birthday, with a note about how my birthday is coming up and if you were planning on getting me a gift, please donate to one of these charities instead. I reblog it a week prior, just as a reminder. I’ve also got a carefully curated amazon wishlist that mostly consists of (e)books and music that my family and close friends know about and which seems to mollify those people (my mother, for instance) who insist that birthdays be about spoiling the person turning a year older.

      For me it’s less about being able to buy the things I want/need and more that I live in a very small studio apartment and have a distinctly minimalist style regardless.

      1. TheLazyB*

        Funnily enough I’ve seen stories recently about lots of people taking flowers to their local police stations/emergency services since the London attacks to say thank you for what they do. I also recently donated some unwanted pyjamas I’d got for Christmas to a refuge. My birthday is soon and i have asked family and will ask friends to give flowers or donations to emergency services, hospices, refuges, etc, as relevant. I hope that that will at least stem the flow.

    3. Loopy*

      If people really want to get you something, how do you feel about gift cards / groupons for experiences? If you like massages, or a certain restaurant, can you request they get you something that allows you to pick out something yourself later or go somewhere you’d enjoy?

      Might be a good compromise?

      1. No gifts!*

        I do love those things! That’s a great idea and it works for my mom and dad, but I would feel so uncomfortable talking about gifts for my upcoming birthday with friends! It would feel like asking them to buy me stuff, you know?

        1. Dizzy Steinway*

          I’d approach it this way: you all know they are going to buy gifts and this way at least you get something you want.

        2. A. Non*

          Really, approach it like Dizzy says! I’ve had to do that– the only person in my life who’s ever managed to buy me something I loved was one aunt, and everyone else is a miss. I let them know what kind of giftcard I’d like, if not a generic amazon, and everyone’s happy. Me because I’ll like what I get, them because they know WHAT to get. It takes away some anxiety on their end, too. It might be the same for your friends!

        3. hermit crab*

          I agree with Dizzy and A. It will probably be a somewhat awkward conversation, but these people are your friends and they want to celebrate you and make you happy! In the end, everybody comes off better.

          If someone came to me and said something like, “I always love that you think of me on my birthday, but I’m trying to focus more on experiences rather than stuff as we get older,” I would totally get it, and it wouldn’t feel gift-grabby at all.

      2. ECHM*

        @Loopy: I love gift cards or cash! I feel awkward giving them sometimes but I love to receive them since I would prefer to get help paying my bills than get another knick-knack.

    4. Channel Z*

      Yes, me too! I am not materialistic, and I don’t want more clutter. If there is a gift, then I would prefer food or flowers, not stuff. And I get anxious about giving gifts, not because I’m cheap, but I don’t know what to get. I don’t want to burden anyone with an unwanted gift. Occasionally I think of something the recipient would want, like a coffee machine for my SIL this past holiday season, but I don’t like feeling obligated, either to give or receive a gift of a certain monetary value.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Above someone mentioned love language. My love language (and yours) is not gifts. I had a problem with an ex giving me trinckets I didn’t want to show he was thinking of me. I was just like: tell me that, don’t buy me junk I don’t need. Or more importantly -spend time with me- (we were long distance and my love language is togetherbess time.

      1. the gold digger*

        Me, neither! My love language is Do The Gross Stuff For Me:

        * clean the hair (mine, not his) from the shower drain
        * clean the nasty goo from the dehumidifier
        * clean the catbox
        * get rid of dead vermin

        Fortunately, it is my husband’s love language as well. :)

      2. TheLazyB*

        My husband drives me mad buying me stuff. He doesn’t understand the love language thing :(

    6. C Average*

      I’ve made it generally known that I prefer perishables as gifts because I, too, prefer to keep my stuff limited. I think people do like the idea of choosing something they think I’d like, rather than picking something off a list, and I totally get that! So choosing a broad category (perishables) gives them some room to be creative. I’ve received wine, spice, chocolate, flowers, fresh-caught steelhead salmon, pineapple (my favorite food), cognac (my favorite anything), etc.

      I like the IDEA of charities, but I grew up in a red state and know it’d be a challenge to find a charity that both I and many of the givers in my life feel good about supporting.

      My husband and I have a tradition where every year on or around his birthday, I plan a multi-day backpacking trip for us. I choose the location, secure any necessary permits, tell him which days to take off from work. I do all the packing, food planning, gear accumulation, etc. And then when we get in the car (I drive), I hand him the map or guidebook. It’s our favorite gift. I love giving it and he loves getting it.

      1. Rabbit*

        “I like the IDEA of charities, but I grew up in a red state and know it’d be a challenge to find a charity that both I and many of the givers in my life feel good about supporting.”

        Yeah, that’s why I deliberately keep my birthday charities ~fun~. I come from a family with a huge mix of faiths and political backgrounds and if I asked for donations to, say, Planned Parenthood it would go over like a lead balloon with a lot of them. It’s taken a few years, but I think I’ve finally found a mix that works for my facebook.

        On that note, I’ve found over the years that literally the one charity nobody in my family has a beef with is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which is great. Apparently the one thing my argument prone family (we once spent hours on Christmas arguing about the morality and ethics of live tree vs cut tree vs fake tree and don’t even get us started on indoor vs outdoor cats) unilaterally agrees on is that small children getting books in the mail is a good thing!

      2. Margali*

        That is an amazing gift! I’m not a backpacker, but having a weekend away given to me like that would be wonderful!

      3. AliceBD*

        I have found international charities that do disaster relief/development/medical care are charities that my very conservative relatives and I agree on. I like to donate to charities for birthdays and get donations to charities for my birthday, so things like Heifner International and Doctors Without Borders go over well in a way that similar domestic charities wouldn’t.

    7. Hrovitnir*

      You’re going to need to say something. Just casually when it’s not near your birthday, mention that you don’t like stuff and that extends to gifts, so you’re happy with vouchers of they really want to get you something, or genuinely would prefer nothing.

      I love giving gifts far more than I like getting them (I like that too but giving is better), though I have been really touched by a couple of particularly nice ones. I wouldn’t be remotely offended if you said that, and would very happily buy you vouchers for things like massages if you’re into that. :D

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        But don’t be surprised if someone just doesn’t listen. I love my best friend to death, but in 24 years, she has gotten me exactly three gifts I liked. With her, it’s that she thinks everyone has the same taste she does, so she buys stuff that she thinks is nice, not that the recipient would necessarily think is nice. Ex: The abominable snowman oven mitt with the pre-made cookie mix attached. I bake everything from scratch, so I wouldn’t use cookie mix, and I certainly don’t need an abominable snow man oven mitt. I just smile and say thank you for thinking of me, and then I put the gifts right in the Goodwill box.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Bah, that is a thing. I don’t totally understand why that’s a thing, but you’re right, some people just won’t listen. :/ But they definitely won’t listen to vague hints!

    8. Bluebell*

      I try to encourage friends to share experiences with me – that way I get to spend time with them and I don’t have to find space for new things. This has meant lots of birthday dinners and drinks but also going to concerts, museums, and the spa in town that has a lovely community tub.

    9. nep*

      If you’re a monster and a beast then I am too.
      I was almost in tears a few months back thanking my mom the evening of my birthday — so grateful I was that the family (knowing very well my preference) didn’t give me gifts, and didn’t observe the day aside from a little card and saying ‘happy birthday ‘. I felt respected. (That’s slightly off-subject — anyway I am with you re: receiving gifts. It’s awkward in the moment, for sure. I just try to remind people in conversation whenever I can. Not to be a pain about it, but just to keep planting the idea in their minds that I prefer not to receive gifts, whatever the occasion.)

      1. Catherine from Canada*

        Chiming in on the beast and monster chorus.
        I have a horror of receiving gifts; I’m not a great actor and it’s exhausting to pretend that I like something/am not disappointed that it’s so badly off the mark.
        As an introvert and ASD, I hate parties even more.
        I’m going to be 60 next year. I’ve told my husband and children that There Will Be No Party. No, I Mean It, No Party. Instead, I’m going to Rome by myself for two weeks.

        1. C Average*

          So, honest question: if someone in your life sensed your discomfort and decided to stop giving you gifts after having given them to you in the past, how would you want that to transpire? Would you want to have a conversation about it, where they said something like, “I notice you don’t seem to like receiving gifts. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, and I’m thinking I should stop buying you things. But I also don’t want you to think that I’ve stopped buying you things because I feel differently about you”? Would you want them to just . . . stop? Transition to marking the occasion with a card or something super impersonal/small, like money or a charitable donation?

          There are a few people in my life who clearly don’t enjoy getting gifts from me, even though I try to choose small and careful gifts for them that won’t create too much drama, but it would feel weird to just stop giving them gifts cold-turkey, you know? Especially at family gatherings where gifts are distributed to other people who DO enjoy getting them. I’d hate to have the cessation of gifts be misread as anger or a change in my regard toward them.

          (It’s always been awkward giving gifts to my 15-year-old stepdaughter, who hasn’t ever appeared to like getting them. For Hanukkah this year I got her a Hydro-Flask, after seeing her eyeing them in the store. She carries the thing EVERYWHERE. It makes me irrationally happy to have gotten her something she actually likes. But I’m already dreading the next gift-giving occasion, because I know I’m not going to do that well again.)

          1. AstroDeco*

            C Average, simple & direct would work for me.
            My first thought to your question was “No big deal, just stop giving gifts.” However after I thought on this some more I realised that I’d think it odd if one stopped with no explanation. I’d be okay with it, although I’d also find it odd.

            Ask what one would like as a gift & if the reply is ambiguous then confess you often have trouble finding that perfect thing & you want to give something they’d truly like. You could also ask if there’s something they’d like yet wouldn’t purchase for themselves.

            If you’re still not certain, then usually a gift card to a favourite shop or restaurant is good. The old stigmas of gift cards no longer apply in my opinion, because one is still giving something that person will like.

          2. CM*

            Give her money! You can have a “I’m not giving you gifts anymore” conversation with a peer, but not with your stepdaughter. Money may seem impersonal to you, but to her it might seem like, finally, something that she really wants and needs!

    10. AstroDeco*

      You’re being considerate in that you don’t want others to spend money on things you won’t use as much as the giver might think & you do appreciate the thoughts behind the gifts. Then there’s the practically of transport, how much space you have in your home & your personal likes.

      You’re not a horrible monster, No Gifts!
      Although I might be biased because I can relate & I’m glad to read that we’re not alone.
      ;-)

      We all want to gift something the recipient will enjoy, so you need to get the word out as to what that is. For me, usually I can just tell one or two close friends who are glad to get the word out. And if there are talks about celebrating a “gift” holiday, I’ll usually pre-empt gift talk by saying something like “It’s been a busy few months & I’d love the simplicity of just being with friends. I’d love to bring the kids something!”
      “Because her flat is the size of a postage stamp, AstroDeco really can’t use/display much more than she already has. She thinks it’s a gift to just hang out with friends when she comes to town/ The best gift you can give her is to do something nice for yourself [or your family]/ She really likes this charity/ She likes to shop at FaveStore so I’m sure she’d appreciate a gift card/ Really all she wants is to be with those she loves!”

      Of course, none of this means “no gifts ever” & it’s always cool when you find that perfect card or gift for someone or receive this yourself!!

      As a side note, one of the best gifts I’ve ever received is a dvd that I haven’t ever watched. Once I had a houseguest who brought a gift for me. A few months later, he came again & brought me a dvd that is not something I’d normally watch; it wasn’t offensive at all, just a type of comedy I don’t care for.

      This dvd stays in my collection because every time I see or think of it I grin. When my friend gave the dvd to me, he said “I wanted to bring you a dvd although I couldn’t think of what to bring that wasn’t one you already had. So I asked myself ‘What movie does she probably not have or would like?'”

      The reverse logic cracked me up & it’s one of the best & most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received!!
      One day I’ll watch this dvd…

    11. AstroDeco*

      No Gifts, look at the above thread began by Cristina in England re April Fool’s & fake news.
      Use fake gift suggestions; ask for the Google Gnome or ont of the ThinkGeek faux products.

      Lol!!
      (& just joking)

      1. No gifts!*

        Ha! That is actually a great idea that might work with my circle of friends! At least with some of them. Ok, actually it maybe has a 50/50 chance of working but it’s so funny I’m gonna try it! Thanks too to everyone else’s suggestions and commiserations. I will probably try a combo of them. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who gets anxious or annoyed by gifts!

    12. MommyMD*

      Gift cards. I do not like knick knacks or stuff that takes up space. I never give that useless stuff. I find out what someone wants and gift like, like Ugg boots, etc. Or give a gift card to a restaurant, movie, bookstore, etc.

    13. Mephyle*

      You’re my soul sister! I don’t have suggestions, because I don’t have many people in my life who are moved to give me gifts.
      I’m also a bad gift giver as well as receiver, and I find it exasperating how many people hate registries. I love giving something off a registry, because you know you’re giving them what they want (and if it’s delivered, they don’t have to lug it around).

    14. DanaScully*

      Yes! I feel so overwhelmed by people giving me *things*. I live in a small space and I constantly have a niggling worry of ‘where will this go?!’. For my most recent birthday I asked for candles or edibles/drinkables which people kindly complied with. It was a refreshing change to not be drowning in toiletries and knick-knacks I didn’t have the room for. I love candles and people bought me some really nice ones that I wouldn’t pay for myself. I will be adopting the same request for each birthday/Christmas that comes around, I think.

  11. Roseberriesmaybe*

    I watched Paris is Burning the other day. It would break your heart but I really want to learn more about (my) gay culture

    1. Junior Dev*

      Ooh, I’ll check it out. I went through a phase (after the election) of trying to watch a bunch of LGBT themed movies, but mostly ended up finding silly comedies.

    2. gingerblue*

      Every time I see this movie title I have a moment of dissonance where I confuse it with the WWII movie Is Paris Burning, which is not the same thing at all.

  12. Anon4*

    Hi, I’m a Uni student and keep procrastinating on my assignments. I can’t really predict why I feel so sad and lonely (might be because I’m still in my parents’ home while a lot of my friends are overseas). I Guess I don’t really know what to do and how to move forward.

    1. Drew*

      First of all, what you’re going through sounds perfectly normal for many students. I don’t know if that will help in the moment, but you are definitely not alone.

      Since you ARE a student, you should check into what health services are available at your school. Even just talking to a counselor for an hour once a week or so might help, and they might be able to figure out if there’s something more that could be done. (It sounds to me like you might have low-grade depression, but I am absolutely not qualified to diagnose that, so talk to someone who is.)

      I hope you’re able to get some help and get back to rocking your bad self. :-)

    2. Thlayli*

      I second talking to someone to deal with the emotional stuff, but also think of practical ways to solve the procrastination. When I was a student I gave myself a target of one solid hour work every day mon-fri on a particular project plus one solid hour of work on study (this was in addition to classes/short term assignments. So I would write P and S on each day mon-fri. If I did the hour I would cross it off, if I did less than the hour I would carry it over, so on Tuesday I might have 1.5P, S, meaning I had to do 1.5 hours project and 1 hour study. At the end of the week I would have maybe 5hours of work to do on Saturday and I would know if i had just done it during the week I could have taken Saturday off! It helped me stop procrastinating so much I’ve used similar methods for all sorts of stuff since (work, hobby projects, sport etc). It might not work for you but try it and if not then look for a system that does work.

    3. Channel Z*

      I did the same in my student days and still do now to some extent, and am slowing learning why. A good therapist taught me about irrational thinking.. “I have to get this done..” when in reality the only things you have to do are wear clothes, eat, sleep, drink water, and go to the toilet. Framing it in mind as “I choose to work for one hour now ” instead of I “have to work” helped take the edge off and made it a bit easier to start. And if I felt overwhelmed I gave myself permission to stop and take a break with slow breathing.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      How’s your vitamin D levels doing?
      If a meal looks like junk food, maybe it’s time to tweak that a little.
      How’s your water intake? Lack of water seriously muddies our ability to think.
      Do you take walks?

      Understand that the procrastination feeds the sadness AND the sadness feeds the procrastination. It’s a circle and we need to find ways to break into the circle. It’s worthwhile to con, coax, bribe, threaten and otherwise move yourself into doing the assignments. Break the assignments into doable segments.
      You can use the reward system. When I am tired/drawn I tell myself, once I have done A, B and C then I can go have a nap.

      A good decision to make, if you can, is to decide that comparing yourself to your friends is NOT a life habit you want. It will not serve you well as most of the time we can find ways to tell ourselves we have failed. Strive to compare you-today to you-yesterday. Are you doing a bit better than you were 6 months ago? Six years ago?

      College is a hard time because we are building ourselves up. Sometimes we can feel little to no sense of accomplishment. It’s kind of like you open an IRA and you put $1000 in it. You know darn well you are going to need more than a grand when you retire. So that IRA is looking like peanuts right now. In time it will grow. Likewise with your education you are making that investment in you now, so that later you will be in a better spot. It’s a crock pot not a microwave.

      Sometimes when I feel down for a number of reasons, I have to stop and make a list of things I am grateful for. Anything is fair game, a warm room, a hot meal, a good friend, etc. I just throw everything I can think of on that list. There have been nights when the only way I could get myself to fall asleep was by working on my list of things I am grateful for. This is hard to do. If the wheels fall off, your mind drifts, then forgive yourself and get back on track with your list.

    5. Sugar of lead*

      There’s a series of articles that might help with the procrastination. It’s on a blog called waitbutwhy, and it has pictures. Just google “Waitbutwhy procrastination” and it’s the first result. It’s really helped me.

    6. A. Non*

      All of these suggestions above are really good ones, but yes, what you are feeling is perfectly normal. It also probably looks like A LOT to do at once, so don’t feel you need to do it at once. I do encourage you to use campus services to see about someone to talk to, and I encourage you to find a group that you think would be cool to be a part of, and see about joining it. Highschool to uni is a huge change in your life, and it can be paralyzingly scary to have to go out and find new people. Hang in there, and know it’s a common experience!

    7. joe*

      Some things that helped/help me, if you want things to try

      General wellbeing: Get some exercise, drink water, keep a regular sleep schedule, eat some vegetables. I find my time management and brainspace are better when my body doesn’t feel crappy, and it never hurts.

      Time management: The Pomodoro method (and similar) is my current favorite, wherein you work for 20 minute blocks, then take a 10 minute break, every three times you take a longer break (I don’t remember the actual interval). Using Internet blockers (I use SelfControl, which is for Mac, have also heard ColdTurkey for PC is good) that lock you out of procrastination-enabling sites is also sometimes helpful.

      Calling in professionals: Go see the school counseling folks, as they will know more good things to point you at and can help a lot

    8. TL -*

      Oh I used to break my assignments up into parts – for instance, I’d do a bunch of reading and quote mining when I first got a research paper assigned. Then I’d put it away for a bit, then I’d remember I had this big paper due. And I’d pull everything out and realize that literally all I had to do was write and put in supporting quotes and references from my notebook (already had them written out with page numbers) and it would look so easy that I’d just do it right away. Plus I’d have had some time to think about it, so I would have better ideas.
      But “I need to read and quote mine” wasn’t a big task. And neither was “I need to write around this evidence I have and have thought about for a week or more.”

    9. MommyMD*

      Just force yourself to dive in. No matter how hard. You will feel better. Just do it.

  13. Tau*

    My possibly-cluster-headaches appear to be starting up again and I am not okay with this development. After 15 years of yearly pain, they became more sporadic and I was crossing my fingers that they were going away or that the HBC I’d gone on was somehow stopping them. But I had three bouts of pain on Thursday and then one already this morning, which doesn’t bode well for the next few weeks. :(

    In related news, whoever invented those adhesive cold patches deserves a medal.

    1. DoDah*

      Migraineur here. I am sorry about your headaches. It took a few tries with meds and diet changes to get a handle on them. I still get them sometimes, though. For me, aging seems to make them more frequent.

    2. LawCat*

      I’m sorry :-(

      I hope they resolve soon. I used to get them regularly, but now they’re very rare. They are terrible and I cross my fingers that the next few weeks are okay.

      1. Tau*

        I’m happy that yours have gotten rare! And hopeful mine will go the same way. I haven’t had another bout all day so far and the schedule doesn’t generally include evenings* so here’s hoping…

        * although my understanding is that my headaches aren’t technically painful enough to be cluster headaches – 7-8 on the pain scale instead of 11 – the bizarre regularity applies or at least applied to such an extent I really have no idea what else they could be.

        1. LawCat*

          Mine were of a much shorter duration than clusters typically are (but occurring in repeated intervals). I think I might have been misdiagnosed and they were probably more likely these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_paroxysmal_hemicrania

          Pain is so subjective. I’d describe the pain as someone sticking a knife in my head and twisting it. I have a very high tolerance for pain, maybe developed from having these headaches!

          In my early twenties, I started getting them less frequently. Thinking about it, it’s been at least two years since I had a day experiencing them. (Once I had one, I would always continue to get them at least throughout the day.) I went from getting them every few weeks to every few months to a couple times per year to now.

          1. LawCat*

            Also, I never took medication for the headaches. The doctor told me not to drink caffeine or consume foods with nitrates so I did not (until the headaches started going away). I am not sure if that would help you, but might be worth a shot.

          2. Tau*

            For me, the duration and occurrence used to be pretty on-the-nose for clusters – I’d get them once a year (always sometime between March and July), lasting for two weeks. During those two weeks I’d get up to three headaches a day that would last around 1-2 hours and always occurred at the same time of day. For instance, one around 2-4am, one around 8-11am and one around 3-5pm. That stopped around two years ago, which was the same year I started taking hormonal birth control – I still wonder about a connection there. They’d pop up sporadically instead – two years ago I had them every weekend in September and never during the week, I was a little pissed off about that! – so I’m hoping this is another one of those sporadic bouts.

            You’re right that pain is very subjective, and I’d never say that mine aren’t, y’know, agonisingly painful. (It feels a bit like someone repeatedly stabbing a red-hot needle through my face and then into my eye. The path said needle takes is pretty clearly the trigeminal nerve, so trigeminal neuralgia is also a possibility I guess.) It’s just that whenever you look this up you end up with talk about cluster headaches being the “worst pain known to humanity” and that seems a liiittle extreme to me. Especially when I am a wuss with low pain tolerance who’s never so much broken a bone and I’ve still had similarly painful experiences. The time the local anaesthetic wore off right after I’d had a wisdom tooth taken out comes to mind.

            No caffeine or nitrates is worth a shot! I don’t really take meds for them either – OTC painkillers sometimes because I feel like if I get them in early enough they can avert a bout, but honestly I suspect that one is wishful thinking. I’ve never properly seen a doctor for them, mainly because I used to think they were toothaches (the area of pain has expanded over the years and it started off more in my cheek). Several years and four wisdom tooth extractions later, I started to wonder if these might actually not be toothaches but by then I’d accepted them as normal.

            It’s probably worth looking into if I get two-week clusters again, especially because I can see this being a real problem at work. I basically spent three hours doing nothing on Thursday, and my coworkers were going “for the love of god, Tau, go home, you’re making us miserable just looking at you”… but I can’t call off sick for two weeks, and I’m perfectly functional in between bouts. :/

            1. Jules the First*

              Out of curiosity, have you made any changes to your HBC recently? For example, switched from a branded to a generic, or been on antibiotics or some other meds that mess with hormonal absorption? I use HBC to manage my monthly migraine and morning sickness and it took forever to find a dose that worked. We then discovered (when my brand experienced a supply-chain hiccup) that the exact same dose from a different brand is not effective…so we’re now very careful to fill my prescription from either the branded version or the generic that’s made in the same factory (vs. the generic produced by a different supplier). Likewise, if I have a round of antibiotics, my next cycle will be accompanied by a minor migraine and mild nausea.

      1. Tau*

        They are gel sheets which you can stick to your face and which have a cooling effect. They’re really quite cold, you don’t have to refrigerate them or anything, and they last for hours – I have no idea how this works, it’s probably magic. Anyway, I find them super handy because unlike pressing an ice pack to your head, you have your hands free, you’re not getting everything wet and you can target the affected areas very directly.

        I’m going to leave a link to the ones I use in a comment.

          1. Colleen*

            I have heard of these — I just hadn’t thought of putting them in my face for headaches. Thanks. Much better than washcloths that warm up way too fast.

    3. Science!*

      My husband is a cluster headache sufferer. His clusters last 3-4 weeks, with 3-6 migraines a day. But they only reoccur every 24 months, so we consider him one of the lucky ones. But as he’s gotten older the cycle has gotten odd. They used to come every other October but then one year they came in November and two years later, January. And the last cluster was January 2015, so more than 24 months and no sign of them.

      My reading does suggest that people can age out of cluster headaches. We are hoping that’s what’s happened.

  14. Drew*

    First-world whine coming:

    I’m at a conference and the hotel bar closed at 10 p.m. What. The hell. It’s like they don’t even KNOW me.

      1. the gold digger*

        I have to go to Chicago for a trade show tomorrow and Primo is going with me to hang out. The karaoke bar he wants to go to doesn’t even start karaoke until 10 p.m.

        1. salad fingers*

          Oh no, 10pm is so late ;_; If Primo doesn’t get his fill at that place, let him know we have a 4am/5am karaoke bar called Alice’s in Avondale for EVEN LATER singing along. No one sounds good/everyone sounds good at after hours karaoke.

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      10 pm is ridiculous! What the? Can you order to-go drinks? Also, is there a minibar? These are important questions.

    2. AstroDeco*

      LOL, April Fool’s Prank & ROFLMAO “It’s like they don’t even KNOW me.”
      I’m sorry for your ordeal & I hope the conference is over soon!!

      If you can, please help with my curiosity & ask the hotel why their bar closes at 10pm. 11pm, maybe. Although 10pm…?
      No. Just no.

  15. Bianca*

    This is sort of following the credit card question from yesterday (but is totally off-topic so it didn’t feel right to reply in that thread). I’ve always been sort of confused by the advice that you should get rid of credit cards if you want to get out of debt.vGiven that credit card statements provide a record of spending, I always thought it was a better way to keep track of spending compared with cash. (The caveat of course being that you never use a credit card to buy what you can’t pay back immediately). That on top of interest-free periods and reward points, it’s surely a better way to manage money?

    (Of course there are other reasons people don’t want a credit card, but not related to this.

    1. Colette*

      Many people don’t stop to think about whether they can pay off the purchase before putting it in a card. If you use cash, once you spend it, it’s gone.

      People who are in debt due to overspending have often treated credit cards as free/unlimited money.

    2. Thlayli*

      I think that advice is based on the fact that a lot of people who get into debt have trouble controlling and managing their spending, so if they have access to easy money they spend it, they don’t pay it back immediately, and they have no idea how much they are spending, how much they are paying in interest or how much they even owe. For those people “get rid of your credit cards” is the best advice.

      However a large number of people who get into debt are not like that and are in debt because of other reasons like not earning enough to survive or some incident or circumstance that they had to get into debt for. If you fall into the latter category then yes absolutely a credit card is a great think to have because if you pay it off in full every month it costs you zero and you get interest free loan for a period of time.

      Getting an itemised statement isn’t specific to credit cards though, most debit cards do that too.

    3. Red Reader*

      It depends on whether your primary goal is to
      A. Track your spending without having to remember to write everything down, or
      B. Not spend money you don’t have in your hand right this second.

      If your financial concerns stem from overspending, seeing the limits on your money by using cash may be more important to you and you can still track it manually. If you’re not running out of money and you just want to be better about knowing where it’s going, a credit card or a service like Mint may be more useful.

    4. Dizzy Steinway*

      Cash is a bit more tangible – it’s there and then it’s not.

      The trick is to write it down before you spend it, not after!

    5. overeducated*

      I think the idea is that people in debt due to overspending need help following your caveat. It’s not a side remark, it’s the entire issue. (That means cutting up credit cards only helps with consumer debt though.)

    6. RussianTea14*

      When I was trying to get out of debt, the biggest help to me was not using my credit card. I had a bad habit of going to the mall or online shopping very carelessly. If I didnt have anything to do on a Saturday, I would find myself at the mall, buying a lot of stuff I didnt need. Using a credit card to purchase stuff didnt really register with me.

      Cash is much more “real” to me. When I see it leaving my wallet, it hurts more.

      Since getting out debt, I havent used credit cards. There is honestly nothing I miss about it. My husband doesnt have any either. We have been able to accomplish so much by being intentional with our money. Personally, I would not trade the freedom I have from being debt free for any possession.

      1. C Average*

        Same here. If I had the capacity to spend, I would spend. I was absolutely incapable of not making impulse purchases if I had the purchasing power to make them. I could look for and probably find all kinds of root causes, but the bottom line was that I had the ability to solve the problem by cutting off avenues of spending. If I had no plastic and I had a monthly cash budget for various categories of spending, my spending was self-limited. And yes, at first I ran out of money before the end of the month and ate a lot of PB&J, but I’m still here to tell the tale, and it was a lot better than staying in debt.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          This is why we have automatic transfers to different savings accounts — it gives us an idea of how much we can spend by how much is left in the checking account, making budgeting kind of automatic. We have an emergency fund and a home improvement/repair fund, and a new car fund which could double as an emergency car repair fund if we needed it. We also have a charitable giving account and a property tax/homeowners insurance account, and so with all those automatic deductions (except the emergency fund, which is adequate), we don’t spend as much as we could.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Studies have shown that, all else being equal, you will spend more using credit cards than you will spending cash. (Links in a reply to this comment.)

      That said, we do use our credit cards for everything but independent local merchants for the reasons you mention (more for cash back than for bookkeeping), and our spending is manageable, and we are setting aside about 2/3 of our takehome pay before we can spend it. Some is savings, some is put aside for certain expenses, but that’s how we try to constrain our spending to the other 1/3.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Do you actually use the statements to look at your spending? Many people do not, they pray they can pay the bill and move on.

      I think that interest free periods and reward points are just a loan. The credit card companies will get that money back from you at their first opportunity. They will charge you for something else to get that money.

      For me, the problem with more than one credit card is that I won’t remember how much I have charged on it at any given moment. I probably will not keep a running tally. This means I am vulnerable to carrying too much debt, because at any given moment I do not know what I owe.

      So the arguments are: Having multiple credit cards can lead to confusion on current balances. It can encourage overspending, spending beyond our means. The savings programs aren’t really saving us that much. Annnd not every bill we have goes on the credit card so the credit card bills do not accurately portray what we are spending.

      I am a conservative person. I like to have a tight handle on my finances. You can use a spreadsheet or pencil and paper to write an actual budget. The problem with credit card statements is that the money is already spent. The trick is to catch the money BEFORE it leaves our bank accounts.

      My friend has a credit card for every major store around here. I am not kidding you when I tell you I hear her say, “But without this store’s credit card this item would have cost me $15 more!” Really? $15? Not worth it to me. I look around and I have plenty of stuff here that I can be using. I don’t need more stuff. My friend is constantly worried about all her incoming bills. Sometimes she gets all the credit card bills paid and then realizes she has forgotten to buy oil for her home heating. There’s no money left. Whoops.

      All my life I have one general credit card that I can use anywhere. I put whatever I need on it. I pay it off every month. My budget allows me to put X amount on it each month this includes food and gas. Like I said, I am conservative, to me life is filled with unforeseens. I remember one bad month, the hot water heater went ($1000), a head gasket in my car went ($1000) and the floor in a storage room caved in ($2000). All in one month, I was almost in tears. This is how things go for me and I know I have to be on top of the finances so I can make these quick emergency decisions. Because of not carrying a lot of credit card debt, I can make these decisions and get these needed repairs done.

      1. the gold digger*

        Do you actually use the statements to look at your spending

        1. Until I got married, I had only one (personal) credit card. Primo had several (for various points programs), but has winnowed them to the essentials. Makes me nuts but he does not overspend.
        2. I look at my statement to detect fraud. I audit every statement, every month. Three times in my life, my card number – not the card itself – just the number – has been used by someone else. It’s really annoying to have to deal with a fraudulent charge!

        1. TL -*

          I have one for everyday use, one that all my bills go on, and two that are financing for big purchases that don’t get used. (One will be paid off soon and will be closed.)

          I sometimes use the bills one if I left my everyday one in my pocket or a purse or something but having multiple credit cards has never been a problem for me as long as each one has a defined purposed.

      2. Dan*

        “I think that interest free periods and reward points are just a loan. The credit card companies will get that money back from you at their first opportunity. They will charge you for something else to get that money.”

        Maybe, maybe not. I’ve traveled all over the world on frequent flyer miles that I’ve earned through credit card sign ups. I’m traveling to South Africa later in the year, and stopping at Oktoberfest in Munich on the way home. I think my business class tickets for that trip cost $150 in taxes.

        I just bought a business class ticket on Korean Airlines for a trip to the Phillipines next year. That ticket cost me $34 in taxes and fees. Most of the miles I got through a signup bonus with the Delta credit card. I might have paid an annual fee once, in the neighborhood of $95.

        I’ll never make the claim that mileage travel is truly “free”, as many cards have annual fees, and pretty much every trip is going to require you to pay taxes, and some have fuel surcharges, which aren’t cheap.

        But I will say I have a long way to go before the banks make money off of me. The travel I’ve already done nonwithstanding, at this very moment, I have enough points with Chase where I could get a real check (not funny money) written to me for well over $2,000.

        I’m not entire sure what point you’re trying to make with the last paragraph — if I have those kinds of emergency expenses come up, I pay for it with a credit card without thinking twice about it.

        1. TL -*

          Yup, my parents own their own business and they put all their business expenses on a travel rewards credit card. They haven’t paid for airfare in years; they don’t go anywhere exciting but they do like to fly to their vacation property a couple times a year and they fly their kids in for the holidays. :)
          Heck, I don’t put nearly that much on my credit card but I have a no-annual-fee travel card and it knocked over $500 off my upcoming overseas flight, which was really nice (I would’ve put everything on that credit card anyways, so it required no extra effort on my part.)

        2. JKP*

          As a merchant I learned that all those rewards/cash back/mileage points are being paid for by the merchant. We get charged between 1-2% more in processing fees for rewards/points cards than regular cards. So the credit card companies don’t have to recoup those costs from you the consumer. They already passed them down to us the merchants.

    9. Hrovitnir*

      Heh, it’s funny because I don’t really see cash as “real money” and am worse at not spending it – though I do spend more than I should online, and that requires a credit or debit card.

      But yeah, it’s tricky because it’s easy to overspend with credit cards, but if you don’t have them or other debts you have no credit record. :/ And used well, (I know) they’re economical.

      1. Anxa*

        Same! I think it’s the breaking of bills and the whole coin thing. I keep track of spending to the penny, not too long ago a rounding error could have been the difference in making it to the next paycheck. I find it easier to keep a mental list of swipes instead of cash. I keep an index card in my wallet with a golf pencil so I can track where I spent my cash withdrawals.

      2. George Willard*

        Same for me with cash! Seeing the exact amounts through my debit/credit cards helps me budget much more effectively.

    10. Anu*

      I think it really depends on your personality. I actually don’t have any problem thinking of spending on a credit card as real money. I look at all my transactions on Mint and it reduces my net worth just the same as if it were an ATM withdrawal. And I can track exactly where the money is going. On the other hand, I’ve never been in any kind of debt besides mortgage debt, always paying off credit cards in full each month. So likely what works for me might not work for others.

    11. LCL*

      I will never live without a credit card again. I did in the early 80s when I was just starting my adult life. It was actually hard to get credit then; people as poor as me not having credit cards was the norm.

      But, a credit card is a fantastic emergency fund. Because I had no credit, and no extra money, I had to go without a car for two months because I couldn’t afford repairs. I walked 2.5 miles to my restaurant job, and begged rides home. I had to wait until my dog was a year old to get her spayed, and had to borrow the money to get that done at the cheap clinic. If I would have been able to borrow money somehow for emergency expenses, I would have had more energy and been able to get a better job.

      1. Dan*

        Me either. My car broke once, and thankfully the shop let me pay with post dated checks.

        Also, I’ll never use a debit card again. Once, my debit card got compromised, and somebody drained every last penny from my bank account. Yes, I got my money back, but I needed to get an advance on my paycheck to get through the next four days while the bank “investigated”. When your car needs gas and you need food, four days with *zero* cash and *no* credit cards are pretty hellish.

        1. JKP*

          When my account was compromised, they closed my account and transferred everything to a new account (new checks, debit card, etc). But then the payroll company kept messing up the change request to direct deposit my money into the new account, and my paychecks kept bouncing because they were trying to deposit them to a closed account. Every pay period, they promised the system was fixed this time. But I went weeks and weeks without access to my income. I wouldn’t have made it without my credit cards.

    12. Jean who wants less physical & mental clutter*

      I put almost all transactions either on my debit card or online banking (happens electronically, but not automatically–I have to actually log in and initiate the payments) so that there’s a recorded record. I discovered that it’s possible to download account transaction history in a spreadsheet. What makes this great is:
      a) I get to specify the start & end dates of the date range.
      b) I can sort the downloaded data in different ways. Sort by vendor and see how much I spend every month at such-and-such grocery store. Sort by amount (?) to see how many transactions are more than $100 or less than $10. I haven’t actually tried this but it might be educational. Even the under-ten-dollars purchases can reach a significant total.
      Do I do this all the time? No, but it’s nice to know that the data is available without my having to create and maintain a complicated, time-consuming ledger or record book.

      1. Mike C.*

        The ability to download data (or use the credit union’s online tools) is huge for me. I can easily produce all sorts of metrics and figure out where I can be more responsible.

      2. Marisol*

        I do the same, and download transaction records onto mint.com to allocate purchases. I try to do this weekly. I rarely make cash purchases because even though I save receipts, it’s just too onerous for me to reconcile cash withdrawals to my purchases and so whatever I buy with cash often goes unaccounted for. But with the debit card and mint, it’s super easy to budget, etc. Mint is free–I highly recommend it.

    13. copy run start*

      I started using a credit card for simplicity (just pay one bill at the end of the month for groceries, gas, etc.) But then I would spend too much and just pay what I could, or have a month where I had less income, letting the balance build bit by bit. I didn’t think it was a big deal to pay a bit of interest for things that I presumably needed now.

      After I crossed that threshold, I started using it for bigger purchases where I’d think I would pay all/part over time, or I was “afraid” of committing that much real money from my bank account, so I used the credit card. I’d convince myself I was paying off my $500 purchase when paying $500 at the end of the month, even though I was carrying a balance constantly. It finally became a problem when it was a struggle to make the minimum payment each month. That’s when I finally realized I had $4,500 in debt and took home less than $800 a month. I was on food stamps, I had no family safety net, no savings, no credit card balance to fall on if something happened. So when I finally got a better job I was laser-focused on paying that down.

      After I paid off my credit card, I found my old statements and went through them. Tons of things I would’ve SWORN I paid cash for went on that card. I was living in another reality. I was buying smartphones and game consoles that I could not afford, and by the time I paid that debt off, I had traded in that smartphone AND the one that came after. That console was almost 5 years old. The laptop I bought had long since broken. It was crushing.

      Now I use my debit card exclusively. I don’t carry cash because I’m just as terrible with it and I need that record, like you said. I keep my credit card alive by charging Netflix to it, but it’s on autopay in full. Now when I purchase something it has to be real money. YNAB really helped me get the card paid off and now keeps me from falling into the same trap.

      I have considered getting one for online purchases so I’m not exposing my debit card. I’ll be looking for one with a low interest rate, not cash back/points, so that if I do get into trouble at least I’m not fighting back against 27% interest again. Cash back/points just seems like an easy way to justify overspending to my brain.

      1. Dan*

        Yes, if you don’t have discipline, credit cards are going to be your worst enemy.

        I urge you in the strongest of words that I can find to NOT use a debit card for online purchases, particularly if you don’t have easy access to another source of cash if your account gets compromised.

        FWIW, your interest rate is a function of your credit score. My points cards are all at 15.4% interest. I have a non-points card at 11.4%. The lowest one I ever had was at 8%. But, if you get into a jam, you really shouldn’t be financing your debt this way. I have multiple cards that have 0% APR balance transfer offers. One card I have charges a 4% fee, but the 0% period is a year and a half (18 months). I have another that has a 0% APR offer with a 1% fee, and I think that’s also good for 18 months.

        Yes, points/cash back will get you into trouble if you think you’re “making” money or something every time you use your card. You can only win with points/cash back if you disassociate the rewards from the spend. Don’t go to dinner tonight just because your card is having a 5% bonus on restaurants this month. All that means is that your $100 dinner cost you $95 instead. It doesn’t even cover the tip.

        1. copy run start*

          My interest rate was something like 19% (still awful, but I got this card when I had no credit) but I missed a payment because of timezones ONCE and they jacked it up. (As in it was due at midnight EST and I had it in at 11 CST….) And have never, ever agreed to lower it, despite my credit now being really good. It’s the only payment I’ve ever missed in 10 years. I purchased a car at 3.75% a few years back and they STILL won’t lower the rate. I only keep it around since it’s my oldest account, aside from student loans.

          I do keep the majority of my savings in a separate account with a different bank, so I won’t be hosed. I could last a few months if someone drained my main account. Still… needs to be dealt with….

          1. Dan*

            Just to be clear, you do know that interest rates only matter of you carry a balance, right? (And if you are, let’s discuss options…)

            Your card sounds like capital one. They are complete dicks with their sub prime products. It’s easier to get a new card with a different bank than it is to get capital one to budge.

            I once had a video store late fee charge to a capital one card I hadn’t been using in awhile. It was $2. Except I wasn’t paying attention, and missed the statement. Ended with two missed payment fees – that $2 turned into $60. I would have appreciated a call that said, “you know you missed your payment, right?”

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          You are more likely to have an account compromised through in person transactions than through online purchases. This has been proven over and over.

          Online, there are all kinds of protections.

          In person, the kid making minimum wage can have a card reader in his apron.

    14. LawCat*

      I use YNAB budgeting software and it works extremely well at tracking spending regardless of debit, cash, credit, or checks. We use credit cards primarily because we get points, purchase protection, and better fraud protection than with debit. But we only spend within our budget.

      I think credit cards get dangerous when people spend without any budget/plan and just hope they can cover it.

      1. Ella*

        I use the goodbudget app for similar reasons. I put everything on my credit card, but since I’m tracking how much money I have, I can pay it off at the end of the month.

    15. George Willard*

      I really think this is only applicable advice if someone has a a clinical-level problem with impulse control (though in that case, it’s not only applicable but necessary).

      1. TL -*

        Eh, I think having only a minor problem can be a big deal if you’re on a shoestring budget. It’s hard to always say no if you have the means to say yes – even if the means is a credit line and not the actual cash, unfortunately!

      2. C Average*

        I don’t think it’s that straightforward in every situation. In my case, I got into credit-card trouble in college when I used plastic to try to keep up with my better-off peers. Intellectually, I knew better, but in those moments when I was getting invited somewhere fun for spring break or helping to pay a bigger-than-expected bar tab, using the card felt easy and consequences felt far away. Those smallish debts followed me through my twenties, as I worked crappy jobs that barely covered my rent. I went further in debt to cope with the unexpected: car trouble, minor medical expendi, moving costs. It was a way to pretend I wasn’t living in poverty; I used debt to convince myself and the world that I was Making It. It took cutting that card in half, living on PB&J and ramen, and not going anywhere–in short, it took living within my actual means–to get out of debt.

        Did I have clinical levels of impulse control? Maybe. Was I poor as a church mouse and desirous of a few nice things? For sure. Maybe I could have kept the card and developed impulse control and brought my finances under control with the card still in my wallet, offering me easy access to things that would make me feel like something of a success. Maybe not.

        My life is so much better without plastic. I’m in a decent financial place now, having clawed my way to middle-class status and then married money. But I, personally, never want to carry one cent of debt for one minute again.

    16. BRR*

      I agree with what others have said. My method is paying off my credit card at least once a week. I’d spend way too much if I only paid when the bill came.

    17. Pommette*

      People who promote that advice often do it as if it were universally applicable. But whether it’s appropriate or not really depends on your personality, financial habits, and current situation.

      I much prefer using credit cards/debit to cash. It makes it easier to track where I spend, and to evaluate what habits need to change. When I take cash out, it tends to disappear without my having a clear sense of where it went. (I’m aware that I could track every small purchase by hand. It’s not a bad idea, but doing so makes me completely miserable. Using a credit card allows me to get the same information without having to stress out about money five times a day).

      I pay my cards off in full every month and weigh bigger financial decisions the same way I would if I was using cash. In the fifteen years since I got my card, I have only gotten in trouble once. It was after having being unemployed for a long time. My savings had run out. I used the card to buy necessities and to keep my utilities and phone connected; I also used it to travel out of town to attend a family funeral. I knew that I was getting into debt. I was happy to do it at a relatively low interest rate (not having any income or assets, I would not have been eligible for a personal line of credit; my only alternative at that point would have been pay-day lending shops).

      But yeah: there are some smart, reasonable, emotionally-balanced people who spend more when using a card than they would when using cash. For anyone in that basket, using cash makes a ton of sense.

      I definitely feel that the personal finance industry makes more of this piece advice than it should.

  16. Mela*

    After 12 years of doctors, lab work, and imaging, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia this week. I have an appointment next week to discuss drug options with the rheumatologist, but I’m looking for things to read up on in the meantime, specifically books, but any other kind of resources as well. It’s really exhausting trying to wade through everything, and I’m steering away from the “vaccines caused my fibro” stuff, but sometimes it’s hard to tell until you’ve read quite a bit. I’m not opposed to alternative/non-western stuff, I just don’t want to read about chemtrails-type stuff.

    1. Stacy*

      I was diagnosed many years ago now, and I remember finding Devin Starlanyl’s books and website to be very helpful. It can be a struggle for sure, but finding good resources can really help make such a difference! Especially with things like, for me, making myself exercise every day, even though my body seems to just want sleep/rest. It really makes such a difference in how I feel, even when all I can manage is 10 minutes that day,

      I was also diagnosed with Joint Hypermobilty Syndrome back then too, which has recently, finally (!!) been upgraded to a different connective tissue disorder that is really difficult to find good, quality info on. I’m hoping slowly but surely to either find helpful resources, or to do enough of my own research & experimenting with the non-drug parts of my day to fill that need myself!

      1. Nicole*

        Are there any drugs you take in addition to the exercise? I have many of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia but have never been officially diagnosed since I don’t have “enough”. However, my new doctor has started treating me as if I have it to help me feel better. He prescribed Lyrica and physical therapy. I’ve started taking the medicine but haven’t noticed any improvement. If anything I feel like it’s making my nerves feel tingly in my hands. I’ve been dragging my feet scheduling the physical therapy for a few reasons, one of them being that I feel like exercise often makes me feel worse instead of better. I plan to discuss all this at my follow up appointment in a few weeks but was curious about your experience.

        1. Stacy*

          Yes! I take Tizanidine at least every night to help with my quality of sleep. I also take it as-needed (it’s a muscle relaxer). Sometimes I take smaller 2nd dose at night, I also use it around the clock (again a smaller dose) when I do Botox for Migraine every 12 weeks, or if I sprain something, etc (oh, the joys of connective tissue disorders!) I also take Gabapentin, which is very similar to Lyrica. It’s a medication of choice for multiple issues for me, but it is one of those meds that you have to titrate to find the best dose for you, and I only really notice how much it’s helping if I stop. Mobic (Melixicam) may help too. (It’s an NSAID that you only take once each day)

        2. Stacy*

          Oh, I should have said too that the things that help me the most are keeping to a regular sleep schedule — same times to go to bed & wake up each day, even weekends. And only taking naps if I’m trying to sleep off a vicious migraine. I’m recovering from oral surgery and it is so hard to not be sleeping right now. Also massage therapy 1-2 times a week, even when I’m in PT too. It makes for a lot of appointments each week, but it makes me functional enough to hold down a job while faking being well. And also trying to get outside at least for a walk around the block. This was so much easier when I had a dog to make me get outside for at least a quick walk 3-4 times a day. I still haven’t made it a regular habit again, and it did not help that when he passed away it was suddenly and in November. So it was way too easy to be “I’m too sad” “it’s too dark” “it’s way too cold out here”, cycle, rinse, repeat. I’m working toward it though!

          1. Nicole*

            Thanks for all the helpful info!

            I know the feeling with not wanting to walk the dog – I get cold very easily so I haven’t been taking the dog outside. She gets exercise indoors but I do need to get her outside and trained to walk properly on a leash.

        3. Sami*

          Fellow FMer here. Exercise absolutely wrecks me, but curiously PT didn’t. And actually helped.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      When I got sick years ago, I found this book. It’s out of print now I believe. But it was the best book I found at that time, because it was chock full of ideas.

      I agree with you about the chem-trail stuff. Let’s suppose that the theory is accurate, this STILL does absolutely nothing to help me now. I need to talk about things that I CAN do to help me right now. That was my thinking then and it still is.

      There are more books in the series. Unfortunately, I loaned mine out and they never came back. I was looking for drug/surgery free ways of dealing with problems, I preferred to be in charge of and do my own work for my process for healing/compensating for the problems in my body. While no book is comprehensive, this book got me launched so I could go on my own and make decisions for myself.

      https://www.amazon.com/Alternative-Medicine-Fibromyalgia-Environmental-Paperback/dp/B010EWJCQG/ref=sr_1_50?ie=UTF8&qid=1489967511&sr=8-50&keywords=alternativemedicine.com

      Let me know if you have problems with the link.

    3. HannahS*

      I don’t have resources, particularly, but just to share: I have fibro too. After trying a bunch of things, I wound up on Lyrica. I love, love, love it. It completely changed my life. It isn’t normal, but I’m functional. It’s great for me, though I know it’s not for everyone.

    4. MommyMD*

      Remember that fibromyalgia is not a disease state, it is a pain syndrome. Don’t treat yourself like you are sick. Eating well and getting daily exercise is important. Walking is fine. Get involved with life and stay busy. In absence of genuine disease states such as rheumatoid arthritis pain symptoms almost always have emotional components so make sure that is addressed. Avoid going down the narcotic painkiller route which will ruin your life. I see this daily for 20 years. The physician who “invented” fibromyalgia has taken it all back. Yes, the body indeed can produce pain. But please don’t fall prey to fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome as true disease states. Good luck!

    5. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Fellow Fibro person here!

      I suggest avoiding most online Fibro forums. A lot of their regular members are essentially in a “who hurts more” match. We all hurt. We’re all in pain. It’s better to focus on what makes YOU feel better. A lot of the stuff you’ll read won’t work for you. I’m sensitive or allergic to every medication they tried, so I focus more on alternative medicine. Other folks respond to things like Lyrica or low-dose naltrexone right away.

  17. purple hat*

    So I’m currently apartment hunting, which isn’t my favourite thing to do (not just the hunting part, but also the upcoming annoyance of having to move).

    So out of interest: what things do you usually prioritise when looking for accommodation? Space? Garden? Location? Convenience?

    1. Tau*

      The things I am basically non-negotiable on are energy efficiency and location.

      Energy efficiency: Insulation, double-glazing, decent central heating. I’ve had a few harrowing experiences on this front while renting in Scotland, including the flat where I’d wake up in the morning to find it was 14C inside my bedroom and the one where we had to close the curtains to reduce the draft coming through the windows. In the UK, potential landlords are legally obliged to give you an energy report on the prospective property if you ask for one and nowadays I refuse to even consider ones with a rating below C.

      Location: So for this bit you need to keep in mind that I am an urban European person. :) The place has to in walking distance of some sort of grocery shop, the closer hte better, and I need to be able to cycle to work and other shops. That reflects both distance and available routes – living 2km away from work won’t help me at all if the only way to get there is along an A-road. Good public transport connections are a bonus, but not as important as the walking distance for grocery store/cycling distance for everything else.

      On that note, some form of cycle storage is a must. I can be flexible on what counts – I spent four years lugging my bike up and down two flights of stairs every day because the only place I could keep it was my flat – but I’m not leaving it on the street.

      I have a long list of other things I like to have (not ground-floor; washing machine in the flat; decently sized freezer; open kitchen/living area; single bed; gas hobs; the list goes on), but those are way more negotiable. I’m not actually particularly fussed as far as space is concerned – in some ways I prefer small spaces because they’re easier to keep tidy and cost less to heat. As long as I can get all my stuff in, I’m pretty much good. And a garden’s not generally an option for the sort of places I live – there either isn’t one at all or the one that’s there is shared between about ten different flats and you can’t really do anything with it – but I do totally want a balcony. That’s very much an “it would be cool” rather than a “my quality of life will be noticeably worse if I don’t have this” so it’s pretty low on the priority list.

      I’m curious to see other responses! :)

      1. Ange*

        Mine were: separate toilet (because of previous experiences), having a bath and a shower (so I have the option of both) and window-ledges, so I can put plants etc on them. Also I personally hate open plan, so I prefer a separate kitchen and living/dining room.

      2. BBBizAnalyst*

        For me, location is huge. I’m currently 5 minutes away from work and downtown. I could save a few hundred bucks if I lived further out but I’ll never get that time in traffic back. Other necessities are the apartment has to have covered parking, cannot be on the lower floors, in unit washer and dryer, dishwasher, a big kitchen and ample closet space.

        I also look at tenants… I’m 30 so I’m not interested in living in a complex overrun by undergrads. Since I’m downtown, haven’t had that issue yet thankfully.

        1. Tau*

          Oh, dishwasher! I didn’t have one for years and years but my current flat (well, one of my flats – I’m 100% travel and sort of split between a company flat during the week and my own flat on weekends) has one and oh, they are marvelous. I never want to live without one again. Guess I can be happy my next flat-search will be happening in Germany, where the rental kitchens are generally “here’s an empty room with one outlet for gas and one for water” – that makes it easy to customise your kitchen goods…

          And I hear you on the time thing. For cycling, I don’t mind living a bit further out since it’s a great way to fit in exercise (I currently cycle 30 minutes to work each way, including several hills, and am probably more fit than I’ve ever been before) but anything involving the car or transport… ugh. My weekend travel is also starting to really wear on me – it can take anywhere between 3.5 and 5 hours by train each way and I really hate spending what’s effectively a whole extra day of work travelling whenever I go back. As you say, that’s time I’m never getting back.

          1. Chaordic One*

            I remember when I was in college and my best friend, who had her own apartment, switched apartments from one that had a balcony to a different one that had a dishwasher. At the time I thought she was crazy, but she really knew what she was doing.

      3. the gold digger*

        When Primo and I bought our house, I did a lot of research. We got (and I am tired of re-typing to make parallel construction, so this is jumbled)

        * We can easily walk to the places we go frequently, like the library, church, the grocery store, restaurants, drugstore. The only place we have to drive to that is a life necessity is the post office. We are also one block from an elementary school, three blocks from a middle school, and a mile from the high school, but that’s coincidence
        * We are in one of the best school districts in the state. We don’t have children, but we want to sell our house someday
        * Little to no lawn maintenance. We have a small yard (characteristic of our 1928 neighborhood). I hate cutting grass.
        * Guest room with its own bathroom
        * An older house that is not some cookie-cutter McMansion that looks just like every other house on the block
        * Big kitchen

        When I was renting, I wanted off-street parking, someone else to cut the grass, a washer and a dryer, and no neighbors. If I have to have neighbors, no upstairs neighbors :)

        1. Victoria, Please*

          You would love my house. :-) It’s ALL that, except we do have a big yard. I promptly ripped out the lawn and replaced it with water-wise stuff, though. And the kitchen isn’t gigantic, although plenty big enough for us.

      4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Yeah that draft thing is pretty critical for the UK. The windows in this country are TERRIBLE right down the line. We are moving in three weeks to a new place (signed the papers this morning) and critical for us was:

        1) Quiet neighborhood, quiet neighbors
        2) At least 2 bedrooms, preferably 3
        3) Must take cats
        4) Outdoor space we can actually use (for grilling)
        5) Two bathrooms
        6) Nowhere near a high street/bars/student types
        7) Decent enough commute to work with enough options (so when one form strikes its still possible to get in on another form)

        We found a two bed/2 ba terrace house with secure outside yard with a shed in probably the quietest neighborhood in London (not even Hampstead is this quiet!), very near the river, walkable to work for me. I couldn’t believe how quiet the place was when we were going through it, and after living on a high street for two years, with crappy windows and stomping neighbors upstairs (thankfully they never took out their trash so while we got some mice, their girlfriends never wanted to stay over, which was a far bigger issue for me!) its a miracle. Still a little small but its just the two of us, and the kitties are moving in May!

        1. Tau*

          I couldn’t believe in what sort of bad shape some of the UK houses, windows particularly, were when I first moved here. I blame it on the climate – it’s mild enough even in most of Scotland that you can get away with badly insulated houses. In most of Germany, you’d have a cold snap and your pipes would freeze. At least that’s my theory of UK-German insulation difference…

          That new flat sounds amazing! I hope it works out for you :) And I totally forgot to mention quiet as one of my own non-negotiables. I spent my first year at uni living right above a major street where all the drunk students would wander past at ungodly hours of the morning… never again. My last flat search, I actually saw a flat that was basically perfect in all other respects (it even had a balcony!) but you could hear the noise from the street in every room. I’d have gone mad within a month, tops. Super happy for you that you managed to find a quiet space in London!

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            You find the same badly insulated windows/houses in California. Which drove me insane, because good insulation is eco-friendly in HOT climates too.

            On average, I’m much warmer inside in the frozen tundra that’s Wisconsin during the winter than I ever was in the much warmer California winters.

    2. Red Reader*

      My primary demands the last time I moved were:
      At least three bedrooms (my household is two couples, each of which includes a massive introvert)
      A space I can use for a home office (I work remotely)
      A large backyard that either was fenced or could be (I have two dogs, one 70 lbs and one 45)
      Either no basement or a fully finished basement, no partially finished (I have lived too many places with leaky unfinished basements)
      And a non-galley-style kitchen.

      I did also have a general location preference, but it was basically just “in the northeast quadrant of the city” so pretty broad.

    3. Dizzy Steinway*

      Proximity to public transport (have chronic illness and can’t drive or cope with long tiring walks), whether pets are allowed, enough electrical points in the bedroom and a bath not just a shower are my dealbreakers.

    4. overeducated*

      Under an hour commute to work, 2 bedrooms, under a max price (below area average). Cost of living is so high here that I just had to jump on the first place I could.

    5. Jessesgirl72*

      Location and space first. And how many flights of stairs do I have to haul groceries.

      Then things like how long does it take to hot water to get to the shower, and are there enough electrical outlets in the places where I need them.

    6. Tris Prior*

      We just found a place that hits most of the points on our wish list and are so excited! Our priorities were:

      – walking distance to the train I have to take for work. No bus/train commutes; that is hell in the winter.
      – walkable neighborhood with basic things like grocery stores nearby, as we don’t have a car.
      – Safe neighborhood. I live in a major city where there is frequent crime regardless of where you go, so my qualifier was “not in disputed gang territory, as our current apartment is, and infrequent murders.”
      -Dishwasher. Not negotiable. We lived for 3 years without one and, never again. We both hate doing dishes.
      -Some type of outdoor space. We got lucky and got a back balcony AND a tiny bit of yard!
      -Sufficient natural light.
      -Not a basement apartment.
      -Not a high-rise.

    7. Chickaletta*

      The other residents would be important to me. I’ve lived in places where the neighbors fight and get into all sorts of shenanigans, and it made everything else about the apartment less important.

      Otherwise, light is important to me, I’ve lived in ground floors that are really dim where you have to have a light on in the middle of a summer day and that got depressing real fast. I hate ground floor apartments overall: not just for the light, but also because I don’t like hearing the upstairs neighbors clomping around or having fun time on their bed–good for them but I don’t want to know about it. Outdoor space is less important because I don’t tend to spend time hanging out on the balcony; the one exception would be if it was a really large enclosed area that people couldn’t see into. Location is always important.

      Get the nicest apartment you can afford.

      1. Anxa*

        Yep. I know neighhbor issues happen across all income levels, but I find that more expensive housing is a lot less raucous.

        Also, I had a neighbor who got drunk a lot and just gave me that stay- away feeling. Eventually there were domestic violence issues and I was a wreck. Called the cops once, said my piece, and I know it’s cowardly, but then I just wanted out. He was my landlords son so I did not want to get too involved (could he end up with access to my apartment). We were in a duplex so there was no way they didn’t know I was the one to call the cops. High rent can’t screen stuff like this out, but just a story about how neighbors can affect everything.

    8. rubyrose*

      1. One level, preferably on first floor or an elevator. I have a disability that needs accommodation.
      2. Washer/dryer hookup.
      3. Great insulation and construction. Really looking for something that will block noise from the neighbors and the street.
      4. Close assigned parking space.
      5. Storage and closet space.
      6. Windows for natural light.
      7. Ability to have a pet, if I want one in the future.

    9. TL -*

      Lots of natural light and nature when I look out the window – the best was when I lived by a pond, the worst was when I lived in a cramped neighborhood with no trees.
      Now I have trees outside every window and I can see grass and a bit of a bog and it’s perfectly fine by me.

    10. KR*

      I need to have a deck/patio/yard/outside space to put my chair and hang out outside. I lived in a third floor walk up for close to 2 years and it was annoying so I probably wouldn’t go with that again (at least in the next couple of years since my dog is old and has bad hips). I also don’t like long commutes (more than 30 minutes for me) so I wouldn’t move anywhere to sign up for a commute.

    11. Candy*

      Location is definitely my first priority. My apartment right now is a 30 minute walk or 15 minute bike ride from work, a block off a main street with restaurants, nightclubs, a grocery store that’s open til 3am, and a 24hour pharmacy, and two blocks from the beach. There’s no apartment nice enough that would make me want to move somewhere further out that would require me having to take a bus to work or buy groceries.

      Quiet is my next priority — but not a quiet neighbourhood, a quiet building. I love the dichotomy I have right now of living in a ‘happening’ neighbourhood but in a building that’s not full of party animals. I’m in my city’s gay village so there’s lots of exciting things happening outside but I can still stumble home to peace and quiet within my own little studio at night.

    12. copy run start*

      1 – Features. I want W/D in unit, a dishwasher and efficient heating and cooling. Time is money and I don’t have time to deal with laundry and dishes or be sweaty/cold all the time. Can I get high-speed internet (I need it for work and snow days.)

      2 – Location. I don’t want to spend an hour a day in traffic. I’m okay with some noise, but I don’t want to be up against a walking trail or a city park again for safety reasons. I also would like to be on the top floor.

      3 – Price. Can I get the same for less? Can I afford this place long term, even if I don’t get a raise every year and rent goes up?

      4 – Pets. Gotta allow my cat and not charge me a ridiculous amount extra each month.

      5 – Bonus features. Covered parking, on-site storage, balcony, gym/pool, is the unit extra spacious or up-to-date? South-facing windows, etc.

    13. Sibley*

      Accepts cats. Location. Layout meets my needs (if I don’t have somewhere to put 2 litterboxes, no go). Price.

    14. Al Lo*

      Must-haves:
      – Not a basement suite
      – Dishwasher
      – 2 bedroom, or bedroom + office
      – 2 closets (in this place, my husband uses the second bedroom/office closet, and the bedroom closet is all mine)
      – Right in the downtown core (which by definition means walking distance to amenities) — this time, that was a #1 priority. For a future move, the neighbourhood may be different, but at the very least, it’s a huge priority to be in the inner-city, walkable neighbourhoods.
      – Includes at least one parking spot
      – Modern styling/flooring/colors/details/bathrooms/floor plan/etc
      – Cat-friendly
      – No galley kitchen

      Pretty close to must-haves, that would have to be a very amazing apartment to give up otherwise (and in this particular move, we got all of these):
      – 9′ ceilings (8′ just seems so claustrophobic!)
      – In-suite laundry
      – Double sink in the kitchen (I can’t stand doing dishes without a rinse sink)
      – Not white walls (thankfully, the trend is moving more toward other neutrals, but I lived in too many white rentals)

      Nice-to-haves (we gave up most of these with this move, but they stay on the list for future moves):
      – Walk-in closets
      – Not on the first floor
      – High rise building
      – Natural gas hookup on the balcony for BBQ (lots of newer buildings here have that, but this one doesn’t)

      I’m sure there are more, but that’s what I can think of off the top of my head

      1. Al Lo*

        And, of course, price was the overarching factor. We could have gotten an apartment with everything on our list for $350 more per month than we’re paying now, but we chose to sacrifice the things on the nice-to-have list for now. The decision in a couple years might be different.

    15. AcademiaNut*

      For me, price and location. Price, for obvious reasons. Location because I don’t have a car – I need good access to transit for work and some decent shopping options, or good walkability.

      For the rest – in my current city the next priorities were noise and a kitchen we could cook in (by local standards, that’s a narrow galley kitchen with two gas burners and a sink, and the fridge, microwave and toaster oven in the main room of the apartment).

      In our current place, we picked out a couple of districts, and looked for stuff in our budget, filtering out anything facing a main street, with more than a three story walkup, or top floors (because of heat and leaking). And illegal rooftop suites.

      Gardens and good insulation are pretty much a lost cause – there are no single family dwellings, only apartments, here, and the weather is rarely sit out in the garden friendly. Balconies are usually enclosed, and for drying clothing.

    16. LadyKelvin*

      #1 big kitchen, all the appliances, good counter and cabinet space.
      #2 washer/dryer
      And #3 location. Easy to get to work (low traffic is important but I’m willing to drive 30 to 40 min).

      Once those are covered then I worry about how walkable it is, where the closest grocery stores are, ect. But we won’t even consider it if it doesn’t meet #1-3,

    17. Gala apple*

      I live in a pretty expensive small city where single living spaces (1 bedrooms or studios) are rare and pricy. Thanks, zoning and UVA! So price is my primary factor. I’d prefer not to live with a roommate- I take up too much room in the kitchen.

      – safety – is it in a decent area? Does the unit have secure locks; windows that aren’t easy to break into, etc?
      – condition of the unit
      – type of property management. My last place and current place have been managed by the owners, and I’ve found it more tedious in terms of getting things fixed than when I lived in a complex with an on-site maintenance staff
      – natural (hopefully direct!) sunlight
      – location – commute time from working and is it walkable to a downtown area, park, etc?
      – in unit washer dryer
      – outdoor space
      – neighbors – I’m sorta over having people live above me.

    18. LAMM*

      We will (hopefully! if all goes well…) be looking soon. So I’m keeping an eye out to see what’s on the market. My non-negotiables are….

      1. 1.5 bathrooms at least. Because of out work schedules, we both typically need to use a bathroom at the same time (but for different reasons, which makes sharing the room not possible).

      2. A decent sized kitchen. Ours right now is super tiny and it makes me hate to cook.

      3. A porch or patio. Back or front. I just want to be able to sit outside if I want to.

    19. Jules the First*

      Non-negotiables: a kitchen I can actually cook in (four burners, an oven, decent cupboard space); in-apartment laundry facilities; big windows; minimal carpet; within a 20 minute walk of subway/train station (busses make me motion-sick).

      After a place meets those requirements, layout is far more important than space…and then storage space.

      My favourite thing about having bought a place in December 2015 is that I never have to move again unless I want to!

  18. Loopy*

    Anyone have a sense of what’s realistic for bridesmaid dress alterations/willing to share their experiences?

    I have one that needs to be hemmed, taken in, and have straps added. I have about 3 weeks between when I can drop it off and when I need it back and I know this is a busy season. One place quoted me 150, another quoted me 80. I thought 80 was a great price but the groom’s mother is urging me to look for even lower. Is that realistic?!

    1. Red Reader*

      You might be able to find lower, depending on your location, but if you’re happy with 80 and can afford it without major hardship, I’d just get it out of the way and be done with it!

      1. C Average*

        This. Make sure the price is firm, though, if that’s important. Sometimes the quote is an estimate and sometimes it’s a firm price. (This is because it can be hard to look at a garment and accurately assess how much work it’s going to be to alter it.)

    2. Chickaletta*

      Depends on your area. 80 is a good price. Mostly, you want someone who’s going to do a good job, especially since you want more than just a hem taken in. Side seams and darts take skill. So make sure you’re factoring more than just the price when deciding who to hire.

    3. Bookworm*

      80 seems reasonable to me and is in alignment with bridesmaid dress alterations I’ve had done in the past. ( This is especially true given the timeframe!)

    4. Loopy*

      Thanks for the advice everyone. I found someone who would do it for 60 but she works out of her home so I feel like if she did a job I was unhappy with I’d have no recourse to escalate it to the manager/business owner to get it fixed.

      I like supporting small business but someone working out of their home feels a little too informal for something I have so little time for and can’t afford t have messed up. I’ll spend the extra 20.

      Also I went back and noticed the quote said “around XX dollars” so I’ll have to get a firmer quote in person.

      1. Reba*

        Just to add, perhaps more confusingly, I had a bridesmaid dress and my wedding dress (antique) handled by seamstresses who worked in their homes. Both did smashing jobs. Good luck!

      2. CheeryO*

        Aw, I understand your thinking, but my mom does alterations out of her home and does fantastic work and is more than willing to accommodate tight deadlines. She has worked in shops off and on throughout her life and is always let down by the quality of their work.

        1. Pommette*

          Yeah. There are great shops out there, and super talented people who work in shops.

          But the bulk of the money shops make comes from routine alterations that don’t take a ton of skills (hems, hems, hems, hems!). Unless a shop is big enough shop to have a team of seamstresses, some less skilled, who do the easier work, and some more skilled, who focus on the difficult work, going independent gives highly skilled seamstresses a chance to make better money and to do more interesting work.

      3. Pommette*

        In my experience, great seamstresses and tailors often work from home. They get business through recommendations. They have basically worked their way up to the point where they can be work independently. People who are just starting off, and people who are decent but not great, often work in shops with a manager. (This could probably location-dependent, and may not be true for you!)

        The worst alterations I had done were in a professional shop. The owner offered to refund my money. It was a nice gesture, but didn’t make up for the fact that the dress was ruined.

        Which isn’t a reassuring story (sorry!). My advice would be:

        – Alterations can make or break a dress. If the work is complicated (e.g. taking a dress in at the bust), they can cost more than the dress itself did; if it’s not (moving a hem up), they can be super cheap.

        – It’s normal for someone to be unable to give you a firm quote until they have done a fitting – they need to see what kinds of alterations are going to be necessary.

        – Can you ask to see examples of their past work?

        (Good luck and congratulations on the upcoming wedding!)

    5. KR*

      I think 80 is a great price for what you’re looking for especially if there’s a lot of layers to the dress. I had to have a 5+ layer dress hemmed and have a heavily beaded bodice taken in and straps altered (junior prom) and it cost $100+ which was fine since we got the dress for free. Three weeks seems like not a lot of time too.

    6. MsChanandlerBong*

      I think $80 is good. David’s Bridal (in my area, not sure about areas with higher CoL) charges $65 just for the hem, so $80 for hem, straps, and taking in seems very reasonable to me.

  19. bibliovore*

    In the Amsterdam airport waiting for the connecting flight to Bologna. I know I am supposed to stay awake to combat the jet lag but I am already fading and it is only 1:00. Tips?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Might be too late, but walk around! Schiphol is like a small city, with great food, a nice spa (although any spa treatment might induce a nap!), and all other kinds of shops. Just walk around and browse, that should keep you awake. I would actually advise NOT eating, because that always makes me want to sit, and then nap, but maybe that’s just me. :)

    2. C Average*

      Stay online with us and tell us what you’re doing in Bologna. You can stay awake and we can all live vicariously!

        1. Bibliovore*

          Okay, for those who want to live vicariously. I did have a bite to eat. An espresso, smoked salmon m and a smoothie, I hadn’t eaten since leaving home 8 hours before. Walked around the airport until my flight. Arrived at the hotel around 4:30, settled in.

          We took a walk around 7 and found a restaurant on the plaza near the hotel. My roomate had lasagne and I had arugula parmigian salad and a side of prosciutto. After a short walk , some gelato.
          We stayed up until about ten.

          This morning had a terrific breakfast. I am working in the hotel room to catch-up and the roomate is taking a walk.
          I am pacing myself for the big week ahead as I have walking issues. I will adventure out this afternoon.

    3. nep*

      Lots of water. No heavily caffeinated beverages or anything too sugary — that could make you crash. Sometimes a very brief nap can be just the ticket. But as I read on line once: naps can be tricky — you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world, or you wake up with cotton in your mouth and a headache not knowing what year it is.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thanks guys . It’s almost ten. Officially that is the witching hour,
        one thing…got lots of advise but can’t figure out if any of the markets are open on Sunday’s .

  20. Legalchef*

    I was diagnosed with Gestational diabetes this week. Anyone have any experience with it? I have to test my blood 4x a day, but it seems like I’ll be able to control it with diet. But, I’m having a hard time with breakfast. I suspect (based on the last few days) that I can’t really have carbs (or if I do, very very little) at breakfast, but I usually eat at work and would have oatmeal or get an egg sandwich (both of which I should be able to eat on paper but don’t seem to be able to handle). I also can’t eat too much cheese or egg because my cholesterol tends to run high. Anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Annie Admin*

      I had it with both my pregnancies and was able to control with diet. I found that if I ate something that on paper should be ok but it ended up spiking my sugar, some walking or light activity brought it down. You really do have to find a balance. If you want something that will spike your sugars you have to be willing to take a walk around the block for 10 minutes or so.

      1. Legalchef*

        Yeah, the problem is that since I eat breakfast at work it’s hard to then take a 10 minute walk. Lunch is usually a salad and my numbers have been great for that.

        1. Annie Admin*

          Are you able to handle a protein breakfast? Maybe some ham with some whole wheat toast? I had to avoid fruit for breakfast because it would spike me.

          1. Legalchef*

            I don’t eat ham, but when I had the ww toast it was with egg whites and still made me spike.

    2. setsuko*

      Would you be up for trying greek yoghurt? It is high in protein and low in carbs/sugar. The reason I suggest it, is that you can add as much, or as little, sweetener (fruit, jam (not sure what you call that in the US), granola, etc.) as your diabetes can handle.

      You have to be careful to get the proper, plain stuff and not “Greek-style yoghurt”, which has more sugar. The key word to look for is ‘strained’. Fage is a good brand if you can get it.

      1. Annie Admin*

        Seconding the Greek yogurt. Choose a low glycemic fruit to go in it. My nutritionist suggested it for me but I have a texture issue and couldn’t get it down.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Yeah, I can’t handle greek yogurt either. I can eat it in things (as a high protein substitute for sour cream in stroganoff, for instance) but I can’t eat it as just yogurt.

          Low fat cottage cheese has really high protein per calories ratio, and that I can eat! With low glycemic fruit, or nuts.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      There is growing evidence, honest to goodness, that eating a diet high in sugars/carbs has more to do with high cholesterol than eating fats. And even the AMA and the FDA, etc have taken the warnings off cartons of eggs, because eating CHOLESTEROL (eggs) has been proven definitively to have zero impact on your blood cholesterol. Everything they told us in the 90’s is pretty much wrong. Eggs are , absolutely, your best bet, period.

      As you’ve seen, certain carbs will spike your blood sugar more than others- and that is different for everyone. For instance, I can eat ice cream (ICE CREAM) and my blood sugar will stay where it is, but a piece of toast will send it through the roof. So as you go along, you’ll notice what makes you spike and what doesn’t.

      The best advice I’ve gotten is to let go of what you think is “proper” breakfast food. You don’t have to eat eggs or cereal, etc just because it’s morning- you can eat a chicken wrap, or any leftovers from dinner. A lot of times, my breakfast is low fat cottage cheese and some nuts.

      The other thing is that I’ve noticed (and there is some research to back it up) that if I eat a carb, even one of my “bad” ones- WITH protein and fat- it will effect my blood sugar less than if I ate it by itself.

    4. Legalchef*

      Thanks all. I’m starting to think my issue on the morning is when I eat more traditional carbs (bread, cereal). The other day I had an egg white sandwich in whole wheat toast and my number was high. Yesterday I had a Greek yogurt w cherries, a hard boiled egg, and a string cheese, and my number was fine. But today I had a different Greek yogurt with about 1/3 c crushed up cereal mixed in and it was high again. So, maybe tomorrow I’ll try yogurt again with some other protein but no other carbs and see what happens.

      1. Legalchef*

        Also, for 2 nights I had an evening snack of a tiny piece of brownie and then my fasting number was high. 1 night I had a low fat ice cream bar and my fasting was good.

        1. buzzbattlecat*

          If you’re really craving a cereal breakfast, have you tried chia seeds? You mix with yoghurt or cream or coconut cream the night before, then you can add sweetener, cinnamon, cocoa, whatever you like. It’s like a yummy pudding and providing you don’t add sugar it should be fine.
          Another no carb favourite is to simply whizz eggs and cream cheese and fry little pancakes.

      2. A. Non*

        You might also have offset any problems in the first breakfast by having the egg and cheese with it. But seriously, eating protein in the morning is likely to be your best bet, and eggs are a good choice. I’m chronically LOW on my cholesterol, and I eat about two eggs a day, every day. It doesn’t make my numbers move anywhere, though I kind of wish it did.

      3. Call me St. Vincent*

        Do you have a GD nurse that can work with you on this? Sounds like you need to eliminate all “bread” type carbs in the morning. What about having hard boiled eggs instead?

    5. Celeste*

      You may be ultra sensitive to wheat in that breakfast sandwich. Eggs and cheese don’t raise blood sugar. You are doing the right thing by checking after foods, though. There is a wealth of information at Blood Sugar 101. The studies really do show that you don’t have to fear eggs and dairy for cholesterol; it really is carbohydrate that works against you for inflammatory lesions. Another thing you can do besides exercise is drink water. That really helps manage your numbers.

      1. Annie Admin*

        Good luck! I know it can be miserable. With my last pregnancy I was diagnosed at my 2 month check up because of high sugar in my urine. I went the entire pregnancy having to monitor everything that I ate.

        1. Legalchef*

          Oh wow! That sucks. Luckily I’m 29 weeks Monday so I don’t have TOO long to do this.

      2. Legalchef*

        That’s what I’m starting to think re the wheat. My nutritionist told me that a lot of women have more problems in the morning, because that’s when estrogen levels are often the highest. I can have wheat at other times – I had a little ravioli with dinner a few nights ago and my test was fine, and then a little leftover with lunch yesterday and it was fine too.

  21. in the UK*

    Is this post up extra early or has daylight savings completely thrown out my time conversions?

    1. caledonia*

      It’s super super early – is a holiday weekend the the US?

      Usually up around 5 pm UK time.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Yes, it’s super early and no, it’s not a holiday weekend in the US. April Fool’s Day doesn’t count as a holiday to most, at least.

  22. Cajun Lady*

    After Alison’s suggestion last week the I try the feliway for my cat that just stopped using the litter box after a series of tragic events, I bought some. I also got a calming collar another commenter suggested. I even moved the litter box. She now is mad that we have put a collar on her and decided to poop RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BOX. I am at a loss of what to do. I have had this cat since she was 5 weeks old and never has she behaved this way!

      1. Cajun Lady*

        I did try to take the collar off yesterday as it seemed to not be helping and she is irritated with it but she won’t let me take it off. Belle has always been an independent cat that doesn’t like a lot of affection (unless she does and then she will be in your face demanding it). My husband has been away on business this week and it was a 2 person job getting it on her so it will have to be a 2 person job getting it off. I am also going to try changing the litter itself even though I have been using the same one for years. Maybe she decided she no longer likes this kind? I know she is stressed over all the trauma and I just want my first born (I rescued her from a gas station when I was pregnant with my 15 year old daughter) to be happy! It really stinks that animals can’t just tell you what is wrong (as much as my 8 year old likes to talk for her lol).

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Ugh. The honest truth is, that once a cat decides not to use a litter box, it can be really hard to get them to use it again. Some cats are just stubborn.

      I don’t remember if I asked or you said- you did make sure that she doesn’t have a UTI, etc, right?

      1. Cajun Lady*

        Yes. The vet checked her out and she was ok physically. He suggested kitty Prozac but he agreed that it would cause more stress getting her to take it. We had a hard time even getting her to the vet.

    2. Celeste*

      Some cats refuse a covered box, and some won’t use a box if it’s not recently cleaned. I had to go the extra mile and get Cat Attract litter. It has solved the problem. It’s more expensive, but I never have to clean up messes now so I’m calling it a win.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      OK, first of all make sure the Feliway is in a good place – a space she likes to spend time in, not by a window. Secondly, Feliway can take up to a month to work, and reactions vary from nothing to magical, with some cats only needing one bottle, others a few, and some needing it indefinitely.

      Also, if you haven’t, make sure any soiled spots are cleaned with something that breaks down the proteins in cat urine and does *not* contain any ammonia. Either cat-specific products or if you don’t mind the smell, diluted vinegar. The area needs to be soaked.

      I tend not to like calming collars and I REALLY don’t recommend anything with essential oils if that’s what it is. They smell incredibly unpleasant to cats, can irritate the skin, and many cats hate collars no matter what’s on them.

      Also, if you are the person who has had a huge amount of changes in your household, it will take time. As mentioned here, it’s harder to break a habit than prevent it, but also cats need routine and space to get away and potentially quite a long time before they feel safe again after major upheavals.

      Fixing issues like inappropriate toileting can be quick if you have a specific stressor like “my litter tray is near a window and other cats come stare at me while I go”, but often it’s an extended process of working with your cat and figuring out how to make them feel safe and secure. It would be good if you could work with someone- there aren’t a lot of cat behaviourists but we (vet) used to have ongoing relationships with clients where we could work with them and try different things to fix the problem. We had great, knowledgeable front staff who would do that, but I don’t know how easy that is to find. Certainly you could call around local vets to see if they could help you.

        1. Rabbit*

          The increased air flow dilutes the pheromones really rapidly. Away from doors is also best for the same reason!

    4. Melody Pond*

      Oh! My cat has been giving me litter box troubles, too! She doesn’t squat to pee AT ALL, and so at least half or more of her urine always gets outside the box! And if the box has been used even once before getting cleaned, she’ll often just pee anywhere on the bathroom floor!

      I was getting really tired of cleaning the bathroom floor multiple times a day. But I found a halfway decent solution! Washable, cloth pee pads! And then I found on Amazon that you can get mattress bed pads designed for human incontinence that are about the same size, but better quality and cheaper!

      I’ll post a link in a reply to this comment, if anyone’s interested.

    5. Cajun Lady*

      I have VICTORY! I bought new unvented litter (we had been using one that had a light scent for years) and this morning there was poop in the box! Granted she peed outside of it but progress!!

  23. Tableau Wizard*

    Any other LDS Primary Music Leaders out there? I’m excited for a weekend off!

    1. Anatexis*

      Not a music leader but I am the secretary in Primary (and have been primary president before). I am incredibly grateful for the weekend off of helping to manage 150+ kids. :).

    2. Turtlewings*

      Just a Primary teacher, but yes, extremely relieved to have a Sunday off! (Probably shouldn’t have taken the calling, to be honest — dreading church to the point of stomachache and fantasizing about moving away is probably not the intended effect.)

    3. Piano Girl*

      I’m not a Primary Music Leader, but a Ward Organist and RS pianist. Yes, I am enjoying my weekend off!!

  24. Reader*

    Spouse took that book out of the library this week. Given that we’re poly, she’s figuring it’s got a 50% chance of being something she’ll want to throw at the wall, but is hoping it falls into the other 50%.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d say that it’s pretty open minded about open relationships, but ultimately does come down on the side of, uh, “complications will ensue for this particular couple.” I’d be interested to know what she thinks after she reads it!

  25. Vicky Austin*

    I’m going to the big island of Hawaii in December. Right now I am trying to figure out which areas I should stay in. I figure I will spend about half my nights somewhere near Kona, and the other nights between the Hilo and Volcano areas.

    It is a 9 night vacation and mostly I’m into active stuff: hiking, kayaking, biking, etc. And since I’m on an island I also would like to be near the water. Anyway, would love suggestions of towns or areas that would be good.

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      We stayed in Keahu on our honeymoon and it was lovely – there were loads of sea turtles on the beach. Went on a fantastic day trip where we saw the observatories and went stargazing. Sadly the hotel we went to has closed so can’t recommend that.

    2. Anu*

      That was basically our plan when we went to the Big Island. We stayed in Hilo proper at a B&B which was lovely. Drive to the Volcano park. Hiked there. Did a boat ride to the lava flows. The botanical garden was amazing and so was the farmer’s market if you’re into that kind of thing. Did a horse ride in Waipio valley. On the other side splurged and stayed at Mauna Lani Resort in Kohala. Spent most of our time on lounge chairs sipping cocktails and snorkeling at the beach that was right there. Amazing. Did a guided tour up Mauna Kea which was definitely worth it. Tried scuba diving classes but gave up as I hated it. It was probably my favorite vacation ever – the perfect mix of activities and relaxation.

    3. Cher Horowitz*

      The Volcano Lodge is a complete middle-earthy experience! The restaurant looks out onto the crater which looks exactly like Isengard! I loved every minute we spent at the lodge.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Kona’s definitely the tourist side, and on the dry side of the island – a lot less rain, and better shopping and restaurants. I’ve only stayed in Kona once, for a conference – we were at a big hotel down by the water which was very nice. In Hilo, I usually stay in a condo rented by my employer (we have a lot of business travel to Hilo).

      The saddle road across the centre of island has improved in the past few years, but be careful – it was originally a military road and was not properly banked, and consequently is really easily to have accidents on.

      We went to a beach north of Kona that was very nice – sandy, facing the sunset – and practically deserted, and a tiny little one locals go to in Hilo that had sea turtles.

      The volcano park is cool, as is just stopping by the road and walking on the old lava fields (also very cool for artistic photos). There’s also the trip up to Mauna Kea and the observatories – there’s a visitor centre part way up with night time viewing through small telescopes, and a gift shop. You can drive to that, but need a tour to the summit. You can’t go to the summit within a certain time period after scuba diving (you can get the bends), and shouldn’t go if you have heart problems. Some day I’d like to do the tour, to relax and enjoy the view – any time I’ve been at the summit, I’ve been working frantically.

    5. Clever Name*

      I don’t know if there are any hotels there, but Waimea is adorable. Big Island Brewhaus is a fun place to eat.

    6. Jules the First*

      My sister and I did big island in February 2014 and although it wasn’t a place that was on my bucket list, I’d go back in a heartbeat. Kona and Hilo have the best beaches, but getting waterside in most cases on big island is a challenge, because it’s volcanic and quite steep. While you’re in the Kona area, I highly recommend Adventures in Paradise for their Kealakekua Bay snorkel/kayak trip – it was absolutely fantastic and very reasonably priced for what we got (also local, ethical, and environmentally responsible).

      We stayed the first three days in Kona (if I were doing it again, I’d stay north of the town rather than south, as there’s more interesting stuff to do and better beaches). We spent one night at a brilliant B&B in Honokaa and explored the north coast, then a couple of days in Hilo (so we could do Mauna Kea…frankly, that was all we did in Hilo that was fun), but the absolute highlight of our trip was the three days we spent in the Namakani Paio Cabins in Volcano – they’re owned by the National Parks but managed by Volcano House Hotel. You get a little cabin (sleeps four, but was totally reasonably priced for just two of us) in a campground, complete with bedding, a little picnic table, and communal toilets. No cooking facilities (apart from a campfire grill), but you have full use of the lounge at Volcano House (about a mile down the road) and if the weather is good you can walk across to the crater visitor centre from the campsite. And frankly, picnicking was easy, even in February. There’s a ton of hiking in the area and we wished we had more time there.

      We used Big Island Guru (an amazing blog) almost exclusively to plan our trip – nothing she recommended was anything less than fantastic. And note that if you do a Greenwell Farms tour (just south of Kona) early in your trip, they’ll fill your travel mug for free with local coffee any (and every) day you want to drop by…worth it!

  26. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

    Two weeks ago I sprained my ankle (doing nothing! It feels so silly and disproportionate!) and it’s still not better. If anything the second half of this week it is worse, as I think I started doing too much on it. Any advice other than RICE? Or stories to give me a realistic timeline?

    1. Celeste*

      Six weeks. That’s what every sprain has always cost me in recovery, no matter what I try. Since my last one I’ve heard that fish oil capsules help reduce the inflammation better and faster than NSAIDs, so I am interested in trying it if I get another.

      1. A. Non*

        I’ve broken bones in my feet, and can attest to boosting Omega-3 being helpful. It cut my recovery time on the third break by about two weeks, and that one doesn’t hurt like the others.

      2. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

        Thank you! It’s reassuring to know this is in normal bounds. I’ll try the fish oil! I have some at home, I try to take it regularly but … am not so good at follow rheiigh, hah.

    2. Colette*

      10x point and flex the ankle
      10x move foot side to side
      10x rotate one way
      10x rotate the other way
      Spell the alphabet with your big toe

      Repeat 3-4 times a day.

      (This is what my physiotherapist has me do every time I sprain my ankle, which is happening annoyingly often these days.)

      1. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

        Excellent, thank you! The dr recommended PT exercises but didn’t say anything more specific than that.

    3. Sir Alanna Trebond*

      You might want to see a doctor and make sure nothing is broken/torn. Two weeks is enough time you should have started to see some improvement if it was a simple sprain. That being said, I don’t want to freak you out–you might just have a “higher grade” sprain, like a grade 2 instead of a grade 1. Still, better safe than sorry.

      1. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

        Thanks, that has been confirmed :) I have a history of stupid foot injuries so I got X rayed the next day. No breaks!

    4. Jules the First*

      Once the swelling has subsided, I strongly recommend K-tape (You Tube for tutorials on how to use it) – I was a total sceptic, and then my physio used it and it was fantastic. You get almost all your range of motion while taped, with just enough support that it doesn’t give way underneath you.

      1. Laura (Needs To Change Her Name)*

        Thanks I will check it out! The compression wrap has been great but it sounds like this is less invasive.

  27. Dizzy Steinway*

    I have finally got the spare room sorted. It was my Everest! Husband is taking four huge bags to the charity shop. There’s a few boxes in the wardrobe that still need sorting and some shelves in another room but otherwise I’ve finally got my house (and, it feels, my life) in order. I’m the child of hoarders and it’s taken a very long time to reach a point where I don’t feel embarrassed about the mess my stuff is in (I’ve struggled with depression and became very messy when unwell but it will be easier now I have a manageable amount of stuff which has actual homes where it belongs).

    I was brought up thinking normal tidiness was being overly houseproud and for years have recreated the feeling that I can’t have people over due to mess. I’ve been very gradually improving things (therapist advised not to do it too suddenly) and kept things 75% tidy for ages. Now it’s at 95%.

    I’m proud and yet I don’t feel quite as relieved as I expected. I think because it’s a new way to feel and be and I’m not used to it yet. I’ve had a series of proper clearouts and overcome my own hoarding tendencies e.g. keeping packaging. (My dad used to go through my rubbish and I felt anxious about throwing things out for years.)

    Can anyone relate? And I need to not slip back into my old ways – any tips?

    1. Nicole*

      I relate to keeping packaging. I always think “we need to keep this box in case we want to sell this item in the future or when we move “. As a result we have way too many empty boxes in the garage. The clutter drives me nuts and I think the temporary annoyance of not having the perfectly shaped box in the future will be less stressful than the almost daily stress of seeing them all over the garage so I plan to do some spring cleaning once the weather warms up. I’m also trying to part with the stuff I keep but never use. It’s easier if I sell it, give it away, or donate it vs throw it in the garbage. At least then I feel like it gets a second life. I take photos of it first and add it to Evernote with a description. I think it helps to let go plus then I don’t go crazy wondering what happened to it later. I actually cried after selling my old 3 cd / dual cassette stereo last summer. I had it for over twenty years. It was my first large purchase and I took such good care of it that it looked almost new. It served as my entertainment system through different life changes. Apparently I grew quite attached to it: despite it taking up a decent chunk of space (the speakers were large and could detach) in the garage and not being used in a decade I instantly regretted selling it as I watched the guy who bought it drive off. I feel so silly having such an attachment to an inanimate object and was surprised by my own reaction. It makes me wonder how people can give up pets. But we’re all different. I’m just glad I’m not that attached to most of my stuff!

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        Oh yes, taking photos!

        I do keep packaging for big stuff like my MacBook, but this was, like, everything. I now make myself rip it up so I can’t keep it.

        1. Saturnalia*

          But if the boxes are collapsed, they don’t make nearly as exciting of a maze for the cats. :-)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Me too, but I’m planning on moving so I did keep packaging for my new tv and home theater system. I’ll probably get rid of the old ones at that time. Usually I only keep the box for a while and when it’s past return time, I pitch it. Except for my bathroom heater -I put that in the box and store it in the summer. Keeps the dust out of it, which I dislike burning when I use it again in cold weather.

    2. Celeste*

      Sometimes when I have a problem I think, if only I could solve this, my life would be perfect. Guess what–it doesn’t work that way. It’s wonderfully worth fixing issues, but it’s never just one thing that is the answer to everything. My advice is to look at what else you might like to work towards. Was the mess preventing you from something else? Friendships ?Entertaining? Travel? A hobby? Maybe those are now the things to look into.

    3. C Average*

      I have a colleague who has a tendency to keep things that seem like they might be useful (paperclips, packaging, stuff like that) way beyond what she’s likely to actually use, and she’s chosen to limit the tendency. For example, at work she keeps paperclips and safety pins in an Altoid tin, and she only lets herself keep as many as will fit. If we wind up with more, she lets me throw them away. (She can’t bring herself to throw away something that might be useful, but she is willing to outsource the task to someone more heartless, like me. Heh. Maybe you need a couple of heartless friends?)

      She says that at home she has decorative bins or boxes for categories of things that she likes to save–for example, she has a small box in which she keeps old greeting cards she thinks are pretty, but she’s only allowed to keep as many as will fit in the box. If she doesn’t do this, she’s explained to me, she will keep them all.

      Would something like this work for you? Having limited-capacity spaces for categories of things you know you tend to want to hang onto beyond what makes sense?

      (Oh, and also, congrats. Take the time to let yourself ease into this new space. It won’t feel entirely comfortable at first. Give it some time.)

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        Thanks! And limited capacity space is a great idea. I already use little glass jars for things like paper clips and push pins – they look nice and keep them away from kitty paws.

      2. KR*

        I love this idea and I’m going to come back for this for the greeting cards and the doodads.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It might help to look at prices for shipping boxes. I tend to keep them for the first month or two, but I used to keep them for years. I don’t know what I imagined I would use them for, but I realized that I could pay $10-20 to the UPS store for packaging if I really needed it, and I’ve never actually needed it. But even if you look at your history of returning products and you find that you would need that every month, you can decide if saving $10 a month is worth the hassle of keeping the boxes around. If money is really tight, it might be, but otherwise you can think of it as spending $10 a month for keeping your house less cluttered!

      1. Dizzy Steinway*

        It’s less for returning them and more because I’ve occasionally had issues with selling things where they’d be worth more with the box. Mainly though it’s not logical at all.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You can start a list of WHY you want to keep your place better.
      Depression and clutter go hand-in-hand. In some ways I think they feed each other. If you can make that correlation in your mind, perhaps you can encourage yourself that you do not want to go back to the old you. I did this with eating. I was hell-bent that I would not gain the weight back. I remembered how awful I felt and how crappy I thought I looked.

      I mention this because these types of problems are two part problems. The first part is cleaning up the clutter/losing the weight and the second part is maintaining the neatness or the new weight. Clean up requires one type of plan and maintenance requires another type of plan.
      For maintenance I had a few tools I collected up. Sometimes I would give myself little rewards (for me non-food rewards, for your type of setting it would be a reward that was not a dust collector.) Other times I would read and try to learn about my weaknesses that drove the bad eating habits. You could try teaching yourself about what drives clutter problems. And there were times where I would just scare the crap out of myself. “If you want X (Undesirable Thing) to happen then go ahead keep doing Y (Old Bad Habit).” Once in a while we have to yell at ourselves because nothing else is going to work.

      I found that once I started eating healthier I wanted to deal with other parts of my life that could use beefing up. Since that was my Everest, tweaking the other parts of my life was easier in comparison. It could be that you are getting ready to beef up another aspect of your life, that could be your restlessness or dulled sense of satisfaction with what you have done so far. You may have a quiet sense of “I am not done yet. There is more here I can do for myself.” This is okay, actually it’s pretty healthy to feel this way. In general terms this is survival instinct kicking in, you are protecting and growing yourself.

      In short, my suggestion to you is to tell yourself, “Okay. Good job. Don’t stop now. What’s next? Keep going.”

  28. Jessesgirl72*

    Update from last week: Sick dog is stabilized! They kept him all weekend, without any word at all, which was stressful, but that won’t happen again as the Vet made sure we now have his cellphone number. (I appreciate that he didn’t make us transfer the dog to the 24 hour care place, but at least there we can get in contact with someone!) The poor dog’s blood glucose level was not going down even with more units of insulin than would be typical, and they thought he had Cushings Disease on top of the diabetes. He tested negative for that, in the end, and they finally got his glucose levels to come down some, so they let us take him home on Monday. We had to take him back in yesterday so they could monitor him for 6 hours, and now his blood glucose levels are where they should be, even if he’s still on more insulin than would be typical. So we are going to test again in 2 weeks.

    My other dog sulked all weekend and worried and tried to slip out past me to go looking for her brother- and worried again yesterday- but then decided he was too excited about being home and jumping on her and everyone, and immediately “corrected” him. LOL I asked her if she just missed having someone to boss around.

  29. bassclefchick*

    Oh, my – the post is early this week! But I had SO MUCH fun this week I had to share. I took a cooking class! I’ve always wanted to take one, but it was never anything I ever signed up for because of the expense. Well, my sister gave me a gift card for one of the kitchen stores at Christmas specifically so I could sign up for a class.

    I learned how to make souffles!!!!! Always something I’ve wanted to try, but they intimidate me. I see them on MasterChef all the time and I just never thought I could do it. The chef who taught the class was really helpful and there were only 3 of us in the class, so it was much more hands on. We made three kinds: goat cheese and zucchini, lemon with a strawberry sauce, and a chocolate one. They all turned out really well and were very tasty.

    I am a pretty good baker and I love to cook, I just wanted to expand my skills into something I’ve never done. I’m so glad I signed up for this class and I would totally do it again.

    Have you “always” wanted to do something, but never do it because of time or expense? Go do it! It’ll be great!

    1. AstroDeco*

      Youpi your awesome week & learning new skills!!

      Thanks for the encouragement of putting misgivings aside & just doing it. Actually I needed to hear that today!!
      …Tho it won’t be for cooking. I dislike cooking, which is just as well because if I did cook I’d invest too much money & storage for all of the cool gadgets that exist.
      :-D

  30. Dizzy Steinway*

    Sorry to double post but I thought this might be fun. Inspired by Alison’s ‘things I like’ post last week, what are six or seven random things you like?

    I like salted caramel, polar bears, Cirque du Soleil, making my own ice cream, stationery (because clearly you can never have too much of that), anything teal or turquoise, and black cats. Anyone else?

    1. Caledonia*

      I like stars, butterflies, birds, tennis, really good dessert, the way spring smells, my cat and very good well made cocktail.

    2. Stacy*

      I like British television, cherry blossoms, petrichor (both the word & the experience of its definition), Sunday mornings, especially when they involve a stop to see my favorite barista, Coffee Crisp (thanks be to Canada!), daydreams of travel, discovering my magic color (emerald green), and wandering through TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Homegoods to see what treasures I might find.

      1. C Average*

        TJ Maxx / Marshalls / Homegoods / Ross are some of my favorite places to browse aimlessly, too.

      2. Dizzy Steinway*

        That’s a good word.

        My favourite words are scribble, bicyclette and puffling, which is a baby puffin!

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I love the smell of the ocean (but not swimming), Joyva raspberry jelly rings, temps in the 50s (F), the look and sound of the wind in the trees, single malt scotch, crosswords (I have a NYT subscription), and Sudoku.

    4. C Average*

      I love little baby ducks, old pickup trucks, slow-moving trains, and rain . . .

      Oh, wait, that’s an old country song I haven’t heard since childhood, but which is mysteriously STILL lodged in my head.

      I like pineapple, cognac, long meandering walks through the part of town where there are lots of thrift stores, libraries, Rachel Maddow, going to the movies by myself, Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto #1, early mornings, and the way it feels to start a new journal or planner.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Tom T. Hall! I had to look up that song on you tube and listen to it. I knew which song you meant, but it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it, so the tune wasn’t coming to me. Good memories. :-)

    5. Channel Z*

      Hugs, dancing, music, rainbows, swimming, walking in woods or by sea, a good pint. Thanks for post, I was having a pity party and needed to snap out of it.

    6. beem*

      I like spring and summer, family recipes, snuggles, Persian food, sweets, and black cats. And all cats. :D

      1. C Average*

        What is your favorite Persian food? I’ve had it a few times and found it really delicious. I’d love to try more dishes.

        1. beem*

          Fesenjoon, for sure.

          I also love classic Persian breakfast. Lavash or barbari, paneer, and my grandma’s homemade rose jam.

          And tea, all day long.

    7. Felicia*

      I like libraries, pop tarts, musicals, bunnies, rainbows, anything chocolate and a new love of mine is belly dancing.

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      I like clean socks, the quilt my aunt made for me, buffets, picking blackberries, alone time, hairbows, snuggly cats, glitter, children’s books, and the Oxford comma.

    9. Confused Publisher*

      I like reading, the smell of freshly washed sheets at bedtime, teddy bears, folk music, feeding people, lists, and chocolate.

    10. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I like:

      swimming, the ocean/moving bodies of water, passenger plane watching (yeah, ive got binoculars and everything), dancing to electronic music, grilled halloumi, playing music, old passenger ships (like the great liners of the 30s)

    11. KR*

      I agree on the black cats as mine is sitting on my stomach. I like my little family (cat, dog, husband), whales, penguins, banana ice cream, vinyl records, motorcycle rides, and dog cuddles.

    12. Lady Julian*

      Just six??

      Okay, in no particular order or importance, here goes. I like
      * peanut butter
      * waking up early & laying in bed watching the sun rise
      * long runs through the woods
      * plain Greek yogurt with granola & fruit
      * good books, especially journalistic nonfiction & fiction with a strong plot/characters
      * petting cats

    13. nep*

      Trees, standing near the ocean, the feel and smell of certain books, learning new words, Sesame Street, watching BBC Question Time and some French news/discussion programmes.

    14. GiantPanda*

      Pandas. Babylon 5. Royal Blue. Mushrooms. Sleeping in / reading in bed. That combination of sunny-cold-windy weather in early spring. Swimming at sunrise.

    15. copy run start*

      Giant snowflakes on a windless night, a sunny morning in bed, my cat, PIZZA/mac and cheese, anything electronics/computer related, chocolate (deserves a separate nod), mountains.

    16. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I like cats, elephants, driving fast, reading outdoors under a tree, doing nothing especially when I should be doing something, listening to audiobooks, the sound of rushing water in a rocky creekbed, having my things where they belong, and writing in my planner/checking things off.

    17. New Bee*

      I like buttercream icing, felt-tip pens, watching other people be happily surprised, the game TwoDots, elevator music, and the Wendy’s drive-thru.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      I like a good tag sale, nose bumps from my dog, singing Silent Night by candlelight, a good massage, running into a friend as I go about my day and the Spring season.

    19. SaraV*

      Bath & Body Works Sweater Weather candle
      Lilacs
      Peanut butter M&Ms
      The first night you can sleep with the window open
      Opening day of baseball (Tomorrow!)
      Naps
      Doctor Who
      Raspberry jelly filled donuts
      Weather warm enough to wear sandals (I hate hunting for matching socks)

    20. Drago cucina*

      Stationary, journals, Alfred Hitchcock movies, dragonflies, peacocks, dark chocolate, Jethro Tull.

    21. Mimmy*

      -Reeses Peanut Butter Cups
      -Medical shows
      -A warm bath or shower
      -A warm, sunny spring day, especially when the grass and flowers are green and in bloom
      -Textbooks
      -Readers Digest

    22. Rabbit*

      I like the anticipation of starting a new book, purring cats (any cats, really), clean sheets, the smell of baking bread, watching small children meet characters at Disneyland, choral music, and the television program Grand Designs.

    23. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Reading other people’s lists of things that they like and finding commonalities and intriguing differences. :-)

    24. The Rat-Catcher*

      1) How I Met Your Mother
      2) Hazelnut cappuccinos in my new Keurig
      3) Thunderstorms
      4) Browsing at Target or Dress Barn on my lunch break
      5) (so far) the new 13 Reasons Why on Netflix
      6) Foaming hand soap
      7) The weather app on my phone that has the background that matches the weather outside

  31. Michael*

    Has anyone else experienced a lot of browser crashes (Chrome for me) on this site caused by the ads lately? Not sure if this is just me or what. I can’t pinpoint specific ads but I suspect it’s the one that hovers at the bottom, because if I close it quickly then things usually don’t crash.

    1. Sugar of lead*

      Invest in some kind of ad-blocker or pop-up blocker. Some antivirus programs do it automatically. I use K9 web protection, which is free and customizable.

    2. Mimmy*

      Report that to Alison – there’s a link right above the comment box on reporting site issues.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, please report it using the form linked above the comment box! (Ideally, let me know what the ad is for that’s causing the problem.) But also, I totally encourage anyone having issues with ads on this site to use an ad blocker without guilt. I’ve solved 98% of the ad problems, but some people are still encountering them (it’s really weird; most people get none but some people get chronic issues) and honestly, I don’t know when/if the other 2% will ever be solved. Maybe never — it’s proved really hard to stamp out entirely. So if you’re in the group still having issues, you have my blessing to use an ad blocker and take care of it!

      1. Mimmy*

        I’ve been wanting to do that because the banner ads at the bottom are starting to annoy me. I just don’t know which are the reputable ad blockers – I’m afraid of inadvertently putting garbage on my machine.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I use Ad Blocker Plus, too. I don’t mind the inline ads, but the banner ads that pop up at the bottom and pop up when I’m trying to write a comment drove me nuts.

            1. TL -*

              The banner ads don’t bother me but the video ads can play havoc with my browser (I’ve had a couple auto-play audio lately and they’ll send this page into constant reloads, sigh. I reported it, though.)

        1. Perse's Mom*

          I’ve used AdBlock Plus in the past, but a few things were squeaking past it, so I switched to uBlock and Adguard (the latter of which covers my phone as well) and have zero problems with either.

      2. Michael*

        Good to know, thanks! If there’s ever any consistency I’ll let you know via the link.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Even if there’s no consistency, if you tell me about a specific problematic ad, I can get it blocked if there’s enough info to ID it.

    4. AstroDeco*

      Yes with Chrome tho not just with AAM. I’ve gotten Chrome low memory messages & still I’m trying to troubleshoot why.
      It’s driving me bonkers & I’m computer-literate!!

    5. KAZ2Y5*

      I do, but only on my work computer. Every other computer/tablet/phone I use has some type of ad-blocker (sorry Alison, but this site just about does me in). We are not allowed to put anything on our work computers. I think it may be the video that plays up top? I always close the ad at the bottom of the page but if a page has lots of comments it may take me 3-4 trys to get through them (and usually I just give up and read on my phone).

    6. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve had problems on my phone, to the point it was requiring a reboot. I don’t know if it was ad or comment system induced (I did report it via the link though I think). Interestingly, my phone and chrome has just updated and so far seems to be working ok with the website.

  32. Stacy*

    I don’t post very often, but follow along in the comments daily. And when I do post it’s often for something awesome like this:

    I had a wisdom tooth extracted yesterday, that in the words of my oral surgeon “was very icky, so you should be feeling much better soon”. Here’s the deal, not only does recovery suck more because I’m not a teenager anymore, but I also have other health issues that are aggravated by it and then in turn they aggravate the recovery process even more. (I have a connective tissue disorder and autonomic dysfunction, and just to make things extra exciting, I’m allergic to many pain meds). Or as my oral surgeon says, I am “physiologically delicate”.

    So far it’s just been me, pudding that didn’t set because I used almond milk (oops!), applesauce, graham cracker bits, Gatorade, and a sleepy haze of pain and dilaudid. Does anyone have tips or suggestions for anything that might make the next few days a bit easier in me? Even if it’s just food ideas I may have neglected to think about, I’m all ears! I want to get off my pain meds as quickly as possible, because more than 2 days per week (even Tylenol) triggers migraines, and that just sounds like a living hell right now.

    1. Temperance*

      When I had my wisdom teeth out, I ate canned pasta (dinosaurs, to be precise) and potato soup/mashed potatoes.

      I allowed myself to nap as much as I wanted , and watch TV as much as I wanted. Soft clothes only.

      1. Tau*

        I was going to suggest scrambled egg! I had all four wisdom teeth out separately (and then complications for the first three and complications for the complications for the first two) so I spent a lot of time desperately trying to come up with something I could eat, especially since my dentist forbade dairy. Scrambled eggs work really well and are actually nourishing, I was kicking myself so hard for not having come up with them any earlier.

    2. Sugar of lead*

      Ensure and Boost and other liquid nutrition shakes are easy ways to get a meal’s worth of calories without having to chew anything. I keep a couple in the fridge for when I have trouble eating.

    3. Celeste*

      Melty sherbet, pasta in tiny shapes like couscous, orzo, and stars, yogurt (Noosa is amazing), butternut squash soup or tomato soup (readymade in paper boxes), mashed sweet potatoes!

    4. Tris Prior*

      Don’t just eat sugary things! This was my downfall when I had mine out – they tell you to eat pudding, applesauce, ice cream, etc. after. Those all made me feel worse because of the blood sugar crashes. Try pureed soups (if you have a Trader Joe’s near you the black bean soup is good and doesn’t have any bits that can get caught in the hole where your tooth was), mashed sweet potatoes, guacamole, greek yogurt. Stuff with protein and nutrients.

    5. Stacy*

      Ooh, these are all excellent ideas! I knew I could count on AAM readers! I forgot that I picked up sweet potato soup, which I figure I can crumple some crackers into. I also need to keep my salt intake up, which is good for that & scrambled eggs too. I just might need to walk over to the grocery store next door for canned pasta, which will probably be conveniently loaded with sodium already.

      And then I’ll definitely need some sherbet too. Should pair nicely with soft clothes, cozy blankets, and some sort of Netflix marathon!

    6. beem*

      This might seem weird, but if you like PB&J, it is delicious. You can get a little protein if you blend peanut butter into a berry smoothie.

      PB&J smoothie:
      Berries
      Peanut butter
      A little yogurt or Ice cream
      Ice

      Blend it. Delicious.

    7. Turtlewings*

      You may already be doing this, but icing your jaw. Put an ice pack in a scarf and tie it around your head. Looks silly, but feels better!

    8. Red Reader*

      My fiancé had a bunch of teeth extracted recently and has been living on scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and puréed pea or potato soup.

      A funny: I made a chickpea based soup last week for the rest of us. He pureed a bowlful of it and wen “aw man!” I asked what, and he goes “it’s like a dip, not a soup!” Shock and amazement, pureeing a bowl of chickpeas gets you something akin to hummus. Who knew. :-P

    9. LadyKelvin*

      I had mine out 3 years ago and thankfully they were fully erupted and a) I needed was local anesthetic. I drank protein shakes but turns out I’m allergic to dairy protein and hydroxy codeine make ‘s me super nauseous so I spent the first two days puking my guts out until I could stomach the pain enough to stop taking the painkillers. But here’s to a quick recovery.

    10. HannahS*

      Smoothies! I used frozen fruit, water, and my hand blender, but if you’re having trouble getting enough calories, then protein power could be added (to be honest, I just had lots of milky, sugary tea). Also, drinking from straws allowed me to “direct” the food away from the stitches. Definitely flush out the sites with the curved syringe as often as they tell you too.

      Oatmeal? I’m not a huge fan, but it’s easy to make one serving in the microwave and will hold you for a few hours.

    11. Aussie academic*

      I’m really sorry to hear what you’re going for, but I had to laugh at your surgeon calling you ‘physiologically delicate’. My doctor once told me that I’m a ‘bit of a lemon, health wise’, after I had a rare allergy to a drug for a rare condition. I don’t necessarily disagree, but don’t especially appreciate being likened to a dodgy automobile!

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

      1. Stacy*

        Right? Me too. And then he repeated it to my parents, since they were my chauffeurs. They just nodded their heads and chuckled like “yep, we’ve noticed!”.

    12. MCAS*

      Sounds like you need to be tested for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), if you have not already. It is common among people with EDS/connective tissue disorders & dysautonomia. And would explain your allergic reactions to pain meds. Check out the Facebook group “Mast Movement”

      And feel better from the oral surgery!

      1. Stacy*

        Thank you! MCAS was a suggestion in my EDS group as well. And I’m definitely in agreement with that one since yesterday my face was so flushed it was nearly purple, and I started getting hives, which are gone this morning. Better on those fronts today, and never any breathing issues, so definitely will be looking into MCAS more thoroughly!

    13. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      My food tip for wisdom tooth extractions is, as soon as you can eat anything warm, baby foods! I don’t know if it’s a thing in your home place, but here there are ready made baby meals sold in grocery stores. The ones meant for 6 month old babies are completely soft and require zero chewing, but contain real meal ingredients like meat or fish! Just remember to add salt to make the taste more grown-up-appealing. Baby meals helped me a lot when I had my wisdom teeth out because I soon got fed up with all the sweet stuff and wanted something more like a real meal! In my case the phase where you need soft food didn’t even last that long, I don’t know how much that varies.

  33. Sugar of lead*

    I’m hopefully leaving town on Tuesday for parts unknown, where hopefully I will have better luck that I’ve had here.

    What’s your favorite quote? It can be from a philosopher or an animated cartoon show or anything in between. Mine’s “There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”

    1. Celeste*

      “Barn’s burned down…now I can see the moon.” It’s from a Japanese philosopher whose name I don’t remember. Safe travels and good luck to you!

      1. nep*

        That’s one of my favourites — I’ve got a card with that on it among papers on my desk.

    2. Channel Z*

      Just about anything from the Princess Bride. “Get used to disappointment.” “Inconceivable!”

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      The real voyage of discovery is not in seeing new places, but in having new eye.

      Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.

      Not all those who wander are lost.

    4. A. Non*

      “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”

      I hate needles, but if I ever got a tattoo, this would be it.

    5. Random Citizen*

      Ratatouille- If you focus on what you left behind, you will never be able to see what lies ahead.
      And:
      You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try thugs that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. What I say is true, anyone can cook- but only the fearless can be great.

    6. buffty*

      Eat when hungry
      Sleep when tired
      –random bridge graffiti I saw as a kid

      It helps remind me to do what I need to do. I should do what I feel is right for me, not what anyone else thinks.

    7. SusanPNW*

      “Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are” from an essay by Mary Jean Irion.

    8. beem*

      “I’ve enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand.”

      I don’t know who said it first.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Similarly, “That will do . . . You have delighted us long enough.” — Mr. Bennett to his daughter Mary in Pride and Prejudice

    9. LadyKelvin*

      This is slightly paraphrased but from Frank Herbert”s Dune: “Sad? What are you sad for? We leave people not places.”

    10. Kali*

      “Just because I’m sorry doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it at the time.” Snow Patrol lyrics. Helps me remember the duality of life.

    11. Director of Things*

      I have a Voltaire quote hanging in my office: “Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
      (I especially love it because I actually was a professional singer before taking my corporate entertainment job.)

    12. Garland not Andews*

      From my mom, a philosopher of sorts: Choices have consequences.
      From Princess Bride: “Have fun storming the castle.” (if you have to do it, have fun!)

  34. C Average*

    My sister got a new job! It comes with more prestige and a big raise, and she feels really hopeful about the people she’s going to be working with. It’s been a hell of a year for her–she beat colon cancer–and I am so glad something good is happening for her now.

    She has seven cats, and she is moving from Phoenix to Elon, North Carolina. My dad and I are going to drive across country with her and her seven cats. We plan to do it in three long days, spending the night in Amarillo and Memphis. She’s renting a U-Haul van in which the cats (each individually kenneled, and each mildly medicated) will ride. The cats have historically been OK travelers. They yowl at first, but we figure we’ll have our dad, who’s mostly deaf, drive the catmobile for the bulk of the trip. (He is good with this, too.)

    We have good tunes for the cars and plenty of Rescue Remedy for the cats. Anything else any of you recommend? We’re all experienced road trippers, so we are very much looking forward to this.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      When we moved from the SF bay area to Milwaukee, our one cat yowled 4 hours straight the first day, but then only for a half hour or so that subsequent days. Neither cat was interested in water or the litter box when offered, so we stopped offering. We drove 8ish hour days.

      LaQuinta doesn’t charge an extra pet fee or have set number limits, and all of their hotels except for one in NYC and one in Nashville accept pets. As a result, we found that they ended up being more affordable than the cheap hotels, for a nicer hotel.

      1. C Average*

        Thanks for the recommendation! I think we’re looking primarily at Airbnb–we’ve done really well with that in the past–but I’ve had good experiences with La Quinta sans pets, so it’s good to know they allow pets, too.

      2. KR*

        I stayed at the LaQuinta in Nashville during my recent cross country trip with a cat who isn’t a good traveller and a dog who loves car rides and slept the whole time. They were great and there’s an Applebee’s near by that does the carside thing which was nice because we wanted to eat with the fur kids in the hotel room. I would get a few of those disposable litter boxes in case one of the cats decides they need to go RIGHT NOW, which happened to us in Abeline Texas at 1am and we didn’t have a disposable box. So we had to run into Walmart and get the cheaper litter box and litter we could find and set it up on top of puppy pads in the back seat. I also recommend putting tarps and/or puppy pads under the carrier in case someone has an accident so it absorbs any mess in the UHaul.

    2. the gold digger*

      In Memphis, if you have time, Sun Studio, the Stax Museum, the Martin Luther King Jr museum (Civil Rights museum?), and, shockingly, Graceland are all very worth a visit. Sun Studio would be the shortest visit if you have to triage.

      Eat at The Cupboard (on Union Ave in Midtown) for a typical (and very good) meat and three meal. I never went to the Rendevous for BBQ because I lived right by the BBQ Shop and Central BBQ and I couldn’t imagine how anything could be better than that.

      1. C Average*

        I am so freaking excited about Memphis! I’m Logisticus Maximus for this trip (that means I’m in charge of planning and get to boss people around), and we are heading out of Amarillo at the crack of dawn to ensure that we have some quality hours left in Memphis. My sister is a vegetarian and my dad is an enthusiastic carnivore–I’m somewhere in the middle–so restaurant selection should be good times.

        I’m making an epic playlist for the trip, and it becomes quite Elvis-heavy as we drive into Memphis. I’m hoping everyone else will be up for the whole Sun Studios and Graceland experience. I’d love to do the civil rights museum, too.

        Thanks for the suggestions!

        1. Jean who wants less physical & mental clutter*

          Ooooh, now it’s my turn to live vicariously. I love the idea of driving across the U.S. because it’s such a big piece of land with so many interesting places to see–but in reality, I get sleepy at the wheel and neither spouse nor child enjoys sitting in the car while watching the view for hours.
          Enjoy, just enjoy. Memphis sounds really interesting.
          Also love the idea of assigning the person hardest of hearing to drive the yowl-mobile. Brilliant.
          Safe travels.

        2. the gold digger*

          I had a vegetarian boyfriend when I lived in Memphis. It is a challenging city for non-meat eaters!

          Central BBQ has a BBQ portabella sandwich, but the whole place is meat infused, so depending on the degree/type of vegetarian, it might not work for you.

          The Cupboard has a great vegetable plate – you select four veg from the menu (mac and cheese counts as a veg because it just does). They don’t use animal fats in their veg. I love their turnip greens, the corn pudding, the Italian spinach, the stewed cabbage, the baked apple – everything. You can eat a non-meat meal there and be very happy.

          And it’s a ton of food. Primo and I had a formula when we ate out in Memphis: What was The Cupboard ratio? That is, if we spent $20 for both of us at The Cupboard, we had enough leftovers for another two meals, so the price/meal ratio, ie, The Cupboard Ratio, was five.

          We went to a very fancy place called Felicia Suzanne’s and, for $90, had no leftovers. The Cupboard Ratio there was 45.

          The lower the Ratio, the better!

        3. SaraV*

          My personal opinion is that Corky’s is better than Central BBQ. I’m only basing this on one trip to Memphis for about four days, and one trip to Corky’s and one trip to Central BBQ. If memory serves me correctly, I want to say that Central’s meat was just a bit tougher.

          I also want to suggest the Soul Fish Cafe. We were visiting because of the Liberty Bowl football game. We wanted to eat somewhere close to the stadium before the game, but not a national chain. When we pulled up, there were two police cars parked there for their lunch break. We figured that was a good sign since they would know where the good food was. And we were right. I think I had the shrimp tacos, and I know the husband had catfish. (There are also salads on the menu for your sister) It was outstanding.

    3. Myrin*

      If I were a cartoonist, I’d draw a picture of your dad riding a massive catmobile with seven yowling cats in it because that thought it somehow beyong hilarious to me!

    4. Saturnalia*

      I just did this with my 3 cats, salt lake city to boston. They were first time travelers and although they had many opinions to express on the drive, they did great!

      I found they had no interest in food or water until the hotel at night, and even then it wasn’t much. I stayed at motel 6 and la quinta, both have cat-proofed rooms and good pet policies. La Quinta was far more comfortable for the humans :-)

      I used puppy pads in their crates in case of accident (no accidents!), disposable litterboxes in the room at night, and feliway travel spray as well as feliway multicat diffuser for the room. It seemed like the diffuser had a more pronounced effect, as all 3 were friendlier than usual to each other for being in small, new places. The travel spray, which is a different pheremone, didn’t seem to make very much difference in the car. What did make a huge difference was taking a few 15-30 minute breaks to eat with the car parked and engine off. After a break they were more calm for hours.

      I bring ice packs, thermal bags, and stay at places with fridges and microwaves so that I can have my favorite (vegan) foods on the road no matter where I stop. But I also love meal planning for stuff like this, so it might be a personal preference.

      Anyway, hopefully some of this is useful. I arrived on Sunday so it’s very fresh in my mind :-)

  35. Laura*

    So I told y’all last week about my presentation on the concept of fan fiction to my social group that I was getting prepresentation gitters for.

    It went well. But I kinda went waist deep in the topic, should have gone kiddie pool deep.

    At any rate, it was a success.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Glad to hear it went well. I think fan fiction is an interesting topic…I would have enjoyed listening/being at your presentation.