weekend free-for-all – April 22-23, 2017

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker. A woman made of clay and a man made of fire are marooned in 19th century New York. Surprising things happen. (I recommended this a couple of years ago when I first read it, but I’ve been re-reading it and it’s just as good the second time.)

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

{ 1,033 comments… read them below }

  1. Miso*

    Today the painter finished painting my apartment, so next weekend I can finally FINALLY move into my first own apartment. Woohoo!
    (Well, own in that I live there alone without flatmates, not as in I own it.)

    1. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Yay! My favorite thing when I lived alone (from age 18-28!) was developing my own routines. Clean floors each Saturday while watching Flip that House, go on long hikes with my cat each evening (she just followed for miles and miles), and journaling at sunset. You get to do that now!

      1. Audiophile*

        Your cat hiked with you? I’ve never had a cat that was willing to follow me around the house, let alone follow me around outside.

  2. Serious Pillowfight*

    First-time homebuyer here (hoping, at least). Looking at a 130k condo or small house. Have yet to meet with lender. I hear I might be able to get a mortgage with only a couple grand down (or even nothing), no PMI, and decent interest rate. I’m in Connecticut. Credit score is high 700s. Same with husband. Combined gross income is meh… $50k. What has your mortgage experience been? What has your home buying experience been?

    1. DrPeteLoomis*

      I’m also a first time homebuyer, just starting the process, so I’m interested in what others have to say on this subject. All the conventional wisdom/advice I’ve gotten has been pretty clear that the minimum down payment to avoid PMI is 20%. Also been told that a credit score of 740 or higher is going to get you a good interest rate. Honestly, I’d be a little circumspect at a lender who wanted to give me a mortgage with 0 down. Sounds kind of predatory.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, just because you can doesn’t mean you should, and in this case putting less down means paying more in interest and PMI. Buy less than your maximum approval amount, because a good rule is to not pay more than 28% of your gross income towards your mortgage, and no more than 36% towards housing altogether, which adds HOA fees, taxes, PMI, etc. (IMO that should not include prepaying or paying extra, but that’s your call.)

        Anyway, our experience was that we paid extra for a while, then when we were financially secure enough that the extra wasn’t a stretch, we refinanced to a 15 year, then a 5/1 ARM that we paid off in 3 years (to take advantage of a lower rate).

        If you’re tempted by those no-money-down offers, run a mortgage calculator (Bankrate dot com is my go-to for financial calculators) to see the difference in interest over 30 years, that might help convince you. :)

        1. DrPeteLoomis*

          Yeah, I’m not tempted at all. We’re going to look into getting preapproved pretty soon, and I can already imagine they’ll approve us for something ridiculous since we have a fair amount of cash saved and no debt. All in all, we’re hoping to get a monthly PITI that’s around what we pay now for rent.

          If you’re inclined, could you explain more what you mean by “prepaying or paying extra”?

          1. the gold digger*

            I think my friend The Cosmic Avenger may be talking about paying extra toward the principle. I have done that – in your first few years, you will be paying almost all interest and almost no principle with your monthly payment. The more of the principle you can pay down, the less interest you will pay over the life of the loan. All you do is write a check to the bank and state that it is to be applied to the principle only.

            And no, there is no benefit to paying interest, even if you can deduct if from your taxes, unless you are a brilliantly gifted and disciplined investor who can beat the market. (And the only thing I learned in my finance class in grad school is that the only way to beat the market is to cheat. If you are already cheating, than worrying about the balance between throwing principle at your mortgage vs investing it elsewhere is probably small potatoes.)

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Beat me to it….by seconds!!! :D

              And yes, don’t listen to people who try to sell you on the mortgage deduction being money in your pocket. You know how it works? If you’re in the 25% tax bracket, and you pay $10,000 in mortgage interest to the bank, you get to count $10,000 of income as non-taxable, which nets you $2,500 back.

              Guess how much keeping that $10,000 in your own pocket nets you? $10,000!!! ($7,500 if you count being taxed on it, although you could opt to donate it or use it for medical expenses — in any case, it’s still more than $2,500!)

              1. Natalie*

                And that assumes you have enough to itemize, which I only did the first year I owned my home – when I was single. Once I got married, we were back to the standard deduction.

                1. Gadfly*

                  I think I was able to use it twice in the 8 years I owned the money pit I just escaped last fall.

            2. paul*

              We knocked a good 7 or 8 years off our mortgage by making extra payments the first 2-3 years. We quit when we had kids due to the increased expense and the fact that, as you get further into the mortgage, extra payments do less, but trying to make at least a full extra payment or two a year in the first few years does a *lot*.

            3. Pearly Girl*

              Most monthly mortgage statements have a line for adding extra to the principal or extra to the escrow (for RE taxes). Add a couple/few hundred to the principal each month and all of it will go to pay down the principal balance.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Think of it like a credit card, except you’ve charged $130,ooo (using Serious Pillowfight as an example). The mortgage principle and interest on a 30-year with $0 down at 3.95% would be $609.45, according my calculations. (Your whole payment doesn’t go towards your balance; the entire payment includes principle, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI), so your total monthly payment would be higher. That’s a whole ‘nother subject.) And in the beginning, most of your payment goes toward interest, so out of that $609, $192.37 would actually go towards the balance and $417.08 would go towards interest. Over the 30 years you would pay the bank $89,402.25 in interest, on top of the $130K (and any taxes and insurance).

            However, if you paid just $100 more, $709 a month, you could pay off your mortgage in 23 years and only pay $66,339.58 in interest. You’d save yourself $23K and be out of debt earlier.

            So, like carrying a credit card balance, the more you can pay now, the less interest you will pay overall.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Because we were moving from the Bay Area and could only scrape up 7K for a down payment, but the good salary in the new area let us afford a higher monthly payment than would be more typical for that amount of savings, we opted for a cheaper house (less than half of what we were approved for) with a 15 year loan. We got to dump the PMI in just over 3 years and are gaining equity like mad, that we will be able to use toward an upgrade in the next year or two.

              And if you live in the Bay Area or other high COL place, that “shouldn’t pay more than 28%” gets thrown out the window. Even 4 years ago, we had long commutes just to keep it below 40%!

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      That kind of deal what led to the housing crash and so many people being foreclosed on.

      They changed the laws to prevent that kind of thing. I know that some of that was lifted (I’ve seen 0 down signs again too) but I’m extra skeptical of claims that you won’t have to pay any PMI.

      1. Serious Pillowfight*

        I think you’re thinking of balloon payments, where you start out low and the payments get higher as you supposedly make more at your job. So people who make like $50k were getting approved for like $800,000 mortgages and then a few years in they couldn’t pay the ever-increasing monthly payments.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          No, the 0% down, you can get two loans to cover the entire cost of the house and not have to pay PMI scheme- so people had NO equity, and when things went south, they were seriously underwater, so they couldn’t sell their houses like they needed to, and were foreclosed on.

          That was made illegal with the banking reforms after the crash. But the laws have been easing some.

          That was totally separate from the adjustable rate mortgage fiasco, where people thought they’d be able to sell – for a profit- before the real money was due.

    3. AlaskaKT*

      I purchased a house 3 years ago. One thing I found in meeting with lenders is you pretty much have to have debt to get a mortgage. I had 0 credit card debt and a near 700 score, but I’d never borrowed money before. I went to about 5 lenders before I found someone who would even work with me. Since I always paid out of pocket for cars and college I didn’t have any history of paying bills (my rent was under a boyfriends name). I had to get my ex to sent a note saying I’d paid him rent, and his father to send one saying I paid my phone bill on time every month. Then I spent 9 months living in my car (by choice, all my friends/family lived an hour away from where I worked, and I worked 6-7 days a week) to save for a down payment. I put 10% down even though I was offered 0 because it’s less interest. Also, my parents said to always, always get a fixed mortgage. So I made sure to do that. But, I ended up qualifying on my own for $180,000 making only 30k a year. I purchased lower than that because I didn’t want to stretch myself to tight.

      The only other piece of advice I have is that when you purchase put extra towards principle every month. Something like the first 5 years of payments is all interest, so the more you pay to principle the less interest there is. And always make sure you specify the extra payment is for principle! Otherwise the bank will send it back (happened to my mom once, got a big “overpayment” check, at the end of the year!)

      Good luck and a preemptive congratulations!

      1. Gaia*

        To clarify, you do *not* have to have debt to get a mortgage. You do have to have credit and that means you have to use credit. You can use a credit card (instead of debit card) and pay in full each month therefore never paying interest or carrying debt. This will establish credit history. You can do the same with a car. Put the money you would pay for the car in the bank, take the loan, use the money from the bank to pay the loan (really only works if you earn more interest than you pay).

    4. Life is Good*

      What an exciting time for you, congratulations! We are actual homeowners (as in mortgage paid off!) for the last several years. It is awesome….and you will get here. We are in the fourth home we’ve purchased over the last 30 years and our rule of thumb has always been to buy below what the bank said we could afford. Our income has always been pretty modest, too. We had to have PMI on the first and second homes, but no down payment. There are housing programs that you can participate in that will allow you to do this that are not shady. For example, one program in our state, lets you get a loan with no down, but if you sell within a set number of years, you have to give a portion of the profit back if it’s over a certain amount. Your lender will know of any programs you qualify for. It really helps to have very good credit. We’ve always gotten the best interest rate each time. Good luck in your search!

    5. bunniferous*

      Talk to more than one lender, but in any case, a good one will be able to let you know if you are eligible for any programs for a first time homebuyer.

      By the way there are assorted costs associated with buying a house. Inspections, appraisals, earnest money, etc. Saving up is not a bad idea in any case.

    6. Sarah G*

      I was a first-time home buyer a year ago, and got a first time homebuyers loan through my union (I’m a county employee), which was $50k at 3% fixed rate interest for 30 yrs. This was considered a “second” (second mortgage) and counted towards my down payment in such a way that I put only about 5% down and still did not need PMI, since the “first” (the primary mortgage) was 80% or less than the total cost of the condo. I don’t know if something like this might be available to you, but there are first time homebuyers’ loans (or even grants sometimes) through all sorts of programs — local municipalities, perhaps veterans associations (guessing here) or credit unions — worth exploring.
      Other things I learned:
      1. Go with an agent and mortgage broker you trust, and follow your gut. I loved my agent, who is smart, skilled, and has integrity and ethics that never failed to blow me away. My mortgage broker came highly recommended by people I trust, but I had an overall negative experience with him in terms of customer service. I chose him because of the recommendations, but wished I’d went with my gut because he wasn’t overly responsive early in the relationship and that never changed — I was never a priority for him, even on the day I closed!
      2. Ask your mortgage broker or lender to disclose ANY potential fees up front, even ones that might or might not come up, especially if you end up buying a condo. Make it clear you want absolutely no surprises or undisclosed fees to arise. Be prepared for a “condo review” documents fee (mine was $250 out of the blue, in a pretty pricey market, and was never disclosed until I was invoiced for it).
      3. Good luck and have fun! If an agent (or lender) tries to push you out of your stated price range, find a different agent! I was pre-approved for WAY more than I felt was within my budget, and stuck with what I could comfortably afford.

    7. Natalie*

      I would avoid a no-down-payment loan under any circumstances. If you have a decent income but slim savings, maybe look at an FHA loan (5% down and you make higher payments the first five years to get to 20% equity). Also, if you’re looking at a condo don’t forget to factor in the condo fees – when I was shopping I looked at some condos and found the fees varied wildly.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        FHA is 3,5% down minimum

        The downside to an FHA loan is that you now have to pay the PMI on them for the entire loan- you can’t drop it when you get to 20%. They are open about it trying to be way to recoup all the losses from the bust.

      2. The OG Anonsie*

        I’m not super well informed on this but aren’t a lot of sellers really averse to people with FHA loans?

        When my ex and I were buying a house, because we were both really young, whenever we went to an open house a lot of the time the selling agents would be really standoffish to us and ask us if we knew how we were paying and if we were planning to use an FHA loan. When we said no, we were pre-approved for a mortgage through Wells Fargo, suddenly they would be all sales again. We asked our agent about it at some point and I remember he said it made you an undesirable buyer to a lot of people but I can’t remember why– presumably because of the small down payment? Cash down was a Big Deal in the area I was hunting at the time.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Not unless you are in a really competitive market. In the Bay Area, you’re likely to lose out if you’re not paying straight cash. A lot of people are using FHA loans and no one blinks an eye at it.

          VA loans can be unattractive to sellers, because they come with a lot of restrictions about the condition of the property. I’ve seen it on house hunting shows, and then a friend just sold a house last month and it was a VA loan, and the list of things she absolutely had to fix after the inspection (and they have their own!) before the buyer could close was long and pretty ridiculous- and covered a lot of minutiae that had nothing to do with safety or even overall value.

          1. OG Anonsie*

            I was in Seattle so, yeah, shark week market there.

            Are there weird hoops or paperwork with FHA loans for the sellers too or is it just the down payment thing?

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Not particularly, and it shouldn’t matter to the seller, since they get the money, regardless. Only the banks should worry about it, but the government backs the loans, because they are loans to people who otherwise wouldn’t qualify. There is no risk at all on the seller’s end.

    8. Labguy*

      Huh, funny, I’m in a very similar situation, except I’m single, in a large Southern city and am maybe a year away from actually buying anything. Ok, so maybe not so similar.

    9. Jen*

      Hrm. I’d caution you to consider the following:

      -common charges on a condo
      -repair costs on a home
      – taxes- especially if you’re in one like Bridgeport or Stratford where good gravy the taxes are astronomical
      – how stable your jobs are. If one of you lost your job, do you have a sufficient cushion? When we bought our last house, we shopped for something we could afford on one income if we had to (husband and I make about the same). We assumed husband would lose his job as his industry is much more volitile but it was me! And then I got pregnant and it was 18 months (by choice) before I started working again and even then it was part time. Which was absolutely positively the right thing for our family BUT we could only do it because we were conservative when we house shopped.

      1. HardwoodFloors*

        My comment towards buying house discussion (as someone who has had 5 houses over the years) is read your paperwork thoughly. Many papers will be thrown at you at the closing but read them. I have stopped two closings because the paperwork was wrong, for example a 1/4 of a point too much was on the mortgage and I said I didn’t agree to that. So everything stopped and some faxing back and forth straightened it out. Also once I received a lawyers bill 6 months after a closing and I threw it away. It is a closing. Done over with. If bigshot lawyer makes a error in the fee too bad.

        1. the gold digger*

          Yes to this. Primo and I bought our house before we were married. All of the down payment – $150k – came from me. We consulted a lawyer and were very careful about the language of ownership – I think it was joint occupancy by tenants or something. Our purpose was that if one of us died, the house belonged completely to the other one, as in, if Primo died before we got married, the house (and my $150k) would go to me and not to his parents.

          They sent us the paperwork three weeks before closing and it had Primo as the only owner. I called the closing company and told them they needed to correct it.

          When we went to close – 2 p.m. on a Friday – we re-read all the paperwork.

          They still did not have me on their as a joint tenant.

          We said they had to fix it.

          The woman at the closing place said oh, don’t worry, we can take care of it Monday morning. It’s late! It’s Friday!

          I shook my head and said, No, that’s OK. We’ll wait. We are not signing these papers until this is corrected.

          I was pretty ticked off at their incompetence.

          1. Anna*

            When we refinanced, we were told there would be no closing costs. When the paperwork showed up, it said we needed to write a $3k check. I stopped, asked the notary about it. She said, “oh, you can just give me the check.” No…there wasn’t supposed to be closing costs. She called the mortgage company and they said it was fine and we can just go ahead and sign it and they’d correct it. My reaction was to say absolutely no way would I sign a piece of paper saying I needed to hand over a $3k check and then not expect the mortgage company to want that check. Needless to say, we did not sign the refi papers that day.

    10. Merci Dee*

      I’m in the middle of buying a house now. Just got the inspection done, etc. I’m going with an FHA loan, because it requires only 3 1/2% down, and because FHA loans are fully assumable. My great credit score earned a phenomenal interest rate, so if I tried to sell some time down the road when interest rates rise, my buyer could take over my mortgage with my current rate. This is a huge advantage later on.

      I was pre-approved for a house around $160k, but knew I wouldn’t go that high because I didn’t want to be house poor – go to work, go home, repeat, because I couldn’t afford anything else. I found a great place just below $65k, so my mortgage payments will be about $430 per month (I wanted to stay as close to my rent as possible, which was $350, but knew I’d have to pay a bit more for a house in good condition).

      All in all, there are some good financing options to help first-time homeowners, and they’re not predatory at all. My biggest advice would be to find a good buyer’s agent with a great reputation, and let them guide you through this. They should know the ins and outs of both real estate and financing options, so they can get you through selecting a mortgage company to get you pre-approved, finding what you want, and getting through closing.

      It’s kind of scary, but so exciting when you wade into home buying. Good luck!

    11. Arduino*

      Just bought my first home in December with 3% down. Because of good credit 700s like you, we were able to qualify for a conventional loan. I would avoid FHA loan if at all possible. They are not a good deal. You will have to pay PMI for life of FHA loan vs it dropping once you hit 20% down with conventional.

      This is how I look at it – I was paying 625 a month to live in a decrepit building with mold issues. Surrounded on all sides by drunks, screaming kids, and chain smokers. This was one of the nicer places I rented.

      Now for 630 a month which covers mortgage pmi taxes and interest I have a 3 bedroom house in a better neighborhood surrounded by a lovely lot of trees and grass. My mood and health is much improved. I sleep more and we can control our surroundings which is really nice.

      Financially it is not ideal since we are socking away a lot for pmi and int but now at least some of that money is going into an asset we will eventually own vs 100% going into rent with nothing to show for it.

      1. Pommette*

        A lot of the arguments about only buying when you can afford a traditional 20% downpayment and when mortgage payment won’t take up more than 30% of your income don’t take situations like yours into account.

        I live in an area where it’s expensive to buy, but much more expensive to rent. We went from paying 1200 a month in rent for a small and decrepit place to paying 750 a month in mortgage payments for a slightly larger if equally decrepit place. And now we have the option of addressing the problems, which is not something our landlord would ever have bothered with.

        We didn’t get a good deal on our mortgage, and we will be paying a lot in interest. But we’re paying less overall, and we get to keep some (as opposed to none) of the money. It was totally worth it.

    12. Pommette*

      My home-buying experience has been pretty stressful.

      Our personal circumstances made things complicated for my partner and I. We both had little credit history (and therefore comparatively bad scores). Our combined income is around $50k, but because some of it comes from casual employment, our official combined income was around $30k. We live in an area where housing is expensive. Hopefully, things will be easier for you!

      I learned one big lesson from the experience: meet multiple lenders, and don’t assume that they will be honest or competent. The first people we consulted told us that we wouldn’t be eligible for a mortgage and tried to talk us into a risky rent-to-own scheme. The second people told us that we were eligible, and we were so grateful/reassured that we applied for a mortgage through their institution. Once we had been pre-cleared for a mortgage, the broker became really hard to reach and unresponsive. It took us six months to find a house that we could afford and that wouldn’t require expensive renovations to be made habitable. We almost lost it because the broker took so long to finalize our mortgage.

      Some of our problems came from the fact that the person we thought was an agent for the lending institution was in fact a broker. It turns out that some banks have stopped employing agents to negotiate mortgages with customers. Instead, they hire contractors who are basically brokers, working on commission, but with the caveat that they work exclusively for that one bank. I had assumed that someone working IN a bank must be working for that bank, and I didn’t inquire into their exact status. So that is definitely something to look out for.

      More generally, I recommend meeting lots of mortgage brokers and agents, and treating your meetings like interviews. You want to see who can offer the best terms. You also want to make sure that person with whom you will be working is someone you can work with, and that the lending institution is one you won’t mind being connected to for the next thirty years.

    13. swissmiss*

      Hi! I’m in the process of buying my second home right now so have been researching a lot of mortgages. It is true that in most cases if you put down less than 20% you will have to pay PMI (such a rip off – definitely try to avoid!) but there are some cases where that’s not true. I live in Maine and local credit unions offer 10% down no PMI loans, so maybe there is something similar in CT. Also if you get a USDA loan (for a home in a rural area) you can get 100% financing with no PMI, though there is a one time Upfront Mortgage Insurance charge that can be included in your financing. Also if you’re a veteran you could qualify for a VA loan which also provides 100% financing and doesn’t charge PMI. Good luck with your home search!

  3. Roseberriesmaybe*

    Can anyone give me tips on how to be honest with people without guilt tripping them? I want to tell someone that they did hurt my feelings- but I’m a crier- and I don’t want to manipulate them into agreeing with me/doing what I want them to do

    1. Junior Dev*

      I would think about what you want to get out of the interaction, and focus on that, and on what they did specifically. Don’t get into your whole life story, don’t over-explain why it hurt you, ask directly for what you want, whether it’s an apology, some form of restitution, or just not doing the thing again. It may help to write out what you want to say or practice it in the mirror beforehand.

    2. kms1025*

      I have found that saying something like did you mean xxxxxxxxxxx, because that is how I took it? Allows you to be absolutely certain of their intent and allows them to explain, or at least walk it back a bit. Treat this convo as a fact-finding mission, not an expose’.

      1. Mabel*

        I like this. I have discovered that I misinterpret what someone said more often than I thought. I finally started saying things like, “I know you’re not trying to make me feel stupid/bad/etc., so can you tell me what you meant when you said X?”

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha, yes.

        Example: last week, I came to bed and saw that my husband put a pillow between us. I noted it, but I didn’t think much of it — until the next night when I came to bed and saw that the pillow was there again.

        I got in bed and fumed to myself for a few minutes, then I leapt up, snatched the pillow out from under him, and flung it to the floor. I ran to the couch with my pillow and blanket and cried with my head under the covers for about ten minutes. Then I went back to bed and huffed and flopped over with my back to him.

        Finally he said, “Okay, out with it — what’s wrong?”

        I said, “You hate me! You want me to spend the entire rest of my life on the opposite side of a pillow from you!? You hate me!”

        And he said, “If I hated you, I’d want you a lot further than on the other side of a pillow from me,” and we both cracked up laughing.

        He later said, “Why didn’t you just talk to me?”, and I didn’t really have an answer. It seemed silly later in the light of day, but in the heat of the moment, I thought I was reading those tea leaves loud and clear.

        Anyway, apparently I stick my sharp elbows in his back in the middle of the night, and he thought he’d found a simple, elegant solution. As it turns out, he doesn’t actually hate me. :-)

    3. gsa*

      I was going to post this as a stand alone, decided to tag along with you if that’s okay.

      I’m still running down the rabbit hole based on Indoorcat’s post about intent vs. Impact. Any thoughts?

      Specifically in your case roseberriesmaybe, I think you want to give feedback but not cry because you think it upset them and not cry because it might make them agree or accept even though they don’t.

      ps: intent vs. Impact is easily searchable. I did not link anything because I did not want AMA to get bogged down in vetting that link.


    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m a big fan of naming the thing you’re worried about. In this case, it’s that they’ll agree with you just because you’re upset. So you could start off the conversation by saying, “I want to talk to you about something, but I want to say first that I’m not looking for you to agree with me just because I’m upset. I really just want to explain to you where I’m coming from, and it’s fine if you see it differently.”

    5. Melody Pond*

      Check out NonViolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg. It’s basically all about how to take ownership of your feelings and needs in a non-blaming way, so as to (hopefully) elicit a compassionate response from the other person, rather than a defensive or guilt-ridden response.

      It sounds like what you think of as “guilt tripping” is what I would think of as blaming, or essentially holding someone else responsible for my feelings. But figuring out how to identify my feelings and my needs using “I” statements, and asking for what I want/need in a vulnerable way, was actually pretty freeing.

      I’ll see if I can think of a concrete example, as this is something Mr. Pond and I actually strive to practice, constantly.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      Since I’m a crier too, I’m a big fan of the email/notes for that kind of conversation. It also lets me get everything I want to say out, without interruptions.

      1. katamia*

        As a non-crier with crier relatives, I agree. I don’t think they’re being manipulative, but it’s still just so hard to have a conversation with someone who’s crying.

    7. detached anon*

      I’ve dealt with this at least three times, twice on the phone & once in person. I didn’t email because I wanted to show myself courage by talking to the other person & email left too much room for misunderstanding & little room for the give & take that direct conversation provides.

      I decided to risk it because the hurt was weighing me down & I couldn’t shake it. After trying to shake it off myself, I decided I had to tell the person in question they hurt me. In each case it was a difficult decision because I knew that the person hadn’t intended to cause any hurt. Each time the person I told accepted what I said & apologized for hurting me. I thanked them for understanding & for hearing me out because it was good to finally put the issue to rest.

      I decided to be pragmatic & direct. Kind of detached. Before I talked to the other person I had to sort out exactly what hurt me & what my intent was in telling them. Then I was direct about it, in the sense of I didn’t want to make a big deal of it. So I kept to the basics & that kept my emotions in check. I didn’t go into how the comment or action hurt me, just that it did.

      “Wakeen, there’s something I need to tell you because I can’t get it out of my mind. It’s difficult for me to say & before I do I want you to know that I’m only telling you because I need to tell you so I can get past it. Is that okay? [‘Yes’] There was a time when I said x & you replied y. That really hurt me. Probably I should have said so at the time except I didn’t understand it at the time. I know you didn’t mean to hurt me & I don’t need an apology or anything. I just had to tell you so I can get past it.”

      Each time I had a weight lifted off of me. It was amazing.
      Hope this helps!

  4. Dr. KMnO4*

    Etiquette question:
    I am a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding this June. I’m going to the “girls only” shower (not my words). I can’t attend the “couples” shower (work conflict), though my husband might go without me.

    How many presents am I obligated to give? One shower present? Two? Do I have to give my friend a wedding gift? I’m in the wedding party so I’m already spending a fair amount of money on the obligations (dress, hair and makeup, maybe shoes, travel).

    1. Turtlewings*

      I’m no etiquette expert but I would say: yes to the wedding gift unless the bride specifically tells you don’t worry about it, but only one shower gift. Maybe send it with your husband to the “couples” shower so he’s not embarrassed at showing up giftless; you can explain in person at the other shower.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        That sounds like a good plan, thanks! If my husband doesn’t attend the couples shower I can always bring the gift to the “girls only” shower.

    2. Serious Pillowfight*

      I honesty did not expect a gift from my bridesmaids at all. The gift, as far as I’m concerned, is the bachelorette party, bridal shower (unless your family is throwing that) and their presence at your side on the wedding day and before, both of which they are likely already spending a fair chunk of change.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        That’s because you’re a kind and considerate person but I’m sure it’s easy to get caught up in things. My former bff got married on a Thursday one May. I was a school teacher at the time so taking off at the end of the year like that was Uncool anyway. I lived 8 hours away. But I’ll never forget her saying, “The bachelorette party is the weekend before so you only have to take a week off”. Not only did not take a week off, but I flew in and out the day of and she refused to speak to me the entire time because I couldn’t make rehearsal two days prior. I spent a fortune on airfare, horrible dress, gifts, etc. No way I could afford a week off–financially and professionally. Anyway, we’re not friends anymore.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Okay, first of all, getting married in a big ceremony on a Thursday is pretty weird. And second of all, expecting a teacher to just take a whole week off of school to do wedding stuff as a bridesmaid is really uncool. And then the way she treated you? I can see why you’re not friends anymore.

          1. Sabine the Very Mean*

            What if one of the gifts you gave was a lovely photo from the first one you attend together?!

        2. Lissa*

          This is why I hate so much of wedding culture — I’ve heard too many stories like these. I understand it is important to a lot of people, but being expected to pay so much money/time I can’t afford or lose friendships is just horrible to me!

          1. Amadeo*

            Fortunately neither my sister, nor my brother’s wife did that (my brother showed shades of ‘groomzilla’ over a digital picture frame, but I nipped that in the bud). I assume for some in part it’s stress, and for others it’s a sense of entitlement.

            Whatever it is, I wish it’d go away.

          2. Dr. KMnO4*

            I think it’s wedding culture, and the idea that this is supposedly “your” day, and one of the (if not the most) important days of your life. It should be “perfect”. The women that buy into it can get too concerned about “perfection” and get really weird. I think it’s all nonsense, but the wedding industry perpetuates these views.

            One of the best (worst?) Bridezilla stories I’ve heard: There was a woman with multi-colored hair who wrote into an advice columnist (maybe Dear Prudence?). Her sister or SIL wanted her to not have rainbow hair, so she wore a brown wig. The bride thought she’d dyed her hair. When the bride found out that the LW actually had rainbow hair still, just hidden by the wig she flipped out, because the bride will always remember when looking at the wedding photos that LW had rainbow hair underneath. It supposedly ruined the photos.

          3. MyFakeNameIsLaura*

            It’s because when it comes to the wedding, it is socially expected that the Bride plan and organize the entire thing by herself, which includes managing relationships, hurt feelings, 20 year family grudges about who sits where and who is invited or not and getting hit with negativity and stress at literally every turn when this event is supposed to be one of the happiest occasions of your life. The groom is allowed to opt-out, dodge, or ignore any and every conflict – so they get to just show up and have a good time. It’s all complete and utter garbage and lots of time you don’t realize it until you’re actually faced with it all.

            Also from watching Bridezillas (the TV show) much of it is poor planning, not having a realistic budget, and trying to do way too much at the last minute. I personally referred to the show as “Terrible People Getting Married” because after a while you realized that the Bride was far from the only problem on these shows.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      Etiquette would dictate that you’d only have been invited to one shower/gift grab. :P

      Really and truly (and Miss Manners says this all the time) you don’t OWE anyone a gift, ever. These aren’t supposed to be the admission charge.

      One shower gift, that is supposed to be something small and inexpensive. Since you are a bridesmaid and have all those expenses too, I’d also make the wedding gift something meaningful, but that doesn’t cost a whole lot.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I am a bit irritated at the double shower thing, though not at my friend. She was not the architect of the plans. I agree that one shower would have been enough.

        I wish more people agreed with Miss Manners on the concept of gifts. More and more often these days the impression I get is that there is an admission charge. My parents certainly abide by that when they are invited to weddings- they write a sizeable (from my perspective) check, and were a bit horrified by the amount my husband and I were giving to my cousin.

        I like the idea of something meaningful. I think that speaks to the friendship more than just a check, or an item off the registry.

      2. Gaia*

        “Really and truly (and Miss Manners says this all the time) you don’t OWE anyone a gift, ever”

        Can we just repeat this over and over? I am so over the idea that gifts are a given, that people expect to receive them and people feel they owe others a gift. I buy gifts for people I have a personal connection with because I want to give them something I know they will like and appreciate. If those conditions aren’t met, no gift.

        And let’s not even get me started on registries. That is the height of “expecting gifts” and I hate them.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I also have sometimes summarized Miss Manners’ stance as “Invitations aren’t Invoices”

          People seem to think they have to send a check even if they aren’t going to the event and haven’t seen the people in 20+ years!

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          Oh, and my MIL talked me into making a baby registry. So I made one. And the only people I’ve given the link to are her and my own mother, in case anyone ASKS what to get us.

          Mostly, we use it in place of the private Amazon wishlist we were previously using to keep track of what we wanted. The registry is better, though- since we get a % off to buy things no one else has, in another month.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I agree with you on everything but the registries. I just find them too convenient, the planner in me loved having one and loves using them. But the registry information shouldn’t be included in invitations, that’s essentially presenting a request for a gift in the invitation, which makes it seem conditional, and that contradicts the wonderfully alliterative advice that “invitations aren’t invoices”. The registrant’s family should be ready to tell people who ask about the registry, for those who want to use one.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Yes, it’s not the registry itself that is the problem. It’s how it’s presented. :)

          2. Thlayli*

            We didn’t have a registry and we got about 6 sets of wine glasses. So I can see the appeal.

            Abour half of our gifts will be regifted because we have no need for them, but I’m still glad to have them since it means I don’t hve to buy wedding gifts for future weddings. I’m pretty sure at least 25% of the gifts we received where regifts anyway lol.

            Mostly we wanted money and if anyone asked that’s what we told them.

          3. Gaia*

            Having a registry is, in itself, expecting gifts. I just cannot get behind it. I know they are popular but I just see them as rude as hell.

            1. Casuan*

              To me, registries aren’t so much about expecting gifts as they are a response to the question of what one wants or needs. If one wants to give a gift, one isn’t obligated to keep to the registry. They help me choose a gift if I’m flummoxed for ideas on my own & can’t ask directly. Also I think it saves time & minimises communications errors. I agree with others who said the registry should only be mentioned if specifically asked where one is registered.
              Always I find it interesting to read what is on different registries!

              All that said, it’s refreshing to know there are those who think registries to be rude. I’d dislike a world where everyone always agrees with each other. :-)

            2. Parenthetically*

              I mean, sure, hold that opinion, it’s a free country! ;) But you’re going to end up mentally accusing 95% of your friends who are getting married/having babies of being “rude as hell.” I’d be curious to know your preferred alternative to registries — I don’t imagine the tradition of giving gifts to newlyweds or new parents is going away any time soon.

              I see it like Casuan says — as a response to, “Oh, Wakeen and Daenerys are getting married! I want to get them a gift, wonder what they need?” that ensures I’m not getting them a third crock-pot or buying dishes in the wrong color. So they make a registry with lots of things at lots of price points, and people can choose to buy something or not, and if they do, they know it’s something Wakeen and Daenerys can use — without them expecting anyone to buy them anything.

            1. Parenthetically*

              I will say, Gaia, I feel just about as strongly about Christmas lists as you seem to about registries. I once received an email by mistake (slightly misspelled gmail address) from a grown adult woman who was sending, in September, a mass email to her entire family with a Christmas list containing, uncluttered by small talk or greetings, 40 or 50 items with links and size/color preferences, including 10-15 gift cards AND DESIRED GIFT CARD AMOUNTS. As in, “Victoria’s Secret: $25 or $50 increments,” “Starbucks: $25 increments.” It read like a shakedown. It was years ago and it still gets me fired up.

              1. Casuan*

                Wo. Just Wo.
                My faith in humanity & my sanity require me to believe that this woman sent the list because her family & friends asked for it.

                An over-excited 7 year old?
                Okay & it gives us something to embarrass them with when they’re older.
                An over-exited 10 year old?
                That’s pushing it, although if the email was in December I could let it slide.

                A grown woman?
                Wo. There are no words.

                1. Bigglesworth*

                  I haven’t written a Christmas list since I was a pre-teen or young teenager. Well, this past Christmas, my MIL asked both my husband and myself for Christmas lists. I remember turning to him and saying, “I’m not going to do this. I’m not a kid anymore.” Apparently everyone else in the family sent in lists and then we decided to do a not-so-secret Secret Santa and I got my MIL. She promptly sent me her Christmas list and I had a really hard time with choosing something on it. If you’re young, ok. Once you’re an adult, Christmas lists just start to sound entitled.

          4. Mephyle*

            When we got married (many years ago), we got three electric kettles. Although we had a registry (only for china–this was really a long time ago) the two different wedding guests who gave us kettles had already been attendees at the shower where we received the first kettle. Either they forgot, or they were inspired by the first one, I guess.
            Like Thlayli, the registry has appeal to me.
            What’s nice these days, now that there are the Internets, is that you don’t have to ask anyone, you can just go to the websites of the likely stores and search for the happy couple’s list.

          5. Epsilon Delta*

            This range of reactions to this subject always fascinates me. Maybe this is regional, but every bridal/baby shower I have attended has a registry listed on the invitation. I was going to go registry-free for my bridal shower but was told *that* was rude because certain relatives wanted to be able to reference a registry. So if it is rude, I guess my social circle/region is an echo-chamber of self-reinforcing rudeness!

            Anyway, as a guest, I really appreciate having it there because I don’t have to bug the host and be the zillionth person to ask where they are registered (and because I’m pretty likely not to bother asking). And because with baby showers in particular, having never had an infant, I have no idea what I am doing.

            And to answer the original question, what are the other bridesmaids doing? If you’re not sure, I would take the amount you planned to spend and split it between the two showers.

      1. Al Lo*

        I had two. A smaller shower for the women in both my family and my husband’s family, and a larger mixed shower for our friends and people from church, etc. There were a few people who were at both, but they were largely very different audiences. The family one had mostly aunts and cousins, and the larger one was friends and acquaintances who have known me while I was growing up. Our parents, my sister, one or two of my bridesmaids, but not all of them.

        It would not have been that strange to actually have two family showers, if his side of the family had thrown me a separate small one, but my mother-in-law and my aunt decided to join forces and to make the small family shower combined with both sides of the family.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I’ve experienced where sometimes there might be one shower held by a bride’s friends at work and then a second one held by friends from outside of the workplace, so it is not unheard of.

      3. Parenthetically*

        We’re having two baby showers, one in my hometown 1000 miles away, and one here. The one in my hometown will likely be ladies only, mostly older women from the church I grew up in. The one here will likely be a backyard barbecue with our favorite couples and families.

        It’s fairly common among my friend group because so many of us have different demographics, so to speak, who want to throw different kinds of parties, especially for wedding showers — a late-night, boozy, lingerie-focused shower thrown by one’s best girlfriends is not the sort of thing one invites one’s future mother-in-law to, for instance.

    4. Applesauced*

      I say a gift at each shower you attend (so one from you at girls, one from your husband at the couples) but not a wedding present.

      Being a bridesmaid is expensive!
      I’ve been MOH twice, each time cost at least $1500 – dress, alterations, shower, travel to/from bachelorette, food/drinks/events at bachelorette, (for one) hotel at bachelorette, travel to/from wedding, hotel at wedding, hair and make up I had limited say in…. I did not give a gift on top of that.

    5. HannahS*

      When I was a bridesmaid, I gave a “proper” wedding present (a place setting from the wedding china) and a small shower present (I don’t remember but maybe food containers? Or towels or something). I sure as heck wouldn’t want to give a third! If you’re ever uncomfortable showing up for an event empty handed–especially if there’s going to be a “gift-opening” segment–I think a heartfelt card is a nice option. It gives them something to open and coo at you over (which they’ll do unless they’re supremely entitled and then don’t deserve presents anyway) and something for you or your husband to hand them.

    6. Natalie*

      Can you join forces with the other bridesmaids/MOH? When I was my cousin’s MOH the wedding party bought a group gift, and then we bought individual shower gifts.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I don’t know a few of the bridesmaids at all, and I’m only acquainted with her sisters, who are the MOHs. I wish I knew everyone better because a joint gift is a really good idea.

        1. Natalie*

          Hmmm. Do you have emails for them? Even if you don’t know them well, you could still suggest a group gift.

          We picked something from the registry that was too expensive for one person to buy, but really cheap split between us. So the bride got a really nice gift she probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. That might be a way to frame it to the rest of the wedding party.

    7. Anono-me*

      Are you sure that your friend is expecting anything? Cards were all we really expected as two adults merging long established households. (We joked that we were going to wrap up our duplicated​ items and send them home with our guests.) We did cave to pressure and register for a few things, but it was because a few people were really upset that we hadn’t.

    8. Jules the First*

      As a many-times bridesmaid (more than a dozen brides), I’ve only occasionally given a wedding gift – you’re there to make the happy couple’s day go smoothly and that’s your gift to them. The times where I’ve given a gift have been ones where I was particularly close to the couple or not terribly involved in the wedding arrangements.

      For shower gifts, my go-to gift is tea towels – you can get a nice set of three or four that really suit the couple, and no one ever has enough tea towels because no one buys themselves tea towels. I’d stick with one shower gift as well, even though you’ve been invited to both.

      1. Dr. Speakeasy*

        Or just split the gift – for example if you’re getting towels get a couple bath towels for one shower and then the matching hand towels for the other gift. Spend about as much as you would on one shower gift but that way you’re not showing up empty handed to either.

        1. Casuan*

          Love the go-to gift of tea towels!

          And I like the concept of splitting the gifts so as not to be giftless, yet I’m torn that this feeds into the gifts-are-required culture.
          Now that I think of it… Probably no one is really paying attention in the moment & who is to say that you haven’t given the gift in a different setting?
          analogy: If I pay a restaurant tab with my card & leave the tip on the card as well, the other diners won’t look at my vacated table & notice I didn’t leave a tip & automatically think I stiffed my server. Even if they do, I know I’m in the clear.

    1. Junior Dev*

      As for me, I really need to get my apartment cleaned up for my friend who’s coming over to help with taking apart furniture to move. I’ll pour myself another cup of coffee and then get started with moving all the junk in the bedroom so we can take the bed apart.

    2. Caledonia*

      I’m putting off writing my assignment….how am I going to get it done? By writing it :/ It’s a slog though – 1200 words by Thursday (I work f/t).

    3. Hellanon*

      Many, many things are going to be put off. But – I just got back from an intense 4-day conference & cannot brain just yet.

    4. Dr. KMnO4*

      Grading my final exams. I’ll probably put on a Harrison Ford movie (maybe Morning Glory or Hollywood Homicide) and just power through them.

      1. Lady Jay*

        You have finals already?? I still have two weeks before I get finals, and I thought we gave ours early!

        That said, I’m putting grading off too. I brought my papers home from work, and am deliberately leaving them in a neat little stack in my car. :)

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Yeah, my school has an extra term in May, so we start kind of early and our 2nd semester ends much earlier than other schools. Works for me, really, since I’m not teaching again until Fall.

    5. Tax nerves*

      Hanging artwork, curtains, etc. We rent and while technically I probably don’t have to worry about it, I really like to minimize the amount of wear and tear I put on the walls. So I want to hang it just once.

      Also, my BF and I have a lot in common aesthetics wise, but he just got the ugliest thing framed as a gift. Ugh. It was actually kind of neat, but it’s still ugly. And the frame doesn’t really match anything else. So now I don’t want to ‘waste’ the art we have that I like better in the rooms that are going to be ugly now. So everything’s just on the floor.

      Also, we have a another apartment building a few years from our windows and we’re ground floor, so I’m not really sure I can afford to lose any light at all to even a drawn curtain.

        1. detached anon*

          I love your thinking here!
          & I agree.

          Is it still pyjamas if I put a bra on under my nightshirt & some trousers that aren’t pyjamas yet look like they could be?

        1. Parenthetically*

          This is why my brother had about 70 pairs of underwear after his first year of college.

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      So many things! I need to study and take an online test by Monday night, but it would be so nice to be done today so I can do other things. I need to clean the bathroom, do laundry, fix the clothes rod in my closet that keeps dumping my sweaters on the floor, get groceries, make something with the ripe Meyer lemon on my little tree, call my mom, maybe plant some stuff outside if the rain and wind every stop . . .

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      Shelving! I moved into my apartment in February. Last February. And things are still in boxes. So when I got my tax refund, I bought a bunch of cheap shelves that can be assembled without tools from Amazon. I’m putting them together as they arrive and things look better already.

    8. Natalie*

      I was putting off getting some bags of mulch out of my trunk and spreading it. I did by rewarding myself with beer. :)

    9. neverjaunty*

      Planting stuff in the garden. I like the RESULTS of a garden (fresh vegetables!), but I really do not enjoy gardening at all. Especially since my mother in law, the master gardener, has passed and so isn’t here to tell me how to fix that weird fungus killing my squash plants.

      1. Natalie*

        Have you been planting them in the same place each year? If so, first thing to do is move them.

        1. neverjaunty*

          No, we moved since the last time I planted anything. Last year’s procrastination excuse was ‘meh, it’s too late in the season, I’ll do it next year’. This year I actually went out and bought the seedlings, but the idea of grubbing around in the dirt is just… blah.

          Maybe I will take your sage advice and reward myself with a beer!

          1. Natalie*

            Rewards are great!

            I am an insane vegetable gardener (I should probably do a top level post about it) but I’ve learned the hard way to be patient with myself. And if you are having any grief feelings about your MIL, that’s all the more reason. You’ll figure it out eventually.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Starting a new project. I’m just gonna sit down and write bullshit until something I can work with comes out. Not tonight, though; I’m feeling a little puny. *shines procrastination badge*

    11. Al Lo*

      This week, I finally replaced the ugly shower curtain that was in the ensuite when we moved in (and installed a renter-friendly tension-mount curved shower rod, which is one of my very favorite bathroom indulgences), so it was time to fill the empty wall in the bathroom that was driving me nuts. Went to IKEA and got 10 or so inexpensive picture frames, and got some on-sale wrapping paper and scrapbook paper at Michaels. Framing wrapping paper is one of my favorite, inexpensive ways to decorate, if I’m just looking for something interesting and not specifically artwork on the wall, and then it’s really cheap to replace at some point if I get a photo or artwork I want to put in the frame.


    12. Nancy B*

      I got rid of about 5,000 old shoes today (okay more like a dozen pairs but STILL), because it was the last day of the shoe recycling program at our local library. Deadlines help me get stuff done.

  5. Melody Pond*

    Ahhhh, first free weekend, post tax season! It’s so great to have a real weekend again!

    So, I’m having myself sterilized on Monday (tubal ligation). This will be my first time going under general anesthesia, and I’m kind of terrified (more for the anesthesia than being cut up). I’m also nervous for the recovery.

    Do any fellow uterus/fallopian tube owners who’ve gone through the same thing have any suggestions or tips to share, either for pre- or post-op self-care? Also, just any tips on self-care for surgery in general would be appreciated. I’m pretty worried about not being able to sleep the night before (Sunday night), due to anxiousness.

    1. kms1025*

      Pamper yourself, rest more than you think you need to (even if you don’t sleep). Surgery is a huge stress on your body and you’ll need time and rest to recover.

    2. Stella's Mom*

      Hi, I had a tubal ligation in 2004 (at age 35) and then a hysterectomy (left one ovary) in 2014. My tips are as follows:

      1. Pre-surgery – so this weekend: relax, do some self care (massage if you can on Sunday afternoon), eat well, no alcohol, limit caffeine and do what your doc says for the night before (no eating, etc). Meditate if you can, stretch and listen to something calming like a podcast or nature sounds.

      2. In the surgery/hospital/clinic: they may give you a pre-surgery calming medicine when they hook you up to the IV. It will help. Not sure of your insurance, but if it covers this pre-care, take it. The surgery of a ligation is very easy, a few small incisions, and takes only a bit of time. The general anesthesia, for me, in both cases, was the best sleep I had experienced ever. Came out of both wanting tacos and ice cream oddly, and the hospital of course refused. :) From the Feminist Center (dot org website it states how the procedure (that I had) works: “In the laparoscopy procedure, the abdomen is filled with carbon dioxide gas so that the abdominal wall balloons away from the uterus and tubes. The surgeon makes a small cut just below the navel and inserts a laparoscope, a small telescope-like instrument. A second incision is made just above the pubic hairline to allow the entrance of the instrument that will cut, sew or burn the tubes. The surgery takes about half an hour.”

      3. Post-surgery: you will have specific instructions like no baths, only showers; no lifting stuff over 5lbs maybe; rest, take pain pills if needed, no yoga or exercise etc. Follow the instructions. Don’t push yourself. In 2004 it took me 4 weeks to not feel any pain after my tubal… could not wear tights or panty hose due to belly button stitches. And in 2014, it took me literally 3 months to feel normal – just lingering pain and such but then was fine. Also, have a support group of people to help if possible. They can make you or bring you food and tea and water, and let people help you. Don’t push yourself to lift stuff or do housework for a couple weeks at the least or you may pop stitches or harm your insides. Also your surgeon may have recorded the procedure, so ask to view that if you want – I found it really interesting to look inside myself!

      The anesthetist knows what they are doing, I assume: they know your weight, any other issues or meds you may be on, and what you will need for the surgery. If anything happens, they will help you – the docs and the anesthetist and nurses. But you will be fine, this is a routine surgery.

      Best wishes and I hope you love the results as much as I do. :)

      1. Melody Pond*

        Thanks! Yeah, I’ve read over my doctor’s pre- and post-op surgery instructions, so I know the basic medical stuff to do for myself, and of course Mr. Pond will help make sure I’m comfortable. And the doc and I already talked extensively about the procedure itself – which, yes, mine is laparoscopic, too.

        I’ve been more wondering how to take care of myself this weekend, pre-op. And if there’s anything I haven’t thought of, for post-op care, that’s not already covered by the extensive instructions I have.

        I will definitely make sure to ask for something to calm me down, as soon as they’re able to give it to me on Monday morning.

      2. Sparkly Librarian*

        To your point #2 – absolutely the best sleep. It’s not like I want to have any more surgeries… but that aspect of it sure isn’t a deterrent! In hindsight, I might have asked more questions about how the anesthesia works; I was nervous about losing consciousness and the pre-op consult was helpful.

      3. MsChanandlerBong*

        If they don’t give you anything, and you think it would help, don’t be afraid to ask. I had my gallbladder out in 2015, and they didn’t give me anything before the surgery. They wheeled me through a dingy hallway blocked by a Dumpster, moved me onto the operating table (which is NOT wide, so I felt like I was falling off), and then started strapping my arms down, which was pretty scary. I have had surgery 16 or 17 times, and that was the first time they never gave me a sedative or anti-anxiety medication beforehand. I can’t say that I enjoyed it.

        If you tend to get sick to your stomach after taking medication, you can tell them beforehand. They may give you something during the procedure to prevent nausea and vomiting afterward. Keep a pillow handy in case you have to cough or sneeze in the first few days following the surgery. You can hold it against you and ease some of the discomfort.

    3. Turtlewings*

      I hope the sterilization is something you want — congratulations, if so, and if not, condolences! I’ve been under general anesthesia twice, though it was years ago. Definitely have someone with you that can be there when you wake up; you’ll be disoriented and very thirsty! If you’re allowed to have water beforehand, staying well-hydrated will plump your veins and help the IV insertion go well. (I have very difficult veins and for one surgery they eventually had to knock me out with gas instead. Which worked out fine even though it’s not ideal, so if that happens for you, don’t panic.)

      1. Melody Pond*

        Well, I definitely want to be sterile. :) Mr. Pond and I are quite, quite certain that we don’t want kids. In fact, he’s already had a vasectomy, but as we are non-monogamous, it was important to me to be sterile, myself, too.

        But, I’m not looking forward to the actual procedure so much.

        1. Anon for this*

          How did you decide to go all the way to surgery? I want to be sterile, but am afraid of the complications of surgery, even while knowing that meds/implants/etc. aren’t perfectly safe either.

          1. Melody Pond*

            This is kind of a long story, but here goes:

            I originally wanted to do the Essure implants. I’d been having a lot of menstrual pain ever since I had my copper IUD inserted five years ago, and I knew I wanted to be sterile, and I recently decided I was ready to go for sterilization. But when I talked to my doctor about the Essure implants, one of her concerns was that there have been people complaining about pain and inflammation they’d experienced after getting the Essure implants. She wanted to make sure I knew about that, in light of the pain I’d experienced from my IUD, and told me I could “go Google it” and find all these stories about people who’d had to have more invasive surgery to remove the coils later on (more invasive than laparoscopic tubal ligation would have been).

            Initially I was like, “okay, well, the plural of anecdotes is not data,” and figured that a few people in the news doesn’t actually say anything about what MY chances were, of having an experience like that. But, then after some searching, I DID find data. I found an academic, statistical study that had been done, that found that people who got the Essure implants were 10 times more likely to need invasive surgery to have them removed, later on.

            And that was serious enough to give me pause. And then I thought about it, and thought about the experiences I’d had with the copper IUD, and decided that it made a certain sense to me, to avoid having any more foreign objects in my body. So I decided to go for the laparoscopic surgery, and they’re going to completely remove my fallopian tubes, not just tie them. (This has been associated with a decreased risk of ovarian cancer, according to my doctor – plus, it just makes the sterilization even more effective and lowers the chances of an ectopic pregnancy)

            1. The OG Anonsie*

              Yeah, the reactions to the Essure implants was a real problem, not just a collection of vague anecdotes floating around the internet. Incidents related to medical devices are monitored to see if they match the expected types and frequencies found during their initial clinical trials, so things like this get caught.

              I was really disappointed because I was planning to get them eventually, now I feel like a tubal would be my only option and I’m not sure if I want to be bothered.

            2. No tubes left*

              I had my tubes removed in December.

              The hardest thing was I didn’t feel back to myself for about six weeks (it’s felt weird – not painful but weird- when my abdomen would jiggle like when I walked too fast, and I was super bloated).

              Now it’s fine, and the scars are starting to fade. I love knowing that I’m sterile and with the tubes completely gone the ligation can’t “fail” (I.e. Grow back together).

    4. Undine*

      I had a oopherectomy (removal of an ovary) a few years ago, here’s what I remember.

      Don’t eat anything too heavy (like red meat) for your last meal before surgery — general anesthesia slows down the digestive system, so whatever you eat will be around for a while. Also, they will hold you until you pass gas or have a bowel movement, so you might want to bring a snack that helps with that.

      Anesthesia itself can be exhausting — I don’t handle it well and it takes me a long time to recover.

      If they do a major abdominal incision, you will not be able to do any heavy lifting or drive for two weeks — they may not have warned you about that, so plan accordingly. Also, my incision definitely made it difficult to get up from bed. If you are having laproscopic surgery, it will be different — I don’t know much about that. (I had an eight inch teratoma, it wasn’t coming out through a laproscope.)

      If you are worried about sleeping while in the hospital, ask your doctor if they can prescribe something for your drip. I had to stay in the hospital two nights (see passing gas, above), and I couldn’t sleep until they gave me ativan. I’ve never had it before or since, but it was a godsend.

      1. Melody Pond*

        The “last meal” tip is a good thought. I was planning to have my last meal around 9:30 PM or so on Sunday night (I can’t eat after midnight), but it seems like a good idea to have that last meal be one that is easily digestable, and that will hopefully move through my system as much as possible.

      2. paul*

        I’m male so can’t speak for tubals or similar, but damn, general anestheisa kicks my ass. Takes me 2-3 days to stop just randomly nodding off, stop being dizzy, etc

    5. Sparkly Librarian*

      Though I’ve not been through that exact surgery, in my household over the last year we’ve had one general anesthesia/laparoscopic abdominal surgery, one endometrial ablation with cervical entry and local anesthetic, and one tubal ligation alternative (Essure) with cervical entry and local anesthetic. All good experiences — I have confidence that yours will also be fine!

      Prepare easy food (snacks, cut veggies, soups, freezer meals – whatever that is for you) beforehand. I was surprisingly uninterested in food for a week after the abdominal surgery. I made myself drink bone broth and eat a few bites of plain rice; toast and tea is also recommended. Stay hydrated even if you’re not hungry. Make yourself a comfy nest — mine was on the couch in the living room so I wasn’t pulling myself upright with abdominal muscles like I would getting up out of bed. Arrange some home support; if you take the prescribed pain medications you won’t be in much shape/mood to do things for yourself, and if you don’t you’ll probably hurt too much. Take the stool softeners your doctor prescribes. Walk when you’re up to it and don’t push yourself.

      Also, you may find that the anesthesia is no big deal. There are common side effects, which you can ask your medical professionals about how to handle. However, this was my first time and I had no negative effects. I actually felt amazingly rested afterward – I couldn’t get to sleep the first night after surgery so I stayed up and watched TV. Hope it all goes well for you!

      1. Melody Pond*

        Ohh, bone broth is a good idea. Yeah, Mr. Pond and I have plans to do some shopping this weekend and prepare food in advance, as much as possible. I think I’ll add “making homemade bone broth” to the list.

    6. Oh Fed*

      I had the procedure about 15 yrs ago. I had intense abdominal bloating (air is injected for the laparoscope) and muscle cramps from the anesthesia.
      I have a high pain tolerance and underestimated how I would feel post-op. I didn’t have anyone to stay with me and was pretty emotionally labile for the first couple of days. Didn’t need pain pills (and they honestly wouldn’t have treated the issues I had) but I sure do wish I would have asked someone to stay with me.
      Other advice above is excellent re: self care

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I was surprised by how I was affected emotionally. At first I was just thrilled to have a) woken up b) without complications, but after a day or so I had moments of sadness and vulnerability for a couple of weeks. I felt like my bodily integrity had been violated – which, in the strictest sense, it had. It can be troubling, and it hadn’t come up in my pre-op research (and, indeed, I forgot to mention it in my earlier advice!). To the doctors I was yet another routine surgery (my surgeon had performed hundreds and had only had to convert to open surgery twice — both times in far more complex situations), but for me it was a brand-new experience. It helped to remember that surgery, however straightforward, is a trauma to the body. It does its best to heal, and I had to let it do that at its own pace. Once my incisions had healed, I saw a massage therapist who spent some time gently exploring and manipulating my internal organs that had been displaced. That was also emotional, but healing.

        1. Melody Pond*

          Ohh, seeing the massage therapist later is a good idea.

          I’ve actually thought a bunch about the emotional vulnerability side of it. I really dislike giving up control, so I think this may very well be a thing for me. I’m really glad that Mr. Pond is taking most of the week off to stay home with me, afterwards.

        2. Tau*

          That feeling of violation happened to me too, and it was weird because I’d never heard anyone mention it before. Like… I went to sleep and woke up with holes in my body that weren’t there before. (And not just the actual surgery holes, also stuff like an IV and a puncture in my wrist where they inserted a blood pressure monitor.) It’s DISTURBING because it’s proof that people have been doing things to your body while you were unconscious and defenseless, even if you technically know they were all good things that needed to happen and you agreed to them. It doesn’t help that you’re very vulnerable and dependent on others in a hospital setting anyway.

    7. Mononymous*

      I had a tubal in 2010–best decision I ever made for myself. Here are my tips and experiences:

      1: I’ve had anesthesia many times, so it’s no longer scary to me, but it’s an unusual experience at first. Don’t be shy about asking the nurses and doctors to explain what’s happening to you and what they’re doing pre-op. They will otherwise be business as usual, bustling around you, and IME just knowing what’s going on gives me a greater feeling of control that helps me be calm.

      2: Before surgery day, prep a comfy resting place for yourself to come home to. I found that resting in bed with a lot of pillows piled up behind me for a half-reclining position was best for the first couple of days and nights. Have everything you might need nearby: reading materials, water bottle, phone and charger, tv remote, etc.

      3: Pain management. Your doctor will send you home with a script for pain pills. Take them as prescribed!! It’s easier to keep pain under control consistently by keeping the meds in your system at a steady level, than it is to get pain back under control after missing a dose or more. Also, I found ice packs to be a huge help in the first few days. Ask the hospital to give you one or two refillable ice packs to use, and make sure your freezer is full (buy a bag of ice if you don’t have an automatic ice maker).

      4: Sorry if TMI, but the pain pills might back you up, and I found that the worst pain in the first week or so was trying to relax my abdominal muscles to go to the bathroom. Straining was out of the question. Have some low-residue (low fiber, soft) foods on hand for the first few days. I ate a lot of jello, rice pudding, scrambled eggs and soup. Drink plenty of water and maybe consider having a stool softener on hand just in case.

      For me, the worst pain lasted about a week, then I had a couple more weeks of discomfort and restricted activity. It wasn’t too bad, even though I heal slowly due to autoimmune stuff. Wishing you good luck and a quick recovery!

      1. ..Kat..*

        Miralax, once a day while on opioids. Prevention is better than waiting for problem to appear and then treating it. Run this by the nurses before surgery. Nurses can be great for information such as this. (I am not at all biased by being a nurse myself! Really!)

    8. Melody Pond*

      Oh! Here’s one specific question I kept forgetting to ask. I have fairly long hair, and I was thinking about putting it back in a braid, before leaving the house, on the morning of.

      Does anyone know if the nice medical/surgical professionals will have an objection to me braiding it? Or would it be helpful for them, in keeping the hair out of the way? Or will they not care at all?

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I am not 100% sure, but I think it would be okay as long as you do not use anything that has metal in it. Some ponytail holders (or whatever they are called–hair elastics?) have metal, which is dangerous in the operating room. Also, don’t wear any jewelry/bring any jewelry with you. They’ll make you take it off, and then you’ll have to worry about having somewhere to put it. I’ll never forget the guy next to me in pre-op who refused to remove his ring because it was a good luck charm. The nurse was like, “Okay. We’ll just cut it off of you once you’re under.” He took it off.

      2. Stella's Mom*

        You can braid it, your hair will likely be put into a cap pre-op. Mine was, I pulled mine into a bun.

      3. ..Kat..*

        Since you will be on your back for surgery, one braid on each side is better. This is a great idea by the way. Saves you from getting amazing snarls in your hair and keeps it out of the way.

      4. The OG Anonsie*

        They might make you take it out regardless of whether the ponytail holder has metal in it.

    9. copy run start*

      I had it done 18 months ago! No regrets. My scars have basically disappeared as well (I had a cut below the bikini line and a cut through my bellybutton.) I had the clips.

      Pre-op: You’ll probably have lifting restrictions for a few weeks and not feel like moving around much initially. If you have small children or pets who might jump on your lap, talk to the kids and consider a plan for the pets. I had my cat boarded for a few days because I live alone and he is relentless. I would have struggled to deal with feeding him and cleaning his litter box for the first few days, though he was a good buddy when he did come home. I picked up a small tray at Target to make carrying things a bit easier — I camped out in my bedroom. I set up my desktop so I could have full gaming power and stream entertainment from the bed. I had extra pillows around, one of those reading pillows to prop me up and a plug-in heating pad. (I’d heard it helps with gas pains. I didn’t really have a problem with those but it was soothing.) I’d ensure you’re caught up on laundry and cleaning since it will be a while before you’re up to it (unless you have help). Also have lots of easy to make food around.

      Post-op: I really didn’t have an issue with gas pains or pain from the incision. My menstrual cramps are usually far worse than the pain I experienced. I didn’t use any prescription pain meds. I was super bloated for a while, so loose sweats and undies and skirts are going to be your friend! Overall I felt pretty good, just extra tired. I took two weeks off work to recover, which I recommend. I get super nauseous from anesthesia, so they gave me some pills and a patch behind my ear to wear for a while after the anti-nausea medicine from the surgery wore off. The patch was enough for me. If you think that might be a concern, talk to your anesthesiologist before the surgery. You don’t want to be puking after abdominal surgery, so it’s good to have on hand. They also gave me some compression stockings to wear for a while. I had a bit of tenderness around the tubes for awhile but it’s long since dissipated. Heating pad is soothing, you can get plug-in types for ~$20 bucks. Otherwise it’s just rest and enjoying your new freedom!

      1. copy run start*

        Forgot one more thing that I missed pre-op — bring a pad with you because you’ll bleed after the surgery. My doctor told me I couldn’t wear tampons for 2 weeks afterwards, not sure if a menstrual cup would be okay or not. But you’ll want to have some on stock since it’ll take a few days to subside (at least in my case it did).

        1. ..Kat..*

          No menstrual cups. Bring your own pads is a great idea (I suggest heavy duty flow and medium flow sizes. With wings. And extra long in length. I cannot begin to describe how awful hospital feminine pads are. Also, bring nice baby wipes from home, especially if you have sensitive skin. They make cleaning yourself so much easier when you are not feeling your best.

          Warm, comfy socks if your feet get cold.

          1. Melody Pond*

            Yeah, I’m not surprised that menstrual cups wouldn’t be a good idea in this situation (I do use them regularly, but I won’t in this case). I do have some nice cloth pads that I will probably bring, though.

            The socks thing would not have occurred to me. Like, for while I’m on the operating table, right? That’s a really good thought. I’ll bring my favorite warm socks.

            1. copy run start*

              They gave me socks to wear during the surgery, but I didn’t get to take them home. Just the compression stockings. They also gave me some warm wash clothes to clean off the orange sterilizing stuff from my body. It was kind of hard to get off, so don’t wear any underwear or pants you like. I don’t think it stained but I remember being concerned.

            2. ..Kat..*

              Most places will let you wear your own comfy, warm, clean socks in the OR. Your feet are no where near the surgical site and will be under sterile drapes. Along these lines, one or two inexpensive comfort items for after the surgery. I am sorry that I have to say this, but do not bring the heirloom quilt that was hand made by your great great grandmother and would be irrevocably ruined if bled on, vomited on, etc.

              One benefit that many don’t know about- these places have blanket warmers! Ask for warm blanket! Heaven!

              Good luck !

    10. neverjaunty*

      That thing where they tell you not to lift more than X weight for a while? They’re not kidding.

        1. Laura B*

          In some ways, think of getting up from lying down as lifting, too. Most of us will normally use our abdominal muscles to rise up. I was advised to lie on my side facing the edge of the bed, then use my arms to slowly push myself up into a sitting position, then use leg muscles to get up.

    11. Gaia*

      I haven’t had it done, but I’m in talks with my Gyn to get it done (now that I finally found one that will do it even though I’ve never had children). The best advice I’ve seen is pamper yourself. There is going to be pain but it shouldn’t be unbearable.

      1. Melody Pond*

        It’s crazy to me that there are doctors out there that try to police their patients’ reproductive functions, based on what they think a person should want (and therefore, might someday want). I’m 30, have never had kids, and my doctor (in the Portland, OR area) didn’t even blink twice when I said I wanted to get sterilized.

        1. Gaia*

          Yup. I’m 32 and have never had kids. I’ve never had any inclination to have kids. I’ve known since I was a little girl that I actively do not want to be a parent. Also? I’d make a pretty terrible parent (can’t even count how many times that statement has been followed up by “that changes once you have a kid” Really? Because plenty of kids have crappy parents that should have known better because it didn’t change)

          Every doctor before my current one has outright refused to even consider sterilization because “too many women regret it.” Well, I won’t. But if I do I guess that is tough cookies? I told the last one that I think that is a terrible reason because it seems worse to regret having kids than to regret not having kids since you can rectify the second by fostering or adopting or volunteering with kids – you can’t really go back and not have your kid.

          1. Melody Pond*

            Ahhh, +1,000,000,000 to this! Loved your reasoning about why it’s much better to regret NOT having kids than to regret having had kids!

    12. ValaMalDoran*

      Have deodorant and wet wipes by your resting place for after surgery, to help minimize potentially feeling gross/smelly when you don’t want to move. Also some type of no rinse face cleanser (like micellar water) and cotton balls/pads if you’re prone to oily skin.

      I hope all goes well!

    13. Zathras*

      I haven’t had this procedure, so I don’t know the specifics of that. But I had a LOT of surgeries as a kid/teenager and got to be something of a pro at dealing with anesthesia. My tips for recovery are:

      1) They will bring your family member into the recovery room when you wake up. Tell the family member beforehand to talk to you and keep talking, even if you don’t seem responsive right away. Hearing the familiar voice of someone you love/trust can hep you feel calmer and more oriented while you wake up. With normal sleep you typically have a sense that some time has passed, but with anesthesia (at least in my experience) you don’t have that – it will seem like you were just being wheeled into the OR two seconds ago, and blinked. It’s really disorienting, but the feeling passes.

      2) Once you can keep it down, drink water (or ginger ale if that’s what you can keep down) steadily every time you are awake, all the time you are awake. Don’t chug it or anything like that, but keep a full glass beside you and sip on it in a dedicated way. This will help move the drugs out of your system.

      3) Sleep. Every time you feel remotely like you could go to sleep, do it. When you wake up, use the bathroom, then drink fluids (see #1). Repeat. After the first couple of cycles of this, you will start to feel a little less groggy every time you wake up.

      4) If possible, once you are home recovering on the couch/bed/wherever, change the pillowcase on your pillow every 8 hours or so for a day or two, and flip the pillow over once in between that. The smell of the anesthesia / general hospital smell will linger in your hair/skin and get onto the pillowcase, so if you can swap it out with a fresh one it will help you feel less like you are still swimming in the drugs.

      Pick up some plastic drinking straws for when you first go home. It’s easier to drink from a straw when you are laying back on pillows and being able to easily take small frequent sips will help with #2 above.

      Good luck!

        1. Nana*

          I’ve been told (sorry, no direct experience) that activated charcoal will help move anesthesia out of your body…it’s available in pill form.
          Congrats on taking this step…I did it at 30 and have never regretted it for a moment.

          1. ..Kat..*

            Please don’t do this. Activated charcoal absorbs the medications you are taking to get better. If it upsets your stomach, you will vomit a charcoal slurry that you will never get out of anything it gets on. And you will poop charcoal, which is like sandpapering your delicate lady parts.

    14. WellRed*

      No advice on the actual procedure but the last time i had surgery i was also scared of the idea of being under, esp. As i have type 1 diab etes and feared low blood sugar. The anesthesiologist said “Your job is to sleep, my job is to watch you sleep.” That helped me muchly.

    15. Kim*

      I am a bit late on this, but when you stand up, stand up straight. I had one many years ago and I remember seeing other women walking hunched over. That was more painful that focusing on standing up straight and walking. It will help you to heal and feel better more quickly. You will want to bend over because of the pain, but don’t succumb to it. :)

  6. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

    Heading out to my local March for Science today! This will be my first march/rally, and I’m both excited and a little nervous.

    1. Paloma Pigeon*

      Good for you! COULD NOT get the kids to go for love nor money. But I really wanted to show support for this one. Might make a charitable donation later.

    2. Miss Frizzle*

      I salute you! I had planned to attend the one my city is holding, but I didn’t sleep well most of the week. It’s also in the 80s were I live–too hot for me to be marching about. But I hope this is a good experience for you. It’s always nice when others share how strongly they feel about the importance of science.

    3. Anxa*

      I’m science adjacent and really thought about going (our event is probably going to be tiny as we are not far from DC), but I ended up sleeping through an alarm. I am not a marcher or protestor usually, and I also have done my share of eye-rolling over the M4S, but I do feel kind of guilty for not going. Plus, I would have loved to know what our local scientists do around these parts.

    4. copy run start*

      I just found out my city is holding one this afternoon, and it’s shaping up to be an awesome day! I think I might just go!

      I was SO nervous for my state’s womens march (and I had to drive two hours to get there) but I am super glad I went.

    5. overeducated*

      Have fun! I want to the DC one earlier today, but between the non stop downpour and long long line to get through what I assume was an entrance with security check, I headed home with a very wet toddler after about an hour. Spouse and a friend are representing for the actual march part, and boy are they going to be cold when they get back. We dressed and packed based on a forecast for “showers likely late afternoon,” but it went from misty to actual rain or our walk to the metro and hasn’t stopped.

      Also, funny thing – my husband wrote a sign that said “data are not political,” and I said jokingly that I disagreed somewhat (the ways we define, collect and structure data are somewhat political because politics – in the sense of power relations in society – frames our thinking in ways we don’t always recognize). He thought about it for a bit and decided to leave it home because he wasn’t sure he agreed either, which was not my intent. We social scientists ruin everything!

      I am baking pretzels to make up for it though.

      1. Emma*

        I went and I didn’t see any entrance with a security check. I had read that there would be checks, but maybe bc I only went to the march, and not the other events, I didn’t go through security

        1. overeducated*

          We were trying to get into the Washington Monument grounds in the morning while the rally was going on, it was fenced in with limited entrance points. I had to take the kid home before the actual march.

    6. Trix*

      The one in my city went right past my work building, and since I have to work today, I just planned a break for when it’d be passing by. It was amazing, I wish I could have jumped in with them! There were so many people, I read that they’ve estimated 20,000.

      I hope you had fun!

    7. Blue eagle*

      I marched with a friend in my city with a sign that read
      Water is Life
      Science is Real
      Protect the Great Lakes!
      It was great fun to read all of the signs that people came up with – – over 6,000 marchers.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      We had one here and I thought about going, but for some dumb reason, there were a ton of things going on just today and I had to choose. Now watch the next few Saturdays be boring as hell!

    9. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      In my city we were only expecting 1000 marchers but got over 3000! It was a great day and I met some amazing people. I doubt this will be my last march. :)

    10. Cath in Canada*

      I went to my local one and had a great time. My friend and I made matching signs, one saying “science needs the whole world” and one saying “the whole world needs science”.

    1. Jessi*

      Bother. I wanted to say that my work permit finally came (literally the most terrible ID of my life – worse than either of my passports), so I’m now legal to work on the States. Of course if I’m ever asked for that permit and I’ve not got it on me I can face 30 days in jail…..

      I’m really enjoying American life, thanks to everyone who gave tips and suggestions :) now if Cali would just stick to spring weather I’ll be all set

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Keep it handy! Especially now. Urgh.

        Spring weather seems to have taken a vacation here too. It rained for two days solid and has been cold and drizzly today. I’m looking forward to the return of the sun.

  7. ThatLibraryChick*

    I’m thinking about getting my hair dyed in a non natural color (blue, purple, etc). It’s totally ok with my work so that’s not the issue. I’m just curious, how does one go about making an appointment? Since it’s not listed in the “standard menu” of hair services, when calling to make an appointment do you just say you want to dye your hair blue or what? Since I have black hair, I know it’ll take a longer process so I just want to make sure I’m doing it right.

    1. Allypopx*

      Yep! Once you’re talking to a real person they’ll know what to write and what to ask “My hair is currently black and I want to dye it blue” and they’ll go from there.


      1. kittymommy*

        Also one thing I’ve done is text a picture to the stylist of your hair (color, length) or gone by if it’s close. As well as a picture of what I want.

    2. WinterWinds*

      I usually book a consultation first, then they assess my hair colour, condition etc as well as what I want to do with it, and then we book the actual appointment once they know what will be involved.

    3. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

      As someone with dark brown hair with a bright fuchsia underlayer (it was crimson for about a year prior), I would recommend going to a salon with stylists who are experienced at unnatural hair colors and have high quality dyes. If you have dark hair they’ll have to bleach it first, then apply the blue. It takes me about 3 hours in the chair (including touching up my gray roots) and is usually around $250 before tip or product – you will want to use high-quality color safe shampoo/conditioner to make the color last as long as it can. I can usually get two months out of my color before it starts to fade, and four months before I need a refresh.

      Oh, and bring LOTS of inspiration photos for your stylist that show the particular shade you’re looking to achieve. Color is very subjective and pictures are worth a thousand words.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Seconding this. Certain salons and stylists really, really specialize in types of color, and if you end up in the chair of someone who is a GENIUS at gorgeous, natural reds, or at helping clients get to the platinum blonde they’ve always wanted, but who has almost no experience doing hot pink, you may not be as happy with the results as if you find someone whose portfolio includes every proverbial color of the rainbow.

        Signed, a 20-year fake redhead ;)

    4. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Yep, definitely just call, let them know that you have black hair. I have medium-brown hair and went blue, and it took about 5 hours all together, so bring a book or your phone charger or something! :)

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Oh, and I agree with bringing pictures, and while I don’t know that a consultation in-person is all that useful, it IS useful to go in person well beforehand just to see the color samples. They can always mix, of course, but my hairdresser buys dye from a specific place and had a little ring of hair loops that made it much easier to choose what color I wanted.

    5. No, please*

      This will probably be a double process. You could do a consultation or just explain what you want over the phone. Be sure to mention the length of your hair.

    6. super anon*

      My advice is going to be a bit different to everyone here – but use Instagram to find a stylist in your neighbourhood. Not all stylists can do unconventional colours or have the experience with it. Search for hashtags like “#yourcityhair #yourcitynamestylist #yourcityairportcodestylist #yourcityairportcodehair #yourcityhairsalon #yourcityhairstylist #yourcityairportcodehairsalon #yourcityairportcodehairstylist” and start looking at the profiles of the hair stylists that come up. Look at the photos of their work – this is essentially their public facing portfolio. Look to see if the colour has dimension to it or is flat. Look to see if there is visible yellow or any brassiness coming through under the colour. Make sure there is no visible “banding” in the after photos. If possible, I also like to dig through the Instagrams of people who they tagged to see if they posted any selfies after to see how their hair faded (although this is highly dependant on how they took care of it afterwards, but the fading will show any errors in processing). I’ll post some links in the next comment with examples of what I’m talking about so you can have some reference images to work off of.

      Also be aware of how light you want to go to get to the final colour you want. A dark purple or blue doesn’t require as light of a base as pastel colours, which will require your hair to be bleached to as high of a level as possible (white/silver) to get them to show.

      Also for anyone else reading, you use this method this with any hair colour you want, or a cut. You can also use the same method to find nail salons, or lash extensions, or microblading, or tattoo artists. Instagram is a huge repository now for people to use as their portfolio, but not a lot of people I’ve encountered know how to effectively use it to find stylists, etc.

      After you find someone you like, the rest of the advice everyone else has said will apply, although usually you can contact the artists through their social media to set up the initial consult, rather than calling the salon.

      Source: have had many unconventional colours done to my hair, and have found stylists for myself and for friends using Instagram – all of them have been happy with how their hair turned out using the stylists I recommended. i myself found my current stylist through reddit.

    7. The IT Manager*

      I’d be a bit concerned if it’s not listed under their services.

      A free consult first may be best before scheduling your appointment.

      Echoing others – you will need a lift/bleach which will take the longest. That will be followed by the color.

      Be aware that you’ll have to worry about leaving the color on your towels and pillow cases. The more often you wash the faster it will fade. If you spend the day in the sun wear a hat because that will also cause it to fade fast.

    8. Tris Prior*

      This might sound strange, but does your city have any sort of goth community, maybe a Facebook group? You want someone who has a lot of experience with unnatural color. This is sort of how I found my stylist, except I was already part of the goth community so it was word of mouth.

      If not – you want a place that advertises themselves as doing “creative color.” In my city anyway, that tends to be code for unnatural color.

      If the stylist tells you that you can’t go straight from black to blue without sustaining major damage to your hair – believe her! That’s an indication that you’ve got a good stylist. I have purple and blue hair now, but it took a while before I could achieve the blue because I’d been coloring my own hair red for years with box dye and there were spots where some of it just wouldn’t bleach out using a normal amount and duration of bleach. My stylist told me that more bleach right then would cause breakage. I did end up eventually getting to blue, but it took a bit as we waited for the stubborn orangey-red bits to fade/grow out.

      And if you happen to be in Chicago, I can recommend my stylist. :)

    1. Jessi*


      Ensures you will use each room to the max! You might find the light in some rooms is different that you expected and you want a different color scheme/ lighter furniture

    2. Caledonia*

      After. You’ll know the layout, the space and what fits and what won’t. Also, you won’t have to move the furniture which you will if you buy it before moving into a new place.

    3. BBBizAnalyst*

      After. You may find that you don’t even like the pieces you bought anymore once you move in. Happened to me when I realized I hate the look of sectionals in small living rooms.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          On one of the househunting/decorating shows, the experts used to recommend that you not make any major renovations to the house you just bought until you’d lived in it for a full year. They said you needed to see how you lived in the house before you could determine what changes need to be made- and talked about clients who had renovated right away, and then when they moved in, discovered that the renovations didn’t work for them, and ended up spending more money to change things again.

    4. Aphrodite*

      Are you buying or do you rent? Regardless, you should buy what you love! Try it out one or a few pieces at at time. I’ve lived in my current place since May 09 and am still furnishing it. Some are replacements (a loveseat for an old loveseat), some are new (a couple of paintings I love). But I have found what works best is to leave it undone until you fall in love with something because if you love it that much you will always love it regardless of where you live. (For a look that is you, don’t buy sets of furniture: bedroom. living room, etc. Putting together various items found in various places means that you get a unique look.)

    5. Irish Em*

      After! A former colleague of mine had a sofa that was too big to go through her new apartment’s door, and she wasn’t allowed use a cherry picker to lift it onto her balcony. Her then-partner took it to his (bigger) place and I don’t know what happened it when they broke up. That was a good €1,000 gone down the drain.

  8. no name for this post*

    I’m facing a choice on where I’m going to live (I know this is a no work thread but I have to mention my layoff once to explain how it’s affected my non-work and family circumstances. My last day is next Friday)

    I was about to sign a new lease on my apartment but now I am moving since I can’t afford to stay there. So I have two choices.

    My parents retired and downsized to an apartment condo last year so while they would have taken me in there is no room. My aunts, uncles and grandparents are in the same boat. My friends and cousins are married with kids and have no room, with the exception of one.

    That cousin has offered to let me stay with her until I find a job and get on my feet. The catch is that my cousin is tee-totaler. She thinks alcohol and other drugs should be illegal. She doesn’t preach to others but she does not allow them in her home. She thinks any drugs that alter moods or provide a high should only be allowed under limited circumstances and under a doctors supervision (ex, people with cancer, those in pallative care etc.) She does put her money where he mouth is because she lost a leg to a drunk driver and she refused painkillers as soon as she was awake enough. She pushed herself and at the point when most people are just learning to walk again she was already home and back to work. She runs marathons now and hates any mention of her being disabled. Even the doctors thought she needed painkillers but she refused.

    The thing is, I smoke marijuana for anxiety and as a sleep aid. I also like to drink a beer in the evening. Marijuana is not legal in our state medical or otherwise. Ounces is a felony, there is no diversion or leniency for first offenders. Even if it was legal my cousin wouldn’t allow it in her home. If I smoke in her home she will kick me out. I don’t know any other safe place to go to smoke it because I’m terrified of being arrested, and even if I smoked somewhere else and came home she would smell it and kick me out.

    The only apartment I can afford to rent is in higher crime area that is not exactly safe. I don’t know if I would rather live in a safe place where I couldn’t smoke or have the odd beer, or an unsafe place where I can have them. There is no changing my cousin’s mind and no other options besides these two. Moving to another area is not something I want to do because I grew up in this city and my entire family lives here. But I don’t know what choice to make and I have to be out of my apartment next Saturday.

    Thanks for listening btw

    1. kms1025*

      When you move into someone’s space, you have to abide by their house rules. I’m sorry for your situation. Are you sure your circle of friends doesn’t include someone looking for a room-mate, or someone with a room to rent?

      1. no name for his post*

        Thank you :) I am sure. All of my friends are married or partnered and have (a) kid(s) and have no room for anyone else. My only two options are my cousin or the apartment in the unsafe area.

    2. Episkey*

      Instead of smoking pot, can you visit your doctor while your health insurance is still active and get a Rx for anxiety/sleep aid? It sounds like your cousin would make an exception for a Rx, and even if she wouldn’t, something like that would be a lot easier to hide than smoking pot (smell, smoke, etc).

      1. no name for this post*

        I currently am without a doctor and I haven’t had insurance for a while (never had it through work). I’m looking but I am not optimistic about affording medication. She would not object to an Rx for anything that wasn’t recreational but the trouble is finding a doctor without insurance.

        1. TL -*

          Honestly, I would price out ACA plans. If one (with anticipated treatment) is less than an apartment + beer/pot budget, I’d get that instead of an apartment and pursue treatment while moving in with your cousin.
          If it’s more, I’d get the apartment.

          The worst case scenario is you get suddenly kicked out of your cousin’s place with no home at all, and you already sound frustrated by her rules, so I wouldn’t move in without being able to seek medical care.

    3. smokey*

      You’ll probably have better luck smoking in your own apartment but remember the management can kick you out for it too if they know for sure.

    4. Turtlewings*

      I have to agree, your cousin has the right to not allow an illegal substance in her home, since she could get in legal trouble if you were caught. I feel like asking to be allowed some alcohol in your own spaces would be a reasonable compromise — I think you can even buy a tiny fridge to keep in your own room for $50 or so, if you can afford that.

      In your place, I would definitely stay in the safe neighborhood with your cousin, though only you can decide what your priorities are. I would recommend looking into other anxiety medications/sleep aids, even if just for the duration of your stay at your cousin’s. It may not be as expensive as you might expect; doctors often have samples to give people who are in tight straits. Also generics, etc. And over-the-counter sleep aids exist, though they don’t work for everyone.

      1. no name for this post*

        She would not allow alcohol into her home. I would be sleeping in a common area but even if I had my own room she would kick me out if she . Over the counter sleep aids don’t help, I already tried those.

    5. Anxa*

      Have you considered that you may be more dependent on the drugs if you need to find another place to be, and that having a place to stay while you get on your feet may help your peace of mind to a point that it could be wash?

      1. Natalie*

        Even if that’s the case (which I don’t think it is) I’m not sure it’s a helpful avenue of thought. Deciding to become sober is a big deal and people generally come to it gradually, rather than stopping suddenly with no desire to, no plan, and no support.

    6. Mela*

      Do you know if CBD oil with no THC in it will help your anxiety? If that’s legal and it works, it may be a good option.

    7. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Honestly? I would go with the apartment and keep the weed and beer. I know plenty of people who medicate with marijuana, and it would be really rough for them to not have access to it. With an unsafe neighborhood… obvs your mileage may vary, and I have the privilege of not needing to live in the most dangerous places in my city, but I do live in a neighborhood where people get shot from time to time. You should be careful, but people live in dangerous neighborhoods, and they mostly survive. I’d personally much rather feel nervous walking home from the subway but be able to smoke out and relax once I got home than feel overall anxious and not have a place to chill out.

    8. the gold digger*

      Even if you were to stay with someone else, smoking pot (in a place where it is illegal) in her house would not be a good idea. I think all drugs (including heroin) should be legalized and have no problems with people stoning themselves into a stupor as long as they don’t hurt anyone else, but even I would be furious if someone brought illegal drugs into my home and put me and my husband at risk.

      I think staying in a safer neighborhood with your cousin is the better option, even if you have to go without marijuana and alcohol for a while. It will be hard for you – I am sorry. I hope you find a new job quickly and can move into a nice place again soon.

    9. chickabiddy*

      I’m sorry that you’re in a stressful situation and facing the possible loss of a coping mechanism.

      I have to say that I see a qualitative difference between cousin not allowing you to commit a crime in her home (I support legalization and realize that the statement was a bit dramatic, but as a homeowner, I would not open myself up to liability) and her passing judgement on legal alcohol or perhaps a prescription med. It is true that her home means her rules, but I hope that she would be willing to let you stay if you had a legal script for a sleep med that is not known for recreational use.

      1. no name for this post*

        She would not object to the medication if it wasn’t a recreational drug and I was under a doctors supervision. I am looking for a doctor but I am currently without health insurance (never had any through work) so that makes it tough.

        If marijuana was legal she would still not allow it as she thinks it should be illegal for any reason. But since it is illegal here that point is moot anyway.

    10. Annony*

      Get a vape and only use it before you go to sleep. There’s very little chance she would catch on. Vapes can be expensive ($300) but there are some cheaper, smaller, portable options as well. There is no odor, which is what would get you caught.

      I would also like to say I’m only suggesting this as an option. I understand it’s unethical to break the rules of someone who opened their home to you when you were in need. I do however, think “stop smoking now” may be an unrealistic option for OP. And I think breaking the rules without the cousin ever finding out may be better than endangering your life in a crimeridden community. OP you know your own sitatuation (how easy it would be to stop smoking, how dangerous the other community really is, how much you’re willing to risk your relationship with your cousin, etc). It’s up to you to decide how to proceed, but my brother smoked for years under my conservative parents roof.

      1. no name for this post*

        That’s not an option. She lives in a small place and I would be sleeping in a common area. She would call the police if she found out without even confronting me first.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          From your various follow-up comments, I think you’d be better off with the dodgy apartment. It sounds like you already resent your cousin for her requirements, and starting out by resenting someone who is offering you a major favour is something that will generally not end well.

          Have you looked for a weed-friendly roommate situation on Craigslist, which could be a lot cheaper than your own place? You’ll still have to find roommates who are okay with marijuana usage – both because of the legality issue and the risk to them, and because smoking (in general – not just marijuana) is often a firm deal breaker for potential roommates.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          From your followup comments, I think you’d be better off with the dodgy apartment. It sounds like you already resent your cousin’s requirements, and starting off by resenting someone who is offering you a major favour is something that usually doesn’t end well.

          Have you tried looking for weed-friendly roommate situations on Craigslist? Sharing a place is usually a lot cheaper than paying your own rent. If you look for roommates, though, you’ll still have to disclose the marijuana smoking, both for the legal issues, and because you don’t move into a place and then tell your roommates you’re a smoker.

          FWIW, while I don’t share most of your cousin’s opinions, I would adopt similar rules regarding recreational drugs for roommates, paying or otherwise – illegal drugs on the premises is grounds for immediate eviction and potential police involvement (depending on the circumstances and drugs), and no smokers, regardless of the legality of what they are smoking. The first is because the liability to the homeowner/lease holder is a lot bigger than to the tenant, and the second because I don’t like the smell of second hand smoke, or smokers.

      2. Helen*

        So OP should break the law and blatantly disrespect their cousin and their cousin’s home?

        People like you give anti-marijuana crusaders a bad name. You advocate for OP to lie to someone who generously has opened their home to them and to bring an illegal substance into the home. I’m for legalization and I fight for that but if someone can’t go without using a substance whether it’s legal or not it makes them an addict. If you are a guest you follow the rules where you are. Being a user of marijuana doesn’t mean you get to be a disrespectful jerk who lacks basic manners.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree that you shouldn’t lie to someone who has opened their home to you and that you should respect their rules, but I don’t think “if someone can’t go without using a substance whether it’s legal or not it makes them an addict” is the right frame to bring to medical marijuana use. I don’t want to go without access to Aleve when I have headaches, but I don’t think that makes me an addict, nor do I think you’d say that about someone with a prescription for treating most other conditions.

          1. Helen*

            Of course. Apologies Alison. I don’t mean that wanting to use a medication or drug automatically makes anyone an addict. But OP seems to be leaning towards choosing an unsafe living situation over marijuana and alcohol. If OP can’t go without using these to the point they would rather face a horrible and unsafe place to live, then OP may have dependency issues. That is the point I was making.

            (For the record I am pro-legalization and I have smoked before. But if I had to choose between living in a safe place temporarily and smoking or alcohol it would be a no brainer)

            1. Natalie*

              If we accept that their use of marijuana is medical, how is not wanting to go without it indicative that they are addicted? They may be dependent, but we can be dependent on medication for a lot of reasons. People depend on psych meds, insulin, beta blockers.

              There are people who are strongly opposed to conventional anti-anxiety treatments – people in religions that forbid medical treatment, people who are strongly alt-med or anti-psych. If the cousin was that kind of person and the OP didn’t want to give up their Xanax, I doubt you would say they were an addict.

            2. Ramona Flowers*

              Well I’d choose a horrible place to live over going without medication without which I can’t function. I think you’ve possibly missed the comparison Alison was making.

            3. Lissa*

              Eh, but there is more to it than that I think. I mean, what if the situation was “my cousin won’t let me use legal painkillers” and the OP was thinking of an unsafe neighborhood over the ability to do that? I don’t think anyone would be suggesting addiction.

              Also there’s an emotional component to being told “you can’t do this thing that is really helpful/positive for you” and I know people are focusing a lot on the weed aspect, but the cousin also isn’t even OK with an occasional beer. I don’t smoke anything or drink more than once a month and I’d still find that kinda frustrating!

    11. Thlayli*

      I’m not meaning to sound harsh here, but it sounds to me like you may have a dependency on drugs and/or alcohol. I’m no holy Mary and I enjoy a drink and a smoke myself, but if I had to choose between a safe area and a few months teetotal or living in a dangerous area so I could drink and smoke, that would be a really easy decision for me.

      The fact that you are even considering moving to an unsafe area rather than taking a few months off smoking makes it seem like you have a dependency.

      There are plenty of legal drugs for sleep and anxiety issues, I suggest you look into them, take your cousin up on her extremely generous offer and go out once a week to have a reasonable amount of alcohol in a licensed premises. You never know you may even meet some friends when you are out and could possibly end up with a safe place to smoke that way.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        If someone decided that Wellbutrin or Xanax were illegal, would you feel the same way? I tend to defer to people on what medications work for them and what don’t. The distinction we’ve built between “bad” drugs and “good” drugs is 100% arbitrary, to the extent that it isn’t influenced by pharmaceutical lobbying, racism and plain tradition, “the way things have always been.” Sure, this person might be “dependent” on marijuana, in the same way that a person on anti-depressants might be “dependent” on their medicine, does that mean that either person is better off without? Weed is a drug. It’s not that different than other drugs, in that it has effect sthat might be desirable or undesirable based on each person using it. There’s nothing inherent in weed that makes it so a person is better off if they can swear off of it forever.

        Sure, lots of people use it recreationally, for fun. If you cannot have fun without it, sure. Same with alcohol. When someone tells me that they self-medicate with weed for anxiety and for a sleep aid, I assume that they would be worse off without it, aka much more anxious and with less sleep. The involvement of a doctor doesn’t make it better or worse; doctors have a lot of knowledge, but they don’t know how any given person is reacting to any given medicine. Especially when we’re talking about a person who doesn’t have insurance, who might not have access to other medicines (and why would you seek out other medicine when you have one that works, one that has few side effects?)

        1. Natalie*

          For that matter, plenty of people use prescription medications for fun. It doesn’t mean other people don’t need them for some kind of medical reason.

    12. Slightly Satisfied*

      See if your supplier also had edibles available. They make edibles that are geared toward anti-anxiety and sleeping, too, if those are available in your area. Otherwise, I agree with the commenter above who suggested a vape.

      1. Helen*

        OP should not disrespect their cousin. People like you and the person above give ammo to the anti-drug crusaders. For the record I’m pro-legalization all the way. But OP’s choice to use marijuana doesn’t not supercede her cousin’s right to choose what happens in her own home. Following the rules when you are a guest is basic manners.

    13. Red*

      Honestly, I’d go for the apartment, depending on just how unsafe it is. Freedom and personal space are hugely important to one’s state of mind, and I tend to value that very highly, more so than a slightly safer neighborhood.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same here, and you can still live relatively safely in a not-so-great neighborhood. The cousin has a right to say no drugs/alcohol in her home. I’m okay with legal pot, but I don’t want it in my house either, because I don’t like it.

        1. Red*

          Yep. This sounds like an arrangement where both parties are totally in the right and totally incompatible. If the other option is at all workable, take that one, because this option is not. It’s the same deal as if you used knitting as a coping mechanism and she had a strict “no knitting” rule – just ain’t gonna work. The fact that OP likes beer and pot is totally beside the point.

          1. Casuan*

            Yep. This sounds like an arrangement where both parties are totally in the right and totally incompatible.

            Well said.
            Reading the comments today, I think we’re all missing the fact that the cousin might have her own anxiety or PTSD, especially from [tho not limited to] her serious accident.
            If so, this makes Red’s comment even more true.

            No name for this post, it might help you to understand your cousin’s perspective so you don’t focus on what you can’t do whilst there & so you’re not tempted to breach her trust. If you really do need the cannabis for anxiety, your cousin might not be able to push past her own trauma. As for the legality of marijuana, I am pro-legalisation although unless one has a legal waiver then I don’t want it on my property.
            Also, I hate the odour, which really isn’t relevant tho I had to say it anyway.

            1. Red*

              My main point is the the only two relevant views on pot are the OPs and her cousin’s, and they directly oppose each other. The only way both parties can have their needs met on this matter is by living separately. Legal issues are a facet of the needs themselves, but that’s a red herring that these comments seem oddly focused on, and I’m really not understanding why. Though I guess it is cool to see how many people support legalization…

    14. Casuan*

      You’re the only one who can decide what you want & I’m sorry that you have to deal with this.

      re the unsafe neighbourhood: There are many definitions of “unsafe” so it’s difficult for any of us to advise you on that option without more context.
      Why do you say the neighbourhood is unsafe?

      re your cousin: Whether or not you pay rent or help with monthly expenses, you need to respect your cousin’s rules.
      This might not be feasible & it could be risky- have you thought of talking with her & asking her for help? If your cousin is anti-pain meds etc, she might have alternatives that could work.

      re the marijuana & beer: As suggested, CBD oil without the THC could be a good alternative to the cannabis. About the beer, what about non-alcohol beer? There’s still a trace of alcohol & you’d get the general taste of beer; yet it isn’t the same as the real thing & your cousin might not permit it, either.
      If your anxiety permits & if your use of cannabis or beer isn’t an addiction, the best way to change habits is to replace them with other habits. Because she’s willing to let you stay with her, your cousin might be willing to help you with this.

      re apartment hunting: If you were to rent a room somewhere, you still shouldn’t smoke on the homeowner’s property. It opens them up to liability.
      Don’t give up searching because sometimes there are good deals.
      Even though you said your only two options are the unsafe neighbourhood & your cousin’s home, I need to ask what is your search criteria? If you’re looking at studios & they’re not an option, then ignore the rest of this paragraph. If you’re looking at 1-bedrooms or more, you might be better served to downsize. It’s a personal preference & I’d rather be ensconced in a small space of my own rather than room with someone temporarily, especially if our lifestyles are so different.

      I hope things work out for you!

    15. HannahS*

      I think its important to separate the things you really want in your life and would be giving up (having a recreational drink, having your own space) and the things you need–safety and having your anxiety managed. I guess its a question of how unsafe will you feel in this neighbourhood (does it mean you can’t go out after dark? does it mean you’ll be fearful leaving your house at all?) versus how bad will your anxiety get if you give up the marijuana. Would you become too anxious to job-search?

      Are there any third options? Can you ask your parents for a loan to see a doctor and then ask for samples of other anxiety drugs or sleep aids? If there is, I think you’d be justified in hiding legal prescription meds from her.

    16. Celeste*

      Ask you family to help you afford a safe apartment while you job hunt. Just the difference between what you can afford and what you can’t, nottge whole amount.

    17. Christy*

      Have you considered sharing an apartment with a stranger? It’s not as weird as it sounds/feels–it’s quite common in my city, and I did it myself when I first moved here. I think most roommate situations start out like this. Or maybe renting a room in a house.

      It sounds like your cousin’s house isn’t an option for you. If it were just the beer, I’d say to accept the limit and stay with her. But weed for your anxiety? I don’t smoke, but I do take an anti-anxiety med, and for me, not being able to take it would be a nonstarter. If you think you could manage your anxiety (and get to sleep) without weed, I’d try the cousin’s. But I know first-hand it’s not that easy.

      Also, it sounds like you’d be sleeping on a couch at your cousin’s. While it’s very kind of her to offer that, I expect that would grate very quickly. I bet a roommate situation, even with a stranger, would be better in the medium or long term.

    18. Anono-me*

      You are in a tough and very stressful situation with a very short time frame.

      I suggest that you consider a two step solution.

      Step 1. Move in with your kind but strict cousin temporarily. Follow her house rules. Go out to a bar if you want to have a few drinks. Taxi, mass transit or walk home depending on your location.

      Step 2. Next week after you have had a little time to recover from everything, start looking for a new place to live.

      Good luck.

    19. Sarah G*

      It depends on your priorities, but for me, my priority would be hands down to get my own place. Personally, I need my space.It sounds like you will not even have your own room. Giving up the things that relieve your anxiety while also sharing someone’s home and not having your own space sounds like a recipe for being miserable, anxious, and without a place to decompress and relax.
      I don’t know what a “higher crime area that is not exactly safe” means — it is all relative depending what city you live in. It may be helpful to ask potential neighbors about crime, break-ins, etc. I’ve even asked potential landlords about break-ins and gotten surprisingly honest answers, maybe because they weren’t expecting the question. I’ve lived in big cities most of my life and always felt safer in second floor (or higher) apartments. But regardless, I would recomment getting your own place over livin with this cousin. I think your sanity will thank you.

  9. Anxious Anon*

    In the past three months, I’ve all of a sudden started to experience anxiety. Trigger points seems to be anything about aging or thinking about death (me or my loved ones). My cat died in December but nothing else has changed in my life and I’m generally a very happy person. It’s baffling and I just want it to go away and go back to normal me. Evenings seem to be worse but that’s when I’m home with my hubby who I adore in our house that I also love. I will be making an appointment through my work’s EAP next week to talk to a professional.

    My PCP suggested Benadryl to take off the edge when I feel this way but does anyone else having any coping mechanisms when they experience anxiety?

    1. Junior Dev*

      I have PTSD which often manifests as general anxiety these days. Here are some things that help.

      Short term: breathing exercises. Breathe in deeply, say “100” (can be quietly) on exhale. Breathe in deeply, say “99” on exhale, continue counting down til you feel calmer.

      Outside the immediate moment: I do aerobic exercise of some kind at least 3 times a week and it really helps keep my mood stable. I try to cut back on caffeine, though I haven’t stopped completely. I try to sleep enough. I eat on a regular schedule and avoid foods high in refined sugar. The exercise is probably the most important of these for me.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      I have had to recently cut down my caffeine and sugar intake. My anxiety has also recently gone up a notch and my diet is really the only place I can adjust right now. Diet is such a double edged sword for me. The more stressed I am the worse I eat. I need to keep reminding myself to eat wholesome food. In a couple months I can add more exercise and I know that will help as well.
      I try not to “think” too much – not great advice, sorry. My anxiety seems to come out about 10-15 minutes after I think about certain situations too much.
      I will second Junior Devs breathing advice. I also focus on breathing when my heart begins to race.
      AA – good luck – not any real advice but certainly empathy here.

    3. babblemouth*

      Could it be something you’re reading or a TV show you’re watching? I went through a period like this a few years ago, and realised a lot of it came from reading Kathy Reichs’s “Bones” book series which, while it is awesome, involves a LOT of talk about death.
      Some of it also came down to loneliness. I had just moved to a new country where i didn’t know a lot of people. Make sure to spend time with friends and family, that could also help.

    4. BRR*

      Meditation? I use the headspace app. I would maybe try l’theanine (over the counter supplement) instead of Benadryl.

    5. nonegiven*

      My doctor told me Benadryl, (which all previous doctors pushed at me for insomnia) was actually stimulating, and wrote me real drugs. She pushed the newer more expensive Ambien first, which made me sleep an hour and left me awake the rest of the night. Then she said the Ambien CR would just give me 2 hours sleep a few hours apart and gave me the cheaper older stuff that actually works.

      1. the gold digger*

        My doctor told me Benadryl…was actually stimulating

        Which is what my mother discovered when she flew from Spain to the US with my brother, sister, and me (my dad couldn’t join us until later), all of us under the age of eight. She thought the Benadryl would help us sleep and make it easier for her to make a transatlantic trip with three kids, but – it did not.

    6. AnonyMouse*

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your cat. *hugs if you want them.

      I’m not sure how your anxiety manifests itself, so not sure how much these ideas will help. For me, anxiety can quickly turn into feelings of panic, and I feel like I’m “stuck” in my head with irrationally spiraling thoughts. It helps to ground myself with exercises that require me to use my senses, e.g. name 5 blue things that I can see (so I have to look around me). Name 3 things I can hear, 3 things I can smell. Sometimes if I go to far into a panic attack, my husband helps me by stroking my back and making me guess how many fingers he’s using. It sounds silly, but it requires some concentration and helps bring me back into the present. It works much better than him telling me to breathe (because I’m like, ‘I don’t know how!’). Sometimes my anxiety makes me feel overwhelmed and paralyzed, if I’m at work I make to-do lists that break tasks down into very small increments, which helps me focus and feel less overwhelmed, or I ask my husband if he can talk through my plan for the next day with me.

      For more general care, like Junior Dev, I make a point of exercising 3x a week and getting enough sleep, which has helped. Hope things get better for you soon, and good for you for setting up the EAP appointment. I hope the professional is helpful!

    7. Chaordic One*

      The suggestions offered here all seem sound. I find that often I get upset from watching the news on TV or listening to the radio or reading the paper or internet. Of course, I don’t want to be unaware of what goes on in the world. Anyway, I kind of have to get myself psyched up before I look at news now and remind myself that, while terrible things are happening to other people, they’re not happening to me and my getting upset about these other people isn’t helping them or me.

      Really, try to exercise and get enough sleep. I found yoga helps me relax.

    8. LadyRamblesaLot*

      Condolences on the loss of your cat. That is a hard thing to deal with all on its own.

      I have generalized anxiety disorder, so I deal with anxiety regularly. I didn’t have anything that particularly caused mine to start that I could point to. I just woke up one Monday morning nauseated and panicky and called into work sick. Usually I can figure out what is triggering a specific attack, but it is often nonsensical. But once an attack gets going for me, it feeds on itself.

      The thing I most got out of therapy is that you have to find out what works for you. Some things that truly help other people, like grounding exercises (easy to find online), I find pointless and irritating. So following are some things that help me to add to your potential toolbox.

      The thing I find the most helpful is to try to disrupt the thought processes that are making me anxious. I use various methods of doing that, some as simple as thinking, “Shut up! Shut up!” over and over as my mind tries to think its way down the paths to misery. Sometimes I listen to loud music, the harder the better. Supposedly calming music doesn’t help me at all and I enjoy trip-hop and ambient music sometimes. I started making up stories when I was trying to sleep at night, because my mind would try to review everything I’ve ever done wrong as I was trying to fall asleep. I have started writing the stories down and puzzling out a whole world and the rules it functions by which gives me something to shift my attention to when it starts to go in a bad direction based on what is on TV. I sometimes recite verses I have memorized or song lyrics. I find I can’t watch the news. I do much better when I read it so I can control what I see instead of being fed potentially upsetting things unexpectedly. I also enjoy knitting, the counting and rhythm of it can be relaxing, plus you often get something pretty when you’re done.

      I can second (or third) what others have said. Going to the gym regularly also helps. Sometimes I have to avoid caffeine, other times I have no problem with it. And sleep is very important. My Fitbit keeps track of my sleep, and when my average sleep per night drops under 6 hours, I’m usually struggling to manage my anxiety. I don’t know which causes which, because they co-occur. I occasionally take Benadryl to help a little with sleep, but I haven’t had it work for anxiety itself.

      I also have a prescription for anti-anxiety medication which I use when my coping mechanisms fail or when for no reason I can determine the anxiety just won’t stop. I don’t take medication all the time, but I have it for when I need it.

      1. Natalie*

        For sleep, have you heard of any of the sleep story podcasts? The one I’m familiar with is Sleep With Me, but I’m sure there are others. They tell stories that are just interesting enough to keep you from rabbit-holing, but not so engaging that you won’t drift off.

        1. LadyRamblesaLot*

          I hadn’t heard of that. It sounds like an excellent idea. There are times when I am too worn down and tired to think of anything helpful. Thanks!

      2. Tempest*

        I’m actually really glad to know I’m not the only one who tells myself stories in my head to fall asleep. Sometimes I channel these scenes into the actual stories I’m writing and it’s actually really helpful to play them all out in my head for a few nights before committing them to paper, so hey, bonus benefit of anxiety go me! Sometimes they’re just little fun things I invent just for me, but I typically don’t struggle to get to sleep if I have a good story I’m running through at the time. Otherwise I’ll keep myself up all night thinking how everyone hates me because of some really trivial thing I did in 1999 even though logically I know I’m the only one who remembers that thing after all this time.

        1. LadyRamblesaLot*

          That’s exactly what I do. I keep a notepad next to my bed because sometimes I will find a continuity problem that I can’t let myself forget as I am going over a scene while trying to sleep. I am just finishing two novels that I will never actually publish because it would be too stressful. Hope you have whatever kind of success you’d enjoy with your writing.

          1. Tempest*

            It’s very anonymous fan fiction to be honest, and I haven’t published any in years, but I do enjoy writing it for myself, as you say. I might publish it someday but it needs to be complete first, otherwise I’ll do what I’ve done this time around and get people interested in my stories and then stop updating half way through for like a decade now. I re-read my current work in progress so often I think if I lost the file I could likely almost rewrite all 230,000 words from memory. (But if that ever happens I will NOT be ok, just so the universe is clear.)

            1. LadyRamblesaLot*

              I too reread my present work over and over. I wonder how common it is for writers to do that, or it if is just anxiety-prone writers. I do get an occasional treat when I am taking my anti-anxiety meds. They mess with memory storage, but not my functioning so I can write just fine while taking them. Then later I will find what I wrote and read it for the “first” time.

              230,000 words is a lot. My finished book is 204,000 and according to Word is 539 pages. It started out making fun of some things about Twilight (so yeah, vampires) and evolved into a series because I world-build very strangely. The other book is dark fantasy.

              I am obsessive about backups. I use Dropbox and I have a timed backup that keeps copies of previous saves. And somewhat regularly I copy everything onto a totally different cloud storage service and a flash drive. I lost a file once and I knew I couldn’t recreate some of the wording that had been exactly right. All I ever recovered were two chapters I had emailed to a friend. Killed that story for me.

              1. Tempest*

                I know that it’s advised not to re-read/edit until you’re done of the whole work, but that wouldn’t work for me. I store on a flash drive and back up onto my laptop and Surface regularly as I sometimes write in my car on my Surface when I need a breather.

                This story is the third book in a trilogy. The first story finished at 220k words, the second one will be somewhere around that, maybe slightly less and this third part will be around 300k when finished. It’s a ‘romance’ story set in an action type universe with a lot of angst and pain before the ultimate happy ending. I’ve boxed myself into a corner by starting to write part three because I just had to while part two isn’t done, and the thing is the romantic partner from book one and two dies, and three is a new guy and I love her and the new guy together so much that I’m going to struggle to go back and write the end of part two where she still loves guy one up until he ultimately gets killed. Gah, I’m glad this is just for me when I put it like that because I’m attached to another object by an inclined plane, wrapped hectically around an axis lol. My stories end up long because I think part of my anxiety makes me put a lot of detail in (too much in a strict literary sense) but I’d worry that my emotions and scenes wouldn’t be perfect without that level of description and the pursuit of perfection is very much part of my anxiety so it is what it is. In fairness, the comments I got when I was regularly updating were always really positive, and quite often detailed, which is unusual for FF dot net where you get a lot of ‘write more soon!’ type feedback.

                I think your concept sounds really cool and I hope it all goes well for you. I’m glad we’ve found something that lets us be creative and work through some of the crap our brains throw at us :)

                1. LadyRamblesaLot*

                  I have to shake my head. I did the same thing, but with vampires. I had to kill the love interest in the first book in the second, though he dies toward the beginning (it was politics, he was an honorable old-guard vampire and was holding back chaos other wanted to happen). Though in the first book, there were clues. And the second guy alienates her and acts like a dick because of his own pain. Ultimately they are really good together, but nothing comes easy in my worlds.

                  So glad you got good feedback in the past. It has to be so gratifying to stand out from the crowd with your writing. It’s great to find a supportive place to share. That is what I am most terrified of. I have a friend who has published before who said he would handle interactions with editors and feedback and the like for me if I ever decide to go for it. He did get me to write a short story for a small sci-fi/fantasy/horror anthology magazine he’s trying to launch, so I actually have a pen name now.

                  Anyway, was nice chatting with you. I (qialhe) don’t want to make you keep searching out a message thread from days ago or keep talking when you may well be sick of answering. I over-analyze and still miss cues. But if you’d like to talk not in a public forum, I use hotmail.com and my name there is enclosed in parentheses after “I” toward the beginning of this paragraph.

    9. Jules the First*

      Long division. Seriously – if I can spot a panic attack coming and sit down and spend five minutes working out 2,321,456 divided by 18, I can usually head it off and return to normal function. Longer term, therapy was the most useful.

    10. ..Kat..*

      Can you volunteer at a local shelter or rescue home for cats. Where I live, they love people who will spend time socializing with the cats. Plus you would get kitty love and snuggles in return.

      Benedryl – skip it. It won’t deal with your problem. I see lots of good suggestions from other commenters.

    11. Anxious Anon*

      Thanks everybody for the really great suggestions. I’ve never experienced anything like this before but it has given me a new level of empathy for others who are dealing with anxiety too. This is really a wonderful community of folks.

  10. PoolLady*

    Does anyone have recommendations for a deodorant (not antiperspirant) that doesn’t stain and that’s good for those days when you have an important meeting at work and are sweating more than usual?

    1. Moosey*

      I love the crystal deodorants. It’s basically just salt that you roll in your armpit (you can either buy a salt crystal or liquid in a rolly container) and it keeps your pits from smelling. No staining at all. You have to apply it immediately after showering for best results.

      1. gingerblue*

        Ditto to this. When I’m not being lazy, I use a crystal stick, sometimes plus Toms. But you really have to do it right away, and if I forget, I break out the old school deodorant/antiperspirant.

        1. CatCat (was LawCat)*

          I also love the crystal deodorant! It lasts a really long time and works great. I only use regular deodorant if I won’t be showering on a particular day.

    2. ampg*

      Also love the crystal ones. I get mine at Whole Foods. Another bonus is they last seemingly forever.

    3. ValaMalDoran*

      I use and love Old Spice. (I am a woman). I use a scent called Bearglove, and there’s one called Wolfthorn that smells like candy or fruit punch, depending on your nose. The deodorant only version is a blue gel solid that applies clear, and I haven’t had issues with staining. But I don’t wear white, so…

    4. hermit crab*

      I like the Arm & Hammer “Essentials” deodorant. It’s pretty inexpensive and I think it smells nice. I’ve never noticed any staining but I mostly wear dark shirts so I might not be the best source here.

    5. Zathras*

      I use Tom’s of Maine deodorant – I like the “Maine Woodspice” scent which is harder to find, but Whole Foods typically has it. It’s never stained anything on me. Whatever you decide on, I suggest testing it out not-at-work. I suggested Toms of Maine to a friend and she reported back that it didn’t work well with her body chemistry and actually made her smell worse, somehow.

      Another thing is that sweat doesn’t smell immediately, what smells is sweat that has been sitting around for a bit. So keeping a spare shirt in your office might be a good tactic, if needed you could change right before the meeting. If you plan ahead so that you’d be swapping (for example) a white shirt for a similar white shirt, I doubt anyone would notice at all. If they did they’ll probably just assume you got coffee on the first one, and if anything be impressed that you were prepared.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        I like Tom’s of Maine as well. My scent of choice is calendula, but I have Maine Woodspice right now since it was the one on clearance recently.

    6. gala apple*

      I use Speed Stick- it doesn’t have aluminum and it works well for me. I had a reaction to some natural botanical deodorants, and this is one of the few deodorants that don’t have aluminum and works!

      1. Anxa*

        I might have to try this. I had been using a coconut oil + BS mix for the past few years because it’s the only thing I can tolerate, but it’s not really doing the trick anymore. I can’t handle fragrances, a lot of natural ingredients (like TTO and vitamin C), or aluminum.

    7. Allergy suffere*

      Lime juice.

      Rub on with a cotton swab and let it dry before you put on your clothes.

      Works wonders without a lot of scent

  11. Michael Scarn*

    My spouse and I never get each other gifts but last week I received an Apple Watch I had been wanting as a gift! For anyone else that has one, what’s your favorite app/feature? So far I’ve found the Sleep ++ app to be pretty neat. As I suspected, I do not sleep that well!

    1. Annie Mouse*

      I don’t have an Apple watch but I love the sleep tracker on my fitbit. I’m definitely noticing a link between how well it says I slept and how I feel in the morning.

      1. Michael Scarn*

        Yes! I feel vindicated somewhat now because I’m tired a lot even when I’m in bed 7 to 8 hours. Now I know why.

  12. Meyla*

    Last Friday, my 5 year old orange kitty woke me up a 4:30am making the scariest crying sound I’ve ever heard. I stayed up with him until 7am when I could take him to our regular vet. The vet gave us the diagnosis that I expected – his urethra was obstructed and he needed to be unblocked immediately. X-rays revealed that his bladder had a ton of stones that would require surgery to remove. My husband and I weren’t surprised, since we had taken him to the vet twice in the last month due to him straining in the litterbox, vomiting, and obvious discomfort.

    Long story short, he spent 5 days in the hospital after having his urethra cleared with a catheter and having a cystotomy to remove the stones from his bladder. His hospital stay was longer than what’s considered normal due to some complications, but he’s finally home and every day he seems more and more like his old self. I am riddled with guilt, though, for two reasons. First, I took him to the vet twice before the obstruction occurred, but didn’t have x-rays taken because he was still peeing normally… I could have known this was going to happen (and possibly prevented it) if I hadn’t been so stubborn. My poor kitty was punished because I was cheap. Second, even though I discussed it with my husband beforehand and we agreed that we wanted to have the surgery done, we ended up spending almost $5k in vet bills for all these visits and so many nights in the hospital. We can afford the bill, but my husband has been making a lot of little jokes about how much money we spent and it doesn’t feel very funny to me. I feel like I could have prevented all of this…

    Every time kitty runs his cone of shame into the wall or my shin, it makes me feel like a bad pet parent. I don’t know how to get over my guilt.

    1. kms1025*

      You’re not a bad pet parent, or maybe I am too :(. Last year my poor boy had exactly the same problem and I didn’t even know that was a thing! They told me if I hadn’t brought him right in that he could have died within 24 hrs. of the onset. He was in such pain and I was so scared. Now he has to eat prescription food only. My husband also makes comments about the vet bill, $2k, but for me it wasn’t a choice. The only prevention my vet talked about was dry food being bad for most cats. That being said, I give him prescription dry (very little but he loves it) and canned prescription wet food. By the way, hubby gripes about cat food expense too. But we both love this little guy and so be it :). Good luck with your boy. You got him to the vet, you took care of his issue, you have nothing to feel guilty about

    2. DrPeteLoomis*

      I’m so glad your cat is feeling better! I don’t have a lot of advice on how to get over the guilt (other than to say you should be a little easier on yourself), but I do think you should talk to your husband about his jokes. He may not realize the effect they have on you unless you tell him. Something like “Hey, I don’t know if you realize it but when you make jokes about how much money we spent to get cat better, it makes me feel really guilty. I’ve been feeling like I should have caught this earlier, and your jokes aren’t helping.”

      And if you think he is making the jokes to purposely make you feel guilty, then that’s something you need to talk about too, because that’s not cool.

    3. Miss Frizzle*

      I started to read this and almost stopped because I was sure this was going in a different direction. :'( That said, I am SO happy to hear that cat is home and doing well. Please do not beat yourself up over this. As you stated, he was still urinating normally so you could not have known. Most pet owners (at least those that I know) generally wait until there is something out of the norm before diving into something like x-rays. It’s okay, and if you have to convince yourself a little more, remind yourself that you have brought this cat into your home and are taking care of him. He could easily be in entirely different circumstances.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      The way to get rid of the guilt is by realizing that the Vet, who has the years of training, didn’t push for the X-Rays either, because he was still peeing regularly. If he had thought it was necessary, he’d have said so. He didn’t, so why should you, the layman, have known better?

      And my husband and I regularly joke about the costs of our Vet bills too, so I wouldn’t take it so hard. The youngest dog had $5k surgery (the equivalent of ACL surgery in humans) the youngest cat ran up $1000 in feline herpes treatments until we finally got her symptoms under control, and now the old dog ran up I’m not even sure how much so far, getting diagnosed and treated with diabetes and possible Cushings disease that necessitated a weekend in the dog hospital (and 2 separate days since, for testing) And two years ago, had dental surgery. We joke that the cat- who racked up all these bills before she even weighed 5 lbs!- was the most expensive per lb, and now that the older dog is trying to catch up to the younger one. Oh, and when the 84 lb dog who now has 4 good legs demonstrates how healthy she is, we joke about WHY did we pay for that surgery again? ;) None of this means we regret the money spent or resent the animals for it- it’s part of being a good pet parent. But it’s still something to laugh about. :)

      I’m glad the cat is feeling better. That is so common in male cats!

      1. Rogue*

        Would you mind telling me about the dog and acl surgery? My vet thinks my dog may have two torn acl’s and we’re currently doing conservative management, opting to hold off on surgery, for now. What made you opt for surgery? Which type of surgery did your pup have? Is the pup back to 100%, if not where would you say they are?

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Well… we had a Vet who wouldn’t do X-rays- we even asked at first. She started having leg problems when she was a puppy, and he told us that it was just the doggy equivalent of growing pains (the bones grow too fast and grow into the marrow), that’s really common in large breed dogs, and that only an Xray would diagnose it, but he didn’t think it was necessary, so just carprofen when she needed it, and she’d outgrow it.

          Only it got worse, not better, so we finally made him take the x-rays, which he said were fine, but just to shut us up (and it really was too- he acted like we were overprotective parents) he’d send them to the local animal orthopedist. Who immediately saw that her CCL was so bad that he suggested surgery. He gave us the various options, but recommended the TPLO as the only one that was truly effective. In the end, the angle of her bones was just on the edge of being able to even use it. (We no longer see the original Vet…)

          And we decided to have it done because she was only 2 years old, and we didn’t want to see her yelp in pain for the next 10 years every time she stood up, or if she took a moderate walk.

          She actually is better than 100%! She was walking better 2 days after surgery than she EVER had- she was a rescue, but her mother was the one rescued, and we adopted her when she was 12 weeks old. Then we felt guilty that we’d left it for so long, when apparently the leg she’d just had surgery on hurt less than it had been hurting for at least 18 months!

          She still occasionally gets a little sore if she’s had a lot of exercise, and she’ll always be prone to arthritis in that leg, but it’s night and day difference. When we play Tug with her, we can see how much strength she’s gotten in her legs ;) and she can go for very long walks every day now- when before, one walk a week would leave her in pain for 2-3 days.

          1. Rogue*

            Thank you so much for responding! I’m so glad your pup is doing so much better! That’s an awesome outcome! Your story, and those I’ve heard from others, make me feel like we’re on the right track with conservative management. My pup is 8 and uses her legs completely, will run, jump, play tug-o-war, etc with no signs of pain, at all (I have her activity restricted, but if I let her she would). She doesn’t whine at all, limp, or refuse to use one leg or the other. The only reason I even thought to take her to the vet was that her knees started clicking one day.

        2. another person*

          That happened to one of our australian shepherds when I was still in high school, I think. He did pop right back up to normal for several years (although his front left paw didn’t quite bend) and was pretty happy for 8 or so more years (and then his problems weren’t with that leg, but just old age in general). He was pretty young–2ish–so even though it was expensive, my parents did it because they couldn’t see putting such a young, otherwise healthy dog to sleep and we are all glad that they did.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Jessesgirl72’s first paragraph was almost exactly what I was going to write. You did the layman’s part, you said to the vet “hey, kitty is acting weird, is this nothing/somthing/emergency/???”, and if an X-ray would determine whether this was a VERY BIG DEAL or just something that could pass, then the vet should have explicitly told you that, very clearly and unambiguously.

    5. Anxa*


      So when my SO and I were even poorer we adopted a cat. We didn’t mean to, but he kind of showed up. I often wonder if we should have just surrendered him. I like to think that we gave him a good little home here, but we don’t have cat trees and we do spread those vet visits out. And if we had been more diligent, he might not have had to have as many teeth removed as he did last year. Even now, knowing we don’t have a real savings account, I think every few weeks about bringing him to a shelter so he can maybe get adopted by some wealthier people, because I don’t know what we’d do if he needed something really expensive.

      But then I wonder, with so many Americans (I’m in the US) under the poverty level and the squeeze of the middle class, what would happen if only wealthy (or at least those rich enough not to think twice at ordering the X-rays, etc.) adopted? And a lot of people are only in the position to be able to absorb a big financial hit like a large vet bill because they are judicious in their spending elsewhere.

      For what it’s worth, cats don’t usually do us any favors in letting us know when things aren’t right until they are very bad. It’s not an easy place to be in, caring for an animal that not only doesn’t speak your language, but has a tendency do downplay their discomfort.

      1. babblemouth*

        I am financially comfortable, but even then i have had some issues due to vet bills. through weird coincidences, I had to do 3 vet visits in the space of a week last year, including one operation for my cat and… ouch. No consequences we couldn’t recover from, but it did get me to wonder about people earnign less, and how quickly loving your pet could get you into debt.

      2. Natalie*

        I tend to agree. If you’re going to get a “new” animal from a breeder, you should be in a financial position to afford most medical treatment that might become necessary. I think living in a home where there is a slim chance that they might need as expensive surgery and not get it is preferable to remaining in shelter. There’s no shortage of shelter animals, so you’re not preventing some “better” home from taking an animal as well.

      3. Amadeo*

        It bothers me a lot that this is a mentality that seems to be fostered almost to the extreme, at least in the US. I’m of the mind that if the animal is fed (if you can afford Orijen, great! If you can’t, feed store pet food will do), watered, sheltered and loved and the owner has both an exam fee (about $30-$50 where I live) and a euthanasia fee (about $50, around here) set aside then keep the pet. We don’t need to be wealthy to enjoy the companionship of an animal and it’s unfair to tell people who don’t make six figures a year that if they can’t afford that $5000 vet bill then they can’t have the pet.

        You are fine. If your cat is happy, fed and reasonably taken care of (he probably feels loads better without his painful teeth!), your cat is fine, and happier with you, his people, than he would be at a shelter, waiting for his chance at adoption in competition with all of the cute little kittens flooding in this season.

    6. Casuan*

      Yay your kitty is home & well!!

      You’re not at all a bad pet-parent. I agree with the comments that the vet didn’t push you for more tests; if the vet thought tests were necessary they would have told you.

      Your cat is home & on the mend & he knows that you care for him. All he knows is you stayed with him when he was hurting & you did what you needed to make him better. Our purring pets don’t think thinks like “Because of my human I have to wear this cone.”

      As for your husband, tell him that you’re glad you could afford Kitty’s bills & that his comments are getting a bit old & hurtful.
      That said, the other comments are probably better than mine. :-)

      Really, there’s no reason to be guilty!!

    7. AnonyMouse*

      My heart goes out to you. I don’t know how to help you get over your guilt, but I will sit with you with sympathy, I think I would feel exactly the same way if I were in your shoes. Clearly, you love your cat so much. You wouldn’t feel this way if you didn’t truly care for him.

      1. tigerStripes*

        Cats tend to hide it when they don’t feel well, so that makes it tougher to tell what’s going on.

    8. Cordelia Longfellow*

      You are absolutely not a bad pet parent! Cats are very good at hiding their pain. I’ve recently gone through the ringer with one of mine; last fall she started howling and stopped trotting to kitchen for her evening wet food. I took her into the vet thinking she might be going deaf. Nope, turns out she had chronic pancreatitis, poor thing. Back in the summer, she had licked her tummy raw, which in hindsight was a sign of pain, but absent any other symptoms my vet simply prescribed a topical antibiotic. Now, after several rounds of painkillers, constipation, and an ultrasound, kitty has been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, which caused the pancreatitis. After diet changes, she’s doing much better, but I still felt guilt about not noticing earlier. But cats are masters of hiding pain, and we beat ourselves up because we love them so much.

      The important thing now is that your kitty is in less pain, and going forward you’ll be better able to spot early signs of discomfort and keep on top of his condition. Maybe ask your husband to lay off the jokes because it’s a geniunely sensitive topic for you. I wish your kitty a speedy recovery and peace of mind for you.

    9. CM*

      I have had the exact same feelings about my human children, and so have many other parents I know — including ones who are doctors. In retrospect, it seems obvious that something was wrong and you should have realized it earlier. But at the time, you’re just doing the best you can with the information you have.

  13. Anonymous Educator*

    I don’t want this to turn into an Android-bashing session, because I support iOS as part of my job, and believe me “it” doesn’t “just work.” That said, my spouse’s Nexus 6p (Google’s previous flagship phone, not some low-rate budget phone) went into the bootloop of death (that prevents the phone from booting up, booting into recovery mode, or even shutting down), and neither Google nor Huawei has taken ownership of the problem. Google did eventually (after much cajoling) send a refurbished replacement, but there doesn’t seem to be any guarantee the “new” one will work any better, because they haven’t actually acknowledged what the problem is.

    It’s not just my spouse’s phone. There’s a fairly serious (and much-commented) bug report about it. There’s even a class-action lawsuit starting up.

    Even though Samsung has had plenty of scandals, it acknowledged the Note 7 battery explosion problem publicly and offered a recall, a replacement, and even a switch-up to another Samsung phone. Google is not offering a replacement for a working phone (e.g., a Pixel).

    Very sad about this :(

    1. Androidanna*

      Boo on that. I’ve been having phone issues for the past week (actually longer) but it’s more my carrier, I think.

      UGH smartphones can be such a misnomer some days.

    2. Happy Lurker*

      I LOVED my nexus 6P, until it hit the bootloop of death in early February. 13 months after purchase! 1 month after warranty expired. Huawei had manufactured it 15 or 16 months previously, so I could not return it to them either.
      I had purchased the insurance so google would not send me a new phone. I called three times. Then waited three weeks using an old phone before I finally spent the $100 for the insurance replacement. I am still upset about it! I have a phone with a tricky power button now – my old phone was mint until the bootloop. I feel your pain. Thinking about it 2 months later is still making my blood boil!!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Thanks for commiserating. I’m sorry that you’re part of the group affected by this. I’m hoping some real financial compensation will come out of this class-action law suit…

    3. Rogue*

      That sucks! At least they sent you a replacement. Your right though, there’s nothing to keep the new one from doing the same, since they won’t acknowledge and fix the issue. Hubs Nexus 6p is playing nice *knocks on wood* and he loves it. However, I had a LG G2 that went into boot loop of death any time the processor would hear up. It went about 1.5 yrs after purchase. I was so mad, it was in pristine condition otherwise and neither the seller (AT&T) or LG would replace it. This was the 2nd time I had issues with an LG product; the first being in 2005 with a cell that would get so hot it would literally burn your face (which was taken back). No more LG products will be purchased by this house.

    4. Observer*

      Samsung didn’t have much choice in the matter, though. They were dealing with a phone that was literally a threat to people’s lives. So, for one thing, they were REQUIRED to recall these phones and pay the people who bought them – especially since they were all new phones. Secondly, the needed to get the highest rate of compliance possible in order to get it out of the news, because it was really hitting them hard, in way the bootloop mess hasn’t hit either Google or Huawei.

      Now a class action lawsuit might be enough bad publicity that Google and / or Huawei might decide to do something to mitigate it. But, it can’t come close to the publicity of an announcement on each flight that “the Samsung Note 7” or even “Samsung phones” are banned on the flight. And, the kind of publicity each time a crazy story happens and someone lands in the hospital, something gets burned down, or even (real story) some idiot plays a prank and causes a flight to almost be diverted.

      I’m not defending Google or Huawei on this. Just making the point that Samsung’s response was forced by the circumstances.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        No, that’s a good point. I know Samsung wasn’t reacting out of the goodness of their hearts—they were definitely in PR damage control mode. Many people haven’t even heard of the Nexus 6p, so it seems Google and Huawei are hoping this horrible failure will just go under the radar, media-wise.

  14. Anonymous Educator*

    A couple of weeks ago, I asked about how long you can leave kitties. We left our cats for four days, and it actually turned out okay. We had two automatic cat feeders (that can work plugged in and on battery, in case there’s a power failure), two litter boxes, seven water bowls (and also left the bathroom toilet seat up just in case). We also had tons of “kitty cams” set up so we could monitor them remotely. They were absolutely fine. They were also extremely affectionate after the four days was up. I don’t know if we’ll ever leave them that long again, but our usual catsitters (and even the backup catsitter) were out of town.

    1. AMD*

      What auto feeder did you use? I got one a while back that I can’t get to work which is frustrating because it’s so expensive! I would love to be able to leave our Maine Coone alone for a weekend but instead we hire a pet sitter every time.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I did a ton of online research. It was tough to find an automatic feeder that got great reviews but also wasn’t exorbitantly expensive (US$150 or more).

        I ended up getting two of the TD Design Automatic Pet Feeder for Dogs & Cats | Dry & Wet Food – 5 Meals, 5 x 240ml. It has five slots (but only four are useful, because the fifth is exposed and so will have food eaten out of it right away by hungry kitties). Despite what the reviews said, it actually does transition seamlessly from AC power to battery (I’ve tested this multiple times—and we did experience a real power outage recently, too). I don’t know if the manufacturer fixed it after a while or if the reviewers just won’t doing it right.

        It does have a couple of downsides, though. You can program four meal times, but you can’t program the day, just the time. So I ended up programming all four times to be the same time, so that it will feed just once a day. Seems silly. Ideally, I’d like to be able to program specific dates and times… or just one time per day. You can record your voice, but the voice playback is loud (no volume adjustment), and it repeats your recording three times in a row. The first time your cat hears it, she may think “Oh, that means food,” but the second and third times, she may get taken aback and look slightly annoyed (“Why is this food bowl barking at me?”). Not dealbreakers by any means, but just stuff to keep in mind.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Oh, also one of our cats is very clever and can get into almost anything, but she cannot open up this automatic cat feeder, so… score!

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          or if the reviewers just won’t doing it right should be or if the reviewers just weren’t doing it right

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I wish we could do this, but one of our kitties developed feline gingivostomatitis soon after we adopted her, and had to have all her teeth pulled. Now she only gets wet food, so we have to have out petsitter visit twice a day when we’re gone.

      1. jamlady*

        Our older cat had his teeth pulled a few years ago and he still eats dry food. Every vet I’ve seen said it’s fine. He doesn’t mind it either. He still has issues with his gums so I figured it would hurt him but he doesn’t seem to care.

  15. Loopy*

    Sooo packing formal wear for a flight…. specifically a formal gown- tips and tricks? I can’t get it pressed professionally after so I need to do my best to minimize wrinkles.

    1. blackcat*

      What sort of fabric? You can get a hand-steamer to bring with you to get wrinkles out, but won’t work on all fabrics.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Yep- that is what I was going to suggest. They make some pretty light and small steamers.

        1. blackcat*

          It should, just make sure that the steam isn’t too hot. I’d try it on a tiny corner first.

          1. Loopy*

            Thanks! Mine has settings so I can try it on a low setting first too. And I’ll probably not try it until I’ve tried the hang-in-the-bathroom-with-hot-shower trick. I think I’m just anxious because I don’t want the bride fretting over me showing up in a (even slightly) wrinkled gown (I’m a bridesmaid). I’d feel awful doing that to her.

    2. FDCA In Canada*

      Depending on the size of the plane, if you travel with your gown in a garment bag ask the flight attendants when you get on if there’s space where you can hang it up. There’s usually a teeny closet somewhere–but this will probably only work if you’re on an RJ or bigger. No guarantees, but if you’re polite about it and non-demanding, flight attendants are usually happy to stash it somewhere. This is what we used to advise brides flying with their wedding gowns to destination weddings when I sold bridal gowns, and nine times out of ten, it works fine. Otherwise if you’ve got it in a garment bag and there’s no closet space, wait until the overhead is full and lay it down flat on top of the bags in there. Make use of the different loops that are sewn into the dress for hanging (usually shoulders, bust, occasionally back, and occasionally the hem) so it doesn’t rest weirdly on itself. You can get a small hand steamer that will do a pretty darn good job inexpensively at places like Bed Bath and Beyond/Target/Walmart. Unpack it as soon as you get to your destination and hang it up in the bathroom while taking a hot shower or letting the shower run for a while to steam it.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks for the advice! Unfortunately I take this flight at least once a year (same airline, same day/time!) and I know it’ll be a small plane and I’m fairly sure closet space is out. I also remember the overhead spaces being weirdly smaller than normal so I was quite nervous about doing to garment bag ( think it would actually still possibly be squished!). Also because most times they run out of space up there well before the flight is full I have this fear of someone moving it around/jamming another suitcase in. I’ve seen some desperate (and sometime downright inconsiderate!) moves to get another case in an overhead bin!

        I’ve envisioned myself getting up only to find a horribly crunched up garment bag in the overhead (I can visualize my horror perfectly haha).

        I think I’m leaning towards *very* careful packing and de-wrinkle tips.

        Luckily I’ve got a hand steamer. If the hand steamer isn’t too harsh for the fabric (I know nothing of that and also have nifty visions of melting my dress), I’m hoping that solves all my fears.

        1. FDCA In Canada*

          Ask a flight attendant for help! Let them know when you get on that you’re trying to keep a formal gown nice, and then they’ll probably have you wait until everyone’s luggage is settled in the overhead bins and they will almost certainly be able to find you a space to lay it flat without too much crunching.

          When you hang it up, just make sure you’re careful to use the hanging loops so it hangs mostly straight, and hang it up properly as soon as you can. Your hand steamer will almost certainly be fine for the fabric–most hand steamers won’t get hot enough to really damage fabric, unless it’s truly incredibly cheap polyester that would melt in the sun. Do a trial run with a hand steamer and a similar type of fabric beforehand if you’re very worried–otherwise, steam it with a hot shower in a small bathroom and you will definitely be OK.

    3. Pat Benetardis*

      Keep the gown on a hanger and cover with a dry cleaner bag, ideally one
      E that runs the full length. Roll the covered gown from the bottom, as tightly as you can, like a scroll. Unroll and hang when you reach your destination. Steam in bathroom with hot shower if needed.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve read that rolling is a good idea a lot of places. Have you done this before with success? I don’t know why it makes me so nervous. It certainly makes sense to do this instead of putting creases in by folding it. Yet I can’t put my finger on why I’m inclined to resist it!

        My brain is maddening to me. Thanks for the advice. I’ve got two weeks to shut my brain up about this.

        1. pat benetardis*

          Yes, I’m a frequent business traveler and this is my go-to. I’ve done it with suits and dresses but not a gown. I have done it with crepe-like tops with good success. Hey since you have a few weeks to go, why don’t you roll it up for a day and see what happens?

            1. KarenT*

              Seconding rolling! I’ve never done it with a formal gown but I’ve done lots of business dresses (mostly shift dresses), skirts, and blazers. If you do roll it put it at the top of your suitcase away from anything that will crush it, like shoes or your hand steamer.

        2. Just Me and My $0.02*

          +1 to this approach!

          I have a carry-on suitcase that’s basically a small core where you can store your other stuff and a garment bag wrapped around the core. Everything has come out nicely – suits, formal gowns, tuxedos. The company is called SkyRoll, if you travel with formal business/evening wear often​, it might be worth considering.

          1. Loopy*

            Wow that looks amazing! Unfortunately this is a very very rare occasion (and my first ever) where I’m traveling with anything formals I don’t think I’ll surge on the sky roll BUT looking at reviews has helped me get on board with rolling. I wonder if a traditional garment bag with the dress inside rolled inside a carry on would work okay?

    4. Happy Lurker*

      Wrap it in tissue paper too. It will not save it from wrinkling, but it will add another layer of cushion and help the fabric slide a bit in the bag. In your situation, every little thing helps.
      I brought my wedding dress on the plane as my carry on and I was a mess. The flight attendants were wonderful when I told them it was my wedding dress.

    5. Anono-me*

      How would sending the outfit on ahead of you work?

      Would it be possible to mail it to a friend at your destination beforehand​? Then your very very good friend could take it to be pressed and have it ready and waiting for you.

      Or maybe you could make arrangements to send it directly to a drycleaner in the destination city for pressing and pick it up when you arrive.

      Have fun at your event!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I was always advised to roll up clothes to reduce creasing. Also it can mean more room in your case!

      2. Loopy*

        Sadly I don’t have enough time to do that option. I considered it initially but was too afraid of it getting lost and the mail, and admittedly, too cheap at the time. Alas.

  16. Go away Jerry*

    Hiya folks, does anyone have any good middle eastern vegetarian recipes? Been craving hummus really badly heh.

    1. Red*

      Hummus is super easy! Just rinse off a can of chickpeas and put that in a food processor with a spoonful of tahini, a splash of lemon juice, and some garlic. Blend it until it’s smooth. If you want some good pita chips too, slice up some pita and lay it out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Spray it lightly with olive oil, put some sea salt on it, and add any spices you like. Bake it at like 350 until it’s crispy, and you’re all set.

      Yes, all my recipies are this vague. Sorry about that, it’s just the way my family rolls.

    2. HannahS*

      Mujaddara! It’s spiced rice and lentils. Falafel is vegetarian, but not exactly healthy given the deep frying. I sometimes make falafel “patties” and just pan fry them or bake them. There are amazing eggplant dishes all over, but I don’t actually know what any of them are called.

    3. Kate*

      If you want something a bit different than the usual recommendations, I suggest muhammara. It’s a Syrian dish, similar-ish to hummus, but made with red peppers, pomegranate molasses (available at a middle eastern grocery or just reduce some pomegranate juice in a pan on the stove), and walnuts.

      If you can get your hands on some labneh- it’s a kind of really thick strained yogurt cheese- then smear some thickly on a plate, and top it with olive oil, zaatar, and maybe some finely chopped fresh mint or parsley. It’s probably my favourite, but subbing Greek yogurt does NOT work- resist the temptation.

      Also in the dip family is ful (sometimes spelled foul), or ful meddames. It’s another fave of mine. You take cooked fava beans (if you have a middle eastern grocery near you, it will actually be sold as ful beans!). Mash them up with a fork. Add lots of olive oil, garlic, cumin, and lemon juice, and eat it hot. Even better if you can add some chopped fresh tomatoes and/or fresh parsley. I will often make ful for breakfast- it takes three minutes, start to finish, using the microwave, and it keeps you really full for a long time. It is sometimes served on top of hummus, but I find that a bit heavy for a regular day.

      Does that help? I lived in the Middle East for years, and I swear I have never eaten as well as I did there…

  17. Sammers*

    I know this is really personal and very much an individual decision… but here goes…
    What are your thoughts about end-of-life care? I need to finish my medical power of attorney document and describe what I want and/or don’t want. So I’m asking for examples and/or things to consider as I decide.

    1. fposte*

      My thoughts are that who you identify as what my state calls your “health care agent” is going to matter more than what you say you want, and that the specifics are going to shift over time so that for most of us the procedures we make calls on now will only somewhat overlap with the procedures that get asked about now.

      I think my main thing is that if I have a progressive condition like dementia and cannot personally give informed consent, I don’t wish any life-sparing interventions. The tricky bit there is that a lot of life-prolongation stuff gets sold as “making the patient more comfortable,” so again it depends on your health care agent to differentiate and push back; that includes no food if I’m not eating, so it’s one that health care providers can struggle with.

      1. Zathras*

        I posted a longer response that has a link in it so it went to moderation, but the “no food if you’re not eating” is important to think about. According to the geriatric nurse I know, when people are ready to die they will often stop eating – similar to other animals, really. The lack of food may be what eventually causes them to pass away, or it may not. Either way, a feeding tube eliminates one of the ways you can go peacefully, so it ups your odds of passing away more traumatically.

        1. fposte*

          Yup, it’s a biggie. A friend of my father’s at the same community decided to stop eating, and the care center honored that, which my father found really reassuring.

        2. ..Kat..*

          Actually, the lack of food prepares the body to die more comfortably. Generally, no tube feeds for end of life care.

        3. the gold digger*

          When my dad was in hospice, he stopped eating and drinking and became non-responsive. We asked his doctor (the doctors, nurses, and nuns at the St Joseph hospice in Marshfield, Wisconsin, were so wonderful – I cannot thank them enough for their kind and compassionate care of my father in his last weeks of life) if he should at least get IV fluids. “I wouldn’t let a dog dehydrate to death,” I said.

          The doctor explained gently that when someone is dying, not eating or drinking is part of the process. He said that giving my dad IV fluids would just prolong the inevitable. “If you could ask your dad if he wants to drag this out any longer, what would he say?” he asked.

          My father was suffering horribly – they gave him as much morphine as possible to stop the pain, but even the touch of the sheet on his skin was extremely uncomfortable, plus, there must be horrible emotional pain to know you are dying at the relatively young age of 62, even though you did nothing to deserve it (my dad died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has been linked to Agent Orange exposure). He was ready to go. We did not give him IV fluids.

          Thanks for reminding me about that – I will make sure to make my wishes clear on that as well.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Damn, I started writing a reply and got pulled away. And fposte said much of what I was writing. :)

      It’s true, it’s good to spell out what you want in that document, and a lawyer can probably tell you what should be specified (mostly what kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want if you are in a persistent vegetative state). But more important is to name proxies (decision-makers) that you trust, and then talk with them about what you would want in those situations. It’s weird and awkward for some people (not for me, I always was fascinated by medical situations, both the diagnostics and the ethics of cases), but think of it this way: it would be a LOT more awkward for someone to try to make these decisions for you without feeling like they really knew well what you wanted, and that’s basically what you’re inviting if you don’t have that conversation with the people (it should be more than one, if possible, just in case) whom you designate as your proxies.

      And those conversations become crucial when you’re technically conscious but your cognitive abilities are partially or completely impaired, as fposte said.

      1. fposte*

        And it’s a really hard thing to say. A friend’s family agreed to DNR the matriarch but when it came to the moment her husband couldn’t face that and wanted resuscitation. I’m not worried about that with my heath care agent, because he’s a plug-puller :-). It’s still an institutional challenge, though, and things often happen at a speed where nobody’s going to have access to what you wrote once twenty years ago.

        My father coached my siblings and I so thoroughly I began to think he rather relished the conversation, in a morbid Victorian way. It was sort of wasted, because he fortunately didn’t die in a way that left a big intervention window, but the whole family was completely on the same page and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’d have been able to say no to creeping intervention.

    3. the gold digger*

      Once I get past a certain age (maybe 80?), I am not going to have invasive, painful treatments. I’m not even sure I would have them now. I watched my dad go through chemo (and die anyhow) and I swore I would never suffer like that.

      However, I expect as much painkiller as I want! Give me morphine, darnit, and make sure that if my breathing is slowing because I have taken a ton of morphine because that’s what I need to get rid of the pain that you do not give me the drug to counteract the effects of the morphine. Just let me die.

      My sister is a nurse. She saw that order in my dad’s chart – to give the counteracting drug – and said that if he was in that much pain, it was time for him to go. I am so glad she knew to look for that.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, yes, good point. Since my wife and I both believe in the right to (informed) assisted suicide, I didn’t even think to specify that, but yes, pain management is still something that often has to be fought for. Because apparently it’s better for people to be in agony indefinitely rather than risk getting addicted…even if they may only have days to live, even if studies show that the risk of addiction is very low when opiates are properly administered for pain by someone with medical knowledge of pain management.

        1. fposte*

          And that if you are 85 with congestive heart failure and terminal cancer, who gives a damn if you *are* addicted?

      2. nonegiven*

        >She saw that order in my dad’s chart – to give the counteracting drug

        I want the name of that drug so I can make sure it is specifically banned in my instructions.

        1. the gold digger*

          Asked my sister. She says, “The medication was Narcan. It was hanging in his room. They would have given it to him if his breathing was too shallow and didn’t want that to happen.”

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          And the generic name for Narcan is naxalone, so keep an eye out for that, too.

    4. Sammers*

      Thanks everyone so far for good things to think about. For more information– I’m 44, not married and no kids. My proxies (for lack of a better word as I can’t remember what they’re technically called in the doc) are, in order, my Mom, sister, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, eldest cousin (by 6 years), second eldest cousin (same age). My Mom and aunt are all in their late 60s and 70s which I why I also asked my cousins.
      I’m not in the best of health (several chronic conditions) but nothing terminal or life-threatening (though there is cancer, heart disease and dementia in my family history).

    5. Thlayli*

      There was a case in the papers a while ago of a woman on life support who was pregnant and they turned it off. She didn’t have any end of life document so they had to guess at what she would have wanted.
      If you are a fertile woman you might want to consider that possibility in the instructions.

    6. chickabiddy*

      I am a single parent of a minor child and for reasons I do not want to get into now, she should not live with her father (who doesn’t want her anyhow). I will be far more aggressive with care until she is a legal adult. After that, I generally favor comfort care.

    7. Uncharted Worlds*

      There’s a book by Atul Gawande called Being Mortal, which is all about people getting close to death, and when or when not to have interventions, and what to base the decisions on. I’d recommend it.

    8. detached anon*

      Summers, my stats are similar to yours.
      Quality of life for my loved ones & myself.
      Sometimes the quality of life is worse for the care-givers as they take care of their loved ones & I don’t want to be in a vegetative state nor a burden to others.

      These are awkward discussions, however they are necessary. Be as specific as possible & encourage your surrogate/agent to ask on specific scenarios if it helps them to understand your wishes. I’m the health-care surrogate for my mother & even though I know what she wants & I’m confident in this knowledge, it turns out there were grey areas.

      A few years ago a friend’s mother was in hospital for several days. One night I stayed there with my friend & her mother’s sugars & other stats spiked… I have no idea how she survived & thankfully she pulled through. That night, twice my friend had to make a decision on whether or not to continue treatment; she & her mother had never discussed this. From what I knew of my own mother’s wishes, I would have made the decision that probably would have resulted in death.

      I was horrified that hypothetically I might have caused my mother to die when she could have recovered. When I got home I called my mother in tears & told her we needed to talk more about her wishes because the night before I saw there were many more grey areas than I originally envisioned.

      My friend’s mother never made a full recovery & things were difficult for a few years. I’m much more clear about my own mother’s wishes & I’m glad to know this in advance. Hopefully I’ll never have to enact them.

      I’m not certain what I think about being a certain age & what treatments I’d want or not. I mean, it is important to think of this & I haven’t yet done so for myself. So thanks to all for the reminder!

    9. Zathras*

      There was a great (and, fair warning, somewhat intense) podcast on this subject from Radiolab a few years back:

      It does a great job highlighting the difference between what the general public and doctors want and expect at end-of-life, and many of the huge misconceptions the general public has about those treatments.

      I am close to someone who is a geriatric nurse and works with dementia patients at the end of their lives. So many of her patients get lots of invasive, painful treatment to just keeps their heart and lungs pumping indefinitely, simply because that is the default treatment if the patient doesn’t have a DNR. She has had to perform CPR on people that passed away quietly in their sleep, and I have heard her say that everyone should be shown a video of what that looks like before deciding whether they want a DNR, just so they know what they are actually signing. It is nothing like what you see on TV.

      Something I didn’t know until recently – it is also possible to temporarily suspend a DNR for a specific planned medical intervention. So you might have a DNR in general, but if you need some minor surgery that will improve your quality of life, you can suspend it for that procedure so that on the off chance something starts to go wrong during the surgery (e.g. your heart starts beating funny) they are allowed to try to correct it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Back before DNRs were used much, my father was in his final days. He died five times in two weeks, they kept resuscitating. I was there the fifth time. It was HORRIBLE. I concluded DO NOT do this “for” me and tell me you are helping me. Each time he died his mental ability diminished noticeably.
        A nurse, with tears running down her face, said to me, “We don’t prolong people’s lives, we only prolong their deaths.”

        I started doing a little reading. At that time, statistics showed that if they resuscitated 95% of the time the people came back. But coming back to WHAT is the big question. And this is why DNRs are such a big deal now. They know how to keep people alive, but is that what we truly want.

        DNRs were still pretty hush-hush back then. I quietly signed one. Oddly, yet it happens often, after I signed the DNR my father stopped having problems with his heart stopping for about two more weeks. Then he quietly passed in the night about two weeks after I signed the document.

        I learned a lot. I can honestly say that I really don’t want a ton of medical intervention if I am on a short road anyway. Keep me comfy and keep me out of doctors’ offices is what I say. My husband had 60 plus doctors’ appointments in the last 13 weeks of his life. We both were exhausted by the ridiculous process. I think traveling to all those appointments brought his death quicker.

    10. ..Kat..*

      While you will need a lawyer to draw up the legal documents, I recommend you talk to a nurse, especially an ICU nurse or a hospice nurse. Get a list of the procedures to decide on from the lawyer, then talk with nurses. We are at the bedside making patients comfortable throughout their care, and even their dying. Non health care people have a lot of misconceptions and bad information about this stuff. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone home and cried after having to do things for dying patients that were in their end of life documents- things that made their last days on earth worse. Most people really don’t get what goes on.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is so very true. And worse yet, no one tells you. It’s like a big secret or something. I don’t get it. Very early in my adult years, I was “lucky” to see what my elders before me went through, X means Y will happen. I learned a lot of this stuff. It’s was like I had stepped off the edge of planet earth, it was so UNreal.

        It really shaped who I am today. I firmly believe that what we do each day to help ourselves is the best help we can get- things like eating whole foods, good hydration, modest but regular exercise, these things are some of the most beneficial things we can do.

    11. Aveline*

      My experience as a lawyer is that hospitals are far more likely to keep you alive when you would want them to pull the plug than the other way around. This is true particularly if you are in a Catholic area

      This is something you should really have an attorney do if you can afford A few hundred dollars for a complete estate plan.

      You actually may need more than one in the document. In my state, you need a medical power of attorney, a living will (which is a separate doc), and a DNR.

      Laybpeople use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same.

      In my state, they have to be three separate document and they have to follow a very strict proscribed guidelines. Get the wording or the signing incorrect and they are void

  18. Emily*

    Last week, I posted about learning to crochet. This week, I have an almost finished squid plush! (Picture in a follow-up comment.)

    I know that some seasoned crocheters can probably make things pretty quickly, but I’m proud of my progress – in one week, I’ve gone from knowing nothing to making a complete piece!

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        How easy was this for your first attempt?

        I WANT a set of Winnie the Pooh amigurumi for the nursery, and no one sells the entire set on Etsy (only the patterns) except for this one person in Taiwan, who gives them THE creepiest eyes. I thought that something like an amigurumiwould be too challenging for a first piece, but yours looks great!

        1. Emily*

          Once I had a good understanding of how to do the stitches, it wasn’t too bad, but I think that the squid pattern I used was relatively simple – no fancy stitches, no weirdly-shaped or difficult-to-attach bits, etc. I’m not sure how hard the Winnie the Pooh set would be in comparison.

      2. Dr. KMnO4*

        That’s adorable and very well done! What an impressive project! If you hadn’t said so I wouldn’t have known it was the first thing you’d ever made.

    1. Loopy*

      I’ve never wanted to crochet before but that adorable little squid absolutely makes me want to learn. I’m also interested in how easy it was for a beginner and how long it took!

      1. Emily*

        I answered this in more detail under super anon’s reply, but for the short version: I had a few false starts, but I mostly got the hang of it after a day or two and didn’t think it was too hard after that!

        It took me about a week. I started learning to crochet last Saturday, actually started the squid on Sunday, and just have one long tentacle left to do before I’ll be finished. I’m in a transitional period at work and was running long, slow computations on my computer, though, so I was actually able to crochet a little bit at the office (which I wouldn’t normally do). That might’ve sped up my progress somewhat.

    2. super anon*

      how?! your squid looks amazing and not at all like a first amigurumi. i decided to try to learn how to crochet and after a week i still wasn’t able to do anything except for chain and then a few rows to the chain, but each row was uneven and looked horrible. i eventually gave up because i found it so frustrating to try and continually fail at even the most basic parts of the craft.

      i struggle with “finger independence” (ex: i can’t do the star trek spock hand thing at all.. apparently that is strange), which also prevented me from learning the guitar when i was younger. i think not being able to properly manipulate my fingers resulted in my not really being able to keep the yarn tension the same so i couldn’t really manipulate the yarn properly.

      anyway enough about me; i have some questions about your process if you would like to answer them:

      – how did you start to learn?
      – did you use youtube videos or have an in person teacher?
      – how did you get over the initial “WHY DOES THIS LOOK AWFUL?!?!?” frustration?
      – did you dive into making an squid straight out of the gate?

      ty in advance… your squid has inspired me to try again but i feel like i’ll likely get frustrated and give up again.

      1. Emily*

        To answer your questions:

        – To start, I checked out a few books from the library (two amigurumi books and one crochet book that had visual instructions for how to make a slip knot, how to chain stitch, how to single crochet, etc.). I worked on chain stitch first, and then on adding rows to the chain. For a while I was unknowingly doing single crochet incorrectly (I was doing a slip stitch instead, oops), but I eventually noticed that something was wrong and figured it out.
        – In addition to the library book, I found the FreshStitches website to be really helpful, especially this guide and this page of tutorial videos.
        – I restarted the very beginning of the piece a bunch of times when I was still figuring out things like how to crochet into the correct loop, how to keep my stitches (relatively) even, and how to single crochet, but once I got past that, it was mostly fine? Just the same stitch over and over, with increases and decreases in the appropriate places. (I like to think that my stitches were pretty clean-looking, but stuffing also helped even out some small irregularities.)
        – For the most part, yeah. I did practice a few of the stitches before starting the squid, and I redid the initial round a bunch of times before I felt like it was good enough, but after that – yeah, I just kinda went for it.

        I will say that I tend to be pretty good at various types of arts and crafts, so other people’s learning curves may or may not mirror mine – but also that the squid is conceptually pretty simple (no weird appendages or fancy stitches), which probably helped a fair amount.

  19. Annie Mouse*

    I know there are a lot of cat lovers on here so I’m hoping I might be able to get some advice…
    I’m really wanting to get a cat. Obviously, I’ll need litterbox, food bowls, litter, food, collar, toys and insurance but is there anything else I haven’t thought of?
    I’m planning on getting a rescue cat aged about 2-4, work long shifts on a rota and plan to let the cat outside on the days when I’m not out at work (I’m in the UK and it’s common to let cats out in quiet areas like where I live). I’m saving up for potential vets bills and vaccines. Just want to make sure that I don’t forget anything really important!
    Any advice for the first few days with cats as well would be great :)
    Thank you in advance :)

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Get your cat microchipped, and get a microchip cat flap, if you can. We have a Sureflap one – so it only lets him in, and you can set it to let him in/out or only one way. When he helpfully dismantled part of it (it was open, so no idea why he felt the need but cats gonna cat), Sureflap sent us a replacement part for free.

      Also, you’ll need flea and worm treatments. We have a plan with our vet where we pay a monthly fee that covers those, several inclusive appointments, and a discount on shots and any further appointments or prescriptions.

      You might also want to get a cat water fountain as they keep the water fresh (good if you’re out at work etc) and most cats seem to love them. We got a Catmate one from Amazon.

      Make sure you get a quick release collar in case it gets stuck. Also, don’t buy litter and food yet – you’ll need to stick with what kitty has already been using (make sure you ask) and make any changes gradually.

      Lastly; scratching post! All cats should have at least one that lets them stretch up to full height.

      Enjoy your new kitty, and post pictures for us!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Almost forgot: get a plastic mat to put their bowls on. There will be mess around them!

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Sorry to converse with myself but I missed the bit about first days.

        Keep them in one room to start with. Respect their space and let them come to you. Though our kitty was bouncing all over the house like he owned it from day one.

        Boxes are also good to have around, for jumping in and stuff. And get a laser pointer! But don’t just use that – cats need to grab things when they play, not just stalk and pounce, to get their full playhunting fix.

          1. Annie Mouse*

            Haha, thank you :) that’s really useful. I can’t have a catflap, nowhere to put it and I don’t really want the cat to come and go as they please as I don’t want them out at night or bringing me presents!! All cats from the rescue I’m looking at are chipped, neutered/spayed, vet checked, etc with a month’s insurance. I’ll be sorting out food and litter once I know what they use there :)

            Plastic mat for the food bowls is a great idea, I’d thought of something to go under the front of the litter box to contain mess but not the bowls.

            Keeping in one room is a little difficult as the entire downstairs of my house is open plan and the spare room isn’t big enough to keep the cat in for a few days so they’ll have the run of most of the downstairs, with plenty of hidey-holes.

            Thank you for your help :)

            1. Natalie*

              If the shelters/rescues in your area are like mine, they use a lot of donated food. It’s perfectly fine food, but you might find better options for not much more money than supermarket food. Our cat does very well on Petsmart’s house brand grain free food – her hair and coat are in better condition and her poops are less malodorous. And it’s richer food, so she eats a lower volume and a bag lasts longer.

              1. Annie Mouse*

                Once she’s (or he’s but I think I want a female cat for some reason) settled in, I’ll possibly look at switching the food over. Given my shifts, I think probably dry food with a wet food supplement is going to be the best, as I can leave a portion of dry biscuits down to nibble when I’m out, but wet food isn’t good to be left like that.
                I know a lot of people think supermarket food isn’t great for pets (had a customer one day who said he didn’t feed his cat anything but Sheba, a really posh brand) but for a long time my family’s cat wouldn’t eat anything except supermarket food. Literally turned her nose up at it and walked away! I think she will eat Whiskas, which is a bit more upmarket than supermarket own, but nothing posher!

                1. Tempest*

                  Cheap food is like fast food for cats. They love it the same way we love junk. If you can afford to feed a high quality no grain food, it’s so much better. They will take some time to get used to it but it’s worth it. If you do some research into it though I think one of the ASDA’s own wet foods and one of the Tesco’s own brand are very well regarded in terms of supermarket food. Whiskas is literally junk food for cats. Hi life black box is a good grain free wet food from the supermarket/petsathome as well.

                  Cats do not really get a thirsty feeling, so feeding primarily dry can lead to them being dehydrated as they don’t know how much they need to drink. Wet food is really good for their health.

                  I feed my three Orijen, which is a pretty good dry kibble. They also get two meals a day of a high quality grain free wet food called Feringa. To be honest I get all my cat food and litter on a website called Zooplus (I’m also in the UK.) With three I have to bulk buy everything they need anyway, so I’m always over the threshold for free shipping and the prices are pretty good. We also got ours a cat fountain on there, and I will say they drink a lot more water with the fountain than they did before. the other half likes the comic strip texts with Mittens, as our cat is called Mittens, and comic Mittens has a fancy fountain, so ours had to have one too…

                  My male kitten is already pushing 6kgs at just over 9 months old so he could eat for England. His little sister is bigger than our eight year old female already at 9 months too, so we go through some cat food. If cost isn’t your primary motivation I’d do some research into pet food and make an informed choice. I was shocked what goes into even the top level cat food like Hills Science Plan when I looked into it. Cats literally get enough carbs in their ‘wild’ diet from eating whatever the prey had in it’s stomach. They really don’t need grains.

            2. Ramona Flowers*

              Honestly a small room will be fine for the first few days when they’re getting used to being in a new place. Pet shops are good for plastic mats, they have cute ones (we like stuff with black cats on as we have a black cat…) I find there’s way more mess round the bowls than we ever get by the litter tray where the most we get is a bit of litter being kicked out here and there.

              If your cat is chipped already, make sure you get the details so you can update it with your own information.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq*

      Assess your cord situation. Some cats love to much on cords, and if you have a lot of computers/game consoles/etc it might be a good time to get your cord organizing game on point!

    3. AMD*

      Vaccines are important for outdoor cats especially, as are monthly flea treatments. Dry food is good for the teeth and relatively cheap, but look for low-carb. Wet food is healthier (and helps keep kitty from getting dehydrated, which can be a problem!) but expensive. Also, think about your scratchable furniture, and make sure you have scratching options for them. Our cat has destroyed one arm of our couch despite all efforts to discourage her.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Claw-clipping scissors. It’s really easy to learn how to do this, and there are videos on YouTube from veterinarians. Your kitties (and you) will be much happier.

    5. Puffle*

      It sounds like you have things pretty covered, just a few thoughts that came into my head: if the cat will be outdoors at least some of the day, micro chipping and a flu jab are both a good idea. Also, at some point, you’ll need flea treatment and de-wormimg tablets- I’m sure the shelter will be dosing the cats up, but it is a semi-regular job that needs re-doing.

      As for the first few days, I’d let the cat set the pace- if it’s shy, give it some space and let it get used to the new environment / new person. Also, don’t let it out the house straight away- cats often get lost in new areas and if it’s a new home to them they might struggle to find their way back. Plus, after a bit of time it’ll get used to the idea of you as the provider of food/ safety and it’ll want to come back to the house

      Above all, best of luck to you and your future kitty, and enjoy :)

      1. Turtlewings*

        Seconding the advice to keep kitty in the house at first, probably for a week or more, to ensure he’s “imprinted” on it as home and will be able/willing to find his way back to it once you start letting him out. That feline ability to find their way home over thousands of miles? That can work against you if you’re not what he thinks of as “home.”

        1. Sibley*

          my general rule of thumb is the cats stay inside until they’re 100% comfortable with the house. All rooms, floors, etc. How long that takes will depend on the cat and situation. I had one move that took 3 months (cross country move, did not go over well at all!). Another move took 3-4 days, and everything in between.

          Also, when you choose a cat, make sure that you’re getting at cat that will work with your lifestyle. Some cats need a lot more interaction and attention than others. If you get a missmatch, no one will be happy. The staff will hopefully be able to help with that.

    6. the gold digger*

      Empty boxes. Empty bags. Apple cores and orange peels in the sink. Tulips. Pears in a bowl on the counter. Tomatoes in a bowl on the counter. Bananas in a bowl on the counter. Empty-dish flavored water in the sink. Olive-oil based soap in the tub. Little varmints in the back yard. A bat in the basement. A stepladder. A computer keyboard. A glass that has the remnants of Bailey’s in it.

      These are all things our cats enjoy greatly.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Ours likes pile of wet washing. Especially wet jeans. Which he helpfully sits on.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          What is it with cats and laundry? Boy cat LOVES to “help fold underwear”. Which means he sits on the clean undies and we have to try and snatch it away from him and his paws in order to fold them and put it away. This was never meant to be some game either, it just ended up that way. And only undies, never socks.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            I wish I knew! It’s mostly jeans with ours.

            His other current favourite hobbies include pouncing on my shoelaces when I’ve just come in and am taking my shoes off, which is seriously cute but kind of a hindrance; jumping into the empty bathtub; and going to sleep with his head in my husband’s armpit. Little furry weirdo. (The cat, not my husband.)

          2. the gold digger*

            Oh yes! I forgot! Warm sheets in the hamper and then the Making The Bed Game! Warm anything, including the holder for the crockpot. The stove. Hot pads on the counter. A stack of library books on the counter, the higher the better.

            Laverne’s motto re books, papers, hats, towels: “If it fits, I sits.”

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              I can’t believe I forgot Making the Bed Game. Must… jump… in… middle… of… bedding…

              1. Perse's Mom*

                Only one of my cats has ever played this game and it went from adorable to annoying pretty fast.

                Yes, it’s very cute that you have to be between the mattress and the pad. Out you go! Oh, now you’re between the pad and the fitted sheet? She did not care if I proceeded to fit the sheet right over her, she would just sprawl under it and roll around. Repeat with every layer!

                I miss her tons, even a few years later.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Our cat loves to hunt pairs of folded socks. She gets them (only the folded ones, never the singles) from the laundry basket and prowl around the house with them. After she’s prowled around with one pair for a while, she drops it on her prey pile of dead socks and gets another pair.

          1. JaneB*

            Mine also steals socks – she takes singles from the airer or radiator and brings them to me as prey, complete with hunting calls. She also only drinks from a tall glass indoors (last cat would only drink from a square container) but likes any kind of filthy puddle outdoors

            Cats gonna cat! Enjoy your new friend!!

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              The sock antics have really made me laugh.

              My cat will only drink from a cat water fountain, dripping taps – or a glass with a handle, if you’re putting it on the floor for him. If it’s YOUR glass, he will want to stick his head in it whatever and wherever it is.

              Cats are indeed gonna cat!

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha. Romaine lettuce in a grocery bag on the floor. A sticker ball from a sweet gum tree. A full glass of water to swat off the table. A crane fly that swoops in from outside for a merry chase. Remnants of wine at the bottom of a wine glass. Mixed nuts in their shells to be swatted off the coffee table and batted across the wood floors. Chicken bones left in the trash can overnight. Fleece throws left on the living room furniture.

      3. Natalie*

        Piles of papers that you are actually doing something with. Books, but only while you are reading them.

      4. Tris Prior*

        Ha, I once turned my back for 3 SECONDS on a half-full glass of Baileys and turned back around to catch my previous cat lapping away at it…

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      For food and toys and stuff check out zooplus – they have good quality food and a ton of things to be delivered right to your door.

      Scratching posts are key, however try different types. We had a sisal one that they liked… until grandma bought boy kitty a cheap cardboard scratcher and now he prefers to scratch and then sit on it. Girl kitty liked to stretch out and scratch the couch while looking right at us, no matter how many times we told her no. Of course, the really NICE scratcher thing we bought they didn’t use at all!

      Same thing with toys – boy kitty never figured it out and girl kitty was too smart for it. They ADORE an empty box, even better if you put something in it (like a cheap plastic cat toy ball). Like a shoe box with a lid they can work to open. We also have a toy with a cardboard scratcher in the middle and a ball in the track they can work around. Turbotracker or something like that. Essentially youve got to make them think so they don’t get bored.

      Dont forget cat nip! Also, we use the really cheap Ikea blankets to protect furniture because they like the feeling of them.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Oh! one more thing – get a decent comb. We have the Furminator, which helps to take the undercoat out and keep them looking sleek and keeps the pet hair down. They loooooovvvee that thing, although we have also noticed that the cheaper comb with the metal loop works pretty darn good too. They get a good brushing at least once a week.

        Dont forget some kitty treats too :)

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh! Your comments on scratching and scratchers reminded me, some of our cats have LOVED vertical scratching, as in they HAD to stretch upwards, but now we have one that just does. Not. Get. It, and HAS to scratch on something horizontal, so we had to get him one of those rectangular corrugated cardboard scratchers that sit flat on the floor, and he can stand on that and scratch. Depending on the cat, you might need a scratching post, or you might need a scratching pad

        tl;dr version: cats are weird.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          One cat would only use cardboard, others only use carpet (or the couch…)

          We had one of those ball-in-tube toys with the cardboard scratch area in the middle. 2 cats ignored it entirely, cardboard cat only used the scratching post, never chased the ball.

          The newest cat thinks the cardboard place is a lovely place to nap, and will chase the ball for hours.

          As you say, cats are weird, and they like what they like, and you don’t know what that is until you try it and they reject it or use it.

    8. Annie Mouse*

      Wow! Thank you everyone :) Some brilliant points that I’ll remember.
      I won’t be letting them out for the first few weeks, until they’re settled in well.
      Glad to hear everything can become a toy! I’m spending a few weeks before I get the cat getting tidied up and anything that could be an issue for them out of the way.
      I’m a little worried about my sofa, but I’ve got a throw that can cover most of it to start with. For some reason I’m a bit sentimental about my sofa, think it might be because it’s the first bit of proper furniture I bought on my own. But I’d rather have the cat than a pristine sofa! (And my boyfriend dropped chocolate on it and then sat on it so there’s already a stained cushion!!)

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Yay, you sound like such a responsible pet-parent already!
        Don’t spend too much money on toys at first, or consider getting a variety pack like this (https://www.amazon.com/Fashions-Talk-Variety-Kitty-pieces/dp/B01AHM6P18). Our cat likes things that he can bat and chase, but completely ignores most feathered toys, for whatever reason. Now I can look at a toy and say, yeah, he’ll like that one, but until you know how your cat likes to play, you can waste a lot of money going through cat toys.
        As for your couch, put the scratcher close to it and praise the cat when he uses it. We put sticky paws tape on our couch arms for the first few months (it’s basically double sided tape but made for furniture), our cat does not like the sensation, and so he stopped trying to scratch the couch.
        One last thought – one or two cats? I’m not sure what you’re thinking (you said “a cat” in first post but “them” in a second one). My one regret is not getting two cats. Our cat is SUPER friendly and attention seeking, and since he’s indoors only and we both work long hours, I’m pretty sure he’s a little bored and lonely even though we play with him daily. But it’s way harder to introduce a new cat, and in our tiny apartment, would be hard to keep them separate at first while introducing them, so we haven’t gotten a second one so far. It may not be an issue for your cat, since you’re planning to let him/her out, but just something to consider depending on the personality of the cat.

        1. Annie Mouse*

          Thank you :)
          One cat I think, I said they because although I think I want a female, I’m not ruling out a male yet, and saying it sounded wrong!! I have debated two but I’d rather get used to looking after one to start with, as this will be the first pet I’ve had since I moved out of my parent’s house.

    9. detached anon*

      A curry comb or if you can afford it a Furminator, a comb & a flea comb. Keep toys simple until you know more of what your cat likes. Good starter toys are something at the end of a string on a stick (actually my cat prefers the stick end), a laser & at least one catnip toy. A rolled up ball of paper or foil will do in a pinch & so will a little bottle cap.

      I use the Litter Genie to dispose of litter. Flushable litter never is truly flushable, unless you want plumbing bills.

      Perhaps I’m the minority…? I’m against letting a cat outside even if there are other cats who safely roam about. Certain serious illnesses are commonly transmitted & although your cat might be vaccinated others might not be or they might not otherwise be tended as well as your cat. Also there’s the whole “do you want to go out/are you coming in/I don’t have all day” routine…
      That said, I don’t judge someone for letting their cat out, it just isn’t a risk I’m willing to take with my cat.

      Your cat will train you much more than you will train your cat. And probably you won’t even realise this until it’s too late…

      1. tigerStripes*

        Where I live, there are cars driving by, there are dogs, other cats, there could be large birds, so I keep the kitties indoors, but it can depend on the area. I just keep remembering how when I was a kid, sometimes our outdoor kitties just disappeared.

        1. detached anon*

          Yeah. Although I didn’t make this clear in my other post, there are just too many hazards to let a pet roam free.
          Vehicles, other animals, people who want a cat & decide to take yours…

    10. Lady Jay*

      I’d add a good vet.

      I was unsuccessful in adopting a cat last fall. I had one for a month, but had to return her to the shelter after it became clear that she had some health problems that didn’t surface until after I brought her home & that made it impossible for me to adequately care for her. There was a great vet in the area that looked her over, advised on what was wrong, and helped me provide for her while she was with me. They even loaned me a large carrier to bring her back and forth with, when it turned out the one I had was too small to easily coax her into! I was very thankful that I identified them at the time of picking her up.

    11. Zathras*

      People have mostly covered what I would have said, but here is a weird thing I found out when I lived with a cat – mint is related to catnip, and some cats go nuts over it! If you drink mint tea, don’t leave the mug sitting out with the tea bag still in it. The cat may go bonkers and knock the mugs off the table trying to get at the mint.

      (I have outed myself as one of Those People who leave empty tea mugs everywhere…)

    12. detached anon*

      just for fun:
      Simon’s Cat!!

      There’s a YouTube channel. It’s animated & most videos are 1-to-3 minutes.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      Feline leukemia test. In the US, this test is not part of the standard testing and vaccination process and most people don’t think to get it. I found out the hard way. When I got a cat years ago, I just assumed that the feline leukemia test and vaccination was standard, so I didn’t think anything of it and didn’t ask about it. A year later my cat was acting sick, so my vet gave him a leukemia test. Unfortunately it was positive and within a week we had to put him down (it was very far advanced when we found out). What was worse is that feline leukemia can spread to other cats in the household through bites, shared food dishes and mutual grooming. We had a multi-cat household, so that was a nightmare for us and VERY expensive for testing them all. Luckily none of the others were infected. Cats can live for several years with the disease, and in a multi-cat household they would need to be segregated, but they definitely will have a shorter life.

    14. Cordelia Longfellow*

      Shop around for vets a little before an emergency forces you to find out. Check out the office, meet the staff and the docs if possible, and see what kind of vibe you get. I’ve had numerous vets over the decades, and some were obviously sketchy while others were wonderful all around.

      Everyone else has pretty much got you covered. I definitely recommend a number of scratching post options, with different surfaces and angles. One of my kitties prefers the vertical post with sisal rope, while the other likes the cardboard one at a 45-degree angle. And I feel you on wanting to save your couch! When I bought new furniture, I bought some thick fleece sheets at Costco to keep my couch covered. It doesn’t keep everything pristine forever, but they’re easy to toss in the wash and catch most spills and hairballs. When guests come over, I just pull the sheets off and voila! Furniture that isn’t covered in cat hair.

      Best of luck in your new adventure!

  20. fposte*

    Mangoes, people. The heartbreak of mangoes. How do you find ones that aren’t fibrous until total rot? I live in a small town where we don’t have a Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods/local ethnic market that carries produce, and easily over half the time I buy a supermarket mango it’s still fibrous even when it’s ripe to the point that the end is starting to blacken.

    I just want a mango that isn’t also a teething stick. How do I achieve that? Why are we still buying mangoes if they’re mostly inedible?

      1. Anxa*

        If you’re not already, put them in the fridge as soon as they feel ready if you’re not ready to eat them yet. It has helped for me!

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The problem I most often have, since moving out of California, is that they will be ROCK SOLID HARD when I buy them- and that is the only choice other than ones that are already overripe- and even in a paper bag, they never soften, or they go from rock hard to too soft in a microsecond.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq*

        So, for me, avocados always come out fibrous unless i cut them in a certain way. Basically, cut in half long-wise, pop out the seed, and then slice each half into maybe 4 slices. Then peel the skin off each slice. When I do that, I 100% of the time have a non-fibrous avocado. If I try the traditional spoon-scooping, it’s fibrous all the time. Maybe the technique would work well for mangoes also?

      3. neverjaunty*

        The avocado problem has been solved, but it’s super expensive. You have to move to California. :P

        I don’t think you can really get fresh mangoes unless you live near a source.

        1. the gold digger*

          Or Miami or Panama. My formative mango years were spent in the Panama Canal Zone. Except for my two years in Miami, when my boss would bring bags of turpentine mangoes from the tree in his yard to work, I have been consistently disappointed in the mangoes I can get in the states.

        2. Lady Jay*

          Texas is pretty good, at least the larger cities like Dallas/Houston/Austin. Sadly, I do not actually live in Texas, or California, or Miami. I live in the Upper Midwest & good avocados are so rare.

    1. Canadian Natasha*

      I find that I tend to have better luck with the little atulfo mangoes- the ones that are kind of kidney shaped & more yellow- instead of the larger green & red variety (which I don’t know the proper name of). But I think it really is a crapshoot unless you live close to a mango growing area.

      1. fposte*

        They’re crap all right. I saw a post on reddit about this saying that essentially it’s like the tomato situation–the easiest cultivar to mass transport and sell is just not very good. But we do sometimes get the little yellow mangoes, so I’ll look for them; I may also see if I can figure out how close they are to in season from wherever they come, because sometimes they’re okay, and maybe that’s why.

        1. Aurion*

          Yeah, the larger green and red cultivar is called Tommy Atkins and they’re crap. They’re fibrous to begin with and at off season stay rock-hard even once it starts to rot.

          I don’t buy mangoes unless Ataulfo is available. I think we are in peak season for them though, so hopefully you’ll see them soon!

        2. Doodlebug*

          Why not try mail order? I regularly get my pomeloes via mail order citrus from Pearson Ranch. They arrive in different states of ripeness, from mostly ripe to almost. They are high quality and delicious. I’ve heard of a mango mail order place called themangofactory.com out of Florida. It’s worth a shot.

          1. fposte*

            Whoa. I would totally do this, and it never even occurred to me. Plus, whole new thing to research! Thanks for the tip.

        3. Amadeo*

          Heh, yes to the tomato thing. I live for the three or four months that we have our garden, making myself sick on garden fresh tomatoes. I got hold of a box of smaller ‘heirloom’ varieties in Schnucks once and couldn’t eat them they were so…mealy and tasteless. I understood then why people would go on about how vehemently they hated tomatoes. If I stoop to supermarket tomatoes, I go for the smaller ones – the grape/cherry ones and cocktail tomatoes.

        4. Anxa*

          I don’t know what it says about me, but I cried last summer because I missed my mom’s tomato sauce she makes in late August when the tomatoes are in season in our state. Even in the summer I couldn’t get a decent tomato last year and it was very disheartening.

          Even when I was on government assistance I splurged on the best tomatoes I could find.

          1. Natalie*

            A good home grown tomato is the best thing. If you ever want to try growing your own there are some varieties that do well in a container garden. So all you need is a patio or porch.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        I only buy atulfo mangoes as well. They are far better, though still not always perfect.

    2. paul*

      If you find out let me know :/ I love those things, and so do my kids, but I’ve given up buying fresh ones. I get frozen but they’re not as good

    3. HannahS*

      I think it really depends on the breed. I’m in love with Atafulo mangoes, which are soft and sweet and fragrant and silky…but you might not have access to them! I do find that frozen mangoes defrost well, and don’t have a bad texture, so you could try that?

  21. Ruth*

    Hubs and I are talking about buying his folks a home near us, they’ve been experiencing some health problems and they live ~1-1.5 hrs away. Recently Poppa had a spinal tap and Mom had to drive him home from hospital, and she almost never drives anymore. Hubs went down that day and made sure they were ok, hung out at the hospital, followed them home, etc. but it would be so much easier if we lived closer. They need a gardener, and there’s a lot of things we could just be helping with (i.e. Grocery shopping, driving to doc appointments, helping make phone calls for a gardener and a pool guy). Mom is always going off on how she doesn’t want to sell her house or put more work on us, etc, but at this point I’m kinda like, fine. Keep your house, we’ll buy the damn house, just come here where I can make sure you’re taken care of! Especially since they never tell us stuff so they don’t worry us. Ummmm, kinda need to know if you’re going in for a spinal tap, guys. Not going to freak out about it, promise. Anyway, we’re seriously discussing how we’ll handle a second mortgage and all that other fun stuff, so we’ll see.

    1. Thlayli*

      Would they be willing to rent out their house even if they don’t want to sell it? Or is there any other family that might be willing to rent it from them? That would take a lot of the financial pressure off you.

      1. Ruth*

        No, they worked really hard to buy the house, and Mom is just too attached to it to let strangers rent it. Family renting would be worse (if we had any) bc she’d probably turn into a gestapo. We’re thinking of easing them into new house by presenting it as a “vacation home” and gradually move them over to our city. Once they’re HERE I think it’ll be easier to let go of the other house, but we’d prefer to hold onto it in case they ever need an assisted living situation, then the house could pay for that. It’s a lot of options and it’s a bit more difficult bc Mom is definitely the matriarch.

        1. Aveline*

          Actually, if they need assisted-living and they have two homes, they’re going to be screwed. You really need to go talk to an attorney on this.

          You can probably preserve their home for you kids to inherit and have Medicaid pay for their care if you set it up right before you take any steps to move them

    2. Aveline*

      If you are in the USA: Before you do any moving rearranging of their lives, please go talk to an elder law attorney in the state in which they live. You could end up doing things that hurt their chances of getting support later on, particularly if they need Medicaid for nursing home or in home care.
      (elder counsel has a list of attorneys)

      For example, if you’re going to be providing care to them, you probably want to have a caregiver agreement drawn up by your attorney and to be paid for the care you’re providing.

      Also, it’s probably best for them to maintain their own separate home for purposes of qualifying for Medicaid or VA aid if they need it.

      These are things that you don’t think about tell you need them in an emergency, but it’s usually too late to do the right thing at that point

  22. Ramona Flowers*

    I had a personal bereavement this week (someone who was like a grandmother to me – my actual grandma disowned me years ago). The funeral is on Monday.

    I’ve been out to a friend’s hen do (we went for afternoon tea and a boat ride) and am now at another friend’s birthday drinks. I didn’t want to bail on either of them and it’s been good for me to get out but I feel really guilty that I’m having a nice day.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      What would the deceased have wanted for you? :)

      Life goes on, and I’m sure she’d rather you were out having a good day, than home crying.

    2. Allypopx*

      Everyone heals differently, and finding ways to distract yourself and being around friends is a really, really common and effective way to deal with grief and pain. Don’t deny yourself nice days. Have the nice days in her honor.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Thank you both for your kind and helpful comments – these are really helpful things to hear.

    3. paul*

      Remember me when I am gone away,
      Gone far away into the silent land;
      When you can no more hold me by the hand,
      Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
      Remember me when no more day by day
      You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
      Only remember me; you understand
      It will be late to counsel then or pray.
      Yet if you should forget me for a while
      And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
      For if the darkness and corruption leave
      A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
      Better by far you should forget and smile
      Than that you should remember and be sad.–Christina Rosseti

      It was in the program at my grandmother’s funeral years ago, and it helped me a bit.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I had not read this poem before. Thank you. It’s helped me a bit, too. Several bits in fact. Am grateful.

    4. Casuan*

      Ramona Flowers, your grandmother [yes, grandmother!] would want you to be with those you love as you mourn her & she would want you to have a nice day.
      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This is the give and take of life.

      My family member was upset about bringing her baby to my father’s funeral. What if the baby cried, surely that would upset everyone. I said “Or it could remind them that we say good-bye to one person and we welcome another person. Such is the give and take of life.”

      Very seldom are a day’s events all sad and conversely very seldom are a day’s events all happy. It’s usually a mixed bag. The times we really notice that mixed bag is on days like your example here.

      In sad times make it your practice to say thanks for the little reassurances that come along. Your friends were supposed to be with you today to reassure you. You could just decide that you feel reassured.

      I am sorry for your loss. I am sure you will remember her thoughts and wisdom for the rest of your life. And that is a very high honor for her.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Grief waxes and wanes in the days, months, and years after a loved one dies. There are only two rules. Rule one is there aren’t rules. Rule two is the only bad way to grieve is destructive grief- say you get drunk and hurt yourself.

      When my younger brother died at 36, I designed commemorative cloisonné pins for him. People thought I was nuts (okay, I am, but that’s completely irrelevant!). But, once they saw the final product, I gave away about 200 of them. If people want to see a picture, someone needs to tell me how to take a picture with my iPhone and post it on the blog.

      She was doubly special because you adopted each other. Take care of yourself.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Okay, I just emailed this information to Alison. I asked her to use her judgment as to whether posting the pin picture and/or information would be helpful. Since I work tomorrow from 7am to 7:30 pm, I figure I will be away from my AAM peeps for awhile.

        Thank you Alison!

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thanks so much for your comments – I’m so sorry you lost your brother. You can use the imgur website to post pictures – you upload them and get a link to post.

  23. Lupus*

    I was just diagnosed with lupus and am either numb or freaking out. My doctor is repeating the blood work but I don’t think anything will be different. She’s prescribed Plaquenil.
    Any advice?

    1. fposte*

      Ugh. I’m sorry. It’s just a tough process to fold a notion like that into your life. But it really will eventually become a part of the landscape for you, and if you’ve been having symptoms it might be nice to get some relief.

    2. Casuan*

      I’m so sorry!

      Let yourself be numb & freak out a little. Then get pissed off & angry. Freak out a little more, then have a little numbness, then regroup & sort out what this means for your life. Know there will be good days & bad. You’ll get to know how things are for you.

      Most of all: It’s okay to be freaking out & numb. Once you know the diagnosis with certainty you can sort out how lupus affects you in your daily life. Even that might seem daunting just now & nothing I can say will change that. Just know that soon you’ll be a bit less numb & freaked out.

      Hopefully your test will be negative the second time around!

      if not…
      At first you might want to limit who you tell until you know more information yourself. If you prefer to keep your diagnosis private, then of course do so, although I encourage you to at least tell a few friends who will keep your privacy. You’re going to need some support & help, even if it’s just to call at 3am to freak out.

      Don’t hesitate to call someone if you’re freaking out at 3am wondering why the hell this is now become your life.
      Fposte worded it beautifully in her reply.

      start here:

      Trust me on this one…
      When one means well & gives you articles from seven year old magazines, tells you about purple rice or magic mushrooms or insists you try something that worked for the cousin of the friend’s uncle’s long-lost nanny’s aunt…
      As soon as you realise this is the direction of the conversation, don’t be afraid to interrupt & say something to the effect of “I’m sorry to interrupt. I very much appreciate your trying to help, although I’m a bit overwhelmed & can’t really process anything just now. [bonus phrase, if needed] Would you please email the reference to me so I can look at it when things calm down?”

      full disclosure: I totally understand the numbness & freaking out because Ive experienced this myself with my MS. Of course lupus different than MS, although there are similarities. If I can answer any questions or help please let me know.

    3. MsChanandlerBong*

      First, it’s okay to freak out. That said, don’t panic. You don’t know how it will progress, or even if it will progress. I have lupus, but my case is considered “mild.” When I have symptoms, it doesn’t feel mild–but I have way fewer symptoms and way fewer flares than many people with the disorder. The one thing I think you should be prepared for is that some medical professionals are extremely dismissive. For 10 years, I went back and forth from “you have lupus” to “you don’t have lupus” said in a sneering, snotty tone. I was diagnosed in 2006, but not all of my doctors agreed on the diagnosis. I was lucky enough to find a PCP who treated me based on that diagnosis. He never hesitated to refer me for tests or specialist visits. Then I moved and had to find someone new. I was assigned a CRNP who was a total jerk. During my first visit, we went over my medical history, and I told her I have lupus. She turned to me and said “you don’t have lupus” as if I’d told her I was the Queen of Spain. I found a rheumatologist here, he did more tests than I’ve ever had before, and I ended up with a handy letter that says “Your labs show evidence of active lupus.” I have not mailed it to the CRNP with a “Told you so!” sticker on it, although I was tempted. Don’t be afraid to push for better care or switch doctors if the one you have is not helping you.

  24. Rebecca*

    I just want to say that everyone in my life has been amazing this week. I’ve been posting the last few weeks about my Dad’s sudden illness, and he passed away a few minutes after midnight on Easter Sunday. While my parents were prepared in almost every way, they hadn’t made funeral arrangements. The funeral director I chose was amazing, and he and his staff made everything so effortless.

    Dad was a volunteer firefighter for 52 years, and we chose to bury him in his dress uniform. He told me last year he wanted to be buried with his engineer’s helmet (he was head engineer), so we made that happen. His brother and sister firefighters stepped up and provided a service prior to the actual funeral service, and instead of a hearse, they took the hoses off the engine he drove for 22 years and took him to the cemetery on his truck. Other fire companies from the area turned out, and the ladder trucks made an arch, and the firefighters were his pall bearers. The chief alerted the county communications center right at the end of the graveside service, and the comm center toned out a final call and tribute to Dad. The firemen and women also catered lunch for everyone after the graveside services in the truck bay at the fire hall where Dad spent so much time over the years. I cannot even begin to thank them enough.

    Now it’s on to all the paperwork and making sure Mom is OK. She has good neighbors, and I live just a few miles away. I’ve been staying at my parent’s house for over a week now, but on Monday I need to go back to work. Hopefully we can get her a newer, smaller car than the current ancient giant Buick soon so she can zip to town if she needs to.

    I have to say, as difficult and heart wrenching as this past week was, having good friends and neighbors for support was so invaluable.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Wow, it must be super dusty in here all of a sudden.

      What a wonderful tribute to your father.

    2. ampg*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad that you have supportive people around you at such a tough time.

    3. fposte*

      Thank you for telling us, Rebecca. That is an amazing story, and I’m glad you’ve had people to count on.

    4. Mimmy*

      This has me tearing up. It always amazes me how strong the bond is among the men and women in fire and police departments. The services must’ve been incredibly moving.

      Internet hugs to you and your family.

    5. the gold digger*

      I am so sorry for your loss. That funeral sounds amazing. How lovely that so many of your father’s fellow firefighters showed up and what an honor for him and your family.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      I am so happy there was so much love surrounding you this week.

      I have had family involved in volunteer firefighting for a couple generations now, and more often that not, that is the kind of family they have. Your father deserved nothing less.

      Good luck and good thoughts as you get back to work this week and start to adjust to the new normal.

    7. super anon*

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      My grandfather, who raised me, passed away from pancreatic cancer a year and a half ago. Reading your posts over the weeks has been hard – my heart hurt for you and went out to you even though I never commented. This post made me cry – the funeral sounded so beautiful and it’s apparent your father was truly loved by many people. I am so glad you had so many people there for you and your family.

      I wish you all the best.

    8. TheLazyB*

      Oh Rebecca. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I’m thinking of you and your family.

    9. Aurion*

      What an amazing tribute to your father. I’m sorry for your loss, Rebecca, and I’m thinking of you.

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      I’m so sorry about your dad’s passing, but what a beautiful way to pay tribute to him. There was a funeral procession in town this past week for a fire chief that passed, and even though it was obviously a somber occasion, I found it very uplifting to hear about how this man, like your father, was honoured by those who knew him.

      I’m glad your mom has a good support network, that is so important when one loses a spouse. Thank you for continuing to update us with your family’s situation.

    11. Jillociraptor*

      It sounds like such a beautiful testament to your father’s life. It’s so wonderful that the people around you have been so supportive. Still, I’m so sorry for your loss. Wishing you lots more support and care as you process losing your dad.

      1. JaneB*

        My grandad died about 30 years ago, but he was also a firefighter and this has me welling up again remembering h how important it was to him – being in the UK, and him having been retired (early on medical grounds) for decades, there was less involvement in the actual process, but the kindness was still there. He fought fires in London through the Second World War – his scrapbooks are very precious to our family

    12. Not So NewReader*

      What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I am so moved that you were able to have this for him.

      You write very well, btw. I am glad you posted here about this so you could have yet another group (although long distance) for some support.

  25. Aunt Anon*

    Regular poster going more anonymous for this.

    Last weekend my SO and I went to my family’s as my mom had a milestone birthday, it was Easter, and I wanted to meet my newish niece.

    The weekend was nice in a lot of ways, but I didn’t meet my niece. My brother had a one night stand last year and the woman got pregnant. They started dating again once they found out. My brother, late 20s, lives with my mom. He just started working a regular job and doesn’t make enough to move out yet (high COL). He also plans on working his usual summer job. He has way too much student loan (private, so IDR is not an option and CC debt).

    The mother has a similar job, but in the public sector and makes twice his salary (before his extra summer job), has FMLA, maternity leave, the works. She’s on maternity leave now. She and the baby live at her parents house, too. She can probably afford to move out soon.

    Well, they had a huge fight because my brother’s friend (a woman) dropped off a baby gift, he had a baby shower one night instead of him being home taking care of her, and he is wary of moving in with her (she wants to get a mortgage and have him as her tenant). To be honest, they simply have nothing in common except for their daughter.

    I didn’t get to meet my niece. I mean, meeting her isn’t worth a huge blowout. She’s just a baby and I’m not much for babies. But I had a really hard time, staying in my old bedroom with a bunch of baby gifts from his friends and family, knowing he may never get to bring his baby to his house. Knowing I may never meet her. Worrying about how he’ll probably never get custody because he can’t afford his own place right now, but will still have to pay CS. He had lost 20 lbs (he didn’t have single pound to lose) from the stress. Her family doesn’t let him eat there or sleep over anymore, so he goes to work at 6am, stays at work til 6pm, then goes to his daughter’s and does baby stuff until 3am, then comes home to sleep for 3 hours.

    My heart is completely broken for him. What is best for the baby might not be what’s fair for him, but then once she’s old enough to bounce back and forth, her mother will already be established as the primary caregiver, despite her being a far less caring parent.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Does your brother have an attorney? Even if he’s not broke enough to qualify for Legal Aid, if he’s in the US, most bar associations have things like Modest Means programs or pro bono programs to help folks who couldn’t otherwise afford a lawyer. They also run referral services where you can be matched up with a specialist (family law in your brother’s case) who will meet with people for just about nothing for 1/2 hour or an hour.

      Even if he just gets an hour’s worth of legal advice, it could be invaluable to him in making sure he gets to be a dad in your niece’s life and that he’s paying a fair share of her support.

      1. fposte*

        Seriously. This is a “lawyer, ASAP” situation. In most states shared physical custody is the default these days, but he needs to ask for it to get it. (Living with your mom is not likely to disqualify him from custody. And if he’s hearing stuff like that from the GF, he needs to *stop listening to her* about what he can do legally.)

        And, in a comment people may be surprised to hear coming from me, he should document. He should document his attempts to visit, document the gifts he sends, document times he called or Skyped or whatever. He should amass a solid record of his continuing attempts to have a relationship with his daughter and the mother’s refusal to allow that relationship. Judges really don’t like it when one parent tries to shut the other one out.

        1. Aunt Anon*

          Yes. He needs a lawyer. He had been talking to one and documenting things, but I don’t think he really had enough legal aid, as he has been doing things I think are quite stupid (like, buying more and more gifts for the baby-probably for use at the mother’s, instead of equipping our family home for the baby).

          One thing that doesn’t help his case: my mother. She reacted…not well. She didn’t like this woman from the moment she met her and she said some pretty horrible (although not untrue) things about her to my brother. My brother actually thought he was kicked out, and so I can see how there can be a case for our home not being a good environment (although my mom has really come around a lot, and the mother’s house also has a lot of stuff going on). She also didn’t support the idea of keeping the baby at first. Now the mother doesn’t feel comfortable around our home and doesn’t want the baby ‘in that environment’ or around people who entertained the idea of abortion.

          I think the mother is happy for him to have a relationship with her, but only on her terms. I honestly can’t imagine, as a mother, having to take my baby to a house where I know I’m not really welcome, or to relinquish my baby to the father. But, I also probably wouldn’t put myself in a situation like that, and that was her prerogative.

          And yes, until this weekend he had been spending most of his free time with the baby, only going home to nap before work.

          1. Thlayli*

            Honestly I wouldn’t want my baby staying with someone who wanted her aborted either so I can see why the baby’s mother won’t let her stay with your mother. I very much doubt yor nieces mother will come round to having the baby stay with your mother.

            It seems to me the best thing he could do is accept her offer to be a tenant in her house. she wouldn’t be able to get market rates for a lodger with a young baby in the house, so she should be willing to give him a low rate of rent. He can’t afford to buy a house anyway so he either has to live with his mother and therefore not see his daughter or he has to pay full market rate somewhere else. From what you say it is likely they will end up splitting up for good in the future but by then he will have established a relationship of having lived with the baby for a time as a family and that will make it much easier to get custody.

            Also he needs to stop trying to live on 3 hours of sleep a night that is not sustainable and he needs his wits about him for at legal battle.

            1. Aunt Anon*

              I don’t mean to get into a discussion about it reproductive rights, but my mom wasn’t at all pushing for it or anything. I personally cannot wrap my head around equating considering it at the embryo stage with being any less loving or welcoming at the baby stage. But I can kind of see how maybe others might think that? Or maybe she’s just using that as her excuse.

              I think if he goes that route, he should bring as few of his personal belongings as possible. Because if he has a lease with her, he’s stuck there. And if he doesn’t, she can throw him out if over the slightest little thing (like getting home late from work). I think it may be worth letting her extort him for the rent money just because he might be able to get more sleep that way. The baby keeps them up, but when he’s able to stay around longer she does calm down a lot more. That’s one reason he stays so long, is that he knows the baby seems to be able to settle down and sleep more if he’s around.

              Unfortunately, I don’t know how he can get any more sleep (the baby is colicky) unless she is cutting him out or he is choosing not to go over as long, which of course is less contact time. He has no FMLA or anything like that. I do think he should get documentation of how bad his health is getting, though. I’m sure all new fathers face a degree of that, but there’s just so much extra he has to juggle right now. The mother is very high maintenance and he gets a lot of grief for staying at work (he is working in a job he’s kind of underqualified for and is overwhelmed there)

              1. Thlayli*

                The more I read the more I think he needs to knock his second job off and focus on his family for the short term.

                If your nieces mother does recognise the humanity of foetuses, she may well have interpreted your mothers call for an abortion the same as if she had called for the baby to be euthanised after birth. If that is the case then a statement from your mother clarifying that she now regrets the call for an abortion and is actually glad the child was born would go a long way to mending relationships. It may seem obvious to you that your mother is glad the abortion didn’t happen, but I doubt it’s obvious to baby momma.

        2. Natalie*

          Yes, lawyer lawyer lawyer.

          My parents got pregnant after a few months of dating, and did not stay together. My dad was in a very marginal living situation at the time, but fought to retain legal custody and get visitation (this was the 80s, so shared physical custody was not a common thing). It was hard, but it was 100% worth it, for both him and me. It turns out my mom is kind of a shitshow, and I’m closer to my dad these days. I can’t imagine my life if he hadn’t been able to stay involved.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        This. He needs an attorney.

        The default arrangements aren’t just what the mother says anymore. He needs an ACTUAL custody agreement in place, so she can’t just get mad and prevent him from seeing his daughter. And he doesn’t need his own house to get her for overnights- he just has to have a bed for her.

        1. Aunt Anon*

          That’s interesting.

          I’m not sure he can afford a bed. He already bought a crib, but that crib is now at the mother’s and there’s a long story there. He does have a pack and play at our house. I don’t think my mom really wants the baby at her place, but I hope that she will be more welcoming because it’s really the only option we have if we don’t want him to move in with the mother. I understand her lack of enthusiasm. This whole thing has devastated her, she doesn’t like the mom, and she didn’t exactly sign on for this.

          I worry more long-term. Not sure how can afford a 2BR apartment, child support, his loans without a roommate. And not sure how he can get a roommate without a court just saying it’s best for the child to stay with the mom (she’ll eventually be able to afford a 2br quickly, and get CS)

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            A pack and play counts, and if it didn’t, they are garage sales to take care of the problem. As she gets older, he can get her bed that way.

            Courts no longer just say the child is best off with her mother. The default, like Fposte said, is joint custody. Period. And your mother being unhappy at the time won’t be used against them. Honest. Judges know how these things go, and they know that it’s better if a child has full access to both its parents.

          2. Thlayli*

            As a mother I can tell you definitely there is no way I would let my child stay with a woman who wanted her aborted, dislikes her very existence even after she was born, and even now after she’s been around a while has to be cajoled into grudgingly accepting her prescence. If I were your nieces mother then the only way my child would be staying with your mother is if your mother met me personally and convinced me absolutely that she has had a complete change of heart and bears no ill will towards the baby whatsoever and begged me to let her come stay. And even then I would want to stay too to supervise and make sure she wasn’t left alone with the baby.

            Now I realise this sounds drastic and borderline crazy, and I’m sure you are 100% certain that your mother would never hurt a little baby, but when you are a mother you can’t afford to think like that when it comes to protecting your child. Rationality doesn’t come into it. There is absolutely no way my child would stay anywhere that someone who dislikes her could have access to her. Ever.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              As a mother, you can want what you want, but you have to obey the law. Even if the father wanted her to have an abortion, he still has custody rights.

              1. fposte*

                Yup. As a mother (or as a father), you have to accept that having a baby with another person means that you don’t get unilateral say over your baby’s life. Unless you can prove to the court that the baby’s grandmother is a danger and get restrictions on her time written into the court order, the court is not going to restrict the father’s right to have his kid in the house with his mother and to choose whatever caretakers he judges acceptable.

                Co-parenting is hard enough with somebody you really like, but this is nonetheless what you sign on for when you make a kid.

              2. A Fellow Aunt Anon*

                And tbh, there’s a pretty big difference between wanting a potential kid not to come into existence in the present circumstances and rejecting an actual kid that exists. My brother was in favour of an abortion when his girlfriend got pregnant. And he’s loved my niece fiercely from the moment she was born. The two are not mutually exclusive.

                1. Natalie*

                  Seriously. When people are considering elective abortion, they’re generally thinking they don’t want to be pregnant. They’re not harboring ill will towards the specific individual person they’re fetus will become. I’ve known a few people who carried to term after considering abortion (including my own mom, with me) and it doesn’t mean they don’t love the born kid less.

                2. Thlayli*

                  When I posted the comment it was in response not just to the grandmas call for abortion but also to the grandma refusing to let the baby in the house and being “devastated” by the very existence of the baby. That certainly didn’t seem like she had had a change of heart. The picture that aunt anon originally painted was that her mom had hated the baby from as soon as she leaned of its existence (or “potential to exist” if you prefer that terminology) until now to the extent that she wouldn’t even allow it in the house.

                  Aunt anon has since posted a very different story about how her mom apparently has changed her mind about the baby which I’m very glad to hear. I think the baby’s mom may need more convincing though.

              3. Thlayli*

                Im kind of confused by your comment jessesgirl72. There’s no indication that the father wanted an abortion, there’s no indication the mother is refusing to let the father see the baby, and we know the father definitely doesn’t have legal custody or even visitation rights as of yet, so your post doesn’t really make sense.

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  I am telling you that even if it was the father, and not his mother, who was in favor of an abortion, that does not legally diminish his legal rights. You want to keep the baby from him simply because his MOTHER wanted her to have an abortion, when even if it had been him, and not his mother, the courts would never rule that way. So like it or not, they certainly aren’t going to keep him from having the baby in the house with his mother.

                2. Thlayli*

                  Neither I nor the baby’s mother were in any way in favour of keeping the baby from the father. I absolutely think that every father has a right and a duty to spend time with their child. The mother is apparently allowing him unlimited acces to the child (although he has apparently managed to annoy her folks to the extent that they won’t let him sleep there anymore, but she can’t control that).

                  In your hypothetical situation where it was the father calling for an abortion then I would say if the father called for an abortion, was devastated by the birth of the child and then didn’t even want the child in his house, then in that hypothetical situation I think no he should not have access. No one who hates a child so much that they don’t even want the kid in the house should have acces to said child, whether they he father, grandmother or anyone else.

                  However, aunt anon has since said that her mother will actually allow the baby in the house and is apparently no longer devastated by the existence of her granddaughter. Assuming this new information is correct it sounds like the grandma has had a change of heart and so I no longer believe she is a threat to the baby. The baby’s mother may take more convincing than me though. I think if grandma wants a relationship with the baby she would be putting all her efforts into convincing the baby momma that she will be a fantastic grandma. And maybe apologise for trying to split up the family in the first place.

                3. Aunt Anon*

                  The mother did refuse to let my brother come see his daughter during the weekend we were visiting.

                  I think I wasn’t clear about my mom not wanting the baby over. My mom would love to have the baby over for visitation. We were pretty sad not to see the baby at all for Easter. I do think she was relieved not to have to interact with the baby’s mother, as a silver lining. I do think she has mixed feelings about converting one of our rooms into a nursery until my brother has a more defined relationship with his child. My mom owns her home, but it is small, and we have to be careful with money. She’s also a little wary of my brother using her for baby sitting on short-notice, but that’s a whole other story.

              4. Observer*

                That’s true. But, Mom is going to fight much harder – and she’s going to have a lot of traction in court unless Grandma can show that she is enthusiastic about having the baby there, rather than grudgingly accepting.

            2. Aunt Anon*

              My mother has no ill will toward the baby. She very much wants to be in the baby’s life. She isn’t keen on outfitting her home for the baby, having to retrain our dog, adjust her work schedule, and getting attached to her granddaughter only to have her change her mind. She is also putting up a lot of emotional guards because she doesn’t really know where we fit in the baby’s life. For example, we had a bunch of Easter baskets ready and planned our weekend around getting to see the baby, only to have her back out. She isn’t keen on having the responsibilities of supporting the baby without getting to know her. She isn’t keen on the mother at all, though. That much is true. Part of that was unfair and part of that was because she felt she was very rude toward her (before she knew she was pregnant).

              1. Jessesgirl72*

                The bulk of what she’s afraid of disappear when you have a court ordered custody agreement.

                1. A Fellow Aunt Anon*

                  Yeah, I think this is the primary thing to be aware of. The mother does not get to be “my way or the highway” about this, and you do not have to be at the mercy of her whims.

              2. Thlayli*

                It seems to me that your brother living at home is untenable. Your mother doesn’t want to fit the baby into her house and tbh she shouldn’t have to. she raised her kids she shouldn’t have to raise her grandkids too.

                Also your nieces mother most likely hates your mother with a passion based on all the incidents you’ve described here. I may have missed one but I think it was: trying to convince your brother to dump her even before she knew she was pregnant, calling for an abortion as soon as she found out she was pregnant, being “devastated” by the “situation”, and not even wanting the baby in the house at all.

                Maybe your brother could get a court order forcing his baby momma to let her child stay with your mom but baby momma will fight it every step of the way. If he was living alone or with her he could see baby without a fight.

                If she is breastfeeding there’s no way a judge will force her to hand the baby over overnight for at least 6 months.

                I just don’t understand why he’s so determined not to move in with his daughter? He is so lucky to be even offered that opportunity. He’s worried the mom is a bit erratic? Of course she is. She’s breastfeeding a “colicky” baby and living with her parents who hate her baby daddy and won’t let him stay over to help and she’s up till 3 am every morning. Hormones and sleep deprivation and stress all over the place. Every couple fights at times like that. It’s completely normal to lose it over something small.

                Also, you should tell him to check out the “babies with reflux” group on Facebook it may be helpful and even if baby turns out not to have reflux it can be a source of great support when you’re holding a screaming baby at 3am. I’ve been there and it sucks.

                He should take the offer and move in with her and then he will have established that he has been living with the baby and mother as a family and that will count for a lot in court.

                Also you say he used to be able to stay in her folks house but now they won’t let him anymore. I strongly suspect there was a reason for the change of heart so maybe advise him to grovel a bit there too. Getting to stay there would help a lot with sleep and bonding and so on, so he should do everything in his power to mend that bridge.

                1. Aunt Anon*

                  He would love to move in with his daughter.

                  He is wary of moving in with his girlfriend (?)/the mother because they really are not compatible as partners. He would either have to have a lease with a person who is has no consideration for his wellbeing or would have to move in without a lease and no tenants rights. Also she is still legally married to someone else.

                  My brother is about $75K in debt and makes <$30K a year, with a lot of his debt at high interest. She refuses to rent and wants to buy a house, and he's worried that she shouldn't count on his income because he doesn't feel secure in his job and his car is on its last legs.

                  I think her parents are upset with him because he's at work too long (he is overwhelmed there and needs to catch up) and he isn't ready to move in.

                2. Thlayli*

                  If she’s dependent on rental income to get a mortgage then the bank isn’t going to approve her application in the first place.

                  If she hasn’t even bought a house yet the whole house thing is a red herring. It takes ages to buy a house even when you aren’t in full on newborn mode and his daughter could be a toddler by the time that happens. He should be focusing on a solution in the here and now.

                  Is there any way he can cut his hours back at work? I dunno how bad the colic is but my youngest had to be fed every 2 hours and held upright for half an hour after each feed, so I would feed, hold upright, put baby to sleep and then an hour later start all over again. For 2 months solid. If my husband hadn’t been there to help with the holding upright I would have never made it. If his child is sick he should qualify for Fmla too so they should really look for a diagnosis. If it is reflux there are meds for that. But colic can be caused by other things too. Lactose intolerance is a big one. So trying to get to the bottom of the colic and supporting the baby’s mother as she feeds her is the most important thing he can do right now – far more important than earning some extra cash. In that sense they are actually quite lucky that they have their folks supporting them so they can dedicate themselves to the baby.

                  Colic aside, they need to recognise that they will not be moving out of the parents houses any time soon, I think making amends between all concerned is the best option. Her parents are annoyed at him, his parent is annoyed at her, the family is being kept apart and the baby is the one who will suffer long term. Her parents are obviously ok with the baby living there and if they want him to work less they would presumably be ok with him contributing less money too.

                  If he was to give up his second job temporarily do you think that her parents might let him stay over again? That seems to be the best option in the short term. Once they get over the madness of a colicky newborn they can at that stage reassess where they are. They most likely will break up eventually but he doesn’t have to be in a massive rush to break up right now. Driving home for 3 hours of sleep a night sounds way worse to me than temporarily living with someone you know you probably won’t grow old with. Just tell him to make sure he doesn’t get her pregnant again lol!

                3. Aunt Anon*

                  Unfortunately, I don’t think he can cut back without getting fired. His position is an all-or-nothing position. Theoretically he could leave earlier, but he’s already cutting a lot of corners on the quality of his work. His second job doesn’t start until summer, when his regular job will disappear and be replaced by a part-time job.

                  He hasn’t been at his employer long enough for FMLA.

                  As for the housing, even though it will take a long time to process, the mother wants an answer on it ASAP. That’s basically where the tension between him and her parents is coming from. They don’t like that he doesn’t have a plan in place to move their relationship forward.

                  Also, she actually doesn’t want him to work less, just doesn’t want him to work his other job (she doesn’t like what he does) in the summer. I don’t think she would be okay with him contributing any less money.

                4. Thlayli*

                  hmm. I can’t really get a grip on the issues here. It seems to me like every time I figure out what the situation is and offer possible options you reply that the situation is actually different. I think we must have very different communication styles. So I’m gonna offer one more perspective and if it turns out that once again the situation is actually different then I’m just giving up on trying to offer advice. So my current understanding of the situation is:
                  1 she wants him to commit to moving in to a house with her in the long term future even though she doesn’t have mortgage approval or house picked out yet. In most areas it could take a year or more to get from this point to actually moving in to a house.
                  2 her parents don’t want to let him stay in their house because he doesn’t have a plan for moving their relationship forward.
                  3 she has no problem with the job he is doing now or the hours he is doing and neither do her parents.
                  4 his job is a lot of hours and little pay but this will finish up in a few weeks (summer starts soon) and will shift to partime
                  5 The baby is “colicky” and needs extra care every night till 3am. (FYI colic means crying for at least 3 hours a day at least 3 days a week. Colic is a symptom not a condition. When they don’t know what is causing the crying they call it “colic” but lots of colic is caused by diagnosable and treatable conditions. Some people use colic to mean excess wind but thats not always what it is and you can get drops for excess wind nowadays – one brand is infacol).
                  6 he has plans to start a second job (also part time) in the summer but she dislikes the job for unspecified reasons.
                  7 they recently had a big row about a number of issues and After that row she didn’t bring the baby to his mothers house for a pre-agreed family event. There’s also a lot of tension between her and your mother going back a long time since even before your mother knew she was pregnant.
                  8 she doesn’t want to put the baby in childcare (now, ever?) even though your brother has free childcare in his work. You believe she may be planning on staying home with the baby (now? After 6 week fmla is up? Permanently?)
                  9 he might have enough money coming in at present and if he takes his planned summer job to rent somewhere now with her and the baby but he doesn’t know what he would be able to afford long term since he doesn’t know what’s happening with his job(s) long term

                  So that’s what my understanding of the situation is based on. If I still don’t have it right then I’m just giving up because it’s like we’re talking two different languages.

                  Assuming all that is correct:
                  1 your brother needs to have an adult conversation with her (and her parents ideally) at which he needs to point out:
                  – buying a house takes a long time. Best case scenario she moves in in a years time. What she is asking is for him to commit now to being paying rent in a years time for presumably a long period of time after that
                  – he is not currently in a position to make that long term committment to rent money from next year. This is nothing to do with their relationship and everything to do with his financial situation. He would be behaving irresponsibly if he told her now that he would definitely move in and pay rent long term starting in a year, because at present he doesn’t even know if he will still have his current job in a year. she should not count on rent money from him in deciding whether to buy a house or not because he simply isn’t in a financial situation to make that commitment. If they are unaware of how badly his work is being affected by the time he is spending with his daughter then this might be a good time to bring this up also, but that might also be a bad idea depending on how they would react
                  2What’s happening now is unsustainable, he is burning himself out. If he is going to be able to offer proper support to her and the baby then he needs to be able to sleep and eat in the house where the baby is. He can’t wait for a year for her to buy a house for this; she needs the support now in the newborn stage and he is making himself seriously sick with the hours and the driving and not being able to have any rest and something is gonna give very soon. A very real possibility is that he could fall asleep driving. The best short term option is that he be allowed to sleep over where she is currently staying with her folks for a few night a week at least so he can help out with the baby but not have to do it without any food or sleep. Ask what he needs to go to be allowed stay over and if they can’t come to some reasonable arrangement then he should ask her if she is willing to spend some nights at your moms house or move in somewhere with him on a short term lease of 6 months or a year so that they can be a family and he can offer proper support to the baby and her in the difficult first 6-9 months. Make it clear that he very much wants to provide support physical emotional and financial to her and the baby but he is not able to continue doing what he’s doing now and he is not in a position to do whatever unreasonable thing they are asking him to do to get permission to stay there. This is a reasonable request. He needs food and sleep when minding a child. He can have that if they stay at your moms or in an apartment and it’s just unfair that they are insisting he mind the baby without any food till 3 am every night. And he’s not physically capable of doing it long term on 3 hours of sleep a night. If she refuses then he needs to tell her he will be filing for custody to get baby to stay with him a few night a week as soon as the judge allows.
                  3 I have no idea what he does in his summer job so it’s hard to judge if she is being unreasonable there. If his job is something she has ethical or safety concerns about then she is certainly entitled to raise those concerns. And he should try to address those concerns. Like if he is in physical danger he can Explain to her what the safety protection is like and assuage her fears. But if she doesn’t like it for some spurious reason then he should just tell her that this is the best job he can get and he’s not going to be a deadbeat dad and fail to provide for his daughter just because she doesn’t like the uniform or something silly.
                  4 many babies grow out of colic by 3 months, most by 6 months, 90% by 9 months and 98% by a year. So this issue may go away quickly but could last a long time. If it’s really bad they should be looking for a diagnosis. The reflux group on FB is a wonderful place to get guidance and support for this. Baby is in pain so they should be really focusing on that anyway and not just listening to outdated advice like “babies cry, get used to it” or whatever. There are plenty of treatments out there now.
                  5 it was incredibly unfair and childish of her to keep the baby from meeting her paternal extended family simply because of a big row. But it’s hard to judge someone for their actions when they are in he middle of that crazy sleep deprivation stress period that comes with minding a colicky baby. Most of the symptoms of post natal depression are identical to the symptoms of sleep deprivation. both of them are likely behaving irrationally at present and arguing over stupid things simply because they are too tired to think straight. I can also see her being extremely reluctant to go see your mother and play happy families right after having a screaming match with your brother about anything and everything. So I would ask is this a one-off thing that just happened to be bad timing or is this a part of a pattern of her withholding access as a punishment for behaviour she dislikes. If he thinks it is part of a pattern then that’s a huge deal. Even if it was a one-off I still think it was out of order, particularly meeting the aunties and uncles who were only in town temporarily. She was behaving badly there. Did she even give the option of having you come visit baby where baby lives? She should have.
                  6 he needs to lawyer up and get advice about all sorts of things. If she is starting to use baby as a weapon already then that is not a good sign. He need to find out asap what he has to do to establish paternity, custody and visitation rights. He also needs to keep documentation on all gifts and payments he makes etc as others have said. He may not decide to move ahead with a case, but he should be getting ready behind the scenes in case it’s needed.
                  7 I think with the childcare thing and her taking time off work you are making a lot of assumptions. You haven’t actually been told she is taking time off work and you don’t know what her long term childcare plans are. I’m coming at this from an EU perspective and we have much better maternity leave. I couldn’t even imagine putting a 6 week old in a creche, no creche here would even take a 6 week old that I know of. 6 months maternity leave is the norm and anyone who can afford to takes 10 months. Many women take a career break too. With a colicky baby you simply couldn’t go back to work after 6 weeks. When I was a baby it was only 12 weeks maternity leave and my Mam took 5 months because I was colicky (from what she described im certain I had reflux though that wasn’t a term used back then). She said there is no way she could have gone back after 3 months and having had my own reflux baby I agree. It’s just not feasible. you may be getting a twisted version of events and she is probably saying she won’t go back straight away or she won’t put baby in childcare at such a young age and you are misunderstanding and thinking she is going to give up work and be a stay at home mum forever. Given that she is planning on buying a house I sincerely doubt she is planning on giving up work full time because obviously she knows you need money to pay a mortgage and you need evidence of income to even get a mortgage. Also she may have agreed with her mother or sister to mind the baby or something. So if I were you I would forget about the childcare/return to work thing. Personally I would rather live on government benefits than put a baby that young that is also in extreme pain into a creche where they are unlikely to get the care they need. Luckily I didn’t have to make that decision since I could afford to take time off to give my reflux baby the additional care needed.

                  Hope some of that helps. I definitely agree with everyone else that he needs to lawyer up, find out his rights and document EVERYTHING but i don’t think that is the be all and end all of the solution. At the end of the day they are in a tough situation that their parents are making tougher, they are both doing the best they can on very little rest, and they seemed to be doing ok until they had a massive fight and unfortunately the timing was bad and baby ended up not meeting you because of it. But it’s not time to go into full-on panic mode yet. They could still patch up the relationship long enough for him to establish a good relationship with his daughter. When they eventually break up he will then have an excellent case for being in his daughters life. But just because they will probably break up eventually doesn’t mean he needs to introduce that extra stress now. Patch up the relationship and keep going another little while till the colic is sorted and then reassess.

                5. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  @Thlayli, just FYI, in the U.S. you can buy a house and move in a lot faster than a year — it can take as little as a couple of months. (I know you’re outside the U.S. so it must be different where you are!)

                6. Thlayli*

                  Well that makes things much simpler then. He can currently afford to pay her rent and she will have a house soon. I don’t know what custody laws are like where you are but I assume that living as a family with the baby and her mother will definitely help him with the paternity/custody/visitation/child support thing.

                  If his daughter is his priority he should be doing that. He should ask for a lease and get receipts for rent or pay online and document everything. Presumably she won’t want a security deposit!
                  yes he should have a plan in place for moving out if it all goes wrong but some times you have to take risks in life and I genuinely think living with the baby and the mother would be the best thing in the short term for all concerned. Long term they will probably break up but at least he will already be an established presence and have evidence that he was living with her and providing for her etc. And it has to be better than what he’s doing now.

            3. blackcat*

              Uh, FYI, this standard: “There is absolutely no way my child would stay anywhere that someone who dislikes her could have access to her. Ever.” can’t hold up once a kid gets holder and starts school.

              I was a teacher. I taught kids who I couldn’t stand. I taught two who I genuinely HATED–I swear they were sociopaths. But I took care of them appropriately, including during an emergency situation. It was my job to do so, and I did it.

              Not liking a kid doesn’t make it impossible (or even difficult!) for someone to take good care of a kid. I mean, you do want the kid to regularly interact with people who *do* like them. But it’s not realistic to never leave your child in the care of someone who doesn’t like your kid (unless you have the nicest kid ever), and leaving them in the care of someone who is sort of “meh” on the kid isn’t dangerous. There’s an ocean between “I don’t like this child and they are an inconvenience in my life” and “I wish harm to this child.”

              (And FWIW, I was the favorite teacher or one of those kids who I really couldn’t stand. He had no idea, and was clearly no worse off for me not liking him.)

              1. Thlayli*

                The kids weren’t staying with you, you had been police vetted, the kids are much older and you are a trained teacher who chose to work with children. The two situations are not remotely similar.

                Aunt anon didn’t mention anything about the grandma wanting a relationship with baby until after my post. At time of posting all I knew was that grandma was “devastated” by the very existence of baby but that aunt anon thought she might possibly be able to convince grandma to allow the child into the house begrudgingly but only because it was the only feasible way to prevent her son moving in with his new family. if I was the nieces mother in that specific situation I would do everything in my power to keep my baby away from grandma.

                I’m very glad to discover the situation is not as dire as originally described and that grandmas distate for baby is not absolute. I still think grandma needs to do some serious work to repair the relationship with the granddaughter mother though.

          3. fposte*

            I don’t know if you’re echoing your brother or not, but you’re throwing up a lot of your own obstacles here, and I’m afraid you’re going to talk him out of going forward because of these mythical obstacles.

            The obstacle of your mom is obviously a family one, and that one I can’t predict, and yes, it’s tough that paying for a kid is going to be expensive. However, most courts are going to be more interested in giving a kid time with both parents than whether one parent has a separate room for the kid. Most courts aren’t going to give one parent 100% physical custody if the other parent is interested and involved and seeking time; even if he hasn’t had contact because of living in a shelter or something, there will be a gradual reintroduction, not a loss of the opportunity to ever have his kid with him. There’s no reason why he couldn’t have a roommate.

            The kid is legally both of theirs (I’m presuming he’s established paternity). Where she lives isn’t solely the mother’s prerogative, and she doesn’t have to be comfortable in your mother’s home for the father to have his child there.

            1. Aunt Anon*

              Oh that’s interesting!

              I have encouraged him to see a lawyer from day one, but he was insistent that that wouldn’t be necessary. My mom also wanted him to get one and I believe was willing to contribute financially.

              I think what I’m worried about is that it really just seems easiest for a breastfeeding newborn to have 100% custody with her mother, even if her father is still financially on the hook, wants to see her, and wants to spend time doing things like feedings and diapers and soothing. But I also agree that long-term the baby is lucky that she has a father that is trying as hard as he can and wants to be involved.

              From what a I understand he was able to establish paternity on the birth certificate, but hasn’t had a paternity test. I think he will be able to have legal custody at the minimum.

              1. fposte*

                If he’s willingly on the birth certificate, that’s usually enough proof unless somebody wants to claim he’s not the father (varies by jurisdiction, obviously).

                Shared custody is tougher with an infant, period, but people still do it. And for his own kid’s sake, he should get a lawyer. His being dumb and stubborn is going to come not just at his expense but at hers.

                1. Aunt Anon*

                  Oh this gets more complicated. My brother didn’t realize she was married when they met. Separated, but married. This is why I wanted him to get a paternity test. Not from an “I don’t believe the baby’s mine” or suggesting promiscuity angle, but from a “I’m an unmarried father and I want to make sure that if our relationship changes, no one can suggest that she is not mine” kind of angle. So I think he should still get the test!

                  Yes! I keep telling him that I know he’s trying to make things easier for his baby by not getting the courts involved and he doesn’t want to be adversarial with the mother, but that the best thing he could do for his daughter is to either make a clean break and pay for her and never see her (not an option to him) or to put on his own oxygen mask first. When the mother doesn’t want to be with him anymore and orders CS from him, he’s going to wish he just started with it from the beginning. Yes, it would be extra money to pay in the short term that he doesn’t have, but that’s better than paying back pay on top of all the money he’s already spent on the baby and mother (strollers, cribs, food for her but not for him).

                2. fposte*

                  Was she still legally married when the kid was born? Have they subsequently divorced and was paternity dealt with in the divorce? Because this may complicate your brother’s standing; the husband may be legally the father. (And if any paternity test is done, make sure it’s through the court, not some private service.)

                  In general, there are all kinds of possibilities here about his relationship with his daughter and with his daughter’s mother, so it’s not even the simple binary that you’re suggesting; however, it’s a court order that preserves those possibilities.

                3. neverjaunty*

                  The law is involved whether your brother wants them to be or not. Period. What he’s doing is the equivalent of saying “Yes, my house is burning down, but I don’t want to get the fire department involved.”

                  Please listen to fposte. “I think” and “probably” are not how the law works, and your brother may lose the chance to be part of his daughter’s life if everyone keeps trying to make decisions based on guesswork, and especially if he delays taking action. This is not something you can dither around.

                  He needs to talk to a lawyer ASAP, and the best thing you can do for your niece is make sure he does.

              2. Jessesgirl72*

                Sure it’s easiest. The courts don’t care about easiest. That is why the breast pump was invented.

                1. Observer*

                  No, most courts will NOT order that – and with good reason. But, if they have shared custody, that changes things. And when the kid gets older things also change a lot.

          4. neverjaunty*

            He may not have to pay child support at all if he’s not legally the father. Of course, then he won’t have any rights to see his daughter either.

            In every state of which I’m aware, the default is presumed paternity of the husband – that is, the mother’s husband is deemed the father of any children born in the marriage. There are circumstances where that can change (say if they were legally separated, or if the husband challenges paternity). The fact that your brother’s name was on the birth certificate does not magically erase that. And in some states, your brother would have NO right to assert himself as the father.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, that’s a whole new kettle o’ fish. Unless they subsequently divorced and the husband’s paternity was disestablished as part of the divorce, there’s probably an assumption of paternity that needs rebutting here. (Though husband may be pretty eager to help with that one.)

    2. A Fellow Aunt Anon*

      Also anoning for this…

      So my brother got his girlfriend pregnant when they were both in their early twenties. They split up during the pregnancy, and the intervening years (my niece is now nine) have brought SIGNIFICANT amounts of drama, among others the whole thing getting dragged in front of court when he sued for visitation rights and periods spanning years where the mother refused to be in the same room as him. It sucked, and my heart also breaks for him because I think he’d be an absolutely fantastic custodial parent, but it is what it is.

      All that said, despite the fraught (<- UNDERSTATEMENT) relationship between him and the mother, he still gets to see his kid. He gets her every other weekend and half of every holiday. I know he'd like to see her more, but Dad is still a very present figure in my niece's life and she clearly loves him very much and needs him even if he's not around the whole time.

      So… I guess what I'm trying to say here is that yes, this may suck, and it may be that you're right that your niece's mother will end up primary caregiver by default (happened to my brother), but that doesn't mean that your brother can't be a very important parent anyway. You're almost certainly in a different country from me, but there are laws protecting father's rights in LOTS of countries. Even if he splits up with the mother, he'll almost certainly have a right to see his niece. And you'll get to see her too.

      1. Aunt Anon*

        Thanks for this.

        I feel like at this point the only way he’ll get as much time with the baby as any other working father with a mom on maternity leave is to move in and pay part of her mortgage (which he doesn’t want to do because he worries that if his contract doesn’t get renewed, she would have committed to a mortgage counting on him, and his finances are bleak).

        Maybe it’s best for him to just pay her CS instead of rent. It will anger the mother that he’s not moving in, but I don’t know how he can have a relationship with her at this point.

        I am not saying he should give up on custody. And it will suck if he gets very little but still gets a 2BR apartment for that one weekend and have higher CS payments because of it, but at least he will have more free time. And maybe that will mean more time to get more jobs and maybe eventually meet someone else, if other things go well.

        My own parents do not get along. As in, they cannot be in the same room. But I never had to deal with this kind of stuff as a young child and it really wasn’t filled with drama.

        1. fposte*

          And paying her rent doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be paying her CS. It’s not an either/or.

          1. Aunt Anon*

            Oh interesting. I was under the impression that CS wouldn’t matter if they were sharing expenses of raising her. But that does make sense that it may still be in play because he doesn’t have actual custody yet so he may still be the NCP.

            1. fposte*

              I mean, if nobody files for CS and nobody’s on any kind of government aid so that the government wants to get repaid for it, it’s a moot point. But there are a lot of advantages to doing CS through the courts, and if I were the baby’s mother I’d absolutely file even if he was renting from me.

              CS isn’t automatically just for the NCP, either; if the parent with 60% custody makes a kajillion bucks and the parent with 40% custody is stuck in minimum-wage hell, guess who’s likely to be paying CS to whom?

            2. neverjaunty*

              At the risk of sounding like a broken record: these are not issues your brother can resolve by impressions or guesswork. He has to and must speak to a lawyer.

              If he doesn’t pay defined child support, that could be taken into account if he tries to assert paternity later.

        2. LCL*

          I echo everyone who is saying he needs a lawyer. Your family and baby’s family are jailhouse lawyering at this point about something of which you all know virtually nothing.

          Here’s a an example from someone I knew. In my state, if one parent files for welfare, the state will try to get those welfare payments reimbursed by the other parent. My friend made a one night stand baby, there was no real relationship but they knew each other and got along. He would go see the mother and baby frequently, and give her money every month in cash. She fell on hard times and had to file for welfare, and the state went after him, even though she didn’t want him to. All those thousands he had paid in support didn’t count per the state because he had no proof. And, because he had to pay back the state, he couldn’t give her as much money…

          1. fposte*

            I think all states do that, in fact; basically, they don’t want the taxpayers covering the kid’s parent’s tab.

    3. LizB*

      In addition to an attorney, your brother may want to see if there’s any kind of fatherhood/father-support organization or program in his area. Many of them are geared towards fathers who are not in an ongoing relationship with their child’s mother, and can help with anything from parenting skills to understanding the quirks of the custody system and what his legal rights are to sometimes even financial resources. I would steer towards the ones run by universities, hospitals, or reputable nonprofits rather than ones run by sometimes-weird political groups, but it’ll really depend on what’s available in his area.

      1. Aunt Anon*

        Yes! I will do that. I think a lot of the programs in my state are geared toward fathers with no education or criminal records, but I’m hoping that maybe now that we’re coming on almost a decade since the economic collapse there will be more options for struggling fathers. I think there are some employment programs that I may encourage him to look into. He has a job now, but it’s a lot of work without a lot of pay. The only benefit is free childcare, but the mother doesn’t want to put the child in childcare. I think she’s planning to stay home and not work. Which means higher CS payments for my brother, so he’ll need a higher paying job.

        1. fposte*

          Again, it may not be up to her; if she’s a healthy employable adult, the court isn’t likely to just say “Fine” for her to choose to not financially provide for her kid. Now, it may be to your brother’s advantage for her to do so, depending on the cost of childcare, but again–all this is stuff to hammer out with a lawyer and the CS formula at hand.

          1. Aunt Anon*

            Yeah, I kind of eyerolled when I heard that she (who makes great money, but still lives in an area with a high COL) would balk at free childcare as someone who will either be a single mom or will be sharing expenses with my low-income brother. Because even married parents with good incomes can’t always afford that. And I feel like you have to adjust your expectations with an unexpected baby.

        2. TL -*

          At least in Texas, CS payments are usually determined as percentage of income and number of kids; they’re not dependent on how much the other party makes.

    4. Aunt Anon*

      [Thank you for everyone engaging with me on this topic. I’ve been pretty emotional about this since last fall. I hadn’t gotten the baby anything before she was born or right after; I think afraid of getting attached. Then last week I finally got around to it and basically got really, really excited to meet her. And we really do not have much money, either, so it was a big deal for us to spend the money at all. Before the weekend visit, I had decided I would return one of the outfits I had bought the baby because while I knew my brother would love it, I didn’t think the mother would get it (it was from the boys section because it’s hard to find space and dinosaurs and ocean stuff in girl clothes). When I got home after the weekend and found it in the bag to go back to the store I kind of lost it. I don’t think she’ll ever get to wear the outfits we–as in all of my brothers friends, family, and coworkers–bought her. Or play with the toys. I know it’s trivial compared to things like housing, shelter, time off of work and all of the real stuff, but it still makes me kind of emotional.]

    5. Aunt Anon*

      Whoops, blew my anon.

      Alison, if it’s not too much trouble if you see this, would it be possible to delete comments made under my usual handle or replace the name?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. For future reference to everyone if this happens, please email me with specifics about the user name that you need changed so I don’t have to track it down, and also since I may not see the comment here otherwise.

    6. Aveline*

      He needs to go see an attorney now if he doesn’t already have one!

      Trying to work it out is all well and good, sounds like this is a train wreck waiting to happen

    1. Mimmy*

      Best: One of my students told me yesterday that I make him feel comfortable; he appreciates the encouragement I give. It sounds like nothing, but given that I haven’t worked in direct client services in almost 10 years, and that I’ve never worked in an instructional capacity, his compliment was a real confidence booster. I may not like this job, but at least I’m helping people.

      Worst: Nothing really, just gloomy weather.

      1. nep*

        Wow that is indeed a boost. Good for you. It’s amazing knowing you’re making an impact in someone’s life.
        Well done.

    2. Turtlewings*

      BEST: I’m getting a promotion!

      WORST: It doesn’t come with a raise.

      (It does come with a slight increase in hours, though, which will boost my paycheck just enough to notice, so even my “worst” comes with a qualifier. Pretty good week!)

    3. Caledonia*

      Best: I can start looking at apartments/flats as from now properly (i.e not just online)! I have a legal firm and a mortgage in principle from my meeting today with a mortgage broker so hurrah!! — needed because the market is so blink and you’ll miss it quick.

      Worst: I messed up at work by not caveating something and it came to bite me. Especially annoying as the person involved copied in the programme director and the academic (I work in H.Ed) and my own manager had to send person involved an email.

      Other worst: I have no motivation to finish my assignment and I need to.

      Further worst: Politics in the UK. Sigh….

    4. Elkay*

      Best: Adam Buxton’s show at the British Museum. Made me laugh like a fool and wish I could see his shows more often.
      Worst: Nothing too bad just general “too much stuff” going on.

    5. Anonyby*

      Best: Had a good day hanging out with my BFF yesterday, including browsing thrift stores & a local boutique.

      Worst: Found out a great-uncle died last week (he and my aunt were/are like an extra set of grandparents to me). No word yet on when any services will be.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Best: I started Couch to 5K as part of getting back in shape/healthy goal for this year. Still overcoming nerve problems from a blown out back disc, but it felt so good to really move again rather than just walk and walk and walk. Bonus: slept better in the last 4 days than I have at any point in the last 9 months when the back problems started.

      Worst: Work is just awful right now from a “i have nothing to do” standpoint. And the big project I was supposed to finally be put on is now on hold because of this general election nonsense. I literally spent 4 hours on Wednesday looking at sorting out our vacation in September because I had nothing else to work on/was waiting on other people. I’m mid career, this really shouldn’t be happening.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      Worst: someone who was like a grandmother to me died.

      Best: line manager is away so I needed to ask grandboss about time off for the funeral – I couldn’t seem to find the policy on the intranet. He said he just asks people to be honest (definitely a case of give respect, get respect) and if it’s someone close you can have it as special leave (which at my work means paid leave without using your holiday allowance). Then added that someone close might not mean family and this “probably doesn’t make sense” but it was my call which kind of leave to request.

      It made perfect sense and I think he knew it. I’ve ended up saying things here and there in the course of work that have hinted at the fact I don’t have any of my family of origin in my life. So he let me know, before I had to ask, that I could use the leave. Maybe on purpose. Maybe not. But it made a hard thing easier for me.

    8. paul*

      Best: got to kill an evening help a friend get a large gun safe maneuvered and bolted in his garage. Lots of talking, laughing, good times. He’s had a busy year and we haven’t gotten together as much as usual the last couple months.

      Worst: We may have over celebrated. I’ve drastically reduced my drinking this year and I feel kinda bad about cutting loose like that. Also, I am way too old for hangovers.

    9. FDCA In Canada*

      Worst: Last week my husband left for a two-month deployment, and I miss him.

      Best: I got the basement painted singlehandedly and finished it today, and it looks fantastic! I’m very proud of my work. It’s gray with a dark green accent wall, and looks lovely. I’ve also made appointments to get some other house stuff fixed up and taken care of, got the lawn seeded and the rocks raked out of it from the winter, and I detailed the cars last weekend. On top of my regular work, weekly blog, choir activities, and my volunteer gig, I’ve definitely been keeping busy without him and it’s keeping me from getting too sad and lonely.

    10. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: a friendship with a coworker has been adding some brightness to my days. I was out for a couple of days last week, and she said that work wasn’t fun without me there. She brought me a piece of pie that I had to eat in her office because she didn’t bring any for the other admins. We have plans to go to the Michael’s craft store 90 minutes from here next Saturday. It just makes me happy to have a good friend at work.

      Worst: I’ve used my whole HSA balance for this year, and it’s only April. I still have to figure out how to afford all my daughter’s therapy bills and such for the rest of the year. We’ve told her that she will have to start paying some of the $35 co-pays for her therapy.

    11. Anxa*

      BEST: I didn’t have any clients ask for a Friday meeting, so I didn’t solicit any meetings from other clients. So, I spent yesterday at home cleaning my apartment. We have been traveling every other weekend for various things and have been tired during the week and so I finally was able to just catch up. It was glorious. I felt like Snow White or Cinderella during the work montages.

      WORST: I literally didn’t even turn on my computer and didn’t sit down all day. Not sure how I wasn’t able to finish cleaning my apartment and have a nice, hot dinner ready for my SO. He’s been working really hard lately and I’ve been out of the house a lot for work (but I don’t really bring in a lot of money I’m at work for longish hours, but only get paid for some of those hours). He supports me, so even though my paychecks help, I hate not being able to make his home life a little easier. We have no children or anything major, so it was a major bummer not to be able to have one day where he could come home to a clean apartment and a warm dinner. He didn’t seem to mind, but I did.

    12. Lady Jay*

      BEST: Icc cream with a new friend (a Oreo shake from a local chain) in the sunshine today.

      WORST: Seasonal allergies are kicking in. I was dragging all day Thursday and went through more throat lozenges than I care to admit. Could probably buy stock in Ricola.

    13. Dr. KMnO4*

      Best: One of my students emailed me today to say thank you for a great year! He said he learned a lot, which is always nice to hear.

      Worst: My final exam made a student cry.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      WORST: No job still, and no money coming in. At all.

      I’ll probably sell my really good oak kitchen table with the crappy chairs; I never use it anyway, except as a perch for a plant and some stuff. And I’m sick of it anyway. I want one that is more like a little skinny pub table (eventually). That’s one less thing I’ll have to move. There’s a shelf in the garage I can put in the kitchen to hold the stuff on the table. I won’t get much for it because of the chairs, but whatever. As soon as the damn weather stops being nasty, I’d like to have a garage sale and get rid of a ton of stuff. Less to move, less to clean! \0/

      I posted before about selling this place to house flippers. I also found out if I can’t do that, I might get Habitat for Humanity to take it. I asked some of their workers who are redoing a house on my walk and they said sometimes they take over a mortgage. So there are two potential options to getting unstuck from it. The downside with Habitat: if they do take it over, I likely wouldn’t get any money out of it, whereas with the house flippers, I probably would get a little. So we’ll see what happens. The most recent appraisal is around $36K; the mortgage is $38K. Urp.

      BEST: Neighbor is home, cat is fine, and his bathroom will be fixed this week (he said people are coming to help him; they didn’t want to do it until he was home). I no longer have to worry about it. We are going to trade keys, just in case one of us needs to get into the other’s house.

    15. Jo*

      BEST: I met a guy I like who is also interested in me :)

      WORST: I met a guy I like who is also interested in me and I’m leaving in a week. I have the worst timing – I never end up meeting someone I’m interested in until right before I’m supposed to leave :(

    16. acmx*

      Best: I have two! I received an early raise and made a friend (in my new city).

      Worst: Lost a day off to work (but I get paid for it).

    17. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Finally having peace in my home.

      WORST: Realizing that my mother is not a good person in some very important ways.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Some real tough stuff right there. I am very sorry. But I am glad your home is back to being your sanctuary.

  26. Myrin*

    Uuuugh, you guys, I came home from the hospital after my septum surgery on Wednesday and I feel basically horrible. Everything went according to plan and my doctor is very happy with how it looks so nothing’s wrong with my nose per se, it’s everything else. I reacted unexpectedly strongly to the anaesthesia and am tired and exhausted and just feel so terrible all around (except for my nose, hilariously; it hurts somewhat but that’s completely normal). Indulge my whining, please!

    1. Chaordic One*

      I’m sorry about the anesthesia. I had the same problem with my septum surgery and it really sucks. I imagine that your doctor gave you something for the pain, and if so, take it according to the instructions on the bottle.

      It really does get better and you’ll feel so much better in two or three weeks when you can actually breathe through your nose and sleep through the night with your mouth closed.

    2. ..Kat..*

      I hope you feel better soon. Also, when you feel better (next open thread?), I hope you are willing to share more details and answer questions. Selfish reasons here – I need septum surgery too.

      Gentle, non-nose smoothing internet hugs!

      1. Myrin*

        Absolutely! I’d actually planned to write about it in great detail in this thread already but I just felt completely “flat”, as you’d say in my language, really exhausted and meh. I slept really well last night and I’m already feeling heaps better but still not quite on my game, so I’ll wait until next week to write more!

  27. fposte*

    Rebecca’s comment made me think of you, Mike C. Hope you and family are getting by okay in the aftermath of loss.

  28. Nicole*

    Does anyone feed their dog raw food? I feel guilty giving her dry food after seeing all these Facebook posts basically implying it’s unhealthy. Am I worrying too much? If you do feed raw how do you keep it easy and affordable?

    1. AlaskaKT*

      I feed raw to one dog, dog food to the others. I don’t think it makes much of a difference except for what they are used to. My raw food dog is only raw food because she came used to that diet and will NOT eat kibble. I’ll probably switch my other two dogs over since they get jealous. It’s cheap for me because I raise my own chickens and rabbits, so she gets chicken, eggs and rabbit, as well as sweet potato and pumpkin. A good way I see a lot of people make it cheap is by posting on fb/craigslist for freezer burned meat from people doing clean outs.

    2. Annabelle Lee*

      By raw food do you mean actual raw meat, etc. We feed our dogs (rescue mixes) dry dog food and some “human” food and they are fine and healthy. We don’t typically feed them raw meat but once in awhile I might give them some raw beef while I’m cooking it. I never give them other raw meat that isn’t safe for humans raw. That’s because while it might be ok for them, we haven’t researched it for dogs so don’t know.
      They both like various raw vegetables and fruit and nuts. Also crackers, pasta, bread, stew, roast, cooked veggies, sweets, I think you get the idea :). They’re not picky.
      I’ve never fed them the “fresh” dog food so can’t comment.

    3. paul*

      Dont’ trust random FB memes and post about healthy diets. You can certainly get good quality dry food.

      I used to occasionally give my dogs a (pre killed) rabbit as a treat and they enjoyed it, but it isn’t necessary.

    4. Halls of Montezuma*

      No raw food for us. Good quality kibble is just just fine, and you have the benefit of their nutritionists ensuring that it contains all the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Doing raw food is either super expensive if you buy it pre-made from the pet store, or a PITA to make sure they aren’t missing out on something they should have in their diet (at least for us, some of that would be totally self-inflicted because we’d drive ourselves nuts worrying about exactly the right quantity of vitamin k or whatever).

    5. Natalie*

      Dogs domesticated themselves by eating from human garbage piles. They aren’t wolves – they aren’t even direct descendants of wolves (both descend from a now-extinct common ancestor). Kibble is fine.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Echoing what everyone else is saying about kibble– it’s fine. Really. Granted, there are some brands that I would prefer not to feed my buddy, but there is so much excellent, high-quality food out there. I just got home from getting him a big bag of Nature’s Logic. Our bud doesn’t even eat wet food– kibble with salmon oil and coconut oil. He’s a happy, healthy beast.

      1. Spoonie*

        That’s a riff on what I do. One dog is a pickier eater while the other isn’t. Picky eater winds up getting yogurt, fruit, and various vegetables added to the kibble base. Both dogs get coconut or salmon oil added, along with some broth to soften their food (one dog has poor teeth, and the little one insists on equality…except for that fruit crap). I ensure that the food I purchase doesn’t have any by-products in it (chicken, beef, whatever), and no grain. There are kibble/dog food companies that are reputable out there, just like there are companies to avoid.

        I definitely recommend doing some research and seeing what is available. Doing a raw food diet would be highly stressful for me since I’m already afraid that I do a terrible job at feeding myself and getting all the nutrients I need.

    7. Melody Pond*

      I don’t agree that “kibble is fine” – unless you know a lot about the commercial pet food industry and you know what ingredients are potentially problematic and therefore can avoid them. There are lots of types of kibble out there (at least in the cat kibble world, I would imagine it’s the same with dogs) that are made with leftover, low quality “meat product” which can mean things like poor quality pieces of chicken, etc. that weren’t considered good enough for humans to consume, and are therefore thrown into pet food to still make a profit (sometimes this stuff is really nasty – like, meat leftovers from a pig that had cancer).

      There are lots of types of kibble that are good quality, though. So I would say it’s worth it to educate yourself about what your dog’s nutritional needs are, and do some research into the commercial pet food industry, and check out some library books on dog nutrition, so you’re able to separate the good from the bad. Also, my understanding is that many veterinarian offices can receive financial incentives to sell certain kinds of commercial pet food.

      I don’t actually have a dog, as you may have guessed, but I do have two cats, and we have fed them raw meat now for almost 5 years. For the majority of that time, we’ve kept the cost down by purchasing a good meat grinder from Amazon and grinding the meat ourselves. We also made sure to use complete raw food recipes that include lots of other vitamins and supplements either necessary for cats or at least beneficial to cats, and we continually communicated with our veterinarians (who are holistic/naturopathic veterinarians that don’t necessarily buy into the dogma of only-feed-your-animal-commerically-prepared-food).

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I do home cooked for my mutt. I did it for my previous dog, too. So it’s been just over 20 years of cooking for dogs. I will say, I have a lot less vet bills.

      I decided against raw food. I know how often I get food poisoning and it baffles me each time. I honestly believe that our food is so iffy that I have to cook it to proper temps. I remember as a kid my father would throw a raw egg on the dog’s dinner. I don’t want to do that now. I was also influenced by working under health code regs for food prep for many years.

      I use in season veggies and I can get frozen fish for $2.50 per pound at a budget grocery store nearby. I can also get grass feed beef there fairly cheap. Not ideal and if my budget could stand it, I would do better. He seems to like the food anyway. I get out the cutting board and my knife and he comes running because he knows I always drop something. ha!

      He was kind of a precocious pup. The first day I had him (he was 9 weeks old and probably weighed eight pounds) and he ran right over to me when I broke the stem on a banana. At nine weeks old he knew what a banana was.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Dogs in the wild (and left to their own desires, in your house) eat old carcasses. I’m not at all worried about the dog getting food poisoning. Their stomachs are set up differently than ours.

        We are currently having a disagreement with our Vet. He had decided that the diabetic old dog needs to go on $2.50/can diabetic food (and eat 1.5 cans per day)- of which there is only one brand (Hill’s) I suggested that I’d make him his own food- I mean, I’m diabetic, if I can feed myself, I can feed a diabetic dog. Meat, veggies, a little brown rice, maybe some low fat cottage cheese. He went on a long rant against it, and specifically the idea of the usual brown rice added to it as a binder- how bad rice is for his glucose levels, etc.

        So we buy a case of the Hill’s. Know what the 3rd ingredient is? Rice. More rice than the chicken in an alleged chicken can of food.

        Guess who is going to start eating homemade “dog food” when the case is gone? Or at least potentially will be, once I get a fresh bag of the grain-free kibble they had been eating, to compare nutritional content to the canned food.

    9. Jules the First*

      My sister’s wolfdog gets grain-free dry fish kibble (which stinks but he was raised on fish offcuts as a puppy, so while he likes meat it gives him the runs) once a day plus cooked pumpkin, dried cranberries, carrots, and yogurt a few times a week. He gets a spoonful of chunky peanut butter or a piece of their homemade turkey jerky or dried fish as a treat, and the cooked skin etc from their weekly fish dinner. Two or three days a month she lets him hunt on their walks and he gets to eat anything he catches (mostly mice and voles with the odd squirrel) but it’s more of an enrichment activity than a deliberatr dietary choice and he doesn’t get any kibble that day.

      His pitbull playmate gets dry rice-and-meat kibble most of the time, plus tinned chicken or turkey (human food) when she’s not feeling well or they’ve done an unusually long walk. She likes her peanut butter smooth and prefers apples to carrots for treats (or snausages).

      Nothing wrong with feeding your dog kibble if he’s healthy and happy on it.

    10. Perse's Mom*

      Given how many fads full of bunk science proliferate on Facebook, I wouldn’t trust any of that without a LOT of research and multiple reliable sources.

      Raw diets for pets is in the same family of advice as the people who insist that vegetarian/vegan is the way all people should eat with no consideration for health or circumstances of individuals. It may be right for them, they may be able to commit to it in a way that’s healthy and affordable and not overly time-consumptive for them, but it doesn’t mean everyone else is in the same boat and therefore can or even should.

      Raw diets can be done right, I’m sure. But they’re not for every owner or every pet, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for what you’re feeding your dog, particularly not if your vet is fine with it.
      (I realize not all vets know a lot about nutrition, but they should know the basics.)

    11. nonprofit manager*

      I don’t have a dog. I have two cats and switched both of them to raw about three years ago. For both it was a gradual transition; for the male, due to all of his medical issues and sensitive digestion and for the female, because she would not have anything to do with raw at first.

      I think you need to weigh the pros and cons of any method of feeding. I personally think kibble is the worst type and would never feed that to a cat, due to the fact that cats get their moisture from food and are therefore prone to urinary tract problems, including kidney disease, when fed an all-kibble diet. The moisture content of most kibble is only around 10%. Dogs may not be prone to this, as they naturally drink more water than cats do. You need to research this to find out. If I had a dog, I would lean towards raw because I what I have learned in regards to feeding my cats, but I would learn more about dogs before making my final decision.

      I feed my cats a variety of brands of commercially-prepared raw foods that all meet AAFCO standards (same standards that kibble and canned food meet). Is it expensive? You bet. But now, even three years later, I would not go back to kibble because I am spending far less on vet bills, medications, and lab work, not to mention my time and the stress to both me and my male cat. I think our total pet expenses have evened out and I have seen some non-$$$ benefits, such as a happier cat, less shedding, less yuck in the litter box (this one in particular has been incredible).

      A good happy medium could be canned food. The moisture content is higher, but you have to be careful with some of the fillers and binders used in commercially-prepared canned food. All I can suggest is read labels and track ingredients if your dog displays any issues.

  29. nep*

    I’ve been to hair salons (one sort of fancy, one a chain) exactly twice in my (fairly long) life. Going shortly for a haircut (from medium-long to pretty short).
    I’ve put in my phone photos of cuts I like and cuts I don’t. Customary?
    How much to tip (assuming the service is up to par).
    Help a hair-salon newbie.

    1. Thlayli*

      I tip 10% but only if they do a good job. I always being photos on my phone of what I want if I’m getting a big change. Good luck!

    2. Soupspoon McGee*

      This sounds exciting! It is customary to bring photos of what you want, and they’ll also have lots of hairstyle magazines so you can point to things that you do and don’t like. Tip about 15-20% in the US.

    3. Allypopx*

      I usually tip 20-30%, especially if I’m going to go to them regularly. Photos are super helpful!

    4. mondegreen*

      The reference pictures are good to have, yes. A good stylist should look at your preferences and possibly suggest modifications based on the shape of your face and hair type.

      20% for the stylist is standard, and if a separate person shampoos your hair–as is typical at nice salons here–it’s normal to tip about $5 cash.

    5. periwinkle*

      My husband and I have joint hair appointments, with the stylist alternating between us (I get a single-process color plus cut, my husband has been getting double-process “unnatural” color plus cut). We tip 25-30% in appreciation for the juggling act!

      Yes, it really helps the stylist when you have photos that illustrate what you have in mind.

    6. CMT*

      20% is a pretty much what you should tip for everything, assuming good service and you’re not cheap.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        In the U.S.

        I realized reading this that people are bringing their own countries’ conventions to this, and it’s very country-specific.

  30. Anon4this*

    Okay this is going to be somewhat long and rambling but I need someone else’s view point on this so here goes:

    I was diagnosed rapid cycling bipolar 11 years ago. After a multitude of medications with awful side effects I have been managing medication free for the last 9. Once I knew what I needed to watch for to maintain myself it no longer effected my daily life or relationships.

    So here’s my issue, my husband and I met 4 years ago, he’s never known me to be “off my rocker” so to say. I did disclose this to him before we were married, but he blew it off because he didn’t see it. Now I’ve had a child and I’ve noticed the hormonal changes have had a huge effect on my mental state. Even my husband said I have a few good weeks then a few bad weeks. I was on meds for post partum anxiety, but they made me unpredictable and angry all the time so I’m no longer on them. Now I basically feel like taking them/adding ppa ramped my bipolar to a less self manageable state, and because of sudden life changes recently I don’t have the time to check in with myself like I should. I’d like to try some of the new medications for bipolar that are on the market, but I can’t seem to get over the hump of telling my husband I think I need meds after a) I had such a bad reaction to the last ones and b) he believes I was misdiagnosed and don’t actually have bipolar.

    Any advice for this kind of thing? I feel like no matter how this conversation goes he’s going to feel hurt that I’m not happy (he’s a fixer) and I’m going to end up crying (angry/confrontational crier here).

    1. Athena X*

      My spouse has bipolar disorder.

      This is going to be an opportunity for growth for your spouse. I mean that sincerely. He has some incorrect beliefs about relationships in general (you can’t “fix” someone else’s mood for them, bipolar or not) and mental illness as well (if a mental illness is well-controlled with medication, that doesn’t mean it was misdiagnosed in the first place). I encourage you to make an appointment with your doctor and ask him to accompany you. Your doctor can provide some education to him and you can set up a plan to try new meds and get yourself back into a positive state. PLEASE do not avoid changing meds because your spouse doesn’t understand how all of this works – you will keep suffering and he will keep misunderstanding.

      Many best wishes to you both.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      It sounds really hard that he thinks you were misdiagnosed. I guess because he’s not seen you in those difficult times. Is it worth talking it over together with a couples counsellor do you think?

    3. Going anon because of the stigma*

      There are loads of good bipolar meds out there now. I would advise trying one of them if you are at the point where you think you need them. I have II, not rapid cycling, but medication really makes a difference in my quality of life. It might take a while for them to work (yay ramping up) and you might not find the right one at first, but I would bet you’ll see a night and day difference if you do get one to work.

      I find it a bit disturbing that your husband doesn’t believe you have bipolar disorder. Unless he’s a psychiatrist or mental health professional I don’t see where he has any business mistrusting you and the professionals who diagnosed you. Also, I’ve had fixer SO’s and I found that telling them specifically what you need from them helps. Honestly, though, he should manage his own feelings, and not put pressure on you to be “fixed” just so he can feel better. (If he’s not like that, I apologize, and disregard the comment).

    4. Thlayli*

      I assume you need to see a psychiatrist to get the prescriptions Bring him with you to your appointment and get the doctor to convince him you are bipolar and need the meds.

      If you really think he’ll react that badly don’t even tell him it’s a done deal beforehand – make it seem like the decision on the meds is being made by the psychiatrist on the day.

    5. LizB*

      Do you have to tell him you think you need meds before you go to the doctor? I think he should know when you start taking something for sure, but I don’t think he HAS to know you’re just going to talk to someone if you think having this conversation is what’s keeping you from making an appointment. If I were in your shoes, I would want the reassurance of having discussed my options with a healthcare professional before I dove into this conversation with him.

      I think if I were in your situation of fixer + angry crier I might write a letter to start the conversation, give it to him, and either let him come to you once he’s processed or remove yourself from the house for a few hours so you can discuss when you get back. Something along the lines of, “I love you, but I need you to believe me when I say I have bipolar disorder; I’ve put a ton of effort into managing my illness and you minimizing that is really hurtful and makes me scared to do what I need to do to get better. The reason I’ve been so functional for the past 9 years is because of my own hard work. Because of the hormonal changes after having Kid, my previous coping strategies aren’t working anymore, and I’m experiencing symptoms that I haven’t dealt with since before I met you. I’m going to see a psychiatrist on X Date/I saw a psychiatrist last week, and I know/have learned that medications have come a long way since the last time I was trying them. I’ll be working with Dr. Whatever to manage my meds, but I do need you on board to [whatever you need from him]. Please take whatever time you need to process this information and then come talk to me, I’ll be in the garden/running errands until 4pm/whatever.”

    6. nonegiven*

      Do get a second opinion on the diagnosis. If there are new drugs for it, they may work better. If you have a different diagnosis the drugs for that may help better. You won’t know without trying.

    7. Parenthetically*

      I mean I say this about everything because I think pretty much every couple can use it now and again, but marriage counseling, stat. Agreed with the others who say bring him to your next appointment with your psychiatrist. Maybe have him write down questions and concerns in advance. Come ready to ask for a referral to a therapist.

      You need your husband to be on Team You. I think you can communicate that to him from the start of the conversation, to tell him, “Honey, I need to talk with you about my mental health, and I find myself dreading your reaction. I want us to be on a team about this and not feel like I’m having to convince you of something that I’m dealing with personally. Can you agree to be on Team Anon4This and not question my experiences of my mental health? I want you to ask questions of the right people, people who can give you answers that make sense to you, so I’ve already made an appointment with my psychiatrist/PCP/whoever and I want you to come with me to hear from him/her too.”

      All the best for this.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I think your husband could benefit from counseling/instruction from a therapist. He didn’t really get it when you told him about it – it was just too different from anything he had ever experienced.

      Good luck getting back on an even keel. Pregnancy and post-pregnancy hormones throw women without bipolar for a loop. You can do it, but you have a tough road ahead. I’m so sorry you have this problem. Congratulations on your new baby.

    9. Observer*

      What you need to do is get yourself to a doctor who can pretty much start from scratch, obviously using your history as a guide. And what you tell your husband is that you definitely have a problem that can’t be self managed at the moment, and you’re going to see a doctor who is going to try to find some meds to help. You are aware of the pitfalls of medication, which is why you are going to “work with the doctor” rather than just asking for a prescription.

    10. No name this time*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this.
      Do you know why your husband thinks you were misdiagnosed? If he doesn’t realize that people with bipolar disorder can go for 10-20 years without having an episode or needing medication, then that’s a matter of educating him.
      On the other hand, there is a lot of controversy about bipolar diagnosis and different psychiatrists will use different cutoffs for a diagnosis. There’s not a lot of controversy about classic manic depression, but rapid cycling bipolar disorder is particularly controversial. (It’s becoming a fad diagnosis for a certain type of woman.) I completely understand that it can be painful to have someone question your diagnosis, but on the other hand, misdiagnosis happens and some psychiatrists have a diagnosis they see everywhere. Several years ago, I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. I immediately sought a second opinion and the second psychiatrist told me that not only did I not have bipolar disorder, the first psychiatrist’s diagnostic reasoning was so bizarre that they would be hesitant to refer anyone to them. If your husband has been following the controversy or knows someone who was misdiagnosed, then going through why you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder may be a good idea.
      Either way, I think it’s a good idea to get a second opinion on a psychiatric diagnosis. (I know someone who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, got a second opinion confirming the first and that second opinion was a good idea.) I would give an account of your symptoms without mentioning your previous diagnosis and see what the new psychiatrist says. I’d also invite your husband to come with you to the psychiatrist and have the psychiatrist explain their diagnostic reasoning to both of you. If the psychiatrist is significantly deviating from the current diagnostic criteria, they should be able to explain why and also explain why they have eliminated alternate diagnoses. Part of being a psychiatrist is talking to family members who might be skeptical and explaining the diagnosis to them.

    11. Anon4this*

      I just want to thank everyone for the wonderful advice and support! I plan on calling our local health services for a mental health referral on Monday and will talk to him after the appointment is set up. I feel a lot better about having this conversation having decided that no matter how it goes, I’m still going to see a doctor (not that he would discourage me from going, but it’s something I would do to myself to avoid this talk). I think reviewing my diagnosis is a good idea. I never sought out a second opinion because bipolar made sense to me.

      Also, it’s kind of understandable that he wants/wishes I was misdiagnosed. Much of his childhood was spent with a bipolar step parent who abused him. Which is part of why I haven’t pushed back about his dismissal of my diagnosi

      Again, thank you for the advice and kind words!

  31. Allypopx*

    I totally get that relationship dynamic, but you’ve told him outright what’s going on and he doesn’t get to decide what does and doesn’t exist for you. Tell him the facts in a way that’s not open for debate. “I am, in fact, bipolar. I am, in fact, experiencing a shift in my bipolar due to all the changes that have happened in my body and my life. My bipolar does, in fact, require medication when it gets bad, and I do, in fact, need to go on that medication.”

    That’s the premise – and then talk about it. Talk about how you have to do what’s best for you and that you need to take care of yourself both for your own well being and for your relationship/family. Talk about any fears he (or even you) might have about a new medication and come up with a game plan. If you’re comfortable, he could go to the doctor with you. But make the conversation about the fact this is happening and how to deal with that, not a debate on whether or not it’s happening, because if it’s what you need then you’re in the best position to determine that and you should absolutely be trusting yourself.

    Let him feel or react how he’s going to feel or react. Let him feel hurt. He’ll recover. And you should also be allowed to feel or react the way you need to. Cry if you gotta cry. Real human reactions are part of openness and honesty, even when they suck.

    Good luck, this is hard.

  32. Jessen*

    So I have a family/relationship question for you all:

    I have a long-distance boyfriend. If things go well, I’m thinking of moving down to where he is (not in with him, just in the area). I’ve been wanting to do a degree program anyway that I could do down there, although I could do it up here as well. My job is nothing to write home about so I wouldn’t feel bad quitting.

    My trouble is my parents would freak out. They aren’t fans of online dating and think I should just find a local boy. To them an online date, even one you’ve met a few times, is basically a stranger, if not probably a predator.

    Is there any way to reassure them? I’m not going to set it up so I’m dependent on him or anything where I’d be in trouble if we broke up.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Nope, no way to reassure them. The first time I visited my now-husband (15 years this week), my mom freaked out and wanted me to call her every hour.

      I had my own money and own life, and went anyway and only called to say I’d landed safely.

      He did come out to visit and meet them- but it wasn’t until the trip where I was returning with him, to move permanently.

      But just because there really isn’t anything to do to reassure them, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. As long as you’ve done your own due diligence (My husband and I had secretly both run background checks on each other. LOL) and know you can support yourself- well, you have to live your own life.

    2. katamia*

      Nope. Parents who freak out are always going to freak out. Mine haven’t cared that much about the online dating (they’re terrified of me dying alone and really want me to have someone to “take care of me,” unfortunately), but in general, whenever I tell them what I’m planning to do (travel, career moves, etc.), they freak out because it’s not what they want/expect me to do. And short of living my life exactly the way they want me to (which would make me miserable), there’s no way for me to avoid the freak-outs. I just try to make sure I give them information when their moods are generally better to lessen the freaking out, weather the storm, and then do what I want anyway.

    3. HannahS*

      Maybe? If they’re in general freak-out, then no. If they have specific concerns you can address, then maybe. Like, no Mom I know he’s not lying about his job because I see him on their website. You could work into your conversations things about bf’s family and job and friends that emphasize how normal! wonderful! his life is. You can spend some time in his city (a week vacation maybe?) so that you know the area and his life better and can talk enthusiastically about the city. Could he visit you and meet the parents? But ultimately, your parents will worry about you moving away from them to be with someone, especially if *they* don’t know him. Also, I don’t know what cultural dynamics are at play. Case in point: when I had a first skype-date with a guy in Chicago (I’m near Toronto) my highly anxious, overprotective parents shrugged and said, “So? You can move to Chicago.” The magic words for my parents were “He’s a nice Jewish boy in his third year of medical school.” Are there magic words for your family?

      1. Jessen*

        Honestly, it’s as much that I don’t have good reason not to as anything else. Really the only thing going for being where I am is that it’s near my parents. I work in a call center making less than 30k a year. I don’t really have friends in the area and there’s not a lot of place nearby to meet people. The plan is to apply for a program that would get me a job before I move and set myself up to get a degree I want. I’d be getting my own apartment. It wouldn’t even be the first time I’ve lived that far away from my family. I’m not really losing anything by making the move other than proximity to my family.

        1. HannahS*

          Ohhh. I see what you’re saying. It sounds like, to you, this is a *shrug* a change would be good, if it doesn’t work out with this guy at least I’m in a new place, etc. To your parents, it probably sounds like Jessen’s not really admitting that she’s moving for a man! She says it’s for a change of pace but she’s UPROOTING herself for a man! He probably isn’t serious! Our baby! Will be heartbroken! etc. I don’t know that you can really make them see your side without hammering home that living near them isn’t a good enough reason to stay. And I’m guessing you don’t want to do that! What if you stopped talking about the guy and focused on how much you’re looking forward to a career change, to going back to school, and living in new exciting city? Show them that you’ll have a life there. Or maybe this is just “this time Jessen’s REALLY leaving” and they’re sad. Can’t fix that, unfortunately.

    4. AnonyMouse*

      I think they’re likely to freak out regardless, I’m afraid. It might help you to present it as a decision already made, that you are informing them about, i.e. “Mom and Dad, I wanted to let you know that I am moving to X to be closer to my boyfriend in September, while I get my degree. I’ve already [rented a place/enrolled at X program].” Then if they freak out, you can calmly say, “I’ve already made up my mind/put down a deposit. I’m not asking for advice on whether this is a good move, I’m informing you that it’s going to happen.” (repeat as needed, politely but matter-of-factly). Maybe: “I understand you have concerns, so I’m happy to tell you how I’ve made sure I won’t be dependent on him, if that’s what you’re worried about.” or Maybe: “I understand you’re concerned about the fact I met him online, but you’ve raised me to be a smart and independent adult, and I’d be happy to tell you more about him and why he isn’t an axe murderer, if you’d be open to listening.” I’m not sure how much your parents already know about your boyfriend, but it might help if they’ve heard about him prior to this move, and have time to slowly adjust to the fact that you’re dating him, as opposed to hearing about him for the first time along with the news that you’re moving.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “To them an online date, even one you’ve met a few times, is basically a stranger, if not probably a predator.”

      If this is the case then there are a lot of people out there who are married to predators and having babies with them.

      Am shaking my head. I have friends who have been married for nearly 20 years, they met online. I can assuredly say neither one of them is a predator.

      My parents would not even speak to my guy at first. Computers were a non-thing back then so they just hunted around and found other reasons to put up barriers.

      You can try having adult conversation with them about how the world works now.

      Or you can do what I did, I just put my foot down. “Nope. I like my guy. He’s going to be around awhile. So you two can just figure out how you want to handle that. Meanwhile, I am going on with my life.” Truly, I just left them alone to sort out their own feelings on the situation.
      YMMV. I had been around and around on stuff with my folks and I was pretty tired of it all. In the end they liked him a lot. My husband came to think of my dad as his real dad.

  33. StressedOut*

    Just wondering if anyone has any tips for destressing when it feels like you have too much to deal with? For a bit of context, I’m currently revising for my final university exams which start in just over 2 weeks, I don’t have a plan for after I graduate (and I’m the sort of person that likes to have a plan), my parents have recently separated, and I also have a tendency towards anxiety/panic attacks. I know a lot of my stress is related to my parents and sussing out the new family dynamic, but revision etc isn’t helping. Any tips for staying relatively calm while I’m dealing with all this?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Self-care. What can you do that calms you? Bubble baths? Favourite films? Cuddle up in a blanket?

      Also, breathing exercises really helped me with anxiety stuff. I’m sorry you’re struggling right now. Hang in there.

    2. babblemouth*

      Be sure to get a lot of sunlight exposure. It’s easy to get so bogged down with all these things that you barely go outside. Getting a good two hours of direct sunlight (not sunshine, it can be cloudy!) will make a big difference.
      It can be more or less easy depending on your living situation, but things like studying outside in the park, or taking a walk (maybe while listening to a podcast if you get bored) will help you get more resilient and help face all of these difficulties.

    3. LizB*

      See if you can get a session or two with a counselor/therapist (maybe at your university health center?) to talk out your feelings about your parents. That stress really isn’t what you need to be concentrating on right now — but it’s also not the kind of thing where you just can go “I’m not going to worry about this anymore!” and cheerfully move on, so getting some time to hash it out with someone whose job is to hash these things out could be helpful. My therapist taught me how to do a containment exercise to put aside things my brain doesn’t need to work on for the moment, and it works surprisingly well, so maybe look into that kind of visualization exercise.

      Also, are there things you’re doing that a) aren’t vitally necessary to your success or survival, b) take up your time & energy, and c) don’t make you feel good/relaxed/happy? Drop those things temporarily. Let your bed go unmade. Put your dating life on pause. Eat whatever you have in the freezer instead of grocery shopping. Step back from the student group you help run. We only have so much bandwidth as humans, and you have a LOT of things taking up yours right now. If there are things that you can take off your plate, absolutely do so.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I second all of this advice, especially seeing if there’s a counselor at your university’s health center. They are very helpful, and as a professor I’ve sent many students there and it’s always helped.

    4. Advice*

      When I go through a stressful time, I find a quote that motivates or soothes me, I write it out/decorate it, and then put it someplace I see it everyday.

    5. Casuan*

      Act, don’t react.
      Work to manage what is overwhelming you by using your planning skills to your advantage.

      As Ramona said, do some self-care.
      Repeat as needed or wanted.
      Try to break things down into less-daunting tasks.
      Know that something on your plan will snafu & know when that occurs you’ll deal with it, revise plan if needed then move on.

      It helps me to take the time to list all everything on my radar— usually between 10mins-30mins. I arrange things as an organisational chart [as opposed to a list or outline].
      This gives me a new perspective & helps me to identify priorities, redundancies & things I can delegate or dismiss altogether.
      From that I can make a practical list.

      [full disclosure: “Act, don’t react” is one of my personal mottos & I must remember it more often than I’m comfortable admitting.]

      ummm, all that said… I’m also a bit overwhelmed so it’s time for me to do the same!!

      1. Casuan*

        I forgot to say that having a viable plan is what helps to destress me, unless I can have several days to totally unwind.

        In the short-term, a good book or binge-watching helps me. Usually the latter because my mind doesn’t wander as much.
        And get out with friends, even if just for a quick drink. Or a phone call.

        List all you have accomplished & graduate with pride from all you’ve done to get to this point in your life!!

  34. Anon for this*

    How do you know when a relationship is over, versus when you need to keep trying?

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 3 years, and we have had our ups and downs. I have anxiety, and I would say him empathizing with me has been the most difficult. He doesn’t like it when I have ruminating thoughts or talk about something ‘too much’. I’ve tried to go to a therapist and also to try and limit how much I talk to him. Basically he finds me exhausting and stressful, and I am not getting my needs met. I was thinking our compromises were working, and things were slowly improvement, but then he will snap at me for something little, and tell me ‘fix my own problems’. I guess what I am asking is how do I assess improvements? How do I figure out how much compromise is too much, and where the line is where I am just not getting what I need.

    1. Advice*

      My bf handles his emotions very differently from me(aka I have never seen him get upset). I, on the other hand, am very emotional and always need to process the feelings first before making decisions. Even though my husband and I deal with things differently, he has learned how to support me and be there for me, even when he doesn’t agree. My advice for you is to try to talk to your partner about his responses and how they make you feel but make sure to have the conversation when you’re in a positive mood. At the end of the day you can’t change him but he could learn how to be loving and respectful. If he doesn’t want to change then you have to decide if you can live that way. Three years is a long time, if he hasn’t improved yet then he probably won’t.

    2. TheLazyB*

      From what you’ve said here… it doesn’t really sound like you’re getting anything you need.

      I wonder if your anxiety would improve if you didn’t have the stress of ‘how he deals with it’ to add to the anxiety. Because surely it’s harder for you to exist with an anxious brain than him to live next door to it?

      I feel like I sound really harsh – i mean it kindly i promise.

      1. Anon for this*

        I don’t think you said anything unkind, so no worries.

        It’s just hard for me to figure out what is reasonable. He says talking to me about my problems/anxiety/whatever I am currently freaking out about uses all his mental energies and stresses him out. So I try and lessen the amount, to try and compromise, and find that he still sometimes can’t handle it.

        1. fposte*

          Between two people, “reasonable” doesn’t really matter. Party A is always free to say “Your request is reasonable but I still can’t honor it.” Then it’s up to Party B to decide if getting that request met is necessary for them to have a rewarding relationship.

    3. fposte*

      I’m not sure that your focus on “improvements” is going to get you to the right decision–you can “improve” to whatever perfection would be and he might still not want to be with you and vice versa. Have you and he talked about couples counseling? It sounds like you’re not sure what a satisfactory relationship for both of you would look like, and that would be a good place to explore that. If you’re not sure, it might be worth exploring what’s happening when he snaps at you–is this just a sharper version of a partner’s reasonable “Honey, I just can’t right now” and you guys can find a better way for him to say it and for you to accept it, or is this part of a larger anger or concern he has about what your needs mean to him?

      Individual therapy is definitely a good thing to have in place, and I would also highly recommend spending more time with your own friends and family so that you have other people to draw strength and joy from.

    4. Dan*

      If you’re not getting your needs met, and the other person doesn’t care, that is a strong indication it’s over.

      Getting out of a marriage is a pain in the ass and expensive. You only want to take the risk if your relationship is on strong footing.

      On the whole, I think our society values “relationships” to the point people stay in ones they shouldn’t.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Very much this.

        Anon, you don’t “need” to keep trying. If you’re unhappy – and you both sound really, really unhappy – you’re allowed to call it quits. There’s no standard of proof you have to meet in order to end a relationship that isn’t working.

        (Also, y’know, while people are absolutely different in how much they can handle an anxious partner, saying ‘fix your own problems’ to somebody struggling with anxiety – and who is trying therapy – is a kind of a dick move.)

    5. LCL*

      Based on what you say, you believe it’s over but can’t fully accept that yet. You believe you have to limit how much you talk to him, you aren’t getting your needs met, and he finds you exhausting and stressful. Is there any fun or joy in this relationship for either of you?

      You don’t have to stay together. When you are ready, tell him you wish him a good rest of his life and goodbye.

    6. detached anon*

      Anon for this, it seems you already know if your relationship is over because you have been trying. He improves a little then reverts & your needs aren’t being met. You deserve a partner who won’t complain that you’re exhausting & stressful & who will support you by methods that don’t include the concept of fixing your own problems.
      As TheLazyB observed, I wonder the same thing: might your boyfriend be part of your anxiety?
      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Looking back on my own marriage, I had to learn that no one spouse provides the total package deal. We need to get our emotional needs/support/etc from several sources. It’s asking too much of one spouse to do it all. Both my husband and I took turns failing on this one.

      “How do I figure out how much compromise is too much, and where the line is where I am just not getting what I need.”

      Tough question with even harder answers:
      1) Is it within his skill set/knowledge/life experience to be able to meet your requests. This goes line item by line item. In a simple example, my husband could do dishes and throw wash in the washer. But ironing terrified him. Likewise with emotional work, most people are the same way. Some people can sit right down and cry with you when your dog dies, but if you lose a child, they have no clue what to say or do. Sounds pretty random right? But it’s not that random. It based on their own previous experiences.

      2) Does he have the time/resources/etc to actually help you? Most of us are pretty wiped out at the end of a workday. We can do some well chosen things but not everything.

      3) This one is really tough. Can you feel satisfied? I know that I have had times in my life where I just could not feel satisfied about anything. Ever. And it was because of life stuff. I admit, I faked being happy when he did the dishes. I was not feelin’ it, but it was important to him that he did something to help me.
      If compromises mean long lists of things to be aware of, that is a lot of work to keep all these things in mind. And if there are too many compromises that could be an indication that the two of you may not be meant for each other.

      My suggestion is to build up your resource pool so that you have more inputs. This could be books/websites/therapy/meditation/whatever. Continue building a toolbox of coping strategies-things you can do on your own or people you can connect with when you need to. I fell into a black hole when my husband died, it took talking with many people to reweave my life. And it seems to be the rule of thumb that the bigger the problems in life the more and more people we should have to talk over things.

    8. HannahS*

      I think getting your emotional needs met is an important line to hold. So is not being constantly exhausted and stressed out by your partner. Whether you’ve changed enough, or not enough, or he’s changed enough or not enough isn’t really relevant if either of you is unhappy in the relationship.

      However, as someone who’s been in the position of having close relationships with people with moderate-to-serious anxiety, I want to share one of my experiences–if it looks familiar, there’s a lesson in it, and if not, ignore it!

      My best friend had pretty bad anxiety in high school and into university. She would call me nearly every day and need to talk about her anxiety for at least 40 minutes to an hour–after having spent an hour together at lunch. I would listen, reassure her, talk her down, offer solutions, and (sometimes) try to convince her to talk to a guidance counselor or doctor or her parents or SOMEONE. It was so emotionally intense and exhausting and stressful. It felt like we talked in circles and her problems were never solved or improved. What she asked of me–to manage her anxiety–wasn’t reasonable, and I wasn’t able to do it; no layperson could. She was a respectful, conscientious person with otherwise totally normal boundaries. My guess is that her sense of what was reasonable to demand from someone else in terms of emotional energy and time was knocked out by her anxiety. I don’t think she even realized how impairing her anxiety was to her, or how abnormal (and I mean that in a clinical sense, not in a judgmental way–I mean that she sort of got used to it) and she didn’t think she was sick enough to really need professional help + had some cultural stigma around mental health. As it turns out, we’re actually very close now, and her anxiety has retreated to the level of a personality trait instead of a disorder. What she expects from me is more like one big anxiety conversation around once or twice a month. I can give that, and there’s now a lot more room in our relationship for things other than anxiety. Before, it felt like her anxiety took up most of our relationship.

      I don’t want it to sound like “people with serious anxiety are terrible burdens!” but rather than people with serious anxiety are sick, and sick people can’t be adequately treated by only their loved ones. While everyone needs different levels of emotional support in a relationship, it sounds like you’re not getting enough to help manage your anxiety. You said you’ve tried therapy, but if you haven’t spoken to a doctor/psychiatrist about treatment (some kind of psychotherapy, medication, or both), it could be useful to try. Couples counselling, too, might help you and your bf find a comfortable middle ground for both of you, and how to better communicate your needs when you’re feeling in need of comfort.

      1. HannahS*

        Also, to be clear, it’s totally possible that your anxiety is perfectly decently managed, and your bf won’t/can’t deal with your entirely reasonably and normal emotional needs. Nevertheless, I think having a mental healthcare provider or couples counsellor work out what, exactly, the issue is and can it/should it be solved would

  35. Wrench Turner*

    Instead of a Slow Cooker Sunday recipe, here is my recipe for the fig jam I just made. We have 2 fig trees in our yard and once they get going for the year they produce way more than we can eat – and we try. There was maybe 5 pints’ worth in the freezer, which I cut up into about 3/4 gallon small pieces. Your mileage may vary, it’s more about consistency and flavor than volume. It took me 3 hours to make this batch and the result is a sweet/tart spread that’s great with breakfast breads, or also as a glaze for cooking meats.

    About 3/4 gallon of frozen fresh figs cut in to small pieces.
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 1/2 tbs rosemary rubbed between fingers to small pieces
    1/2 tbs basil
    2 tbs lemon juice
    5 oz cheap spiced rum*

    Set aside 1 oz of the rum for yourself, since you’ll be cooking a while.

    Cook the fig pieces and liquids on medium-low heat to start until they break down and get thoroughly mushy. It will be like a soup. Stir in herbs and sugar.

    Increase heat to medium-high. Carefully stir boiling mixture frequently and do not let it burn. Cook until liquids reduce by about 1/2 and the pectins are released, thickening the mixture. The idea is to evaporate most of the liquid as much as cook the figs and slightly caramelize the sugars. How much you want to cook it down is up to you but I like mine the consistency of marmalade. Let cool and it will thicken up even more.

    *Just like wine, do not cook with any rum you would not also drink. I use Castillo gold spiced rum because it’s a decent mixing rum and like $6 a bottle.

  36. Need2Shop*

    Bra shopping- where do you shop/ what brands do you recommend (aside from VS)?? I want to find some quality pieces but on a (somewhat) realistic budget.

    1. BPT*

      I’ve heard good things about Third Love bras, but would love to hear if anyone here has had good experiences with them.

      1. Jules the First*

        I haven’t tried third love myself yet (they don’t ship to the UK) but they frequently sponsor podcasts (definitely Gretchen Rubin’s Happier) and offer a try-for-30-days feature – you can order one, wear it for up to a month and send it back if you don’t like it. If you do like it, you just keep it and they charge your card.

    2. katamia*

      Under a year ago (so vague, I know, but I can’t remember when I bought them lol), I bought a couple of Vanity Fair bras that I like much better than VS–last time I bought VS bras they fit fine in the store, but when I tried them on at home they turned into the Bras of Pain somehow. The VF bras were heavily on sale when I bought them (at Kohl’s) so I’m not sure how great a deal they are normally, but for what I paid they were very much worth it.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Seconding Kohl’s. They have a great selection even if you have a large chest. I’ve been a fan of Olga for years, but I was disappointed last time I bought bras. I got a couple of Olga’s and the underwire poked through one of them after the second wash, and I always use the gentle cycle and air dry them. Boo. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a bad Olga experience though, so I’m hoping it was just a one-off and not a sign that the quality has declined.

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      Brands are so hard–for me it’s way more dependent on the style of the bra. I have a lot of luck at department stores with a decent bra section (Nordstrom’s is great and has a very solid sale rack), because they have a bunch of brands and styles that I can try on all at the same time. And department stores are usually great for sales.

    4. Doodlebug*

      I really like Soma for bras. They have better coverage for busty people and have a wonderful bra called Vanishing Back. They have many styles and last a long time. VS is not a good place for people in DD land. Over the years I’ve found their bras to be painful and only worth wearing for a few hours before they become unbearable.

    5. Anxa*

      I can’t say I shop for quality. I usually just get a two-fer set at TJ Maxx. I’m not large chested so I don’t really need much in the way of support, but I do wish I had it in me to spend more time researching a better fitting bra. I feel like if I’m not going to get great quality, I’m not paying much for them. I don’t do a good job of letting my bras rest, and I put them in the dryer for years because I lost bras faster to mold than sad elastic when I lived in the South. Now maybe I can afford to splurge more. I cut out buying any fun bras or lingerie and stuck to practical nude and black bras, so I feel a little better about spending money on them.

      Will be following this.

      Also, does anyone have any experience with sports bra that don’t hurt? I’m small chested with a wide ribcage. I find I can’t breathe well in bras that are small or medium. But I have very little breast tissue to fill up a large, so there’s no support there. I guess I do have bigger breasts than I realize sometimes, but they don’t really protrude. I have wider flatter breasts maybe? And of course, one is much larger than the other.

      Also, I find it harder and harder to find cotton or sort bras. I find polyester extremely irritating and other synthetics irritating. I know cotton hasn’t been en vogue for athletic wear, but I hate scratchy or too soft material. I’m one of those people that can’t touch microfiber cloths without freaking out and I’ve gotten rashes from synthetics.

      1. Advice*

        I found a sports bra at Gap Body that I love!!! I bought it in a few colors. Make sure when you try sports bras that you play around with the size. I am usually a medium in shirts but in the gap bra I wear a large.

    6. HannahS*

      I shop at Aerie. Despite not a great reputation (it’s American Eagle, after all) I’ve found that their underwired bras are pretty good, and last in good shape for about a year, then fine shape for at least another year or two. That’s with weekly wear and machine washing (gentle cycle, no dryer). My recommendation is based on the fact that my size is 36B, so I don’t know how their larger sizes hold up.

    7. chickabiddy*

      If you know your true size (I have a lot to say about that!) and aren’t fussy about colors, you can often get rather high-end brands such as Panache, Freya, Natori, and Elomi on Amazon at excellent prices with free shipping and returns if you have Prime. Zulily is somewhat riskier because they don’t accept returns but they also have those brands and others on deep discounts — deep enough that you can almost always recoup what you paid on ebay if it isn’t right, but that is a hassle.

      1. Becca*

        I second all of this! I’d look to find your true bra size if you haven’t already (no adding an extra 4 inches to anything or measuring above your boobs for your band size!!!— both things that have happened to me in American bra stores). I love my Freya bras very much.

        Both Victoria’s Secret and Soma have given me ill-fitting bras when I shopped there years back because they didn’t carry my size. If they do carry bras that fit you well, that’s fantastic, but I wouldn’t necessarily take your salespeople at their word if something seems weird.

        In terms of where else you can shop, Lady Grace carries a good variety as well, and they’re very nice there. Good luck!

    8. 2e*

      I really like Aerie – American Eagle’s line. I was wary at first because I thought a store geared toward teenagers might not have my larger size, but I’ve found several that I like. Bonus: they sell swimsuit tops in bra sizes, which I prefer over small/medium/large sizing.

    9. Parenthetically*

      I have found far, far better size and brand selection and far more well-trained fitters at department stores than at mid-range lingerie stores that only sell their own products. (And frankly, Victoria’s Secret sucks — their sizing isn’t any broader than Target’s, but their bra fitters will still try to make a sale even if it means you walk out of there with an ill-fitting bra.) Macy’s is great near me, and they ALWAYS have a sale running on a few brands or lines. I’ve bought bras there and just told the fitter I was looking for bras that were under $X, and they were happy to accommodate. Different brands fit differently on different bodies, and a 10 pound difference in weight can make a difference, so going to Dillard’s or whatever and getting properly fitted and then trying on a range of bras from different companies is much more likely to end you up with a good bra!

      Good luck!

    10. Gala apple*

      Oh! I have some nice ones from Kohls; I think they’re Vanity Fair.

      Related, does anyone have suggestions for non-underwire bras, plus size?

      1. ValaMalDoran*

        I can’t personally vouch for the plus sizes, as I wear a large, but my favorite bra is the Hanes G506. It comes in larger sizes. I find them extremely comfortable.

      2. Becca*

        My mom wears a Bali bra– I’m not sure which one– that has very comfortable thickly padded straps and no underwire. I did a quick google search and they do have a pretty nice range of wireless bras in plus sizes. Good luck :D

    11. Ktelzbeth*

      I like Wacoal for a brand. They do well with large cup, small band sizes. I like Herberger’s/Younker’s/I think they have another name in another part of the country for shopping.

  37. super anon*

    Does anyone have any tips on how to cut down on buying coffee from places like Starbucks?

    I have the biggest problem with this at work – even if I drink a coffee in the morning, and bring coffee with me to the office, by about 1 pm I want to go out and buy a coffee. Often it’s because someone wants to go for coffee, other times its a motivation to get outside and away from my office rather than sitting there like a lump all day.

    When I’m out shopping, or walking around downtown on the weekends, one of my favourite activities is to buy a coffee to sip on while I walk, or to drink while I read in a cafe or at the library. I don’t buy expensive drinks, 98% of the time I buy drip coffee, but it still feels silly to spend $2.50 on a cup of coffee when I can make the same thing at home for significantly cheaper. But, at the same time I find it very comforting to buy a coffee and drink it out of my paper cup while walking around and looking at things, or while sitting at my desk. Coffee in a to-go mug or a normal mug just doesn’t feel the same as the going in and coming out with a paper cup experience. However, this is also horribly wasteful and I feel bad for the environment with the amount of waste my coffee habit creates.

    For the past 2 weeks I told myself I wouldn’t buy any coffee while I was out, but I failed almost immediately and I feel badly about it. I assume at this point it’s become a habit for me to do this, but I’m trying to plan a budget for the first time in my life and it feels like $25 a week for coffee isn’t an adult, responsible thing to spend money on.

    1. Allypopx*

      “it feels like $25 a week for coffee isn’t an adult, responsible thing to spend money on.”

      I disagree. You have some other reasons for wanting to cut down, and I’m not the best person to give you advice on that, but while you’re budgeting, please allow yourself room for small things that make you happy. You describe this as something that bring you great joy, and $25 a week (or less, if you get smaller or less expensive coffees) is completely worth that, if it’s not causing you a real hardship.

      1. Casuan*

        Yes, I agree.
        Super anon, you have the right to manage your finances as you see fit. That’s one of the cool things about being an adult. If you’re telling others about this habit & if their response is that you’re being wasteful or otherwise, then stop telling them about it. :-)

        Everyone has different budget priorities [yours could be coffee & your friend’s might be buying rice sculptures], so if your habit is within your budget & makes you happy then you’re doing okay. You’re the one who gets to decide this.

        As for the environmental, if you’re using recyclable products then you can rest easy on this, as well… think of the industries & jobs that are supported by recyclables.

    2. BPT*

      I think it definitely depends on how much disposable income you have – if you’re stretched thin as it is and are paycheck to paycheck, then $25 might be too much to spend on coffee per week. But if you can afford it, I’d honestly just count it as some of my fun money. It’s all about priorities – spending $25 a week on coffee might be worth it to you. Other people might choose to spend that money on working out/ubers/knitting materials/cable. If you really need to save $25 a week, could you cut back $5 in a few areas a week? Buy 1 less coffee, take one less uber, cut $5 per week from your grocery budget.

      But if you just feel that it isn’t an “adult” thing to spend money on, I’d rethink that. Budgeting is all about deciding your priorities and fitting your money into those. It’s ok to splurge a little sometimes if you can afford it. Make it a priority, go ahead and put it in your budget, and figure things out from there.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Stopping altogether is a big leap so it’s not surprising you find it hard.

      Can you try to just cut down instead?

      1. super anon*

        I should have been specific, I’m not trying to stop drinking coffee, just rid myself of the urge to buy coffee out rather than my usual habit of buying at least one cup a day.

    4. fposte*

      As noted, if you can afford what you want to afford, there’s no reason to cut down just because. However, if you really do want to cut down, I’d tackle weekdays and weekends separately, because those are two different habits; weekdays are about getting out of the office, and weekends are about a pleasurable experience over a long period of time.

      For both, a switch to tea, herbal tea, or just hot water could be worth a try; I also think you might try consciously scheduling different short-walk goals (without your wallet and in a different direction than the coffee shop) for the weekdays that aren’t coffee (you can still call it “going for coffee” if that’s easier to explain to your office) and then reward yourself with coffee as usual on the weekend, when it’s really rewarding for you.

    5. Tau*

      Something I am currently using to great effect in order to eat less sugary things:

      I’ve picked a fun thing that I’d like to spend money on but where I usually wouldn’t do so. (For me, it’s been buying premium currency in an MMO I play. But it could also be something you’ve decided is too expensive or whatever.) Every day where I don’t indulge in the habit, I allocate £1 of the money I’ve saved thereby to the Fun Thing. I will not spend any other money on the Fun Thing.

      For me it works because it uses positive instead of negative reinforcement – rewards instead of guilt. It also means that when I decide whether I’m going to take a biscuit or not, I’m weighing immediate gratification against another positive (money for the Fun Thing!) instead of immediate gratification against nothing. Sometimes I do end up going “nope, having a slice of cake now is worth not getting fun money today” and I consider that fair, especially as it doesn’t happen that often.

      All this, of course, is only if you really WANT to quit. Like others have said, this doesn’t sound like such a terrible habit to me. I have a £15/week coffee shop budget myself.

      1. Red Reader*

        Yes! For every day my fiancé doesn’t smoke, I’m putting a dollar in a savings account earmarked for a long weekend trip we want to take. (If he slips, he owes me $5. I’m putting in $1 per mile I walk as well.)

    6. katamia*

      This won’t necessarily stop your habit, but it might reduce your guilt. Starbucks has those reusable cups (and some other chains might have similar promotions) you can buy, and if you use them you a) get a discount and b) produce less environmentally unfriendly waste. After awhile the discounts should add up even though you had to buy the cup.

      Also, if you’re otherwise in control of your finances (vague, I know, but different people have different definitions of “in control”), there’s nothing wrong with spending $25 a week on coffee if you really enjoy it.

    7. LizB*

      What are your other “fun money” expenses? Coffee from coffee shops gets called out a lot as a “waste of money,” but if it’s something that genuinely makes you happy and it’s within your budget/you’re not also spending a ton on other just-for-fun things, there’s really no problem with it. Based on your description, it sounds like your $2.50 is going towards not just the coffee, but also the experience and comfort of taking a break from work or increasing your enjoyment of what you’re reading. That seems like a worthwhile expense to me.

      If you do want to make changes to your routine, though, it would be better to try incremental changes rather than going cold turkey. Make one day a week Walk-Around-The-Block day instead of Stop-For-Coffee day, then maybe expand to two days, then three, until you’re where you want to be. Make a deal with yourself that every day you don’t buy a coffee, you’ll put $2.50 in your savings or set it aside for a big purchase you really want to make. Try a gamifying app like Habitica. For the environmental concerns, see if you can compost your paper cups (if your city has industrial compost you may be able to), or do the research to find a to-go mug you REALLY love and use it for your afternoon coffee trips. Don’t try and completely ditch an activity that brings you joy; switch things up until you figure out what works for you.

      1. Anxa*


        I don’t spend a cent I don’t track and I’ve hemmed and hawed over buying a red pepper and will stay home from social events to avoid running up our tab. I also am not a coffee drinker.

        That said, I do cringe a bit at the idea that coffee out is a waste. I do think a daily coffee might be a bit much. But I love having coffee shops around even if I don’t go often. It makes me sad that one of the biggest tips about saving money is to deprive yourself of your moment to get out and about, maybe socialize a bit.

      2. super anon*

        this is an amazing idea. i’m going to try implementing this in my life. thank you for sharing!

    8. neverjaunty*

      That coffee is $2.50 because you’re paying someone else to do it, rather than expending your own labor. How much is your time worth? Probably enough to make that $2.50 a fair exchange.

      I mean, if you’re struggling to pay the bills or feed your children, then sure, cut back. But absent that, spending a few dollars on a nice cup of coffee as part of a break is a perfectly adult, responsible thing to spend money on.

    9. Chaordic One*

      When I was unemployed and there really wasn’t any money for any extras, the one luxury I splurged on was a tall drip from Starbucks a couple of times a week. I had completely eliminated eating out and I felt I needed to do something for myself. Somewhere to go where I could dress up (but like for a job interview) and relax and treat myself if only for half an hour or 45 minutes or so, while I sat in a comfortable chair, listened to music, and read.

    10. Laura*

      Do they do a gift card?

      I use and refill a gift card for a cafe where I frequent before work- and it helps me not necessarily spend less, but know how much I’m spending. I know how much my $20 will get me. And for the most part, I’m good at sticking with the reload, use and reload again.

      That might be a good option for you … we all have our habits. Good luck.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        There is a coffee vending machine at my office, then Senseo and Nepresso machines, but you have to provide your own pods/capsuals. I calculated that 1 Senseo pad and a small UHT milk pot cost 13 cents per cup, whereas the nearby coffee to go place (well bakery with a selection of paper cups) is about 3 euros a cup.

        Perhaps the trick is not to eliminate Starbucks totally, but cut back to every other day? (For example)

    11. ..Kat..*

      For one to two weeks of Starbucks, you can buy a one filter device, filters, ground coffee, and a reusable travel mug. These supplies will last you at least a month. From then on out, you just need to buy coffee and filters. To make coffee, you need one of those super hot water dispensers or a microwave. Money wise, you would save at least $250 a year, maybe $500 or more (based on your current expenses of $25 per week). And, you would cut down significantly on waste.

      1. super anon*

        I’ve considered getting a Kuerig with a reusable stainless steep k-cup for my office. I have that set up at home and it works fantastically and stops me from going to the Starbucks across the street on weekends just because.

        The other problem is that $500 in the grand scheme of things really isn’t that much money for me yearly, but I have a small amount of credit card debt I want to pay off in the short term from some medical expenses I had come up, and I feel like the min $100 I’m spending a month would be better served going towards my cc instead of to Starbucks. It’s just, so hard stopping myself from going there when I’m out.

    12. Casuan*

      Would munching on chocolate-covered espresso beans help?
      In moderation, of course. I know it isn’t the same thing, although it might help.

      Besides the cost, think of other reasons why this is negative for you, such as time spent in the queue &or away from work. These are relative so of course ymmv. I can easily argue that the queue is forced downtime during a hectic day.

      1. super anon*

        I use mobile order and pay, so I never have to wait in line. The Starbucks app has been both a blessing, and a curse for my coffee habit.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If you wish, you could chose to delete the app to make things a tiny bit harder for yourself. I have done that with habits also where I just made the habit more effort.

          I am big coffee person myself. I did manage to drop down dramatically and stay down, years ago. However, I still think I have too much coffee. My boss introduced me to an idea, she said, “I can only have a cup of coffee after I have had a glass of water or tea first. Then if I still want coffee and still have time to get it, I can have it.”

          Attach getting a SB coffee to doing something, perhaps skipping your morning coffee at work. OTH, recognize that your need to take a break is driving the SB coffee habit. Experiment with other ways to take a break. Start small, just one day a week take a non-SB coffee break. Me, I would do it on Monday so I could get it over with. I am like that.
          At work I have two days out of the month that my work load predictably spikes. Those are the two days I let myself go buy a coffee. It’s a treat.

  38. Ramona Flowers*

    My friend’s child just moved school. The new school has a dog that visits weekly so the kids can read to it. How awesome is that?

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      It’s a really successful program. Kids who are struggling to read don’t feel self conscious reading aloud to a dog. :) So they get the practice they need, with it being a positive experience.

    2. Natalie*

      There’s a program at our animal shelter where the kids read to the shelter dogs. It’s cute!

      1. Sylvia*

        The shelter here has kids read to the older cats. The kids get reading practice and the kitties get calm attention and laps to sit on.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Our public library has that program, too. A woman comes on certain days with her trained therapy dog, and kids get to read to it.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*