weekend free-for-all – June 10-11, 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: Extraordinary Adventures, by Daniel Wallace. Closed-off, lonely Edsel Bronfman wins a free weekend at a beach resort for a couple, and sets out to reinvent himself.

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

{ 839 comments… read them below }

  1. laciepound*

    I’m a college age student who wants to learn to cook easy, healthy vegetarian food. Any websites you could direct me to? I think this has been covered in previous threads. Thank you :)

    1. roseberriesmaybe*

      I usually use the BBC Good Food and other news websites, and then search vegetarian. I’d be interested to see what other recommendations you get, I’m a bit sick of daal with rice!

    2. Phil*

      The lesbian culture website Autostraddle has a regular cooking column called “Get Baked” that is pretty good, and I’m fairly sure it’s 100% vegetarian.

      It’s not a website, but Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” is highly recommendable.

    3. BooksNCooks*

      I can’t say enough good things about BudgetBytes! There are lots of vegetarian recipes there, with lots of different cuisines represented. The recipes are straightforward and uncomplicated, and are generally healthy and budget friendly to boot!

    4. Butch Cassidy*

      The Minimalist Baker has tons of awesome vegan recipes! The “minimalist” part is the fact that they try to use as few ingredients and pans as possible. :)

    5. Canadian Natasha*

      I like Cookie + Kate for a vegetarian food recipe blog that’s not boring.
      cookieandkate (dot) com

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        Can confirm – she has some fab recipes

        Ive been all about thecafesucrefarine.com lately – she has some amazing salads and other veg food and her cakes and bakes are to DIE for.

        Otherwise Mark Bittmans book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is a good place to start for the basics.

      2. Arianwyn*

        I also love cookie and Kate, I make her vegan Thai green curry a lot, wins over veggies and meat eaters alike!

    6. Pieforbreakfast*

      I second BudgetBytes, and I follow a blog called Eats Well With Others. I ignore the blogging part and go right to the recipes.

    7. Bluebell*

      Lots of good suggestions here, particularly Mark Bitmann. Martha Rose Shulman also has great recipes in the NYTimes.

    8. Cookie D'Oh*

      Some food blogs I follow where I’ve found good recipes. You can filter for vegetarian:

      Budget Bytes
      Mels Kitchen Cafe
      Pinch of Yum
      The Kitchn
      Annie’s Eats
      Iowa Girl Eats (also gluten free)

    9. LazyDazy*

      SmittenKitchen! Her website has a lot of vegetarian recipes (as well as recipes that can be modified to be vegetarian) and her cookbook has an entire vegetarian section. I’m an avid baker myself, so I really love her dessert recipes, but I promise, I’ve made some of her “real food” recipes too. I’ve been following her (Deb) since about 2009 and the recipes are great and she’s great as well (I met her once at a book signing for her cookbook). I can’t recommend her enough.

      Someone also mentioned BudgetBytes, which I also love.

    10. Junior Dev*

      I used to use vegweb heavily, don’t know if it’s still around.

      Not a website but Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian was how I learned to cook, I recommend it to everyone, vegetarian or not.

    11. Kate in Scotland*

      Recently I’ve been cooking vegan recipes from Jack Monroe’s site, cookingonabootstrap.com. Very easy and cheap, but might need to be translated into US measures/ products.

    12. Wrench Turner*

      I just google vegetarian recipe and then add whatever veggies I have or want to use in it. Anything that catches your fancy, give it a go! I would highly recommend getting a slow cooker to make large batches of tasty stuff on the cheap and feed yourselves for several meals at a time.

  2. KR*

    Automatic cat feeders – recommendations, experiences? My cat meows literally constantly when she wants me to feed her. I can’t only feed her when she stops meowing because she will literally constantly meow from an hour before she is supposed to eat dinner to two hours after she has eaten because she wants more or thinks I might feed her again. I’ve brought her to the vet and we have a plan for how much she should be eating to keep her at a good weight – she has always been like this. It’s complicated by the fact that she can’t eat all of her meal at once or she will throw up since she eats too fast so I have to give her part of her meal, and then a half hour/hour after give her the next part of her meal (four feedings a day). She eats mostly dry food but her last half of her dinner is wet food.

    1. Cookie*

      I wish I knew the name/model of my auto feeder, because it’s awesome. All I can share is that I’ve had very good experiences. I have two cats, one of whom was the runt of the litter and even after he was adopted and well-fed, he always thinks he’s hungry and gets nervous about food. I probably got the auto feeder when he was 2-3 and he adjusted from bothering me for food to just sitting in front of the feeder waiting for it to go off. You can set the timing, so mine goes off at 6am and 6pm and no one wakes me in the mornings :)

      1. KR*

        Ugh I love the idea of sleeping late or not waking up to my cat wailing at me or trying to wake me up in other ways (purposefully scratching the box spring and then running towards the kitchen whenever I get up to yell at her, playing with papers on my nightstand, knocking things over, ect). I’ve found some on Amazon that can do 4 different feedings a day but they’re pricy – so thanks everyone for responding so I know if it’s worth the money!

    2. Sarah*

      I just got the ‘Superfeeder’. It’s working great so far, we needed it mostly to keep cats from waking us in morning for food.
      It takes a bit of experimenting to get it to drop the right amount of food, but works well once you get it dialed in.

      1. KR*

        Does it have a timer mechanism on it? I read the website and it seems kind of complicated to operate. How many feedings can you program a day?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I have a Superfeeder! I do think it’s slightly more complicated than most, but you’ll be able to figure it out. I I think you could program as many feedings as you want; the timer it’s connected to is pretty unlimited.

    3. Meow meow meow meow*

      It sounds as if my old kitty, who passed a few years ago, got reincarnated as yours. Poor guy meowed nonstop until dinner time, up to three hours before (!), and also ate too fast and threw up his food, then meowed for more. He also decided he wanted a second feeding time in the middle of the night, and would meow from 3 a.m. on. It’s a good thing we loved the little guy, because he drove us nuts.

      Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. We never found an automatic feeder that worked for us. They all worked as intended, but kitty just kept meowing anyway until he was fed by a human. I hope you have better luck.

      1. danr*

        If you can leave the thrown up food alone, he’ll probably come back to eat it again. Our former visiting cat did that. Of course, all the upchuck was either outside or on the garage floor, but he usually ate it all.

        1. Meow meow meow meow*

          Oh, he did that, when we didn’t clean it up in time! It grossed us out so much.
          Amazingly, now the pendulum has swung all the way… we now have two cats that, when they’re hungry, just sit and wait patiently in front of the food tray until we feed them. (And occasionally meow their heads off at other random times.)

        2. paul*

          Oh man, if I see our dog or cat do that I can’t help but start gagging. It literally makes me throw up :/

        3. KR*

          Lillian has done that occasionally but my issue is that sometimes she will throw up on the carpet or we won’t know she threw up and we’ll find it a day or two later…. Yuck. And yes on the meowing up to three hours before dinner. She gets her first scoop for dinner at 5 so she starts meowing at quarter to 3. Then she gets her first scoop at five and meows literally constantly following me around the house wailing until her second scoop – then she whines for another half hour because she’s hoping I’ll feed her again . It really stresses me out because I usually get home from work in the afternoon and I’m stressed so I’m just trying to decompress and I end up getting angry with her then feeling bad.

          1. fposte*

            Not an automatic feeder thing, but you can get slow-feed bowls to slow down the eat-then-puke pets, and that draws out mealtimes so that they’re less of a momentary-fireworks kind of excitement.

            1. KR*

              Oh good idea. I tried an ice cube tray for a while but she realized she could just flip it over. I think they make some that have rubber at the bottom so we might use that for her wet food.

              1. AnonyMouse*

                For kibble, we’ve cut holes out of a water bottle (and used an emery board to make sure the edges of the holes were smooth). We put it down before we go to bed, and our cat rolls it to get food out. It both slows him down and gives him something to do at 3am! Through some trial and error we’ve found that the more cylindrical the water bottle is, the better it works. The pear-shaped ones that have a thin neck and fatter bottom tend to get unbalanced and kibble will accumulate at the bottom that can’t come out via rolling.

    4. Meredith*

      We just bought a PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Programmable Pet Feeder, (12-Meal) for our cats, and it’s expensive but good. Power cord is optional but extra $, otherwise battery powered. I want to get a ceramic bowl for it because the sound of kibble on metal is loud. Like it a lot so far.

    5. nonprofit manager*

      Your cat sounds like mine. He was the runt, is always nervous about food, always gobbles it up fast, and always wants more. Complicated by the fact that he has/had digestive issues that for a while required us to split his meals- at one point, each meal in three portions. I take care with his diet and now no longer need to split his meals.

      I have two different kinds of automatic cat feeders, both of which work well for different purposes. I feed my cats raw so needed a feeder that would keep the food at an appropriate temperature for up to 24 hours. The two I use are the Cat Mate C20 2-Bowl Automatic Pet Feeder, 48-hour and the Cat Mate C50 5-Bowl Automatic Pet Feeder, 96-hour. Both have worked well for us. They are both battery-powered and the C50 allows for a little more precision with timing, though neither allows you to program exact dates.

      Lately, I use the C20 more often because my cat can tolerate eating his entire meal at once. But the C50 was really nice when I needed to split his meals. You do need to portion out the food ahead of time and the lid either lifts open (C20) or shifts to display another food compartment (C50) at the designated time. I put frozen food in the compartments for later meals to keep it fresh, as the ice packs are kind of small.

      My cat is very food-motivated and I found out the hard way that he cannot get into the C20 until it opens. We had gone away for an overnight trip and I set the timers but forgot to turn on the feeder. My poor cat missed two meals. I felt horrible. He had knocked that thing all around the kitchen trying to get to the food he could smell. I still feel terrible about that and placed a note inside the feeder to remind me to turn it on.

    6. AnonyMouse*

      We use Qpets 6-meal Automatic Pet Feeder. It’s a tiny bit complicated to learn how to program the first time, but we’ve used it for almost 2 years and it’s held up well.

  3. Legalchef*

    I’m sitting here typing this from my hospital room while my husband swaddles our 36-hours old son.

    After a surprise induction and 28 hours (!!!) of labor, my amazing son was born early Friday morning via c-section. The surgery went as well as could be hoped. We are so in love. He is amazing and wonderful and such a little snuggler and worth every second of it.

    1. fposte*

      Congratulations! I’m pleased we were on the notification list and delighted that you’ve fallen for the little guy.

    2. Emi.*

      Congratulations! That’s so wonderful :) I wish you a good recovery and lots of bonding time!

    3. Evie*

      Congratulations! Baby snuggles are the best!

      My nephew was born yesterday too but I won’t share how long she was in labor to save your sanity!

    4. Sophie*

      Congrats on your new bundle of joy! Thank you for sharing the news, but please be sure to also rest and take care of yourself! Congrats!

    5. Legalchef*

      Thanks all! He is really so incredible and I’m obsessed. Also, I wasn’t prepared for how much more I’d suddenly love my husband, seeing him with our baby. I’ve never been more impressed/awed by him.

      (I also wasn’t prepared for my in laws to say they packed enough stuff to stay in town for 3 weeks but I digress…)

  4. Myrin*

    HahAAH, you guys thought you’d seen the last of my tale of two youthful wannabe criminals who went all pseudo grand theft auto and then talked about it when they sat across from me on the train the next morning??

    Well, so did I. But apparently, life has different plans, because this morning in the mail was a subpoena for me to come testify as a witness at the local court in six weeks. I mean, I already saw pictures of the two culprits when I was at the police station last time and they weren’t the guys from the train but maybe they have other people I’ll be able to see in the flesh? And even if not, it’s understandable that they want to summon everyone who was in any way involved in that case.

    I’ve never been to court, I’m interested to see how it will be.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, this is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? Report back on court–I’ll be interested to know what that’s like.

      1. Myrin*

        Right? I feel like I might tunr eighty and beyond and this whole story will still come back to haunt me and the by-that-time gang of pensioners.

    2. Neruda*

      Wow! I’ve really enjoyed this story Myrin! Looking forward to seeing how the next chapter plays out!

      1. Gala apple*

        Yes me too! Also I just started listening to S-Town, and this has a similar saga feel :)

        1. Myrin*

          You can read the entire breathtaking saga starting from here – I always linked to my previous comment about it, so you’d have to click three or four times and will be able to read up on the whole thing from start to finish.

          1. Valeriane*

            That was intriguing to read–several enjoyably odd, mysterious elements. Thanks so much for the links–I’ll look forward to catching the further developments!

  5. Whathappenshere*

    We’re in Vegas! Any recommendations of places to eat on the Strip and off? Also day trips? We’re at the MGM Grand, and will have access to a car tomorrow. Went to the Grand Canyon via a guided tour yesterday and it was awesome! Thanks in advance.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      When I was there a couple of years ago there was this little cafe thing in the back of the palms that had surprisingly good light things like salads. Was there for a class and that’s where the class took us to eat.

    2. LawBee*

      I go to Vegas every year for work, and always always always hit up the buffet in the Encore.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I like the one in the seafood leaning one in the Mirage. Oh, those Vegas buffets!

    3. BMO*

      Wolfgang Puck in the MGM is pretty good! It isn’t outrageously priced either. They used to have these chicken wings that were amazing, but I believe they were garlic chili at the time.

      Cheap: Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood

      Steakhouse: Jean George at Aria

    4. Christy*

      I got the best back massage of my life at the spa at the MGM Grand. I highly recommend getting one, even though they’re expensive.

    5. Make it so*

      Red Rock Canyon is worth a few hours of your time if you like hiking; it’s a 40 minute drive. Just be aware that while the views are beautiful, the trails themselves are kind of mediocre.

      If you like Japanese food, check out Yellowtail at the Bellagio. Pricey, but very good.

      If you want a quiet drink with good food, the bar at Vdara is a hidden gem. Even on a Saturday night, there won’t be many people and the staff is very friendly. Also, no smoking or gambling there.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      There is an insane middle eastern restaurant just off the Strip by the MGM – Marrakech Mediterranean Restaurant. Its set up like you are eating in a tent with belly dancers and everything. I think you have to make reservations but oh man was the food good and what an experience! (FYI take a cab. Also advise either not eating all day before you go, or wearing stretchy pants)

      Alternatively there are some dive bars just off the Freemont St Experience that are a laugh, or my mom swears by the bartenders at the top of the Stratosphere (they do a good pour) – this from a woman who is on first name basis with half the bartenders between the Luxor and the Golden Nugget.

      Go for at least one high end buffet – no use going for something like a $5.99 steak and eggs mid Strip. Also, don’t be afraid to try a place that may be in a strip mall off the Strip – there is Koreantown and Chinatown places nearby (check tripadvisor). Any cafe or mid-price range in a hotel on the Strip will be pricey and boring – think of it like being captive on a cruise ship.

      For another fun thing to do you can go to the Pinball Hall of Fame – over 100 vintage games (not all pinball) and all of them work and can be played. I think its on East Tropicana now (used to be much further south of the Strip).

    7. Lady Kelvin*

      If you like seafood, RM Seafood was the best dinner of my life. It made me fall in love (even more I love?) with scallops. It’s a bit on the pricy side but Rick Moonen tries to source all sustainability caught seafood. I think it’s in the hotel that looks like a pyramid. I can’t remember what it’s called.

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      Not a day trip, but there is a fantastic Titanic exhibit at the Luxor. Really tasteful and nicely done, which is counterintuitive when you think about how cheesy the Luxor is.

    9. Dead Quote Olympics*

      Lotus of Siam, if you like Thai food. It’s in a strip mall, and it’s supposed to be one of the best Thai restaurants in the U.S. I’m no expert, but I ate my way through every Thai restaurant in Honolulu and Chicago, and by comparison Lotus truly is especially delicious and unusual. Reservations highly recommended.

    10. Dawn*

      The pizza place in the golden nugget is awesome, and the happy hour makes it super cheap.

    11. Willow*

      I was there years ago, so these places may not be there…

      Shabu-shabu (Japanese hot pot) place right at the Luxor, I think, was fab.

      And in the Bellagio was a French pastries place (with a giant triple-chocolate fountain, just for viewing) that we still talk about, because it was delicious, and we took our stuff out into a nice quiet area of the hotel and enjoyed the quiet.

      The Hoover Dam is totally cool, if you are into big historical projects.

      1. Alinea*

        Jean Phillipe!!! There’s one at the Bellagio and another at the Aria. Delicious pastries.

        1. Willow*

          YES! I just wanted to lie down under the chocolate fountain with my mouth open. That’s a more literal meaning of “death by chocolate”!

    12. Trix*

      So timely, I’m going next week and bookmarking all these suggestions!

      Super jealous of the time you’re there, it’s supposed to be at least 110 every day we’re there. *dies of heat*

    13. Snazzy Hat*

      For Japanese food, go to my s.o.’s favourite restaurant, Ichiza, located in Chinatown.
      For omelettes, go to the breakfast buffet at the Flamingo and ask for Cris. The old man has been making omelettes for at least thirty-five years, and he keeps pretending to think about retiring. ^_^

  6. Online dating*

    Semi-related to the online dating question earlier this week –

    Any advice for an online dating profile for someone that does not have a job & is not looking for one due to disability? (Note: I have disability insurance payments & significant assets so I am 100% financially independent & not looking for someone to support me financially. But I also don’t want someone to come after me just for my assets either.)

    1. KR*

      I imagine that some people don’t put their job on their dating profiles because they want to keep that stuff completely separate. Can you not list anything and if someone asks on a date you can say that you are on disability benefits and you make it work for you financially? You could also redirect after that and say, “I’m a bit of a movie enthusiast and I participate in a gaming group.” Or whatever the main thing is you do.

      1. Jax*

        When I was on OkCupid I never put my job on my profile. Granted, I worked at the public library and I didn’t want anyone coming by trying to talk to me (would anyone do that? I don’t know, I was bad at online dating.) I don’t remember seeing many jobs on the profiles I looked at, either.

        1. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived*

          Yes they would. You were not bad at online dating from that example at least.
          I agree it’s not a big deal to not put a job in your profile.

    2. Mela*

      I say take the “What I’m doing with my life” prompt literally. What do you do–hobbies, social groups

      I vaguely mention my job, by describing a weird thing I have to do as a part of my job, but it’s not explicit. It’s only one sentence, surrounded by other sentences about changes I’m making in my life and fun hobbies. I keep it light and fun.

    3. Katriona*

      I don’t think you need to mention it at all; plenty of dating profiles stick to things like hobbies and food/entertainment preferences, so it won’t look out of place at all to just not say anything about work. Your disability and how you support yourself are no one’s business and you’re really not obligated to mention either, although if you want to of course you can.

      I have fibromyalgia and when I tried online dating, I mentioned it in my profile with a note that anyone interested in dating me would have to be flexible because I might need to change or cancel plans on short notice sometimes depending on my symptoms. Unfortunately not everyone has the self-awareness to realize that they aren’t up for dealing with that, but I liked to think I was at least saving myself some time by giving people the opportunity to self-select out. YMMV.

    4. Kj*

      I don’t think you have to mention your job, but it will come up when you are messaging someone. I wouldn’t worry- people who don’t want to date a person on disability will screen themselves out, saving you the trouble. I have a friend who began dating her now boyfriend when she was on disability and it has worked well for them. They are talking marriage now. Good luck!

    5. ginger ale for all*

      I am now dating someone I met online who does not have a job due to a disability. He didn’t mention it in the profile but did tell me on the first date. He just wrote a cute ad that showed his personality. I’m glad I met him and I can see marriage ahead, hopefully.

  7. Miso*

    I’m getting my tonsils removed on Tuesday. Totally not nervous, nope, how could you ever think that?
    It’s a good thing they’ll give me some Calm-Down-Pill first thing in the morning when I arrive at the hospital…

    Also, I had those pre-surgery talks with the doctors on Thursday, and didn’t have to go to work because of that. Basically the whole day I was reloading AaM because I wanted to share my misery on the open thread – until I finally noticed that it’s Thursday, not Friday -_-
    That unexpected free day really threw me off…
    (And of course then yesterday I noticed that Friday is work open thread day… :P)

    1. Kit*

      I had my tonsils out when I was 22. The surgery was fine, but the 2-3 weeks of recovery were tough. Try to find food to drink that you don’t hate. I had enough of chocolate meal replacement after two weeks and injured myself trying to eat a banana!

    2. Emmie*

      I had mine out when I was 19. It really isn’t all that bad. I should’ve drank meal replacements, but I ate pudding, soup (room temp) and ice cream. Not bad at all! I tried to eat the Reese’s PB shelled candy at the movies a few days later. Don’t do that ;). Not horrific, but let yourself recover. ;)

    3. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I just had mine out a month ago. Go get yourself a few bags of Sonic ice – the nugget kind. It was so perfect and saved me the first 7 days.

      Not sure what kind of info your doc has given you about recovery, but mine was very upfront that recovery from this surgery is one of the worst an adult can go through. To be honest, it wasn’t all that bad for me until days 7-12. I was able to eat little bits of soft food or liquid until then, but when the scabs started coming off, I was so unprepared. I also ended up having an allergic reaction to my antibiotic and it gave me awful sores in my mouth that prevented me from drinking. That made me dehydrated. That made days 9-11 the worst until the sores healed.

      But then my nausea and 6 days of not eating caught up to me and I threw up the morning of day 12 and it was the best thing that could have happened. It cleared all sorts of gunk from my throat and I genuinely felt fine after that. The only pain was during swallowing and it was really mild. Even that faded within a day or two.

      I just realized today is exactly one month. I haven’t had any pain while swallowing for quite a while. I do still have scabs forming and breaking off, but they are very small and really not that noticeable.

      What I would most encourage you to do is get that nugget ice and keep up on your pain meds. A friend had hers out the week before me and she had the opposite experience – the first week was awful but then she was fine. Make sure you have someone with you the first 2-3 days, and if you can get someone to be “on call” for when you are at the worst of the pain and need help, that would be good.

      I had to take FML for my recovery. My surgery was on Wednesday the 10th and I didn’t return to work until the 29th. I had enough sick/vacation leave to cover it, but I needed the formal documentation for my HR.

      1. Miso*

        Well, you make me hopeful! :D
        But yeah, the doctors were pretty clear that it’s going to hurt quite a lot and that I can have all the pain meds I want, I just have to tell them. Guess what I’ll be doing!

        The surgery is on Tuesday and I have to stay at the hospital until Friday anyway, in case it starts bleeding. Although that supposedly doesn’t really happen anymore nowadays. And the week after that I also stay at home (I’ll be honest, totally going back to Hotel Mama for that) , already got the note for that. I’m in Germany, so that’s luckily not a problem at all.

        Ice cubes sound like a very good idea! The doctor also said I should try chewing food again right away, we’ll see about that… ^^”

        Well, lots of time to eat ice cream, watch k-dramas and play Zelda at least!

        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

          I was able to eat soups, broth, mashed veggies, yogurt, etc., the first 4-5 days. After that it got a bit more difficult and I ended up not eating anything from day 7-12. But it’s an outpatient surgery here in the US so I went in first thing in the morning and was home just after noon.

    4. Courageous Cat*

      No experience with tonsil removal but as far as liquid food goes, sending my recommendation for Soylent – it tastes so pleasantly neutral and not thick and weird and gross like most Slimfast type stuff. Also it’s pretty nutritionally complete and comes in a few other flavors.

    5. Sophie*

      I had my tonsils out when I was 7 years old because I kept getting strep throat. I remember waking up after the surgery and my throat hurt like a mother! They wouldn’t let me leave until I took some medication and prove that I could swallow something. That was tough! But the recovery was fine. I had a dry erase board to communicate. Commercials back then (in the 90s) were the devil! I was stuck eating popsicles and ice cream (which is fun at first, but after awhile you just want a freaking hamburger!) Good luck with everything! You’ll be fine!

    6. Gaia*

      I was 5 when mine were removed. I had to overnight because I threw blood. The evil nurse made me ear with oatmeal and toast the next morning. That is the only thing I remember – crying do begging for myou mom because it hurt so bad.

    7. Sara smile*

      I had mine out in March. I was totally fine for the first 6 days. No pain at all, though I had a seriously dry throat. Day 7 to 14 was brutal but only on one side of my throat (the other side never hurt at all). It sucked but it could have been worse. And now it’s done and I can look forward to the benefits. Yay!

      The one thing that does linger as a problem is that I am having trouble with my taste buds. Things taste weird. Apparently it’s a rare side effect. Good times.

      Just remember, it will suck and then you have the rest of your life to reap the rewards.

  8. MechanicalPencil*

    I’m considering starting therapy, but I have a few strikes against. I’m not a talker (especially about emotions or things that cause emotion) and am deeply private, so despite knowing that I’m seeing a therapist for help I’m not sure I can get out of my own way enough for it to be beneficial.

    For context, work, home, family, and my relationship with the SO have all sort of imploded in variously spectacular ways, so I’m trying to find a way to cope with it all since I am starting to self sabotage relationships.

    Is there a type of therapy that I should look for? I literally have no frame of reference outside of my parents dragging me to one as a kid. I’m hoping to try to combine insurance and maybe my eap since finances are a little tight right now. Choosing a medical doctor is way less daunting to me. Go figure.

    1. HannahS*

      Cognitive behavioural therapy is based on working on and changing the relationship between thoughts, emotions, and actions–it’s very solution-focused. You’ll often get “homework.” It’s very different from the picture of, you know, lying on a couch while someone wants you to explore your feelings, and it might be better if that picture makes you want to run away screaming! In looking for someone (and you can ask your medical doctor for recommendations) consider the kind of personality you’d be more comfortable with. Some people actually prefer to talk about feelings with someone who’s more brisk and straight-talking, versus someone very gentle and touchy-feely. But other people really want and need that! So think about what will make you feel comfortable.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Usually EAP is free for a few sessions so start there. I know it can be hard to open up but having a goal in mind will help too. You do have to commit to a little discomfort and vulnerability to get the most out of it, but it sounds like it could be well worth it.

    3. Perpetua*

      You could try working with an art therapist, if that’s something that’s available for you and it sounds even remotely interesting/ok to try (people differ, so I’m just putting the idea out there, no assumption that it’s for everyone).

      Using art can be less threatening than “just” talking (you DO still talk in art therapy, of course, and you don’t necessarily create art every time) and it can also be a way to help yourself open up more. Talking about something you created might feel different/easier than straight out talking about how you feel, yet you can still arrive to great insights.

      1. Dinosaur*

        Art therapy worked really well for me. I’d been in CBT for two years and had seen improvement but my therapist referred me to an art therapist for 10 weeks. I processed so much more stuff in a short amount of time compared to CBT. I’m now back with my regular therapist but I’m a big believer in art therapy.

      2. Snazzy Hat*

        I’ve been in CBT with excellent counselors and psychologists over the years, but during my psych hospital stint years ago I absolutely loved art therapy. Additionally, I don’t consider myself an artist yet I always feel in a better mood after I’ve drawn something or built something. It’s as if I get reminded that I actually am talented in those fields. Bonus: an artist friend of mine routinely hosts artsy parties (e.g., “bring drawing implements, there will be food”) and it’s a mood boost to have my art complimented by people who went to art school.

    4. TheReluctantOtter*

      I second HannahS on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

      It’s active rather than passive and can be emotionally draining as you work towards changing, rather than simply venting in therapy.

      I have a caveat – it doesn’t work for everyone. My therapist stressed this for me, particularly as at the moment a lot of people are fully behind mindfulness and CBT. If it turns out to be not for you, that’s OK and doesn’t mean you’re not trying.
      Good luck whatever you decide to do!

      1. rococo*

        Any therapy where all you do is venting is not good therapy, no matter what the modality of therapy and I would suggest finding another therapist.

      2. HannahS*

        Oh, totally, and that’s a really important point! No therapy works for everyone, and a lot of people (therapists, doctors, and the general public included) get stuck behind “but STUDIES show that CBT/DBT/mindfulness/EFT/yoga work!!!” Studies show that those things work for a statistically significant number of people suffering from certain conditions under some circumstances. You might not be one of them, and if something feels painful-in-an-unproductive-way (as opposed to, well-that-hurt-to-talk-about-but-things-are-clearer-now), it’s probably not the right fit for you.

    5. Anon for this*

      Cognitive Behavioral Therapy of some flavor is a good place to start. I’m deeply introverted and private and I’m seeing someone for anxiety, which led to me taking my son to a child therapist for his anxiety. There are different varieties (my son’s is all about getting his buy in and him being accountable for doing his work, where mine is more about helping me find a direction with my adult stuff) but both work on attacking the unhelpful or distorted thought processes that lead to feelings that lead to behaviors. I had some implodiness in my kids, marriage, extended family, and job and she is helping me to see that there are some things I can improve, some things that suck and I can withstand, and some things that are fair to nope away from.
      Go online and look at provider sites and read bios and information the clinics provide. I found that helpful and reassuring.

    6. Undine*

      It is daunting to choose a therapist — the relationship is intimate and professional at the same time and it absolutely matters whether or not you and the therapist are a good fit. And there’s some possibility that the type of therapy matters less than the quality/fit of the therapist.

      Cognitive therapy was a big zero for me. A lot of people like it, but it left me cold and didn’t work. I ended up going to a somatic therapist — less thinking, more physical. But CBT is more goal oriented, I think.

      Many therapists will give you a free phone call to ask questions before you go in. There are places online that have lists of suggested questions.

      Another thing, I got my therapist through a local school, and she had not yet earned her degree when I started working with her. That made her less expensive, but she was great (at least for me). And the person who did the intake questions had a questionnaire that was more insightful than some therapists I’ve paid for.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      The most important thing is rapport – feeling you click with your therapist. Do you want someone who will listen gently and not hurt you, or do you want something with more structure that involves the therapist giving you tasks and maybe homework?

      I’ve found both useful at different times. I spent several years seeing a humanistic therapist who didn’t hurry me in any way. He was wonderful and rebuilt my ability to have relationships from the ground up.

      I’ve also found a more skills based approach helpful for dealing with some recent anxiety stuff where I just wanted coping skills for everyday.

      Psychology Today has some good articles if you search for ‘finding the right therapist’.

    8. Catherine from Canada*

      My two cents. I am also not a talker, especially about emotions, and very private. I went to a therapist to work on adjusting to my diagnosis of Asperger’s/anxiety/alexythymia a few years ago.
      I was very surprised to discover that when I was alone in a room with someone who:
      i) I was supposed to talk to about emotional stuff and, most important
      ii) had no other connection with my life, so I didn’t have to consider or edit anything I said in case it hurt their feelings or got back to someone else, then I had no problem talking. In fact, I couldn’t STOP talking (and crying, the thing I hate more than talking about emotions…) and often was still talking as she escorted me out the door.
      You may find the same.

    9. Bea W*

      I just want to thank you for posting this. I am in the same position, and I have been been in therapy before (a lot in my prior life) so I know it has helped in the past, but I’m having a hard time with knowing I have to travel that road again. So the thread is helpful, but I think most of all it was good to wake up this morning and see I’m not alone.

    10. Callalily*

      You certainly need to shop around for a therapist, even if you know the type you want.

      I put in a few sessions with one and didn’t considering meeting with anyone else for a consultation. I spent hundreds to listen to her talk about herself and she made a huge no-no by encouraging me to spend hundreds on design classes (she wanted to be a designer) despite my hesitations to put down a financial commitment to them.

      Going to her is one of the biggest regrets of 2016.

    1. fields of wheat*

      Just to clarify is that all politics or just US politics that’s not allowed?

      1. Iris Carpenter*

        As the topic was the results of Thursday’s UK election, the ban-hammer must apply to all political discussion. Shame, because I checked the commenting rules, and there is nothing about a ban on discussing politics. I would have hoped that Alison’s normal commenting rules, and the generally high level of respect and reason here would have allowed a good discussion without descending into mud-slinging & abuse.

        Anyone for a discussion on religion?

        1. Iris Carpenter*

          Actually, there are many issues such as employment rights, education and healthcare that basically have to be resolved in the political arena. I would think it sad if respectful discussion on these topics cannot take place here.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There are lots of other places on the internet to discuss politics if you’d like to. This just isn’t one of them, and it’s something readers continually tell me they appreciate (although full disclosure, the ban would be in place even if that weren’t the case because I’m not interested in having to moderate political discussions).

            1. Iris Carpenter*

              Sure, your blog, your rules. Would it be worth updating the commenting rules to make this clear?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Probably. I haven’t been able to figure out how to word it in a way that won’t be interpreted to be more broad than I intend it, so I’ve been dealing with it case by case, which isn’t ideal … but has been workable so far because it doesn’t come up that much.

            2. This Daydreamer*

              I don’t blame you! Nothing gets nasty like politics.

              Well, politics and tipping.

          2. Bibliovore*

            Although not explicit in commenting rules, Alison has maintained AAM as a “safe space” to discuss work issues on the weekdays and home issues on the weekend thread. Although politics do touch on all facets of our lives, this is one of the few sites that we can be assured not to be drawn into political controversy. I am grateful for this boundary.

        2. Florida*

          The OP of the political comment (I can’t remember if it was you or someone else) started the comment by saying, “I know we can’t discuss politics here…” then proceeded to discuss politics. OP believes the rules don’t apply to them so it wouldn’t have mattered if it was in the commenting rules.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think it was that egregious–British political stuff has snuck by before, and it wasn’t a hugely partisan comment. But I (who did participate in the thread, I disclose) fully understand why at this point it’s all just too likely to make people crazy.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, and I actually think at one point I said that the rule was really just for U.S. presidential electoral politics! So I understand the confusion and definitely don’t mean to take anyone to task for it — but at this point I’d rather say no to all of it. I’m going to have locate the Teapots Inc. headquarters on another planet.

  9. Gingerblue*

    I’m trying to improve my French and German reading comprehension. Basically, I learned enough grammar to muddle through readings in both languages, but I’m out of practice and really suck. Can anyone recommend books in either language that I could use for practice? I’m specifically looking for ones which are available as ebooks in the US (because being able to use the dictionary in Kindle or iBooks makes things so much easier), not overwhelmingly hard, and entertaining enough to motivate me. I have all the older public domain classics I could want, and I’ve looked through Amazon, but there’s a lot of chaff to sort through. I’d really love some more fun contemporary literature. Any genre, any reading level from children’s on up. I’d be grateful for any suggestions!

    1. GiantPanda*

      Something you already know and like in English? I’d go with Harry Potter, but lots of books have a German translation available on Amazon.com

      1. Gingerblue*

        Thanks! I’m hoping to find some stuff originally published in the language, but if I can’t, I may wind up with Harry.

        1. Ismis*

          Oh – I read some Harry Potter and just remember that there are a ton of made up words. It took me a while to realise why I couldn’t find them in the dictionary :)

    2. Myrin*

      If you like fantasy, I can heartily recommend Michael Ende (author of Die unendliche Geschichte/”The Neverending Story”) – he wrote mostly children’s books and I think his way with words and shaping worlds is phenomenal but might still be easy enough for someone who isn’t that good yet (although I’m not super good at judging that, so I could be wildly off-base, depending on your actual proficiency level).

      Other than that, books you’ve already read and liked in English (whether they be English or German originally doesn’t really matter, I’d think) should be a top contender too, of course!

      1. fposte*

        Cornelia Funke might work there too–I have no idea how difficult her stuff is in the original German, but they’re really nice fantasies for middle school/YA.

        1. Tau*

          I was thinking Cornelia Funke as well, although I haven’t read any of her recent (read: published in the last 15 years) work.

          Other than that, +1000 to Michael Ende, and Otfried Preußler has also written some quite good children’s books (e.g. Der Räuber Hotzenplotz) Children’s books strike me as a good place to start for this sort of thing.

    3. Kay*

      My go-to is novelizations of movies and TV tie-ins. They’re often written at a high YA/low adult level, and in a foreign language the cheesiness doesn’t come through nearly as much as it does in your native language. Plus, you have the hook of characters & situations you’re already interested in.

      I also own a number of French translations of other books, like Harry Potter, etc.

      In original language French, I found Balzac very readable, ditto Simone de Beauvoir, Guy de Maupassant, Jules Verne, and George Sand.

    4. Sherm*

      Have you tried dual-language books. It’s English on one side, the language you’re learning on the other side. You can read pretty advanced stuff that way. For something purely in French, I highly recommend The Little Prince.

    5. Isobel*

      I’ve only read them in English, but I’d recommend a couple of classic children’s books: Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner, and Le Cheval Sans Tete by Paul Berna (A Hundred Million Francs is the English title). Apologies for lack of umlauts etc – can’t do them on my phone.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I have The Little Prince in French, German and now Russian. We read Le Monstre dans le Metro and some of the Le Petit Nicholas books.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      My French teacher had us focus on kids books, and then we tackled Dumas and Hugo. The kids books were easier going until we got more proficient.

    7. katamia*

      There aren’t that many options there, but Bilinguis (link in followup comment) might be interesting. They’re all public domain books so you might have them, but they’re dual language so you can see the English and French or German at the same time.

      If you like capital-L Literature-type books, you could check out books that have won the Prix Goncourt, the Prix Femina, or other French-language awards (and whatever the German equivalents are; I don’t know German).

      Overdrive sometimes has a decent amount of ebooks in other languages, so you could try looking there. It has all 7 Harry Potters in French, for example, and possibly other languages. So if your library has an Overdrive subscription (or however Overdrive works?) then take a look and see what’s available there.

      Also, re German, a lot of fantasy authors seem to wind up getting translated into German (like Jim Hines, for one, and I know I’ve seen others), so you could see if you could get ahold of any of those.

      My mom really likes Erik Orsenna, who wrote a short series of books that she describes as being kind of like The Phantom Tollbooth. The first one is called Les Chevaliers du Subjonctif. I haven’t read them yet, though.

      If you like mysteries, you could try the Maigret books (by Simenon).

    8. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived*

      Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (trilogy). It was translated into English and made in to a movie, but it was originally written in German I believe.
      The intended audience is teenagers bit I found it engaging and scary as an adult.

    9. SophieChotek*

      I have Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and 1 Anne Perry Mystery all in German; I know the plots, so I don’t have to worry about that. (Similar to Harry Potter suggestion).

      I also have read Drei Kamaraden (Erich Remarque) which I recall being easier to get through than Im Westen Nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Westernfront). I also have Theodore Fontane’s Effi Briest in German (but haven’t made much headway…)

      I’ve also found some German plays to be easier to read than full on novels. (i.e. Hugo von Hoffmansthal, the librettos to some operas like Strauss or Lehar.)

      Oh and I have the Bible in German. Some linguists claim Martin Luther’s translation is very influential to modern German language, so I every once in awhile I give a few chapters a go…

    10. Snazzy Hat*

      I have an edition of «Aventures d’Alice au Pays des Merveilles» which was translated under Lewis Carroll’s supervision by the son of one of his friends.

  10. Nervous Accountant*

    So I took a few exercise classes this last week Bc I was getting bored w my routine (heavy lifting and light cardio).

    I knew it was going to be physically tough, but didn’t think it’d be emotionally tough too. I took cycling for the first time ever…I was easily the biggest, most out of shape person in the room. When the instructor had to correct me I felt like a failure. Id say I had flashbacks of gym class except I was never actually bullied or traumatized in gym class and the instructors are nice and helpful. It’s my own hangup and emotional issues.

    I hope while I push myself physically I can push myself emotionally and mentally stronger.

    Better! Not as painful as last week.

    1. nep*

      It can seem futile in the moment, but perhaps just remind yourself that every master of this or that discipline was once a complete beginner.
      Kudos to you for putting yourself out there and trying new things. Many of us (ahem) tend to stay away for the very fact that we’re not good at something — all the while missing out on a whole hell of a lot. So thanks for the inspiration. All the best.

      1. Mischa*

        Hey me too! I started back in October, never made significant progress, took a three week break in May…and it’s like I had never put on running shoes before. It sucks. Yay for at least trying!

    2. Loopy*

      I found cycling to be the hardest most exclusive class I tried in terms of it seeming to be mostly people in tip top shape.

      I took it once and just didn’t enjoy it as much as other classes that didn’t feel impossible/ I was way out of line with most of the class.

      I don’t think you should quit but just know you weren’t alone in having the experience! I did not feel good when I left my class at all- which wasn’t the case with other challenging classes where I didn’t feel like I was way behind the rest!

    3. ThatGirl*

      Spin can be challenging, for sure! Keep going and be proud of what you’ve done so far!

    4. Junior Dev*

      I’m on my third session of a roller derby skills class and there’s still a lot of stuff I can’t do. Whenever someone who started the class more recently is struggling, I tell them, “the first step to being good at something is sucking at that thing.” That is, you have to spend a lot of time conscious of how bad you are at a thing, and trying anyway, before you eventually get better at it.

      It will get easier, and you’ll be glad you put in the work, but try to be kind to yourself until you get there. When you’re still in the awkward beginner phase, I think doing the thing consistently is most important, even if you can’t always do it “right.”

    5. paul*

      Everyone starts somewhere :)

      I can’t run worth a damn, my marathoner friend can’t bench his bodyweight. Very few people are great at every type of fitness.

      1. CheeryO*

        Yes, this is so true! I’m also a marathoner, and I’ve embarrassed myself in more yoga classes than I can count thanks to my ridiculous lack of flexibility.

      2. Dead Quote Olympics*

        Or even within a sport! I’m not the fastest cyclist by any means, but I can drop more experienced and fitter riders on hills, because apparently I’m a really good climber. That is not something I ever would have predicted.

    6. Hrovitnir*

      Aw. I hope you grow to like it! And if not, that you can try something else with no guilt.

    7. bunniferous*

      Hang in there! In my experience spin class can get you in shape pretty quickly. Key is do only what you can do, and do not put your settings too high at first. Unfortunately I have not been to the gym in years but back when I did go I lost 30 pounds and was in the best shape of my life, all because of that class.

    8. Amadeo*

      I feel for you. I am, well, by outward appearances not morbidly obese (I wear a size 14) or anything, but I am so out of shape since my job changed to a desk job. Last January I had to switch martial arts schools because the instructor I began with passed away. The new instructor and the grand master of the new school were pretty accommodating of that for a very long time, but I’m a high enough belt now that I’m getting pushed a lot harder recently. I’m not allowed to do my push ups on my knees anymore and we do 100 sit ups and 100 squats and practice the straddle splits at the beginning of every class now. The squats are the only thing I can keep up with/do well. The grand master is kind enough to assign those to me to count – I’d never make 100 sit ups.

      There are days when I come home so frustrated with my little fat body. I’m surrounded by teenagers and adolescents who don’t seem to suffer nearly as much as I do and while I’ve not yet been driven to tears, I’ve finally been driven to a trainer at the rec in addition to my TKD practice.

      I feel you. It’s just as hard on your brain as it is on your body!

    9. Anon attorney*

      I am a lifter and I find full on cardio classes like spin to be so painful it’s almost enjoyable in a sick way (as in surviving to the end without requiring paramedics to attend feels great). I did a Tabata class a few weeks back and actually thought I would throw up at one point. It’s pretty normal to find this stuff challenging, I think. You were there, you did it, you went back and did more – you succeeded. As my lifting trainer always says, showing up regularly is the most important thing. You showed up even though you felt unsure and self conscious. That is worth celebrating.

    10. Trixie*

      Better is good, even great! I know we should continue to mix up our routines (avoid muscle memory) but it’s a struggle.
      When I’m teaching, I always ask “newbies” to ease into and give themselves to absorb the newness of it. I’ve also said there tons of classes and instructors out there so if they’re not into my classes, don’t write it off altogether. Just need to find a better fit that works for them.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I’m definitely noticing the difference with instructors; I have one who’s very pleasant and encouragin and another one whos kind of…i don’t know. I just had my 2nd class with her and I’m kinde of feeling like I’m being picked on, but maybe this is SOP in all classes idk.

  11. Allypopx*

    Pride festivities in Boston! Unfortunately I have to work, but there’s a great energy in the city.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Yay! I’m all sad that the rainbow flag response on Facebook doesn’t seem to work in Sweden (/NZ? I’m not sure if it’s my IP or my signup details that matter). Also wish it was default rather than having to like a freaking Facebook page – but it’s not working even though I liked it. *sigh*

  12. Myrin*

    Life sure is a wondrous thing sometimes and works in mysterious ways. I have two stories to demonstrate how.

    (I hope this is not too job-y for the general open thread – it technically involves jobs and work with regards to both stories although the point really is more about arseholes. NOT literal ones, in case that wasn’t clear.)

    My mum will retire later this year and is on benefits until then. Because she’s over sixty already, the social services department (who are really great in general, especially my family’s specific case workers – I cannot sing their praises high enough!) has been very lax about her doing the usually required “write x many applications a month” but sometimes there’ll be exceptions.

    One of these was when about a month ago, her case worker called, saying that they in their department are looking for someone in [assisstant position x]. My mum has no experience with office work – she’s a massage therapist – but since they can technically stop paying your benefits if you refuse to apply and also because she figured it couldn’t hurt, she sent her application materials. She honestly didn’t put much effort into them because she knew she isn’t actually qualified for such work at all (which makes it super weird that over the years, people have always recommended jobs like [assisstant position x] to her – she has literally never in her entire life had anything to do with such work) so imagine her surprise when she got an email inviting her to come in for an interview with Mr. J. Dickinson.

    She was done with interviewing almost immediately since it turned out that she didn’t know how to do the core task of [assistant position x] – quelle surprise! – and they all decided that then there’s not much use to actually go on and do a proper interview, much to her relief. I asked her what kind of person the guy whose assisstant she would have been was – because it was all kind of weird, there wasn’t even a written job ad anywhere or any real details of what the job would entail; she only knew that “an older gentleman” (i. e. someone her age) would need help with his work – and she said Mr. Jacob Dickinson was unlikeable but polite and not the kind of person she would want to work with at all, although she couldn’t really pinpoint why. My only reaction to that was that I was surprised to hear that because since he’s from Asoville, two towns over from where we live, he must be Undicky Dickinson’s uncle, whom I knew at my old part-time job and who was such a sweet and fun guy and isn’t it weird how such stuff often doesn’t run in the family at all? And then the topic was dropped and we had no reason to speak of it again.

    Anyway, that was the first story. Bear with me, it will have a point, I swear.

    My sister, who works at a supermarket, had her first day back at work after two weeks of vacation yesterday. When she came home at half past eight, she was in a really bad mood, really crestfallen and gloomy, in a state where she’s a very easy victim for her depression to kick in hard. When asked what happened, it turned out that she had an argument with a customer. Or rather, the customer argumented at her. As everyone who’s ever worked in retail or is only adjacent to it in any way knows, these people have to deal with a lot of crap at all times. The stories my sister tells sometimes are super horrifying and make me hate humanity.

    But yeah, yesterday was one of these days again – her coworker made a slight mistake and then the unhappy customer ranted at my sister and then, when she proceeded to ask him to do something she’s obligated to ask as per policy, he became all huffy and said that she should leave her arrogant attitude at home and that she’s a rude and horrible human being and whatnot. She was completely shellshocked and her boss came to take him with her and rip him a new one but that obviously didn’t stop my sister from being upset for the rest of her shift. (Little shoutout to the other customers, though, who argued with Rude Bully and were very comforting and friendly to my sister afterwards.)

    Anyway, when she told us about this yesterday evening and said that that guy comes by regularly and always makes jokes and is so ~funny~ and whatnot, we asked if that means she knows him and if so, who is that man, do we know him as well? She said she had no idea, she only knows his face, but her boss called him “Jacoby” (and also said that he was obviously drunk once she had him alone). Everyone of us knows at least one Mr. Jacoby but none of them work at the social services department, which is a thing my sister did know about him because of previous conversations. So, yeah, no one we know and can shun, so we dropped the topic and tried to cheer my sister up with ice cream.

    Now imagine my surprise when this morning, shortly before leaving for work, my sister says “Now guess who the horrible customer yesterday was!” and I’m like “Ummm, no idea, like I said, probably none of the Mr. Jacobys I know” and she goes “NO NO, it was Jacob Dickinson, the one with the assisstant position mum applied for!” and I about fell over in shock because really, what are the odds?

    My mum says she was not at all surprised to hear that and I googled him and wasn’t surprised to hear that, either (he looks like a drunkard, to be quite honest), but really, what a bad person to have, suit-clad, in the social services department, and what a good thing that my mum wasn’t qualified for the job, and what a world with sucky people and immense coincidence we live in!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The truth always bubbles to the surface. Working retail in a small community is fascinating because many times the background is known and then the behavior in the store becomes more of The Story. Everyone knows who treats others in a crappy manner.

  13. Loopy*

    I think my first post disappeared- apologies if I’m confused and this is a duplicate. If not…

    I need curly hair help. I’m 29 and I still don’t have a tried and true routine or product (or set of products) that works to keep my curls defined and not a frizzy mess! I have very pretty curls when I have the right combo of products but usually I can’t replicate that or it’s been way way expensive!

    Does anyone have any tips for keeping curls from becoming a birds nest or frizz and fluff in the humidity? Is it having the right shampoo or conditioner in addition to leave in products? What works?! Help!

    1. KR*

      My stylist recommended bumble & bumble’s curl primer. I didn’t buy it because it’s kind of pricey but it made my curls AMAZING. Also, not sure if you already do this but I don’t wash unless my hair is greasy and gross and I need to. I just condition when I take a shower. I also only brush my hair every other week to a every month unless I have to (like it’s forming dreads or looks super messy or whatever). Sure there are knots in there but the curls stay together and look nice. Disclaimer, I am white and have white hair.

      1. Loopy*

        I am white and have white hair too :) Thanks for the advice. I looked up the curl primer, and hopefully in a month I can afford to splurge I’ll get to try it. But yes, it wouldn’t be an every day thing I could afford. Why are all the best things so pricey?

    2. Lily Evans*

      I’m a big fan of the Shea Moisture line for curls. My hair gets super frizzy and toes the line between waves and curls, but using those products regularly has helped a lot! They’re also not super expensive, so they’re good for everyday use! My top splurge products for when I need extra help fighting the frizz are Bedhead’s Control Freak (It says it’s straightening, but it doesn’t take the curl/wave out of my hair completely, just chills it out a bit) or their On the Rebound, which really defines my curls. I also love the It’s a 10 Miracle leave-in spray, it actually does seem to work miracles (and it had better for how much it costs!)

      1. Mischa*

        Second for shea moisture! I’m using the curl hibiscus cream and it’s fantastic. Takes a bit of getting used to with proportions, but it’s doing just as well as the Ouidad or DevaCurl stuff I’ve used in the past.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          Thirded! I actually like it *better* than devacurl or Ouidad, particularly since the products I use don’t have silicones, AND it’s less expensive! I use the coconut + hibiscus curl smoothie daily, and deep condition with the raw shea butter deep treatment masque every ~2 weeks.

          I also find that having generally healthy not-dried-out hair helps. For me that means normally washing with conditioner only (I use the Trader Joe’s mint and tea tree conditioner since it’s cheap and I feel like it cleanses pretty well) and then doing a shampoo and deep condition every 1-2 weeks. I know a lot of curlies who NEVER shampoo and find that washing with conditioner is enough for them, but I have some skin issues and my scalp gets kind of yucky if I don’t shampoo every couple of weeks. I use the SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil shampoo and find that it both helps with my scalp issues and doesn’t strip my hair too much.

          HAVING SAID ALL THAT, every time I travel and use different water my entire hair routine goes down the tubes. My SO’s family home has the hardest hard water in the history of the earth, and my regular product lineup does not work for me there — I get super frizzy.

          1. Loopy*

            I’ve never tried anything more complicated the fairly cheap shampoo and conditioner and have always wondered if I should step it up. I’ll have to look into the deep condition with the raw shea butter deep treatment masque.

            I’m worried all the product in the world won’t help if the issue is my hair isn’t healthy so that’s a valuable suggestion! Thanks!

            1. Natalie*

              The shampoo is probably your main problem, actually. Standard shampoos typically include a detergent (such as sodium lauryl sulfate) that is primarily included as a foaming agent. But you don’t actually need a foam or suds to clean your hair, and what it is doing is stripping the oils and drying it out. Hence the frizz.

              If you google “no shampoo” or “no poo hair” you should find a lot of options for cleaning hair without a cheap shampoo or spending a lot on a detergent free shampoo.

          2. Mischa*

            I wish I could do no poo or cowash only, but man my hair turns into a grease ball. I think the water is too hard in my area.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Yeah I tried to do cowash-only and my HAIR is fine with it, but my scalp… man. Itchy, uncomfortable, AND it didn’t look great.

      2. Loopy*

        I’ll definitely be putting shea moisture on my list! I also love when something works for several people because I think one issue is that curly hair types vary so much!

    3. fposte*

      I work with curly-haired people and they swear by DevaCurl products and method. They’ve even got the special Deva cuts, which look amazing.

      I’ve used the products myself and I really like them, but I’m just on the edge between wavy and straight so I don’t think my testimony counts that much.

      1. Mischa*

        Love Deva cuts. I think I’m one of a few curly headed people that despised the shampoo and conditioner routine, though their curl foam/gels/creams are amazing.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup! Just got a DevaCut this morning. Got my first at 35 and wish I had embraced the curl earlier.

      3. Loopy*

        I had never heard of a Devacut in my life but I found a single stylist who does one close enough to drive! I’m definitely going to get it as my next cut. I’m due for one anyway so I’m glad this came up!

        1. Loopy*

          OH it’s 75 dollars. Well then. I’ll have to muster up the financial nerve to splurge on that then.

          1. Mischa*

            Honestly, it’s worth it. Devacuts are – not to be hyperbolic – life changing. I’ve never been happy with my hair, but I love it now.

            1. Loopy*

              I went ahead and scheduled one for June 29th! It was the first after work appointment I could get.

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            One great thing about the DevaCut– you only need to get it done a few times a year. I just waited 6 months between cuts. (I should have gone after 5, but no matter.)

      4. Jessesgirl72*

        I have thick wavy/straight too. So that my hair tangles in a light breeze or if you look at it wrong.

        For anyone with that problem- or who has kids who scream about getting their hair brushed, I can’t sing the praises of the Wet Brush enough. I look at it, and I don’t know why it works differently than any other plastic brush, but it does. Tangles come out like magic, without pain.

        And then I can worry about styling it, once the damn knots are out!

    4. Junior Dev*

      I recently dyed my (very curly) hair so it gets frizzy more easily.

      My advice is to only wash it once a week, twice max. I use Organix shampoo and conditioner from the drugstore, then when I’m done in the shower I comb my hair (use a large toothed comb) and rub in about a tablespoon of coconut oil with my fingers. I sometimes put a gel in too but that’s optional.

      If your hair gets frizzy between washes you can rinse it with just water and then rub in the coconut oil.

      If you really want your hair to be moisturized you can use a much larger volume of coconut oil, leave it in overnight, and rinse it out in the morning. I do that after dyeing my hair.

      I don’t know what your ethnicity is but even though I’m a white lady a lot of the products I use are often marketed to black women, so that’s another thing to consider.

      1. Loopy*

        I think I wash my hair too often. I only recently heard it was even okay not to shampoo daily! I was always afraid of not shampooing if I was using product- like the water or conditioner alone wouldn’t get it out, and it would just gunk up my hair forever.

        I’ve also meant to try coconut oil, it sounds like it can be left in and used like a creme type product? I like things I can do quickly in the morning. Can it be used in damp/wet hair?

        1. Wendy Darling*

          It depends on the product. If I’m using something with silicones in it I find I have to shampoo to get that out, but now I’m using stuff that’s all various plant and nut oils and it comes out fine with just conditioner.

        2. Junior Dev*

          Oh yeah, definitely don’t shampoo curly hair daily!

          I rub a quarter sized amount of coconut oil into my hair after washing and conditioning it and leave it, the only time I’d rinse it out would be if I was doing the overnight leave in treatment that uses a lot more oil.

          I realised after writing the above that I sometimes spot-treat frizzy or unruly areas by rubbing some coconut oil on dry, too. Again, you don’t need very much.

        3. tigerStripes*

          I use only conditioner (frequently Suave) and no shampoo. If I use a hair pick to come it and let it dry w/o using a dryer (or you can use a diffuser), that helps, and then LA Looks gel works OK.

    5. Butch Cassidy*

      Crap ton of gel, for me. I put leave-in conditioner in my hair right after a shower, then splash more water into it so it’s soaking wet again, then I scrunch in All The Gel (over half a palmful for my fine, waist-length hair) and then squeeze excess water out by scrunching the hair into a towel. After that I air dry, touching the hair as little as possible.

      You end up with crunchy curlsicles, but then you just scrunch the crunch out and end up with soft curls that are more frizz-resistant. :)

      1. Loopy*

        Gel always gives me flakes and this really well, gel-y look. Does this brand seem better than other gels for a more natural look?

    6. copy run start*

      I swear by the “curly girl” method. Basically you stop using shampoos that strip the oils from your hair and just moisturize! There are various product lines that adhere to the method (DevaCurl is probably the most famous), but with a little research online you can find more affordable alternatives. The trick is ensuring you aren’t using other hair products that build-up in your hair, which can be tricky at first.

      I use DevaCurl’s lo-poo shampoo 2x a week and Suave’s coconut conditioner ($2 for a giant bottle!) daily to scrub and moisturize. When my hair was longer, I used Kinky Curl’s Knot Today as conditioner and left it in* to get three-foot ringlets. Now that my hair is much shorter I don’t need the moisturizing power of the Kinky Curly, thus the Suave. I use a bit of hair milk and Kinky Curly’s gel to keep things in place.

      *This takes getting used to, and if you do decide to leave conditioner in I recommend starting over a vacation as the first couple days will feel really awkward.

      1. Loopy*

        So it has become apparent I can’t just buy whatever’s on sale shampoo, which may be contributing to my hair woes. I’ll definitely have to look into devacurl’s lines.

    7. CheeryO*

      My hair is only wavy, but I have heard good things about the “plopping” method of drying, combined with a leave-in conditioner.

      1. Loopy*

        whats the plopping method? I never ever use a hair dryer, even with a diffuser. I wrap it in a towel for about 5 minutes and let it down damp and just throw product in.

        1. CheeryO*

          Just a fancy name for piling your hair into a towel or old t-shirt, then letting it dry overnight and finger combing the next morning. If you Google “curly hair plopping,” there’s a lot of discussion of it on curly hair websites! :)

            1. Melody*

              you can shower in the am, just don’t wash your hair then. You probably only need to wash it twice a week, so do that in the evening and use a shower cap in the am.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                See if I get in a shower my frizzy hair goes FOOM! Not washing it is not an option, shower cap or not.

            2. NotoriousMCG*

              Plopping isn’t only for overnight drying – many people use the TShirt to squeeze out the super wetness right after the shower, then put in product, and then lower their hair into the TShirt to make the plop and leave it for like 20 minutes (while getting dressed/brushing teeth, etc) and then air drying or diffusing from there.

              Loopy you should check out the Curly Girl Handbook which is where most of these suggestions are coming from! The curly girl method has really helped bring out my waves

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My hair is wavy, but when I plop it with some Noodle Head Kick up your Curls creme, it becomes voluminously curly. I don’t run my fingers all the way through when it’s curly; I bend over upside down and shake it out..I run my fingers through only at the roots to make it fall into place. It looks great and is really easy to do.

    8. Red*

      Shea Moisture shampoo and conditioner is the bomb, and then a metric f-ton of gel. It’s expensive, but the Deva Curl gel is worth it because the crunchiness can be squished right out when it’s dry. The cheapest prices on that are at Target, oddly enough! I just order it online.

      Also, if you dry your hair with a towel, stop that right now. It’s a bad plan. Use an old t shirt. There are microfiber towels available as well, but I don’t think the price is worth it when old t-shirts do just as well.

      1. Loopy*

        Oh snap. I use a towel but I just wrap my hair up and off my face. I don’t really vigorously dry at all. Is that still bad?

        1. Red*

          Probably. It’s the little loops on the towel that cause the problems – the cuticle of the hair gets caught in them and damaged. I miss drying my hair with my towel (so convenient!) but it is wonderful to not have that frizz and damage!

    9. Mal the Student(Again)*

      So I agree with those above who recommend DevaCurl – specifically a DevaCurl cut. I didn’t expect it to make such a difference in the quality of my curls, but it does!! I tried the DevaCurl products(no-poo shampoo, conditioner and gel) but didn’t like them as much as my usual stuff.
      As far as day to day wash and style, this is what I do:
      I do rinse all of my hair and condition the lower half of my hair(everything but the scalp)every day, and I either finger comb knots out while in the shower or use a wide-tooth comb in the shower if it’s particularly tangled. I never ever comb my hair out of the shower, it causes breakage and frizz.
      I shampoo twice a week(usually Sunday and Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how my scalp and hair is feeling) using head and shoulda soft and silky shampoo – I don’t have dandruff, but a lot of shampoos either leave a heaviness or leftover product feeling or dry my hair out. This leaves my hair very clean feeling and doesn’t dry it out. I only apply shampoo to my scalp, not the lower half of my hair. I just figure that part gets clean when I rinse.
      After I get out of the shower I put conditioner in the lower half of my hair(again excluding the scalp) – about half as much as I use in the shower.
      Then I put it in a loose wet bun while I get dressed.
      Finally I take it out of the bun, run curl cream through the lower half of my hair, finger combing any final knots and fixing the part in my hair. Then I generously coat my hair in gel(a tiny bit goes on my scalp but not much) and then I use a blow dryer with a diffuser on cool and low to dry my hair about 25%-50% dry. I let it air dry after that.
      I get a DevaCurl cut about every 5-6 months and my hair has never looked better(or as any fellow curly hair person might say, it’s never behaved better, because curly hair does whatever it wants LOL)
      Hope this helps! I felt like I spent every day fighting my hair until my early twenties and only in the last year or two(I’m 28) have I finally figured out what my hair and I need!

      1. Loopy*

        It sounds like the cut is a huge factor. I’m relieved I have one place that offers them in town trying to fit the price into my budget currently! I’m thrilled several people have vouched for it which makes it less anxiety inducing to try!

    10. Sophie*

      I like Garnier Fructise curl construct mousse. They often have coupons for Garnier and it isn’t that expensive. Put a little hairspray on and you’re good to go. If you have the budget for it, as other posters mentioned, Bumble and Bumble have some really great curl products. They have some nice creams and mousse. (The mousse smells like dead fish, but it works wonders if you can get past the awful smell!) If your hair is really curly, you might want to watch some videos on Youtube on co-washing. (Washing your hair with conditioner as opposed to shampoo.) Products from Deva Curl and Ouidad might also work for you.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! I had never heard of using conditioner in place of shampoo! Or thought of looking at youtube!

        1. Her Grace*

          This is what I do. I was converted to the Curly Girl way over a decade ago. Completely ditched shampoo and never looked back.

          I use a cheap bottle of conditioner to loosen dirt and oils from my scalp, like how one uses cold cream to remove makeup from your face. Then I use a fancier one (love Fructis!) for conditoning the ends. Then plop it for a slow dry overnight, to wake to beautiful corkscrew curls.

          IF (big IF) I need a deep cleanse (maybe once every couple of years) I only use a non-SLS shampoo. Once.

    11. Candy*

      I’ve tried pretty much everything in this thread but the only thing I like is this ORS Olive Oil Moisturizer Hair Lotion I found at the drugstore. It’s crazy cheap (like $6) and amazingly moisturizing and for the first time in my life I can use just the one product to get nice shiny curls instead of experimenting on an expensive mixture of primers and moisturizers and gels and mousses and hairdresser’s oils and whatever else. It’s magic.

      1. Loopy*

        The expensive mixture is another thing I’m trying to avoid! Now I use three products and it doesn’t even work! This will be a great option to try since it’s so cheap! I’ll be at CVS tomorrow and look for it!

    12. cat*

      Absolutely no heat styling.

      Throw out your hairbrushes.

      My shower routine:
      – Shampoo just my roots with whatever shampoo was on sale, rubbing in with the pads of my fingers, not my nails; my hair gets super greasy at the roots *and* I smoke, so I *must* shampoo daily
      – Apply a generous amount of conditioner from the tops of my ears down to the ends (*not* on my scalp)
      – Still in the shower, use a very wide-toothed comb to comb the conditioner through my hair (start combing at the ends, not at the root)
      – Do other shower things, like wash my face, shave, etc., while the conditioner works
      – Rinse
      – Turn off shower
      – *Gently* squeeze the excess water out of my hair
      – Spray on a leave-in conditioner (I use Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri‑Wheat Leave‑In Conditioner) from the ears down (I don’t spray the roots)
      – Use the wide-toothed comb to brush the leave-in through and make my part
      – Wrap my hair in a Turbie Twist
      – Get dressed, do my makeup, etc.
      – Gently remove Turbie Twist and *lightly* scrunch hair just at the roots
      – My hair will take another hour to fully air dry from this point. YMMV.

      Do not touch your hair once it’s dry. You will just disrupt the curl pattern and make frizz.

      I live in Florida, the land of humidity, and this routine keeps the frizz to a minimum. I will tell you that it took about a week of doing this to get my curls really defined and to decrease the frizz caused by quite a bit of straightening and heat styling, so if you try something (even if it isn’t this routine), stick with it for a little while before you give up hope.

      I also deep condition my hair once a week, on a night when I know I am not doing much the next day, by combing pure coconut oil through my hair with that same wide-toothed comb. The next day, my ends look a little greasy, but the day after? The best hair day of my week.

      1. Loopy*

        Ohhh that pure coconut oil part especially might have to become part of my Saturday night routine (I don’t go anywhere on Sunday!) So do you leave the coconut oil in overnight or rinse out that night?

        1. cat*

          So, I do Friday-Night-Self-Care/Beauty Night, so on Friday night, I dry comb my hair, dip the bottom 3/4 in coconut oil (I fill up a little ramekin with the liquid oil (and again, I live in Florida, so my coconut oil is always liquid, but you’ll probably need to melt yours a little)) then comb through and put up into a bun. Then I do my other Friday Night Beauty things – probably half an hour or so. When I’m done, I rinse my hair with cool water. This doesn’t get all of the oil out, but it gets out enough that it doesn’t leave any grease on my pillowcase. The next morning, I shower like normal, except I will *very* gently lather the parts of my hair that I oiled. Boom, defined, soft, frizzless curls.

    13. Merci Dee*

      I spray in Infusium 23 leave-in conditioner, and then comb through. Then, I work a blob of super hold gel into my hair, and then comb that through, too, so it mixes well with the conditioner. Once that’s done, I run my fingers through to shape and define my curls, and then I leave it alone.

      For washing, I use Head and Shoulders 2-in-1 for textured hair.

      About $6 for shampoo, $6 for leave-in, and $4 for gel.

      Bonus: if you run your hands through your hair during the day and frizz it out, you can wet your hands and run them over your hair to re-activate the gel and tame everything down again.

      1. Loopy*

        I’ve used gel often and while it works, I get gel flakes. I like the idea of trying it with leave in conditioner though.

        1. Merci Dee*

          If you’re getting flakes, you may be using too much gel. Granted, my hair is pretty short (3-4 inches when I pull it straight), but I only use a dime-size dab. But because my hair us still wet from the conditioner, it spreads and works through pretty easily.

          Someone up-thead mentioned crispy hair when they use gel, and this happens for me, too. I just leave my hair alone until it’s mostly dry, and then lightly run my palms over the top of my hair to get rid of the crispy feel – do =not= run fingers through your hair because that just begs for frizz all over again. One quick swipe with your palms should to it. Then your curls are shiny instead of crispy.
          I also second a few other commenters who mentioned losing your brush and hair dryer. Neither of those are friends to curly hair. Wide-tooth combs and air drying are the way to go.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Same for me. I use plain old drug store hair gel. I put it in while my hair is wet. While it’s drying I shake my head around to make the drying curls loosen up, and then I run my hands through when it’s mostly dry to kind of fluff it up a bit. Not too much though, because it will break apart those defined curls we like so much. Definitely lose the hair dryer and the brush. I literally have not brushed my hair in many years or blow dried it. I don’t even use a comb or pick.

            1. Merci Dee*

              I keep a pick in the shower. I run the pick through when I’m wetting my hair so that I’m not standing there for hours while the water tries to trickle down to my scalp. Also, once I wash with my 2-in-1, I comb through with the pick to get rid of tangles. Makes it easier to get the leave-in and gel distributed later.

    14. Zathras*

      This thread is gold, I’m in the dry, frizzy, thick hair club too and I need to try some of this. Folks who are using coconut oil or similar at night and leaving it in – does it make your pillowcase greasy? Should I put down a towel or old T shirt if I try that?

      Also, +1 to the Turbie Twist which someone mentioned above – someone gave me one and I thought it was a dumb gimmick until I tried it. But I love it.

      1. Loopy*

        I swear I want to weep with relief that so many fellow curly/waved haired people have come to my aid with so many suggestions!!! This thread is a LIFE SAVER!

    15. The Other Dawn*

      Honestly, I just use LA Looks hair gel. I’m really too lazy to do anything else. I’ve tried curl cream and I hate it. I just don’t like that it feels like there’s nothing in my hair. I prefer the feeling of a product in my hair. Makes me feel like it’s doing it’s thing.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I use the LA Looks gel, too. The extreme sport, level 10 hold gel. It’s a light blue color, and it smells like blueberries to me. Yum!

    16. Raine*

      Alaffia is a great brand. I use their Black Soap as a shampoo and their coconut oil conditioner. Rarely have any frizz.

    17. Spectacled Elephant*

      Shea moisture leave in conditioner with a light gel (Carol’s Daughter)

    18. Ktelzbeth*

      Someone I know swears by (I think, because I can’t check right now) Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curls & Waves conditioner. Conditioner only in the mornings in the shower with a very rare shampoo with the shampoo from that line.

    19. Sophie*

      Just another idea: It may seem counterintuitive, but I sometimes use straightening cream on my hair to make it curly/wavy. Creams have more hold than gels/it won’t flake and it tames flyaways and frizz. If you’re in the States, you can find nice hair products at TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Redken used to have a really nice curly hair line, but they discontinued it. (Boo!)

    20. Ramona Flowers*

      I have no idea if this would work for anyone else but things got better for me when I stopped trying to use specialist products. I have very thick hair that can be wavy/ringletty or just a huge huge thing of frizz.

      I am on a very tight budget (long story) and made some cuts including bath and body stuff. I now buy the super cheap 99p shower gel from my local supermarket (kind of like what you’d call a drugstore product?) and I just wash my hair with that. Not shampoo. Not conditioner because that makes my hair dry in a way that’s more… belligerent. Like it gets a bit too smooth and heavy.

      I put on a tiny bit of Aussie curl serum then let it dry naturally – can’t do ‘plopping’ as if I sleep with it wet it sticks out in crazy directions. Best thing is to just let it dry and not touch it at all; no running fingers through it let alone hairbrushes.

      Or I straighten with GHDs and put Frizz Ease Secret Agent on it.

  14. anon24*

    I’m trying to keep my home as chemical free as possible, but I’m looking for a way to have it smell fresh and clean. I liked using essential oils like orange and lemon in a diffuser but last fall I got 2 kittens and essential oils are an absolute no-no around cats (it builds up in their liver). Is there such a thing as a healthy air freshener that doesn’t use essential oils? I am so paranoid with having the cats that my apartment will smell bad and I won’t notice because I’m used to it. Any recommendations?

    1. LawBee*

      No air freshener recommendations, but a litter recommendation: Feline Pine. I travel for work, and have left my two cats alone for 2-3 days. When I got back, the litter box had definitely been used, but I could not smell a THING. I even got right up close to it and sniffed – no poop smell, no urine smell, just fresh pine. It is miracle litter. My friend who lives in a Manhattan studio also uses it, and I swear, I never would have thought she even had a cat. ZERO STINK.

      Really, I can’t recommend it enough. Even my mom, who has an annoyingly sensitive sense of smell, has no complaints. (I swear to god, cook fish in your kitchen ONCE and three days later, she’s still complaining about how it smells fishy.)

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        In addition to a quality litter you can also help the problem from the front end (so to speak) by feeding good quality, grain free food (wet or dry). We do this for our two and no stink; my friends dont and good lord you can tell immediately when their cats drop a bomb (and our host usually has to break off the conversation and go shovel and open a window) and their flat definitely has the “cat smell”.

        We also brush twice a week to try and keep down the hair and vacuum at least twice.

        1. anon24*

          What food do you use? We use science diet kitten food and have to vacate the room when my little boy goes. Not so much with my girl who eats the same food (If it continues after we switch foods I’m going to have to talk to the vet). Have you tried a raw meat diet? We were thinking about trying that when they become adults because of all the fillers in so much of the food.

          1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

            We feed a number of different dry foods – they like Taste of the Wild and Orijen (which is damned expensive so thats a treat only) and Merrick. Here in Europe we also have Purizon and Applaws they like a lot too. So they get dry food in the morning/when we are at work, and then a packet of wet at night (high quality grain free) – we’ve used bff, tiki cat, halo. and merrick. We do try and mix it up and never too much fish (and they hate beef).

            Full on raw meat diet we haven’t tried, but we will give them raw if we are cooking for ourselves that night. For example, last night we did chicken on the grill, but we reserved a quarter of a breast for them and cut it into chunks for their dinner. They used to get super fresh herring too.

            In the US I have seen raw food you can get now in frozen form, and when we lived in MN there was a pet deli where we did get turkey for them (waste of money, they didn’t like the texture). We tried frozen raw pellets and that didn’t work either: https://www.fetch.co/cat/food/raw-+-frozen/instinct-raw-frozen-cage-free-chicken-bites-for-cats. So we stick to easy when we can, and healthiest as possible other times.

            1. anon24*

              Thank you so much for your comments? Why not too much fish? Personal preference or is there a reason? Forgive my ignorance – I knew nothing about cats when we rescued ours and am learning as I go by asking stupid questions!

              1. Anonyby*

                Fish (especially ones labeled with generics, such as “white fish” or “ocean fish”), contain a lot of calcium and magnesium. The excess of those can lead to stones–I had to transition off of Taste of the Wild because all flavors had fish after my (now sadly gone) boy got a blockage from bladder stones.

              2. nonprofit manager*

                I didn’t see the comment about too much fish. The reason I don’t feed my cats much fish at all is because something about it can cause urinary tract issues. There is a lot of information about feeding cats at catinfo.org, which is managed by a veterinarian in California. She includes recipes for raw and partially-cooked food.

          2. cat*

            We make our own raw cat food, which makes us sound like a bunch of hippies, but I swear, my cat’s poops used to be atomic weapons of nasal destruction, and now they’re these little dry poo whispers with no smell at all. Completely changed the colors and texture, too. Litterbox is easier to change, visitors tell me there’s no cat smell, and kitties have glossy coats. And I think it’s cut down on the shedding, too!

            And now I’ll stop talking about cat poo.

            1. anon24*

              Do you mind sharing how you make your own food? I’d love to try it and see if it would work long term for us

              1. cat*

                – 4lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
                – 1lb chicken liver
                – 4000mg taurine
                – 2c water
                – 3tbsp bonemeal
                – 2tbsp gelatin
                – 4 egg yolks
                – 2 capsules glandular supplement
                – 4000mg salmon oil
                – 800IU vitamin E
                – 4 vitamin B-50 capsules
                – 4tsp psyllium husk

                1. Combine the taurine, water, bonemeal, gelatin, yolks, glandular supplement, B-50 capsules (open them up and just use the powder from inside) and psyllium in a large bowl. Whisk and set aside.

                2. Grind the chicken and chicken livers. My grinder (the KitchenAid mixer meat grinding attachment) will also pop the salmon oil and vitamin E capsules for me, so I put them through the grinder with the meat; however, if yours won’t, or if you’re lucky enough to find pre-ground chicken thighs (I can’t find them in my area), you’ll want to empty the capsules into the mixture during step 1.

                3. Combine the meat and the slurry from step 1. I usually run the slurry through my grinder to get out any chunks, then mix together in one of those huge bus pans that you can get on the cheap at a club store (got mine as a set of 2 at Sam’s). Then I put on gloves and mix together by hand to incorporate.

                4. Using a scale, measure a serving size into an individual container. A serving size for me is 4oz per cat. I started them at 5oz, but they weren’t eating all of it in a timely manner and then the dogs were getting to it. With 4oz, they usually finish it all in 20 minutes or so.

                One batch will make about 45 4oz servings. Each cat gets *two* servings per day, one in the morning and one at night. It takes me maybe 30 minutes to make a single batch, but I’ve been doing it since September – it might take you longer at first.

                Generally, I double or triple the recipe. I have a bunch of Anchor Hocking glass custard cups with lids, and I scoop the food into them in indidual servings. I only keep ~3 days worth of food in the fridge at once, and the rest I freeze and thaw as I go, because since it’s raw, it will go bad (and don’t worry, your cats will *definitely* let you know if it’s bad).

                It sounds like a lot of work and a lot of crazy ingredients, but you can get everything other than the meat on Amazon, and once you make a couple of batches, it gets easier and easier. From a cost perspective, it costs about $0.05 more per serving than my old (Friskies) wet cat food did, but OMG, it is SO WORTH IT in stink reduction alone.

            2. nonprofit manager*

              Fellow 100% raw feeder (half homemade and half commercial) and I agree. Can’t even tell when they poop anymore. Our cats also have wonderful coats and they always smell good and clean. Plus, we have not seen a single flea or evidence of fleas since we began feeding raw.

          3. nonprofit manager*

            Also a full-on raw feeder and the benefits have been amazing. Healthy cats. Resistant to fleas. The cats always smell clean. Can’t even smell the litter box, even when we’re in the same room when it’s happening. We use a combo of home-made and commercial and the cats love it. It costs more, but it resolved the male’s health issues, so we go to the vet much less and he’s no longer on multiple medications.

      2. anon24*

        I was at target and I picked up some Feline Pine to try. One question (and I feel really stupid). How does it work with having the bigger pellets? I’ve never used a non clumping lotter before and I’m wondering how it works with the urine and changing the litter.

        1. PepperVL*

          The pellets actually break apart when the cat pees in the pine litter. So you scoop the feces, and stir the litter to distribute the dust. When you’re ready to change the litter, sift the dust out into a trash bag (or another container) and keep the good pellets.

    2. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      Put fresh peels in pot of water on the stove top or in a tea kettle. Around Christmas I like to stud orange peels with cloves and a very small dash of vanilla extract in the water, then just let the kettle bubble away for a bit.

      You could do the same with lemons and other citrus.

      1. anon24*

        That sounds like it would smell amazing! Have you ever tried adding cinnamon? I make lemon sweet tea a lot so I’m going to have to try that with the lemons next time I make some.

        1. fposte*

          Just make sure kitties don’t have access to the peels, since that’s where the oils are concentrated.

        2. On Fire*

          I don’t have cats, but for a general air freshener/scented air, I put three or four cinnamon sticks, a cutie orange (sectioned, peel ON), a tablespoon of whole cloves and a handful of fresh frozen cranberries in a small saucepan. I add about two cups of water and set it on my tiny simmer burner, with the heat turned to low. It makes the whole house smell like Christmas. (You could do the same thing with one of those little crockpot things, I’m sure.) I keep it in that pan and reheat it occasionally for a few days before throwing it out and starting over with fresh ingredients.

          Would scented wax cubes be an option for your situation? I have a wax heater, too, and love the variety of scents available for it.

      2. Turtlewings*

        I’ve done that, it smells amazing, and helps hydrate the house (this is usually in the winter when the heater dries everything out).

      3. Jessesgirl72*

        Not even in water, but an orange stuffed with cloves is a centuries old way of making a house smell fresh. You can do the same with apples. At flea markets and the like (probably check Etsy) you can find containers meant to hide the fruit and let out the scent.

    3. Anonyme*

      A box of baking soda both near the litter boxes and some sprinkled in with the litter.

  15. Max Kitty*

    I was taken aback earlier this week when, at a casual restaurant (casual, but still, a sit-down restaurant), they led us to a table next to a booth where a man had his flip-flops off and was putting his bare feet on the bench seat across from him! Seriously, dude, this is restaurant, not your house! I was so put off that I asked for us to be moved to a different table away from him. They moved us with no trouble, but I can’t believe no one from the restaurant ever asked him to keep his shoes on his feet!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t expect the seat to be all that clean, but if he were putting his feet on the table and they did nothing, I’d eat somewhere else! But yeah, I’d give that a bit of side-eye.

    2. Kay*

      Eh. Wouldn’t surprise me at all, but then I’m in Vermont. Pretty much anything goes as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Probably his flipflops had more germs than his bare feet did.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Yeah, this is where I’m at (philosophically, not in Vermont). They’re gonna wipe the bench seat when he leaves, and seriously it’s a thing you’re gonna put your butt on. If it were really nice upholstery or something that might be different, but a restaurant with nice upholstery is asking for problems. This feels very much like a thing that people have a gut reaction to (which is totally one’s right, and I’m glad the restaurant was able to move them) but isn’t like, objectively harmful or anything.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      It probably was a health code violation. The “No shoes, no service” signs aren’t there because stores and restaurants don’t want to look at bare feet. They are supposed to be stopping the spread of fungus.

      1. Florida*

        It’s actually legal for customers to go barefoot (in the US). That is not a health code violation. The no shirt, no shoes rules are a preference of the store (which they are certainly allowed to have). Just like some restaurants require men to wear a coat or tie. But it is legal to go barefoot in restaurants. The reels are different for employees, however.

    4. Sam Foster*

      Absolutely disgusting but one can see why the restaurant did nothing: Imagine being a relatively low-paid restaurant worker (stereotype but generally valid) with a ton of responsibility for other customer’s etc. Would you take time to address the disgusting person knowing that in all likelihood it was going to turn in to a “thing” that would be stressful and interfere with your ability to do your work?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      In my state that would be a health code violation and it does not matter that he is just a customer. If caught the staff has two choices, ask him to put his shoes on or face a violation.
      I had to talk someone into taking their monkey out of the store. They honestly did not see a problem. Years ago, I was working in a mall and a guy walked in with a colorful lizard on his back. It was so colorful that I ASSUMED it was plastic. I jumped a mile when the thing turned and looked at me. Then I called mall security. They helped the man find the exit door.

      1. Florida*

        There are no state or federal laws in America that prohibit a customer from going barefoot in a restaurant.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am in shock. I cannot imagine what that would be like. But, okay that helps to explain why tourists are shocked by how strident we are about this. When you know your boss could get hit with a several thousand dollar fine and your job might be on the line, then you pretty much have to speak up.

          I guess every state has their thing where they feel compelled to guard or protect people . Interesting stuff.

          1. Florida*

            I think you misunderstood my comment (or your comment is nested incorrectly). I’m saying that there are NO state or federal laws prohibiting going barefoot in restaurants in the US. In other words, it’s LEGAL to go barefoot in restaurants.
            There could be local ordinances. Also, the company can have it’s own policy, which means the employee would get in trouble for not enforcing it.
            If there are local ordinances, they could get a fine, so that part of your comment might apply.
            Generally speaking, though, the no shoes rules exist because it is a dress code rule of the restaurant, which they created themselves because they don’t want to look at nasty toes (or want the liability when someone steps on something and gets hurt).

  16. Butch Cassidy*

    I started a container herb garden this week and my Plant Mom feelings are through the roof. My one concern is that when I bought my parsley plant, the roots were so tightly packed into their plastic container that I couldn’t loosen them before sticking them into my pot. Is that going to be a problem?

    1. fposte*

      I’ve had plants that survived fine with that, but mostly what I do when planting annuals in that condition is cut or tear the rootball itself and butterfly it a little.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, that is what I do also. I don’t worry too much about the roots that are as fine as hairs. If I break one of them no biggie. Plants don’t like having bigger roots broken, although they probably will survive, it is a set back for them.

        Your plant may be okay. Give it a week or so and if it fails to thrive, take it out of the pot, loosen the roots all the way around. Then put the roots back in, gently filling in with soil as you go. I realize you may end up redoing the whole planter depending how much you have in the pot. You could just decide to let the parsley go this time and see how the rest of the plants are doing.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’ll carefully tease out the roots if we’re talking a shrub or a tree, but with an annual the roots are usually fine and fast-growing. I like pansies and you’ll get a little white-coated rootball with them sometimes where the roots are so fine they blend together; they’re generally okay with just getting sliced up and spread out.

    2. On Fire*

      I’m doing herbs in containers, too – isn’t it fun? The roots will naturally spread now that they have space to do so.

      And shout-out to whatever company started my herbs this year. Rather than a plastic pot that is thrown away and wasted, they used a fast-decaying material that you simply plant in the big pot. You tear the bottom off so the roots can get out, and then just set the whole thing down in your planter of potting soil. The container decays into the soil and becomes a natural part of the environment. (And I found this at Walmart, of all places.)

  17. Anon89*

    This is SO not something I usually feel comfortable talking about–but I love this group and think NOT talking about it may be part of the problem. So here goes:

    I’ve struggled with excess sweating pretty much since puberty (I’m in my late 20s now). Hyperhidrosis is apparently more common than people think, but it seems the majority of people who have it don’t seek treatment for it. Anyway, I’m a strange case because I think I actually sweat less than your average person (when exercising for example) but I sweat a lot on my palms and feet and (ugh) groin. I’ve recently started a new medication that seems to be really helping.

    So I guess I have two questions for this group: 1) has anyone else experienced this and do you have any tips? 2) What are other people’s experiences when it comes to sweating? I think part of my problem is that I’ve always felt so much shame and embarrassment around sweating (and worked so hard to hide it) that I have no idea what “normal” is or what other people’s experiences are. So any time I start sweating (even when it’s super hot out!) I feel embarrassed and I think that leads me to sweat more. When someone casually mentions they’re sweating I’m thinking “What? You’re sweating and you’re willing to talk about it?? You’re not embarrassed?? Isn’t sweating the most embarrassing thing in the world??” But it’s honestly so helpful for me to remember that in general sweating is normal and it’s not always something to be embarrassed about. I’m a young woman so also feel pressure to look nice, etc. Not be “gross”. Anyway…I guess I’m asking some super personal questions. But would really appreciate people’s thoughts. Thanks!!

    1. Temporarily Anonymous*

      I don’t know if I fall under a medical definition of excessive sweating but I’m definitely a heavier sweater than a lot of women I know (thanks Dad for those genes /sarc ). I don’t wear an antiperspirant, just a deodourant because of the carcinogens in antiperspirants. Mostly I wear clothes that don’t show sweat as much. And yes, we’re socialised to think of it as shameful and disgusting for women to sweat. I’ve struggled with that mindset and I’m not entirely free of it. But one thing that’s been helpful is being in martial arts class where everyone is working so hard that we all get covered in sweat by the end of class. When you are used to being sweaty around other sweaty (and sometimes “fragrant”) people, it starts to normalize what really is a natural and healthy body function.

      (I do have to avoid certain fabrics, namely rayon and viscose since they make my sweat stink horribly which has been difficult this year with the majority of shops selling clothes only in those materials, grrr!)

      Oh and another odd thing: I sweat when I’m cold. Never met anyone else yet with that weird trait

    2. Perpetua*

      Oh, I empathise! I’m a woman in late 20s as well, and my main sweating zones are palms and feet, but I’ve been super self-conscious about armpit sweat as well. Actually, as I’m sitting here and typing this, I have tissue paper near me and I need to wipe off my palms just to write this and be able to use my laptop’s touchpad without it going crazy. That’s how I got through most of my school years – by having tissue paper under my hand as I wrote, because otherwise I would get the paper too wet… I went through a phase of wearing mostly black T-shirts because I felt that everything else was too “risky” and would show armpit stains. And yes, anxiety around the topic probably made me sweat even more. I even researched options like botox injections in my palms but decided not to do that.

      So, I have definitely experienced it! :) As for tips… Other than these “practical” solutions that I mention, I’m not sure what else helped, but over time I got less worried about it, or maybe I started sweating a bit less with age (although the palm/feet sweating seems to be getting a bit stronger again recently, I’m not sure why). Just reminding yourself that it’s COMPLETELY NORMAL is definitely helpful, so I’d keep on working on that and repeating that to myself. I get nervous about shaking hands with someone if my palms are sweaty (which, of course, makes them sweat more), so I try to discreetly use some tissue paper before doing so, if it’s something planned (e.g. I’m sitting in a lobby waiting for a job interview, or approaching someone I know). Back when I still went to church, I’d also wipe my hands on my pants before the part where we needed to shake each other’s hands.

      I’ve also worked on “just” getting over it, as in, realizing that I don’t always have control over my body, that sweating is normal, that I try to do some things that help, but even if I need to shake someone’s hand with a sweaty palm – they’ll survive (and so will I)! It might be a bit uncomfortable, but that’s life sometimes, and there’s no use of excessive worrying about things I can’t control. I sometimes apologize in advance, or in the moment, and that helps MY anxiety a bit, and people are usually understanding. Also, everyone is mostly focused on themselves and worrying about how THEY are coming across. :)

      1. Anon89*

        Shaking hands is still SO STRESSFUL for me. Thanks for the encouragement. I always imagine people are just HORRIFIED at my gross palms. When in reality most people forget about it or barely notice or if they do are sympathetic.

      2. I am here now*

        I have many times shaken hands with someone with sweaty palms and really thought nothing of it. It is not at all uncommon. Don’t stress too much over this. You can’t help it. If it bothers the person you are shaking hands with that’s their problem to deal with. Most people won’t even remember it afterwards. Look them in the eye confidently and give them a friendly smile and all is good!

    3. LCL*

      I was troubled by this until my 40s. Never sought treatment but if I had to do it over again I would. Mostly I never wear the same pair of shoes or boots two days in a row. And once I was out of puberty I could use antiperspirant instead of deodorant. You get to make your own choices about what you consider safe, but nobody has proven that antiperspirant is carcinogenic.

    4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      A friend has hyperhidrosis mainly on her feet and palms. Nothing helped – until she got Botox! Botox is apparently a well known treatment for hyperhidrosis. She says she started with just her hands and loved it, so she does her feet during the summer months and forgoes during winter.

      1. Anon89*

        My doctor mentioned that! I think I want to explore it–I’m not sure my insurance will cover it unfortunately:( But thank you! It’s great to hear it’s worked so well for someone.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        Many insurances will if you demonstrate that all other avenues have been exhausted. It’s worth a try. The bad part is that it takes many many small injections all over the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet. Sometimes it’s done under general anesthesia. It can work wonders, though.

    5. New Bee*

      I recommend Drysol (can’t remember if it’s still prescription only) and Certain Dry. Interestingly, my armpits respond best to regular ol’ Sure.

        1. The Grammarian*

          Another sweaty woman here. I tried Certain Dri and it didn’t work for me. One thing that seems to keep the sweating down, for a little while at least, is Arrid XX Dry spray for men. The downsides are (1) it’s a spray and (2) it smells hypermasculine to me.

    6. Anon responder*

      Oh hey, another sweaty woman here. I almost definitely have hyperhidrosis, though I’ve never been diagnosed or gotten treatment. My issues are my hands and feet, and I find that the worst of it is linked to anxiety…like if I’m sweaty from being hot or exercising, it doesn’t necessarily result in my hands or feet being very sweaty. But if I’m even somewhat nervous, those areas can be dripping.

      I was much more self-conscious about this as a kid, and it’s mostly become a non-issue as an adult. Mainly because I’ve realized that bodies are weird and pretty much everyone has a THING that they’re dealing with, whether that’s weight, body hair, toenail fungus, or whatever. Mine is just sweat.

      That said, I’ve been more interested in treatment lately, because I’ve really gotten into doing circus aerials as a hobby, and it’s much tougher to get a good grip on ropes and things with sweaty palms. I’ve used Sweatblock wipes on occasion and find that they do cut down on the severity. I’d be interested to know what medication is working for you? I’m also interested in Iontoderma, which I think is a fairly new home iotopheresis machine.

      1. Anon89*

        I was just prescribed glycopyrrolate a couple days ago. I think I may need to up the dose if I want to be sweat free but so far I’ve only experienced minimal side effects in the form of a drier mouth using 1mg twice a day. But that’s just encouraged me to drink more water which is probably a good thing!

        I’m pretty similar in that I think my sweating on palms and feet is mostly stress/anxiety related. Your comment about realizing EVERYONE is dealing with something is really helpful! I CAN learn to be more relaxed about this and even if I never find a “cure” that doesn’t mean it has to be a huge deal all the time. I’ve heard of Iontoderma but it seems pretty time intensive. At least in the beginning.

    7. Anonzie*

      I sweat like mad and I have really oily sweat. Also, my body chemistry makes it so if i use antiperspirant vs just deodorant, my under arms stain dark and my sleeves in my shirts turn hard and crunchy, in addition to white. This isn’t with just white antiperspirants either. So, as embrassing as it is, I just deal with it and use deodorant. I have found that cutting most dairy out of my diet (for reasons in addition to this) has caused my sweat not to be so stinky and I make sure to keep my pits shaved to help with that too.

    8. Episkey*

      I don’t have this particular issue, but I think this is what Botox was originally FDA approved for. Might be worth it to look into for your palms/feet/groin areas.

    9. Clever Name*

      I’m a woman, and I feel like I sweat more than the average person. It’s not great, but it’s not the end of the world. I don’t wear synthetic shoes in the summer, and sometimes I’ll change my underwear on a hot day towards the end of the day. I don’t use gel deodorants because they don’t work as well as the white ones.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Someone mentioned using lime or lime juice here a few weeks ago. I wanted to ask about that but I never got back to it. Hopefully that person is reading and will comment again.

    11. Sophie*

      Ugh… I sweat like a pig! It started in high school. I think it’s a hormonal thing. I’ve had my thyroid checked and it’s normal. I wear a lot of black/dark colors. As I’ve gotten older, I just don’t care anymore if it shows. I tend to get a little more sweaty during that time of the month, I’ve noticed. After that, I’m a little drier. There are underarm dress shields that they sell, but I’ve never tried those. Certain dri deodorant used to help, but it irritates me after I shave under my arms. I find that I sweat more if I’m dehydrated, so I try and up my water intake.

    12. gonna stay anon*

      I sweat a lot, even when it’s cold. Like you, it’s mostly hands and feet. I have found that if I don’t focus on my sweating, it’s not so noticeable to me. But here are a few things I do to cope.

      I wear wool or cotton (not synthetic) socks because they will absorb the sweat. When I go without socks or wear sandals, I make sure the inside of the shoes/sandals is a washable fabric or natural surface that will absorb the perspiration. Otherwise my feet slide around and it gets super uncomfortable and gross. I will only go without socks if I can wash the footwear. And I do have to throw away sockless footwear/sandals after one season because, even with washing, they get smelly.

      Anti-perspirants do nothing for me, and I’ve tried them all, except cause little balls to form under my arms. So I stopped using them and use a more natural deodorant, instead, as it seems to not stain my clothes as bad. When the humidity rises, which makes me sweat even more, I use corn-starch based baby powder in areas that sweat a lot to absorb moisture.

      I stopped wearing sunscreen all over my body, as that made me sweat worse, and I wear light-weight light-colored fabrics that contain sun protection. Yeah, I am fully covered when it’s hot and sunny, but I have found these types of clothing items are actually cooler, as they are designed with ventilation and other features.

      I wear cotton panty-liners all the time and change them out during the day. They absorb the sweat and keep my underthings and clothing dry. Sometimes, if I have somewhere to go after work and no time to shower, I will just change out my underthings.

    13. Anna*

      I started taking a medication called Avert (also known as robinul or glycopyrrolate). It’s a miracle cure. You can get it over the counter in Canada, on prescription in the US and not at all in the UK :( I order mine from pharmacy.ca and it’s literally changed my life.

      Side effects are dry mouth and some headaches, but I found once I started taking it regularly they both disappeared or became complete manageable. I take 2mg a day and it keeps me bone dry- not even shiny. It doesn’t work in humid, tropical climate (it turned my face tomato red and made me nearly pass out when I tried it in Singapore) but in a moderate climate like the UK or dry heat like Australia it has been excellent even on the hottest days.

    14. Rex-a-ford*

      I did not know this was *A THING*. I just thought I had a bizarre condition.
      Thank you so much for asking about it.

  18. QualityControlFreak*

    I could use some advice. I need to put on about 20 lbs. I have digestive issues and apparently the metabolism of a hummingbird. I’m definitely a carnivore but I’m having problems with animal proteins right now and I can’t eat beef at all. Processed sugar irritates the system badly. I can and do eat lots of dairy fats, nuts/nut butters, fruit and fruit juices. Looking for things I can eat to put the weight back on. Thanks folks!

    1. Hrovitnir*

      How are you with carbs? You can get a lot of energy out of carbs without it being sugar. Also, you can look up bodybuilding diets for bulking and adapt for your caloric needs, or at least look for some high-calorie recipes that way. There are vegetarian and vegan bodybuilders, though obviously that’s less common, so you might have luck with meat-protein-free recipes looking for vegetarian bodybuilding meal plans.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        Oh, that’s a good idea. I mostly do fine with carbs; my current diet has a lot of carbs, veggies (mostly raw), legumes, dairy, eggs, supplemented with animal proteins in smaller amounts as I can handle them and protein shakes (doctor’s recommendation). Thanks for the search recommendation!

        1. Hrovitnir*

          No problem! It can be really difficult to talk about because deliberate weight gain isn’t given a lot of space in our cultures. I’m sure you have, but if not make sure to check the protein powder – usually they’ll say on the front if they’re low carb, but have a look at the back and compare stats. You don’t want no lean protein for weight gain. :D

    2. endbafflegab*

      Like you, I needed to gain 20 pounds; with my own digestive issues, it had been too easy to skip/skimp on meals. After four months I’m just a few pounds shy of my goal. What helped the most was using an app that determined how many calories a day I’d need to eat each day to reach weekly goals, then logging everything I ate. It’s a bit tedious, but made it crystal clear how much and what to eat in order to reach my desired weight. MyFitnessPal is the app I use, though there are surely others that do the same or similar.

      1. Kay*

        I’ve found this to work for me as well. I was less interested in weight than I was in tracking macro stuff like protein levels to try and track my energy levels. I use Lose It; I found My Fitness Pal didn’t work well for me. I couldn’t put my finger on what didn’t work, but Lose It is working way WAY better for me.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Most of my life I have been focused on losing weight. So imagine my surprise when I hit a spell where I could not gain weight after losing a lot due to stress. I used a protein drink and that helped me to get the weight back to where it should be.

      Fruits and fruit juices may be pushing stuff out of you at too fast a clip. If you can make veggies your bigger food group that might help. Also, I learned to be on the watch for allergies. I found out I was allergic to dairy products. Removing dairy helped me to put weight on also.

      If you have had or are still having stress in your life, do what you can as you can to lessen the stress. Add in affirmations, tell yourself positive things. I know this sounds too simplistic to be of any help, but what we tell ourselves can matter. If stress is indeed the issue make it a point to be around/visit with people who make you feel comforted.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        As usual NSNR you are spot on. My spouse is fighting throat cancer. I try to look for the positives and have faith in a good outcome. But it’s tough going for all of us right now.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am so sorry. I think you had mentioned this a while ago and I forgot.

          My husband had MM, a blood cancer that eats up bone. We both used a protein drink. It stopped his weight loss cold. a hard and fast STOP. While I did not put on any weight with the drink for a while, it stopped my weight loss also. My sixes were getting big on me. I normally try to keep myself in the range of 8-10. My body (and mind) seems the most comfortable there. (If I did not watch myself, my weight would just soar upward under ordinary circumstances.)
          You might want to investigate working with amino acids also. They are the building blocks of all living cells.

          Keep trying new, simple ways to help yourself and your hubby. In the long run, some attempt gives us some level of benefit. It’s not an all or nothing thing. Don’t worry about trying something and not doing it “perfectly”, you will still get little benefits just because you tried. I think that is one of the bigger lessons I have learned out of all of it: Some attempt gives us some level of benefit.

          You guys are in my thoughts.

    4. Zathras*

      Are you able to eat (and enjoy) cottage cheese? A friend of mine used to eat a lot of cottage cheese at breakfast when he was an endurance athlete trying to keep weight on. It was a way to get non-meat protein/fat into that meal. I think he was just eating it by itself, which seems kind of gross to me, but you could have it on some fruit. Or if you are snacking on fruit during the day, you could add cottage cheese to it.

    5. PX*

      Is it any animal protein you have an issue with? Or just land animals? Otherwise things like mackerel, tuna, salmon or any fatty fish would be a good help I think. Also seconding the idea of more carbs and starchy veggies. Another sneaky way to add calories would be in dressings – so maybe add dips or dressings to your regular intake of veggies?

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        Thanks for the suggestions! Sadly, as I love fish, it can be any animal protein. But, it’s not a constant. For example we had some amazing Copper River sockeye, and I was nomming on that to beat sixty … until the last bite, when my body was like, “NOPE!” Then that’s it. The results of trying to finish at that point are not pretty. I adore mashed potatoes and gravy, pasta, bread and rice and can usually eat those. I tend to drown my salad in dressing, though I prefer vinaigrette rather than heavier types. And those raw veggies are liberally coated in ranch dip. :) From what I’m reading I’m eating the right sorts of things, but I had a TBI about three years back that seems to have reset my endocrine clock somehow. I’m a 56 yo woman, 5’5″ and I weigh 105 lbs. I actually feel okay physically; not sick, weak or a terrible lack of energy. I’ve certainly been in better physical shape, but aside from the digestive issues I’m fairly healthy and fit. I guess I’m just hoping for some magical-high-calorie-secret-silver-bullet food that will fix me without a huge amount of effort on my part. ;)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          We are the same age. I am just figuring out that I actually do not tolerate gluten. I thought the doc was messing with my brain. I could not see any results UNTIL one day I realized, I can now keep my balance on the tractor when going over little hills.
          I used to want to toss my lunch and three previous meals when I drove over a little hill. My sense of balance is coming back without the gluten in my diet. (Gluten messes with balance for some people.)

          He explained how gluten can coat our insides, make havoc with our digestive track and so on. I tried gluten free bread, gained a bunch of weight and still did not like how I felt. So I got rid of the GF bread and still stayed away from other things with gluten and that is when I started to get some results. I still won’t go on amusement park rides but it sure is nice to be able to do ordinary chores around here.

          My overall point is my problem with gluten never showed before and now it does. You may have a similar shift going on with gluten or something else. Not something to be alarmed over but just something to keep your eye on. My primary thought is stress. It sounds like you could do something to protect your stomach lining. Am thinking something like pepto but maybe the natural equivalent?

  19. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

    I’ll likely not be commenting much for the next two weeks. I’m leaving Monday for Missouri, where I’ll go to Mom’s just north of Rolla. Wednesday morning we’ll leave for Rapid City, SD via Des Moines so Mom can see granddaughter and great grandkids.

    Mom worked for the Reptile Gardens back in the 60s and they are having an 80th Anniversary Reunion. I’ll have the opportunity to see some grade school and Navy friends; she’ll be able to see some former coworkers and friends; we might have a chance to go out to the house my Dad built for us.

    You all have fun and behave yourselves. I’ll be home the 24th, though I’ll be reading all the columns on my RSS feed and might throw in a comment, I won’t be reading the comments.

    1. Trixie*

      This sounds like an amazing trip! I love the idea of seeing the house your Dad built, what memories that must hold. Also looks like perfect weather!

    2. Tilly W*

      I grew up in Rapid City and love everything about this post. I would love to see some of the pictures of Reptile Gardens in the 60s. Enjoy!

  20. Mischa*

    My Rottweiler had knee surgery on Thursday , and cannot use stairs. The only level part of my house is the garage (I cannot lift him into the main part of the house, nor will he use his ramp). It’s starting to get hotter in our area, so I’ve got three fans on him and plenty of water, but I feel so bad for the poor guy :( The good news is we are house sitting in a few weeks and he’ll be inside as that house doesn’t have a ridiculous amount of stairs.

    1. Hrovitnir*

      Aww, it’s hard being a big dog after surgery. Lucky you’re going have a break in a minimal-stair household!

    2. LCL*

      My dog loves the water and foam bed sold as a cooling bed. Put it on a garage floor and it will get really chill.

      Costco and sporting goods stores sell fitness floor matting, so you can make him a nonskid path. Or the carpet runner sold at Home Depot works.

      1. Mischa*

        That bed sounds amazing. The temperature in there is 78, so it’s not horrible but I worry that it will get worse. Where did you get your bed?

        1. alex*

          We have 3 “Cool Beds” from a brand called K&H Manufacturing throughout the apartment. Got them on Amazon. You fill them with water, and they offer cooling and orthopedic support for the dogs. Mine go right for them when we come in from summer walks. Highly recommend! I hope your rottie heals quickly. :)

          1. Mischa*

            Thanks! I’ll look into them. He’s doing well so far, but sadly he’ll be confined to either his pen or crate for the next two months :(

    3. Kimberlee, Esq*

      If your garage has like cement flooring or something you could get him a kiddie pool to hang out in! I’ve seen doggers really love those.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      My Rottie had that surgery and wouldn’t use the ramp we built for her either. :P

      Have you tried making a lift for him out of a cloth shopping bag? You don’t have to lift all his weight- just some of it.

      And honestly, don’t tell our doggy orthopedist, but the post-surgery leg very clearly hurt her LESS than it had been hurting for months, and she was pretty good about managing herself on 3 legs. So we let her go everything except jump up/down on furniture or go up and down steps without assistance from the lift- although even that only lasted a week or so. And she didn’t suffer any injuries from it.

      1. Mischa*

        I’ve been looping a towel under him to help him get from the garage to the yard, which is working fairly well. So far the garage is nice and pleasant, and Moose seems happy and content! We cuddled a bit this morning and did some passive range of motion exercises. Unfortunately his other knee is having the same problem (ugh) otherwise I would bend the rules a bit.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Poor Moose! Tell him that Gracie’s leg is as good as new, or even better, and she can play Tug with so much more strength now (her people aren’t sure this is good) and go THREE laps around the dog park and not have a sore leg even the next day, where one lap before would make her yip for a couple days after a trip to the park.

          1. Mischa*

            I’m so glad to hear that!! How is Gracie’s other leg doing? I definitely don’t want to go through this again if possible.

  21. KatieKate*

    Any writers attempting CampNaNo in July? I’m fleshing out my plot but need some cabinmates!

    1. Annie Mouse*

      I’m thinking about it but haven’t done Camp NaNo before, just the main one. Is it a bit more ‘relaxed’ than 50,000 word target?

      1. KatieKate*

        You can choose your own target number, and in general it’s much more relaxed than normal NaNo

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I probably won’t do it formally, but I’m making notes for something and want to actually finish it before summer is over (I’ve barely started).

  22. Cruciatus*

    For buying a house, almost everything says get pre-approved, get pre-approved, get pre-approved! OK, I get it. But my question, and I was unable to find a specific answer regarding it, does it matter who you get pre-approved by? I’m a little embarrassed to ask since apparently it’s so obvious that even the Home Buying for Dummies book I’m reading doesn’t specifically say one way or the other. You aren’t bound to that bank’s pre-approval, right? You can go to other lenders later? I think I may start at a mortgage broker anyway because my situation is a bit unusual I think (not crazy unusual, but it’ll be just me, with a salary of only $34,000, but I have an inheritance that would allow me to pay for the whole house if I want to (note: low cost of living area). I don’t want to do this because I want to build up more solid credit in case (when) I need it. But I can pay enough of a down payment to get mortgage/insurance/property taxes to a reasonable level (25-30% of my income, or whatever I figure works best).

    Also, I understand the point of a good floor plan, but does anyone have any links to photos of houses with good or bad floor plans? I’m worried once I’m actually looking at a house I won’t notice how awkward it is to do X because I’m so excited about the Y in bedroom or something like that. I know not everyone will be bothered by the same things but it’s at least something to start with.

    1. Cruciatus*

      I guess I don’t necessarily need photos of good/bad floor plans, even just examples of things you wish you had realized or taken more seriously before you bought a house.

      1. DorthVader*

        I haven’t bought yet, but bathroom layout is a big one for me. I don’t want the toilet to be in the shower (like it basically was in our first place), and I need a spot for the litter box. Also kitchen- is there enough room to move around if, say, the oven is open? How many people are in there at a time? Is there a good spot to feed pets? Things that would be hard to change the location of (fridge, oven, dishwasher, toilets, shower, laundry) are what I look at when moving.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m in the middle of this right now! You get pre-approved by a specific lender (i.e., Bank of America or USAA or so forth) or by a mortgage broker. I think mortgage brokers are better because they do more to find you the best rates. You can find them by searching “mortgage broker” on Yelp and looking for someone with good reviews, or you can ask your real estate agent to recommend someone.

      You aren’t bound to any of them once you’re pre-approved; you can shop around and find the one you like best.

      1. Alston*

        If you have a buyer’s agent they will likely have suggestions of who to go to as well. We were told by a couple agents to not go with Bank of America under any circumstances. Apparently they are notoriously slow to do closings, and in a competitive market like Boston people will just go with another offer so they don’t have to deal with BOA.
        Might not matter if you aren’t in a competitive market, but I thought I’d mention​.

    3. Colette*

      As far as floor plans, here are some things to consider.

      Doors – my kitchen has 3 doors in it, for example, which limits how the cabinets can be arranged. If you have a living room with many doors, think about where your furniture is going to go.

      Outlets – older houses in particular won’t have many electrical outlets. Look at where they are now and consider whether they’ll work for you. Also, check where the light switches are – in my sister’s house, some of them are behind the doors.

      Common paths – how do you get from the kitchen/bedroom/living room to the bathroom? How do you get from the kitchen to the dining room or living room?

      Sight lines – open plan houses mean that you’re eating while possibly being able to see the dirty dishes in the kitchen. Is that ok? When guests walk through the door, what do they see?

      Speaking of getting into the house, when you walk through the door, is there room for shoes and bags? My back door has no space to store that kind of thing, so I always use the front.

    4. super anon*

      My partner is a realtor. Definitely search out a mortgage broker, like Allison said. You can also go to more than one mortgage broker if you want to find the best rate, as brokers work with different lenders. Getting a pre-approval does not bind you to getting your mortgage from that lender, and it’s especially useful to do because a pre-approval will help you remove a subject from your offer, making it more competitive (this is especially helpful in really competitive markets).

      In terms of floor plans/properties, some common things to watch out for are this:

      – a useable kitchen layout that makes sense. (you have no idea how many places have totally illogical kitchen layouts, condos and apartments are bad for this) i’ve seen properties that have a long counter or an island that should be used as a bar, but the counter doesn’t extend far enough for chairs to be tucked under for that kind of use, making the space wasted.
      – that the master bedroom doesn’t share a wall with the second bedroom, and preferably is across the floor plan from it if possible.
      – the shape of the lot. square shaped lots are easier to sell than fan shaped lots. corner lots are highly prized, but lots at the end of a T can often be difficult to resell later.
      – the location of the downstairs bathroom if it’s a multi-story house. do you care if the bathroom is close to the front door, or would you rather have it be closer to the kitchen, etc.
      – are you in an area where feng shui is a thing? if so, there’s some basic things to look for if you care about reselling later, but honestly i don’t really care about those things so i’ve taken them into consideration. they will, however, effect you later if a significant portion of your buyers are from a culture that believes in it.
      – the view from the windows and balconies (if they exist) or patios. make sure to look out of them to see what your view would be. there’s nothing worse than realizing your master bedroom’s balcony faces your neighbour’s window, and they love naked vacuuming on Sundays.

      I’m sure there’s more, but those are the most obvious ones I can think of. I’ll come back if I can think of more!

    5. KatieKate*

      Outlets! If it’s not a new build, outlets may be few and far between so you may not have a choice where things go unless you want extension cords running everywhere

    6. Christy*

      You aren’t tied to the lender who preapproves you, but make sure you know how long your possible lenders will need to process your loan. For instance, if you want to use your local savings and loan who pledges never to sell your mortgage, then you need to know that they need 45-60 days and you will need your offer letter and proposed settlement date to account for that.

      We put in our offer on May 1 with a proposed closing date of June 1, and that really limited who we would be able to get the actual mortgage from. It was fine, but I wish we’d given ourselves at least 45 days to close.

      One recommendation: don’t put more down than you need to, and keep as much of your inheritance invested as possible. That way you can have the investment diversified and not locked up in a single asset (the house). Use a portion of the dividends to help with the mortgage, if you like.

      Remember that paint color doesn’t matter, even if you hate that it’s all beige or white. That’s so cheap to change, even if you pay someone. (I had to remind myself of this even though I knew it intellectually.)

      Figure out your top five needs and figure you can compromise on everything else. For me and my wife, it was gas stove, location in one of exactly three condo communities in our current neighborhood, ability to install a washer/dryer, sensibly priced for neighborhood and size, and two true bedrooms. If you are looking for a certain number of bedrooms and that’s important to you, know that a loft space is not. the. same.

      1. RJBP*

        Also note that your pre-approval will expire! I did all the paperwork to get pre-approved, then some serious life stuff happened, and 90 days later they were telling me the approval had expired. I think renewing/extending it is a little less cumbersome than getting it to start with, but just be aware.

    7. periwinkle*

      Things I should have paid attention to…
      1. Placement of outlets: Are there enough outlets in the living spaces for all your beepy buttony devices and lighting? Are the kitchen outlets placed conveniently for using small appliances where you would want to use them? And are they all grounded? (you can buy an inexpensive outlet tester at a hardware store) Do you have enough outdoor outlets for plugged-in tools like a lawn mower or pressure washer?

      2. Placement of heating vents: Would they interfere with your likely furniture placement? If they’re right under the windows, would your curtains be safely out of the way?

      3. Kitchen space: Open the fridge door, dishwasher door, cabinets, oven door, and drawers. If your oven is open, do you have enough space to get safely around it? If an upper cabinet door is open while you’re working at, say, the stove, can you function without the danger of getting a face-full of door corner?

      4. Parking: Do you have enough parking for your own needs? Where would guests be able to park without blocking your neighbors?

    8. Jessesgirl72*

      Go with the mortgage broker. All they do is tell the seller that you have good credit to qualify for X amount. And then after you actually bid on a house, they go and find the best rates for you.

      But even if you did go to a specific bank, no, you’re not bound by that.

      As for bad layouts, I don’t suggest a floorplan where the only way to get in or out of the Master bedroom is through the one and only bathroom or what you end up using as the guest room. Luckily, that was a rental. ;)

      The only thing I wish was different about the house we have now is that the front door opens into a tiny 4×5′ foyer- wall on one side, door to the stairs on the other, so immediate 90º turn to get any bulky furniture or packages into the house. It’s NOT convenient, and we end up bringing in furniture through the back door that opens into the living room. It’s similarly tight and awkward to get anything down into the basement.

      Also, if you have a dog and live someplace with cold winters, letting the dog in and out 1) onto carpet and 2) into the room where you are hanging out isn’t ideal.

      The other thing is to figure out how easy it is to reach into cabinets, or if there are enough cabinets so you don’t have to access the hard to reach ones ever, or at least often.

      1. Dead Quote Olympics*

        Did our houses have the same 1920’s architect? I second giving a good hard look at convoluted entry ways. We have a heavily used side entrance with multiple short flights of stairs and a tight space (and it’s at the top of the basement stairs) and getting groceries in or out is a struggle, let alone bulkier items. And getting anything in or out of the quite large and useful basement is terrible too.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          1936 Cape Cod-so maybe! ;)

          I know that side entrance set up, and that would be a deal breaker to me- and I knew it was a deal breaker before we started looking at houses. My great aunt has that layout, and when I come in, especially carrying anything, I am always sure I’m going to go tumbling down into the basement.

          We come in through the dining room, which is only bad because that nice flat surface is just too tempting a dumping ground.

          1. Dead Quote Olympics*

            I have, in fact, fallen down the basement stairs. And there’s no fixing it — the house is on a berm with a high foundation, and it would cost a fortune to either build out the side entrance for a better entrance, or move the side door to the back of the kitchen WHERE IT SHOULD BE. We have the original blueprints — it was the town veterinarian’ s house, and I know where the icebox was located, and all I can think of was the iceman tracking mud, snow, and straw all the way through the kitchen on a regular basis.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              I stopped to think about why they are designed that way. It’s a really really common design, and normally when there is a difference like that, it isn’t because the architects of the time were stupid, it’s more that there were just lifestyle differences between then and now, and that design had to make sense, at the time.

              Your comment about mud, etc across the kitchen triggered the probable reason for it. The furnace. Straw through the kitchen was nothing compared to coal dust! My parents house was built in 1919, and it had a better design though- the coal shoot was off the driveway through a window, straight into its own room next to the furnace.

              1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

                This is why I love the commenters on this site –you gave me another way to look at the blueprints! Yes, we have a coal chute in the basement (as well as a cistern for a rather elaborate rainwater collection system that a former owner told me they still used for the washing machine in the 70s). However, it’s right below the icebox area (one of those 1930’s breakfast nooks) and a back stairs/entry would still make more sense. The only thing I can think of is that they somehow wanted to maintain more room between the back of the house and the detached garage/vet surgery. But we have 1/3 acre — there was more than enough room to move the darn thing back another 10 or 15 yards!

                OP, as this side thread demonstrates, the “ideal” floor plan changes over time. The best advice I can give is to mentally (or by actually acting it out) move through the rooms in a variety of common scenarios. This is particularly important in high activity areas like kitchens and bathrooms. I love the look of a pedestal sink, but if you or someone in your household is makeup and hairdryer user, is there space to store things within reach, put them down and pick them up, etc.? Some things you can adapt to; some things about a floor plan, like coming in during the winter and having to divest of boots, winter coats, work or school bags, etc. may not be fixable — and you’ll be doing that every single day.

    9. Jules the First*

      For floor plans, you should think about how you get from room to room and which rooms you’ll be moving between on a regular basis. The best floor plans will have some sort of loop or circuit – the space just kind of flows. My test case for checking flow is to think what route the dog or the kids would race around if they wanted to run around in the house – kids follow the path of least resistance.

      Try not to compare floor plans, just focus on how well or badly the floor plan works in each place – there are lots of arrangements that will be just fine, but it has to suit the house you’re in. For example, I swore I’d never go back to having an open plan kitchen-dining-living room, but ended up buying one…what makes the space work is my enormous front entry, which looks like wasted space on the plans, but actually turns out to be genius because there’s two distinct ends to the space, one by the front door and one by the living space; the latter is perfect for a study or a second small seating area.

      Focus on how your stuff will fit into the space on offer – the floor plan could be theoretically perfect, but if it doesn’t work for how you live, then it’s not worth having.

    10. Audiophile*

      I was pre-approved a few weeks back, but I’m really not ready to buy. Long story short: I got frustrated with my seemingly never-ending apartment hunt. I decided late one work night that I would apply for a mortgage through Rocket Mortgage. I was surprised to be pre-approved since I have a pretty significant amount of debt (student loans, credit cards, a car loan) but it was pretty quick and painless.

      I haven’t picked out a house or looked at any in person, haven’t even found a realtor to work with. I found doing it online really easy and was happy with the overall experience.

        1. Audiophile*

          I found it really easy and relatively painless. After I submitted my information, I got a screen saying I needed to provide more information in order for a decision to be made. I chatted with an assigned person and was able to quickly get pre-approved.

          My cousin used Quicken Loans last year when he bought his condo in FL. I had just seen a Rocket Mortgage commercial a few days prior to filling out the application.

          No real complaints, except they offered to connect me with a realtor for free, but then discovered they had none available, so I’ll have to find a realtor on my own.

    11. Clever Name*

      Floor plan. We moved in part because we were sick of the layout of our last house. The main things were that it was a split level, so you entered at a landing and went upstairs to the main level with kitchen, living/dining, bathroom and bedrooms, or you went downstairs to a family room, other bedrooms and bathroom. Which leads me to what else I hated about the layout. I felt like the bedrooms were way too close to the main living parts of the house. Guests used our main bathroom. Food smells from the kitchen permeated the bedrooms. Ugh. Our current house has the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second level, which I like much better. I prefer 2 story houses. Some people prefer ranch style houses. It depends on what you like.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      I am a fairly conservative person financially. I took the number they approved us for and reduced it by 33%. That new lower number was the upper limit of our price range.

      Example of a bad floor plan: Railroad car layout. I actually found a house like this. You had to walk through the center of each room to navigate to the next room. Oddly, the rooms were narrow so you could not have a conversation area in the living room, nor could you have a table in the dining room. I hated the layout before I even realized what was wrong or that it had a name/descriptor.

      Really bad floor plans will jump out at you. One house had the front door opening into the main bedroom. wth.

      Think about your life style or how you want your life style to be. For me it was really important to be on one floor. I was not going to spend my life running up and down stairs after being on my feet all day. The next consideration was for having a dog. I wanted an area to let him out and so I carefully check to see where the back doors were on houses that l looked at. If your California king mattress and box spring are super important to you then you need to consider how you will get it into the house and what room you will put them in.

      This is one of those things that you work into. I suggest going to a few open houses for houses in your price range. What I liked about this was I could see the house without making someone go out of their way to show it. It bothered me that I looked at some houses I was not seriously interested in. It felt like I was wasting the person’s time. Open houses gave me a chance to get a feel for what I was doing and what was available in our price range.

    13. Melody Pond*

      I know you didn’t ask for feedback on this part, but I think we talked a bit about Elizabeth Warren within the last few weeks, and in that spirit, I wanted to share something for you to consider.

      If I were in your shoes, this is what I would do:

      If I could afford to buy my first house outright, I absolutely would. I would use that inheritance to save me the exorbitant cost of mortgage interest over 15 or 30 years. And then, I would use the monthly income that I’m NOT spending on a mortgage, to save up one whopper of an emergency fund – at least 12 times my monthly “must-haves” as Elizabeth Warren calls them. And then I’d be pretty well self-insured for most minor to moderate emergencies where I might need a sudden infusion of cash. No credit or borrowing money needed.

      And then, if I still felt it was important to have good credit, I would go get a small little credit card, and pay the balance off in full every month. (I’d use Mvelopes or something similar that automatically attaches credit card transactions as if they were debit card transactions in my budget, so that every month when the bill comes, I always have the money set aside in my budget to pay the card off, completely.) And I’d build credit slowly, that way.

      For certain major emergencies, I think even credit wouldn’t be sufficient to cover things like huge medical emergencies or natural disasters – so, this is where it’s important to have things like health insurance, car insurance, and homeowner’s insurance, to protect you from the things your emergency fund can’t cover. But, the awesome thing about having a big emergency fund saved up, is that you can choose insurance plans with higher deductibles, as long as the deductible isn’t more than the size of your emergency fund. Then, you can pay way less in insurance premiums every month, which saves you a lot of money over the long haul.

      Sorry for the rant – personal finance is something I’m super passionate about, and I just wanted to share my thoughts, for you to consider. :) I’d kill to have been in your situation, five years ago or so.

      1. Christy*

        1. Idk what OP’s situation is, but try to keep in mind that generally, someone had to die in order for there to be an inheritance for OP. And it may be OP’s distant great-aunt who died at 104 or it may be OP’s parent who died far too young. I have a few people like the latter example in my life and I have to remember that they’d far rather not have the inheritance than have it. (It took me a while to learn this. I’m grateful my friends in that situation were forgiving about it.)

        2. I totally disagree with your financial advice! Right now you can get a mortgage for <5% interest. (And rates are slowly headed back up.) On average on the market, invested in index funds, you get a 7% return. You can do way better if you get a mortgage for $100,000 and invest $100,000 instead.

        Let's say OP gets a $100,000 30 year mortgage at 5% and invests $100,000 of her inheritance in index funds. She'll end up paying $93,000 in interest over the life of the mortgage. That's a ton of money! But her investments will earn $661,000 in thirty years! The investment earnings pay for the mortgage interest seven times over.

        Plus, that way her investments are diversified. A house is a great investment but stuff happens to houses and markets. In an index fund she's not so heavily concentrated into one type of investment like she would if she put most of her money in her house.

        3. She already has the emergency fund! If she doesn't spend the money buying a house outright then she doesn't have to worry about re-saving the money she spent on it.

        I don't know that I intended to type quite so much with quite so many exclamation points. I too am very passionate about personal finance and so I hope my comment is taken in the spirit of healthy debate. :)

        1. Anon. Scientist*

          I ended up with an unexpected, large inheritance that came through just as we were considering house hunting. We ended up paying outright (“cash”) and it made everything SO much easier. Cash offers trump other offers because the buyers know that’s one less hoop to jump through. And it allowed us to fast-track the whole process when we had a hard deadline (our apartment lease was up).

          I also am suspicious of the assumption that the market will always go up a certain percentage. Markets go up and down, but if you own your house outright, that’s a huge cushion in case you run into financial difficulty later.

          1. Christy*

            Definitely! It’s way easier to buy a house for cash. We weren’t buying in a crazy-competitive market so that wasn’t a worry for us. It well could be for OP.

            And the idea is that it averages a 7% return over time–that’s what a historical look at the market shows. Right now we’re getting crazy-high returns in the market but recessions like 01 and 08 average it out to 7%.

            Your house is definitely an asset. Plus there’s the psychological benefit of always knowing you have somewhere to live. That’s a great comfort. But it’s not always sellable when you need it to be sellable.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I have to say, while I’m a strong advocate of being debt-free, Christy’s numbers are correct. In fact, I got higher numbers, $761,225.50 for $100,000 at 7% over 30 years. And it only took me a year to recoup my losses in 2008, so when we’re talking about 30 years, volatility really isn’t the issue.

      2. Cruciatus*

        You know, my dad (a CPA, but not an actual financial advisor) basically said to just pay for the whole thing outright. I would actually still have a lot left over for retirement and immediate savings (besides my own savings for retirement). I guess I was just thinking I should build up my credit because I don’t really have much. But maybe it’s not that important. I do have a credit card, but when I spoke to a bank about a mortgage last year (my local savings bank, in fact) they said I didn’t necessarily have enough credit since it was only something like 6 years old. I also didn’t/don’t have any of the non-traditional lines of credit. I don’t have student loans. I don’t have car payments. I don’t even have rent payments to show. She suggested I get a second credit card and put just little things on it (which I refused to do). I have perfect payment history, just a short history.
        Part of me wants to use this money “to live” (not all of it, but a portion of it) because my uncle who died didn’t. He worked for the city of Philadelphia, retired, and for most of his life lived in a 1 room apartment with a shared bathroom down the hall. His chairs were folding beach chairs. He didn’t have a TV. He didn’t have a cell phone. All his clothes were hand me downs (some even from me and my sister!). He just had money. I guess he was a miser for himself, but not for others–he always gave us nephews and nieces money for Christmas, cool ($$$) toys when he’d visit when we were younger, donated to the Polish National Church. But just never spent it on himself (no wife, no kids). And now I happen to be in a position where I’ll probably never make a lot of money and this could really buy me some peace of mind and (reasonable) fun/life stuff. I tend towards saving myself but don’t want to die in a 1 room apartment with folding beach chairs! (Sorry if that sounds really flippant about my uncle–I don’t mean it that way. I just wish he had lived a happier, slightly more adventurous life). I realize I also need to talk with a real financial advisor about what to do with all of it. I just hope I get someone who is more Elizabeth Warren (have *some* fun! and less “save everything always and only!”

        1. Gaia*

          One other thing you could consider to increase your credit is to pay cash for the house but get a small HELOC to make any improvements you need/want. You’ll have plenty of equity (since the house will be paid in full) and that loan will be building your credit, while (in theory) adding even more equity to your house with the right improvements.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I can relate to what you are saying here about your uncle. My father had an uncle who lived as you describe. (If he had not passed decades ago, I would think we were talking about the same person.) When Uncle passed he left each of his many, many deices and nephews a $1000 savings bond. It was one of the few times my father actually cried, Uncle could have used that money to give himself some quality of life.

          Yeah, get together with someone and do some “what if” scenarios to see how the numbers would fall if you chose different approaches.
          I will say, houses are a money pit. Even once you get a house you will still probably want to fix it to suit you. This can run into some bucks. Maybe this could be your “fun” money, setting the house the way you want it. I got some work done on my place here and even though we stuck to clearance tables and bargain stores I still spent money I will never get back if I sell. (People expect the furnace to run well. They expect the foundation to be strong and without holes, and so on. You pay for stuff that is for the safety and security of the building but not for return on your investment.)

    14. On Fire*

      A mortgage broker is probably fine in theory, but I personally had a bad experience. I shopped around and did research, and we decided we definitely wanted a traditional loan. The mortgage broker I consulted was trying to push us into doing an FHA loan, even though 1.) we did NOT want that in our situation and 2.) we had too many assets to qualify. (Her solution: “you might need to buy some furniture to lower your savings to the qualifying level.”)

      I also contacted a credit union I had used before, and two banks. We ended up going with our usual bank and getting a preapproval from them.

      Again, the broker will probably be fine, but be sufficiently aware of your needs and how you want to finance it, to not get pushed into something you DON’T want. (That goes for choosing the house itself, too.)

    15. Genevieve Shockley*

      I have never owned a house, but throughout my life I have lived on a farm with only one way in and out that was crossed by a creek that got out of banks, and an apartment complex where there is only one way in and out on my side of the complex.

      So I want to urge you that when you look for a house, make sure that there are at least 2 ways in and out of the neighborhood. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, or to say wildfires, or maybe even something like horrible snow fall, then you definitely need another way to leave the neighborhood in case of emergency.

      Also consider the health issues your parents face and whether you yourself might find yourself facing those same issues. Arthritis can make going up or down stairs very difficult, as can breathing issues.

      I grew up in an older home that had ceiling lighting fixtures, but many of the rental houses and apartments I have lived in don’t have those fixtures in the living room.

      I live in Austin, and while snow/ice only happens every few years, I have often thought that I would not choose a house with a high incline towards the house from the street. It could make leaving the property or returning to it in icy conditions difficult.

      Likewise, there are many houses in my area with properties that sit below the street level, so it is very possible that the yard gets flooded during times of hard rain.

      Good luck with the house hunting.

      1. Christy*

        Oh gosh, definitely notice the power lines. My neighbor loses power every time there’s a stiff breeze.

  23. Hrovitnir*

    Eugh, my mother. Despite being able to be pretty equanimous around her these days, I have a very low irritation threshold. And I find it incredibly hard to be supportive when it comes to her parenting. Long story short, my brother lived with my partner and me for 3 years, and the last year of school when he moved back in with his parents he missed about half the school year and failed everything. I had to tell my mother it was inappropriate for her to call in for him to miss school when he was living with us (and we wouldn’t let him skip school because he was tired)!

    My sister is now nearly 16 and has horrendous self-image, missed most of the school year last year. She is much better this year, which is wonderful (particularly since it’s the first year with proper exams). Except, I just checked her attendance online, and there’s only one week out of seventeen so far that she hasn’t missed a day. JESUS.

    1. Allypopx*

      I’m not advocating it, but I regularly missed 40+ school days a year and graduated with honors and got accepted to many good schools, and those bad habits haven’t carried over into my working life. That doesn’t make any of it okay, and I understand why you’re so frustrated, but just to say that it’s definitely something that can be recovered from as far as your sister goes.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Yeah, I just worry because it’s more than school, it’s an overall lack of direction and drive and confidence. They have learned not to take responsibility for anything and it’s gonna be damn hard to learn all that stuff as adults. I got different issues from my parents but I certainly know how much it sucks to relearn how to be a person with no support.

        Also my brother trusts my partner and I – I don’t actually know my sister as well. She holds her cards a lot closer to her chest. She’s really into and good at art though, and spends a lot of time on it so I’m hopeful about that.

    2. Mischa*

      I work in a school and one of my duties is attendance. It’s distressingly common for students to miss huge chunks of school — typically these students are already failing and their parents call them out because they are stressed. Well, yes, of course they’re stressed — they keep falling behind from missing school. Obviously there could be more going on, but this happens so often.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        :/ It’s so odd to me because my home life was also awful but I only skipped like… 3 half days ever.

        My mother wants to get to feel sorry for herself and have dramatic interventions, but she’s not so into the day in day out consistency and sticking to her guns, and it’s so frustrating to watch it get worse and have her crying to me that she “doesn’t know what to do”. Yes you do, you just don’t want to do it.

        My sister actually likes school a lot more than my brother did so I’m not as concerned about her ability to recover from this. But it’s still such a terrible habit to teach your children!

        Note: it is damn hard what my mother has to deal with. My sister was physically attacking her when she made any effort to make her go to school last year. I just don’t have a lot of sympathy because I tried to talk to her about these issues from when they were toddlers and she handwaved it. And because my partner and I have been coming to the rescue for the last 10 bloody years. Also note that their father has zero authority, and that’s because she has undermined him for the entireity of their lives so…

      2. Hrovitnir*

        Er, what I was trying to communicate is I never wanted to skip school so it’s not something I can relate to them with. And my sympathies dealing with attendance. It makes me cringe seeing my mother be antagonistic to people who are trying to help her.

        1. Mischa*

          Yep — my school is an extremely expensive independent school, so we basically have to do whatever the parents say when it comes to attendance. It’s so infuriating. I’ve had parents pull their kids out for ski trips in February, month long vacations…it’s ridiculous.

          I am so sorry you are having to deal with this — it’s so frustrating when you see a problem yet the other party won’t do anything to fix it.

          1. Cristina in England*

            Eh, I mean to paraphrase a common advice-column saying, those families don’t have attendance problems, they have performance problems. If they are pulling their kid out because they are “stressed” or tired or otherwise failing to cope with a normal workload, that’s one thing. If they are going on a week’s holiday because it’s the only time they can get off work, and they take the kid’s homework with them, that is different altogether.

            1. Mischa*

              These families that are taking long vacations are usually the ones whose children have both attendance and performance issues. This could be a unique situation for my school, however, and in general I do agree with you.

          2. Hrovitnir*

            Noooo. I do actually agree that big trips aren’t *necessarily* a problem, but the “do whatever the parents say” sounds unfun. I do not understand why so many people care more about their pride than their kid’s future.

            Eg: my father’s partner. Rather than get her kid a maths tutor just deny she’s having problems with maths even though she demonstrably does. (Oh hey, she failed everything all the way through school). Also don’t encourage your kid with running even though it turns out she’s really good at it, get her to sing even though she is not good at it, because that’s what you want your kid to be. Eugh.

      3. Reboot*

        Unfortunately, sometimes when there is more going on, it gets missed. I missed a lot of school when I was sixteen and seventeen because I was horrifically, suicidally depressed, but my mother apparently just “hoped it would resolve itself” (man, that was not a fun revelation to get ten years down the line), my father was also quite depressed and I’m not sure he recognised how badly-off I was, and the school assumed that since I had a severe form of diabetes, my sick days were because I was physically ill and didn’t bother me about them. Over here and back when I was in school, as long as you pass your classes (which I did, barely), your absent days don’t affect much, especially in the Catholic system. And teachers liked me because I was a quiet, non-disruptive student who did well in class when I was actually -in- class, so nobody kicked up a fuss about how much time I spent out, when they probably should have and then might have realised how dangerously depressed I was.

    3. LadyKelvin*

      Wow I can’t believe that happens. In my high school if you missed 12 days in a semester class or 24 days in a year-long class you failed and had to retake it.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        Pretty sure NZ as a rule is more chill than the US (I assume you live in the US) – but they also go to the artsy, “alternative” school. (I mean, I’m sure they have a rule like that, but they also try to work with you.)

        My brother missed his physics exam the year before last. They very kindly said he could sit the competence exam for kids switching into physics and gave him study material and everything. My mother started say “eugh, you’re not going to do it are you?” and you could see a switch like “I can not do it?” in his eyes.

        Spoiler: he didn’t do it! They still let him do physics! They have tried really hard to help him, including letting him do the English modules he needed for university entrance.

        I do think that help is more likely to help later down the line if he decides to come back to education than being cut off though, but it would also be frustrating being his teacher!

        The first and only time I’ve seen him work and be enthusiastic at school was mechanical engineering (I’m so jealous of all the cool stuff they have these days.) But he’s basically rewarded for giving up, and he started working last year and enjoyed money more than school. Which he seems to be doing well at, so that’s good!

        OK sorry, that was way too long, but I’m just gonna post it.

  24. super anon*

    Does anyone own or have any experience with Robo Dwarf Hamsters? I want to get a pet but I’m allergic to cats and dogs, and I don’t have the space in my apartment for a guinea pig. I’ve read they can be difficult to tame, but they’re so tiny and cuddly looking (I realize they don’t actually like to cuddle) and also like to climb, and I like the idea of a smaller, multi-level cage that takes up less space. Any insights? I don’t have children, so no worries about pet-child interactions.

    1. Nicole*

      I never found hamsters to be all that friendly and I’ve had four including the robo one you mentioned. In fact they are solo dwellers because they don’t even care for living with their own kind. Are you open to rats? I wasn’t at first because of their tails but after getting over that I found that they make excellent pets and love human attention. They are happy in pairs and would enjoy a multi level cage because they love to climb.

      1. super anon*

        I’ve never been fond of rats as pets. I’m not scared of them, but I’ve also never seen the appeal in them either. I don’t find them overwhelmingly cute the way some people do, which is a shame because I’ve heard they make great pets.

      2. KR*

        Seconding rats. They’re usually a little bigger so you don’t have to worry about losing them as much. I got a little guinea pig pen (little foldable fence that was about a foot high) and would set it up in the kitchen with things for my rat to explore since she was antisocial (not the norm for rats). She liked it.

    2. Episkey*

      How about gerbils? I have 2 and if you get them as babies, they can be pretty easily handled. One of mine is more outgoing than his brother and I can pick him up easier — I adopted them from a rescue org at about a year old, but I think they would be even friendlier if I had them from babies. They definitely know me and recognize my voice, if I call to them, they wake up and come out all, “Treats? Treats?”

      Plus, I think they are super cute, they don’t smell as badly as other rodents because they are desert animals so they don’t drink as much which means they don’t pee as much, and they are really fun to watch! They love to chew cardboard (all my friends & family now save up their toilet paper & paper towel rolls) and dig.

    3. atexit8*

      Whatever you do, don’t buy.
      There are literally rescues for every type of animal.

      1. Nicole*

        Good point. I’m not sure how it is with other pocket pets but my sickliest rats were bought at a pet store (before I knew better) whereas all the babies I adopted were much healthier and lived significantly longer.

      2. super anon*

        I’ve been checking Petfinder and Craigslist religiously for a month and only see rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits listed. I’ve sadly never seen any hamsters – especially not Robos, as I think they’re more rare. I think if I decide to get one I’ll probably have to buy from my local pet store where he sources the majority of his fish and small animals from local, ethical breeders.

    4. SusanPNW*

      My daughter had rats. If you buy them from a reputable breeder (NOT a pet store) where they are socialized from a young age they can be a lot of fun. Not really my thing, but they would ride around on my daughter’s shoulder or in the hood of her hoodie. I would seem them peeking out from her long hair. She really enjoyed them. But you do have to socialize with them regularly so they are used to it. She got busy with her 2nd pair of rats and they were never as friendly.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I got a pet rat from a rat and mouse show as a kid after having had a pet store rat before that. He was a fantastic pet — very friendly and sociable and used to being handled. Came when I called his name. Super cute.

    5. Personal Best in Consecutive Days Lived*

      I had a Russian dwarf hamster as a teen and he was pretty great. He lived for four years and never bit me (apparently some hamster breeds are very bitey).
      I also had a guinea pig and he lived for six years. He was also great. Sweet, and not bitey.
      The downside of both these pets is they are prey animals so neither pet lost their initial fear of me which made me sad. It also made it hard to play with them.
      The best small pets I ever had were rats. I had 4 over the years but never more than 2 at once. They were very sweet and also not bitey (this is a thing with small animals) and best of all, they quickly got used to me and weren’t afraid at all. They would sit on my shoulder or my lap, climb on me, burrow in my sweater, they were so cute and fun.
      The down side to rats is they are prone to a non-transmissible to humans respitory infection. All four of my rats had that and it somewhat impacted their quality of life. Also one of my rats had tumours and we had to have her put down when her suffering became too much; I believe rats are also prone to them. As much as I loved my guinea pig and hamster, my rats were definitely the most interesting and fun pets.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My childhood hamster was a nasty piece of business — super bitey, hated being handled, very skittish. I don’t even know what kind of hamster it was, just that it was evil. (I was 5 and I wanted to keep the stray rottweiler we found, but my mother said we had to find a different family for her and said I could have a hamster instead. Raw deal.)

    6. Marzipan*

      Are those like Russian Dwarf Hamsters? I had one of those once and it was hands-down the most evil, vicious pet I have ever had.
      I highly recommend a rat. They’re intelligent enough to form a real bond with you, and really affectionate and lovely. (My pet rat bit me once, accidentally, and was mortified. My Russian Dwarf Hamster bit me at every opportunity and I had to devise a special system for getting him out of his cage so I could clean it out.)

    7. Hrovitnir*

      I want to recommend making really sure you’re not allergic to any small animals you decide to adopt btw. Rats can be really allergenic (and I assume other rodents, we don’t have any other rodents here.) If you go for something that needs hay, hay is also the devil, haha.

      I had rats and was allergic to them: entire males are the worst by a long shot. Females are better, and I desexed most of mine and neutered males were pretty fine. Males secrete a sexy sexy sebum on their back called buck grease and it make my eyes swell up every time I stupidly forgot and touched my face after scritching them.

      Rats really are the most amazing pets. Do your research though, because most of what’s available for them in pet stores is super inappropriate, from cages to diet to bedding. Please do not use pine or any soft wood litter, it contains phenols which are bad for their breathing, or aquariums because ammonia is heavier than air. This applies to small animals in general, though I believe an aquarium with a cage on top is good for some sort of rodent that digs? Also rats are terribly prone to respiratory infections and tumours (desexing helps a lot with tumours and of course pyometra for females, but it’s not very common and you need to know a vet who’s confident with it. Some rescues try and desex rats if they have the funds.)

      If you end up getting a small pet, I’d love to see pictures. :D

      1. super anon*

        I wanted to get tested for small animal allergies, but my allergy doctor said it was almost impossible to allergy test for all animals (it is expensive, and our national health care won’t pay for extensive testing they deem unnecessary). My plan is to narrow down the type of pets I think I might like to have, and the specifically ask for those tests to be done. If I have to pay out of pocket it will be cheaper that way as well. I definitely don’t want to risk my health, nor do I want to have to give up my pet because I discover I’m allergic to it.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          Can you also just go to a pet shop and handle one a bit, or would that not be feasible? I found out I’m allergic to ferrets (seriously…) because someone handed me one and I promptly broke out in hives all over my hands and forearms.

  25. Nicole*

    Help! There’s a mothball smell in my house that keeps materializing every year when it gets warm outside. It’s concentrated mostly in our laundry room and kitchen although I can smell it faintly in the vents when the A/C is running. Could the A/C unit be creating the smell or could it be that my neighbors are putting mothballs in our shared wall? I’m in a townhouse so I don’t want to accuse my neighbors of anything but the smell is driving me nuts, not to mention I’m worried about the health implications for both my husband and I and our puppy. Has anyone else ever dealt with this?

    1. Teach*

      Sounds like a pool of stagnant water somewhere? That smell makes me think of mothballs. Have your A/C unit checked – all the hoses unblocked, humidity set correctly, filters changed, etc. Do the same with the fridge – hoses, drip pan underneath, vacuum out all the backside and underneath bits. Repeat with washer. Get the manuals out and see if you are skipping maintenance tasks by accident.

      1. Nicole*

        I checked all that and didn’t find any standing water. I read sometimes a gas leak can smell like that but the gas company didn’t find any issues either. The smell is only in the laundry room and in pockets around the kitchen. I think it has to be the neighbor unfortunately. Today my place smells like onions from their coming but I prefer that to the mothball smell.

  26. Wanderlust*

    I posted last weekend about having issues getting my friends to take trips with me. So grateful for all the advice, thanks so much!

    Thought you all might be happy to hear that I did a social media post about an amusement park/museum opening in Japan in 2020 and how Id really like to go. Several of my friends posted with similar thoughts! I saw them in person last night and asked if they were serious and they said yes! They think it would be doable to save up for a few years to take a big trip like that! I’m so excited, and I’m going to start organizing it soon! Hopefully they don’t all bail on me, as Long as a few still go but I’m very happy to have inspired some interest!

  27. super anon*

    high school reuinions! does anyone have any stories to share? did you go to yours, why or why not? my 10-year is coming up and i’m debating if i want to go or not. i’m morbidly curious, but high school was such a terrible time for me that part of me would rather not put myself through it.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Haven’t gone to any of mine. By the time I was interested in what may have happened to people, I’d already caught up with them on social media.

    2. Mimmy*

      I went to my 10-year HS reunion but it wasn’t all that great. Sure, I mingled with a number of classmates I remembered, but I don’t recall it being all that satisfying, though i can’t say for sure why. My husband didn’t enjoy it very much either. My college 10-year reunion was very similar.

      I was a bit of a social outcast, though, so reunions really aren’t my thing.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I have gone to mine. Most of the people that do go are people I’m Facebook friends with so the last few have been a little disappointing once I’m there. Even though I haven’t physically seen these people since high school, I’m all caught up on photos and kids and whatever. I think my high school class is weirdly “close” in the sense that a major portion of my class are all Facebook friends. So many of our classmates died starting about senior year until now (“normal” things, just oddly disproportionate to just my class and not others) and I think we’re all worried about who may be next and cling to each other a bit. A friend of mine (that went to the same school I did, but 5 years earlier) refuses to ever go back and was thrilled to change her last name when she got married so no one could find her!

      I don’t regret going to mine, though nothing exciting really happened. If you don’t have good memories–don’t feel you are missing out. They’ll all meet. Likely keep to the same groups of people they still hang out with or at least communicate with frequently. Eat some OK food. Maybe Mike gets a bit trashed and everyone laughs at that. It can be neat to see all these people you spent a huge portion of your life with again, but not if you didn’t like them to begin with! You can look at the Facebook photos someone else from your class is likely to post. If you feel like you missed out, there’s always the 15 or 20 year reunion!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I went to my five-year but after that, not really interested. Most of the friends I had in those days are either on my social media or have vanished from my life, for good reason. I used to feel a need to go show off, but since nothing of any note has happened in my life, I didn’t bother. Now, even if it did, I wouldn’t care!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Me, too. The last reunion I knew of was a sit down dinner at $60 per person. Four hour drive each way, $120 for the two of us to eat, no thanks. For some odd reason they lost my address. I did not move so am not sure what happened. Next year will be my 40th reunion so we will see if they find my address.

    5. katamia*

      I’ve only had one so far, and I didn’t go. I was in a school-within-a-school type program, but the reunion was for the school at large, so I wouldn’t have known many people there. I might have gone if my program had had its own separate one, but it didn’t.

      1. fposte*

        Hey, me too! My school-within-a-school did have a reunion once and I was sad that I couldn’t make it.

    6. Cookie D'Oh*

      I graduated in 1995 and went to my 10 year reunion by myself. I was so nervous I thought I was going to vomit, but at the same time I felt like it was something I needed to do to get out of my comfort zone. (I’m very introverted) It was held in a bar area of a nice restaurant in town. I got a drink and sat at the bar and it was fun! I admit the alcohol helped loosen me up and I said hi and chatted with several people.

      I had a very large graduating class and was very shy. I had a close group of a few friends, but was definitely not popular. I didn’t date or go to prom, etc. However, seeing everyone as adults was different. I didn’t feel that cliqueish behavior any more.

      I passed on my 20 year reunion. It was held in a banquet hall with a sit down dinner and you had to pay. The setup seemed more formal and I wasn’t as interested. I felt I got the curiosity out my system at the first one.

    7. Temperance*

      I did not attend any of my reunions, and I’m really fine with that. I grew up in a very small town, and didn’t have a lot of friends because I was neglected/abused and was a weirdo because of the neglect and abuse. My best friend from high school is now a hardcore evangelical, most of my other friends ended up as teen moms, and I’m the weirdo childless atheist who has a JD and no kids.

    8. FDCA In Canada*

      I left the country immediately after high school, which certainly does not stop my high school’s alumni association from inviting me to reunions (and every other thing under the sun–golf events, auctions, musical performances, Mass, you name it), but I have never gone to one. I’m never around when they’re happening, and honestly I’m already in touch with anyone I’d want to keep in touch with. It would definitely just be for morbid curiosity on my part, and there’s always a cover charge. My cheapness wins over my curiosity, even if I was around.

    9. Katriona*

      I skipped mine, but we didn’t really have an “official” reunion anyway since our school actually shut down 10 years after we graduated. A couple people organized a meet-up but it kind of felt unnecessary since we’ve all had Facebook since freshman year of college, so it’s not like we’ve really lost touch. High school wasn’t a great time for me either, though, so I probably wouldn’t have gone regardless.

    10. Rogue*

      I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion. The people I’ve wanted to keep in touch with, I have.I couldn’t care less about the others.

    11. My AAM is True*

      I always go to my high school reunions. There’s just enough common history that the ice is already broken, and each time I end up talking with someone I never knew well but who turns out to be an interesting person.

    12. ginger ale for all*

      I never went to any of mine. I graduated in a class of over a thousand. They recently had the 30th reunion and less than 20 people showed up according to the pictures and I was shocked that I actually remembered one of the people who was there. She isn’t on facebook so there went my chance to catch up with a great person.

    13. Ribbon*

      Mine is in July, and I think I’ll go. The plan is pretty casual and it’s not expensive. Yes, the people I care about I keep in touch with, and since I live somewhat close to where I went I do see people occasionally unexpectedly out in the world (yesterday the gal who poured my beer when I went to a local brewery, for example). But, I’m interested to talk to people I never speak to/don’t follow along with. Plus, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, I’ve lost a bunch of weight since high school, have a great job, and gotten married to a pretty cool dude, so I want to go and flaunt that a little to people I felt had there stuff together while we were in school.

    14. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      I went to one – it wasn’t bad, but it was…a lot more like high school than I’d expected. Was nice to catch up with a couple of people I hadn’t seen since then and wanted to, but it also reminded me that I’m mostly in touch with the people I want to be in touch with from those days.

    15. SophieChotek*

      Nope, does not interest me. I went to my undergrad (10th)–I was actually on the committee, I don’t even call how I wound up on it — and honestly didn’t enjoy it that much; the friends I want to keep in contact from both HS and College I do keep in contact without outside of reunions so I probably will not go to any more college reunions and HS never interested me (as I had few friends in HS).

  28. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    Last year I really buckled down and began attending a gym religiously. I was making progress and starting to feel good when I foolishly broke my elbow and wrist. I was not able to return to the gym until February, and at that point the New Year Resolutionists had taken over. Then I had to have surgery for my sinuses and tonsils. Last week I told my husband that I really need to get back to the gym and he agreed. We planned to go down today together and get him added to my account.

    And last night I tripped over NOTHING and completely smashed a toe. It’s blue and purple and clearly broken. I’ve taped it to the middle toe to reduce pain but I’m so damn angry at myself. I really wanted to continue the momentum of weight loss post-tonsillectomy and gain some strength. And now I’m likely to have to sit out for two weeks before I can go.

    1. KatieKate*

      I finally got into a gym schedule when I managed to fracture my foot. I’ve been off of it for almost two months now and I am so frustrated! So I totally get it

    2. WG*

      I started an exercise program a few years ago with a broken toe. There were some exercises we had to avoid until the break healed, but there were plenty of things I could still do. I think I avoided walking the track and used a stationary bike and didn’t do planks – my doctor had provided a note with what to avoid. A broken toes doesn’t have to keep you from exercising,

      1. Junior Dev*

        Yes, I’m not a doctor but there are plenty of exercises you can do without your feet. Rowing machine for cardio, lots of upper body dumbell stuff you can do while sitting. It might be worth seeing a physical therapist to learn how to do it safely.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          You could also probably do body weight stuff or use ankle weights while sitting for legs. I do a lot of weird body weight leg-lifty exercises for core strengthening stuff.

      2. Valeriane*

        I find resistance training increases my flexibility, coordination, and strength over my entire body, even muscles I’m not specifically exercising. So I wouldn’t be surprised if it helps your toe heal faster to go and do the exercise you can, even while you have to avoid some exercises. Hope you heal up quickly and enjoy getting back to the gym, whenever you decide to do it.

  29. Aurion*

    The tape finally came off my fractured finger, yay (non-displaced intra-articular fracture on the distal phalange of my pinky, dorsal side). I’ve lost about 0.5 cm in my range of motion after 4-5 weeks of immobilization, but my doctor said this was not serious enough to warrant physiotherapy and I can just gently work through it on my own.

    Does anyone have any idea how long it’d take to regain my range of motion? I don’t want to go back to the gym and start handling my weights again until I get my ROM back, but I’ve no idea how long it’d take for the stiffness and residual swelling to go away.

  30. Book Lover*

    Could I get recommendations for pens for left handers? Something fairly fine that dries super fast? For my son, so I would prefer not to spend a lot, nothing fancy.

    1. WG*

      Not sure how they work for left handed people, but I find the Sharpie pens dry pretty quickly.

    2. 123go*

      Sharpie pens and G2 Pilots. I’m a lefty, those are my go-to pens. The Sharpie’s are extra awesome because they’re felt tip and the tip bends a bit…. just enough to make it unusable for righties so they can’t steal your pen. My industry is very pen thiefy.

    3. Cristina in England*

      Uniball Jetstream pens are really highly rated, write very smoothly and apparently dry really quickly too. And they are cheap.

      1. Printer's Devil*

        Seconding the Jetstreams! They’re my most favorite pens, and I have hunted down the retractable sport version on eBay because I love it so much. They do have a tendency to run dry briefly, but leaving them upside down for a night will deal with that gap.

        I’m also very fond of InkJoy, but those do have a tendency to smear.

        (I may be right-handed- but I used to work in office supplies!)

    4. Audiophile*

      I’m glad you asked this question, I’m always picking up new pens because so many don’t work for me as a lefty.

      I’ve tried Poppin and Uniball 207 pens, neither dry quick enough for me not to smudge everything I’ve written.

      I’ll pick up some Pilot G2 and Sharpie pens over the weekend and try them next week.

    5. Liane*

      The “dries super fast” made me think you’re looking because the ink is always smearing. If that is part of it, any pen will work better for a lefty if they tilt the paper so the bottom right corner points at them. That’s what our teacher showed us way back in elementary school–right corner for lefties, left corner for righties. I had never had a smearing problem.

  31. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    A friend is transitioning from female to male. What’s the best way to be supportive of him? And if you’ve transitioned/know someone who has, what do you wish folks would have done to be supportive? I’m new at this, open to learning. And of course, welcoming my friend as my friend is.

    1. Diana Prince*

      I think a big way to be helpful is to remember to let your friend decide how much he wants to share about transitioning. Let him know that you’re there to support him with anything, but also don’t forget to talk about everything you normally talk about and invite him to do the activities you normally do together.

    2. Jess R.*

      As a nonbinary person who’s currently transitioning, the things I wish folks would do more:

      -Use the right name and pronouns! And if you mess up, fix it quickly and verbally (“she said– sorry, he said”) because saying the correct name/pronoun aloud helps to cement it more than just apologizing.

      -If he wants to talk/vent about folks who are being hostile or unsupportive, listen and know that certain things might not sound like a big deal to you, but they may be to him. (Example: I was agonizing aloud to a friend about what clothes to take home to a family reunion because I wasn’t sure how I wanted my gender presentation around family to look, and he said “Just take what you’re comfortable in!” as though it were no big thing.) It’s often more complicated than cis folks realize.

      -Correct others when they use the wrong name/pronouns for him (but only if he’s out to those people!). It is EXHAUSTING to constantly correct people, and if I’m talking with two or more people in a group conversation and someone misnames or misgenders me, it’s super nice to have other people correct them aloud. (Check with your friend to see if/in what situations he wants you to do this, though.)

      -As Diana said, continue to talk to him about other things. I have a friend who sends me all these links about trans and nb folks, which is lovely, but it’s already a challenge for me to think about anything but my gender (because it’s a Big Emotional Thing), so it’s good when friends keep treating me like a person.

      1. Reboot*

        I agree with this, but also, if you -do- slip up, don’t beat yourself up about it. That can be exhausting, especially if I feel obliged to reassure whoever slipped up that no, I don’t hate them, they’re not a terrible person, it’s okay. The thing is, you’re -not- a terrible person if you make a mistake, so don’t go into self-flagellation; just apologise and correct yourself, and that’s enough.

  32. Gala apple*

    Thanks to everyone who gave me their Boston recs last open thread! The weather was a bit crazy this past week- cold and rainy and then sunny and warmer- but I did get a fair bit in.

    I spent half a day in Salem. It was a bit strange to me to be in a city that is so entirely focused on one moment in the past, without any discussion of how to live or integrate with that in the present. Maybe it was the weather, but the town didn’t feel so alive to me. The Peabody Essex Museum was closed the day I went.

    The day I had for downtown Boston was rainy and cold, so I didn’t do so much touring. Sadly, no Mike’s Pastry! I walked a bit of the Freedom Trail but didn’t pay for any tours. Hung out with a friend at her coworking space at Impact Hub Boston- that was cool! Toured the Old Burying Ground, the Commons, and the Public Garden (exit, chased by a squirrel).

    Concord was awesome! I’m sure it was largely influenced by the return of lovely weather, but what a cute town! Did the tour of Orchard House (did you know Louisa May Alcott had a serious crush on RW Emerson?!). Shopped and strolled a bit downtown- highly recommend stopping at the public library! Tons of neat paintings and busts of the town’s literary figures. Went to North Bridge and the Old Manse. Lastly, went out to Walden Pond! So awesome to see, and to walk where Thoreau walked.

    Also did a hike at the Fells, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner. What an interesting museum! There was so much to see. My aunt made a joke about stealing the artwork and I got a bit nervous with all the guards ;).

    Thanks again for all the recs!

    1. Kay*

      Orchard House was my first museum job and is still one of my very favorite places on earth. <3 You sound like you made the most of your visit, glad you liked it!

      1. Gala apple*

        Thank you! I so loved Orchard House- I totally felt the Alcott family spirit and could see how they would use the space.

        Do you still work in the industry?

        I was saddened that at the Gardner, the presenter of the daily talk on Isabella’s life was a (very well spoken) volunteer. I’d love to do that type of thing myself, but as a paid job!

    2. fposte*

      I’m curious if you went to Salem or Danvers? I haven’t been to either, but since Danvers is the actual Salem Village site I’m kind of amused by the possibility that Salem isn’t just focused on history but history that happened elsewhere :-).

      1. fposte*

        Okay, it looks like the actual court hearings were in Salem Town, so I’m wrong there. Never mind!

      2. Gala apple*

        Interesting I didn’t realize Danvers was involved! I did drive through there actually on the way to the mall ;)

        1. fposte*

          Danvers was what they renamed Salem Village, where the girls who made the accusations lived and went to church; the Putnams’ house is still standing, as is the homestead of Rebecca Nurse, one of the early accused. So the formal prosecutions were in Salem Town, now Salem, but the driving engine was in the Village, now Danvers.

  33. Elizabeth West*

    This week has not been very productive in any way, to my great chagrin. The weather has been beautiful–not too hot, not too humid, though now it’s trending toward stickiness and we’re expecting a bit of rain this week. A friend I used to skate with who is now a YouTuber and professional artist came back home from the UK to visit family with her husband and she invited me to a BBQ. It was fun–I hadn’t seen her parents for a while, either. We had hot dogs and her husband, who is British, had his first s’more. He liked it. :)

    Tomorrow, I’m going to go see Wonder Woman before somebody spoils it!

    Also, in memory of Adam West, who died yesterday at 88, I am enjoying a cinnamon roll and drinking milk from my vintage Batman glass. Story of the glass here: twitter.com/DameWritesalot/status/873628006442553345

    1. SophieChotek*

      Hope you enjoyed Wonderwoman. (I haven’t seen it yet, but all my friends-save 1–seem to really like it.) I thought about going this weekend, but ended up staying home to watch opera DVDs instead.
      I was just wondering if you would post an update, so glad to hear from you.

  34. Serious Pillowfight*

    Our apartment building is for sale. It’s a 1930s house with four apartments. It’s been an endless stream of showings for the past month. I love our landlord and am sad he’s selling the place, and I’m worried about who will end up buying the building. I wish I could get a condo now, but it’s going to be a while before we can buy a place of our own.

  35. oy*

    I got a really weird email from a friend I’m trying to understand.

    I reached out a while ago to ask if everything was ok since I hadn’t heard from her in a while. I was extremely depressed (she knew this), and assumed the worst, that she had been mad at me. I told her this. That conversation ended normally. Then I got an email a few days later, saying that the exchange triggered memories of her emotionally abusive ex, and she needed to draw boundaries. They included that she can’t be my emotional rock, can’t be my therapist, reserves the right not to talk to me, etc. Stunned, I replied that all I’d asked (and ever asked) for was a friend, and an ear. I broke down the conversation we had, and showed the multiple points at which I’d emphasized that it was okay if she was busy, that I just wanted to check that things were okay, that none of my problems were hers to bear, etc. I asked her to give me an example of a single time that I’d ever violated those principles (which for the record, I assume as standard for every relationship I have). She couldn’t, but seemed to still think delineating these principles was necessary.

    She called to clear the air, but I didn’t want to take the call, and I canceled plans we had to hang out later. I don’t want to throw this friendship out, but I am stunned that a good friend could lash out the way she did. I get that everyone has triggers that we can’t control, but at some point you have to separate emotional from logical reasoning. If I’d had any history of emotionally or otherwise abusive behavior with her, I’d get it. This was a really strong response to one exchange (that no one else I know seems to think was at all unreasonable) to a really depressed friend.

    How would you guys handle this?

    1. anon for this thread--personal*

      Give her space. Not to punish her, but because she probably needs it. And you might need it too.

      Sometimes you don’t need to personally have an abusive history with someone to trigger something. I grew up with a parent with severe, untreated (to this day) anxiety, and even though it’s not my friends’ faults, sometimes I have trouble dealing with them when their anxiety gets very bad because it reminds me of things my parent did. The other people you talked to about the exchange might not have had abusive exes (or not one who was abusive in the same way, or might have had more distance from the relationship, or better therapy, or hundreds of other things), so just because nobody else saw what she did in the exchange doesn’t invalidate her interpretation. Just because she wasn’t able to give you a concrete example of something doesn’t mean something in the vibe of your conversation couldn’t have accidentally triggered her.

      I have several mental illnesses myself, too, including anxiety and depression, so don’t think I’m trying to minimize how you feel. But you may be minimizing how she feels. (If she needs to separate logical from emotional reasoning, couldn’t that also apply to you? Depression is chemical and not simply emotional, but so is possible trauma/PTSD from an abusive relationship.)

      That conversation (was it on the phone or over email?) where you broke down the entire conversation again sounds like it would have been really intense and overwhelming for her. It would have been for me. I probably wouldn’t have taken it well if a friend said something similar to me.

      1. oy*

        She doesn’t want space — I do. My email to her acknowledged her pain, for sure, and apologized for taking part in it. I made very clear that I didn’t mean to upset her, and that her responses were not in question.

        My point is that now, after I’ve apologized for unwittingly hurting her, I don’t think I can be in this friendship. I don’t want to be a jerk, but to be compared to her ex for a very benign conversation, to be told not to rely on her in any way except within the very clinical guidelines she set out, somewhat weirdens the friendship for me.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          So – asked kindly and with respect – what do you want? To ghost on the friendship or to make it different?

        2. fposte*

          If you want to take a break from the friendship, I think that’s okay; that happens in friendship. I think you’re focusing on her stated boundaries in the moment because it’s important to you that you didn’t force anything on her, but I think it’s also worth remembering that she’s allowed to realize *later* that she wasn’t okay with a conversation and not want to do it again, as can you. It doesn’t make either of you a bad person, just somebody who didn’t see in the moment that this wasn’t a sustainable direction. And her response doesn’t have to be logical to be valid.

          In the larger world, it can be okay for you to want her to be an ear, and it can be okay for her not to want to do that. Within a friendship, you each have to decide how important that need or limit is to you. I hope you find a decision that gives you peace.

      2. oy*

        Thanks for the perspective, everyone! I realize now that there’s a lot of detail to this scenario and friendship that’s necessary to understand the scope of what I’m dealing with here. I don’t want to get further into it, so I’ll stop now.

        Having said that, I thank you for your perspectives.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Okay, so you know how you had an emotional truth in your head that wasn’t true – namely that you thought she was mad at you? Can you imagine if she had responded by asking you to give her an example of a time when she seemed mad?

      I think it would be a good idea to stop dissecting the exchanges you’ve had and to stop trying to – or expecting her to – justify, argue, defend or explain. You say you get that everyone has triggers, but it’s clear that you’re – understandably – feeling quite upset here and as a result you are focused on who said what and who was right.

      Do you want to continue the friendship? If so, you might need to recognise that people get it wrong at times, that you’ve both been finding it difficult and you might need to draw a line. You don’t have to build bridges but if you want to I’d lose the inquisition and try an olive branch instead.

      1. oy*

        I appreciate the advice.

        I don’t know what I want, which is what I’d like to hear about from others here. At the moment, I’m quite put off. I told her I wanted some time to take in the email, and she hasn’t responded.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Why would she respond, though? She’s giving you time, so she’s respecting your wishes – do you think you maybe hoped for something else?

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I get the impression that both of you have emotional needs that the other is not able to meet.

          You have depression and need reassurance and support, and need friends who can understand when it’s the depression talking and they shouldn’t take it personally. She has her own problems, and isn’t able to provide that support and reassurance. Being asked to do so makes her anxious and upset, but when she communicates boundaries to, it makes you anxious and upset.

          And it’s worth considering that her response might not be entirely due to that single email, but perhaps the result of small issues over a long period of time, and she finally worked up the nerve to say something directly to you. And even though you emphasized in your original email that your emotional issues weren’t her problem, and it was okay if she were busy, it sounds like it was a emotionally loaded email.

          I think you do need to accept that this is a friend who will not be an ear for you, and is unable to accommodate your need for reassurance – she’s got her own stuff going on that means that she really cannot do this for you. But conversely, you’re not able to do the same for her. She might still be a friend you can do stuff with, or talk about non-emotionally loaded things. Or it might be that you’re both in a place where you’re not good for each other emotionally, and need to back off for a while.

          For future reference, a good template for a check in email is something like “Hey, I haven’t heard from you for a while, and wanted to check in on how things were going.” It’s short and to the point, and doesn’t dump feelings all over the recipient. If they have an issue they want to bring up, they can bring it up, but if they’ve just been busy (or caught in their own emotional issues) they can respond in a less emotionally intense way.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Well said. I agree, after being in a bad spot myself. After my husband died, I lost several other dear people from my life. I felt like someone kept pulling the carpet out from under my feet while I was trying to walk.
            I have a family member who has many, many life issues. I found I had suddenly lost the ability to talk with her about her life stuff. I wanted to talk about some of my stuff. I got told in no uncertain terms how selfish I was.

            You know. My wise friend used to say that people who desperately need something CAN come across as being selfish or self-focused. That self-centeredness helps to insure their survival. They need to concentrate on what they are doing in order to salvage themselves. And yeah, I was self-focused because I was trying to pull together what was left of my life.

            Family member and I go way back. So this means there are a thousand layers to this story. The bottom line is that we can’t help each other. Whatever differences we had or misunderstanding we had, could not be worked on either. There was too much going on just with today/now and no bandwidth left for what happened yesterday or last year.

            My advice may seem odd or difficult, but keep reading, I do have a point: Sometimes we have to step back from a person’s life so others can get in.

            Going back to me and my family member, because of HISTORY added to the mix, we were not able to help each other with our current concerns. I stepped back. Other people came into my life and totally changed my life in ways that family member never could have. Hopefully the same has happened on family member’s side of this story.

            Maybe at some time we will circle back and try again. I have no idea. Meanwhile, I am a big fan of saying, “self-care, self-care, self-care”. And that is whatever the idea of good self-care looks like to you. Invest in you and invest in the good of your well-being in the future. I did massage therapy, got some chiropractic work done and invested in restoring my mind and my heart. Sometimes just taking care of our own selves IS the answer.

    3. tigerStripes*

      Sometimes something that is in itself very minor and harmless can trigger a reaction because even if the present thing isn’t a big deal, it reminds someone of an issue that was a huge deal. It sounds like that’s what’s happening. I think the friend can’t be an ear for you, but maybe you could do other things together. Or maybe you want to back off for now and revisit the idea of being friends later.

      You could have done absolutely nothing wrong and still managed to accidentally trigger her.

  36. Lemon Meringue*

    Would love some advice/thoughts from you all… My live-in boyfriend and I have been together for four years, and we’ve agreed since early in the relationship that we’re serious and hope/plan to get married someday. The problem is that we’re having a really hard time figuring out where we want to live. We both grew up in places that we don’t want to return to (which makes it hard in a way, since we both feel kind of unmoored geographically), but we have very different preferences about where to end up. I love cities and the coasts, but he’s much more of a Midwestern small-town guy. Right now we live in a city for school, and we graduate next year. I was hoping we could compromise and find a small town near a city, and at first he was on board with that, but now he’s having second thoughts. To make things more complicated, there’s a city that would be ideal for me for career reasons (his career goals are more flexible in terms of location). I’ve never been dead set on going there (it definitely has its downsides, and I’ve had mixed feelings when I spent time there), but I would potentially like to try it out and see…

    Wondering if anyone has dealt with something like this? How did you handle it? Or was it a deal breaker?

    1. ya*

      This is hard. My husband and I had to deal with something similar, but there will usually always be one person making a sacrifice in these kinds of deals. I had to move to his country because he’s in school here for the next few years. It’s hard, but it was really the only way for us to progress, and the city where we’re living has tons of opportunities for me. So long as you’re making decisions on equal footing, and always make decisions with both your best interests at heart, you’ll be fine no matter where you go.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        That’s good and true advice. I put my dreams to move to a certain place on hold for a good 7 years while the other half moved here, finished school, got a job etc. And while hes laid back about where he wants to live and was ok moving to where I wanted to go (and its been good for his career too), it was always tacitly understood that we would do “my thing” when the time was right understanding that the opportunity he had for those 7 years was, long term, of mutual benefit for us both.

        Do either of you have a short list of places where you want to live? When he says small town Midwest, what does he mean by that and has he lived like that before? To me it sounds like if you have too much choice you need to narrow it down some and see where there is enough intersection for everyone to get something of what they want. I liked your idea of small town by big city – are his objections due to geography or something else like distance from family? While I don’t think this is a deal breaker I think you ought to probably sit down and hash out some sort of agreement (as above) to ensure there isn’t a bunch of festering resentment on either side.

        Note: neither of us wants to return to where we grew up either and while we like our families its not like we have to live within x miles of them and see them every weekend.

        1. Dead Quote Olympics*

          Yeah, I want to know more about what midwestern small town means (I lived in one for years). Does it mean a small but fairly dense village where you can walk to everything — library, post office, hardware store, diner? Or where everyone knows each other? Or both? Because I grew up in the west and you can definitely find those sorts of places in Oregon and California — and in parts of the west you can find the same sort of town and personal connections but everyone lives on ranches and farms and drives in on the weekend.

          On the other hand, small or large cities can have neighborhoods that operate exactly the same way, and some city neighborhoods I lived in had way more human interaction and social connection than small towns in the northeast, especially if you didn’t grow up there. But there’s noise, traffic, and of course way more human density, logistical challenges, etc.

          It might be helpful to tease out the social, geographical, and and other elements in order to find out exactly what you both value the most, and then explore if those can be found outside the obvious places.

          1. paul*

            or does it mean a town of 800 people in the middle of nowhere, maybe near soe public land and not too far from a grocery store (my dream!).

      2. paul*

        my wife and I circling around that issue ourselves; we’ve lived in a mid sized (150-200k) city that’s in the middle of a lot of nothing for years and I’m honestly hoping we can somehow find more rural accomdations. I don’t have an easy answer, but good uck, this sort of thing is hard.

    2. katamia*

      For me it is a dealbreaker to some degree. I’m not willing to live in certain regions or in areas that are too small. I also would love to travel and live in multiple countries. Like if I could work in, say, India for a few years, then try Greece, then try somewhere else, that’s the kind of life I want. So I don’t know how I would make it work with someone who always wanted to go back to their hometown and stay there forever.

      Buuuuuuuuuuut I’m flexible on which countries (within reason–for health reasons places like Scandinavia would be bad for me), exactly how long we’d be there, etc. And if we found a place we loved and wanted to stay for the rest of our lives, then i’d absolutely be willing to do that. I suspect that in parts of Europe where it’s pretty easy to travel to multiple countries, I’d probably be willing to do a sort of “home base” setup, too. And there are probably other compromises I’d be willing to make, too, that I haven’t thought of.

      I don’t know what sorts of conversations you’ve had around this already, but I think you need to set a date to have another one in the near future, and then before that conversation, you both should try to really get down into the nitty-gritty of what you’re looking for in a future place to live (weather/climate? diversity? population size? local industries? presence of good restaurants? outdoor sports availability? whatever) and see how well you align beyond the basic big city/coast versus small Midwestern town divide and where one or both of you might be willing to compromise.

    3. Jessesgirl72*

      I think if you have mixed feelings on a city and he would be unhappy there, don’t move there. Visiting a city is already seeing the best of it, so living there would just be worse.

      I say there is a difference between major cities that are really urban, and others that are still good sized cities and have all those benefits of art and culture, without the noise and pollution and traffic and living on top of other people all the time.

      My ocean loving husband can make do with a Great Lake, too.

      Personally, we’ve been really happy with Milwaukee, especially our suburb literally a block from the city limits (10 minutes from downtown) with a half acre lot and room to breathe and have privacy. No, it’s not small town, but it approaches it. And Milwaukee is more manageable than Chicago, but still has all the museums and bars and restaurants and multicultural living. And if there’s anything we don’t have, Chicago is 90 minutes away by train or car. To us, Milwaukee is ideal because it’s so close to Chicago too, but even without that, it would be good- and there are tons of smaller metro areas like that- Kansas City or Minneapolis/St Paul and on and on. Places that aren’t NYC or Boston or LA, but where you’re not missing out on much of what you find in those big coastal cities. And where you can find suburbs close in to the city that are acceptable, so you don’t feel like you’re isolated out in the boondocks with an hour commute!

      We’ve also found that college towns have that small town vibe, but with most of the amenities of a big city.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        As someone originally from a tiny (famous) Midwestern village just north of Milwaukee, can confirm Milwaukee is awesome. Partner and I love the ocean as well, but Lake Michigan is stunning in its own right and has an ocean feel too – especially in many of the north Chicago/Milwaukee neighborhoods. Some really great neighborhood vibes; walkable, good food, lots of parks. On the flip side we really struggled with Minneapolis because it felt landlocked and isolated, even though plenty of people love it for all of the similar above reasons. Just was so FAR from anything!

        I think the OP and boyfriend need to sit down as suggested and really be clear about what they want – wishy washy isn’t going to work in this instance.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The Milwaukee metro area really has a wide range. You can be as urban as you want or as rural as you like (10 acres with barn and farm pond, I saw last week) all within a 30 minute commute of downtown- and those are 30 rush hour minutes, not just at 3am. When rush hour gets really bad, the news talks about it taking an entire extra *15 minutes* to get downtown. We’ve been here 4 years, and I still just laugh and laugh at that “really bad traffic” – but have started complaining as bad as any native when I’m stuck in it.

          I think Lemon Meringue and her BF are also making the mistake of really looking at the next move as something permanent, that can’t be changed if one of them hates it. Or that even if they stay together now, they won’t be able to break up later, if it doesn’t work out. Personally, for something like this (that’s not abuse, etc) I’d see how things go as they start their job searches.

      2. Overeducated*

        I think this is the closest to our ideal too – small to medium city with a university (or a few), in the northern half of the country, from the Great Lakes to eastern seaboard. That way you get your culture and urban conveniences, but hopefully lower COL and less congestion than one of the really huge cities, and can easily get to outdoor stuff.

        My spouse works in academia, and is a city guy, but I’m more of a small town fan with a career that is hard to pursue in small towns, and we both like woods and mountains. We’ve lived in Boston and DC since grad school and it’s been fun and good for our careers, but the cost of living means we can’t have the kind of quality of life we want long term (kids, yard, short commutes, etc.). The good thing is that those selection factors open up a huge amount of space – from Milwaukee to Portland, ME, basically, and the entire mid-Atlantic in between. The bad thing is that I seem to have pegged myself in such a narrow niche that I’m afraid I can only find work in the huge metropolises. Sigh.

        Anyway I think in practice it makes the most sense to prioritize the qualities you want instead of fixating on one or two cities, and then just decide on the actual options in front of you based on job offers. Otherwise it is just madness. Maybe there are cities that are coastal or on lakes but have neighborhoods or nearby towns with a small town feel, for example. You can’t explore them all just yet.

        The bad thing is that I’ve managed to

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Well, as huge metropolises go, Chicago is pretty affordable, and you can get the train in from Milwaukee or other spots between the two…

          Or, honestly, you might find that you’re not as limited as you fear. Because companies in these less-trendy cities have a hard time attracting good candidates, they are more willing to accept someone who doesn’t tick off all their boxes, and pay them a really good salary to get them to move to cold and untrendy Milwaukee or Detroit. So if you have skills that will translate, even if your experience isn’t in precisely what they want, they won’t reject you. That is how we ended up in Milwaukee- my husband wanted to get out of the pigeonhole he was in, and his company needed to attract good programmers away from Silicon Valley- and matched his Silicon Valley salary, to boot. He had better luck looking outside of Silicon Valley, where the employers could be as choosy as they wanted to be, as engineers and programmers are a dime a dozen, to get out of his niche.

          1. overeducated*

            That’s encouraging! My husband is on a very specific track, so needs to be somewhere with a university, but fortunately he’s in an in demand field and is open to all kinds of schools, so that gives him room to move. I have a lot of transferable skills (not in tech, I’m afraid) but have mostly worked in a very niche field, so I would actually do best in a job market where people are willing to take chances on applicants. I haven’t spent much time in the upper midwest, just a week in Chicago for a conference, but being from the eastern side of the Great Lakes I’d be very open to it. Thanks for the recommendation!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you’re just finishing school, it sounds like you’re young and early in your lives and careers. Can one of you pick a place that you prefer, and the two of you try it for one year, after which the other picks a place (and you start *planning* your move)? There are a few commenters who work abroad, and that sort of thing is easier when you’re younger, so why not try living in a few different places while you’re young? (Assuming you are; if I’m wrong, this might still work depending on the types of jobs you both do.)

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Sorry, I forgot to say, part of the point of trying both is that one of you might have an idea in your head of what you like, but you might find that once you live somewhere and make a life there, even for a few months, you might find that you feel differently, for better or for worse, but this might be the best time for you to find out before you commit to someplace for a longer term.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe if you change the question from where do we WANT to live to where would it be practical for both of us to live then you will gain more traction here?

      I could see my husband was just not going to be able to live where I did and I wanted to leave anyway. So I moved up here to be with him. I am much happier in this area. And he was happy to stay put. We both landed well on that one.

      I am kind of chuckling because I know some questions are a trap. “What kind of dining room table do you want?” I could spend the rest of my life sorting and trying to decide what type of table I want. I am much better off making a list of considerations. I have X amount of space, Y amount of dollars and I want something that is not a dark color. Then I pick a couple of stores that I figure would be in my price range. I make up my mind I will just select something from one of these places and that is better than doing an endless quest.
      You could find something that is semi-agreeable for the both of you. Then agree that in one year’s time you will sit together and decide if this new place is working or not. Stick to the commitment of checking in at the one year mark.

    6. Caro*

      Cost of living is something to consider and Can you work anywhere, because that seems like that should be the primary factor guiding your decision.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I think he really needs to work with you on this, because

      there’s a city that would be ideal for me for career reasons (his career goals are more flexible in terms of location)

      I know plenty of people who hate or aren’t big fans of where they live, but that’s where they live because that’s where their industry hub is.

      I was hoping we could compromise and find a small town near a city, and at first he was on board with that, but now he’s having second thoughts.

      Since you were able to propose a compromise, can I ask what his compromises have been?

      Granted, I’m getting only your side of the story here, but based on the information we have here, it sounds as if he really needs to just suck it up and accept your compromise.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      My husband and I are in a similar situation. I hate the house we are living in now, and he hates most of my preferred areas to live. So, we first jointly agreed to rule out places that either one of us hates (i.e., not this house and not in the downtown area). That was a difficult step because there are a lot of feelings and values that get dredged up.

      Then we figured out what we do both like/are neutral about — for him, he wanted a big lot and somewhere to put up a workshop. I wanted a certain style and layout of house but I don’t care about the lot size. We are looking for houses now that meet these criteria. It’s slow going because there isn’t much that meets all the criteria, but we did make an offer on a house a few weeks ago (it was outbid, frustratingly).

      Neither of us is getting our first choice and that can be hard to deal with: it will always be my dream to live downtown in an old house/apartment, but that would make him SO miserable. But it’s a workable solution because we were able to make a list of things that will make BOTH of us happy. Sometimes that might not be the case, like if living in a suburb/rural area was a dealbreaker for me and living in a city was a dealbreaker for him. But I think most of the time, a compromise can be reached that makes everyone happy, or at least content. You and your SO need to figure out what compromises you’re each willing to make and see if you can meet somewhere in the middle.

    9. MechanicalPencil*

      I’m going to be in a similar situation soonish. The SO’s company will end up requiring him to move to a handful of cities. Of those he listed, some I was ok with…others didn’t immediately strike my fancy. However I didn’t find out about this until literally three days ago that this would be happening in a year or so. Theoretically my job could be done anywhere, so that works. It’s more the “are we at that stage where I move across country for someone” aspect. I totally feel you and I don’t have any answers because the conversation for us will be very clinical.

  37. GOG11*

    As discussed in the post about medical finger braces earlier this week, I’d love to hear from other EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) folks. Let’s share our collective wisdom on how to live with EDS’ various challenges.

    For me, it took years to get a diagnosis (the pain started in childhood) and, subsequently, any EDS-informed treatment. I’m just now learning about things I can do to improve my EDS symptoms and the many conditions (I’ve also recently learned) that are comorbid to EDS. The Friday thread had some great tips for work and I’d love to know more about how everyone navigates life in general.

    1. AlaskaKT*

      I self diagnosed EDS a while ago as the hypermobility symptoms fit. I didn’t find a doctor that knew anything about EDS until a few years later when my orthopedic surgeon confirmed my suspicions. He changed his recommendation for surgery to PT based on his diagnosis of EDS. Until then I didn’t understand my reactions to previous surgeries, anesthetics and pain medications (lightbulb moment for me). I currently live off grid in the Alaskan bush (blog link in name), so I am bad at ignoring my EDS to get things done. My husband is pretty good at telling me when my joints shouldn’t be going the way they are and stopping me from doing to much damage. Most of the women in my family have type 3 to some extent (my official diagnosis triggered a cascade of family doctors looking into EDS), so I never had anyone telling me that “hey, knees shouldn’t go backwards like that!” and such. I do think living out here helps my pain and exhaustion levels some, but I do over do it at times and end up spending the next day(s) in bed.

      Does anyone else have multiple diagnosis? I’m in the process of receiving a MS diagnosis (a very long process) and according to research the EDS and MS may be connected (MS patients are 10-11 times more likely to have EDS than the general population). It looks like EDS and RA may be connected as well. Also, what about the weird heart beat thing? I don’t know how to describe it, but how do you handle it?

      1. GOG11*

        I have a number of other conditions, some of which occur frequently alongside EDS (interstitial cystitis, mitral valve prolapse, among others) and some that don’t (asthma for example). Most of them became apparent and I was able to get diagnoses before the EDS (mostly because it’s very recent), but there were a few things that seemed vague but made sense in the context of EDS. Seeing a geneticist who specializes in EDS and who was extremely knowledgeable about what can go along with it helped me get going in the right direction for those otherwise seemingly random or nonspecific problems. I think others may have similar experiences based on other conversations I’ve had.

        I don’t know about the connection between MS or RA. Regarding the heart thing, do you mean mitral valve prolapse? I know that’s more common among people with connective tissue disorders. In my case, I was directed to see a cardiologist yearly to monitor it. I know dysautonomia is another commonly occurring problem, though I haven’t been assessed for it. If that’s what you’re referring to, the reddit subcommunity /r/pots seems to have really good info.

        I can’t imagine living somewhere so cold! Does the cold weather seem to cause you any trouble? I can relate to not knowing when joints are doing things they’re not supposed to. I’m currently working on not contortions my shoulder into weird position so I can scratch random spots on my own back. I’ve been doing it for years and sometimes stuff gets really itchy so it’s been a hard to break the habit.

        1. AlaskaKT*

          I’ve never been to a cardiologist, so I’m not sure what is wrong exactly. Sometimes (mostly when lying down or using stairs) my heart does a funny thing were it stops, like there’s to much pressure on my chest to pump any more. Then it thumps really hard a few times and goes back to normal. I literally can’t breathe or move when it happens, but I’ve been dealing with it my whole life so it doesn’t really bother me much. I actually didn’t know everyone’s heart wasn’t like that for the longest time. I’ve had EKG’s done several times but I think it’s so far been brushed off as it’s never happened in the doctors. I know my sternum gets inflamed due to twisted ribs, and it pushes on my pericardial sack when its bad. The only treatment I was offered for that is to take a huge amount of ibuprofen. Luckily seeing a chiropractor helps keep that from getting to bad.

          I probably should make an appointment with a specialist. The only time I thought about it was during my pregnancy because of the associated risks. Luckily everything turned out fine with pregnancy and labor besides subluxated hips. Unfortunatly my daughter shows signs of EDS as well (my OB had a little experience with EDS and checked her specifically for signs).

          Due to my upbringing, I’m not much for doctors and avoid them as much as possible, not that anyone could tell from my medical records! It’s probably part of why I live where I do.

          And yes, the cold s-u-c-k-s. But the wood stove is nice to curl up next to, and husband is fantastic about dealing with all the outdoor chores in negative temps. I’m from WA so we have similar temps, the cold just lasts longer here. Husband hates the heat, but we have agreed that if I in 10 years I can’t handle Alaska I get to pick our next move, and it will definitely be somewhere warmer. I love living here, but we’ll see how it goes.

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            If your heart insists on not doing its thing in the doctor’s office, they can give you a monitor to wear for a day or a couple to try to capture it at home. If that fails and everyone thinks it’s worth proceeding, they can implant a recorder that can stay in place for about a year.

            1. AlaskaKT*

              I’m just going to say that it is really sad neither of these were ever options voiced by my doctors. I’ll ask about these next time I have an appointment, thank you!

          2. Spellyzunkles*

            If you do have MS, I would make visits to warm/hot places you are considering in the summertime to see how it makes you feel, because MS can wreak all kinds of havoc on the nervous system. My DH has had it since 1992 and he absolutely CANNOT handle the heat and humidity of MA but luckily we only have that kind of weather for maybe 3 months, if lucky. He refuses to move so I get to listen to him whine about the heat (loves) and the cold (hates).

    2. straws*

      I was diagnosed when I was 25. I started having issues with wrist tendonitis and shoulder dislocations in high school. My primary was trying to figure out my chronic pain and eventually gave up and just sent me to his mentor (aka “the smartest doctor I know”). It worked, and here I am!
      My wrists are still my biggest problem, so my various supports and braces are biggest help. And ibuprofen when needed (although sparingly, because I build up a tolerance to NSAIDS quickly). I also have one of those jar openers for people with arthritis, and I love it! It keeps my fingers and wrist from slipping joints and was super cheap. My one ankle is basically always sprained to some degree, and the kt tape is awesome for that! I have braces as well, but they’re better for prevention. Once it’s aggravated, that tape is so amazing. This one crosses with work a little, but I find writing on a tablet much easier on my hands than paper & pen. This is mostly useful for work meetings, but it crosses into personal a lot too. It requires a lot less pressure to write.

      1. Stacy*

        When you say writing on a tablet do you mean literally writing vs. typing? Because that’s genius, and I can’t believe I have never thought to try it!

        Also, I have lots more to say on this thread and I have some catching up to do since I was working Friday and yesterday too. Which, I should have said no to the extra shift on Saturday EDS and Dysautonomia-wise, but I’m filing it under the category of “you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes!”

        1. straws*

          Yes! My tablet is one that comes with a pen, so I use the memo app for all my note taking. Now I just need to work on my handwriting being legible! I do have a portable bluetooth keyboard for the tablet, but the pen is just easier sometimes.

    3. Woah*

      I’ve always had weird injuries, lots of bruising and weird skin and pain, but it wasn’t horrible…until I got into a car accident (not my fault!) and I never recovered. I was diagnosed by my PCP who sent me to a geneticist- while I’m glad I found out now so I can take preventative measures, there’s a good chance without the car accident that I would have been okayish for another five or ten years!

      I go to PT twice a week and consult with other specialists as needed. Currently working on nerve pain in my face and lower legs/feet. My husband is my everything and he supports and helps me in every aspect of dealing with this condition-this is not where we thought our life would be! I’m on Level 1 on the Muldowney Protocol now, after a year. That’s…not fabulous, but oh well, I’m trying. My PT also uses PNF and I have KT tape, braces, splints, etc on every day. :/

      1. AlaskaKT*

        Ugh car accidents are the worst! My bad one at 19 really messed up my back and ribs. I did find out I have an extra lumbar vertebrae in the x ray though, so that’s kind of neat.

  38. New girl*

    Went out with friends last night. Had a good time and took a lot photos. When I looked at the photos this morning I was so embarrassed by how I looked. I know I have gained some weight but it made me motivated to try and get back into a routine of eating better and exercising. My issue though is that I love going out to eat (actually, I just love food), and meeting up at bars or sitting on the couch at home with my SO sinking a bottle of wine.

    How do I balance making a lifestyle change and the doing the things I enjoy the most?

    1. New girl*

      Also- last year I went on the depo shot for birth control which I think contributed a bit to my weight gain. Has anyone every stopped the depo and lost some of the weight they’ve gained?

    2. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve been doing weight watchers but I’ve not been doing it completely properly. I don’t weight stuff out and I don’t fuss too much if I go over my points. The major changes I’ve made are that I think about what I’m eating more and snacking less, and I’m eating more fruit and veg. It’s been amazing how easy I’ve managed to change things and therefore lose weight. Just reducing chocolate never worked for me, I always went back to it, doing it this way, I naturally have less and I’m not craving it (as much!).
      Exercise wise, until a few weeks ago I only made subtle, pretty cliché changes. I go to the supermarket rather than getting a delivery, I park a bit further away from entrances and exits, I take the stairs not the lift, and I walk instead of drive where I can. A few weeks ago I found an exercise I thoroughly enjoy so have been doing that once a week.
      I’d recommend making small changes as you go, simple ones, and building from there. And I still have takeaways and evenings out and alcohol, I’m just more aware of the effect of having them on my weight than I was.
      Good luck!!

      1. Neruda*

        I did weight watchers for a little while. Initially just to eat healthier, and then because I wanted to maintain my weight before my wedding (after the final dress fitting I didn’t want to get it fitted again!)

        I wasn’t too stressed about doing it properly either and never weighed my food or anything. The main thing for me, was just learning about different foods. An example is, we made cupcakes at school one day (I’m a teacher) and I realised that the cupcake was almost a quarter of my daily point allocation (I’m fairly slim so didn’t get many points). I thought ‘oh this will be like 2, 3 points’. Nope, SIX! Once I realised how much difference I could make but just cutting out extra crap I didn’t really need it was a lot easier. And I still went out for dinner etc.

        One thing that can be difficult, especially if you like wine, is the idea you shouldn’t drink your calories!

    3. MechanicalPencil*

      I started using MyFitnessPal to get an idea of what/how I was eating. If you aren’t familiar, you can set the app to lose weight, maintain, and I think there’s a third setting. Anyway, I set to lose a pound a week (other options available), so it gives you X number of calories to play with. You can scan a UPC code on a package to find nutritional information and so forth. My description is terrible, sorry. Anyway. I spent a week inputting my normal diet and realizing I eat terribly. Then I started making changes and adapting my diet to keep eating food I enjoy but in a more healthful way (half servings of high calorie foods, pita instead of sandwich bread, etc) Adding exercise/linking a fitness band also adds in calories you’ve burned.

      1. Junior Dev*

        The third setting is to gain weight (there’s actually another comment thread here on that topic).

        I lost about 15 lbs earlier this year by counting calories through MFP. (I still have quite a bit of weight to lose but I got sidetracked by various life things. I should really start again.) I can tell you what worked for me and what I found challenging.

        It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be once I figured out certain routines. I set my calories based on a TDEE calculator online, put a goal of losing half a pound a week, and set my activity level to sedentary. I also logged exercise at 1/3 or 1/4 time. (You’re not supposed to set a non-sedentary activity level *and* log calories. You do one or the other. Apparently some people had problems with the built in exercise tracker calculating calories too generously which is why I logged a fraction of the time.)

        I would always make sure to pack a high protein snack for the afternoon since that’s when I get hungry and tend to hit the vending machines. I ended up eating a majority of my food as processed foods from Trader Joe’s since it was easier to track “x servings of thing” (and scan the food in with the barcode reader) than to try and weigh out all the ingredients and do math on how much of a recipe I made. That was a deterrent–it got old, and expensive, to eat like that.

        I basically stopped eating rice. Everything else that’s highly caloric is either something I don’t like anyway (soda) or something I could have small amounts of and be satisfied (pasta) but rice has an absurd amount of calories for any sort of satisfying amount. I got some cauliflower rice frozen from TJs which we as tolerable but not great.

        I tried very hard not to think of anything in terms of good or bad or naughty or virtuous or whatever. I just tried to make the numbers add up. I found that a lot more healthy and realistic than trying to cut out whole food groups or making myself eat foods that I hate.

        Even if you don’t track calories, do look into how many calories foods have instead of assuming. A lot of foods that market themselves as healthy have lots of calories–hummus is a good example, it has about half as many calories as butter by volume. Try to eat foods you enjoy, in moderation, and if you associate food with self indulgence, try to get that feeling in a relatively lower calorie way–a few squares of fancy chocolate instead of a bowl of ice cream, fresh fruit from the farmer’s market instead of pies or cookies.

        Alcohol is tough because not only is it high in calories, you also need to be careful drinking when you haven’t eaten much if you don’t want to get too intoxicated. It can be done, just plan for it.

        Remember: food is not sin, liking food is not a vice, being overweight is not a sign you’re bad or lazy or anything else–you have a goal and there are steps you can take to work towards it. Better to do that in a sustainable way that makes you happy than to follow some Platonic ideal of the Correct Way to Diet.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        I’ve used MFP for a long time, with results directly tied to how carefully I’m using it. It’s gotten more annoying with ads and garbage, but still has the best database of foods, so I stick with it. You can also put in your own recipes, which is a little labor intensive but good since I do so much cooking.

    4. Caro*

      The thing that helps me the most is slowing down while eating to really taste good. In addition to eating less, a lot of less healthy foods don’t taste as good.

    5. KR*