weekend free-for-all – September 2-3, 2017

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival, by Stanley N. Alpert. A fascinating story by a federal prosecutor of what happened after he was kidnapped off the street — and later, how he went after his captors.

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

{ 1,042 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We’re mostly unpacked; the struggle now is with taking care of things around the house that need to be dealt with and dealing with sticker shock. In a bigger house, everything is more expensive than I realized it would be: cleaning costs twice as much as it used to, for example, and the prices of ongoing lawn maintenance stuff has shocked me. And it still seems like everything I tackle here turns out to be much more complicated than it initially seemed like it would. It’s exhausting.

      If I could solve our kudzu problem, I’d feel a lot better. We bought this house in large part because of the amazing view of trees in the back. Then we realized they’re all completely covered in kudzu, which is invasive and has to be removed or it will kill the trees (which would defeat the whole purpose of buying here — and I imagine would make it really hard to sell in the future). However, they’re behind a really high (30 foot?) retaining wall and down a slope, and there’s no access to them from our yard. There’s a county park behind our piece of land, and it looks like any contractor who comes to deal with the kudzu will have to park like half a mile away and trek through the park to get to our trees. Which … doesn’t feel like something reasonable to ask them to do? And I also can’t figure out if we need to deal with it immediately or if it’s going to die during winter anyway and we can wait until it comes back next year. I’m afraid of waiting, in case it does kill the trees, and I can’t seem to get clear answers about what to do (in part because no one can get down there to really look at it).

      That’s my current obsession. If anyone knows anything about kudzu, I am all ears (and panic).

      1. Merci Dee*

        You’ve basically got 3 options for keeping kudzu in check.

        You can control it though mowing/pulling/cutting, but this method has to be done on a monthly basis, and the portions of the vines that are removed have to be burned or physically removed from the property to make sure that they don’t re-root and start growing all over again. Time-consuming and expensive.

        You can control it through chemical means, by buying some pretty strong and dangerous herbicides to pour over it. Drawbacks to this method are the need for large amounts of herbicide (40 – 80 gallons per acre, according to come studies), and the fact that the applications have to be repeated for a long period of time (anywhere between 2 and 10 years, depending on which study you read).

        You can control it by means of animals, by installing a small herd of goats and sheep to eat the kudzu. Reports suggest that a small herd can eat about one acre of kudzu a day. And considering how fast this stuff grows, there’d always be something there to feed your herd.

        This stuff spreads like crazy, and it found an environment in the southeast where it can thrive like nobody’s business. But, there are a few positive things that come from kudzu. If you can keep it under control and restricted to the area you want, it’s excellent ground cover to help prevent soil erosion. Also, as weird as you might find it, you can make jelly from kudzu blossoms and bread from kudzu root powder, and you can pick the leaves and eat them just like a salad. You can also cook with the leaves, in most any application where you might use spinach (cooked as a side, baked into casseroles, etc.). And kudzu roots can be cooked in much the same way as potatoes.

        You’ve got lots of options with the kudzu there, but I’d personally go with the goats and sheep for eradication, just for the cuteness factor!

        1. Cristina in England*

          I know you can rent goats to clear your land in some places. I just googled ‘rent goat Washington DC’ and came up with some hits!

          1. Chameleon*

            We thought about goats for our blackberries (these are the kudzu of the PNW) but we can’t use them because we have cherry laurels, which are poisonous apparently. So that’s another factor to consider.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I was coming to suggest goats. They’re sort of the kudzu of the animal world.

          (Oh, serious concern–if there are dogs off leash in the park who might hop the fence and attack the goats.)

          1. Seal*

            The goat company would probably know how to deal with that. Our campus uses goats and sheep to control the kudzu and other invasive plants in otherwise hard to reach areas. The companies that supply the animals put up fencing to keep them from wandering all over and either round them up at night or post guards.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Oh, you know who’s great at guarding goats and sheep? Llamas!

              I swear I am not making this up.

              1. Cherith Ponsonby*

                I’m from an agricultural area and I can confirm this! Llamas and alpacas are great guard animals, and as a plus they eat much the same things as goats so you don’t have to feed them specially. Maremma dogs are also great guard animals (and also adorable).

                Goats are so good for clearing land. You do have to keep an eye out to make sure they don’t ringbark your trees, but we’ve had goats in among mature trees with zero problems, so it’s more on the level of “just be aware of it and don’t leave them in there too long” than “watch them like hawks”. In my experience they’re more likely to climb the trees than ringbark them!

          2. Caro*

            They use goatskin to control weeds where I live and have portable electric fences to contain them. The farmer doesn’t want to lose any goats either.

          3. CAA*

            Is it possible to put long ladders against the retaining wall and climb down from your upper yard into the forested area? I’m thinking of the 35-foot ladders that roofers use to get onto a 3 story building. That would give contractors access to the area.

            Regarding goats: one thing we saw in Norway last week was a small goat herd that keeps the plants cropped on a steep mountain side. They use an electronic collar / invisible fence setup to keep the goats in their assigned area. So once you get them into your trees, there are ways to keep them there. They might have to be herded across the park to get them in and out, but that’s an occasional thing and removing kudzu from surrounding areas prevents it from spreading into the park, so it might not be that big a hurdle.

            I’m not clear on how goats can solve the problem of kudzu that’s already on the trees though. They eat at ground level, but I thought kudzu could get it’s nutrients by sinking roots into the trees themselves, so wouldn’t you need professionals to clean it off the upper parts of the trees even if you had goats down below?

            1. misspiggy*

              Yes – in the UK the tree surgeons who would deal with this are used to using ladders and cherry pickers to get to hard to reach trees. Or come through tge park with their equipment using quad bikes, which they might well be able negotiate access for. Hopefully if you put the issue before a decent contractor they will have options.

          4. Ramona Flowers*

            And then you could post goat photos on a Saturday. What’s not to like?

            Seriously though, it sounds like the most awful headache, I’m sorry.

      2. Me--Blargh!*

        Good luck with the kudzu, Alison. I feel you on this one–my entire yard has been taken over by invasive plants. Most of them came from other yards, and there is nothing I can do about it. The worst offenders are morning glory, something I think is called wintercreeper, and star jasmine. In fact the entire neighborhood is dripping with star jasmine–it smells lovely and is pretty, but it is EVERYWHERE. It’s in all my other bushes, strangling my crepe myrtle and spirea, and I have NO idea how it got into my yard. It just pops up out of the ground in random places. I think it’s under everything like the fire in Silent Hill. :P

        Not to mention honeysuckle (which I don’t mind too much), and effing pokeweed. The last one is because birds. Also, someone behind me had an infestation at one point and didn’t clean it out. I gave up on trying to have a flower bed. Now I just let the violets go wild in spring and don’t spray the grass with anything, because the violets are at least edible (and pretty).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Many years back, I planted some morning glory against the front fence. It didn’t seemingly take… except this year it’s trying to seize the vegetable garden in back.

          Public service announcement: global warming is great for vines, which thrive on the higher CO2. (Plants in general like it, but since vines don’t need to build their own woody support structure they are particularly well poised to take off.) Mostly I think of this re poison ivy, but it works for kudzu and the rest, too.

      3. Kimmy Anne*

        My lab geek husband kills invasive weeds by using a medical syringe to inject the main stem with either saline or a mild bleach solution. It requires less chemical strength than topical treatments, and risks less “overspray” and killing of other plants you want to keep.

      4. E*

        You might even check with the county park maintenance department, as they probably don’t want the kudzu invading their trees. Maybe they already have the ability to treat, or could suggest a solution that’s easy on both the park and your land.

    2. LG*

      I too was so excited to see your kitty cat photo! Kitty looks slightly quizzical: “Move was a lot of work, huh, human? I suggest twelve naps a day as it works for me.”

      Good luck with the kudzu! That sounds stressful all around. For me with moves I feel like everything always gets worse and worse and then at some point after the move you start to get to check more things off of your list than you are adding on and things start to get better. It sounds like you have some big things but once they get rolling (or even if you hear with the kudzu that you could wait a few months to deal with it) hopefully you’ll start to get settled in and things will feel better. Even good changes are unsettling at first, right? Sending good thoughts for the whole household!

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I have an unhealthy obsession with reading the stories of people who escaped from Scientology.

        1. Anion*

          Check out Tony Ortega’s website “The Underground Bunker” if you haven’t already, and Chris Shelton’s YouTube channel. Chris is an ex-Sci and his stories and Q&As are wonderful.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Oh, I have spent hours reading The Underground Bunker.

            But I will definitely look up Chris Shelton!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Have you already checked out Leah Remini’s autobiography Troublemaker? I’d highly recommend it.

        1. Juli G.*

          As someone who also has an “escaped from Scientology” obsession, I almost skipped her book. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s really interesting to see how they psychologically tortured someone that was a rich celebrity as opposed to some of the rank and file stories.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I actually ended up reading it today because I woke up stupid early and it was so good.

            I’ve also read Jenna Miscaviage Hill’s book. Eventually I will buy/read all of them.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Many thanks to you, AnonEd. I read your recommendation this morning, trotted over to my library at its 10 a.m. opening time, and just finished the book a few minutes ago (it’s about 5:30 p.m. now). I’m simultaneously infuriated that Scientology continues unabated, sad that people are continuing to buy into it (literally and figuratively) and filled with admiration for Ms Remini’s strength and willingness to call out the organization’s misbehavior (a weak word, but it’ll do).

        In the early 1970s in Los Angeles I had a close brush with Sea Org; what they were saying felt so … off-base … that I ran away fast. A lucky choice for me, as it turns out.

        I do have one question, though: does anyone know if Michele (Mrs David) Miscavige was ever actually located?

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*


          Well, Leah filed a missing persons report on her and the LAPD allegedly talked to her and said that she wasn’t missing, but she hasn’t been seen in public.

          You should definitely watch her A&E show.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I got to see a one woman show written and performed by someone who left. She spent nearly a million dollars while she was in.

    2. Anons*

      Ooooh. I used to work for a company where all the upper management were “in the club,” as those of us not in the club put it. Their management philosophy was based on it. I am just not going to say anything more since it’s work stuff, but it was a weeeeird place to work.

        1. Anion*

          Seconded. Pleeease tell! I’ve been reading Scientology stories for YEARS, and am always interested in more.

    3. fposte*

      One of my late in life discoveries (via distance–I haven’t talked to any of these people in decades) was that a whole family full of cousins ended up in Scientology. Two got out; the one who stayed was apparently was a Tom Cruise hanger-on until Tom shook him off. Very weird.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        oh wow, that’s crazy! glad they got out.

        it amazes me that people can’t see how harmful something is when people literally have to *escape* from it.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I like to use Scientology as an example when I talk about what could happen if we allow full-on religious law in the U.S. The controlling religion does not necessarily have to be the majority but the one with enough money or some other influence to gain power. Scientology has lots of money. They could buy politicians who would then pass laws requiring us to buy e-meters and those dumb classes and tithe huge amounts of money to the church. And they could institute mandatory service in the Sea Org for no pay, etc. It would be kind of like Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale only with everybody following Dianetics.

      A lot of Christians who want Biblical law and believe the U.S. is a Christian country don’t really think about this when they’re railing against Islam. They think that their own faith would prevail, but in all honesty, if you let religion run things, then there is NO guarantee that yours would be the one you ended up with!

    5. MsChanandlerBong*

      I am also obsessed with this topic. Other topics of obsession include North Korea, Munchausen syndrome, and dark matter. I also recently discovered the unsolved case of the Artemus Ogletree murder, so now I have another subject to add to the list.

      1. Anion*

        Ooh, I’m into Munchausen-by-proxy stories myself!

        Ans the Wallace murder case is a great historical never-solved, if you’re interested. Wallace was a chess player, so if you Google “Chess player wife murder” you’ll find it. There are some great podcast episodes on it; the “Thinking Sideways” episode on it introduced me to the mystery, and it’s a pretty solid episode worth listening to.

      2. Natalie*

        If you haven’t read the book “Nothing to Envy”, I highly recommend it. It’s a partially novelized account of daily lives in North Korea and really interesting.

        1. Julianne*

          Agreed. I’ve read quite a few similar books, and Nothing to Envy is by far the best. (Without You, There Is No Us was also very interesting, although it is equally about the writer as about the North Korean people she interacts with, so in that way it’s a bit different from many other books about North Korea that I’ve read.)

      3. ZucchiniBikini*

        On the Munchausens thing, I recently watched the doco on Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Mommy Dead and Dearest). Wow it was chilling.

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      What is it about Scientology that is so fascinating?

      I’m sure we have some practitioners (or believers, whatever the noun is) in the UK but this seems to be a predominantly American thing and it is so strange to me.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I can see how the way they promote the church draws people in. The whole concept of getting rid of your reactive mind and taking control of your life is pretty compelling stuff.

        But the fact that people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn their ‘religion’ and get screamed at just baffles me. Like, if your goal is really to save the planet and humanity, why aren’t you disseminating your beliefs like other religions do?

    7. L. Ron Hubbard's Worst Nightmare*

      My fascination with this cultchurch started with that infamous South Park episode where they ripped a new one on the whole organization. Which became more “fascinating” with the ordeal with Isaac Hayes. I’m sure you’ve visited clambake.org to give you some more insight of this cult.

  2. Myrin*

    “Eve unpacks”, how adorable!!

    I take it that means the cats are becoming accustomed (and damn if I didn’t just have to look up how to spell that word or how it even goes really; “Accus- accoss- acostum? A costume??”) to their new surroundings a bit more? I realise I asked the same last week already but 1. UPDATE and 2. I wanted to use that as a starting point for a question to everyone:

    Guys, tell me stories about when you moved with (a) pet(s) and how it went!

    We only ever moved with a pet once and she was a rabbit, so while she did have to move into a different cage it wasn’t like she had to get used to this huge new area. She lived in the spare room next to my bedroom for two more years before she died and I feel like she was happy here even though her cage was smaller than her old one. Also, my bed’s headboard shared a wall with her cage and she had this thing where she would… scrape (?) a piece of bread with her teeth for some time before eating it and it was this weird-funny “chchck” sound I was used to hearing before falling asleep.

    1. the gold digger*

      When we moved from the Panama Canal Zone back to the US (my dad was in the air force), we had to put our cat in quarantine for 30 days. We would go to the vet’s office to visit him and he would cry and cry and cry. It was heartbreaking. :(

        1. fposte*

          Quarantines have disappeared in a lot of countries if vaccinations and chips are up to date; it’s not like it used to be.

      1. Myrin*

        My goodness, that’s hilarious! I literally laughed out loud when I came to the part where I could fully visualise how the guys where set up in that carrier!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yeah, I pretty much laugh out loud any time I think about it or tell the story.

          The move overall wasn’t bad at all. We transported the 12 cats and the two cat trees the day before we moved. That was really the biggest part of it since we have so many damn cats. LOL We bought all new toys, dishes, litter boxes, litter and cat food (thank you Chewy dot com!) and had them shipped to the new house. I brought a few of their beds up with me ahead of time. We set up three of the bedrooms upstairs. I have a very old house so two of the bedrooms are connected by a bathroom, which meant I could close the bedroom door on one end and the other bedroom’s door on the other, and they had the run of three rooms. The third stand-alone bedroom was for my really skittish kitty. I’d been up to the house several times through the week so I had it all set up when my sister and I arrived. I let them eat as soon as we arrived and just let them wander around up there, confined, for a couple days until we got the worst of the move over with.

          Most of the cats adjusted quickly once we let them out, one started spraying when she hadn’t ever before (that was lovely), and one…well, he was a special snowflake. I honestly don’t think he even realized we moved houses. Seriously. He came right out of the carrier and laid down as if he’d been there the whole time!

    2. Merci Dee*

      My kiddo and I moved into our new place about 3 1/2 months ago, and brought out cat with us. We only moved about 5 streets over from where we’d been renting, so we didn’t have to worry about a long drive or a flight. I waited until all of the big furniture was out of the old house and into the new one before I packed him up to move. Gathered up all his necessities (food and water supplies, litter box, toys, bedding, etc.) and brought it all over to the new house at the same time. I took his carrier into the new place first, and set it in the middle of the floor so that he could see what was going on, but I left him in it for a little while. Then I brought all this things in and distributed them around the house. He was able to watch me set up his food and water bowls, and then I put his litter box in the other room where it was going to live. Kiddo helped distribute his toys, scratchers, and bedding around the house. Then we let him out of the carrier. He moved immediately to his food and water, and had a little snack. When he was done, I picked him up and carried him immediately to his litter box so that he could dig and excavate around in there (I’d totally changed his litter to a new batch about 2 days before the move so that it would be relatively fresh, but so that he’d still be able to get some recognizable scent in there, and then I scooped out the solids right before we left the old house — I wanted this to be a strong scent marker that he would recognize and be comfortable with in the new place). After he sniffed around with his box and recognized it as his, I pretty much just left him alone to explore while I unpacked a couple of boxes in the kitchen. I made sure that we used the same comforters from the old house, and the same rugs beside our beds, because those would be strong with his scent, too. He sniffed around at the play items we’d placed in each room, nosed around the furniture that smelled familiar, and then explored a few new places around the house. Within about 30 or 45 minutes, he’d made his way back around to the kitchen and had sprawled all over the floor like, “okay. it’s a different lay-out, but this is obviously my house because it smells like me, and I’m cool with this.” We didn’t have a minute’s worth of trouble with him getting used to the new place, and he’s been his regular kitty self since then. Only down-side has been, the new house has some nice French doors in the kitchen that look out onto the back yard, and now he spends most of his night watching the various little nocturnal critters scooting around our yard, instead of curling up to sleep by my feet where he belongs. I’m hoping that, once the weather cools off, he’ll come back to snuggle up on my cozy winter blanket.

    3. Saturnalia*

      I moved one 13-year-old and two 2-year-old cats 3000 miles in April. Because the older cat is sensitive to stress and medication, I drove them. I rented a Yukon XL and bought three medium size dog crates which was a perfect, if tight, fit in the backseat. The rest of the vehicle was packed with basic necessities to last us a month in the new place until we could get our old house shipped.

      Whenever we’d stop for gas, food, or rest, we’d turn off the vehicle entirely to let them relax and offer food and water (100% rejection rate fwiw). Each night I’d put out a disposable litter box, food, water, and plug in a feliway diffuser. Three nights and four days of driving.

      The old cat definitely lost weight from the stress. Even with familiar bedding, it was a big echoey hardwood floored house. She’s back up to normal weight and fully acclimated to the new house as of late July. The young cats kind of took it all in stride; one had comments about literally every bump in the highway and car that drove past but was happy to explore hotel rooms, and the other was fine with everything except going from car to room in the crate. I was a mess of stress :)

      Now that the cats have that shared experience, they all seem closer. The two young sibs and the old lady all hang out, walk around exploring the house together, play chase, and enjoy the same patches of sunlight. Sometimes I catch them slow blinking at each other and it just undoes me <3

    4. KR*

      I moved from New Hampshire to Southern California with a cat and a dog. We paid movers to take care of the furniture and most of the boxes since we weren’t taking much furniture with us, then we loaded everything up in my car that we could fit along with the fur kids and drove for three and a half days. The dog needed at least a back seat and the middle section to lay comfortably, so we piled on blankets to make a little nest for him and he slept or looked out the window most of the way. Every time we stopped for gas (my tank lasts about 450 miles and we stopped at a quarter of a tank or when we needed to use the bathroom or eat) we walked him around wherever so he could do his business. We had a huge pile of stuff in the other side of the back seat and put the cat on top of the pile of stuff (we made sure her cage wouldn’t move if we crashed – it was well insulated. That was she could look out the window. We periodically switched her so she was either looking directly out through the window or at the dog and out through his window. Occasionally when we stopped we would let her walk around the car and investigate. We stopped for one night in a hotel and she was pretty good about using her time with the litter box wisely. We lined her carrier with puppy pads in case she had an accident as well and we limited both their water and food during the trip so they weren’t hungry, but it wasn’t as much as they were used to. In the middle of the night in Abeline TX she did start wailing and we feared she might have an accident so we stopped and set up a litter box for her in the back seat of my sedan- she peed but I think she was mostly fed up with being in the car. She got used to the house pretty quickly. She had done three local moves in the space of five years so once she knew the dog and I were still there and where her litter box and food were she warmed right up.

    5. Cookie D'oh*

      We moved twice in a period of 8 months with three cats. First from a house to apartment, then from apartment to bigger house.

      On moving day, we kept the cats in a bedroom with the door closed. Friends helped us move and knew the cats were there, but putting a sign on the door is also a good idea.

      We brought the cats over to the apartment once everything was set up. The first night, we kept them in a bedroom with the door closed and their litter boxes and food. We let them out the next morning to explore. The two tabbies settled in pretty quickly, but my little black cat took some more time. She his under the bed a bit, but playing with her favorite toys helped draw her out.

      Same thing with the move to the house, except this time their litter boxes were in the laundry room. We let them out of the carriers near the laundry room, but otherwise let them explore on their own. Again, the tabbies were fine but black cat was very scared.

      I have this mesh tent I set up outside for the cats, but this time I set it up in the living room for the black kitty. I put the carrier in the tent and left the door open. I left the tent zipped up so I could see when she came out. It took her a while, but then she slowly came out of the carrier. I let her hang out in the tent a little bit and then unzipped it so she could explore further if she wanted. She actually came out and explored a bit that night, but then spent most of her time under the bed. She doesn’t eat when there are changes to the household, but I didn’t try to force her. Toys helped her get more brave with coming out from the bedroom. I think it took about a week for her to get back to normal.

      Now she runs around like a maniac and gives me a heart attack by standing on the outside ledge of the landing that overlooks the downstairs.

      The upstairs is still her safe place. She sleeps in bed with us every night and there’s a perch upstairs that she mainly uses. The two other kitties will come upstairs, but mostly like to hang out downstairs.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        Forgot to mention that we kept all the same furniture. We keep blankets on the couches and didn’t wash them before moving so they still smelled the same. Also, the moves were all in the same town within 10-15 minutes of each other.

        Sort of related, when we sold the first house we packed up the cats each time we had a showing. We also put the litter boxes in the garage and put away any pet related items. After a few showings, the black cat got left in the house. She usually hides when the doorbell rings, so we figured the people wouldn’t even see her.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I take it that means the cats are becoming accustomed … to their new surroundings a bit more?

      Yes! They’re basically settled in. I don’t like that I sometimes have no idea where Olive and Eve are, which was never the case in the previous house, but they seem fine. They’ve been chasing each other and wrestling again, which I think means they’ve relaxed. Honestly, I think they prefer a smaller space (I think I might too, it turns out?) but they are good.

      1. LG*

        Aww, that’s rough if you are feeling like you might prefer a smaller space, too. I hope things are looking up soon! And I’m glad to hear that the kitties are more relaxed now!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        One of our kittens–the one whose catchphrase is “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”–has taken to climbing into the refrigerator this weekend when we have the door open. Shelves, and things on shelves!

      3. Windchime*

        It’s funny about the smaller space. My master bedroom is pretty big and I mostly like it, but sometimes I go sleep in the guest room because it’s so small and cozy. And one time I was refinishing the bedroom floors in a different house so my bed was temporarily relocated to the dining room. I realized that I could probably live in a studio because I kind of liked the way it felt.

      4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I also think I’d prefer a smaller home. Ours isn’t huge — 1800 sf above ground, 400 in a finished basement — but… it’s just the two of us. Why did I think we needed all these rooms?

    7. Lady Jay*

      I personally have never moved with a pet.

      But my aunt & uncle moved with llamas!! In a station wagon!

      They were going from a Rocky Mountain state to the West Coast, back in the 90s.

      At the time, my aunt kept llamas (she spun their hair into yarn, then made crafty projects with it) and so, the llamas had to come. They loaded the two of them into the back of the wagon, on a blanket, and drove smack-dab through a major mountain city with them, during rush hour, the llamas just looking out the window like everything was normal and astonishing the surrounding cars.

          1. Lady Jay*

            Sadly, I don’t think so.

            But a funny story about dogs & windows: The other day, I was pulled up behind a car with a dog whose head was out the window. It had clearly been playing with a tennis ball – only now, the tennis ball was in the street, rolling away, and the poor dog was watching it go & not understanding why it wasn’t rolling back to him!

            Busy street & we all had to go before the tennis ball was retrieved.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The looks on people’s faces must have been priceless. It sounds like the move went fine. Who’d thunk. LOL.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This was listed as a feature at the Vermont State Fair: You can move your llamas in a minivan, no livestock trailer required.

      3. PhyllisB*

        This reminds me of a white pekingese I used to have. He would lay in the back window of my car, and when cars got too close he would bark at them. People would be startled because they thought he was a stuffed animal, not a real one. :-)

    8. AlaskaKT*

      I moved from WA to AK with my two dogs. One of them slept the whole plane ride, the other one was to nervous for the doggy sedative to work so he was foaming from panting hard after a 3 hour flight. I felt so bad.

      But, they did go from big backyard to 5.5 acres. Plus we have no neighbors (our closest is 11 miles away) so our dogs are only tied up during moose season or when we go to town for the day. I’d say that was worth 3 hours of anxiety for him.

      I did have to leave my cats though. One was a munchkin so she had thumb sized legs, the other fell off a second story balcony at 5 weeks old and was dumb as a box of rocks but a great cat. Neither could survive outdoors and we knew we’d be living in a tent while building so I couldn’t bring them. A friend has one and my grandma has the other so I get regular cat updates, and both are happy.

    9. Lily Evans*

      I’m lucky my cat adapts pretty quickly since yesterday we moved for the fourth time in the 2.5 years since I adopted her (this apartment had better work out because I am so over moving). She hates going into her carrier though, and it’s been a struggle every single time, but once we’re there she’s fine. A bit more skittish than normal for the first week or so, but nothing too bad.

      My parents cats on the other hand (originally feral, adopted very young, and super skittish) are horrible at moving. They’ve only moved once, but it was traumatic for all involved. One of them literally climbed a wall to get away when my mom was trying to get them in the carrier and then she pooed down the wall and onto the carpet. Then both their cats hid for something like 2 months after they moved and only came out to stealthily eat/use the litter box before running back. As I had to drag my own cat out from under my bed two nights ago I remembered that story and was glad that at least it wasn’t that bad.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I have not ever done this, though we did have a dog when I was a kid before we moved. I don’t even remember the actual move from LargeCity to SmallTown at seven years old–we were just suddenly there. After Pig died, people kept asking me if I was going to get another cat, but I don’t want to have a pet until I am out of here and relatively settled somewhere else.

    11. Ramona Flowers*

      My cat likes to help with unpacking. And packing. Mr F often travels for work and he (the cat not the husband) is OBSESSED with getting into suitcases and seeing what is in them.

      He also likes to pull lids off boxes. But he tries to do this while sitting on them, then becomes annoyed when they won’t come off…

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        We only moved once with him. But he’s a rescue and apparently moved many times as a kitten – he had five homes in a month – and seems totally chill so long as his humans are there too.

    12. Chameleon*

      We had to move (twice) between WA and CO with our cat. She started the trip in the carrier where she could safely have her freak-out. An hour or so later she calmed down enough to let her out.

      We had food, water, and a little catbox on the back floor, and a blanket smooshed up t to make a cozy bed in the passenger seat. It was the middle of summer for one move, so we ended up buying a bag of ice at a gas station to put under the bed to keep her cool.

    13. Natalie*

      When my now-husband moved in with me his cat came with. She hated the carrier-in-car part of the journey but it was mercifully only about 15 minutes. She adjusted fantastically to the house, no litter problems or anything. She’s just a really easy going cat in that respect – we’ve had to move her litter box a couple of times and it never inspires any revenge/confusion peeing thankfully. And she loved the house and all of its furniture to jump on and windows to look out of.

      However, we had a housemate when she first moved in, and when said housemate moved out the cat nearly accidentally moved out without her, because cat was sleeping inside the box spring.

    14. Cookie*

      I have moved a few times with my cats. The shy one hid under the couch for a week after the first move. Then was angry and stand-of fish for like 3+ months. Subsequent moves had him hiding only for a couple days and holding a grudge only for a month. We have another move planned in a month or so, and I know it will upset him again. It also means he eats less and starts throwing up due to anxiety/bile due to hunger. I try to make it easy on him and make sure he has a private space and all his favorite things, but nothing helps. His sister doesn’t care or react to the moves hardly at all.

    15. KV*

      Haven’t done it yet, but I’m preparing to move one oversized cat (two inches too big to go in the cabin of even the most lenient airlines) from Japan to Alabama next year. We looked into a lot of solutions, and unfortunately “pay a company 2000 dollars to do it” turned out to be the most reasonable one. Fingers crossed for him… he’s a part of the family now so we can’t stand to leave him behind.

    16. Livia*

      I would never do this again (and I don’t think you’d get through with it anyway), but back in the nineties my family and I took our guinea pigs on a plane ride with us – twice. As in, we filled a backpack with newspaper and fabric pieces plus a bit of straw, and put the guinea pigs inside, keeping the top a bit open so they’d have air to breathe. They went through the X-Ray scanner. Once in the plane, we opened the backpack and put them on our knees for more air and so they could move a bit. The stewardesses were very surprised, to say the least, but nobody really questioned us.
      Nowadays I’m a bit horrified when I think back to how scared they must’ve been, but they adjusted very well once they were back in a cage with food etc.

  3. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! I was too busy to post last week but I want to keep doing this.

    What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I’m…not great. I’m proud of how I have done self-care and done nice things for myself to feel better this week instead of retreating to my bed after work every day. But I’ve been crying a lot, having trouble with sleep, and late to work a lot because I slept through my alarm.

    I’m also proud of my progress at the gym. I set a personal record for deadlift!

    I called my psychiatrist and she suggested I have a physical, so I’ve scheduled one. It’s later in the month. I also need to follow up and schedule with the psychiatrist.

    I may be getting evaluated for ADHD? Not sure, but a lot of my difficulty is around following conversations. This has a long traumatic history for me because I was diagnosed as a kid and the stimulant meds i took made my anxiety worse. The only reason I’m considering it again is because I’m afraid to lose my job. But I really think it’s a depression thing–but I am trying to cover all my bases.

    I don’t know. I won’t go into detail on the work thing since it’s the weekend, but I will say it’s pretty hard to not feel broken and defective sometimes. I try to remember I have worth outside my ability to live up to specific people’s expectations.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Last week was hard because I was extra exhausted from my period.

      I’m trying to focus on eating healthier and making small steps towards doing that. My goal this weekend is to give my kitchen a thorough cleaning so it’s easier to cook.

      Sorry you’re having a rough time. Is there something special you can do for yourself to help you get out of bed in the mornings? Like buy a really good tea or coffee and only make it if you get up when your alarm goes off?

      1. Junior Dev*

        That’s a good idea about the tea. I mostly drink coffee but I haven’t had time lately. Maybe I will get some pastry or something that feels like a special treat for breakfast.

        Good luck on the cleaning. I find it helps to put on a TV show while I clean. And if you can afford it, it’s worth looking into hiring someone.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I need to do some serious purging of stuff before I can think about hiring someone. My goal is to get rid of all the things and hire someone to deep clean around the first of the year so I can start the new year off on the right foot.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Another fan of combining TV and cleaning. I watch on my tablet so I can move it around with me.

    2. Helpful*

      Are you already on depression meds? Are you in regular counseling? Bc you are having issues at work, you prob need an extra positive voice to help you with coping strategies and perspective.

    3. Hellanon*

      You know, depression is insidious, and can affect a lot of processes beyond the obvious. Looking back at the times in my life when I was depressed but not really aware of it, the executive function skills – attending to what people have said, keeping thoughts in mind long enough to do something with them, decision making at all – were for me the first to go. When I actually went & got treatment for depression a few years back, it was because I *knew* my executive function had pretty much deserted me, and it was terrifying. I had tried everything I could think of to bully my way forward, nothing was working, and a friend suggested having that conversation with my doc, and the meds really helped restore my sense of competency & forward motion. It may be that, and not ADHD – exploring all your options is the smart thing to do, though, and hang in there.

    4. Red*

      I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling so much, but I know you’re working hard at finding solutions with your doctors and you can do this.

      I’m in more or less the same boat. I’m bipolar and just now pulling out of one of the worst depressive episodes I’ve had in years, and it’s a lot of effing work! I have self harm to hide (seriously not proud of that, it’s been about 6 years since the last time), I’m on trazodone to finally get some real sleep so I can stop making a disaster of everything, my house is a disaster, my husband is neglected, my best friend is horribly worried, and I actually had to call my psychiatrist at home on the weekend. I’ve really made a mess of things and I need to get this more under control, because this simply cannot happen again.

      1. Red*

        Oh, and you should definitely explore your options with regards to adhd, but I found that when the depression was really bad, I had zero ability to focus and function, so getting that sorted might help you.

      2. Junior Dev*

        It is so much damn work! And you don’t feel able to do any of it when depressed. Not to mention dealing with doctors and referrals and insurance…

        Are you at least able to sleep better? That all sounds very hard.

        1. Red*

          I am! Trazodone is an experience, but it works. It’s sort of annoying though, because I have weirdly vivid dreams and wake up with a hangover.

    5. Dr. KMnO4*

      I’ve been back on my meds for a couple of weeks now, and the difference is amazing. I can actually get things done!

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a rough go of it. I hope things improve for you soon. I’m pretty sure that they have non-stimulant ADHD meds these days, so maybe that would be an option.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          It really, really is. I was sorry to hear that you’ve had a rough time recently. Bipolar depression can be quite difficult to deal with. When I’m not on meds I find it much harder to deal with the depression than the mania. I hope you’re doing better.

          1. Red*

            Honestly, if it wasn’t for the horrible depression, I probably would’ve never gone on medication. I can live with hypomanic episodes. I cannot function with depression. Thank god for Lamictal, that’s all I’ve got to say lol. My doctor just doubled my dose and I’m hoping it prevents this from happening again.

            1. Dr. KMnO4*

              Lamictal for the win! I tried Topamax and HATED it. Lamictal works, and doesn’t make me sleep 14+ hours a day.

              1. Red*

                Ugh, that sounds awful! The only other med I tried was Trileptal, which didn’t do a whole lot of anything.

                1. Dr. KMnO4*

                  Yeah, the Topamax was brutal. I was in college, taking 18 credit hours, so being tired and sleeping a lot was not helping. The worst part was that the prescribing psychiatrist refused to listen to me and wanted me to keep taking it. I found a new psychiatrist.

      1. Chameleon*

        Off topic: I used to use KMnO4 to stain liver slices in grad school, and I always thought of “potassium manganate” as the nerdiest way to wish someone a merry Christmas (because…no L).

        To keep on topic, I just started adderall at 38, and it is amazing. Where had this been all my life (and especially during grad school)?

        1. Serious Pillowfight*

          I’m 34 and looking into whether I have ADD. Seeing a doctor Tuesday. Can you tell me how Adderall has helped you? Do you know why the doctor put you on Adderall vs Ritalin?

          1. Chameleon*

            I’m on 10 mgs of extended release. It’s not a super strong effect, but where I used to think “I should do that thing” but then feel like it was just too much work, I now actually get up and do the thing. It just gives me a tiny little boost of motivation to get over inertia. (I am also on Wellbutrin for depression, which has a synergistic effect.)

            I am not completely sure why Adderall v. Ritalin; my understanding is that Ritalin is a bit…harsher, maybe? I also should say that I haven’t been working while on these meds yet (I am a college lecturer and had no classes this summer). We’ll see how these guys work once I have deadlines again!

    6. Lizcat Editor*

      On Monday of this week, my last surviving grandparent passed away. I’m so grateful I got to see him on Sunday. He was able to smile and talk, just enough to tell us all he loved us, one more time. So, that’s a mix of sadness and relief for the end of his suffering.

      I’m proud that I was able to get to the funeral on time. (Yes, my ADHD makes that an accomplishment.)

      I’m struggling with looking for a new psychiatrist because among other things, mine has had the prior authorization form for 3 weeks without sending it in. You’d think finding alternatives wouldn’t be such an issue in Philly!

      1. Former Employee*

        Condolences on the loss of your grandfather. It’s like that (sadness and relief) when someone is so ill and they finally pass.

        As for your psychiatrist, it sounds as if yours should see someone about their procrastination issues!

    7. Saturnalia*

      I’m cheering for you, I hope that the work you’re putting into your mental health starts feeling more noticeable soon. I’m glad you are able to keep up the self-care. That’s an accomplishment when you are dealing with all these things!

      I’ve been better lately, although dealing with pms right now. My anxiety is back to the tolerable range, although I do need to find a psychiatrist in my new city to help figure out if my antidepressant is doing anything beneficial at all… Depression is still pretty close behind, ready to overtake me if I stumble. Anxiety might be worse than without it.

      I’m working on some issues that complicate doctors for me in therapy now, so hopefully I can take the next step in the not too distant future.

    8. bassclefchick*

      This week was the birthday of a dear friend who committed suicide last year. It was a rough week. I still struggle with his decision, but I know there was nothing I could have done to help him.

      I’m also still struggling with feeling competent in my job. Everyone tells me I’m doing a great job, I just wish I could believe them.

      I’m proud of still putting one foot in front of the other and making it through the day. Some days, that’s about all I’ve got. Thanks for this thread. It helps to know I’m not the only one struggling. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that no, everyone else doesn’t have a perfect life and has everything figured out.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I’m sorry about your friend. I’m very glad you’re able to make it through the day–believe me when I say I know how hard it can be.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m so sorry for your loss – bereavement by suicide is a very hard thing. Hugs if at all welcome.

        1. bassclefchick*

          Hugs are always welcome. The anniversary of the day he died is coming soon. That day will be especially hard.

      3. Mimmy*

        I’m also still struggling with feeling competent in my job. Everyone tells me I’m doing a great job, I just wish I could believe them.

        I know this feeling all too well as I’m dealing with that now. It goes up and down for me – some days it’s “this isn’t so bad” to “get me the bleep out of here”. For me, it’s more than just self-confidence, it’s the feeling that I’m not cut out for the type of work I’m doing and a real itch to do something more intellectually stimulating.

        Also, I am sorry about your friend.

    9. Tiny Crankypants*

      Not sure where to put this. I have CPTSD. Some days, it’s easier to hide what I have than others.

      I feel waves of depression and I get angry really easily. As long as no one can detect something is wrong, I feel like I have survived another day passing off as normal.

      Sometimes I want to scream and tell my colleagues, but word spreads like wildfire so I just pretend I am normal.

      1. Red*

        I have PTSD as well, and I totally understand. It sucks. If you’re not already seeing a therapist, I highly recommend it. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

        1. Tiny Crankypants*

          Yeah. I have a therapist. She’s very good. Some days I want to tell people how I am coping or not. Thanks though.

      2. Junior Dev*

        You’re not alone. I have PTSD as well (haven’t been formally evaluated for CPTSD specifically but I see a lot of my experiences in descriptions of it).

        I get the feeling like you’re not normal, like you’re faking. When it gets really bad I sometimes don’t even feel like a real person. Do you have any spaces in your life–in, family, hobbies, religious community–where you feel like you can be yourself? That has helped me so much.

      3. Ramona Flowers*

        Hey, have you seen the Pete Walker website? It has some really good coping tips. The reddit sub r/cptsd is quiet but has some good resources too.

    10. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’m still struggling with my depression, but since I am fairly upbeat normally my doctor refuses to refer me to anyone. I do have an appointment with a different doctor, but it’s not until the end of next week.

      I’m proud that I’ve been able to write three cover letters. Honestly I think that not having a job is really making things worse. I have always struggled with self loathing so being able to write something that basically is a “this is why I’m awesome” letter is extremely difficult for me. But I have a few done and they should be good for several different jobs with only minor changes to tailor them to a specific business. It’s so nice to get something done that normally makes my depression much worse.

      I have also started to write something everyday. I start out the session as a sort of Bible study (I read a chapter or two and then write down my thoughts on it), and then that usually helps me move onto my thoughts and sometimes stories. Crafting has also helped me a lot this week. I’ve been trying out new crochet stitches and patterns and have done them well. It’s a nice little confidence boost. I have even tried to start drawing again. That’s a bit more frustrating because I used to be much better before I gave it up three years ago, but I’m going to keep trying and keep improving. It’s a nice way to just focus on one thing and let my mind relax, especially when I put some music on while I draw.

      I’m really hoping that a job comes up soon, but at the same time I’m a bit worried about how a new stress might affect my mind. I’m going to do my best to just take one step at a time and not worry about the future.

      1. Inspector Spacetime*

        Not having a job and job searching was terrible for my depression. Good luck, and take care of yourself.

        1. Shrunken Hippo*

          It’s super annoying especially when that clinic still has records from when I used to self harm so you’d think that the doctor would believe me. Ironically I stopped self harming mostly because I stopped being able to feel it which made it useless. But no, I’m capable of occasionally going outside and playing with dogs so I must be fine. Thankfully the next doctor I’m going to see has a reputation for taking things patients say seriously, so here’s hoping!

        2. Saturnalia*

          The whole upbeat-happy-shield is a not-uncommon way for people to cope with depression. And it’s also possible to have a different emotional affect than what’s inside, even if it’s not used as a shield. I’m really sorry that your doctor couldn’t see that. Good luck with the new doc!

    11. Ramona Flowers*

      I got up, went out for breakfast, opened my post, bought a newspaper and read all of it rather than leaving it unopened.

      For me on a weekend this is a whole lot of win, however basic it may sound.

      1. Inspector Spacetime*

        Great job! I went for two months without being able to check my email, so no judgment here, haha.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I hear you on this. When I stop being able to check email and voicemail it’s one of my early warning signs…

    12. Ramona Flowers*

      Sorry you’re having a rough time at the moment – I’m sure work stuff isn’t helping. Hugs if wanted.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Anxiety, as usual! About the future, mostly. Some people’s tends to be focused in the past, but mine is very what-if what-if omg what-if. I’ve been having a hard time with meditation this week, too; everything is just very wonky for some reason. I’m blaming the change in the weather.

      Proud of: I have not had a huge panic attack in a few months, only small ones I can stop before they get too bad. Fingers crossed that this continues.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        oh god. panic attacks. Are you using fake sugars at all? I stopped and after that my panic reduced probably by at least 60%.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        How do you keep your panic attacks under control?

        I haven’t had a bad one in a while either and thanks to my meds, I haven’t been obsessively worried about when I might. I found that making sure I eat regularly and keep my blood sugar stable helps a lot.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m not sure–I think meditation has helped. It’s certainly calmed me down overall. I have noticed since I started that when I backslide and don’t do it regularly, I tend to feel more intermittently anxious. Right now, I’m struggling with my practice, but I think that will settle down once I find a job and have a more regular schedule.

          My panic attacks tend to present at first like an anger flare-up. If they’re allowed to proceed unchecked, I get the hyperventilating, throat-searing, have-to-run-around-the-room freakout meltdown. Breathing slowly in through my nose and out through my mouth helps. And I read online about a technique where you find five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. It helps ground you. You can help someone else do this if they’re panicking, but you’re supposed to practice it when you’re not, so you can call it up when you need it.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            A variation on grounding that I used was to look around the room and identify objects in the room. There is the door. There is a desk. There is a lamp. And so on, the person that showed me this said, “When you are ready to scream because of the boredom of this exercise, then you are done doing it.” ha! I found it very helpful. But the key for me was to do it each and every time. I found it even worked while driving, bonus!

    14. Inspector Spacetime*

      My anxiety has been getting pretty bad lately. I’m constantly terrified that I’m screwing something up at work, and I actually emailed my boss early this morning, on a Saturday, to ask about something that in retrospective was pretty minor. Ugh, how embarrassing.

      I asked my primary care doctor about recommending a therapist, and she told me to make an appointment with her first to talk about things. I’ve been putting it off, but things are getting worse so I probably should.

        1. Inspector Spacetime*

          Maybe? I’m not even sure why I don’t want to go, to be honest. I guess I feel like she’ll think I’m a fraud and there’s not anything wrong with me.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Do you take anything? I know a lot of people are hesitant about psych meds, but they can really be life changing in the best ways.

        1. Inspector Spacetime*

          I don’t. The only therapist I went to didn’t prescribe me anything, and I’m mostly functional so I guess it’s probably fine. If the next one recommends it though, I’ll definitely consider it.

    15. Anion*

      I thought I was pregnant. Turns out I’m not. We weren’t trying, and we’re in our early 40s, so I wasn’t thrilled…but I’m still weirdly disappointed, even though I was grumbling at the idea.

      So that’s been rough for me.

      1. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

        I’m so sorry. I felt that way when I had my pregnancy scare this year. *Hugs* if you want them

        1. Anion*

          Thanks. Yeah, it can. I was really not enthused at the idea, but now it’s like…oh, I guess part of me kind of was.

    16. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

      My classes are going great! I’m slowly but surely building up a small group of regulars which is \o/! Unexpected and exciting!

      I’m doing much better in regards to moving on from ToxicEx. I can’t blank him completely yet because of some stuff with our former living situation but it is SO close to being finished and I can almost taste the freedom. Very eager to see that through, and forgiving myself for my continued mistakes which luckily have been few.

      I’m really settling into my new life, and now I just need more motivation to apply for a day job. I’m just so happy and really not looking forward to coming back down to earth, which is how getting a day job feels…being an adult can really suck ;P

    17. Emily*

      Ooh, I like this idea for a thread!

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling, but glad to hear that you’re taking steps to make things better. Hopefully you and your doctors will figure out an effective treatment plan soon.

      I won’t go into too much detail because work/school, but I frequently have days at grad school where I will go into the office and accomplish very little…and not because I’m working slowly the whole time, but because I get distracted by other things. I’ve long wanted to get evaluated for ADHD (worst case is that I don’t have it and I’m lazy or in a poorly-fitting job, I guess?), but I’ve never managed to take the first steps in that direction.

      My non-work life has been pretty good, though. I’ve been playing a lot of ultimate frisbee and am finally cleared (~5 weeks after breaking my hand) to resume more hand-intensive things like strength training and rock climbing. I feel proud of all of the fulfilling activities and friendly people I’ve managed to fill my life with over the past year or so. Recently, I’ve even started to befriend people outside of my grad school cohort, which is awesome!

      1. Junior Dev*

        Does the strength training help with rock climbing? I initially started powerlifting to make roller skating easier and it’s made a huge difference.

        1. Emily*

          I’m sure that it can, but I actually use the strength training to balance out the rock climbing. So instead of doing a lot of back exercises (which is the primary thing worked in climbing), I focus more on chest/shoulders and lower-body exercises.

          I think (hope) that it helps my ultimate frisbee and running, though! I tore an ACL a couple of years ago, and while I know that there’s nothing I can do to completely eliminate the chance of doing that again, I’m hoping that I can decrease the risk by strengthening my legs and hips.

          How did you get into roller skating? Do you go to a rink, or outside? I’ve only ever skated indoors as a kid and I was never very good.

          1. Junior Dev*

            I go to a rink. I’m in a class to learn basic roller derby skills but I haven’t gone in a couple weeks. Skating outside is so much harder!

    18. Hrovitnir*

      Sorry you’re in a crappy space, Junior Dev. I’m impressed by your accomplishing stuff though.

      My brain is not great. Going overseas and resetting my norms has definitely helped with my ability to do things – I have been spending much less time trapped in my own brain being miserable, and am successfully sticking to going to the gym/managing to leave the house at all.

      However, my ability to have emotions that are not irritation is low, and goddamn am I sick of having anxiety. It doesn’t matter if you intellectually feel OK, your body telling you something!! bad!! is going to happen!! every time you do anything slightly out of routine is still super unpleasant and aversive. Not to mention being tired all the time and unable to concentrate, which I have about 9 months to get sorted (that’s when we find out if we got the grant for a PhD project/if not I actively work on getting a different one.)

      I need to go to the psychiatrist and discuss changing my meds, and go back to therapy, but that involves calling people, and asking for things (I cannot describe how hard I find that), and therapy is expensive. Yes, there are cheap services, but I have had a lot of deeply mediocre experiences so am not falling over myself to go for the cheapest available. It’s hard to find therapists who are good with people who understand the whys and wherefores of their brain just fine, and need help to change it.

    19. Observer*

      Perhaps you could schedule a full evaluation – not just around ADHD? Following conversations could be ADD, but it could be auditory processing, too. Just an example of how there could be overlap with the symptoms you are having.

      Also, there are many different medications for ADHD, so if it turns out that that’s a big chunk of your problem, you don’t necessarily need to take the medications you took as a kid. A good doctor will work with you to find the right medications.

      1. Junior Dev*

        How would one get evaluated for auditory processing issues, and what can be done to accommodate or treat them?

        1. Observer*

          Your best bet would probably be to find a practice that does full evaluations rather than looking for one thing. If there are any large hospitals where you live, that’s often a good place to start.

          As for treatment / accommodation, I’m not sure. But accurate diagnosis is a first step. There is no point in treating for ADD if that’s not what you have. There are accommodations and ways to reduce the issue, if it turns out that you have this. But the point is that a broader check might be useful.

    20. Serious Pillowfight*

      Interesting you posted this today, and thank you. My eyes widened when you mentioned ADHD. I am actually going to see my primary care doc to talk about having ADD. My therapist thinks my depression and anxiety might be misdiagnosed ADD. I really, really hope I can get a Rx for Adderall or Ritalin so I can actually focus on my work and grad school. I’m a full-time employee and a full-time student and I have a part-time job with my school. I have a lot of other issues, such as impulse control, that are effing up my life.

    21. Foreign Octopus*

      I can feel the warning signs of a struggle coming up. I’m not sleeping as well and I keep dipping back into negative experiences in the past.

      I know the reason why, which is good as I can work on it. I started freelancing a month ago and I’m worried that I’ve made the wrong decision because I’ve only got two hours of work booked for this week. I’m feeling a little sick and panicked because my savings for rent and bills will run out at the end of October.

      I know I need to be patient. It takes a couple of months to build up reliable students and August is an awful time for business in the ESL industry. I am certain that by October I’ll be fine and everything will be okay but it’s just the meantime where I keep counting my money in the hope that more has appeared since the last time I checked.

  4. I am still Furious*

    No papers to sign yet…will follow up on Tuesday :( I know this is a small town, and all of our attorneys are basically 1 person shops with a legal aid or secretary, and it’s the end of summer, so vacation…but…OMG I am SO IMPATIENT. Thankfully I’m going to visit relatives out of town tomorrow, and staying for a week. I’ll be able to sleep soundly and get some long needed rest.

    Keeping a civil tongue in my head is becoming increasingly difficult. It is taking every fiber of my being not to lash out and storm out of here this minute. 2 days ago, he offered to take the cars to the gas station to fill up, as prices are rising here in PA even from the hurricane (30 cents in one day increase), and I told him no, I’d take care of it. “Oh, so now you don’t trust me with your credit card?” I’m sure the look I gave him could have melted stone. I opened my mouth, shut it again, took a breath, and said “no, no I don’t”. And walked away. I’m sure he thinks I’m the most gullible person on the planet, and after screwing me over for so many years, he probably thinks that he can just continue doing so.

    And I did not pay the property taxes or buy fuel oil for the furnace. Will let my attorney tell me if I should or not.

    Hopefully I’ll have a more positive update in two weeks.

    1. Temperance*

      Speaking as a lawyer … last week was the least busy week at most firms, since we all seem to take vacation at the same time.

      I’m really sorry that you are going through this.

    2. the gold digger*

      What a mess – I am so sorry. We learned the hard way that just because an ex gets a certain property in the divorce and the divorce decree says so, it does not mean there is no other action required.

      Specifically – my husband’s ex got the time share (I. Know.) in the divorce. It was in the decree. Primo did nothing further because – it was in the decree.

      Ex died and a few months later, a collection agency came after Primo for the fees. Ex had never taken Primo’s name off the title to the time share. (Nor had Primo, because we didn’t know it needed to be done. This is another reason not to have a mediated divorce – you need your own lawyer to tell you these things.)

      We discovered that a divorce decree is not enough to remove someone from a timeshare title (at least, it isn’t in California) and that Primo was still a legal owner of the property. It has been a pain in the neck to get the title transferred to Primo’s stepdaughters. In addition, because he is not a legal parent to them, not all of the features of the timeshare transfer to the stepdaughters.

      I don’t want you to have to go through this hassle! Please check that any properties that go to your about to be ex are indeed in his name only.

      PS Do not buy from Wyndham timeshares! Even though Primo was still listed as a legal owner of the property, Wyndham sold more credits – several thousand dollars’ worth – to Primo’s ex – without Primo’s signature. But for all of this transfer stuff, he and his stepdaughters have had to submit notarized signatures. Do not do business with these people.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I just need to jump in here and tell you that I spent a few weeks reading through your blog and was utterly blown away by your stories about Sly & Doris. I hope you & Primo are doing well now.

        1. the gold digger*

          Thanks, Detective Amy Santiago! We are fine, although it is amazing how Sly and Doris can continue to return from the dead to make our lives a pain in the neck. Still – it’s way, way better than it was.

    3. I am still Furious*

      The worst part is I have to be in this house with him. I’m calling my attorney next week, while I’m away, and asking if I can leave before the papers are served. I hate being here. It’s so stressful, I don’t sleep well, I don’t want to talk to him or look at him or be around him in any fashion. It’s like after all these years, I finally have a way out, and I want out. It’s affecting my work and most aspects of my life. I’m sure the vitriol coming from my direction is palpable, and he keeps saying “you don’t have to be so nasty”. I think, you have no idea. It makes me nauseous when I have to give more than a 1 or 2 word answer to something.

      Every day when he leaves the house, I scramble around and find something to take with me. I have 80% of the things I want at my friend’s house, or at my Mom’s.

      I’m sorry to keep complaining. It needs to be over.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        I’m impressed and proud.
        I want to be out too but you’re closer than me.
        I need to feel the anger, it’s not risen to the surface yet. But it will :(

      2. Paula, with Two Kids*

        Definitely get legal advice. It’s great once you are separated, but there can be reasons to stay (will the mortgage/rent still get paid? what kind of problems will you run into if it’s not, etc). I stayed because I had the two kids and knew he could not afford the mortgage himself. Once I filed, he planned on staying indeterminately. I made him start sleeping on the couch (which I had been on for six years), and made him realize in no uncertain terms, every night, that his presence was making me sick with misery, and not “good” for the children to have such an unhappy mother. It worked after six weeks. It’s been 29 months since then, I’m still dealing with him (the divorce took almost two years, and now we are selling the house). I’m afraid there is simply no easy and fast way to divorce, unless you have $50-75K for heavy duty legal action, or a spouse that actually wants to cooperate. Best of luck to you.

        1. Paula, with Two Kids*

          Let me add if you have suffered financial abuse with this spouse, things will be tough, and you will need an attorney who is familiar with small scale/large scale financial abuse of a spouse and will protect you from such. Mine did not…ended up costing me an extra $10 K in assets (earned by me AFTER I filed, and debts incurred by him AFTER I filed). Get an attorney who will take that seriously and not just pocket her $300 an hour.

          1. I am still Furious*

            Fortunately, the house is a crappy little house, paid for but not worth much. And if he doesn’t “cooperate” he can deal with the DA on fraud and forgery charges for using my credit cards to buy scratch off lottery tickets, when he is not an authorized user nor did he have permission to use them.

      3. Update on he wants a baby*

        Different jurisdictions, I’m sure, but I could leave before papers were filed, so I hope you can too. (Not legal advice, just a hopeful thought.) It takes times to get papers and every day feels like forever. At the end of July, I needed to make an appointment to sign some papers and, schedules being what they were, it was going to be 10 days according to the secretary. I started crying and couldn’t stop until I got in touch with my lawyer and we worked something else out. Stay strong.

    4. Gaia*

      I may be mixing you up with someone else but are you the person whose spouse used your credit cards to buy scratchers at the gas station…and then has the audacity to ask if you don’t trust him with your credit cards!?!?

      1. I am still Furious*

        Uh, yep. Except he doesn’t know that I know what he did. My attorney has all of the documentation. He’s a gambling addict, a liar, and a thief. I’m done.

    5. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

      Good for you. I am so impressed! I had to deal with ToxicEx yesterday and staying civil was ridiculously difficult (and I did not succeed completely). You’re going to make it. You have a great plan, stick to it and you won’t regret it.

      Soundtrack suggestion for your life if desired: “Cool” from the West Side Story movie soundtrack

      (I like to pretend I’m in a movie of my life, it helps me get through stuff and celebrate stuff)

  5. The Other Dawn*

    Any recommendations for places to get free ebooks? I hate buying them because I read through them pretty fast and it gets expensive. I use library but I either have a very long wait or they don’t have the book at all. I also use Kindle Unlimited but I often can’t find the books in the series I read. It’s mostly new stuff I try so I can get my money’s worth out of the monthly fee. I want The Drawning of the Three but there’s a long wait at the library and Kindle Unlimited doesn’t have it. I’m trying not to buy it. I’m stuck with other series i read at the moment too.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Does your library tie into Hoopla? The Hoopla app has a ton of e-books you can check out for free if your library account can tie into it.

    2. Temperance*

      Does your local library have Overdrive? I really like it, and what I do is queue up a bunch of books that I want to read. Yes, the wait can be a bit annoying, but I read so quickly that I just end up spending a ton of money.

      Kindle Unlimited is awesome for magazines and comics, but I think there’s too much self-published dreck on there. I really like the service otherwise, but I wish you could somehow hide all of that stuff.

      1. Cookie D'oh*

        I was going to reccomended Overdrive as well. There are waits for popular books, but I’ve still found a pretty good selection of one’s that are available for immediate download.

        1. Simone R*

          Not sure about the size of your library system, but if you’re in a smaller one, is it possible to get a card for a bigger system in a nearby city? When I moved and got a card for a major city I was shocked at the increase in Kindle books that were offered. There’s still long waits on new popular books but they have a much better selection and shorter wait times. Oftentimes the large city libraries will let people from surrounding towns get cards as well.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I just found out that NYS residents can get a card for the library in NYC. Well worth looking into.

          1. DBG*

            Yes, this. If you live in NYS and pay property taxes, you technically qualify for an NYPL library card, which means Overdrive, SimplyE, and also Lynda online classes. Our friend’s daughter is a book fiend, and we’ve told her to look into it for the same reasons.

        2. Temperance*

          I have two Overdrive accounts, since i have access to my community library and the Free LIbrary of Philadelphia.

      2. rj*

        yes! my new public library in new city/county has hoopla instead of overdrive. I am not super into ebooks or audiobooks but the hoopla app is way easier to use than overdrive was so I expect to use it when traveling! If you can get the hoopla app/access without a library, it might be worth looking into.

      3. Trillian*

        Maybe it’s particular to my library system, but I find the wait for an ebook on Overdrive is quite a bit shorter. There probably are fewer ebook borrowers, but also it takes more effort to renew the ebook book than it does to let the loan lapse — as opposed to taking more effort to return the physical copy to the library than renew it on line — and that may mean that fewer people hold it for the maximum length of time.

    3. I am here now*

      Book Bub for cheaper (and sometimes free) books. They find books that are on special promotional sale or free for one day only and email you a list every day. I don’t really ever see a book I’ve been wanting to read there, but I am sometimes willing to take a chance on a free or $1.99 book.

      Maybe allow yourself to buy one book a month at full price. Then you can get the book you really want and not feel guilty. Then use the library and Kindle Unlimited the rest of the month.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Another vote for BookBub. I got hooked up with them when my mom was in hospice care last year, and I needed something to read while she slept. I read the greatest collection of utter crap but it was almost all free. I also found some new authors that I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. BookBub lets you say “I want to see deals on romance and science fiction and cookbooks” but also “I want all deals on this author that I always read.”

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I’ve tried Book Bub and have been happy with it. My issue is that all the series I read have new books out right now so they’re not in Overdrive or Kindle Unlimited. Maybe I’ll just bite the bullet and buy. I’m reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and because the movie just came out, all the books are wait listed or have to be bought. I don’t carry about paper books anymore.

        1. Paris Geller*

          This is dependent upon how you read and takes some effort (and patience), but I have an Amazon wishlist where I put the ebook copies of every. single. book I want to read, and then periodically check it to see if the books are on sale. They won’t be free, but I’ve bought a lot of books at $1.99 and $2.99 that way. I’ve noticed there are times when ebooks tend to go on sale more frequently. The beginning of the month is always a good time to check, and often if a series is semi-popular the first or first two kindle books will be on sale shortly before or after the next comes out. Both around the holidays and the beginning of the year are times I see a lot of sales, and also during the summer.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I do that, too, but I am annoyed that Amazon made some changes that made it more difficult to do so. You used to be able to filter/sort your list by price and by items with price drops. So it was easy to see if any books were on sale for $1 or $2. They took away that option, so now I have to use Ctrl+F and search for “drop.” Then I have to look at every single book with a “price dropped X% since it was added to your list” message next to it. Some of the drops are significant, while others amount to 10 cents off the list price, so it’s time-consuming.

        2. katamia*

          Maybe you could see if anyone you know has an ebook copy they’d be willing to lend you through Amazon? I’m not completely sure how that works, but I’ve seen enough people talk about it that it seems to be a Thing People Do.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          THANK YOU for reading it and not watching that mess (I’m still pissed off about it).

          I was going to suggest cheapo used copies you can then recycle, but I imagine all flea market copies have been snatched up as well. The Drawing of the Three is one of my favorite of the series and it also has my most favorite picture of Roland in it–Phil Hale’s painting:

          I have a Dark Tower theme on my phone :) Roland’s portrait is my home screen. My lock screen is Eddie’s Dream by Ned Dameron. My ringtone is todash chimes (a random download of wind chimes), and my notification is Samsung’s Temple Bell (also a download since it didn’t come on the S7) that strongly reminds me of The Little Sisters of Eluria, a story about Roland that appeared in Stephen King’s collection Everything’s Eventual.

          I also have a huge playlist from my soundtrack albums I made to escape from Exjob during the last year there. It has a lot of Kitaro, Pink Floyd, Zbigniew Preisner, Mark Morgan’s music for the first two Fallout games, and some Max Richter stuff. The score for the film is by Tom Holkenborg, whom I love, but I’m so bugged about what they did to it that I’m not sure I can allow myself to like it. I probably will, however; I have several favorite soundtracks from films I’ve never seen.

          Am I obsessed? Maybe a little, LOL. I’ve been a rabid Stephen King fan most of my life. The Dark Tower was my Harry Potter, y’all. It was my first experience with an ongoing fantasy series. Roland Deschain was my very first literary crush. He is and always will be my bae. :3

      3. MoodyMoody*

        In addition to Book Bub, there are also Freebooksy and Kindle Buffet (which has both free and sale-priced books). The books are often schlocky, but occasionally there’s a true gem available.

    4. HannahS*

      Overdrive! You can get it through your local public library, if they’ve signed up for it. It’s fantastic for many reasons: they have pretty much everything, you can put things on hold so that you get an email when you receive it, and the titles auto-delete when they expire, so no late fees. I love it so much.

    5. CAA*

      See if you can get cards at more libraries. A few years ago I found out that any California resident can get a card at any public library in the state for free, so now I have cards for all the cities and counties nearby as well as where my parents and in-laws live. This has expanded the selection of e-books available to me by orders of magnitude; and very often, if I want a newly released book, multiple libraries will have it and I can put it on hold at all of them and get it pretty quickly. I just cancel the extra holds when I don’t need them any more.

      If any of your libraries that use Overdrive have the recommendations feature turned on, then setup a folder of bookmarks in your browser with searches for upcoming books that you know you’ll want to read. Once a week or so, open all the bookmarks in that folder and click through them and recommend any books that show up. If your library buys the book you recommended, then you automatically get put on the wait list in the order you recommended it. This is why popular new books show up in the catalog with 75 people already on the list.

      I have not found the Kindle Unlimited selection to be that appealing, so I don’t subscribe to it. I do have Amazon Prime and own a physical Kindle device, so I get one free book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (which is the same catalog as Kindle Unlimited) each month. Amazon Prime also includes Kindle First, which is one free Kindle book from a selection of 6 books that are coming out the next month; and they have Amazon Prime Reading, which allows you to borrow up to 6(?) books at a time from the Prime Reading library. No need to own a Kindle for the Kindle First or Prime Reading features as you can use the apps on your computer, tablet or phone to read those. These are not exactly free, as you do have to subscribe to Amazon Prime at $99/year, but you get all the other Prime features as well, so it may be worth it.

    6. Laura*

      The Other Dawn, writing books is a job for many people and asking how to get someone else’s work for free on a site that’s about job advice strikes me as particularly unpleasant! I’m sure you’d strongly push back against anyone trying to get your work for free, wouldn’t you?

      Libraries in the UK pay authors some lending rights, and yes, BookBub, Kindle Unlimited and the idea of the Amazon wishlist are good suggestions. Pay something for the work that someone else has done, for goodness’s sake. It’s just basic morality. $5 or so for a book that’s taken its author half a year to write is still extremely cheap by any standards.

        1. Anion*

          I was about to say something similar when I saw your first post (speaking as a professional writer), but realized what you were actually asking. Thank you for not asking for pirate sites or trying to steal ebooks; it honestly matters. (If you could see my sales numbers vs. the number of copies illegally downloaded…sigh).

          I love libraries. :-)

      1. ebook world*

        Even if she is not paying directly, she pays taxes that support the library that subscribes to these services (like Overdrive). Overdrive charges library a lot, and a part of that is because of agreements Overdrive has with publishers, where Overdrive pays the publisher who then pays the authors. The reason you don’t find all books on Overdrive or other places is that the publisher does not want to make an agreement or can’t agree on terms with the ebook platform so you might notice if you are looking a whole publisher pull their books (or join in).

        1. Laura*

          I never mentioned illegality; I said that asking to get someone’s work for free is ethically revolting, and that I imagined that you would hate it if people tried to get your work for free, Other Dawn. Would you? Or would you be fine with it?

          1. fposte*

            Most writers I know don’t consider libraries ethically revolting, though; I certainly don’t. This is like getting indignant when somebody asks about Spotify or Pandora–you may have a objection to the structure, but it’s a legal and accepted way for people to enjoy media, so personal censure is a strange response.

            1. Laura*

              Libraries are fine – I specifically said that, especially in the UK, where writers are paid well for library borrowing. Other Dawn, however, complained about the wait at libraries and the fact that they did not always stock the books she wanted in her original post. Here’s her starting line: “Any recommendations for places to get free ebooks?”

              Did you not know that Spotify and Pandora pay the musicians royalties? It’s not much, but it’s something. Other Dawn didn’t ask about subscription services that pay the creators, however, so your comparison here doesn’t work. I’m perfectly fine coming down hard on someone who, on a work blog, of all inappropriate places, asks about getting the fruits of someone else’s labour for free.

              1. fposte*

                But asking about Spotify is still asking about getting the fruits of somebody’s labor for free, so the question should be as much a problem for you as asking for e-books. And there’s another irony in that you’re reading Alison’s blog for free :-).

                So it seems like you’re acknowledging that there are acceptable (as well as legal) models for some media other than direct payment to the creator, but for some reason you’re exempting books from this philosophy. And I don’t see the logic there. Dawn wasn’t asking about torrenting; she just wanted to know if there were other Spotify/library type things she could access for e-books. Maybe you just wanted her to sound more grateful for free access to what she has?

                1. Laura*

                  Erm, you’re not reading my posts! Look just above yours – I said Spotify pays royalties! Do you know what they are?

                2. Laura*

                  You either pay on Spotify or Pandora upfront or you pay by not being able to skip ads. Either way, it’s a transaction. That’s not ‘free’. A payment is exacted by the service and used to give the musicians something back.

                3. Laura*

                  There’s so much failure to read what people actually posted here that it’s wearisome – I also see that you wrote “Dawn wasn’t asking about torrenting; she just wanted to know if there were other Spotify/library type things she could access for e-books.”

                  Nope, that’s not what she said. She just asked to get them free and added that she ‘hated buying books’… and yet she hasn’t got back to me to assure me that she would be fine working for free if her bosses, say, decided that they ‘hated paying her’.

                  Your user name is bitterly ironic here, fposte. Clearly from a beloved book, and yet you defend people who don’t want to pay for books and seem utterly unconcerned about how authors make their living. Stella Gibbons would be pretty appalled by your attitude.

                4. The Other Dawn*

                  Laura, the reason I haven’t gotten back to you or most people who answered is because I’m out of state trying to tie up loose ends after two recent family deaths. I’m not interested in debating about whether I’m ok working for free or not. Maybe I didn’t word my original post in a way that’s acceptable to you or whoever else, or is unclear. I’m not asking how I can score tons of free books. I’m asking about apps or other online resources. I’m fine with paying a fee for a service to read books. I pay for kindle unlimited. I also buy kindle books quite often or from book bub. If someone knows of a fee based service I’m all ears.

                5. Myrin*

                  @Laura, I actually agree with the core of what you’re saying – unless I misunderstood Dawn/she worded her comment poorly, which is always a possibility we should account for – but there’s really no need to be so snarky and aggressive in your replies to other commenters here.

                6. Laura*

                  Very glad to hear that, Dawn. I’d suggest that in future you word the request the way you’ve now put it, as clearly your original post didn’t make your wishes clear – if you’d asked for other subscription services beside Kindle Unlimited that pay royalties to the writers, that would have come across quite differently. There’s a daily email digest called KindofBook, for instance, that rounds up discount ebooks every day and offers quite a selection – if you can find as many like that as possible (I’m not sure if it’s also active in the US), that’s a great way to build up your library.

                  And of course, much sympathy for your losses.

                7. fposte*

                  Laura, I *am* reading your posts–I’m pointing out that people don’t pay artists directly in those models, and you’re okay with them (even though they tend to screw over musicians something royal). The readership models being discussed are also licensed usages where an author’s revenue is determined by agreement in a contract with the publisher. It’s not some random thing that happens with the author, agent, and publisher being surprised–it’s something they sign up for from the get-go–and just because it’s not a per-viewing royalty doesn’t mean it has no profit for the author.

                  More broadly, my concern is that you’re seemingly focusing your displeasure with this model on a single user rather than on the model itself. I agree that there are a lot of questions to be asked about the changing approach to ownership of media nowadays; in text the move to open source publishing and projects like the Hathi Trust are really interesting examples. But the end user seems to be a misplaced target of ire there–take it up with the licensing practices or royalty structuring, not the person using media in a way the author has contractually consented to.

                8. Laura*

                  Myrin, thank you for that – but the fact that Dawn sounded as if she were asking to get other people’s work for free *on a work blog* really was egregious! If it hadn’t been on this particular site I would have been more gentle, but the irony was breathtaking.

                9. Laura*

                  Fposte, no one pays artists directly unless they’re selling their own ceramics out of their own shop, say! That’s not something writers or musicians ever expect! I never criticised Kindle Unlimited, BookBub, Spotify, etc – you’re still consistently misreading my posts. I have consistently said that royalty services have a decent model, but they don’t count as getting stuff free as you watch ads as payment. I can see that you’ve switched gears here from defending Dawn’s initial post; if you go back and read my posts you’ll see the only thing I’ve objected to is the idea of getting artists’ work *for free*.

                  And now I’m very happy to let my entirely consistent posts stand for themselves, as any more of me repeating my single stated position would be tiresome for everyone involved.

                10. fposte*

                  @Laura–I think it sounds like you initially put a meaning to Dawn’s post that wasn’t there, and that caused some confusion; however, it also sounds like now that you realize what she was asking for you’ve no problem with her request, so that’s all good :-).

                  It might be significant that the Americans were clear on her meaning and you and Myrin saw a different possibility; it may just have been a context we’re more embedded in.

                11. Elizabeth West*

                  You could make the same arguments about books at the flea market or a secondhand bookshop. Re-selling paper copies doesn’t give authors revenue either, but that’s a very common avenue for people to discover writers they like. So following that logic, should we close all secondhand bookshops because oh noes, the writer won’t get a royalty from a paper resale? I have actually heard this from people, and it’s ludicrous.

                  I found Preston and Child secondhand. I picked up Relic at the market one random day, and I’ve been throwing large amounts of hardback money at them for the Pendergast series ever since. P&C lost nothing by someone offloading a book they weren’t going to read again, even if they didn’t get the buck or two I paid for the used paperback. And writers do sometimes offer older books for free on Kindle for a limited time–they do that so people will try them and want to buy more of their books later.

                  I am a writer, and if I had a book out and someone found me via a secondhand or free Kindle copy, liked it, and then bought the rest of my work as I produced it, I’d be fine with that. Yay, new customer!

                  As for Spotify, the royalty deal is between Spotify and the musician, not ME and the musician. So the musician isn’t making any money from me, nor is Spotify, because I don’t use the paid version. If they’ve allowed their work on the platform at all, they’re obviously okay with knowing that some of us are going to sample it for free.

                12. Chameleon*

                  @Laura, one of the big rules here is “no nitpicking language.” You were needlessly harsh and assuming the worst of a total stranger, then being argumentative and belligerent to anyone who disagreed.

                  Maybe in the future you could approach your commenting with a bit more kindness and keep this place a pleasant commentariat.

                13. Not So NewReader*

                  @fposte, totally agreeing about surrounding context. The assumption on this forum is that everyone wants to stay above board and do things correctly. I can see how that point could be just taken for granted and it is assumed that the question is prefaced with, “Legally/ethically how do I do X?”
                  I have been paying attention to The Other Dawn’s posts for a while now and I would fall over in deep shock if she meant any activity that was less than above-board, legal and ethical.
                  I am sorry you were so jarred, Laura. This site is probably one of the best places on the net to get upstanding, correct advice. That is probably why TOD asked here because she knew we would steer her in good directions.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I appreciate that you are trying to stick up for writers, but authors pay big bucks to run ads on Bookbub. To promote a free book in the mystery genre, it costs more than $600 per ad. They WANT people to download their free/reduced-cost books so they get hooked on them and buy the rest of the books in the series. A friend of mine is a successful author, and every time she puts one of her books on a free promo, she sells 5,000 to 8,000 copies of her other books. Nobody is hurting authors by buying through Bookbub.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I see. Thank you for clarifying. My point still stands–nobody is hurting authors by downloading books that are free or $1.99 *as priced by those authors.* If the authors don’t want to give away their books or sell them at low prices, no one is making them. It’s a marketing tactic.

        1. Laura*

          MsChanandlerBong, if you mean me, thanks!

          (a) my very first post was absolutely clear about my support for BookBub. It’s very effective and authors love it!
          (b) publishers always pay those ad fees. They pay for all promotions of that kind! I hope your friend’s publisher isn’t taking advantage of her.

          1. Laura*

            And yes, MsChanandlerBong, authors are very keen to get their books into promotions – being picked as a Kindle Deal of the Day today is considered a great thing to achieve. No published author sets their own prices, btw. If the self-pubbed want to give their books away for free as a marketing tactic, of course that’s their decision and can work well if their books are good quality and well edited. I suggested that Other Dawn subscribe to daily email digests that let you know about free and on-sale ebooks – there are quite a few, I think.

            1. Laura*

              Elizabeth, as I’ve said above, you do pay for Spotify through the ads. I’m amazed how many people don’t realise that companies absolutely do consider this payment. Musicians do get royalties from that. I find it a bit surprising that you say you’re a writer but that you’re okay with your incorrect assumption that you’re getting Spotify without paying the musicians for the work you’re listening to – I imagine that writing is not your profession, but a hobby?

                1. Laura*

                  Mmn, it’s not nitpicking to be very taken aback by someone asking to get someone else’s work for free and saying she ‘hates paying’ for it, though! I appreciate the assumption of good intentions – but Dawn’s original post runs quite contrary to her subsequent statement that she’s fine paying for another subscription service. Which is great, and I hope she does. I can see some wagons circling around a regular commenter, but it’s just silly to deny that Dawn first asked for one thing and has now said that she posted incorrectly and didn’t mean it.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  This doesn’t look like wagon circling to me. It looks like you read it one way and most people read it a different way. More to the point, though, it’s not okay to be snarky and adversarial to others here, so I need to ask you to stop that and move on from this topic.

    7. The Other Dawn*


      Thanks for all the suggestions! I’ll take a look into them when I get home. That’s why I asked here: I knew someone would know of some websites, services, library options, etc. I don’t already know about. I use Overdrive (library), book bub, and Kindle Unlimited and that’s all I’ve heard of until now.

      So, any good series you all can recommend? I usually read the Pendergast series, some of David Balduccis series, Ken Follet’s Pillars of the earth series, stuff like that.

      1. Simone R*

        Have you read Ken Follet’s Century Trilogy? They’re all out now so easy to get through. Not in that vein, but I’ve loved the Crazy Rich Asian series-I can never put them down!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I have to look and see what I’ve read by him. I havent read many of his books yet other than the series i mentioned. I do remember another series but have to check. I’ve read so many books that I sometimes can’t remember what I’ve read and what I didn’t. That’s why I love the kindle app. Keeps tracks of all my books. :)

      2. Mallows*

        If I can find it and you want it, you can straight up have my paperback copy, as well as my copy of The Waste Lands. I think I have The Gunslinger, too. Let me know.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thanks for rhe offer, but it turns out my SIL had a copy. I’m visiting this weekend and it turns out my brother still had his copy so she gave it to me, a long with a bunch of other Stephen King books. My brother is the one who got me into Stephen King. I don’t usually do paper copies anymore, but since this belonged to my brother i will use it. :)

      3. StudentAffairsProfessional*

        Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member, every month there is a Kindle First offer to choose one among 4-6 books that are available for free! I always pick one and download it, even if it’s months before I get around to reading it.

    8. Junior Dev*

      Tor has some kind of ebopk of the month club, if you like sci fi. They pick a book and email you with a link to download it for free.

  6. Come On Eileen*

    I have a summer cold (boo) and I’m realizing that my colds have a very predictable pattern — I always hit a 24-hour period where I can’t taste anything. It’s so normal for me with every cold I get, yet I’m wondering if the same thing happens to other people. It’s only mildly annoying because it makes eating no fun at all, but 24 hours later, I can taste food again. Does this happen to any of you when you get a cold?

    1. Myrin*

      I hear that that’s actually how it’s supposed to be/what’s normal (although I have no idea about the timeframe) but I’ve literally never experienced it. Even when I had septum surgery in April and my nose was completely blocked off for almost a week, I could taste just fine. My mum is the same but my sister is the “normal” one who seems to follow a similar pattern to you!

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      Yep, that happens to me. On time after a relatively mild cold, I lost my sense of taste for a few months. The doctors weren’t able to find a specific root cause other than a deviated septum and some polyps. I still had some sense of smell, but couldn’t taste anything. Luckily my taste returned on it’s own and I haven’t had any long term taste loss since then.

    3. AlaskaKT*

      So maybe I’m super weird here, but I know I’m coming down with a cold when everything smells/tastes like polish sausages (the kind you get at a Costco deli). It’s like every other smell gets blocked, and I only smell polish sausages *even if there are non around.*

      I haven’t had a polish sausage in years. I *hate* them.

      1. Ange*

        I wish I had that problem! My current chemo regime means that everything even water tastes disgusting. Would prefer tasteless.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      This happened to me when I was in Prague last year. For 3 days. I got to taste NOTHING for 3 days in one of the best food cities imaginable. I’m still angry.

  7. Kat_Map*

    I have an etiquette question. I’m part of a wedding party next weekend and we’re having our hair and makeup done pre-ceremony. The services have already been paid for, but should I still tip the folks who style me? Would it be weird if I tipped but the rest of the party doesn’t?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Can you ask some of the other people getting hair and makeup done, so you all can coordinate your efforts? Might be weird if you tip and others don’t… or vice versa.

    2. Helpful*

      I think the person paying should tip. If the stylist goes way above and beyond, an extra gratuity (from you) is a nice touch.

    3. Merci Dee*

      Never assume someone else is tipping. Always be prepared to tip the service people who are taking care of you.

      1. Courtney*

        But if the bride has decided to hire people to do their hair and stuff, it should really be her responsibility to tip the stylists as well. So maybe double check with the bride and make sure she’s doing that, but I do not think the wedding party should be expected to tip when the professional stylists weren’t their idea or hired by them.

    4. HannahS*

      Maybe ask the bride if she’s tipping, then if not, get the rest of the wedding party to each bring 5 bucks?

  8. Trying Something New*

    Does anyone use medicinal marijuana (MMJ)?

    I’ve been on medication, in therapy, and under the care of various psychiatrists for 23 years for chronic depression, severe anxiety, and ADHD – since I was a teenager. I continue to have major ups and downs with my mental health but have stayed pretty consistent with my treatment over the years because the attempts I’ve made to go off my meds or change meds have ended in disaster – life essentially falling apart, suicidal thoughts, almost losing jobs, definitely losing friends, etc. So I don’t intend to go off my meds now that I’m using MMJ – I am exploring them as a supplementary treatment.

    I started looking into it for my dad actually, because he has Parkinson’s and I saw a video on Facebook of a man who tried it and it calmed his tremors. The more I researched, the more I found about MMJ for anxiety/stress reduction. (Still researching for my dad, but not the topic of this comment.) I had previously thought MMJ was mainly for very serious, physical illness – getting completely stoned to help with the pain of cancer treatments, for example. I didn’t realize how extensive the strain options were and how you could basically choose what you wanted off a menu and it could help with so, so many things. I take a lot of Ativan to prevent anxiety attacks as they develop, or to bring me down from anxiety attacks that come on out of nowhere – and I hold my anxiety and stress in my shoulders and back so I live with a constant state of sore achy muscles, and fear that I’m about to lose it. I think a lot of people think about anxiety as “worry” when really it’s so much more severe than that – the attacks are physical and feel like heart attacks, and it takes hours to physically and emotionally recover from one. Combined with chronic depression and ADHD, basically my head is a mess all the time and sometimes I can hold it together and sometimes I can’t. It’s not easy.

    I asked my psychiatrist what he thought about me trying it and he was in full, enthusiastic support and wrote me a written letter of recommendation for a marijuana-prescribing doctor. (In my state, your primary care or psych can recommend, but you have to see an MMJ specialist to certify you for eligibility for a state ID card.) I got the letter from my doc the day I brought it up to him, but then dragged my feet for a few months setting up an appt with an MMJ doc. Just my anxiety – had a lot going on in my life and didn’t have the energy to add anything else to the mix. 2 weeks ago I made an appt with a doc my friend recommended (made the appt online by plugging in a few dates/times that would work for me, then they confirmed by email – very very easy). I went, the doc reviewed my full medical history and doctor recommendation, gave me a speech full of disclaimers, and certified me. I had to apply for my state ID card that night, and got a temp card in my email the following day. The day after that, I went to the dispensary for the first time.

    All of this was surprisingly easy. As a person who smoked recreational weed as a teenager and in my early 20s (then gave it up because it MADE me anxious!), I felt like I was “getting away with something.” Like I’d fooled everyone and now I get drugs. It’s crazy though because I am the perfect candidate for this, and it’s completely legal and legit, and I went through the appropriate channels to get doctor approval and certification. So there’s nothing sketchy about it at all, I just keep forgetting that this is the time we live in – it’s not 1997 and I’m not going to get arrested for smoking a joint out the window of my dorm. (Didn’t happen to me, but happened to a friend!)

    I chose very small amounts of 5 strains to try out. I got 2 that are good for daytime use – they give you a calm, clear head and relax your body – they can provide creativity, focus, and happiness without giving you a head-high. (I was very specific that I wanted to avoid giggles, munchies, weird thoughts, etc – I hate “getting high” in my head and prefer just to be calmed down physically and mentally.) I also got one that was good for pain, high in CBD but very low in THC so very little happens “in your head.” And I got 2 that are good for calming down anxiety and stress, and help with insomnia.

    Now, I’m trying to figure out what I like, what helps me, what methods work best (I got flowers to try out the strains, but ultimately will probably use tinctures to control dosage without having to smoke). I feel like a teenager, but also, it’s kind of opening me up to this whole new world. I smoked something called White Fire OG yesterday that made my head calm and clear and quiet, I was able to work (I was OUT of work for the day but catching up on some stuff on my own time), and I felt really physically good, just kind of light and no aches or no chronic migraine which is always low level bothering me, etc. It did unfortunately give me the munchies and I ate too much, but I’ll keep experimenting.

    I wrote this insanely long comment because I’m keeping this from most people in my life. I want to experiment a little and make sure it’s right for me before “coming out” as a medicinal marijuana user. I am sure a lot of people will just assume “stoner” when they hear it, so I want to be a little more comfortable with it before I talk about it. So, anyone else here?

    1. Mary ANON Jane*

      Hello there, I am a medical marijuana patient in California. As someone who is used to buying illegally and always hiding my use from the police, I agree that it’s freaking wierd buying legally and having that piece of paper or card saying yes, I can have this on my person. Totally ok as far as the state goes. If I’m not driving and I’m high, that is okay. No problem here.

    2. AlaskaKT*

      I lived in WA when MJ became legal, and am now in AK where it is legal as well. I smoke but don’t like getting high as well, so I also pick the highest CBD with the lowest THC. It doesn’t much matter what strain it is for me, I feel a little more relaxed/uplifted and my chronic pain goes away.

      I have tried some tinctures, oils, and a concentrated tar that a friend made for chronic pain (cancer/chemo/radiation level pain). The tar was way to powerful, about the size of a pin head taken orally knocked me out for the day. A dollop of infused coconut oil in my coffee is the best (and tastiest) way I’ve found to consume it. Edibles will have a completely different affect on you, so you’ll need to experiment with them to find what works for you.

      In AK I’m allowed to grow my own MJ, for medical or recreational purposes. It’s totally weird after buying before it became legal in WA.

    3. Gaia*

      I don’t, but I wish my grampa would. He has severe pain in his feet (in his late 70s and it is his only ailment so far!) and they want to give him oxy next since hydro isn’t doing it and all his other treatments (including acupuncture, etc) haven’t worked. I’m scared for him to take oxy so on my next trip home we’re going to the dispensary and seeing what they can offer him if he’s open to it (recreational is legal in his state).

      1. KR*

        If you think hed be receptive to it, Adam ruins everything has a nice little segment that dispells many myths about marijuana including reasons why it’s illegal at all.

        1. Gaia*

          He is not inherently opposed to MJ use. In fact, he used quite a bit of it in his younger years. I think his concern now is that while it is legal in his state it is illegal federally and Medicare requires yearly blood tests for him for one of his other medications and he’s worried any MJ use would show up there (it really shouldn’t be being tested for, but I don’t know enough about why he does this yearly test and what exactly it is for to give him any assurances).

          1. Dr. KMnO4*

            He could find out how long MJ stays in the bloodstream, and if it’s not very long maybe stop using before the yearly blood test.

            1. Manomanous*

              Depending on use amount/frequency, it stays in the system for 3 weeks-3 months. I’d probably take the time to research the blood test he is taking – like you say, it’s unlikely that they are paying for tests they don’t need, but a little internet sleuthing would put both your minds at ease.

      2. Dr. KMnO4*

        I understand your worry about your grandfather taking oxy. It does what it says – it reduces pain. But the pharmaceutical companies that insisted it wasn’t addictive were lying through their teeth. Powerful painkillers like oxy should be approached with caution. I hope that MJ is helpful if he decides to go that route.

        1. Gaia*

          It does reduce pain, but it often doesn’t last as long as they say it does and the maker encourages doctors to prescribe higher doses rather than more often doses (as their competitive edge relies on it lasting longer than others). It is highly addictive and we have a family history of addiction to pain medication (although not with him, specifically) and so it makes us all nervous.

    4. Windchime*

      It’s legal here in WA and I made a trip to the pot store a couple of months to try to get help with some back pain that just wouldn’t go away. I had a hard candy (meh), some chocolate (more meh) and some tincture that you’re supposed to mix with a drink and drink it down. It tasted like a big swallow of bong water and I didn’t notice any change in my pain level at all. I used to smoke a lot of pot back when I was younger, so I’m not opposed to smoking except I don’t want people to smell it on me. (Walk down the streets of Seattle on any day and you will smell pot smoke, guaranteed).

      My back pain seems to be getting better but if it gets worse again, I’ll probably get something smokeable and see if that helps.

    5. Junior Dev*

      You don’t need to tell anyone about it you don’t want to. I don’t tell most people I know that I take antidepressants and anxiety meds.

      I do sometimes use a CBD vaporizer to take the edge off anxiety, though honestly I prefer Ativan. I find MMJ really helpful for back pain, which I have been mostly free of for the past year but if I feel like it’s starting to flare back up I’ll eat a brownie, which helps.

    6. Manomanous*

      I am in a state where you can purchase medically, and possession is decriminalized. I’ve found the dispensaries don’t all ask for the medical card so I haven’t gotten one yet.

      I’ve been using for my entire adult life to take the edge off the generalized anxiety and depression. It helps me sleep and helps me feed myself when I otherwise wouldn’t. I also prefer it for working out. And yes it is so weird to be legalish after a decade of illegality.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I would be interested in hearing if you find something that helps chronic back pain. I’m in a pain cycle right now and have been for a month. It’s a result of three out of state trips in one week (necessary) followed by sitting at my desk all day. Plus I’ve always had lower back issues anyway. I get muscle spasms when I sit too much and have mild scoliosis. I never though about medical marijuana.

  9. Gym clothes*

    Need women’s workout clothes recommendations. Need durable leggings and cute tops that aren’t $100 each! Bonus points for tall.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Old Navy! I have some compression capris that I love, and I’ve been really happy with the quality of their stuff.

    2. Hellanon*

      Old Navy! Great stuff, super inexpensive and frequently on sale, and stands up really well to frequent launderings.

        1. Cookie D'oh*

          They have stuff in store. If you are looking for petite or tall sizes, that is online. I was in a store last week, but only saw regular sizes.

        2. Jessi*

          Oooo I vote old navy too! I love my workout gear from there. Buy online! All of their sales and vouchers will stack – last time I got over 100$ worth of stuff for about 55$, and because I’d spent more than 50 it was free postage too. I think for my $55 I got 3 bottoms and about 6 tops :)

          I just return anything in person that doesn’t fit right or I don’t like that much

    3. Episkey*

      Almost all of my workout gear comes from either Old Navy or TJ Maxx — I have found brand name Nike/Adidas/etc stuff in there for a fraction of the regular cost.

      1. LCL*

        Unless you are even slightly tall. The rise is too short on their leggings, so you are either flashing people or pulling them up.

    4. EmCatMom*

      Another vote for Old Navy! Really cheap, but decent quality, and they have some really cute stuff. Other women at the gym have actually stopped to compliment a couple of my outfits from ON.

    5. periwinkle*

      Oddly enough, I’m sitting here in my workout gear because I just got back from the YMCA. Champion is good quality – straight retail is quite affordable but I buy it from their online outlet store (One Hanes Place, also my usual source of undergarments, sweatshirts, big packs of knee-highs, etc.). Not cute, but comfortable.

      1. Chameleon*

        I also like Champion. You can find some good stuff for pretty cheap at Target. The one issue i have is that their shirts aren’t great if you are tall…I always end up with belly peeking out. I just use a Target Mossimo extra- long tank over a decent sports bra.

    6. CheeryO*

      I strongly prefer Target’s C9 line over Old Navy – ON’s tops are a weird combination of boxy and low cut and just don’t flatter my body shape at all.

      I will say that it’s very worth buying a handful of higher quality pieces if you’ll be getting a lot of wear out of them. I really like Girlfriend Collective’s leggings – I got a pair for free as a promo (had to pay shipping), but I’d pay full price for them. There’s just something about really nice leggings!

      1. Dead Quote Olympics*

        Vote for Target C9 here too, although their inability to keep common sizes in stock of capris and tights baffles me. I like their hi rise capris and they are impossible to find consistently except on your lucky day.

        Kohl’s also has had some good solid offerings with different kinds of cuts and fits depending on the brand, which is always helpful.

        But I’m with you — I now get Athleta bottoms and while I wince at the price since I need multiples, it would be hard for me to go back. Cheap shirts are fine.

        1. Mischa*

          Yep, I’m the same way. Cheap shirts, more expensive bottoms. I have tried Old Navy and Target C9 bottoms and they just do not fit right while running (and the slip down everywhere, super annoying). I love my Oiselle running tights, and also have a Patagonia pair for colder weather. Worth every penny, imo.

      2. Al Lo*

        I also got the free Girlfriend Collective leggings, and they’re fabulous. Totally opaque, really comfortable, lots of support, great rise.

    7. rj*

      I have a few workout tops (thrifted) from Old Navy. They are holding up super well.
      My leggings all come from superfit hero – kind of pricey, but the best quality I’ve ever had. They have a 15% sign up bonus so I have used it on all my email addresses.

    8. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I love love love Victoria Secret workout leggings, I’ve had most of mine for years. Caveat: I am 5’10 and literally none of them are long enough, I crop everything. But the thickness is good, which is the most important factor to me.

      I also know that American Eagle and Asos sell cheapcheap leggings in a variety of lengths, though I haven’t tested them for thickness.

    9. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

      You can get Lularoe leggings on Poshmark for cheap! They come in OS (one size) and T&C (tall and curvy) and are sooo soft.

    10. Raine*

      I love Fabletics. You do have to deal with the subscription element of it but you can decide when you want to buy and how much. A whole outfit is never more than $80, usually in the $50-$75 range for cute top, sports bra, and very durable and cute leggings.

    11. Coffee Ninja*

      I love the Xersion line at JC Penney – it’s nearly my entire gym wardrobe! It keeps me cool and it’s held up to a million washings (each piece usually gets washed 2-3 times a week).

    12. MissDisplaced*

      I really like Target for this… good selection and sturdy (Champion brand). Also, Kohl’s. Marshall’s and TJX are good for Nike, etc., IF you wear smaller sizes, but I find them skimpy on plus size choices.

      If you want to spend even less on basic workout clothes, I’d suggest Walmart. They do have the Avia and Danskin brands, in lots of sizes and colors. The quality is acceptable, but maybe not quite as high or trendy (plain is OK enough for my purposes). Hey, for $12 leggings and $7 workout tops, you can’t beat it. Lots of workout bras and stuff too. I buy some items there, and I’ve found them to hold up pretty well overall. I really like the black yoga pants.

    13. StudentAffairsProfessional*

      Definitely old navy for cute tops. They are cheap and I have a handful that have held up well over time. Anything that is cotton or feels “soft” has fallen apart and gotten really pill-y after a few runs through the washer and dryer, but the stuff that feels “slick” has been fine. Leggings, I am much pickier about. I really only buy from Lucy. I have bought leggings (and then regretted it) from cheaper places like Target and Old Navy. Unless you are already slim and just need something to cover your body, I wouldn’t buy these leggings for working out. I have found they are too thin (ie you can see your undies through them when you bend over) and they have no compression. I also find that they pill very easily (again, the soft kind do this worse than the slick kind) and just wear out quickly. I teach fitness classes so I am wearing and washing 3-4 pairs of workout leggings each week.

      You can get pretty good deals if you check the sale section – I don’t think I have ever paid over $50 for a pair of leggings, and have gotten plenty in the $30-40 range. Actually I just checked and there are lots of options in that $30-50 range for sale right now. Always free shipping and free returns too, which is nice. Sometimes I see them for sale in boutiques, but I only buy them online. They have brick and mortar stores in bigger cities. They have a wider range of sizes than most other brands, too (cough lululemon cough). They do have tall sizes! And petite, plus and maternity. I have had pairs of leggings for YEARS that are still in great shape, I typically retire a pair of Lucy workout pants after 3-4 years of regular use. My favorites are anything with “run” in the title – the revolution run or the pocket run. I used to love their x-train capris, but they don’t make those any more. No sagging, they don’t get loose or baggy throughout your workout, they wick sweat and stay in place. HA, I swear I don’t work there and am not sponsored by Lucy, but I had truly had great experiences with their product and other, cheaper pairs just don’t perform the way Lucy leggings do.

  10. Eve*

    My husband and I are under contract to buy an old house (1842) and every day I want to cry. We are using his VA loan so there are extra hoops to go through and it does need some work but we won’t know the extent of the work for a couple more weeks. We know most of the major stuff but it is all keeping me up at night.

    1. Anono-me*

      Please consider asking your real estate agent about a homeowner’s warranty. It is similar to an extended warranty on a car and is usually very inexpensive for the first year.

      I had one when I bought my home and it would have been worth it for the peace of mind alone, but one of newer appliances died and the replacement was covered.

      Congratulations on your future new home.

      1. Sualah*

        It’s very, very typical for the seller to pay for it–it might even be in your purchase contract.

        VA loans can be great, but all those steps–I feel you. Good luck!

  11. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This has been a hell of a week. Nothing crazy, just a lot of annoyances. After last weekend’s insanity with my grandmother in the hospital (she’s in a rehab now, my mother is with her, she’s improving but still being extremely difficult and unreasonable), I had trouble sleeping, then I had two fillings replaced on Wednesday morning which left me exhausted and in pain. I have runner’s knee that seems to be healing but still bugs me, and I strained a muscle in my hip so badly that it hurts to walk. That’s improving, but I can’t not walk, so I’m not healing as quickly as I’d like. I am so glad it’s a long weekend. My parents were supposed to come to town on Monday but that’s not happening now, so I am trying to relax and do nice things for myself. So I just put up some peach preserves and made some pie crust, and my boyfriend went to the gym so I could be on my own for a while. Sigh.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The fillings are fine (a bit sensitive)– it’s the jaw pain from the anesthesia that’s the killer (for me, anyway)! And the post-lidocaine headache. The whole process of taking out the mercury added some extra-special tension; luckily for me and my dentist, I am a very calm patient, but damn, it all sucks. Much better today, though!

  12. Paris Geller*

    I’m a long-time lurker of AAM and the comments, including all the open threads. I’ve posted once or twice, but nothing more. However, ever since I’ve lurked I’ve seen how kind in general the comment section here is compared to other places, and I thought this was probably the best place to go for advice on the internet in a place where people don’t know me.

    I’m a graduate student and for the past four months, I’ve been visiting my school’s counseling center and talking to a therapist about my anxiety. She’s brought up the idea of going to a doctor for anti-anxiety medication a few times, and I’m really struggling to actually do that.

    On one hand, I “know” I probably have anxiety. I am on edge a lot. I worry about my personal safety probably more than I need to. There are stretches of days or weeks where I feel on edge constantly because I’m afraid of being harmed — not in a way where I am paranoid that someone is “after me” or that I’m being threatened, but in a way in which I realize I interact with so many people every day and any of them could choose to do something harmful to me if they wanted and I would never see it coming. I’ve left crowded grocery stores before there’s just *so* many people and I can’t deal. Sometimes I have days where I wake up with a knot in my stomach that never goes away, even if there’s nothing I’m particularly stressed about that day. If I make a mistake at work or school, I disproportionately worry about being fired or failing out. Logically, I know these all points to that kind of capital A-anxiety disorder. I know!

    But. . . It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the idea this is something I should consider seeing a doctor for, because in many ways I have my life together. I live alone & keep my daily life organized and on-task. I’m an exceptionally good student. I get good reviews at my job, and I really love my job. My social circle is small, but I think the friendships I do have are healthy and add a lot of value to my life, though I do get lonely at times because I’m currently living far from all my friends (we’re almost all at different grad schools now), and I don’t have a significant other. A lot of the anxiety I have is tied up into perfectionism, and my therapist has made me realize, though not phrased quite like this, that a reason I excel at things is because I’m terrified of the negative consequences if I don’t.

    I know when I browse the open threads I’ve seen quite a few people talk candidly about mental health, so I guess I was wondering if anyone has anxiety that manifests similarly, and also if you’re on medication for anxiety, what that’s like. I’m also kind of stumped about how to even talk to a doctor about this — because I’ve moved around a lot in the past few years (undergrad, work for a year, home for a year, then grad school), I don’t really have a primary care physician. I’ve been lucky enough to be in pretty good health, so when I’ve had minor health issues like the flu and stuff, I’ve just gone to the campus health center, but they can’t really help me with this.

    1. Red*

      At your next visit to the counseling center, I’d ask said counselor how you would go about getting the medication you need. In my case, my counselor was really happy to help and told me the names of two psychiatrists in the area so that I had options, but not too many. She was a huge help and I would expect the same would be true for you, because you’re almost certainly not the first person she’s worked with that could use some medication. You may not even need to see a psychiatrist if she thinks the average primary care doctor can help you – my husband is treated by his primary care doctor for his anxiety. In that case, just ask her for advice on finding one.

      Oh, and for what it’s worth, my husband has anxiety much like that and a Prozac tablet once a day helped tremendously. It’s fixable and you shouldn’t have to live with it.

    2. Temperance*

      I can really, really relate to what you’re going through. I was very, very resistant to psychiatric medication because I grew up with a mentally ill parent who frankly did NOT have her shit together, and I didn’t want to be like her.

      My life is better on medication. Immensely, even. My symptoms never even got quite as bad as yours, with dealing with people and all of that.

      I think it’s really important for you to find a PCP and maybe think about this.

    3. Merci Dee*

      Considering what we’ve been hearing in the news for the past few years about shootings, stabbings, intentional car wrecks, etc. in public spaces, it’s not surprising at all that you find yourself realizing how vulnerable you are, or any of us are, when we’re out doing the normal business of life. I find myself thinking of this at time, too. Especially when I’m out somewhere with my daughter, because I would be absolutely destroyed if anything happened to her.

      But it also sounds like you’re aware that this is adding additional stress to your life that doesn’t need to be there, and that your tendency toward perfectionism (again, something I totally understand) is tying you up in knots. I would definitely follow the therapist’s advice to seek out a doctor who should be able to do a more thorough evaluation and help you decide on some treatment options. This is taking care of your health just as much as going to the doctor for a heart problem, a broken bone, or the flu. I think that, when something is affecting your peace of mind and your body as much as this is, it only makes sense to see what options are available that will allow you to live more freely and comfortably with the knowledge that you’re doing all you can to look after yourself.

      I hope that you’re able to work out something that feels right for your situation, and that you get some relief from the anxiety. I’ll be thinking of you for the coming week.

    4. Dr. KMnO4*

      I don’t have anxiety, but I wanted to address one of your points. Your second paragraph starts with you saying that you hesitate to see a doctor for anxiety because you feel like you have your life in order. And, based on the rest of your comment, it sounds like you do. But you mention feeling on edge, and stressed, and sometimes having a knot in your stomach. Maybe going to see a doctor would help you not feel that way as often.

      I have mental health challenges. I can mostly function if I’m not medicated, but everything is so much harder than it is when I am on my meds. Just because I can go without meds doesn’t mean it’s what’s best. I’m not trying to say you should definitely get meds. I just want to point out that even people who can survive without meds can sometimes feel better with meds.

      Maybe you’ll end up on an anti-anxiety med, maybe you won’t. But it won’t hurt to talk about what’s going on, and how you feel, and see if there are things you can do/take to feel better. I hope things work out for you.

      1. LifeOrDeath*

        Just HAD to google your username seeing as it looked like a chemical formula. Why Potassium manganate(VII)? Dr. Antiseptic? Anyway cool name

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          Thanks! I chose it because KMnO4 is a fantastic shade of purple. And since I have my doctorate, I’m Dr. KMnO4.

      2. King Friday XIII*

        Similar to the above poster, I thought I was getting along just fine without medication, and I was managing a lot – working, parenting, etc – but my wife wanted me to talk to my doctor about a few things anyway and long story short: medication is like a night and day difference for me. It’s like I was walking on tiptoes to keep my nose above water but I figured I was okay because I wasn’t drowning, and suddenly the water only comes up to my hips.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I don’t have anxiety; I have had depression. (Depression is very immobilizing, because when you feel bad enough to realize you really need help you also feel too helpless to seek it; if your mood turns up so you feel more capable then hey, you’re better without any intervention so you put it off…. rinse, repeat.) What the pills did for me was remind me what normal felt like. And that was really helpful, because it had come on so gradually that I genuinely couldn’t remember–it wasn’t like the time I experienced depression as a drug reaction, where it was like flipping a switch back and then forward, and the change was stark and noticeable after a week. What I regretted in the end was spending so long trying on my own to deal with it (outside more, exercise more, etc), before I told my husband and then doctor, because the difference was so marked and yet so familiar–right, I’m not normally consumed by worrying about things that actually haven’t happened. Normal doesn’t feel grey and flat. Even though I eventually slid back on that drug and switched to a different one, I was so much more tuned in to how ‘me’ my mood was at a given point that I was able to notice, and to help my primary care physician figuring out a drug and dosage that did work. (A couple of years on welbutrin, and I went off the drugs and felt normal.)

      What you describe in your third paragraph sounds pretty far outside normal. Not (currently) at the point where you are incapacitated by it, but at the point where it’s having a marked affect on your life. Because your therapist suggests it, I would really advise giving the drugs a try. (Are you sure your student health center can’t help with that? With the recommendation of one of their counselors?) Ideally, the drug will adjust your mood enough for you to notice a difference that probably slipped very slowly into place, and even if it’s not a long-term solution it might give you some helpful insight into how much the anxiety is or isn’t curtailing your day-to-day life.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’ve had similar thoughts from my anxiety. My brain is always jumping to the Worst Case Scenario option. Mom’s five minutes late picking me up? She was in a terrible car accident and died. I’m going to fall in this crowd of people and get trampled to death.

      Prozac has been a godsend. I recently went on vacation to New York City with my best friend and managed the crowded streets and subways with no panic attacks.

    7. Emma*

      You may be able to get this kind of medicine prescribed by a general practitioner. My friend was going to a counselor who recommended she seek medicine, and her regular doctor was able to easily prescribe it. She’s been on it about a year now. She mentioned that it does take awhile to kick in, so check with the dr about that, but I believe she’s on a generic and has said how life changing it’s been.

    8. rj*

      Your campus health center (if it’s a big enough school to have a grad program) should function more-or-less as a PCP. I have gone to therapy for anxiety, and had medication for it. Both worked at different times in my life. I would recommend that you ask your counsellor (if your counsellor is an MSW, or MSc in counseling they will definitely be able to do this) for a recommendation for a psychiatrist. If your counsellor is a psychologist they probably know what you should be prescribed, but is illegal for them to do so because they are not doctors. In that case, I think that they might be an even better resource for finding someone good, and helping you address whether/how well the medication is working.

    9. Gaia*

      You can be very highly functioning and still have anxiety. In fact, a lot of people with anxiety live normal lives. They go to work, they go to school, they are successful in relationships and keep their life in order. But…inside…they worry. And they hide it. They hide it because we’re all supposed to be so strong and brave and not anxious. They hide it because they think they are weak. Because they fear it is irrational.

      There are medications that can help with this. There are techniques that can help with this. Maybe you don’t need medication. Maybe yoga or running or screaming into your damn pillow is all you need. But, maybe, you need medication to calm the anxiety. And if so: that is okay. It is no different than someone needing medication to deal with pain or to deal with pneumonia or any other ailment that we medicate.

      Talk to your counselor. Explain your concerns. If they don’t listen or brush off your worries, talk to someone else. If the first medication you try doesn’t work, tell them. Adjust the dosage (with their guidance) or change the medication altogether.

      There is no shame in anxiety. It is a real thing and it is as real as any other ailment.

      1. Gaia*

        I want to amend this to say that we live in a big scary world and a lot of scary things are happening right now. Some level of anxiety is just good common sense. But worrying that you interact with too many people so any one of them could harm you or having to leave a crowded grocery store is at the point where it is impacting your life and it is at that point that intervention should be considered.

      2. Paris Geller*

        Thank you for this. Something about this. . . I don’t know, feels like things are finally clicking. I think I might print your comment out to bring me with me to my next appointment so I can talk about it.

        1. Gaia*

          I am happy to have provided any help I can. The reality is a lot of people struggle in silence with anxiety and it doesn’t have to be that way. I hope you find what works for you and please, feel welcome to come back here and talk some more.

    10. HannahS*

      I just want to assure you that many, many high-functioning people see a doctor and take daily medication for some kind of issue. Being high-functioning and ill aren’t mutually exclusive, and I really encourage you not to see them that way. There are a lot of messages in our culture about who is mentally ill and what their lives look like, but these things are pretty much equal-opportunity. Anxiety, Crohn’s, fibromyalgia, colitis, ADHD–that’s list of illnesses that I, personally, know people who are either doctors or in medical school are taking daily medication for. Like, these people are high-function incarnate. Being assisted by medication doesn’t negate your high-function.

    11. Ramona Flowers*

      I have my life together but I still see a dentist when I have a toothache. This is the same. And sometimes it’s not about having something wrong, but about asking yourself if things could feel easier, if life could be a little easier or better for you.

      I have anxiety and OCD. Periodic depression. I’ve pretty much recovered from PTSD. Sometimes I’m okay and sometimes I just need to add to the tools in my toolbox.

    12. Gloucesterina*

      Hi Paris Geller, your campus health center might be very different from mine (at a mega-huge U.S. state university) but I finally got to the mental health treatment I knew I needed but had trouble wrapping my head around actually taking the steps to obtain after talking to what was called a “care manager” at my university’s health center. I think “intake counselor” might be another job title to look for. They’re not themselves therapists or medical professionals, but they are familiar with common diagnoses and helped identify mental health professionals who would be a good fit based on my needs.

      My therapist also helped me reframe my fear of failure in grad school in terms of valuing my work and valuing the conversations/connections with others it allows me to make. Hang in there!

    13. Chameleon*

      Do it. Do it do it do it.

      I resisted meds until this year (1 year after I got my PhD) and I regret not doing it earlier sooo much. Grad school would have been 100x less stressful on meds (not anxiety but ADD and depression).

      I actually decided against a career in research because I found it so hard to keep up with literature and plan experiments. Now I’m wondering I’d have stayed in the field if I’d had my head under control… but now I’m afraid it’s too late. (._. )

    14. Windchime*

      My anxiety is usually more of a background noise, but over the past couple of years I had intense anxiety like you are experiencing. Like you, I have my life together as far as people can tell: Good job, nice home, friends, etc. But I was a mess inside. My mind would jump from random thought to random thought. I couldn’t sleep. I was having a tough time at work and that made it all worse.

      Going on anti-anxiety medicine was the best thing I ever did. At first, I was on a medication that I was supposed to feel if I got anxious but I wasn’t always able to identify what “anxious” felt like. My doc switched me over to a couple of other meds and kept bumping them up until I felt stable and, for the first time in my 56 years of life, I feel good. I don’t have constant anxiety. I’m not constantly irritable and annoyed and upset. I feel happy and just……better. That tight, scary knot in my chest is gone and I can enjoy my hobbies and my work again.

      If it’s something that your doc is recommending, I would give it a try. You don’t have to keep taking it if you don’t like it.

    15. Hrovitnir*

      I have depression and anxiety – chronic depression has improved, probable-GAD has got worse. Fun! First, yes, many people have mental illnesses and are “high functioning”. I can describe my mental state and how it impacts my life to emphasise exactly how bad it is (it seriously affects my life), but as far as most people who know or interact with me are concerned it’s kind of shocking I have any kind of issues.

      I have a supportive long-term relationship, I appear warm and confident when interacting in a professional capacity, I laugh a lot and play sports and get good grades and have networked successfully within my field (as measured by having multiple PIs offering me PhD projects.) I also feel like I have dragged myself through much of the former by my fingernails and sometimes want to cry because it’s so exhausting feeling like you’re about to jump off a cliff when you go to meet a friend for coffee.

      I have not had medication for anxiety, but I took an SSRI for depression after avoiding it for years, and it was… great? Like, it was quite a tiny difference, but that difference was so huge. It can be a lot of hit and miss finding a medication that works for you, but the small difference was the catalyst for making significant improvements in my day-to-day function and ability to act to improve my life. It made me incredibly positive about medication, though I know I was lucky I got minimal side-effects (initially or at all).

    16. Paris Geller*

      I’m not sure if I’ll get to responding to all the comments, but I’m sitting here at my computer feeling very overwhelmed (in a good way) right now with advice and well wishes. Thank you. I feel so, so much better about it after hearing how other people have managed, and I feel a little less intimidated about talking to someone about it. I’m going to bring it up in my next session, which is this coming week, and see if my therapist has some resources, or if I’m wrong about the limitations of the campus health center and if that’s possibly a route to go.

      It’s also been enlightening to see how people responding to my comment have described the way I portrayed my anxiety, because I would have never used words like severe or intense. I think I’ve struggled a lot with the idea that if my anxiety isn’t completely controlling my life, if I have really, really good days in there, that it can’t be that serious, but a lot of the comments are making me realize that even if I manage day-to-day really well, it is having a fairly significant negative impact. It makes it a lot easier to believe that I’m not just making it all up in my head (I’m aware that’s not super uncommon with anxiety either, but being aware and being able to apply that to myself feel worlds apart sometimes).

    17. Not That Jane*

      I had a similar resistance to allowing myself to be diagnosed with anxiety. Mostly because my mom was an extremely anxious person who never really got treatment for her anxiety, and made people around her pretty stressed out with the fallout.

      One thing that helped me was a very thorough conversation about my symptoms with a psychiatrist. He just asked a bunch of Yes or No questions about my various symptoms, which was super reassuring because I felt like it helped me define the boundaries of the problem for me. Like, yes, I have this group of symptoms, but not these others, and if I start taking medication I may experience fewer of these symptoms.

      My main manifestation is sort of the other side of the coin from you: I have periods of very troubling intrusive thoughts in which I visualize myself hurting or killing the people I love. It’s like a terrifying five-second horror movie playing on repeat in my head whenever there’s a “danger” in my environment that distracts me. I’ve talked about this with my psychiatrist and my therapist, and done research about it, so I know it’s not happening because I WANT to commit these acts. But it’s still scary as hell.

      50 mg of daily Zoloft seems to cut those way down, though.

    18. Floundering Mander*

      Do it, do it, do it! I had terrible anxiety, constant panic attacks, and depression for most of my PhD and I told myself that it wasn’t that bad, that I didn’t need help, and far worse things for years. It took me twice as long to finish as it should have and I didn’t manage to do all the “extra” stuff that I should have done in order to have an academic career when I finished, so in a way I feel like anxiety ruined my career. In my last year I finally mentioned it to the doctor and started taking medication. The difference was amazing but also heartbreaking because I realized how much time and opportunity I lost. I’m still suffering the effects of that.

    19. Madison*

      I just wanted to add to the great advice you’ve already gotten.
      When I started working with a psychologist for anxiety, it really helped (CBT is the best!). A side medical issue I have, meant I had to take low dose anti depressants and oh my god, do I wish I’d taken these earlier.
      It’s made managing my anxiety easier, and I just feel better. I’ll get off them soon but in the mean time I’ve got a lot of practice and strategies in how to manage it.
      Med’s aren’t forever – but they can be a good tool to help.

    20. Sami*

      Once you find a doctor, consider asking for two week trial prescriptions for several anti anxiety meds. My doctor did that for me. Two weeks each of Ativan, Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. This way you can easily find what works for you. Good luck!

  13. Amy*

    Anybody else melting in this west coast heat wave? It was over 110 at my house yesterday and still hovering around 90 when we went to bed. This is unheard of for my area. We don’t have AC (except for a portable unit in the baby’s room) so I slept practically naked under a ceiling fan and still woke up sweaty. Blehhhhh.

    1. Hellanon*

      I’m in Southern California & while we *are* used to 100 degree days, the humidity & the 80 degree nights are making it really unpleasant. Plus there are fires everywhere, so the air is bad. But hey, only 6 weeks or so more of summer, so that’s good….

    2. CatCat*

      Yeah, it’s hot AF. I’m grateful that we have central A/C so we are comfortable. Where I live, I think pretty much everyone has A/C (though many just have wall units, it’s an older neighborhood). I think it has to be awful in the Bay Area :-o

    3. CAA*

      Yes! We don’t have it as bad as many because we’re near the coast, but we had the weirdest weather ever on Thursday. It was over 80 degrees and there was thick fog all day until it rained in the mid-afternoon. The streets were steaming when the rain started hitting them. The whole day was like being in a sauna.

      Yesterday we got up to 90 degrees with 95% humidity, with today heading for more of the same and the forecast for tomorrow is for thunderstorms from some tropical storm Lidia that’s hitting Baja.

    4. copy run start*

      I’m in the mountains and we are going to be close too 100 today. Plus blanketed in wildfire smoke. Normally I’d have taken out my A/C last weekend, but looking at the forecast I’m going to need it for the foreseeable future. I’m actually hoping for an early snowstorm.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Yes, and if you go outside the smoke gets in your eyes. It has made for some beautiful colored sunsets and a very golden moon.

    5. Uncivil Engineer*

      Yes, and I agree this is no fun. It’s only 90 degrees where I am but we are not equipped for this at all. No A/C and there are very few places to escape to since everything is open and outside. I’m draped on the couch under the ceiling fan and trying not to move too much.

    6. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

      YES. I am so thankful I moved back from the East Coast in July so it doesn’t feel as bad as it could since my body is still acclimated for higher heat and humidity. I’ve been sitting in front of a fan for the last two days.

    7. BlueShedSurvived!*

      It’s in the ’80’s in Seattle and hardly anyone has A/C in their homes or apartments. This is way too hot for us. Simply house chores create dripping sweat. Fans are on but just push hot air around.

      It’s supposed to hit 90 degrees on Tuesday but at least the office has great air conditioning.

    8. SaraV*

      I hope all of you on the West Coast get relief, and soon!

      We were in the upper 80’s today here in the Midwest, and the same is forecasted for tomorrow. But! High of 73 on Tuesday, 70 on Wednesday, 74 Thursday. The weird thing is, though, is that no rain is in the forecast. That big of a difference in highs usually signals precipitation of some sort.

  14. Typhon Worker Bee*

    SO happy to be done with our move! The new place is already starting to feel like home, despite being somewhat under-furnished, and the cats are settling in nicely. Once the sofas we ordered finally arrive (already three weeks late) we’ll all feel fully settled, I think.

    I went back to work on Thursday and tried a couple of different commute options. The nicer one (which involves a passenger ferry, but an extra transfer, and is more expensive) took 15 minutes longer (1 hour door to door), but the other one (bus over a bridge) was also fine. My old commute was only 30 minutes by transit, but I never got a seat and usually ended up with my face wedged in someone’s armpit; I got a seat the whole way on both commutes this week and was surprised when I got to work and looked at the time, because it didn’t feel any longer than my old commute. I’m going to start cycling next week (putting my bike on the passenger ferry) and got some great bike route advice on Twitter yesterday.

    We got the funds from the sale of our old house on Thursday, and it was super satisfying to watch the old mortgage, home equity line of credit, and bridge loan zero out one by one. We paid off all our credit cards (we had a seven week overlap paying two mortgages, so we used our cards much more than usual) and have ended up with a smaller mortgage than before, which should be done in five years.

    Good week! This five month process is finally done.

  15. NewJobWendy*

    My new job pays me a lot less. This will mean (among other changes) no eating out for me and my husband. What are your favorite cheap recipes for lunch and dinner? I am a pretty good cook and have a crock pot.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My favorite crock pot recipe:

      boneless, skinless chicken breasts
      1 jar of salsa
      1 bag of frozen corn

      pour a little salsa on the bottom of the pot.
      put the chicken on top
      dump in the corn
      cover everything with the rest of the salsa
      cook on low for 8-10 hours
      shred with a fork

    2. Emma*

      I like budget bytes a lot. I love a lot of her beef/turkey and cabbage recipes- there’s a southwestern skillet that’s great, and an asian one. I also adore her crustless quiche (though I cheat & use a refrigerated crust from the grocery store. She has a ton of variety.

      1. LG*

        I second Budget Bytes! Beth makes great recipes and she includes the budget breakdown as well, as well as lots of practical advice. She is doing a series on weekly meal planning and I think has a crock pot section of recipes in particular.

    3. Thursday Next*

      I don’t have a crock pot so I won’t offer any suggestions there and some of these may involve seasonally inappropriate amounts of cooking, depending on where you live/tolerance for the oven/stove on for long periods of time.
      Lentil soup – find a recipe you like but I’ve found with going to the local organic foods chain I can get ~6 servings of soup for <$10 of ingredients
      Pizza – if you make your own dough I think it's a pretty cheep meal, plus you and your husband can make exactly what your want
      Pasta + veggies of choice – I like pasta and zucchini where you dice up and pan fry the zucchini, mix it in with cooked pasta and top with butter, garlic salt and Parmesan cheese or cut up a roast zucchini, eggplant and other roasting veggies in the oven and serve as a side with pasta
      Omelettes for dinner, fast and easy to make to individual preferences
      Find recipes for rice or pasta bowl – base + protein + other flavors. Those are pretty easy to make a lot of a once and you can use as basic/fancy ingredients as you like

    4. Overeducated*

      Made in India by Meera Sodha has a lot of recipes that happen to be pretty cheap if you have access to Indian spices (lots of legume and chicken dishes, a very soothing coconut cauliflower curry). It’s a home cooking book, not a budget cookbook, I just skip the fish and lamb dishes.

      I also like to make a lot of taco/quesadilla type dinners, they are very flexible.

    5. Emma*

      One more- Leanne Brown has a free PDF cookbook (or you can buy the book version) with recipes designed to work on a food stamp budget. I love her slow pizza crust, on p. 139. We the refrigerator really develops the flavor. You can freeze it, and we use it to get rid of leftovers, like leftover spinach, chicken, onion, etc. One recipe makes a good sheet pan pizza. We do jarred red or white sauce.

    6. HannahS*

      I’m trying really hard to get in to meal-prepping on the weekends for lunches (and often dinners, since I’ll be on campus a lot). This weekend, I’m cooking up a pot of brown rice, some roasted sweet potato, some steamed or sauteed broccoli, and some tofu, and a miso-sesame dressing. This will be combined into four-ish lunch bowls.

      During the winter I rely a lot on soups and stews (when I bring it with me, it’s in a glass container that I can re-heat). My favourites are tomato/lentil, potato/leek with white beans, and tomato/white bean/spinach.
      Smitten Kitchen (a website) has great soups and stews that don’t rely on lots of expensive meat for flavour. Probably a lot of them would be crock-pot friendly.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        So the thing I don’t get about meal prep is how do you know how long it will all last? With the rice is it really ok in the fridge for like four days?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Gosh, I hope so. I leave it in there that long. Of course, common sense first and foremost. I do look at foods for changes and I do give them the sniff test. I have little rules of thumb for how long I am comfortable keeping some things, once in a while a food does not last as long as it usually does- the color seems off or the smell is not quite right. I chuck it. Not worth the risk.

          Usually when I prep things I aim for 2-3 days. By then I am sick of that food anyway. I do keep some premade stuff in the freezer and some organic soups in the cupboard in case I get caught with nothing prepared.

        2. TL -*

          Cooked rice lasts forever!
          Most cooked things last 5-7 days in the fridge, but you can also freeze and defrost most things as needed.

          For food, though, if it isn’t smelly, slimy, or developing new colors, it’s probably fine.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            You can’t freeze and defrost rice though right? I ask because I’m a food moron and get confused.

            1. Mischa*

              Yep, you can! Last week I froze some cooked rice that was on the verge of going bad, thawed it, and heated it up in the microwave. It tasted fine just fine.

            2. Saturnalia*

              Thirding, I freeze rice in sandwich bags and it comes out as two portions, perfect for a quick dinner. I also freeze extra takeout/delivery rice when we get Asian food.

        3. HannahS*

          Personally, I think four days is about it for most cooked food. I’m figuring that after four days I’ll be darn sick of it anyway!

    7. Iza*

      My husband and I have been on a shakshuka kick lately (baked eggs in a tomato sauce). I recommend the nyt recipe.

    8. Chameleon*

      I haven’t done this myself, but my friends buy cheap bulk meat at Costco, and bag one meal’s worth in a Ziploc with various marinades, then throw them in the freezer. In the morning they throw one bag in the fridge, and by the time they get home it is thawed, marinated, and ready to grill.

      1. Paul*

        OK, I should have thought of this years ago. We ain’t got costco here but I can still buy bulk chicken breast and fish fillets easily.

        Wonder if you can freeze chicken in a curry paste and have it turn out good?

    9. MsChanandlerBong*

      I just tried a new pasta recipe, and I love it. I don’t even like pasta that much, but this dish turned out amazingly well. Melt 4 T. butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 6 cloves of minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/2 T. of dried basil and one package (8 oz.) of cream cheese (softened and cut into 8 pieces). Stir continuously for about three minutes or until the cream cheese has turned into a smooth paste. Stir in 8 oz. of sun-dried tomatoes that have been drained, rinsed, and chopped. Reduce heat to medium, add 2 c. of milk, and whisk constantly until the milk is blended into the sauce. Stir in 8 oz. Parmesan cheese (grated), 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce is your desired consistency. Make sure you stir every minute or so. Serve over cooked bowtie pasta (I drain the pasta, put it back in the pot, and then dump the sauce on top of it so the sauce coats the pasta evenly; I don’t like it when some pieces are drowning in sauce and others don’t have any sauce at all).

      It’s a VERY rich dish, so we get about eight to 10 servings out of it. You can add cooked chicken to increase the protein and make smaller portions more filling, but I don’t put any meat in it. I have also omitted the sun-dried tomatoes when we were pinching pennies. An 8-oz. jar is $3.48 right now, and I don’t think the dish suffers without them.

    10. Foreign Octopus*

      Jack Monroe is great.

      She’s a single mother from the UK who had to cook using the Tesco Basic range (or the supermarket basic) because she was about as poor as it’s possible to be in the UK without being homeless. Her recipes are interesting and, importantly, tasty. A lot of her stuff is free online.

    11. Saturnalia*

      Perhaps unintuitively, a lot of vegan food ends up being super inexpensive (legumes, grains, vegetables). You can always de-veganize a recipe based on what you have (milk instead of soy or almond milk, for example) or add a cooked egg or meat.

      Bulk herbs and spices end up being economical over the long run, and one of the best investments you will make to keep food interesting. Beans and rice everyday sounds awful until you realize it’s chana masala with biryani Monday, teriyaki roasted chickpeas with coconut rice Tuesday, chilli with Spanish rice Wednesday, broccoli rice casserole Thursday, etc etc.

      There are also some kitchen appliances that can make it way less of a chore: food processor, immersion blender, instant pot, a good chef’s knife… It will vary based on what you tend to cook, but if you are spending a lot of effort in the kitchen it is absolutely worth it to have a few timesaving appliances.

    12. KV*

      Very good crockpot recipe if you like spicy:
      – 2 chicken thighs
      – 1 can of kidney beans, rinsed
      – 1 tbs soy sauce
      – 1 tbs gochuchang sauce (snag this from any asian market; it shouldn’t cost too much and it’s really versatile)
      – 1 tbs brown sugar
      – 2 tbs water

      Cook that for 8-10 hours on low, remove the skin on the thighs if they had any, gently pull the chicken and you will have delicious smoky spicy beans and chicken that are perfect over rice or in a burrito or with any other side you like. Adjust to taste if you like; I throw in orange juice when I have it.

      I also love making carnitas in my slow cooker. You can make a ton and freeze it, then use it for burritos or quesadillas or taco salads. There’s a lot of easy recipes out there!

  16. Free Meerkats*

    I know this post is a bit out of the ordinary for this site, but I cleared it with Alison first.

    I think I posted early this year that my favorite uncle died. He was a crusty old fart, but loved him, and he had lots of really cool stuff; mostly car related, but at one point he and my aunt had the world’s most complete collection of Hull pottery. They sold that long ago before she died, but now the rest of his stuff is on auction. There are two auctions, the pottery and household one, and the car-related one. There is stuff here you won’t find anywhere else.

    House stuff

    Car stuff

    1. fposte*

      Wow. I love ceramics and this is still some amazing stuff even after whatever they liquidated earlier. I bet a lot of people will be interested in that.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I love Hull. That must have been an awesome collection.
      Some folks just have a knack for collecting up interesting unique things.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        They had stuff that was never sold. Seems some of the people who worked at Hull would take damaged pieces, cut off the bases and turn them into ashtrays. Experimental patterns and colors, stuff like that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh wow. Very interesting stuff. I love Hull colors, I can pick out a piece of Hull just on color alone. The way they used color just made a strong impression on me. I think they were kind of ahead of their times in that regard.

  17. bibliovore*

    Checking in . Mindful of the work/life balance. Doing no work over the weekend. Went to the farmers market . Laundry. Catching up. Will read a book or two. State fair tomorrow with the family.
    Ate a chestnut crab apple for the first time. Really tasty. Just how I like an apple.

  18. Trixie*

    Those familiar with Prezi and Powerpoint, which formats work better to create a homemade “Pyramid” board game? (You have 30 seconds to guess seven words.)

    1. fposte*

      I think they’ve been more on the lines of “Hey, do you two want to have a drink in Chicago?” than a big group thing, but I know people from AAM have met up with one another.

    2. Mimmy*

      I think there have been a few small meet-ups over the years. There used to be a LinkedIn group where meet-ups would be discussed.

    3. Floundering Mander*

      I was thinking of suggesting a North East England one after the “pet” thread. There are more of us connected to this area than I would have thought!

  19. Going anon*

    How do you self care after a breakup? My four-year relationship very recently ended. I’m devastated but also really struggling with allowing myself to feel the depth of this. I’ve gone there a bit but don’t want to spiral.

    Not sure it matters, but it was mutual in that neither of us wanted to end but both agree it’s the best thing in the long run.

    Have reached out to several friends and have some amazing support, and am proud of myself for doing that instead of isolating myself which is my usual MO.

    Anyway, any advice is appreciated.

    1. LG*

      I think reaching out to friends is one of the most important things, which you’ve already done. Good for you, especially since it sounds like it is the best but not the easiest option for you!

      Also, when you are having a big emotional thing to deal with, I think lowering expectations on everything else in your life can be helpful–like, you need to get certain things done, but maybe you don’t run as many errands, or expect to cook as many meals (good time to get some pre-made food so you can have food without worrying about it)…and just build in some time to chill or be sad or read or watch a movie.

      I have also found reading books that are totally not related to my real life is particularly helpful during hard times, because they are such a good escape. Have you read the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik? They are about the Napoleonic wars are are sort of historical fiction…except with dragons. Very engaging and charming and depending on what you like to read, might be a good distraction.

      Hang in there!

      1. Going anon*

        Thanks for this- I have been trying to tackle a list of projects and I think I just need to let myself go for a walk or have a nap.

        Having a hard time enjoying reading (’cause I end up thinking instead) but I like the idea of trying something outside my usual genre.

      2. Gingerblue*

        Another vote for escaping into fictional worlds here. I’ve never had a breakup, but I’m dealing with moving stress and loneliness by playing a bunch of immersive video games right now. It’s nice to be able to get out of my own head and forget what’s bothering me for a bit.

    2. Candy*

      My last break-up was instigated by me so maybe not quite the same situation as you, but I still felt some lingering sadness and shock. Decorating the new little studio apartment I moved into after I left him was the best way to immediately deal. It kept me busy and the joy of having everything exactly the way I wanted it was immense.

      After I was settled I started making a list of things I wanted to do that I wasn’t able to do with my ex for whatever reason. One thing on my list was huge (take a year off and travel, which I did and ended up meeting my husband) but most things were small — brunch with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, weekend bike rides to the beach, trying out new restaurants, after work visits to the art gallery. Even the happiest relationships can hold you back from doing some things you really want to do, because your partner doesn’t like bike riding or you have someone waiting for you at home so you can’t stop and shop after work, or they’d rather go to the taco place than the sushi place you really want to try, etc. So I found really embracing those things helped a lot

    3. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

      I read TONS of Captain Awkward (she has a million posts about breaking up being good for you) and made myself breakup playlists which played the crap out of (ie when feeling sad, when needing a lift, when celebrating life, etc). I watched a lot of sad relationship videos on YouTube and cried. (There’s a great one by LeendaDProductions called “I am Not Over You” about how even though you know a relationship isn’t meant to be it’s still hard to let go, link in reply) Whenever I felt sad, I let myself feel it before moving forward instead of just trying to get over it as fast as possible. After all, no matter how amicable the breakup, you most likely are still grieving over something: loss of dreams, loss of a future together, etc.

      I second doing/eating stuff that your ex wouldn’t have liked. Spend lots of gentle time on yourself. You get to be your own priority again! I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know myself again. You can be your own best friend and cheerleader; after all, no matter what, you’ll be living with yourself for the rest of your life.

      1. Going anon*

        These are all really great suggestions. I need more music in my life for sure- what websites/program do you use to make your playlists? Any suggestions for tracks?

        Thanks for linking video- it was incredibly sad and really spot on. It’s helpful to remember I’m not the first person to feel these feelings. I’m definitely grieving the future wanted and thought I would have. I think I’m also grieving that I’m inevitably going to have to start over again at some point and never thought I would *at this age.*

        1. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

          I know this reply is kinda late, hopefully you’ll still see this!

          My first few playlists I just had a Google Sheet where I pasted links to songs on YouTube. For each song, I included the following info:
          – song title
          – M/F voices (sometimes I couldn’t stand hearing M voices)
          – the mood it inspires/why I chose the song

          I also use Spotify to build playlists. The cool thing about Spotify is once it gets to the end of the playlist it’ll keep playing other songs it thinks you’ll like based on your playlist.

          I have TONS of songs I’m happy to share :) I’m going to try to stick with empowering/moving on songs and not so much “my ex sucks” songs (I did not have an amicable breakup).

          “Part of Me” Katy Perry (F)
          “Mr. Almost” Meghan Trainor (F)
          “Gonna Get Over You” Sara Bareilles (F)
          “Woman Up” Meghan Trainor (F)
          “No Place I’d Rather Be” Pentatonix (mostly F, some M)
          “Sexy and I Know It” Glee Cast version (M)
          “Pretty Girl” Maggie Lindemann, Cheat Codes x Cade Remix (F)
          “Most Girls” Hailee Steinfeld (F)
          “I’m Still Standing” EVERY VERSION :)
          “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” Carly Rae Jepsen (F)
          “Overcomer” Mandisa (F)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think wading in or systematically allowing yourself periods to grief is a good solid plan. I am not sure that we ever totally “get over” parting ways with someone. In the future, it could be that we look back on the relationship with warmth and a kind of melancholy, both emotions at the same time. But I don’t think the sadness ever fully leaves and I don’t think it is supposed to either.

      1. Windchime*

        This is how I feel about breakups/loss, too. To me, it’s like a wound or even an amputation. Yes, it eventually heals over but there will always be a scar or a piece of me missing. I’ll become accustomed to it but I’m really not ever going to be the same again. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s sad, but that’s how it works for me. I had a particularly sad/difficult breakup when I was 17 and my heart still jumps when I think of him. I will never truly be over him completely.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I tell myself if people had NO impact on us, then what would be the point of anything? I think allowing our past relationships to shape us in positive ways is a good use of the grief from the loss.
          Much easier said than ever done though.

    5. Going anon*

      A few more thoughts I would love feedback on if anyone has ideas:

      – I have some serious boundaries with my family (immediate parents and siblings). How do I break the news so that I don’t invite a conversation or any overstepping on their side?

      – My partner was a huge part of what made interacting with family okay (this had nothing to do with breakup fwiw). How do I continue on my own here without that buffer? Cutting away completely isn’t an option.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A distant cousin, told her family that “The relationship is over. I am moving on. No, you cannot ask questions and no, there will be NO discussion of this.” It shut that down totally.

        Set limits according to calendar and time. For example, 1 day a week for an hour. Fill up your days with things you want to do, so it is easier to end a phone call or a visit. “Love to chat but I have a meeting with my New Volunteer Group, so I have to run!”

        1. Going anon*

          Thanks for this- I like the idea to have something legitimate to need to leave a phone call or visit for.

      2. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

        Seconding Not So New Reader’s advice of being direct along the lines of “it’s over, I don’t want to talk about it, there will be no further discussion on this matter.” I also recommend learning to be okay with hanging up/leaving/otherwise ending the interaction when your boundaries are not respected. (Captain Awkward also has tons of good advice on pushy family relationships that you can’t cut off) If that is too difficult, then I would advise responding with something like “I said I don’t want to talk about it, [subject change].” or “Hmm, I’ll think about that, [subject change].” Basically just be as boring as possible and change the subject. Repeatedly. Never ever give them any gossipy crumbs. Your relatives will hopefully learn that they can’t get anywhere.

    6. Thlayli*

      I was always a big believer in the old adage that the best way to get over a man is to get under another one. [or woman depending on your sexuality]. Works for me. But that’s not for everybody. Some people would find it upsetting.

      Other than that go out, see your friends and family, lie in bed and watch movies till 3am, do all the things you felt like you couldn’t do because it would affect your ex.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        By extension, “getting over” someone can be just seeing that life continues on. Some losses makes it feel like the world stopped revolving. But it doesn’t. Ironically, that can be annoying and comforting all in the same stroke.

    7. Foreign Octopus*

      Finding a way to keep busy in the evenings.

      As most people know, I’m not a relationship expert but my older brother recently went through a breakup after four years and he told me that the hardest part was the evenings. He kept expecting her to walk in through the front door, or hear her pottering about in the kitchen. He’s had to find ways to occupy himself in the evening and eventually it gets easier for him that way.

  20. Laurin Kelly (formerly Belly Dancing Romance Writing Anon)*

    My second book finally has a release date! From Blood to Roses will be released by Less Than Three Press on November 1st, 2017. It’s much darker and gritty compared to my first book Under the Knife, so I’m a little nervous about how it will be received by readers who have only experienced the fluffy side of my writing. Fingers crossed!

    I’m also working on the final chapter of my third book, Gravity, and hope to submit that one by the end of October.

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Glorious! I will have to grab it and gobble it right up! And congratulations to you on publishing your second book!

  21. Purple snowdrop*

    Divorced folks! I have two questions, and they may or may not be relevant to you. Feel free to just answer one (or neither, clearly!).
    1) tell me how you broke the news. I have a clear picture of what needs doing before I tell him, and I know what happens after. But how the fickety fick do I tell the emotionally abusive spouse that we’re done, we’re not going for counselling or anything, and he’ll be moving out?? (I have legal people on board who tell me this is do-able but not going into why because it’d be too identifiable so please do take my word for it :-/ )
    I’ve got as far as a) not at home, b) someone sympathetic and burly nearby but out of view in case… just in case… and c) warning that bad news is coming. But I can’t imagine the confrontation (he’ll make it into a confrontation whether I do or not) and I feel sick when I try to.

    2) did you change surnames? Guessing this is mostly relevant to the women but maybe men too? How did you decide?

    Thanks all.

    1. I am still Furious*

      I’m not divorced yet (see my post above), but what I’m planning to do is leave for work one morning and have papers served by our township’s constable after I leave. That’s how my future ex husband is going to find out about this. When he calls me at work, and I know he will, I’m going to tell him that any future communication needs to be done from his attorney to my attorney. I’m also going to tell him that I’m not at my mother’s house, and not to bother her. Then I’m blocking his number. Sadly, I will have to go back to the house for a few things…like my desktop computer and Comcast equipment (in my name) and probably some clothes. I asked if he could be made to leave the house while I do that, and was told no, but if he harasses me, I can get a restraining order. That made me laugh, and I said, oh, yeah, that piece of paper that men walk through. Great.

      Personally, I wouldn’t warn your spouse that bad news is coming. He’ll figure it out when the process server hands him the paperwork. Keep the burly person handy. I’d also find a locksmith to change the locks the minute he’s out of there.

      And I am going to change my name back to my maiden name, despite all the paperwork crapstorm that will follow. I don’t want any association with him ever again.

      Good luck with this, and hugs. All of this is so hard.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        Oh no believe me I won’t be warning him. I hope he’ll stay civil, and I’m planning to stay as civil as possible, but I’m planning to protect myself as I’m anticipating a shitstorm of badness. The more warning he has the less protection I have :(

        1. Purple snowdrop*

          Oh when I say warning him I mean saying “I’m coming to you now to tell you some bad news” so literally 5 mins warning and he won’t suspect based on that (because why would I ever leave?!?!??)

        2. I am still Furious*

          I’m anticipating a shitstorm too, Purple snowdrop, because Mr. lives like 10 grasshoppers to my 1 ant is going to get a rude awakening, and I do worry he will lash out in frustration. Won’t go into detail, but I’m prepared.

          1. Purple snowdrop*

            It helps knowing you’re going through a totally-different-but-also-similar situation. I hope you can be done soon.

        3. Purple snowdrop*

          I really hope the burly person I have in mind a) doesn’t mind doing this for me (I can’t mention what’s going on yet but have reason to believe he’ll be on board) and b) doesn’t need to intervene. But if I forget how to call the cops* it’ll be good to have backup.

          *I’m aware that this happens. I do rehearse emergency call making every so often but haven’t in a while actually, i should do it regularly for the next few weeks/months/years….

      2. ..Kat..*

        Can the computer be not “working?” And therefore you need to take it to “Staples” or “Office Max” or some other place that repairs computers?

        Or maybe you are dropping off the Comcast equipment because they are going to upgrade it?

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Is there any possibility that you can move out instead? That would probably be safer. You go and leave behind a letter.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        I wish. It would prolong things massively :( I’ll be moving as soon as possible after all’s done and dusted though. (Although not holding my breath….)

    3. Myrin*

      I’m a child of divorced parents, I hope it’s okay if I answer, too! They got divorced more than ten years ago.

      1) I don’t know the full story but I know that things between my parents haven’t been good for a long time. In fact, my mum always says that there were warning signs even before I was born (and I was 16 when they got divorced!) that maybe she shouldn’t marry my father. But even apart from that, it hasn’t been going well for like two years or so before the divorce. But then apparently my father said one day, out of the blue “It’s better we separate” and my mum was like “WTH??”. I mean, props to him for being so straightforward but she’s still super annoyed by that. So I feel like your c) is a good point although there wasn’t any abuse with my parents and I honestly don’t really now how you want to warn for something like that without coming right out and just saying it but I’m assuming you have an idea already!

      2) My mum took her maiden name again. She’d actually never changed her name but had it hyphenated but she’s actually always hated that. She also hated that we (my sister and I) don’t have her name but she thought she would “let him have that” because she could handle it better if her kids don’t have her name than he could (see above re: warning signs from early on that this was a weird relationship). So, yeah, she’d just always felt very strongly about her name and was super glad to finally take it back completely.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        Of course! Thank you :)
        You’re German right? That sounds like such a German way for your dad to say it :)
        My husband has been emotionally abusive for like 20 years and I only noticed in May :-/
        Re 2) – thanks, that’s good to hear.

        1. Myrin*

          I am indeed! And yeah, he literally said “Es ist besser, wir trennen uns.” and I didn’t really now how to translate that perfectly so I just went the literal route.

          I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m in a bit of a “packing stuff that’s just been lying around into boxes and stacking those in the garage” situation right now and come across my old diaries today. I skimmed through one and read something about my abusive “best friend” I had when I was 13-15. And I promptly got annoyed with both her and myself again because I’d only realised that she’s been emotionally abusive after we “broke up”. Like, past self, maybe you could’ve caught onto that a little sooner and not just continued to be “friends” with her after you found a horrible letter she wrote about you to another friend and treated you like crap 90% of the time??

          1. Purple snowdrop*

            I have a relative in a German speaking country who sometimes comes out with tortuous sentences where the word order is totally wrong in English but would be perfect auf Deutsch :) always makes me chuckle!

            I hope you can be kind to yourself about your “friend”. It’s expecting a lot of a teenager to spot emotional abuse. Hell it took me 15+ years to notice re my spouse. Hugs if you want them.

    4. neverjaunty*

      You know it’s going to be a confrontation, so just do it and don’t worry about explanations: “this is my decision. I am not going to debate this and it is final.” DO NOT get sucked into debate!

    5. Paula, with Two Kids*

      1) I tried to let the server break the news, but he could not reach my ex, and my ex found out through the county’s website that I had filed. Awkward! Also a verbally (not physically) abusive person. Please make sure you have a copy of every financial document that might be necessary, located at your workplace or another place that your ex cannot reach before you let him know. Have a bugout plan for if things esacalate.

      2) I definitely changed my surname. I answer to the previous names at the school for my teenage daughter’s sake, but the name is detestable to me.

    6. Anono-me*

      In many places you can get a police escort when dealing with a domestic situation that has the potential to escalate into a police call. Your local abused adult resource center probably will also have suggestions.

      Alternatively, I had a weird feeling, so I once decided to end a dating relationship at a local restaurant where and when I knew police officers met for lunch.

    7. rj*

      I would seek out legal advice because it sounds like in your situation a lawyer may be helpful, especially with the chance of confrontation.
      Someone (actually two people) just changed their names back due to divorce. One of them sounds a lot like you – the husband was not a good person and so she changed everything ASAP. The other person has kids, and had hyphenated her name, and she seemed to take longer to decide to change her name. Absolutely everyone is supportive in the workplace, and, just as when people change their names upon marriage, trying their best to remember the new surname.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        Yeah I need to go back to my lawyer but also categorise and prioritise first! It’s gonna be expensive :(

        1. rj*

          :( so true. If you can prioritize things, and go in prepared to meet with your lawyer, hopefully they can bill for fewer hours.

  22. katamia*

    What weird educational gaps did your education leave you with, things that most people seem to have learned in school that you never did? What did you learn in school that most people seem to not have?

    My answer in the comments.

    1. katamia*

      Mine is much of European history except where it intersected with US history, and even then, because my US history teacher didn’t care much about battles/military stuff, he glossed over much of WWI and WWII. (Exception: French history because I took French in school and got it in French. It was awkward how long it took me to figure out Eleanor of Aquitaine and Aliénor d’Aquitaine were the same person.) But other than that, much of what I know is just what was gleaned from popular culture (and therefore may or may not be accurate).

      OTOH, I got a much better than average (which doesn’t mean it was great, just better than what a lot of people seem to have gotten) of Asian history/culture in school. We also had a lot of interesting science classes, like I got to take marine biology in high school.

      1. LG*

        I feel like my history (and art history) classes always ran out of time during recent history. Like, we’d maybe get to the 1950’s and then everything else would be rushed into the last day of class. So I sometimes feel like I know the least about the times that are recent-ish but before I was actually alive.

        1. KR*

          I feel the same way. I almost feel like it’s because the people who are developing the curriculum lived through most recent history and feel it should be obvious. I didn’t know know a lot of recent events in history from say, the seventies on, until I got older and watched a lot of documentaries.

          1. Courtney*

            There’s probably something to this – I was doing some observations in a high school last month and found myself shocked by the fact that 9/11 was history to them and something they nssssd to learn about. When I think about their ages, duh, it should be obvious, but it just doesn’t feel that way.

        2. Dr. KMnO4*

          I agree! I was going to say the same thing. I feel like I barely know anything about the ’60s through the ’80s.

        3. katamia*

          Yeah, I know the feeling. I’d heard people mention Iran Contra before, but I didn’t actually know what it was before I saw the American Dad episode that explained it, lol. I always got the sense that for my teachers it was more about running out of time at the end of the year than an active choice not to teach it, but I don’t think a lot of my classes had syllabi (or at least they didn’t have syllabi I ever looked at), so maybe they were scheduled to stop in the 60s/sort of the 70s (I took a journalism class and got Nixon there, not sure if we ever covered it in official history classes).

    2. New Bee*

      I graduated high school 10 years ago and took typing (it was a graduation requirement). None of my similarly-aged friends learned to type in school.

      1. Mimmy*

        I remember being in a typing class in, I think, middle school back in the ’80s. I’m glad that it’s still being taught.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I never learned it in school, though there was a class. I didn’t take it–I wish I had, because they also learned shorthand and that would have helped me take notes in college. I learned it much later, from Mavis Beacon software, in an adult skills class when I lived in Santa Cruz. My typing speed remained somewhat slow until I joined my chat room, where I had to type much faster or be left hopelessly behind on the conversation.

      3. katamia*

        Oh, wow. I’m only a few years older than you, and while we did have typing classes offered in my high school (and I know they took us to the computer lab in elementary school to play typing games/learn how to type), it definitely wasn’t a graduation requirement. Do you feel like it’s helped you?

        1. New Bee*

          I’d say so. I think it made writing papers in college easier. I was especially appreciative when I taught high school and saw how long it took my students to type a paragraph.

      4. Woman of a Certain Age*

        I graduated high school 40 years ago and took typing (it was a graduation requirement, even for boys). Our high school was considered VERY progressive for the time. I just assumed that everyone took “keyboarding” now-a-days.

    3. Mrs. Fenris*

      There was a brief window of time during which my state did not require a foreign language in high school. The time I was in high school. So I’ve never had a single foreign language class. And it sucks because I always thought I’d be good at languages. (We did have one foreign language offered…French, taught by a guy who could write French but I don’t believe was fluent in spoken French, and was a self-important weirdo. I said no thanks.)

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        You can be good at languages! Trust me, anyone can learn them at any age. My parents became fluent in Spanish in their fifties after a lifetime of monolingualism. It’s a fantastic thing to do and a brilliant way to exercise your mind!

        It’s never too late :)

    4. Chris*

      My american history class in 7th grade didn’t make it past the civil war (in fact, we didn’t even finish that!)
      That was the only year my school taught american history. That has been a weird educational gap that I have tried to fill myself which still annoys me to this day and 7th grade was about 20 years ago-I’m still annoyed!

    5. Uncivil Engineer*

      I have a gap in knowledge when it comes to history after WW2. All my history teachers seemed to start the year at the beginning of time and so, by the end of the school year, we had never made it past that.

      On the other hand, I had a history teacher who taught an entire section on Islam that took several months. It was not a religion class and the other major religions were not taught. That knowledge came in handy many, many years later.

    6. MsChanandlerBong*

      We never covered WWI, WWII, Vietnam, the Korean War, the Holocaust, or anything other than the Pilgrims, the American Revolution, and the Civil War. At my high school, you only had to take three social-studies classes. You could sub a year of economics for one of those classes, though, so I only took two. In junior high, we learned about Greek mythology and the Peloponnesian War and whatnot, which was interesting, but I wish we’d learn about things that are more applicable to modern life (e.g. Constitutional amendments, government, etc.). I only knew about the Holocaust because we read the Diary of Anne Frank in my eighth-grade lit class.

      1. Meniere's Disease*

        How did you not cover the Holocaust when it was basically the direct cause of WW2? That teacher failed.

        (For the nitpickers, I simplified.)

    7. Effie, moving forward without self judgement*

      I remember in high school when our teacher wrote on the board that we would be covering slavery and why (forgive me if my terminology is incorrect) racism against black people is so entrenched in US culture and somehow his class never did answer that question. I had to do research myself outside of school and I still feel like it’s not a subject I am qualified to talk about and am still learning about all the time.

    8. HannahS*

      In Ontario, grade 10 history covers from about 1900-present day. My high school textbook ended in the 80s, because that’s how old it was…and I was in grade 10 in 2008. So the last prime minister I learned about was Brian Mulroney; no Campbell, Chretien, Martin, or Harper! I didn’t study the creation of Nunavut (one of the three northern territories)! No learning about the ’95 Quebec referendum! It was truly ridiculous.

      Other than that, I have to say that my education was truly excellent.

      1. Mela*

        My social studies book also was inappropriately old! It referenced the Soviet Union and this was in 2003!

    9. Zip Zap*

      I’m kind of bitter about this. I had bad test anxiety when I was in high school so I did horribly in my test-based classes and never advanced. I flunked out of Chemistry and never got to take Physics. But I really enjoyed the material! I learned a lot and still remember most of it. I love science, but I still don’t test very well for some reason. I’m a lot better at coming up with new ideas, applying my knowledge, and writing about it than taking multiple choice tests. So I’m a life long science fan and I can’t work as a scientist. I read text books for fun.

      I also never got to take art. My family was against it. Not happy about that either.

      But I got to take extra foreign languages. I’m one of those people who picks up languages quickly. Test anxiety wasn’t an issue because the subject matter was easy for me.

      I also have a lot of random skills and knowledge that would be more useful in pre-industrial times. I’m knowledgeable about “survival”, I guess. How to grow food, raise animals, cook over an open fire, etc. I didn’t learn any of that from school, though.

    10. Mela*

      I never learned how to do long division by hand. One year I moved and it was taught in the next year at the first school and the previous year at the next school. Never needed it though!

    11. Floundering Mander*

      The US Civil War. For some reason every year in history class we’d either end the year right before it, with “you’ll learn all about that next year” or start with “you heard all about it last year, so let’s start with the aftermath”.

    12. Saturnalia*

      I am positive that I have huge historical gaps due to the way textbooks in conservative areas whitewash history. I’m trying to fix this as an adult.

      The unusual part of my education probably came from having a rec center next to the school. For P.E. I had ice skating (hockey+figure skating), swimming, and dance as options. We also got basic ski instructions in the winter. When I had to do actual P.E. in high school, I failed so hard at normal sports (and did not handle teasing well) that I had to make up 2 years of P.E. in summer school before I could graduate. I was able to do hackey sack to pass that, so all was well.

    13. Pathfinder Ryder*

      History’s an option in New Zealand schools which I didn’t take, to the continued surprise of my foreign educated friends and family who had to do history. (Social studies covered a few things like the Treaty of Waitangi, women’s suffrage, and where Māori people came from, repeatedly.)

  23. CatCat*

    Heat wave means we have to do indoor activities this weekend. I am going to work on some candle projects. I will be working with paraffin wax for the first time and want to make an “ice candle” since they look cool (even though it will be messy when it burns). You put ice in your mold and then pour the wax into the mold and it makes a candle with interesting holes in it. I might make one with the holes and then make another one where I pour a second batch of wax in with a different color to fill the holes. I think it will be a fun project!

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Post a pic when you’re done. :-)

      Yes to indoor activities. I rearranged all my kitchen drawers and will move on to organizingredients and

      1. Victoria, Please*

        Post a pic when you’re done. :-)

        Yes to indoor activities. I rearranged all my kitchen drawers and will move on to organizing and labeling photos.

  24. Rach*

    My boyfriend of 4 years is moving abroad tomorrow and so we are going long distance for the second time in our relationship. Last time I didn’t deal well with it, even though we could be in contact over skype/messages a lot. This time Skype won’t be an option, and messages will be infrequent.

    To add to the challenge, tomorrow I’m moving into a new flat and then starting a new job next week so I won’t be in a comfortable familiar environment at all.

    Any advice on how to negotiate this/to help me cope with it a bit better this time, both in the immediate aftermath of him leaving and in the long term?

    1. Beatrice3*

      I know everyone gives this advice, but it worked for me. One thing that really helped me, in addition to having a known end date, was committing HARD to cultivating my own interests and friendships. I still missed my partner, but I tried to use the extra time I had while we were apart to invite my friends over, do classwork, go to art exhibits/talks/concerts or even just for walks outside. I think the fact that you’re starting a new job will be really helpful to you in terms of staying busy and feeling like you’re working on your own life. You might also spend some time on decorating your flat the way you like it, and making it as cozy and home-y as possible.

      If you can, write sweet snail mail letters to each other. It also might be good to invest in *ahem* a new personal device that looks interesting to you.

    2. Mela*

      You’ve probably heard a lot of the traditional advice, but the polyamory world actually has some great advice too, and it’s still super applicable for monogamous relationships. Check out the Multiamory podcast on Long Distance Relationships, link in my name.

    3. Candy*

      My husband and I have been apart now for almost a year. It’s HARD. But you have to keep living your life. Try to avoid feeling like you have to put your life on hold until he’s back. For a long time I’d wish that I could just be put in a coma until we were together again, but that’s not healthy and being sad all the time when I spoke to him just made him sad, and put us in a depressive spiral. It may seem counterintuitive but going out and doing things will actually help you both get through this. Neither of you will worry about the other being alone and depressed and you’ll both have fun stories to tell each other of the stuff that you’re doing.

      And make a list of things you want to do that you can’t do with him. Does he hate sushi? Go out and try all the little sushi places in your city. Does he hate Law & Order? Binge watch all that shit. Make a list of things you want to do before he comes back AND THEN DO THEM.

  25. LNZ*

    So i had my gallbladder out thursday and i woke up in recovery to a nurse pulling a blanket up to my shoulder and going sweetie we talked about this. Apparently i decided i needed to be naked multiple times while i was coming back up from anastasia. I also kept asking the same questions over and over again.

    1. Gallbladderless Anonymous*

      Coming out of anesthesia is weird. After my surgery I thought I was a puffer fish.

      1. LNZ*

        Thats amazing. As far as i can tell i would just start pulling the blankets down to expose myself and nurse would pull it back up and be like nope cant get naked now and i would stop for a bit before trying to strip again.

      2. Anion*

        I thought they were having a party in the recovery room. Like, I really thought I heard people cheering and laughing and singing very loudly, and got really upset.

    2. Pieforbreakfast*

      My senior year nursing clinical was in post-op. Your experience doesn’t sound unusual, and actually is a more positive one. I remembering needing help with patients trying to get up and out of the bed as I would physically be wrestling with them. Also, people’s filters were off so there were a lot of inappropriate comments I’m sure the person would be embarrassed to know they said in public.

      1. LNZ*

        See every nurse mentioned multiple times how sweet or nice i was so i kinda really want to know what i said. Without my filter was i just complimenting everyone i saw?

        1. Jen*

          Without my filter I apparently call everyone ma’am and sir, it really upset the women nurses one time when I was coming out of surgery

          1. Pieforbreakfast*

            I had a patient respond “Yes Lieutenant” to every question I asked. When he was more with it I asked if he was in the military and he told me he had been playing the best game of Call of Duty that he’d ever had.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m told I talk a lot when coming out of anesthesia. I did this when I had both my gallbladder and my wisdom teeth out. It’s not intelligible for the most part, and I don’t remember any of it.
      Yay for getting rid of a non-functioning or malfunctioning gallbladder. Contrary little buggers, aren’t they?

    4. Hrovitnir*

      Haha, that’s great. When I had my appendix out I woke up fairly rapidly and remember very clearly looking at the clock for a long minute, then thinking “that wasn’t 20 minutes!” (It was 3 hours – turned out it was near to perforating so no keyhole for me.)

    5. miyeritari*

      my boyfriend was picking me up from when i went under from a surgery. apparently i said some messed up stuff, but he told me he was never going to tell me what it was. we’re separated now, but i still think about it. he probably doesn’t remember though. alas!

      1. Ellie*

        When I came to after having my wisdom teeth removed, I started conversing entirely in Spanish. The nurses thought this was normal and responded in Spanish and were, like me, irritated that my ex-husband couldn’t follow the conversation and act accordingly.

        Why is this unique? I’m ‘Anglo’ – only English was spoken in my home as a child, and I grew up in a rural area where only English was spoken. (I mean middle of nowhere- think driving 30 minutes to get groceries, and everyone is related to everyone.)

        However, in college, my roomie was from Mexico City, and many of our mutual friends were also of Latinx heritage/bilingual, so I got used to conversations being in English and Spanish simultaneously, with folks understanding both and speaking in whichever they felt most comfortable in. Apparently, under the influence, my affective filter disappears and I can actually speak what I’ve learned . . . fluently. Go figure.

    6. Mischa*

      Last time I went under for anaesthesia was for wisdom teeth removal my freshman year of college. I remember trying to bite the nurse (yep) and then grabbing my tongue with my fingers while asking, “Is this real!? Is this my tongue!? HOW IS THIS MY TONGUE?!” The nurses didn’t really like me, and I can’t say that I blame them.

      1. Bibliovore*

        When I came out of anesthesia from major surgery- 8 hours. My husband reported that I spent the first hour that they let him see me repeating over and over- ” I respectfully request more pain medication”

  26. Gaia*

    I’m posting something here that I’ve never told anyone.

    I weight 327.7 lbs. I mean, sure people know I am a large person but most people would never assume I’m over 300lbs I’m 5’4 and while I have no delusions that I look slim I will say that the way I hold my weight probably puts people’s assumptions in the mid 200s.

    I’ve been lucky. I’m in my early 30s and have never had any health issues related to weight. I am nowhere near diabetic. My cholesterol is great (doctors says it would be good even if I wasn’t overweight – he’s flummoxed!). My pulse is a bit high but it always was even as a kid when I was a healthy weight and my blood pressure is usually around 124-130/75-80.

    And then, a week ago, I got a slap in the face. I need minor surgery to correct a small bone spur on my shoulder that causes me a lot of pain and aggravation. The best surgeon in the state flat out refused to do the surgery until I lose weight because of the risk of putting me under anesthesia. I’ve never had my weight impact my quality of life like this before and I think it might have been the wake up call I needed that while I’m healthy now, that may not always be the case if I don’t change something.

    I’ve tried losing weight before but never had real success. I have a tendency to crave crap (soda, candy, burgers fries, etc). Between that and a work life that leaves me highly stressed (I’m a stress eater, for sure) and lacking the energy to exercise (because I eat poorly and don’t sleep enough) diets have not been my friend.

    Yesterday, my primary care doctor prescribed me phentermine for 3 months (1 month, followed by a weigh in to show loss, and then she’ll give me another 2 months – max). I’m nervous about taking this but so far today I feel okay. A bit sharper focused, a little less tired and NO cravings. I even saw an ad for my favorite fast food place which normally would have sent me out the door for a burger and I thought “meh, I’m not really hungry.”

    Is this what normal eating habits feels like? You see something you’d like but then don’t eat it because you aren’t hungry?

    I will post regular updates here because I can’t talk to anyone else about this. My best friend is sympathetic but she’s tall and thin and gorgeous and while she never makes me feel bad about my weight, she really cannot understand my struggle. My family all just tell me to eat less and exercise more (as if it were that easy and as if I don’t want to do that!). I hope you don’t mind. I need a place to keep me a bit accountable. Lack of accountability is how I got here.

    1. Michelle the Teacher*

      Hi there!

      If it’s ok, I’m going to share something with you.

      I’m 5’5″, and I weigh just over 340 pounds. I’ve started tracking all my food and exercising, except for last week when I was exhausted all week and didn’t. So…back on the wagon. I have trouble managing my food intake; I can’t tell (for example) what’s 5 ounces and what’s not, either by looking at it or holding it in my hand. I have to force – FORCE – myself to exercise, I hate it, even when people say, oh, soon you’ll crave exercise! NOPE. I can’t walk a mile without stopping. I’ve gotten to the point where I may only have to stop once or twice; this is an improvement.

      I got you on this one. I get it.

      If you want, ONLY if you want to, if you want to e-mail me for support, I’d love it. My name is Michelle (michelleszetela@gmail.com).

      1. Gaia*

        Thanks! I find tracking to be really difficult, not at all rewarding and (honestly) it makes me feel a bit like a child. I don’t care for it but I know it is important so I’m going to try it again.

        I also cannot judge serving sizes at all. A heaping bowl of pasta? Sure, that’s probably one serving! Ha! And I’m right there with you that when people tell me that soon I’ll love exercise I just stare at them. I don’t love it. I hate it. It doesn’t make me feel good or accomplished. I get no high. You know what gives me a high? Eating. Bah.

        We got this, Michelle. Thanks for all your support and I hope I can support you too!

        1. TeacherNerd*

          Yeah, the food tracking kinda sucks; I also dislike it. But I do it anyway because of something similar to what you mentioned: What constitutes a serving? (Like, pasta is delicious, and so is ice cream, but who only eats half a cup of ice cream? NO ONE. Don’t anyone tell me differently. If you claim to eat only half a cup of ice cream, go take a flying leap at yourself.) :-) I can’t just stop eating when I’m full because most of the time my stomach doesn’t growl or otherwise let me know. (It’s right up there with telling someone who wants to quit smoking to just no smoke. Durp.)

          1. Gaia*

            You bring up something I’ve gotten so irritated with. Telling people who have issues with food control to stop eating so much (or stop eating thing X which is bad for you, etc) is a lot like telling someone who smokes to just stop or someone who drinks too much to just stop or someone who uses meth to just stop. I wish people realized that food can be addictive, and just as addictive and hard to control as drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Can some people who abuse all of these things just decide to change and have no issue getting it in control? Sure! Some people can. But they are like freaking four leaf clovers. They exist but not all that common.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              This is very true. And people think just dealing with the weight itself will solve the problem–no. You have to deal with the reasons / issues WHY you eat the extra food, or the specific food, or whatever. Otherwise, it’s too easy to go back to doing it when the problem doesn’t go away.

              Not obese, but I’m a tobacco addict. I tried to quit a bunch of times, but when things got hard, I went right back to my drug. I had to make a big change mentally in order to quit for good, and I did have to have medical help to do it (a Chantix prescription). I cannot ever just smoke casually; I’d be right back on it. It’s a permanent lifestyle change. So I can also never be with a partner who smokes. That is a huge deal breaker.

              And I also have to force myself to exercise, although the more you do it, the easier it gets because 1) you get used to doing it, and 2) if you skip, you feel like SHIT.

            2. LaterKate*

              Another thing about food addiction…with most (maybe all?) other addictions, you can go cold turkey. It still won’t be easy, but you can completely cut that addiction out of your life. But you have to eat. So to control a food addiction, you have to keep using the substance that you are addicted to, every single day, but try to have only the right amount, not too much. Can you imagine telling a heroin user “just use a small amount each day, every day, for the rest of your life, but no more than that small amount. Oh, and to make it even more difficult, that amount is different for every person.”
              And, of course, so many people think food addiction isn’t real. As if every overweight person is lazy and gluttonous, and there clearly can’t be any other reason for it.
              Ugh! Best of luck to you, and i know I would love it if you continue to check in.

          2. portion size*

            What really helped me was to get to the portion size more naturally. I decided I could eat as much lettuce or spinach salad (just a small drizzle of olive oil for dressing) and used that to get that full feeling since I could not stop eating sooner or if I did, I’d have this horrible feeling of hunger and wanting to eat but not being “allowed” to [that used to send me straight to a binge]. Over time, I was able to feel full earlier, because I could really eat the whole thing, so it was my decision to stop. The other thing in tandem was to make a deal that I would let myself eat if I felt hungry later, I had to trust that would happen so I could let myself stop when I started to feel full. It was super hard, and took time, but I’ve really shrunk how much I eat at each meal, I don’t even think I could eat as much as I used to.

            1. Saturnalia*

              Or half cup ice cream, half cup sauce!

              But mostly I’m buying those Ben & Jerry’s pints and destroying them. So glad they make vegan ice cream now. I still gotta try the vegan haagen dazs.

              Sorry for derail. Just ice cream is kind of my uncontrollable thing. I applaud the advice to stop telling people to “just stop” the thing that they struggle with. Assuming that others see the world and can react to it like yourself is a surefire way to alienate those different than you. Varied tapestry, and all that.

        2. Chameleon*

          A food scale helped me with this part but was also really frustrating. Like, I was already limiting myself to “one serving” as in about a quarter size. Then I actually weighed it and what I thought was one serving was actually two. Damn!

        3. Observer*

          Food tracking stinks. I do find that having the app on my phone makes it a bit easier as I can do it here and there, so to speak.

          Also, I find that when I do things by number, volume or weight, I’m much more likely to be somewhat accurate. I say somewhat because I don’t measure PRECISELY, but I know that half a 16 oz bag of x is 8 ounces, etc. And I work from there.

          Lots of luck. Losing weight is a LOT harder than a lot of people realize.

    2. CatCat*

      Please post updates! I have struggled with my weight my entire adult life. I wish you success on your journey!

      I also tend to be an emotional eater and kind of a self-sabotager. I’ve been participating in a diet bet and that has helped me make good choices because I ask, “Do I want that ice cream or do I want $25?” For whatever reason, assigning a $ value to what I am doing makes it more concrete to me than “ice cream is maybe not the best choice, try fruit.”

      1. Gaia*

        I’ve thought about joining one of those sites where you pay in and if you meet your goal you get more money back. That might be nice….

    3. yo Anon*

      I’m in the same boat as you with the craving crap food. I don’t have weight issues because of exercise and I have caught my weight going up in time to do something about it, but if I see food (especially free food), I HAVE TO HAVE IT. I know it sounds crazy, but the one thing that has held me accountable is signing up for distance races (you can walk many of them if you can’t run). I hate running and I don’t like exercise, but I like the feeling of finishing a workout. For me, having spent a set dollar amount on something and knowing there is a target date that I have to get there has held me accountable in a way that nothing else has. I don’t know if it’s an option for you, but it’s worth looking into. Good luck!

      1. Gaia*

        That’s definitely something I want to look into down the road. Right now I’m not even sure I could walk a long distance but I like the incentive of having spent money to do something. I like things and so I don’t like having spent money and not having a thing to show for it (even if that thing is an experience). That might work.

    4. fposte*

      I think the appetite impulse is utterly fascinating. My weight yoyos with my Crohn’s, but my appetite is all over the place. I’m getting used to the phases now, but the difference between “know there is food and immediately must have food” and an appetite drive that gives me a little time between the two is humongous. None of that’s actual hunger; it’s all just appetite.

      I do suspect microbial ecology plays a big role in this, in that it’s easier for me not to eat, say, carby crap when I’ve been avoiding it for a while; on the other hand, there is the upward swing of the yoyo when I’ve been undereating due to illness and I’m now okay to eat normally again, and my body is like “Eat all the things!”

      1. Gaia*

        If I’m honest with myself, I would bet that a lot of my issues with food come from growing up in a situation where food was often scarce. Now that I’m able to afford the food, I “make up” for what I didn’t have as a child by indulging now.

        You’re exactly right – it isn’t hunger, it is appetite. I am almost never hungry when I eat. I just want to eat and so I do.

          1. Gaia*

            I think it is because of something I posted above. Hunger (for me) can be ignored as it is a natural impulse. Appetite, again – for me – is part of an addiction to food. I cannot just ignore my addiction any more than someone addicted to heroin can just ignore theirs. That doesn’t mean I’m not capable of getting it under control, but it means it is much harder for me than for someone who isn’t addicted to food.

    5. AlaskaKT*

      I’ve never understood looking at someone and deciding if they are healthy based on what you think they weigh. When I switched doctors recently the doctor made the nurse re-weigh me. I’m 5’2″ and weigh 210 but I don’t look like I weigh that much.

      I have EDS so a lot of joint issues that I need to loose weight for. Unfortunatly joint pain makes exercise flippin hard and I looove junk food. I can (and have) eaten an entire cake to myself. If the junk isn’t around I’m fine, but if it’s there I’m a mindless eater. It doesnt help that I went from mostly fresh vegetarian to mostly canned food diet due to moving. Next year I’ll be producing a lot more of my own food so I’ll be able to switch to more healthy eating and that should help.

      Please post updates, I’d like to cheer you on!

      1. Gaia*

        Fresh produce is really hard to get here most of the year. I tend to rely on frozen or canned (without salt added as I’m a bit averse to salt) so I feel you there. Plus, I’m not very adventurous with my produce. Every few weeks I convince myself I’ll eat salad and then it languishes in my fridge until I give up and toss it. I tend to prefer asparagus, green beans and broccoli – sometimes carrots with hummus. For fruits I prefer berries, apples and oranges.

        I love your blog, by the way. I lived in Alaska for a few years (not homesteading) and I really miss it.

        1. fposte*

          Frozen is fine; sometimes it’s actually better than fresh. Leafy greens are nice and all, but if broccoli is the veg you’ll eat, get broccoli. For a lot of people, broccoli and carrots are particularly nice in providing that satisfying crunch that makes them good snacks, too.

          Have a look at Brian Wansink’s great Slim by Design. It talks about how to make sure you’re setting up your kitchen and your shopping to make it easier for you to eat what you mean to and not just what you fall into. Plus he’s a funny and breezy guy so it’s an entertaining read.

        2. AlaskaKT*

          We don’t have a fridge/freezer unless it’s winter, so we can’t do frozen. And I hear you about salt, so much canned food has extra salt in it.

          And thanks for reading! I love Alaska and hope I never have to leave :)

    6. Gaia*

      Thanks everyone. I’ll put my first little mini update here.

      Right after I posted this I went on a walk. Since I lost my dog back in May I haven’t walked regularly. It makes me sad because it reminds me of him. I put in my earbuds (I need to get better over-the-ear headphones that work with the stupid iphone connector) and listened to music and had a little sob as I walked past his favorite park. But I walked 1.11 miles. I used a little app to track my walk and speed. It was 26.17min/mile which…isn’t awesome…but it is a start!

      I’m tired, sweaty (it is hot as heck out there!) and a little hungry so I think I’ll make lunch soon.

      1. Jessi*

        I’ve been overweight for almost 10 years now, Im heavy enough to be classed as obese, and I’m not very tall (which doesn’t help). I’ve had my best success when I eat low carb/ high protein.

        If you struggle with portion sizes, something like myfitnesspal which is both a website and an app may be helpful to you? There is also a supportive forum there – since most people are tying to lose weight its nice to be in touch with people who are in the same boat

        1. Gaia*

          Thanks. I do best with low carb/high protein but I struggle to find recipes because they all tend to be like: EAT BACONNNNNNNNN and avocados I don’t eat pork and I suck at figuring out when an avocado is ripe.

          1. Alston*

            There is a trick for that! It should have some give when you grip it, and then knock the little part where the stem was off (size of a small pebble). If it is a nice green under there the avocado is ripe. If it is brown it is too ripe, and if it is bright green and avocado is hard as a rock it is not ready yet.

      2. Sensfan*

        I’m sorry to hear about your dog. We’ve lost two and it was difficult realizing that non-dog people often don’t understand how hard it can be.
        After we lost our first, I started volunteering as a dog walker for our local shelter. It was hard at times but I really felt like I was helping lots of dogs that for various reasons we couldn’t have taken home. Walking them was great exercise for me as well as something that I felt was important for me to do even if I was tired or the weather was bad. It was really rewarding to come in and see who had been adopted each week. It might be too soon for something like this for you but I really enjoyed it and it might be something to consider.

    7. BPT*

      I often struggle with weight, although it’s more in the 30-40ish lbs overweight range. I’m down close to a healthy weight now though. For my two cents – I can’t speak to how phentermine will always make you feel. But for me, normal, HEALTHY eating habits aren’t always like that. Some people might never have any cravings, but that’s never been my case, even when I’m at a healthy weight and eating well. Yes, sometimes I’ll think “ugh I’m so full any don’t really feel like any junk food right now. I want some broccoli.” But that doesn’t mean that the cravings go completely away. I still crave burgers, pizza, sugar-y stuff, and bread. And sometimes I indulge. But the difference in healthy eating is that indulgences are literally that – special things. I work anything I want into my calories per day, including desserts, bread, etc. But when I want to overindulge, I’m usually able to stop myself, mostly out of habit now. I can say to myself, “you just went out to eat for dinner this week where you didn’t count calories. You don’t have to follow that up two days later with a pint of ice cream.”

      All that to say, it’s great that phentermine is working for you so far, and I advocate people doing whatever works for them. But just because your body doesn’t crave something, doesn’t mean your mind never will. I’ve been completely stuffed before and still eyeing dessert in the kitchen. This medicine will probably help you get in good eating habits. But I’d caution against thinking “having no cravings are how a healthy person operates.” Because you don’t want to feel like you’ve failed and its not worth it the minute you get a craving, which you inevitably will. Pretty much everyone does. The difference is how you handle those cravings when they come. People who eat healthily are able to admit to having a craving, but say “I’m not giving into you this time.” They will some times, but not every time.

      If you’re not familiar with it, I’d suggest reading Andi Mitchell’s blog (http://www.andiemitchell.com/weight-loss/). It used to be called “Can You Stay for Dinner” but she’s revamped it some, but it’s got great recipes and her weight loss story is listed there (she also used to be almost 300 lbs).

      1. Gaia*

        You’re right, I actually wasn’t clear. I still craved the food, but it was muted and I didn’t feel actually compelled to go get it. It is hard to explain but it often feels like I can’t actually stop myself. It is like an automatic response. I have a craving, I eat the food. This wasn’t like that. I had the craving, I made a decision I didn’t want the food because I wasn’t hungry.

        1. cravings*

          Therapy was immensely helpful to me to have more space between the craving and the decision so that I could make much better decisions. It’s gotten easier over the years. Also, to help me figure out what was actually behind the craving so I could deal with that (need for comfort, anger, whatever..).

    8. A Different Perspective*

      Different things work for different people. I have gotten a lot of relief this year from educating myself about Health at Every Size/Intuitive Eating. I’d recommend that you look into them, at least to get a different perspective on this messy interconnection of capitalism, shame, and reactive eating. If you’re into Podcasts, I love “Food Psych,” “Love, Food,” and “The BodyLove Project.” The Intuitive Eating book & workbook are also great in my opinion.

    9. Courtney*

      I’ve also been struggling with trying to lose weight. I’m not quite in the 200s – 5’5″ and I weight 193, but pretty much all of my extra weight is in my stomach. So on the health side, I know all the stomach weight isn’t good for my heart and I have a history of gestational diabetes and a dad with diabetes as well. On the self esteem side, anything that fits me in the waist looks like crap everywhere else, and I end up crying in the fitting room whenever I try on pants. So I know I need to get a handle on it.

      I have similar feelings about dieting – I crave crap and find calorie counting to be very stressful and keep me in a negative state of mind. And the next time someone tells me that it would really help if I stopped drinking po, as if I’ve never thought of that and haven’t tried countless times, I might lose it.

      I started exercising a month ago. Horribly out ignored shape and I HATE IT (my asthma hates it too), but I’m just forcing myself to do it first thing in the morning, and it is becoming routine. I can now run (slow run, but still a run) for half a mile without stopping! A tiny milestone but it’s huge for me.

      I’m glad the medication seems to be helping with the cravings! Would love to keep checking in and working on accountability. I have a tendency to be all or nothing – I either obsess over my weight and talk to my husband about my efforts constantly, or I do nothing. And the obsessing usually goes on for a month or two, I’ll lose 15 pounds, and then I break and can’t do it anymore and immediately bounce back to where I was. So I need to start making smaller, more manageable changes.

    10. HannahS*

      Perhaps the healthiest do feel that way, but that certainly isn’t my experience! I’ve done a lot of work to try to get myself to the point of declining food that I enjoy when I’m not hungry (and not having it feel difficult) and I’m juuuust starting to have it happen, sometimes. Like, I notice every time with surprise. I’m so glad that you’ve found a tool that can give you a jump-start! I’ve never heard of it; it sounds really useful. Best of luck with this! I’ll be here cheering you on :)

    11. Mela*

      Both me and my husband hold weight similarly to you. I weigh nearly 200 pounds, and no one believes me, they think I’m lying. My husband is well over 200 and no one believes it either. We’re both metabolically healthy, just like you. We both eat really healthy but could probably work on portion control a bit.

      I will say, that “best surgeon in the state” isn’t probably that great, and is only the “best” because he refuses to care for complex patients. So there’s that.

      1. Gaia*

        To give him credit, he is really good. People travel from out of state and around the world to see him. But he has a hard cut-off on BMI where he won’t operate because of anesthesia risks I don’t need to be “normal” range but I have to come down significantly.

      2. BPT*

        Look, as someone who works in healthcare advocacy, I know that obese patients often get worse medical care and that sometimes surgeons choose only the healthiest patients to bump up their stats. But there is absolutely no way you can just assume that’s the case here.

        People tend to play down the risks of going under anesthesia when you’re obese. It is a REAL concern, and one that surgeons should pay attention to. My very obese uncle had surgery and never woke up from the anesthesia, so it is a real life concern. Obese patients generally have worse outcomes across the board. More infections, greater time under anesthesia, and longer surgeries are all things to be worried about. Bone spurs, while they can be very painful and affect quality of life, are not life threatening and surgery is not always successful. I would want my surgeon to weigh the pros and cons of putting me under surgery if the success is uncertain and there is large risk.

        This is not to place blame on obese patients, and no you can’t always say that an obese patient is less healthy than a thin patient. But dealing with “complex patients” sometimes means that you have to address one health concern before you can get to another.

        1. Gaia*

          I actually agree here. He didn’t say I need a “normal” BMI to have the surgery he said I need a lower one. He does surgery on obese patients but only up to a certain BMI (which I am currently over) because after that point his opinion is that no amount of anesthesia is safe. I actually can appreciate that. I’d rather not die over a shoulder surgery.

      1. fposte*

        I was thinking that initially too and then I realized she was talking shoulder and not foot, so that won’t help. I don’t think they mess around with the neck for stuff like that, either.

    12. Yetanother Jennifer*

      You asked what “normal eating” feels like. Here is a great definition by Ellyn Satter, a well-respected nutritionist and therapist. http://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/hte/whatisnormaleating.php

      I also recommend checking out her book “Secrets of Feeding A Healthy Family.” (Even if you’re living alone, you are a family of one.) It has great recipes, food prep tips, and outlines her theories and practices. She is a nutritional moderate and uses words like “enjoy” often.

    13. Amadeo*

      Is this what normal eating habits feels like? You see something you’d like but then don’t eat it because you aren’t hungry?

      I experienced this thought when my doctor prescribed me Contrave (which, unfortunately, really hurt me, chest pain and a fully blown panic attack where I briefly thought it was a genuine heart attack until I realized I could breathe all right, I was on it for all of two weeks). I ordered Jimmy Johns for lunch one day, ate half the sandwich and then…sort of forgot that the rest was there. Wrapped it up and put it away for later. I’m not as overweight as some folks (at my heaviest I was about 223 or so, and I’m 5’5″) but I lost 6 pounds in two weeks with that stuff.

      I’m a slower loser without help, but I’m doing better minding my carbs, as I’ve got PCOS/Insulin resistance and eating a bunch of sugar or refined grain just aggravates that. I’m sort of feeling the ‘forget the food is there’ thing again finally, but not to the same absent-minded degree while I was on the Contrave.

      I wish you the very best of luck! If you need support, hit me up!

      1. Gaia*

        I made an omelet for breakfast today and legit forgot it was there after about 5 bites. I got distracted watching the ̶h̶o̶r̶r̶o̶r̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶w̶ news and just….forgot it was there. That’s not really something I’ve experienced before. I’d forget everything else and focus on eating.

        I’ve decided I definitely need to track calories though. This medication definitely curbs my appetite and after logging every single (little, tiny) bite I hit all of 1,010 calories. I was full all day but that is very low and considering I always took a two 1 mile walks I think it was too low (although the app says I should be at 2,100 based on my weight and activity level to lose 2lbs a week but that feels too high sooooooo)

        1. Amadeo*

          Your calorie needs will decrease as you lose weight, too. Right now you’re burning calories at a faster rate because your body is trying to get back to a set weight point; it’ll slow down eventually.

  27. TeacherNerd*

    Stupid thing of the week, related to in-laws.

    Husband and I (early 40s, no kids, first/only marriage, married 6 years), visited husband’s aunt (MIL’s sister) and uncle (third husband) over the summer. We are Catholic and go to Mass every week. We don’t care that no one is his family is not religious and/or do not attend services, but we do without fail, will let people know, and plan to attend a service around anything that’s planned. This is never a problem – except with this aunt and uncle. (Scratch that. It’s not even a problem with the uncle.) Aunt V. e-mailed us to let us know how welcome we would be, and to tell us she had our schedule all planned out with hour-by-hour activities (the email included a schedule). We said, great! We’ll go anywhere, see anything, do anything, try anything, eat anything. Except husband replied saying, we do plan on going to services, this is when the local church offers them, what time would be best for our hosts? “Oh, it’s up to you.” We say, great, we just want to visit, no need to plan anything as such, but we can, do, and will gladly take ourselves off and entertain ourselves, etc., etc., please don’t stress yourselves, etc.

    So we get there, begin our trip by being woken up the four mornings at 6 a.m., and are out of the house until 7 p.m. each day. (It’s always the uncle who takes us places, or we go on our own. Aunt V. never joins us.) We mention once or twice that we will be going to services – is there a time that’s better for them? “Oh, you’re actually going to church?” Had a bit of back and forth and finally agreed that we would go to a 7:30 a.m. Mass.

    When we got back, our bags were packed and outside the house, with a note attached. “We enjoyed your visit! Come again!” We knocked and rang the doorbell; no answer. We called a cab and off we went.

    Then we got a “bill” for $500.

    I don’t even know how to respond. Truly we try to be easygoing and flexible but I don’t think we’ll be visiting Aunt V. again.

    Yes, this is a true story. I felt the need to vent a little. How’s everyone else?

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry for you, but what a wonderfully horrible story for us! I would happily write your aunt-in-law a thank you note for that alone.

      I think probably the wisest course of action is merely to ignore the $500 “bill,” but I’d certainly entertain myself with other thoughts.

      1. FiveWheels*

        I’d be tempted to send them a thank you letter, specifically referencing how funny you found the fake invoice they left you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “Your bill for food and lodging was very funny. We know you did not mean it though, because you would have to report the $500 to the IRS as income and who wants all that paperwork?! Thanks for packing our suitcases for us, you did a much neater job than we usually do. So we appreciated your thoughtfulness.”

    2. CatCat*

      Whaaaaaaat. They dumped your bags outside the house and sent you a “bill”? For what? I don’t know that I would ever be talking to them again let alone visiting. That’s crazypants.

    3. Laura*

      But this is about the bill, right? The Mass seems irrelevant, or are you saying you feel that insisting on going made them bill you? There’s a bit I’m missing here and that’s the link between the two things. Was there a breakdown on the bill – i.e., did they pay for everything during the activities without telling you they’d expect you to cover your costs at the end of your stay?

      1. fposte*

        I think the subtextual narrative was “Well, if you’re going to treat us like a hotel by going to Mass rather than participate in activities I’ve planned for you, we will treat you like we’re a hotel by billing you.”

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          That was my read too. Which is utterly baffling because it’s one hour out of a multi day trip.

          Honestly? I would just ignore it.

          1. Blue Eagle*

            That’s not my read, my read is that the Aunt kicked them out of the house early. They expected to come back from church and have the rest of the visit and the Aunt packed their suitcases while they were at Mass and wouldn’t let them back in the house to finish the visit. All I can say is “how rude!’

      2. TeacherNerd*

        This has happened to us before (to a lesser extent): Our going to Mass consistently seems to come as a surprise and we get the cold shoulder because we do the thing where we attend weekly services. (We’ve gotten locked out before.) It is, as mentioned, a rather passive aggressive relationship.

        And no, the bill was not itemized, although that would have been interesting. :-)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Please say you won’t go back any more.
          There is no way on this green earth that locking guests out of the house is even remotely acceptable. Please don’t accept this behavior from anyone ever again.

        2. Red*

          That’s not passive aggressive, that’s the regular sort of aggressive. The sort of aggressive where you really shouldn’t stay there again.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Interesting. At least they claimed to have enjoyed your company, and ostensibly invited you to return some time. That’s better than throwing you out of the house with a note that tells you to go to H—l.
      I’d ignore the bill and restrict future contact to mailing them an annual holiday card…or getting together on neutral territory if you are traveling for another reason, have another place to stay, and won’t depend on them for transportation to/from whatever location.

      You can also *fantasize* about sweetly telling Aunt V. that she’ll be in your prayers–but don’t do this in real life! because 1) You don’t need the aggravation that will result when she explodes like a sour lemon; and 2) right now you’re on the high road. Why descend?

      1. Laura*

        Thanks for the answer. This is just crazy! You were already being so nice by letting them plan activities from dawn till dusk – which your aunt doesn’t even participate in – this entire story is BIZARRE! Yes, ignore the bill, and yep, you won’t be visiting them again.

        (I’m really amused by the idea of hosts being offended that guests go to anything that early. I wouldn’t even be aware of it myself as I’m not an early bird.)

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      This reminds me of a few sketches by the League of Gentlemen where Benjamin visits his Auntie Val and comes down the stairs and they have been waiting “at table” for two hours for him to wake up and have a host of passive aggressive rules. Amongst other things :) Look up The Dentons House Rules on Youtube or Aqua Vita (Warning: can contain some rather crude British humor)

    6. Gaia*

      This is insane. I am not religious in a family of pretty religious folks. While we don’t share our viewpoints on this issue I cannot fathom being 1. surprised that they were attending services (especially after telling me multiple times) or 2. acting put out and *leaving their luggage outside* and *billing them* because they opted to attend service (or do anything!) on their own outside of what I had planned.

      If I had an issue with it (I only do with one person – he tries to “save” me every time he visits….) I would simply not host the person and save us all the irritation.

    7. Nana*

      2. Yep. I wanted nothing of his around and was delighted to ‘reclaim’ my name. Oddly enough, when I happened to speak with him some time later, he told me he was deeply hurt by that ‘rejection.’

    8. Bluebell*

      Wow! Years ago in my twenties I visited a step-relative in Mexico City. I’m Jewish; she was Catholic and attended mass at least daily. For the two weeks I was there she gladly helped me visit everywhere and often dropped me off in her car. The only exception? When I attended Friday night services at synagogue. At least I didn’t get a bill though!

    9. rj*

      THIS IS SO WEIRD. I wouldn’t even have known how to respond. Glad you had your phones with you to call a cab

    10. LNLN*

      What your in-laws did was outrageous. Ignore the bill and if you ever feel like visiting them again (no judgment if you don’t), plan your visit so you are not there on a Sunday. And do not discuss their prank with other relatives. You do NOT want to get into a discussion of whether or not the aunt and uncle had the “right” to do what they did. They did not. They were ridiculous.

    11. Hrovitnir*

      Whaaaaaaaaaaat. That is so messed up. I mean, I was side-eyeing even the 12+ hour days, let alone being obstructive and judgemental about going to church – I didn’t see that coming!

      You shouldn’t ever have to be so “flexible” that you put up with being locked out of the house, or even just feel like you have to apologise for taking time out to go to church.

    12. Foreign Octopus*

      Oh. My. Stars.

      What in the ever loving frick-frack was that?

      Ignore the “bill” (obviously) and maybe ignore the aunt and uncle if you’re so inclined.

      Honestly. I’m about as atheist as they come and don’t hold much truck with organised religion but I would never, ever be this rude (I would never be rude full stop because it’s none of my business). If you fancy getting an update, maybe email the aunt and ask what the deuce she was doing.

    13. SnarkyLibrarian*

      What. WHAT??? Your story actually made my brain grind to a halt. I had to read it twice. The sheer nerve of those people! Keep that bill. Keep it forever. Make a copy and carry it with you, tell that story to everyone you meet and laugh like a hyena when you whip out that bill to show people.

  28. Money question*

    Any IRA/Roth IRA experts out there? Spouse and I are now approaching the income limits for our Roth IRA contributions. What happens now? Does that just mean we can’t contribute anymore? I think right now we should only be doing a partial contribution but I can’t figure out how much. We file our taxes jointly and do them ourselves with TurboTax. Will TT flag this if we punch in all the numbers correctly? Is there a penalty? Should I switch to a regular IRA? (Most of my retirement $ is in my company 401K anyway but we are trying to be as responsible as possible about future savings).

    1. fposte*

      Generally yes, TT will flag this. Yes, if you contribute to a Roth IRA when your income makes you eligible, you will be hit with an Excess Contribution Penalty if you don’t correct in time. I’m attaching a relevant link in a followup.

      While there is an income limit for *contributing* to a Roth IRA, it does not apply to *conversions* to a Roth IRA. Hence the popularity of what’s known as the “Backdoor Roth,” where one contributes to a traditional IRA and then immediately converts it to a Roth IRA. This is kosher and usually uncomplicated, but you need to make sure you understand how it works *especially if you have other IRAs*, because that changes the practice. I’ll attach a relevant link for that as well.

    2. Get a Haircut*

      Not an expert, let me just get that out. Tagging on to this, if I may:
      I’ve been (attempting to) research Roth IRAs and don’t actually understand the basics of what needs to be done: how one sets it up, etc? Rudimentary stuff. Any specific websites that are clear/ or a quick summary—- not just “google it”, would be super-helpful!

      1. fposte*

        An IRA (Individual Retirement Arrangement) is essentially a bucket. Within the limits of tax law, you can put whatever assets you want in that bucket–savings, CDs, individual stocks, mutual funds, etc. Every year, the tax law allows you to contribute up to a certain amount–currently it’s $5.5k for you youngsters. In a traditional IRA, you put the money in without paying taxes on it and pay taxes on the growth when you take money out; in a Roth IRA, you pay the taxes when you put the money in and not when you take it out. For most people, that makes the Roth a great deal, because the intervening growth means basically you’ve got free untaxed money.

        You can open an IRA at just about any financial institution, online or brick and mortar. You’re likely to get a better deal and better options at an online institution. You can look at websites to see what they say about opening up an IRA, but generally it’s pretty easy, on a par with opening any other account.

          1. Portia*

            I set mine up through Vanguard, and it was super easy. Just go to their website and they walk you through it.

    3. CAA*

      Yes, TurboTax will help you with this. If you over-contribute to a Roth IRA this year due to earning more than you expected, you have until April 16th, 2018 (or later if you file for an extension) to fix the problem without paying a penalty.

      Option 1: withdraw the excess contribution and any earnings. You’ll have to pay tax on the earnings, but you’ve already been taxed on the contribution, so this shouldn’t be much.

      Option 2: recharacterize the excess portion of the contribution and its earnings into a traditional IRA. You’ll then have non-deductible contributions in this IRA, so you’ll have to keep track of the basis forever to avoid being taxed again on the contribution. TurboTax will track this for you if you use the program every year. If you don’t use TTax some years, then you should go ahead and fill out form 8606 every year anyway. If this is your only traditional IRA, then I’d recommend converting it back to a Roth IRA sometime during the 2018 tax year and eliminating the need to track the basis anyway.

      Your brokerage or bank where you’re holding the Roth should be able to help with this situation. It happens all the time, and it’s very standard practice to move money between these types of accounts. If they make this difficult or screw it up, then it’s time to find a new broker.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      As CAA said, you have until the filing date to fix it, so you can withdraw the excess contribution before you are penalized.

      Don’t forget that the income limit for contributing to a Roth IRA is based on your adjusted gross income. If you can increase your pre-tax deductions, or give more to charity, you might be able to stay under the income limit another few years. We have a lot of deductions (including both of us maxing out our 401(k) contributions, reducing our taxable income by $37K/yr), so while our gross income is way too high, our AGI is still letting us put $5.5K each into our Roth IRAs.

      I’ve been looking into the backdoor Roth, though, because we might have to do that soon.

      1. fposte*

        Backdoor Roth is easy-peasy as long as you have no other IRAs lying around.

        It’s also worth mentioning that even if you screw up and don’t fix an excess contribution by the date, the IRS doesn’t send you to Alcatraz or anything; it’ll just cost you a little bit more to undo the situation. In general the IRS is actually pretty tolerant with screwups as long as you work with them to fix stuff.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Thanks, fposte. My investment strategy has always been to keep it simple, and throw every spare penny to savings, so I only have the 401(k) and the Roth.

        2. Money question*

          Thanks for the feedback! As I’m reviewing our finances, I think we may stay under the limits because of our deductions. But I know we’re hovering around the threshold, so I’m trying to understand the situation better. My next step is to call the people at Fidelity, but I thought this fine group would have some insight before I have to make the call!

  29. Aurion*

    Does the US conduct distance education at the high school level? It’s a detail for a story of mine. Story is set in New York, but I have a bit of a fudge factor and can adapt if this system exists elsewhere.

    I’m not thinking of homeschooling, but specifically a student is registered at a given school but learns electronically and is otherwise treated like any registered student–so basically exactly like the distance learning options at the post-secondary level, except for high school instead. It won’t work for something with labs, but things that can done through reading/discussions alone (for example, English). The only thing I’ve found so far is Independent Study, which doesn’t quite fit what I’m imagining.

    I understand high school is probably less attached to a named school and testing out via GED exists, but humour me here. :)

    Thanks in advance!