weekend free-for-all – October 21-22, 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: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. It starts out deeply funny and then it turns into something you didn’t expect. This is one of my favorite books this year.

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

{ 1,282 comments… read them below }

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I am terribly allergic to cats, but I never met one I didn’t like. They’re all beautiful to me – but this kitty is especially beautiful. Thank you for sharing pics of your kittycats.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        They are wonnderful critters; unfortunately, I have to go on breathing. Sigh. Some of us have to admire from a distance.

  1. Chocolate Teapot*

    Second comment at time of viewing. I don’t think I have ever been so early!

    One of this weekend’s projects is to contact an elderly acquaintence I have not seen for a couple of months. They were in hospital in a remote place, hard to reach on public transport and have finally returned home. I hope I don’t get an earbashing about why I have not been in touch sooner.

    1. nep*

      Great that you’re getting in contact again. If anything arises about why it’s been so long, just let it be said, perhaps give a couple words in response, but then move on — not to evade but just so as not to dwell on that and have it take away from precious moments together. I say this from experience. I used to visit a friend in an assisted living home fairly regularly, and on a couple of occasions when I thought I’d let way too much time pass, I put contact off even more because I anticipated that awkward, negative moment. But generally in our minds we make it a bigger deal than it is. Don’t keep feeding it.
      Good on you for making the effort and enjoy. Let us know how it goes.
      (And as I read over my comment — I wonder whether your statement about hoping not to get an earbashing was just more ‘in passing’ and I made too big a deal of it in my response!)

      1. Temperance*

        Honestly, we spend less time visiting certain relatives because at least half of the time we’re with them, they’re complaining about how we don’t visit enough. It’s because all you do is whine that we don’t visit you!

        1. nep*

          I hear you — indeed if the other person dwells on that for the entire time of the visit, that’s crap.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          OP, might fare a bit better because it does not sound like the person is a relative. That sense of entitlement comes with family a lot, “you owe us!”

          I think nep is right, just agree it has been too long and you missed them very much, OP. That’s it.

  2. Liz*

    Do you ever think back on a certain scene in a TV show/movie/etc. that was presented as being funny or touching, but then realise how horribly it could’ve backfired?

    The other day I was watching an old episode of Friends where Rachel takes the pregnancy test (at Monica’s wedding), and Phoebe tells her it’s negative so that she’d ‘know how really felt’ about it before revealing the (happy!) surprise that it’s positive. But how awful would it have been if she /didn’t/ want to have a baby right then and was super relieved only to be told that was a lie? (Maybe you can argue Phoebe knew her well enough that she knew Rachel actually wanted the baby, but it’s still an awfully big risk!)

    1. Jemima Bond*

      Yes I thought that when I saw it.

      Any film with a big public proposal/declaration of love has SO much potential for humiliation. And what about the end scene of Never Been Kissed? (Drew Barrymore, middle of a baseball pitch, full crowd, waiting for male lead to read newspaper article and turn up…)

      1. Justme*

        Any public marriage proposal makes me cringe. What if they say no? Or want to say no but don’t want to embarrass the other person?

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Just thinking of that episode of Friends towards the end of the final series when Phoebe is having dinner with the man who left to go to Russia (David?) and they have almost reconciled when the more recent boyfriend (Mike?) turns up and hijacks the proposal. There might be a declaration of undying love while David is sitting there like a lemon. (Or gooseberry in this case!)

          It has been years since I watched it, but I am surprised I remember so much.

        2. CoffeeLover*

          I read a story online once from a guy who proposed to his girlfriend at a restaurant in a really public way. She said yes and everyone applauded, but then when she hugged him she said something like “I don’t actually want to marry you but I didn’t want to disappoint the crowd.” The guy was telling the story to get sympathy, but I was thinking the lady did the right thing. Would it have been better for her to not only reject him, but to do it in front of a crowd. He deserved it IMO. I think the only time a public proposal should happen is if you’ve already discussed getting married and you know the other person likes public displays of affection.

          1. Jen in Oregon*

            I always liked the scene in Working Girl: Alec Baldwin proposes to Melanie Griffith in front of all their friends at a party (two days after she caught him cheating on her) and she replies “maybe.” When he replies “What kind of answer is that?” She says “If you want another answer, ask another girl.”

          2. Asterix*

            I think it’s the kind thing to do, what this woman did. There are honestly some guys who feel that it’s a romantic way, or have seen others do it, and how happy the couple seemed. Sometimes it’s just poor judgment, and nothing malicious.

            1. Persephone*

              Legit, I’d have an anxiety-driven meltdown if that happened to me. Please, don’t propose in public, you’ll hurt me.

              I had a friend fake-propose to me once in public (didn’t realise it’d freak me out), and that was weird enough.

        3. Foreign Octopus*

          I agree with Justme. Public marriage proposal = disaster waiting to happen.

          I’ve warned my parents that if anyone I’m dating ever tries to do something like that, then they need to either a) talk them out of it or b) tell me about it in advance. Even the thought of being proposed to in front of my family makes me break out in hives.

          It does remind me of the fun story about a woman who told her boyfriend they were going to her brother’s wedding only surprise, surprise! It was their wedding. The picture of his face pretty much says it all.


        4. all aboard the anon train*

          I was at a baseball game once where a guy proposed to his girlfriend on the jumbotron. She looked horrified, recoiled, and started shaking her head. I’ve never seen a camera cut away so quickly. The crowd did one big gasp. I didn’t blame her because even if I really loved someone and wanted to marry them, I’d have the same gut reaction to a public proposal.

          And honestly, if I was with someone who did a public proposal, that’d be a big sign that they didn’t actually know me that well. Some people love public displays, some hate them, and that’s really something you should know about your partner before going through with it.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Same. I would HATE that. I want it to be private. He better have been paying attention well enough by that time to know that. And it wouldn’t have to be a perfect Pinterest beach moment, either. If it’s private and heartfelt, it would be fine even if my future fellow Avenger and I were just schlubbing around at home in PJs and socks.

            1. No Green No Haze*


              Mr No Green popped the question at something like 2PM on a random afternoon when we were sitting on pee-stained steps at our favorite dog park, watching our golden chase a toy.

              He said, “This is a good place,” and I agreed, thinking he meant, you know, generally. And then he said “Will you marry me?” and I said “Really??” and then the dog dropped her slobbery toy in our laps all THROW IT AGAIN THROW THROW and we threw it and I said yes, of course.

              You’ve just got to know someone well enough. Those public proposals terrify me. But I’m a sympathy cringer.

        5. Kate H*

          They’re so manipulative! If I was ever proposed to publicly, I’d probably break up with them completely because it meant they didn’t know me at all. If a couple is interested in doing it that way, fine, all the power to them, but only if they’ve both discussed it beforehand and are both okay with it.

        6. ECHM*

          A number of years ago someone came to the paper where I was editor and wanted to propose on the front page. We let him and I stressed the whole day hoping she would say yes! (She did.) I just checked her Facebook and they are still married! Not sure how she felt about the proposal though. :)

        7. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

          Public marriage proposals twang every private bone in my body. I made sure that my boyfriend at the time knew I thought they were horrible which led to some hilarity when he tried to privately propose in a public place but people were seated right by us and he had to abort the mission because he worried that even having unintended bystanders would turn my yes into a no. We still laugh about that now (happily married).

    2. Overeducated*

      This describes at least 50% of “men pursuing women” plots. In the movies something is winning someone over, in real life it’s “she said no, leave her alone.”

      Probably the only exception to this is Westley kidnapping Buttercup, but he thought she had betrayed him and wanted closure/revenge, and he was a pirate known for killing people so the standard of not being scary doesn’t really apply.

      1. Red Reader*

        While I desperately love the movie, it never made any sense to me that he wanted revenge on her for getting engaged FIVE YEARS after *HE* let her think he was dead. Like… I’m not seeing him as the wronged party here.

        1. Bryce*

          There’s a reconciliation scene in the book, or rather, the lack of a reconciliation scene with Morgenstern saying why he didn’t write one (“some things should be allowed to be private”) and the abridger agreeing and suspecting it would have gone along the likes of your objection.

          1. Red Reader*

            Ah! I’ve not read the book yet, but I actually just ordered it when we got home from the 30th anniversary theater showing last week, so I’ll get to it soon. Thanks :)

        2. Triscuitoncheddar*

          He was held captive by pirates and only when he became the dred captain could he return to buttercup.

          He wasn’t flat out kidnapping her-he was rescuing her from the kidnappers who were to kidnap and kill buttercup on Humperdinck orders

      2. CoffeeLover*

        When I read the book (and later watched the movie), I never thought he was kidnapping her or getting revenge. I always thought he was saving her from the kidnappers and was playing coy until she figured out it was him.

        1. JKP*

          Exactly. He was rescuing her from the other kidnappers who had planned to kill her to start a war. His plan was probably that if she had expressed that she actually loved Prince Humperdink, then he would have returned her to him and she would never know he was alive. But since she said that she loved Westley, he could reveal himself.

        2. Kate H*

          I never saw it as kidnapping her or getting revenge either. He wasn’t looking to punish her; he was just trying to see if she really cared about Humperdink or if she still loved him, while saving her from Vizzini.

        3. Overeducated*

          Well yes he was saving her from assassination, but it also wasn’t clear to me that he thought she still loved him. I don’t think he was playing coy for a reconciliation, I think he did see himself as the wronged party. Honestly I am not sure what his end game was – rescue her, confront her and then what? Don’t know because it all worked out differently – had he actually expected to win her back, I think he would have come up with a better plan than hiding out in the Fire Swamp forever.

          Anyway point was just that I’d give him an exception to the “leave her alone” rule. Pick your interpretation, point still stands.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      I find that with a lot of sitcoms, honestly. Even shows I love endlessly like Parks & Rec or Brooklyn 99 have scenes which are supposed to be funny, but I find horribly cruel. There’s always that one character who is supposed to be funny but their humor is really mean-spirited (for the two shows I named, I found it to be April and Gina, respectively).

      1. Anion*

        I hated April so much (still do). We get it, April, you think you’re so, so cool, and for some reason adults are indulging your nastiness even though you deserve to be told off (especially by Ann, who is actually helpful to April despite April’s unrelenting rudeness to her).

          1. esra*

            I really didn’t like April the first time I watched the series.

            Then I watched it again and she is still super terrible.

            1. Anion*

              Lol, yep. I’ve rewatched the entire series at least three times, and she never improves. I can’t rewatch her & Andy’s wedding, because the amount of fawning the show itself does over her in that one makes me want to gag–it’s so “Look at our character, isn’t she the best? We really, really want you to know how delightful we find her and how great we think she is. Don’t you find her miserable attitude and boorish behavior charming? Don’t you just LOVE her?” Like the camera is her mother forcing you to admire her. It’s so…pushy. There’s no objectivity with her the way there is with other characters; nobody ever calls her out, everything she does is presented as funny and cute, and even characters who should find her insufferable love her. Ugh.

              (Sorry, heh, just have never managed to find other people who also think April is the worst!)

          2. Anion*

            I know, right? I cannot understand what it is about her that so many people seem to find so charming and adorable. She’s just an average everyday pretentious brat; there’s nothing entertaining about that at all.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Yes. Too much of sitcom comedy tries to be banter but comes off as bullying imo.

    4. nacho*

      A lot of stuff that was considered funny, sweet, or romantic in the past would be either problematic or straight up sexist/racist/homophobic/rape today.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have this problem when I watch old Looney Tunes cartoons. So much cringe. And after I first saw the Wonder Woman film, I looked online to see if I could find a copy of the 1970s reprint of Issue No. 1 that I had as a kid, which a now-deceased friend gave to me and my mother binned (grrrr).

        I did find it. And oh my dawg it’s so incredibly racist. I mean, it came out in 1942, but still. I’m torn; if I have a kid, should I let them look at this stuff? Maybe later when they’re older and we’ve gone over that already? Ugh.

        1. another Liz*

          When they’re old enough, show them. Those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it. Remembering how blatant this was in the past explains why people are “sooo sensitive” now. (Like the old Calgon Chinese laundry commercial).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think you can start as soon as you think they will follow along. I remember being really little- 4 or 5 maybe? And my father started explaining that lawn jockeys were not a good idea and here is why. Then he moved on to explaining about black-faced minstrel shows and we don’t do that anymore and here is why.
          While he softened the explanations for a young child to follow along I still got the message just fine, these things are not acceptable, period.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Thanks for clarifying, another Liz and Not So New Reader. Squirreling that away just in case.

            Also, I had forgotten all about the Calgon Chinese laundry commercial. “Ancient Chinese secret, huh?” Ugh, I am wincing really hard right now!

      2. Apostrophina*

        When it was still on Netflix, I rewatched the sitcom Wings; Joe proposing to Helen is basically a Lifetime movie to me now.

      3. Triscuitoncheddar*

        Recent stuff for kids do it too. The worst was a few years ago the character of Sam on iCarly i- character Was supposed to be funny, laugh track loved her, but the things she does, like physically pushing her friends to the floor so she can take their bacon, or casually letting her best friend know that she took $20 out of her purse, or even how the ‘good’ friend characters use Sam as muscle to beat up or threaten classmates. All played as funny. It seems like every kid show has some kid whose behavior is played for laughs, even though the actions are cruel and if mimicked by a real kid, the kid would be suspended or expelled.

    5. memyselfandi*

      So weird. I just watched that episode on DVD, so not a re-run. What a coincidence. I know what you mean, though. I have been watching old episodes of Cheers, as well. They were really mean to each other.

  3. Rebecca*

    What vegetables are good for roasting? Can I roast most root vegetables together (presumably by cutting them into similar sized pieces) or is it better to keep things separate? Oh, and how long do they keep for? Can I do anything with leftovers?

    (I just moved into a new place and finally have an oven again! I’ve never roasted anything before but with the cold weather moving in I thought I’d give it a go, and figure vegetables are probably a good place to start.)

    1. Jemima Bond*

      Potato, sweet potato, butternut squash, beetroot, courgette, aubergine, tomato, mushroom, carrot, parsnip, garlic.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        Just remembered different US names for a couple of those – courgette = zucchini, aubergine = eggplant.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          I misread “courgette” as “Corvette” and now I have mental images of bins of green squash with muscle-car bulges.

    2. Annie Mouse*

      I love making some combination of courgette (zucchini I think), peppers, beetroot, carrot, cherry tomatoes (ok, they’re fruit but they work well). I cook them all together in a tray with some oil, herbs/seasoning/salt for half an hour.
      Tastes really good with pasta mixed with flavoured cream cheese.
      Onion works well if you like it. Parsnips, potatoes, butternut squash are all roastable as well.

    3. Traveling Teacher*

      Have you ever roasted parsnips? They are amazing roasted, and they’re really cheap where I live! Squash is also great. Takes awhile to roast, but you can basically just cut it open, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, and stick it on a pan to roast with a bit of butter and spices for flavor. Takes about 40 mins to 70 mins, depending on size and oven, but if it’s not done, you just stick it back in and keep it cooking. If you eat it by scooping out of the shell with a spoon, the dishes are minimal (that was back when I was a student, so cheap, quick, and filling!)

      And yes, as long as they’re all roughly the same size, it doesn’t matter how many different things you roast together, or if you don’t mind littler chunks being crispy, it’s not an exact science, :) If you Google sheet pan dinners, you’re likely to find a lot of quick, basic recipes for roasted vegetables–basically my go-to this time of year.

      1. Julia*

        As long as you roast small vegetables, you can also throw in some canned or cooked chickpeas, they’re delicious roasted and spiced!

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        With squash, it’s really hard to cut open so I would suggest putting it in your oven for about 15 minutes first and then it’ll be soft enough to cut.

      3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        If you are roasting acorn squash, which are small so they roast quickly and are single serving size, fill it with yummy stuff. We usually put some combination of stewed apples (applesauce if you want something quick), raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sausage crumbles. But we also sometimes put ground beef spiced like Afgani kadoo. You can riff on this quite a bit. It makes most of a filling meal.

        We usually bake squash cut side down and plain. They are done when fork tender.

      4. Chaordic One*

        Parsnips scare me. I’ve watched too many mysteries on TV where someone was poisoned with hemlock and they always said that it tasted like “parsnips.”

        OTOH, vegetables in general are very good roasted. Asparagus, onions, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower…

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Do you like halloumi cheese? If so, here’s a simple but yummy recipe:

      You will need bell peppers (red is best), halloumi, chili flakes and lemon juice.

      Pre-heat oven to 180.
      Put your peppers whole on a baking tray and toast them for about 15 minutes until they’re starting to look slightly wrinkled.
      While they’re in the oven, slice up your halloumi.
      Cut the peppers in half, scoop out the middle, and fill with halloumi slices. Sprinkle with a pinch of chili flakes and a bit of lemon juice. You can now either put them back in in separate halves, or put them back together and tie with string.
      Give them about 10 minutes more (I’m hazy on the times as I’ve never timed this one very exactly).

      I like eating these with rice or cous cous.

      1. Reba*

        That sounds great!

        If you can’t get halloumi (it’s not very common in the US) try firm tofu or one of the various hard Mexican-central American cheeses.

            1. No Green No Haze*

              It’s getting more so. I live smack in the middle of what people like to call flyover country, and 20 years ago I’d occasionally special order it online as a treat. Now my local chain grocers are stocking it semi-regularly; different brands, even!

          1. Someone else*

            Although note haloumi is much saltier than paneer. I once substituted haloumi for paneer in a recipe and shocked the hell out of the person eating it. Substituting the other direction would probably be less alarming though.

    5. Cristina in England*

      These are not traditional roasting vegetables perhaps, but broccoli and cauliflower are amazing when roasted.

      I usually roast the cauliflower in giant slices then add caramelized onions and maybe grated cheese and roast it for a few more minutes.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Broccoli and cauliflower are THE BEST roasted!! I roast broc in bacon fat with lots of black pepper and then add a squeeze of lemon and some grated parmesan at the end.

        Another non-traditional one: red cabbage. Roast with sliced red onion, caraway seeds, olive oil and salt, and then dress with a mix of grainy mustard and apple cider vinegar as soon as it comes out.

        1. Midwest Red Sox Fan*

          If you have never tried roasted cauliflower…

          It’s like a whole new vegetable! It takes on a nutty flavor I just love. Have fun on the roasty toasty veggie journey!

        2. Paul*

          oh dang, broccoli with just a pinch of olive oil, sea salt, mixed in with some good bell beppers…I think I know what dinner tomorrow is now

    6. Wrench Turner*

      I heard on NPR about roasting a head of cauliflower whole with olive oil, garlic and herbs. I haven’t tried it yet but will soon. You’re right about the same size pieces thing -especially for denser root veggies- but you really can roast just about anything! Sweet potato oven fries are a staple of mine. Easy, cheap and tasty.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I do a whole head of cauliflower in a cast iron pan. Spread it with a little oil and roast for about 75 minutes, maybe more. I serve it with some kind of sauce, depending on my mood. So good.

    7. Christy*

      You can typically roast most anything together so long as you cut the heartier foods smaller than the less hearty foods. (Like cut potatoes smaller than yellow squash.) I just roasted red onions, yellow squash, and red peppers all in the same pan at 425°F and it worked nicely. When I’d googled for temperatures and times all three had been different but I split the difference.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        This. Or put the harder vegetables in first and add the softer ones later.

        Harder (will take longer to roast): beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, butternut squash and other hard squashes
        Medium: broccoli, cauliflower
        Softer (will take less time to roast): eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus

        My best tip is DON’T CROWD THE PAN. If things are too close together they will just steam in all the moisture being released from cooking. You want some space so they stay dry and get those nice delicious browned edges.

    8. Bianca*

      I am not sure of a vegetable that is usually eaten cooked that is not good roasted! My favorite is cauliflower, but I have successfully roasted:
      Cabbage (slice the head in “steaks”)
      Sweet potatoes (my fave is mixing sweet potatoes with onions)
      Brussels sprouts (quartered)
      Beets (small wedges work best IME)
      Sliced butternut squash

      I always just toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. The trick to roasting multiple kinds of veggies together is to make sure you cut them so that they all roast in the same amount of time. For example, I just made a dish with zucchini, peppers, and potatoes, and I sliced the potatoes really thin but left the zucchini and peppers rather large so that the cooking time would work out.

      1. Red Reader*

        Brussels sprouts, yesssss.

        I once bet my housemate (who is notorious for not liking vegetables) five bucks that I could get him to not only eat Brussels sprouts, but ask for seconds. He took the bet. I got out a packet of bacon. He told me that was cheating. I used some cooked-out bacon grease instead of the olive oil, and added lots of garlic, then chopped the cooked bacon and sprinkled it in with the roasted sprouts when they were done.

        I won the bet.

    9. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I always roast my root vegetables all together. Everything is more delicious roasted so I usually just use whatever looks good at the grocery/ farmers market. This weekend I am going to do turnips, carrot, butternut squash, and maybe potatoes or cauliflower (as well as onion and garlic for flavor).

      As for leftovers, I love putting roasted root veggies in a pie to make a vegetarian pot pie. Although, I love putting pretty much anything in a pie.

      Also, when fresh tomatoes are back in season, Martha Sterwart’s roasted tomato sauce recipe is really simple and hella delicious. I make hug batches of it in the summer and freeze it for the rest of the year.

    10. Reba*

      My favorite fall dish is a savory sweet potato roast.

      -Toss 3/4 – 1 in cubes of sweet potatoes, waxy potatoes, or a combination with veg oil, salt and pepper, rosemary (fresh or dried, to taste) and chopped garlic. Spread on a single layer in a baking sheet (line with parchment or foil for faster cleanup).
      -Toss sliced onion with oil, salt n pepper. Spread in another baking sheet. (you can do all together but I like to keep the onions separate so I can watch them to avoid burning)
      -Roast in a 375 oven for 30-35 minutes, until potatoes are tender and onions are slightly caramelized.
      -Combine potatoes and onion, add optional pine nuts, parmesan cheese, lemon.

      This is also really good if you scrap the rosemary and use an Indian spice blend, then add fresh peas at the end.

      Enjoy your oven!

    11. Becca*

      Roasted broccoli is GREAT (mixed with olive oil, s&p, and minced garlic), and on Thursday I added chopped beets for the first time. It was delicious! (And much more colorful, haha!) Leftovers are fine for a few days—less crisp, but still delicious. I usually heat my leftovers up in the microwave, but I bet they’d be alright mixed into a salad too.

    12. Melpo*

      Agree with everything already said but in my house a standard winter thing is night 1 side dish: roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips (and sometimes golden beets).

      Night 2: Leftover roasted veggies pureed with chicken stock and heated on the stove until just below boiling. Turn off heat and add salt and pepper to taste and a touch of cream and that is the yummiest root veggie soup in the world.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        I love golden beets! They’re fantastic roasted, don’t turn everything else purple, and they make fantastic soup :)

    13. Anonykins*

      The only one I would say not to roast with the others is beets – they have so much juice that all your other veg will get red and beety when the juice spreads. You can still roast them at the same time as all your other veg tho! I usually make a small aluminum foil partion within my larger pan and reserve that for the beets

    14. Bluebell*

      Halve brussel sprouts and roast them cut side down for 30-40 mins at 400. For the last 5 minutes toss with a mix of honey and balsamic vinegar. So good! Other veggies I like to roast are fennel, red onion, sweet potato, beets, red pepper (but they can be added later because they cook more quickly), broccoli, squash, and cauliflower. Apple cider also makes for a nice glaze.

    15. nacho*

      Yes, you can roast root vegetables together. They keep for a couple of days once roasted, and they’re good with rice and meat (but then again, so’s most everything).

    16. Lissajous*

      One I didn’t see anyone mention: leek. Do reasonably thick slices – 2-3 cm – and it goes all soft and buttery on the inside with a little bit of crisp on the outside and it’s amazing.

      Less as a veggie and more as a flavour alteration, roasted garlic is sweeter and less bitier then raw, and can be make later dishes amazing – roast cloves whole, and then it’s all squishy on the inside so you kind squeeze it out.

      One of my go-to soups is a roast pumpkin soup. Preferably roast the pumpkin whole, because that makes scooping out the seeds super easy, but it also takes a lot longer than smaller pieces. Then spoons the flesh into a pot, add milk to get to consistency while stirring to blend (no mixer needed, the pumpkin is already really soft) and season – I use nutmeg for that. If you want it straight away heat while stirring, if for later there’s no need, just mix it all up and put into containers for later lunches etc!
      You do want a good, sweet flavourful pumpkin – Kensington is my usual, with butternuts the alternate if the Kensingtons are out of season.

    17. Fiennes*

      Broccoli is *great* roasted. Just toss with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt & pepper first.

  4. Yuzu is a fun word to say*

    After a really intense few months I’ve finally completed my thesis and for the first time in what feels like forever I have no assessments due. I’m still working full-time but my evenings and weekends are actually free! Hallelujah!

    …except, I’ve come to realise I’ve sort of forgotten how to ‘do’ free time. I’m sure there were all manner of things I wanted to do when I was super-busy and would be like ‘okay, when this is all over I’ll get to do that’…but somehow they don’t seem as appealing now? Like, maybe it was just in that moment (and the fact I /couldn’t/ do it) that made it appealing…hmm that sounds kind of messed up, but anyway…(they’re not even challenging things, just like, finish watching the final season of Orphan Black or something, but I seem to have lost interest.)

    So yeah…anyone else ever felt like this? How to get over/around it?

    1. Traveling Teacher*

      In busy stretches, I have to spend days at a time inside writing (like right now…). When I’m finally done, I feel the same way! I think the best thing to do is go outside, clear your head, notice the world again, even if it’s just a quick 15 minute walk. Or just call a friend on the phone for a quick chat. Amazing how refreshed my brain feels after either of those things, and then it usually seems to unblock something, for me at least!

    2. Persephone*

      Oh man, I feel like this right now! I’m getting home from work going “ah yes, time to write” and there is no more writing. I’m fortunate in that it’s only a small break at the moment, but I’ve picked up other projects to interest me but that also aren’t hugely crucial — sewing, painting, all that.

      Also, does anyone else’s desire to watch Netflix die the minute you have no study left? Me. Constantly.

    3. Julia*

      Congratulations! I’m working on my M.A. right now, so I don’t have any free time (right when fall starts and I want to curl up with a good book and my 3DS…) and no time to be social.

      Last year, I moved from a place two hours (one way!) from work to one much closer and suddenly had a lot of free time and time alone. (The reason for the move had been my now-husband moving out of the country for work.) I signed up for a really nice pool because I was afraid I’d feel sad and alone, and went three times a week to swim and then soak in a jacuzzi.

      Do you have a list of books you want to read, maybe saved up Goodreads or queued on your Kindle? TV shows someone recommended to you?

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      You just finished – well done! – and your brain is probably telling you it needs a rest!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Oh, I so know how you feel. I just completed a run of almost 4 years with every minute filled with something work related. It is hard to turn off that “what is next on the OMG pile” Might be a good time to think about a pet or call up some old friends for a long chat.

    5. Red Reader*

      I’m in my last of four years of grad school, been working full-time the whole time, so I’m going to be in the same boat come May.

      Right now my tentative plan is to pursue a second bachelor’s degree next, so that probably doesn’t help you a lot. (It’s in pursuit of a certification that you can only sit the exam for if you’ve taken a very specific course program that will help me advance at work, not just for funsies, in my defense, and with the schooling I’ve taken and transfers and whatnot, the second bachelor’s will actually be faster to do than the community college program, in addition to letting me sit the exam at a higher level than the CC program would.)

      1. Mimmy*

        I didn’t even think you could go for additional undergraduate degrees once you’ve earned a graduate degree or certification! Hmm…..

        1. Talvi*

          It probably depends on the subjects – like if you have an MA in Sociology and want to go back and get a BSc in Chemistry, that’d be fine, but Psychology might be a no go.

        2. Red Reader*

          I don’t know of any reason you couldn’t. I know you can’t get any further federal student aid for a second bachelor degree, which is fine, my work will pay for half of it anyway. My first bachelor degree was in public health studies, my masters are going to be an MBA and an MOA, and bach #2 will be in health info administration, so that I can take AHIMA’s RHIA exam. They literally will not let you take the exam without a HIM degree. :-P

        3. Becky*

          Different schools have different rules about allowing students to enroll who already have degrees. It really depends.

    6. Gingerblue*

      Oh yeah, this is often me coming off of busy periods. Even if I have a list of games, books, projects, outings and so on that appeal in the abstract, nothing sounds actually enjoyable at the moment. I find that the only thing to do is to acknowledge that I’m mentally exhausted and just be gentle with myself until I naturally recover–usually after a couple of days, I find that my ability to be interested and enthusiastic about things starts to rebound. In the meantime, though, the only things I manage are aimless web browsing and other lowest-possible-stakes relaxation. If I try to force myself to do something more than that, it just extends the period of mental fog, so now I just acknowledge and roll with it. For what it’s worth, I’m in academia and the post-dissertation slump was a well-known phenomena among people I went to grad school with. A lot of people get depressed for a bit. After I handed mine in, I moved my tv onto the coffee table in front of the couch and spent the next week eating Chinese takout and playing PS2 games when I could manage enough attention, and mostly staring at the internet otherwise. (I got really good at Katamari Damacy, though…)

      Congrats on finishig the thesis! That’s huge, and I promise that fun things will start to sound fun again before too long. Just give your attention span some time to regrow.

    7. StrikingFalcon*

      Yes, I’ve found that coming out of an intense period of time focuses on things that I have very little interest in anything that feels like a goal. After some time (a few days to a few weeks, depending on how intense it was), I start getting interested in projects again.

    8. periwinkle*

      Oh boy, I can empathize. I’ve had an intense 2.5 years in a professional doctoral program and now I’m in the dissertation phase. No weekly readings, no schedule of assignments, no being tied tightly to the academic calendar. I made a list of Netflix shows to binge, movies to watch, cultural sites to visit, little downtowns to walk… and I just can’t get into the mindset to do any of them.

      So I’m trying to get moving by starting out with something I wanted to try but wasn’t on my list of “stuff to do when school is done.” I attended one of those events where you drink wine and paint. It was a lot of fun! I’ve been to more of those, plus a couple other craft-y events, and have started painting at home for fun. I figured this might teach me how to actually turn off the brain and relax instead of always thinking about the next paper to write. And maybe next weekend, a Netflix binge? Or maybe start one of the books that have been mocking me from the bookcase for the last couple years?

      Baby steps.

    9. Jake*

      My best friend just finished his mba last month and is running into this. He is doing home improvement projects and leisure activities in his free time now and is slowly increasing the amount of leisure activities.

      It seems to be working.

  5. Persephone*

    How do you deal with a dog whose favourite thing to do of a night is bark — repeatedly? Little one is usually in an area with far less happening, and I can’t bring her inside where I’m currently staying. I’d put her in the usual night spot, but she recently discovered how to climb a fence to go chase racehorses in the next paddock over. Advice? I love the little creature but my head is pounding and I’ve run out of ways to say “STOP IT, PLEASE”

    1. boris*

      It sounds like she’s barking because she’s in a really exciting spot for her. Either that place needs to be made more boring, or she needs to be moved somewhere that is already boring. Is there a way to make her usual night spot work for her? Reinforce the fence or make it harder to climb? Or pen her more securely there?

        1. Persephone*

          Legend. I’ve popped her kennel in a sunshade tent (doubles as nice protection during the day), faced the kennel to the back of the tent, and she’s like “oh. Can’t see stuff. That sucks.” Thank you!

    2. Too Witches*

      Does she get enough stimulation during the day? I’m assuming she does because it sounds like she has access to exciting outdoor activities, but maybe she needs a bedtime routine. Maybe if you can peter her out at night, similar to how it works well for cats: their cycle is hunt/kill (aka playtime in domesticated settings), eat, sleep it off. You could try really getting her tired out, feeding, and then off to bed. Like Beaded Librarian suggested, crate training could be awesome for an overstimulated pup – after she’s played out and fed, off into the crate she goes for the night, and then no attention until morning. This would be a struggle for a few nights, that’s for sure, but crate training is supposed to be very good for anxious or night-active dogs, because it gives them a sense of security and structure. Night-time confinement is not cruel if it’s done right, and rewarded with a fulfilling day full of exercise and stimulation. Worth a try, possibly, but it is a heck-ton of work.

      1. Persephone*

        I think this is key – it was POURING for the last few days, so her exercise was severely limited. I saw your suggestion the other day when you made it (sorry – life got crazy, so didn’t reply!) and tried it last night. Zero barking. She actually isn’t too bad in crates already, as she stays in one when she visits my aunt, and while I don’t have a crate here, I tried something similar last night. We ran around the verandah, played with a few toys, she had dinner, then I put her in the pool yard where she’s currently staying and left her for the night. I’ve just finished doing the same thing now, and she’s quiet. Thank goodness – we’ve got another dog nearby that barks all night, and it drives me mental. I don’t want this one doing the same thing.

    3. Hrovitnir*

      Honestly, this is pretty major and I think when you hit “I don’t know what to do” you need to think about finding a good trainer/behaviourist. Stopping barking when overstimulated when you’re not around is incredibly hard.

      Personally I’d be looking at finding a way to house her in the area that’s calmer but without being able to escape, even if it means the dreaded tie out. It sounds like you’re limited in what changes you can make to where you’re staying though?

      Because I’m sure you’re aware that harassing stock, never mind expensive race horses, is not going to end well. :(

      1. Anion*

        +1. If your dog is escaping and harassing racehorses, you need to do something NOW. That is not okay.

        1. Persephone*

          Yep. It’s been a while since she had done it (I’m meaning several years here; the first and only time she did it, my parents had her, took her off the leash, and wondered why the dog, with herding instincts, might go chase a horse. Hmm, I wonder), and I was horrified when I found out she did it the first time. Cue classes, extraordinarily high fences, what have you. What I think prompted it this time was “I’ve been cooped up in the rain and there’s sunshine and YOU’RE seeing the horse, oh wait I just managed to figure out how to get out of here, why are you yelling at me, why are you tackling me, why are you telling me off, is this about the horse?” She hasn’t so much as been able to sniff in the horse paddock’s general direction since. I’m mortified as well, because I know most people are so precious about their dogs and “oh they didn’t mean to”. Nope, this one was on me, because I should have realised something was going to happen with that little goose, and it was a TERRIBLE thing, which I apologised profusely to the owner for. Thankfully he accepted the apology and told me not to worry, because those same horses had to deal with his pup doing the same thing earlier in the week, but I’m still feeling terrible about it.

          So far, the yard she’s in is going okay with the whole escape plan”, which makes me think that sort of fence with zero climbing capabilities is good. The old fence is fully reinforced down at the bottom, so there’s no chance of her digging out (we had digging dogs before who thought climbing was a waste of energy), so I’ll definitely have to get something a bit more pool-fency to pen her in around her usual spot. I’m just so mad it happened, though. We live in a fairly rural area, so in that situation dogs get shot – and I’m definitely not going to be one of those precious people about it going “my dog can run anywhere, how dare they say otherwise!” Nope, if she’s doing the wrong thing and I’ve allowed it to happen in whatever way, I face those consequences.

          Ugh. I miss lazy dogs who thought going from the water bowl to their bed was ample exercise.

          Re: tie-out, I ended up doing that up in this yard, and it stopped it. My mother suggested doing it in the old yard, but I wasn’t prepared to leave Houdini there – leash or no leash, if she’s figured out she can get out, she’s darn likely to do it again, and I don’t want the horses next door traumatised by some little menace who thinks she owns the place. Tomorrow, when I’m able to get a better fence, that’s going up first thing. If I have to build it inwards over her, that’s how it goes. I also contacted her previous trainer (I had to do a lot of work with her when I first got her, as she was pretty badly mistreated by the breeder), and she’s set up an appointment for me to get her on track.

          1. Anion*

            BTW, sorry if I sounded short there–I had to quickly stop to go make dinner, so the comment was kind of abrupt. I didn’t mean to imply you think it’s awesome if your dog chases horses, if I did.

            1. Persephone*

              No no, totally fine. Didn’t read it that way at all! My word vomit was mortification – even if you’d been completely verbose I’d still have erupted in embarrassment at my dog’s general painfulness. (And seeing as most people would be thinking their dog can do whatever because it’s their darling baby, I would understand you thinking that anyway. We have a lot of city folk relocating this way, and among other crazy things they do – e.g burning lantana in the middle of extreme fire season and inadvertently starting a fire threatening 3 houses… that was last month’s fun trick from our recent city folk – they let their pets roam. The same fire lighting people let their cat roam. In an environmental area with native wildlife. The cat killed three of our chooks, our guinea fowl and the guinea hen plus the babies, and way too many kookaburras. Owner: “oh, she’s just a cat! It’s what they do!” I don’t want to be one of them.)

        1. Persephone*

          Here it’s legal to do – purely because it’s a rural and environmentally zoned area, so the implication is your pet comes second to the natives and livestock. Of course, not everyone goes by that rule, but I did ask the local ranger about this when he last popped round on the wild and stray round up – my pup was tied up at that point just so she didn’t chase the chooks but could potter around that part of the yard for an hour while I gardened (and because at that point we didn’t have a fence, and the back yard plunged onto a main road) and he was cool with it. In town, though, I’m fairly sure that it’s illegal, and if it isn’t illegal, it’s certainly strongly frowned upon unless the dog has been escaping.

    4. Persephone*

      Just wanted to say thank you all for your suggestions! My handyman dad is back tomorrow, so I’ll get him to help me make that fence impenetrable (I refuse to let her chase horses again; they don’t need the stress at all, I don’t want the stress, and she needs to learn to call it quits).

      I’ve also booked her in for more classes re: barking, and I’ve got some one-on-ones scheduled with the same trainer out at our place so it’s a bit more specific for her. The main property fence is also being reinforced, but I’m very tempted to get that nice Colourbond steel fencing and pen it all around. Slippery, solid, and very high – no escaping dog here, and nothing she can see.

  6. Aussie Teacher*

    Just finished my six-year-old sons’s birthday party – 14 kids hyped up on sugar running around yelling for 2 hours (plus a whole day’s worth of prep beforehand)! I am flaked out on the couch and may never move again.

    1. Nines*

      They are spectacularly exhausting aren’t they? I need a nap just from attending another child’s party !

  7. Caledonia*

    I wholeheartedly second Allison’s book recommendation.
    And if you liked that one, it reminded me a lot of Toni Jordan’s Addition.

    1. AnnaleighUK*

      Alison posting it is a sign I need to read this book, it came up on my Amazon recommendations and it was reviewed in our local newspaper this week!

    2. Sam's Grammy*

      I put this book on hold at my local library. I am 55th on 20 copies, I take that as a sign it is a good book.

  8. Julia*

    Has anyone ever experienced continuing and worsening lack of concentration and poor memory? I feel as if over the past few years (I’m 28 now), I have been progressively becoming dumber. I cannot grasp difficult texts anymore, I have a hard time concentrating, and even if I do read stuff, I remember next to nothing.

    I’m back in grad school right now, so this is a really big problem. I took an interpreting class last semester and some days, I was great, and other days I did so poorly I wanted to cry. I need to read long sentences several times and still often don’t really understand them…

    Since some of you will probably tell me to go see a doctor: I am on thyroid meds and the dosage is right to maybe a little high because I told my doc I was tired a lot, I take a B complex and iron every day, same for magnesium and vitamin D, at different times of the day to ensure maximum absorption.

    I am also on a low dose of an antidepressant so I can sleep at night, but I’ve had this problem before and during times when I felt completely fine.

    I don’t really have time to exercise much these days, which I know isn’t good, but I do walk at least 30 minutes most days to the station and back.

    1. misspiggy*

      I found low dose antidepressants (Amitriptyline in my case) for sleep and pain totally messed up my head. Couldn’t retain information, got sentences in the wrong order, felt dazed much of the time. Doctor refused to accept that could be the cause, but came off them and the problems disappeared. Griffonia seed extract (5HTP) is a good alternative sleep aid, with no side effects for me at lower doses.

      1. Julia*

        Thank you!

        I have some 5HTP suppliments from iHerb at hand, but I don’t want to come off my antidepressants in the middle of the semester. I’ve also had this problem before I started the meds, so I don’t know if it would go away anyhow.

        I really want to get a sleep study done because my husband says I sometimes don’t breathe, but no doctor wants to do that because I’m too young. :(

        1. Beaded Librarian*

          You ave to be a certain age to get a sleep study? That doesn’t make any sense, do they think that young people don’t have sleep problems?

          1. Julia*

            Apparently, they do think that. Or I’m “too slim”, which is funny because usually, doctors tell me I’m veering on too fat…

            1. Sabine the Very Mean*

              I’m 31 and just had one. I’m not the youngest patient. Are you in the US? Mine sent me home with an at-home monitor which measured oxygen and pulse. It’s results led to a full study. Please get another opinion. My doc would be shocked that you were told this especially if husband heard you stop breathing. That’s uncommon in women–our throats don’t usually close fully like men’s making it less obvious that we stop breathing. If you’re doing that, go to the next city for care.

              1. Julia*

                I’m in Japan, in Tokyo to be specific, but I tried doctors when I was still living in Switzerland. Even took my husband with me once.
                I did get a take-home thing, but the results were apparently normal. Then again, as you say, my husband says I snore and don’t breathe sometimes.

                Maybe a doctor here will take me seriously, but I don’t have time to research clinics this semester… :(

                1. Ktelzbeth*

                  There is the well-know obstructive sleep apnea, where the throat fully closes and you stop breathing. There is also a less well known, but fortunately improving, condition called upper airway resistance syndrome. The airway partially closes, enough to make it like you are trying to breath through a thin straw, but not all the way. Though not as dramatic as OSA, it is still unhealthy and leads to disrupted sleep. It’s also harder for the sleep tests to pick up, unless you have a full scale one. It has a predilection for younger, slenderer women (however many of those describe you), rather than the stereotypical older, wider man of OSA.

                2. Julia*

                  Ktelzbeth, thank you! I’ve read UARS before and thought it could fit me. Maybe I’ll really have to press someone for a diagnosis and hope that Japanese doctors have heard of this…

            2. Red Reader*

              Get a second opinion — my hospital’s sleep center does sleep studies on teens, kids, toddlers, I coded one for a 4 month old the other day. No such thing as too young.

          1. Julia*

            I don’t know, and I’m not sure how to find out. I’ll try searching for one when I have some more time.

      2. misspiggy*

        Also – I’ve definitely found as I get older that studying for its own sake is harder, but applying information to a ‘real’ need is easier. In grad school I found talking through what I was studying with fellow students really helped me retain and use information. Now as a researchfreelancer I often have to talk through data before I can really get to grips with it, and find working with a partner much more productive than going solo.

        1. Julia*

          You’re right, that does help, but I can’t always talk through every article I’m reading with people…

          1. zora*

            When I was having trouble grasping difficult texts for work, I found it helped to fake talking them through. I had conversations with an imaginary person, out loud, sort of trying to rephrase what I was reading as I went. Talking out loud worked better for me than just writing notes.

            1. Marguerite*

              I do this! I also use different accents or pretend I’m a news reporter. It really helps- especially to get through the more boring passages.

          2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Sometimes I find myself thinking about something else while I’m trying to read, and I find that reading aloud in my head, so to speak, helps me stay with the thing I’m reading.

    2. Florida*

      I’m not qualified to comment on the medical aspects of this, so I’m going to leave that to someone else. I am qualified to talk about teaching adults difficult material. That’s what I do, so I hear your complaint a lot.
      Most reading you do in everyday life is at a middle school level, so if you aren’t used to reading college-level material, you have to get used to it again. When you were in college, that was all you read, so you were used to it. Then when you worked, you read things that were at a lower reading level, and got used to that. So reading textbooks will probably require more concentration than what you are used to. With some exceptions, college requires more thinking and concentration than most jobs.

      The brain is not a muscle. The only way to get better at something is to do that thing. So if you spend all day working on crossword puzzles, you get better at crossword puzzles. But that doesn’t keep your brain sharp in terms of reading difficult material. Your brain is probably just flabby in terms of reading difficult material (I say this with complete respect.) The more you read college-level texts, the better you will get at it.

      Also, reading in short stints is more effective than a long marathon. For example, reading your textbook 30 minutes in the morning, 30 minutes at lunch, and a hour in the evening is a thousand times more effective in terms of comprehension and memory than reading for 2 hours at a time. When you do read for those 30 minutes, read. Put your phone in another room. Sometimes you will have to take time to break the long sentence apart, but it is time well-spent. When you read one paragraph, summarize it to yourself before you read the next one. This sounds like it will take longer, but you will remember more so it is ultimately faster.

      There is a book that I think is awesome called Teach Student How To Learn by Saundra McGuire. It’s a book about how college teachers can teach college students how to study, but I think you can get a lot out of it. Like I said, I teach adults in a licensing class, but I am always telling my students about concepts from this book.

      I hope this helps. Good luck.

      1. Julia*

        Thank you for this long and thoughtful reply!

        The thing is, I am breaking up reading (most articles aren’t all that long) and I have been at this for half a year now and my brain just won’t get used to it. I’ve tried meditation aimed at improving concentration and it didn’t really help either.

        During my undergrad years, I read much longer texts and was much quicker…

        1. Florida*

          Another thing that I’ve found helps concentration is to follow your finger where you are reading. You know how little kids who are learning to read will use their finger to keep track of where they are? That’s what I’m talking about. I know it sounds silly, but I learned that as part of the Evelyn Wood speed reading program.* That helps you read a little bit faster (but not speed reading by any means) and you will retain a little bit more. It’s a easy and cheap thing for you to try a few times to see if it works.

          *If you are familiar with this program, she also recommends a Z shape across the whole page. I never could get that to work for me. That’s not what I’m talking about.

          1. Julia*

            Thank you! I do find that when I mark stuff with a text marker, and thus follow the page with my hand, I read a little better, but I don’t always have the time to do more than skim articles.

            1. Christy*

              The only way I could focus to really understand complicated texts in my senior seminar was to take notes as I went and then diagram/summarize the main idea. Like A led to B which meant that C lead to D but E and F also influenced D would be drawn on a piece of paper with lots of arrows. It really really helped, and it made review easier too.

              1. Julia*

                Thank you! Unfortunately, I am so swamped this semester that I just don’t have the time to do that without sacrificing sleep, which would lead to even worse concentration. :(

                1. Christy*

                  Have you tried just reading the first sentence of every paragraph? Legit, that was all I needed to do in grad school (MLS).

                2. Florida*

                  Julia, several people have offered some good suggestions and each time your response is that you don’t have time. Most of these suggestion take a little longer initially, but in the long run they take less time because less review is required. With all due respect, I’m not sure if this is a concentration problem or if it is an Im-not-willing-to-put-in-the-effort problem.
                  I know that I always have adult students who say they can’t concentrate, aren’t smart, or whatever their excuse is. But once I start working with them, I realize that the problem is not their concentration level but their insecurity about being in school again at age 40. If they announce to everyone that they can’t concentrate because they are old, then it is somehow less of a reflection on their intelligence when they don’t do well in the class (at least that’s their theory). Maybe this isn’t your situation, but for most comments your response has been that you don’t have time to put for the effort it would take to try what we are suggesting.
                  I make this comment with good intentions, so I hope you interpret it that way. Obviously I don’t know your entire situation, so maybe I’m wrong. But I thought it was a possibility so I wanted to mention it.

      2. Victoria, Please*

        One of my favorite books ever on learning.

        Julia, do you spend a lot of time on the internet? I find that my concentration is shot as well, and I am pretty confident (and research backs me up) that my optional use of the internet is the culprit.

        1. katamia*

          Seconded. I don’t have wifi in my apartment yet, which is kind of killing me because I’m also in grad school, but my focus has gone up just in the last couple weeks.

    3. nep*

      Your inclination about exercise is good — it can help the brain. Great that you’re walking regularly.
      You might see how much omega 3 fatty acids you’re getting.
      One thought comes to mind and I’m not being a smart ass here — In the past few years have you spent a good bit of time on social media / internet? A friend was recently telling me about the tough time he has ‘going deep’ on some projects at work because of the habit and pull of social media and effects on his attention span. I’m not up on the latest research on this but I’ve heard / read that it does have an impact on our ability to stick with a long, complex text.
      Could be way off base — but it comes to mind. I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts on this.

      1. Julia*

        Thank you! I wish I had more time to exercise…
        I take an omega 3 suppliment at night with my vitamin D.
        I do spend a lot of time on the internet, mostly reading, but you’re right, I need to cut back on that…

        1. nep*

          I hope you’ll be able to get to the bottom of it.
          If most of what you do on internet is longer reads, I reckon this isn’t an issue in your case. What I refer to is more to do with the fragmented content, the constantly jumping from snippet to snippet on Twitter or FB…As that Guardian article from a couple weeks ago referred to it, ‘continuous partial attention’.
          All the best. Keep us posted.

          1. Julia*

            It’s longer than Twitter, but definitely shorter than a chapter in a textbook. I will need to cut down on it and focus on my studies more. Thank you for your advice!

        2. Jen*

          Try taking your supplements, or at least the D, in the morning – sounds weird and I have no idea if there’s science behind it but anecdotally it worked for me and some other people I know

        3. Christy*

          It seems like you have to become ruthless with your time. Right here in the same comment, you’re saying you don’t have time to exercise but you spend a lot of time on the internet. So I’m interpreting that as, right now, you prioritize reading the internet over exercise. Maybe it’s conscious and maybe it’s not. But is that what you want to prioritize?

          Have you heard of the rocks/pebbles/sand/water idea of time management/life prioritization? The idea is that we all have a bucket and we fill it up, but if we put the sand or the pebbles in before the rocks, the rocks won’t fit, but if we put the rocks, then the pebbles, then the sand in, everything fits.

          Sounds like you have to decide what’s a rock (essential and unmissable), pebble (important but definitely secondary to the rock), and the sand (nice to have but it fills in around the edges). For me, exercise is a rock–it’s a non-negotiable in my day, and I structure my life around it. It’s not that much structure, but I go in late so I can go to yoga, and other days I leave strictly on time so I can go to kettlebell class. It’s a chore just as grocery shopping is.

          Exercise doesn’t have to be a rock for everyone. Some people treat it like a pebble, filling it around their other major obligations (fair), and some like sand, getting it in where they can (also fair).


          Another idea if you’re finding that you have no time is to figure out where your time is going. It’s like a food diary to figure out what you’re actually eating. One day or one week, record your time in 15-minute increments all day. That will help you see how you’re spending your time and if that aligns with your actual priorities. Then, you can trim back on some things or outsource or add time for others.

          1. hermit crab*

            I really like this rock/pebble/sand analogy! Thanks for the good explanation. Sleep is totally my rock…

    4. Julia*

      I just spent half an hour crying to my husband because I feel so stupid for not being able to understand research articles, let alone individual sentences in those articles, anymore. I have to write my thesis soon and I can’t do statistics and my professor said he’d teach us but is often unavailable, and feeling so stupid and stressed out.
      (Also mega pissed off at this other professor who just changed the syllabus and assigned us presentations for the following week, completed with a partner so schedules need to be adjusted, and we had to pick an article to present on the spot, which is how I ended up with this monster.)

      1. Reba*

        It sounds like your school situation is stressful enough in its own right!

        I also have a feeling that I have gotten duller over time–I mean in the sense of less sharp, less quick. I know I am smart, but I also just get tired more quickly now. I’m 31 and have felt this way for a few years. I think it’s both age/health and situational. For me, a couple years ago I moved away from my grad school town (following spouse’s job) and was working on my stuff from home, so I wasn’t around “my people,” and I had just come off two semesters of teaching. I miss the teaching because I felt good being “on” for that–coming up with new materials, new things to say every week. I felt that my brain kind of quietened, and concentrating is harder for me now, too.

        I’m not a heavy user of social media in particular but I do tend to spend a lot of time clicking around on the internet, and I *know* that has sapped my mental strength. I use the “pomodoro” when I’m struggling to concentrate.

        I’m also working on ramping up exercise and making sure that I eat enough and regularly–that is a tough one for me, staying organized about food–so that hunger doesn’t turn into general fatigue and the blahs.

        I look back on my undergrad years and wonder how I did that! So many classes! clubs! volunteering! I was so busy.

        1. Reba*

          Also, don’t forget that many, many academic texts are not well written. They just aren’t. Even really bright people can write just mud (and be rewarded for it). So that’s definitely not just you!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh this is so true. I had a psychology class with a really great professor and the text was one of the worst I’ve ever tried to read. It was so bad he actually told us not to read certain parts of it. I forget why he had used it–either he had to for some reason or didn’t realize how clunky and shitty it was.

          2. Old Biddy*

            This is so true. I am a scientist and read, write, and edit a lot of papers. I peer review about 10 papers a year and a few of the recent ones was the most obtuse thing I’ve ever read. I was much more confused after reading it than before I started. I had to go and read a few normal papers to convince myself I wasn’t just having a brainfoggy day.

        2. Reba*

          Oh and also! One thing I’ve changed recently is listening to podcasts or audiobooks less. Of course I don’t know if you do this, but I used to listen a lot on my commute. I still do sometimes but I’ve appreciated spending some more time with my own thoughts.

          1. Julia*

            Thank you! I don’t ever listen to audiobooks or podcasts because I tend to space out and miss a lot.

        3. nep*

          Your post is the first I’m hearing of pomodoro technique — had to look it up. Has it worked for you?

          1. Sparrow*

            I’m not Reba, but my roommate and I both really liked using pomodoro in undergrad and it worked great. I don’t use it so often anymore (although come to think of it I probably should…) and it’s perfect for those tasks that seem very large and hard to tackle, like writing a big paper.

          2. Reba*

            It works well for me when I am in the reluctant to start, procrastinating phase. I think, “I can do this for 25 minutes.” Often as I get into the swing of things I go for longer stretches without the breaks.

            It feels silly sometimes to go so strictly by the clock but it’s made a difference for me, especially to restrict my internet disctracting to the defined breaks, not “any time something flutters across my consciousness.”

      2. misspiggy*

        Introducing Statistics : A Graphic Guide changed my life! I am still stuck on parts, but the bits I do understand have been so useful.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you are not too hard on yourself. It could be that you are just sick of schooling.
      But also to consider is that things like grief or allergy will absolutely kill one’s ability to concentrate. If you have had a sadness in your life, that can be a suitcase to lug around and in turn break up your train of thought.
      Allergies can be brutal on concentration. Allergies can really sneak up on a person, we are so busy with other things that we don’t even notice the allergy slowly wearing us down.
      For me if I eat too much junk food, I’m done. My ability to concentrate goes on vacation without me.

    6. StrikingFalcon*

      I do think it’s worth talking to a doctor. I had been feeling for some years that I had vague but increasing difficulties with short term memory (remembering words, things on my to do list, etc) and it turned out to be a symptom of fibromyalgia. Sometimes it is unexpected things.

      If it isn’t all reading, though, and is just some very difficult readings for school, keep in mind that not everyone writes well. There are thousands of poorly written articles out there, that no one can read and comprehend easily. Also some topics are easier to wrap one’s head around than others.

    7. LNLN*

      When I was under a lot of stress several years ago, my cognitive skills went to hell, which created even more stress in my life. With all the stress you describe having, no wonder you are having difficulty with concentration and comprehension. You might try reflecting on what stress management tools have worked for you in the past and figure out how you can adapt them to your present situation and time constraints. As far as a sleep study goes, my sleep doctor is a neurologist. I wish you well!

      1. Julia*

        Thank you, everyone! (I’m just replying to one of you so I don’t say the same thing three times and spam this thread.)

        Someone upthread said I was making excuses about not having time, and that may be true, but it really is the case that I need to do readings for seven different classes each week and I need to be quick and can’t just read them all out loud or discuss them with someone imaginary. I need to read through them and remember the gist, like I did when I was doing my bachelor’s. Sure, some of them aren’t written well, but the other students seem to be doing okay, or at leas they’re not struggling with every single reading…

        1. Christy*

          SEVEN CLASSES?! Dear lord, is that a normal courseload in your program? In undergrad I maxed out at 6 and in grad school people thought I was crazy for taking 4. (I had one particularly loathsome classmate complain about taking 3 while working ten hours a week. I was taking four and working 30 hours/week and commuting an hour each way).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think the logical explanation here is that you are freakin’ exhausted. Seven courses has to be too much. I would say the same of six courses.
          I will go one step further, I think seven courses is too much for any human being. So this has nothing to do with you personally and everything to do with what is actually reasonable.

    8. Fruitfly*

      I have also felt that I became more dumber after completing undergrad and grad school. I felt I couldn’t grasp the textbook concepts as well as I did when I was at school. And that can be challenging when I need to revisit these concepts when working on my job.

      Whenever I need to revisit these daunting textbook concepts, I usually put a nice picture or a favorite book next to my desk. Whenever I felt stress or just couldn’t concentrate anymore after reading the textbook passages, I just look through a few pages of my favorite book so I can feel more happier and have an emotional release. Then I can go back to concentrating on my textbook.

      You can also ask to schedule an appointment with the professor or school tutor if it is possible. That might help with the difficult course you’re taking.

    9. Not So Little My*

      May I also suggest getting your vision checked? You’re a little young for presbyopia, but so was I when I couldn’t concentrate on texts in grad school, and getting a reading glasses prescription helped immensely. I didn’t recognize it at first because (a) I was 24, and (b) it manifested itself as a cognitive thing (can’t retain what I read) rather than a vision problem like eye strain or squinting.

    10. ThursdaysGeek*

      It’s probably not this – but my sister was on thyroid meds (synthroid), and she said it made her fuzzy and dumb. She changed when she was taking it, took it at night instead of the morning and it helped. But she had to change meds completely, because of that side effect. It might be worth looking at all possible drug side effects and adverse interactions between drugs, in addition to all the other excellent suggestions.

  9. Ramona Flowers*

    Thanks to those of you who recommended sticking with Person of Interest. I’m deep into season 3 and still enjoying it.

    Also, I’m glad you didn’t reveal the death – I have no idea what other show that person is in and even if I did I would have assumed they filmed at different times. That is… not the person I thought they’d decide to kill off.

    My feelings about Harold have become less positive this season. But I’m also frustrated that this is yet another show that’s completely failed at depicting a therapist! The psychiatrist in his flashback made assumptions, didn’t ask questions… argh!

    1. boris*

      At what point did you start to get into it? We started watching it knowing that it supposedly picked up somewhere around season 2, but I am finding season 1 such tough going. So much generic manpain! Taraji P Henson’s character is great, and is the only reason I’m persevering.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Season 1 gets better towards the end. Season 2 is good with a dip in the middle. I’d recommend watching all of season 1 at least.

    2. Purple snowdrop*

      Yeah she is an utterly dreadful therapist and not a great character at all.
      I might have to rewatch soon.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I should be clear that I mean the psychiatrist he saw after the ferry incident, though you probably got that?

        She’s terrible!

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            In other news did you know Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston are married? I kind of love them as a couple. I adore her – she’s brilliant in The Good Wife.

            1. Purple snowdrop*

              I know, they are so very sweet together!

              When I started watching ME was Ben from Lost in my head and I was very strongly of the opinion I could NEVAH see him as a good guy. He had creeped me out so very much. That really didn’t last long. Says a lot for his acting.

  10. Oz recommendations needed*

    I am planning a trip to Australia and I would love some recommendations! I am flying in and out of Sydney and will be in the country for a month, but don’t have anything else planned. I’ll be there for 4 weeks and am feeling overwhelmed (in a good way) with all of the options. For anyone who has been there, what did you love or what did you think was over rated? I’ll be traveling solo and am pretty healthy so no physical restrictions. I leave at the end of March so I should be hitting it during their fall.

    1. PX*

      I really liked Melbourne! If you’re into wine, doing one of the wine tours is a great way to get out and see a bit of the countryside. And obviously great ocean road tour. 4 weeks isnt really that long for a country that size, but I desperately want to do some outback things/the west coast, so someday I hope to go back *wistful*

    2. Thlayli*

      I started in Perth and travelled all down the coast to Melbourne. It was awesome. Highlights: Great Barrier Reef, Gold Coast, cuddling a koala and feeding kangaroos at some zoo that did night time visits but sorry can’t remember name of them.

    3. London Calling*

      Autumn is the best time of year to vist Australia because the temperature and humidity (barring north Queensland) is much more comfortable for sightseeing and travelling. My family is based in Queensland so a couple of random suggestions are – whale watching in Hervey Bay, visit the Barrier Reef and some of the islands. However, if you have the time, take the train from Sydney to Perth or vice versa, it is an AWESOME trip. It takes three days across the outback with stops in Kalgoorlie (big mining town), Cook (right in the middle of the outback), Adelaide and Broken Hill. There’s also the Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin), and the Spirit of Queensland (Brisbane-Cairns).

      Can you tell I love travelling by train?

    4. Kathenus*

      In Sydney, behind the Opera House, is the Royal Botanical Garden. It’s a beautiful park where during the day you can see wild cockatoos and other birds flying and feeding, and at dusk (certain times of the year) you can watch the flying foxes (fruit bats) fly off their roosts and off to feed. I highly recommend going to see the bats – it’s amazing. Also within easy driving distance from Sydney – to the south is Watson’s Bay (cliffs overlooking the ocean), to the north is Ku Ring Gai National Park (also called Palm Beach I believe) which is beautiful. And to the west is the Blue Mountains, with the Three Sisters formation and Jenolan Caves nearby (this is a great overnight trip to see both). Also definitely go to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney which is really great.

      1. Kathenus*

        If you’re adventurous, try the Bridge Climb on the Harbour Bridge. Pricey, but I thought it was worth it for the experience.

      2. Life is Good*

        Yes, the botanical gardens are wonderful. And it’s free! The gift shop is awesome, too. Sydney has a ton of free museums. Museum of Contemporary Art down near Circular Quay is free. You can visit the Saturday market at The Rocks, near the MoCA for some awesome Australian made goods, though watch out for the made in China junk. There is a war memorial museum that is very interesting in Hyde Park (free). And St. James cathedral is beautiful. Don’t forget Bondi beach. There is a neat walking trail you can do along the coast. You can also can take inexpensive public transport all over. We went on a whale watching excursion – it was cool to see whales breaching. We also saw an opera at the opera house. It was ok, but kind of expensive and opera’s not our thing. A rock concert would have been awesome. You are going at a great time! We went in June for a month (hubby’s a teacher, so our options are limited on when to travel) and it was nice mostly, but their winter and could get chilly. We rented a camper van and traveled north from Sydney along the coast, then inland, visiting too many towns to remember the names of and down to Melbourne – beautiful city – and up to Canberra. In Melbourne, we visited the Melbourne Museum ($17US) which had a very moving Aborigine installment when we visited in 2016. In Canberra, there is a Made in Australia shop in the downtown mall that carries only quality stuff made in Au. We also visited the capital building and saw the House and Senate chambers. Super interesting and the people there are very friendly and polite. Most of all, try to focus on quality, not quantity. Australia is a very large continent. We plan to go back to Western Au someday to explore Perth and the surrounding areas. Have fun, lucky!

      3. Girasol*

        I second the Tar0nga Zoo and botanical gardens. When we went for three weeks we went there and also took local flights to Cairns (snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef!) and Tasmania, which was wonderful in so many ways that I almost wished we’d spent the whole time exploring there.

        1. Girasol*

          I forgot to say, for supper, we never found a pub that disappointed. The local folks who gather at the pubs are wonderfully friendly, too, especially in small towns. For lunch, bakeries all over sell delicious meat pies. We learned that if you ask, “What is the soup of the day?” people often look at you like you’re daft and say “Pumpkin, of course!” It’s delicious too.

    5. Sarah*

      Studied abroad in Melbourne, you’re going to have an amazing time! I miss it.

      Melbourne is known for its incredible street art, so I’d look into a self-guided graffiti walking tours. But honestly it’s the best city I’ve ever been to for just wandering. It has tons of unexpected little alleys between streets that actually contain cafes and that sort of thing. (I lived near Elizabeth St. and Swanston St., which was a great, busy area) Amazing food scene, and shopping. Australia’s known for its opals if you’re into jewelry or looking for easily portable souvenirs. The tram is great to get around. Flinders Station is beautifully lit up in color at night. Queen Victoria Market is good if you like giant outdoor farmer’s markets.

      Outside Melbourne, the twelve apostles are breathtaking. If you like penguins, I’d check Phillip Island. I did the typical tourist day in Sydney near the opera house, which was gorgeous. Surprisingly the beaches were fine and clean but not unforgettable, in my opinion.

      1. Sarah*

        Oh and they have this chain bakery called Breadtop, if you go there please get a Milk de Crunch. Sooo good.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      I second all the recommendations you’ve gotten so far. I’ll add Parkes Observatory and the Bundaberg rum distillery.

      We joined a caravan club before we left the US, and stayed in them for 3 of the 4 weeks we were there. We put 3000 miles on the rental car and probably never got more than a couple of hundred miles from the east coast. Flew into Sidney, drove the coast to Melbourne, spent a week there for WorldCon, then drove north a bit inland. We got as far north as Yepoon, then turned back south on the coast. Back to Sydney and flew home.

      Get a rental car with cruise control, it’s didn’t have it. The distances are even more vast that the American west. Don’t drive at night outside of towns, there’s a reason so many cars in the rural areas have roo guards in the front, you’re rental won’t have one.

      Have fun!

        1. Jessi*

          I very briefly lived in Sydney (like for two weeks) I was in the Northern beaches area. One of the best things I did there was take a ferry around the harbour. It was an actually ferry designed to get people home (as opposed to a ferry for sight seeing) but it took me under the harbour bridge as the sun was setting and the sunlight on the opera house was awesome!

          Free meerkats thinks Bondi beach was overrated maybe you could take a ferry to one of the nothern beaches instead?

      1. London Calling*

        Byron Bay in NSW – laid back arty/surfer dude vibe. Fraser Island if you go to Hervey Bay – and the foooooddd. OMG – Australian food and wine…..and if you love coffee you’ll be in good company.

    7. Meg*

      No matter which cities/activities you choose, you will have a great time! I’ve been there twice, including a six-month study abroad stint in college. There are lots of fun neighborhoods to explore in Sydney (including Glebe and Newtown near the university), and I second Kathenus’ recommendation to wander around the Royal Bonatic Garden. Another great activity is the cliff walk from South Head to Bondi Beach. (You’ll probably read about the famous Bondi to Bronte cliff walk, which is pretty but quite crowded. The South Head to Bondi walk is even more beautiful, in my opinion, and has far fewer people. You can take the ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay, walk up past Lady Bay Beach to South Head, then come back down and see the Gap, then down to Bondi Beach. Really lovely way to spend an afternoon.)

      Melbourne is such a fun town, and there are lots of laneways to explore, full of great restaurants and little shops. If you like sporting events, try to see if there are any games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Great Ocean Road really isn’t to be missed–some of my favorite pictures are from that trip. You can rent a car and drive yourself (it doesn’t take too long to adjust to the left-side driving, IME), or there are many many different tours you can take. And lastly, Cairns/Queensland is great for seeing the Great Barrier Reef and doing other outdoorsy activities. Have so much fun!

    8. Comeswithcats*

      Aussie here!

      Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Sydney. The Opera House is lovely, the Botanic Gardens are great, and there are lots of other great things to see and do. It’s just the vibe I don’t love. This is obviously very personal, I know plenty of people who love Sydney and live there. Highly recommended Taronga Zoo, the view across the harbour is breathtaking.

      If you like city living – I’m going to echo what others have said and suggest Melbourne, my favourite Australian city. I always feel so at home and so relaxed when I visit Melbourne. The food is fantastic, the lane ways are so fun, the markets are great. There’s nothing I love more than aimlessly wandering about in Melbourne, a book in one hand and a coffee in the other.

      4 weeks is plenty of time for a road trip from Sydney to Melbourne (although I would suggest flying back to Sydney if it’s in your budget). There are tons of gorgeous sights along the way, although it may be a bit cold for beach weather at that time of year.

      If you’re a beach lover, head to North Queensland and enjoy the rainforests, the great barrier reef and the sandy beaches. If you love the outdoors and the heat, you will love north Queensland.

      Obviously, this all depends on what type of traveller you are and what you would like to get out of this holiday. You could easily stay in Sydney the whole 4 weeks and truly explore the city and its surrounds (you will definitely not run out of things to do).

    9. Parenthetically*

      Please please please go to Tasmania! Stunning natural beauty, amazing food (especially seafood and fruit — it’s called the apple isle for a reason!)

    10. Colleen*

      I spent a weekend in Melbourne. I did a bike tour with Freddy’s Bike Tours and it was amazing (their motto is “Walking Sucks.” I also took a bus tour from Melbourne to Healesville Sanctuary (it was so wonderful to see all of the Australian wildlife in one place, and I got to see a lot of the countryside).

      Have fun!

    11. Geoffrey B*

      From Sydney, you can day-trip via train up to the Blue Mountains. Beautiful scenery, lovely little mountain towns around Leura & Katoomba. Probably a good season for hiking if you want to stay a bit longer.

      Melbourne: yes, the street art is excellent. I’d also recommend the National Gallery of Victoria (art gallery), Australian Centre for the Moving Image (sort of film/TV museum), and the Koorie Heritage Trust (Australian Aboriginal history and culture for the region).

      1. Oz recommendations needed*

        THANK YOU! I am so excited for this trip and now I have a list of places to research! I am definitely going to Melbourne and am going to look into renting a car to go along the Great Ocean Road. I can’t wait :)

        1. Loz*

          Warning: the ‘great’ in great ocean road refers to its length, not its awesomeness. Many folks like it and it has its moments, but it’s nothing special in my opinion, especially if you’re stuck behind a caravan. There’s good ocean along there that many enjoy, but not my thing. On the way from Melbourne there’s Forest which has a good brewery, rainforest and mountain biking. Apollo bay is not far but, again, meh. So hard to give advice to someone you don’t know about things you are passionate about!

          Also try the other direction – Philip island!

    12. Loz*

      Can’t say I’m a fan of Sydney and while Melbourne and Adelaide are ok, I’d recommended not cities for Oz. The best parts are the outdoors. Try Tasmania Hobart (MONA if you’re into art), Uluru/Ayers rock, kings canyon, the Olgas etc. Barrier reef etc of course.
      Flinders ranges & all the towns down to Adelaide, Snowy mountains, Bright & surrounds NE Vic do it for me as does the far north.
      You will never have enough time in 4 weeks to scratch the surface so plan carefully and be prepared to change the plan!
      Ah too much… need to plan my own trip, Silverton, White Cliffs, anywhere around Murray Darling river system…..
      Get a 4wd and go nuts!

    13. Persephone*

      Ooh! Aussie girl – you’re coming at a great time. I live fairly close to Byron Bay, and if you’re coming this way I’d say maybe avoid Byron itself. It’s fairly overrated, and has lost most of the charm which drew people there in the first place. Try some of the areas nearby: beaches, hit up Lennox Head. Hippie charm, go Bangalow. The hinterland (Clunes, Alstonville, Lismore) is all gorgeous, too.

      Melbs is also pure joy and well worth the visit. I recommend Gelato Messina at least once (especially if they have the Pavlova flavour). Melbs is also quintessentially four seasons in one day, so be prepared. Coming from the coast to Melbourne, I expected autumn to be not too bad (we’re still, typically, getting close to 30 degree days where I am in early autumn). I went in early autumn this year, froze half to death because I’m a sook and cry when it’s below 25 celsius.

      Brisbane is also fairly lovely, but it’s a pretty big country town compared to usual cities. It’s cute, and has a burgeoning cafe/arts culture (basically it’s a mini-Melbs with lots of rivers). You’ll find people there will ALWAYS wear thongs. ALWAYS. I’d get on the bus to go to work and people popping into the city would have massive hoodies and trackpants on… with thongs.

      I’m not too well-versed on Sydney, but it’s a great central point, and from memory there is plenty to see and do there. With 4 weeks, though, definitely check out other stuff. And you’re probably aware, but stuff here is fairly far away (e.g. my cousin, visiting from Argentina, asked if we could drive out to Uluru. “From where?” “Your house?” Me, eyeing her: “… not sure if serious, but it’s apparently 35 hours to drive out there, so no.”). You’ll be able to travel to most, if not all places, from Sydney.

      OH. Kiama is nice, that’s near Sydney from memory. Very cute town.

    14. Cas*

      Hunter valley for wine tours!

      I agree that Bondi beach is overrated partly because it has become tourist central but other Eastern beaches and bays are worth it as are Northern and Southern beaches.

      Look out for specialty foods using unique Australian ingredients, such as in chocolate (example: ‘oh boo chocolates’ has Tasmanian pepperberry and lemon myrtle flavours)

      The aquarium at Darling Harbour is great, if not loud.

      Check out what’s on at the Opera House that month- they hold all kinds of performances (opera, stand-up comedy, rock, musicals, etc) and it’s a great experience, and you can hang out in the beautiful Circular Quay before/after

      Anywhere you go, you’ll find something, to be honest

    15. Phoenix Programmer*

      I lived in Australia for a year on a Fulbright! It’s was a really fun country!

      Favorites no order
      Diving and snorkeling in Port Douglas/North Queensland.
      Sydney zoo.
      Melbourne!!!!!! Favorite City.
      Canberra museums and botanic gardens.
      Great ocean road.


      It really depends what you are into. I love nature so my favs had cheap lodging and food with lots of outdoor or cultural activities. I was really disappointed in Sidney. Very expensive and not much to do outside of the zoo besides clubbing which is not my thing. I expected Canberra to suck from Bill Bryson’s book and how locals knock it but if you are into culture and history I recommend it. It’s full of free musuems and botanic gardens. World class WWII museum. It’s an interesting place to walk around if you are willing to get a lot of steps.

      You have to experience the reef even if you spend two days of travel for one day off snorkeling it is worth it!

      Not sure when you are traveling from but if it is US expect food to be very expensive everywhere but Melbourne. I rarely ate out and frankly rarely ate meat due to the prices.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Also want to clarify Sydney a bit. I lived in Queensland for a year on 36k. I only had funds for my bnb and a trip to the zoo. This budget had worked out very well for me in most of Australia due to free entertainment and ease of walking if you were in shape but I was bored and hungry and cold my entire time in Sydney. The the day trip cost as much as a well in Melbourne. Walking across the bridge each day was a drag and there were few things available in walking distance. I even went over budget since food was so pricey. On the third day I just stayed in my room to conserve energy and paid for internet for the day. I was there in late fall/winter.

    16. Phoenix Programmer*

      Google “Australia travel blogs” to find tons of information from those who traveled before.

    17. It's Business Time*

      I am too late to this but if you read it, you should hit Melbourne (best City in the world!) at the end of March, first half of April for the International Comedy Festival – OMG the city is just soooo much fun during this event, it is crazy amazing!!!!!! There are some great facebook pages for people visiting Australia and they can give you awesome advice too!

  11. DanaScully*

    If you had to choose a famous person whose accent was most similar to yours, who would you pick?

    1. ToledoShark*

      Saoirse Ronan I guess, but there aren’t too many famous Irish girls that have mass appeal.

        1. ToledoShark*

          She was born in America but spent most of her life in Ireland and sounds Irish. I’d imagine she has Irish citizenship through her parents.

    2. Too Witches*

      Charlize Theron, because we’re both from South Africa but lived in North America long enough that that’s now the predominant accent. But sometimes…you get us riled up and all sorts of weird vowel sounds may come out ;)

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Some days it’s Susie Essman, some days it’s Nancy Pelosi. In other words, some days I’m pretty Noo Yawk-y (my adopted home) and some days I let a teeeny bit of Baltimore creep in. (I have a very strange combination of accents. Don’t ask me to tell you about the time I went to the store to get a cup of coffee while walking my dog, you won’t know what hit you.)

    4. caledonia*

      Either the Scottish actors are very Scottish (David Tenant, James McAvoy) or very English (Judi Dench, Colin Firth, quite “posh”). I’m just a normal person and sound neither particularly Scottish or English so there probably isn’t one.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had a hard time with Tennant when I first started watching Broadchurch. I was so used to him speaking in an English accent as The Doctor that his Scottish one really threw me!

        And Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange speaking in an American accent was just……strange. I got used to it, but at first, it was like, GAH what is he doing!? He’s not supposed to sound like that!

    5. Elizabeth H.*

      Anne Miller who is a regular guest on QI No Such Thing as a Fish podcast sounds exactly like a Scottish version of me (I’m American). I was pretty shocked the first time I heard her on!
      I have a very distinctive/squeaky voice, not quite Starlee Kine level but more in that genre. I can’t think of anyone American I sound a lot like, possibly because I don’t have a great “radio voice” :D (I’m happy with it though!)

    6. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I mean… it’d have to be Lorde, right? There aren’t many to pick from, and most Kiwi actors wind up with their accent getting ‘Americanised’ over time ^_^

    7. Sam's Grammy*

      Walter Cronkite. Did I just date myself ?? Quintessential middle America no accent or blend of all accents.

    8. Jen RO*

      Nadia Comaneci, I guess – because she’s the only Romanian-born person who most of you may have heard speak.

      (And, after listening to an interview of her from 2016, I have to say I expected her accent to sound more American! She still has a pretty strong accent… which makes me feel better about my own.)

    9. Nines*

      It’s not so much an accent as just a similarity in the sound of our voices but I’ve been told SO many times that I sound just like Janeane Garofalo. It makes me quite pleased. When she was in movies and such more I used to get people asking me to do lines from her stuff all the time.

  12. Beancat*

    UGH. After a super long bad week, my Friday ended with my car just giving up on me. It’s now an hour from home, and my entire Saturday will be spent going out to find it and get it to the garage. It’s just been…a long week.

    1. I get that*

      New well pump, new laptop for daughter, daughter’s car in shop for heater issues (just fixed AC and heater in my car). Do not want another week/month like this.

      1. Beancat*

        I just had to replace my computer as well, after begging it sweetly to pleeeeease stop overheating/stalling/freezing, so I’m not looking forward to this. Especially since the AAA guy said it’s probably my coolant, but there’s no light to tell me it’s low like in my old car. He informed me that that light is the “check engine” light. =\ So if that’s all it is, I’m going to feel pretty foolish.

        1. JD*

          Ya that is true although I can see a lot of people not knowing that if their old car had a staight coolant light. That being said, once that check engine light is on, one should really have the car seen RIGHT AWAY. A lot of people wait a bit. Of course, sometimes it can come on and the car dies near moments later.

  13. Shayland*

    A group of young men have starting gambling with dice right outside my apartment building. They’re on the section of our lot that would be a porch if the building was designed like the rest of the row homes on the block. But it’s not and that area is just a nice bit of flat side walk. They also block the entry way into our building and have shouted at me and my dogs when we’ve walked past them in the past.

    I’ve walked past them for about a month without incident. And this with them throwing the dice, yelling at me, yelling at the dogs, running, yelling at each other, etc. I was really proud with how my dogs handled it. Especially because I was mostly just taking them out to be and they weren’t in work or training mode or anything.

    Well today one of my dogs (a service dog, they both are) went to pick up the dice right after they’d been thrown. He was either thinking it was part of his job, I often have him pick up fallen items for me, or he wanted to play.

    The group of men exploded, screaming at me, profanity, slurs, etc. One said he’s shoot my dog.

    I called the police and they police talked to them, then talked to me, explain what to do next, so forth. But it’s just really set off my PTSD. I originally was supposed to go into work today but I called off. I could really just use some internet hugs and self care tips.

    1. Julia*

      I’m so sorry. It’s so tough when just leaving your apartment is such a source of dread – I’ve dealt with scary neighbors as well.

      Are those men allowed to be there? It sounds like they’re not out on the sidewalk, but on the property that belongs to the apartment complex. If none of them live there, can the landlord ban them? What if people move out because they don’t want to be yelled at every time they come and go?

      1. Shayland*

        The landlord has banned them and has had to escalate to calling the police whenever she sees them. She’s going to have a six foot fence installed in front of the lot which will be so nice. She’s been so great and supportive, she sent me the security footage of the confrontation and I’m going to be able to send that along to the police.

        Thanks for the sympathy / empathy. I’m trying to stay strong. I had such terrible nightmare all night about the guy who threatened my dog retaliating for me calling the police. I woke up so tired and still so scared. I just want to hide.

        1. Julia*

          I’m glad your landlady is proactive about this, but I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. Being threatening in/close to your own home is a horrible experience, especially when you did nothing wrong at all.

          Are they still outside and will they be there when you next have to go out?

        2. Fiennes*

          Other things your landlady might be able to do that would be cheap/easy/potentially effective:

          1) if these guys are there in the evening/night, install an obnoxiously bright light aimed directly at that area. Passerby will be only mildly annoyed, and the game may well be discouraged.

          2) loudly play music these guys don’t want to hear. The dice game will be less appealing if it has to be played to the tune of, say, Barry Manilow.

          Maybe those aren’t practicable in this situation – but they’re low-cost, low-conflict steps that might help. Regardless, I’m glad both landlady and cops have your back.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so sorry you had this experience. It sounds so frightening and upsetting. Huge internet hugs to you. Is there anyone who could meet you and walk with you next time you go out of your building or back in, if it would help you feel able to do that?

      Self-care tips: first off, it might help to do things you find comforting. Curl up in a blanket, cuddle with your dogs, bubble bath, hot chocolate, sing along to cheesy pop music, whatever works for you.

      When I’m feeling anxious and ptsd-y I like to watch familiar things so I don’t have to deal with any suspense, so I just watch films I’ve seen before, comedy shows I know well, that kind of thing.

      I also find it can help to name what I’m feeling and talk to myself kindly, like I’m talking to a friend. It sounds so hokey when people suggest it but actually helps in the moment.

      Also, is there any kind of victim support organisation where you are? Over here we have something like this where you can call a helpline or have a volunteer meet with you if you want to. Just a thought.

      I’m so sorry you had this experience.

      1. Shayland*

        The idea of getting someone to walk in and out of the building with me is a good one. I’m in the basement, and if I go up to the second floor there’s a window in the hallway where I can see if they are there or not. I checked at 7 am even though I know they have never been out there at 7 am. The police told me I can check if they are there and if they are to call the police and let them know. That I can wait inside until they disperse the group.

        On one hand, I don’t want to feel like I’m antagonizing my neighborhood by calling the police all the time. But on the other hand there is a history of harassment and now that my dog has been threatened I’m not going to be able to shrug off the other harassing behavior.

        I’m just not sure who to ask. We have seven units in this half of the building and seven in the other half. The groups in the unit above me I’m kind of close to, in the, I’ve given them home made bread for helping me when I locked myself out, but I’d feel really awkward and vulnerable asking for help.

        Thanks for the support and the self care tips. The one for a victim support organization is a really good one. I don’t want to have to wait until my weekly meeting with my therapist to discuss this.

        I’ve been really wanting to sort files on my computer, log and edit a spread sheet, tidy my apartment, that kind of work, but I can’t focus on it.

        I also need to eat. I have this really great chicken lemon soup. It needs to be blended before eating but it’s super good, it has a nice forth to it. It’s just so hard to eat when afraid.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Hey, they told you to call if the group is there. It’s absolutely okay to go ahead and do that.

        2. JD*

          I have to tell you, I am going to sound like a massive bitch here but have NO problem antagonizing them. They are harassing you. I wouldn’t stop until they were all arrested frankly. I wouldn’t even feel comfortable living somewhere where people congregated like this let alone harassed me. I say put your foot down.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Eating while afraid is hard. Aim for smaller servings. Congratulate yourself for what you do eat. Some attempt will give you some level of benefit. Think of it as a circle, no food, fear goes up, STILL no food, fear goes up higher. If the best you can do is get a few spoons of soup into you that is hugely better than NO soup. Accept that this is where you are at, do not scold yourself and then try again in a few hours. Keep trying to get little amounts into you at set intervals. Yes, this gets annoying. But sometimes this is how to get through things.

      2. Shayland*

        I responded to this but I think it got stuck in moderation. I have no idea why, but I don’t have the energy to rewrite the entire thing.

        The gist was thank you very much and I really like your self care tips.

    3. Myrin*

      I’m so sorry, that sounds like a really scary experience, no wonder you’re upset and stressed!
      I’m glad to see that your landlady is awesome and has your back, though!
      (Also, what’s up with these guys? Not just the yelling and profanity and stuff, but who just one day thinks to themselves “Oh, let me gather The Boyz and start a game of dice on this random piece of pavement”? People never cease to astound me.)

      1. RL*

        Dice! What kind of self-respecting hooligan is going around playing dice?! I’m a fan of the old Mission Impossible series and there is one episode where guys are throwing dice after hours in a gym, and I thought ‘well there’s something no one does anymore’. Did these guys time travel from the 60’s?

    4. Overeducated*

      I’m sorry, having your own home be a place of conflict and harassment is awful. It sounds like you have been handling it really well and I hope their issues with the landlord mean they find a new spot and leave you alone soon. For now, lots of hugs for the dogs!

    5. caledonia*

      Internet hugs for yuo and your dogs shayland. I’m glad the police and your landlady are supporting you.

      Self care tips – just be kind to yourself, eat your favourite food, watch your favourite movie, just relax. Not sure if you have a therapist but maybe they would be able to help as well.

    6. Red*

      *a million internet hugs* I know how hard PTSD can be, and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.

    7. Anono-me*

      Internet hugs.

      As everyone has said: be kind to yourself, pet the pups and try to eat.

      Calling the police about something that they asked you to, helps the police help the neighborhood.

    8. Shayland*

      Thank you everyone. It’s been too much for me to continue responding. But I’ve been reading. This is like, the cinder block that broke the camels back. Everything just came crashing down. I don’t know when I’ll be fully back to myself, but it won’t be over night.
      Thank you again. The support really does mean so much and has given me the energy to do more.

  14. Ramona Flowers*

    Also, it’s been a horrible week. My cat was injured and had to be shut in so was miserable and stressed which made his humans miserable and stressed (couldn’t let him out while he had open wounds). Some other stresses I won’t get into. I called a helpline and said: it could be worse.

    Well. About ten minutes after that, my husband had a car accident. The short version is that the car was aquaplaning and he had a choice between driving into a wall or a gap. Says he almost went for the gap but instinct told him to turn and drive right into the wall – everyone survived because the airbags deployed. Had he gone for the gap, they would have gone into a 50-foot drop.

    It was foggy and the information on the sat nav was wrong (not that he relies on that, it’s just really scary). When he called for help they couldn’t find him by GPS like they normally can with a mobile. And there were skid marks on the road that weren’t from his car. Obviously there is something very very wrong with that stretch of road, but I’m not pushing him to report it to anyone right now. He’s only got minor injuries but is really shaken up about how he almost killed his boss. (He works for a musician.) He seems to be focusing on that rather than the fact he thought he was going to die.

    I’ve listened when he wanted to talk and let him change the subject when he wanted to. I’ve given him a card for the EAP (as our provision includes stuff like EMDR and partners can access it) in case he wants to use them down the line and doesn’t want to tell me or have to ask me for the details.

    It is at times like this that I wish I had a mother I could call to come round and do whatever it is that people’s mothers do.

    1. Julia*

      I’m really sorry you’re having a hard week. The accident must have been terrifying for your husband, but I also wonder about you. How do you feel about your husband being in an accident? I know I would have trouble leaving his side for a while.

      Do you have close friends who can “mother” you for a bit? I know it’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Thank you so much for this comment – I really appreciate it because I’m supporting him and it’s helpful to have a space where it can be about me. I don’t really know how I feel, but I got really upset right after I posted the first comment, which is a good thing as I’m finally accessing my feelings a bit, though basically I’m still emotionally holding my breath.

        I do have friends who do that. Thanks for the reminder to let them. I’m going to call a close friend now. Thank you.

    2. Myrin*

      My goodness, Ramona, what a hard and scary time you’re having! I’m so sorry your family is going through this right now and wish you all the best! ♥

        1. Myrin*

          I’m glad to hear that! And it’s not actually a bunny in a cup (although funny that you thought that – my old profile pic on ebay used to be two (!) bunnies in cups) – it’s probably hard to see because of the size but it’s actually a bunny chilling out in front of a computer with its legs on the table! I put a link to the full pic in my name if you’d like to get a better look.

    3. Overeducated*

      I’m sorry, that’s terrifying. I am so glad your husband is ok but the aftermath is tough too.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      Thanks all. Julia’s comment made me realise I really needed to talk through some of this stuff and to have someone tell me that I was doing a good job of supporting him and I ended up calling a helpline which helped.

      My cat is also making me laugh. He is allowed out again now but today apparently all he wants to do is sit on a dining chair and stare at people. For… cat reasons.

      1. caledonia*

        My cat is giving me sad eyes because it’s the weekend and I’ve stolen the sofa from her.

        I feel you on the mum thing :( Hope that your month gets better and very happy that your husband wasn’t hurt further than he was.

      2. Kei*

        Cats are weird in his own way he may have sensed something is up with you and your partner and has decided the best way to help is to supervise.

        Sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad time lately, be sure to take care of yourself.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Definitely. After a got the call he kind of stood guard over my bed while I waited for more news.

          And thank you.

      3. Julia*

        Sometimes, my brain surprises me with good insight. I’m glad I could be of help!

        Cats are awesome, and I’m glad yours is making you laugh. I hope everything else will sort itself out.

    5. HannahS*

      How awful! I’m sorry to hear :( If we lived in the same place, I’d hop to and come over with sympathy and a frozen lasagna.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      Thank you all for the kind comments and offers of lasagne and for generally being lovely, I really appreciate it.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        I’m glad the support you’re getting here helps. It helps me more than I can say :)

        Hope you’re doing ok and that your husband is ok too.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      That mom person. I can so relate here. You know that mom person can be anyone. It can be a good friend, a neighbor or it could be that kind, old man down the street. Please consider looking at the people you know with fresh eyes. Some people are really good at sympathizing, some are really good at giving practical advice and some are really good at distraction. Think about the people you know, what they are good at and then consider how you might connect with them for support. It might take 3-4 people to equal one mom, but this is not a bad thing. In some ways it might work out to be better than a mom person.

    8. Hrovitnir*

      Oh wow, that is a horrible week. I hope the world is extra nice to you all for a good couple of weeks.

    9. Ktelzbeth*

      Hugs and virtual butternut squash risotto to go with the lasagna. I’m sorry it’s been such a terrible time.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          Google butternut squash risotto Martha Stewart and you’ll get my (her) recipe. I usually throw in some chickpeas (garbanzo beans) for a little more protein so it can be a whole meal and extra cheese.

    10. Observer*

      Yow! Talk about bad weeks.

      I suspect that it’s easier for your husband to think about how he nearly killed his boss because that it’s bit less terrible than thinking about how he nearly died himself.

      I think you are doing a phenomenal job of being supportive. And, I’m glad you are reaching out for some help for yourself.

  15. ToledoShark*

    I’m debating buying a vacation home near the sea with a view to living there full-time in the not too distant future. Am I crazy?

    Background: Both my parents passed and my long-term relationship broke down over the last few years. Being in my mid-30s now it all encouraged me to re-evaluate my life, what’s important to me and what makes me happy. Chasing my career is less important. Enjoying my downtime has become more important. Once my parents’ estate is settled I’ll be very fortunate to inherit some money and as I’ve been spending more time in the tiny seaside village our ancestors are from and a beautiful cottage has come up for sale I am so so tempted. I also spent time there with my parents and it’s a place of comfort and peace for me – both before and after they passed. Their home in the city was always my base (even though I lived away a lot) and I feel that this property and location are a good place for me to put my roots.

    Work-wise it’s about 90 minutes by road from the nearest large city. Right now I work full-time but am hoping to transition to part-time, closer to the seaside village, as I have a self-employment idea I’m also looking to explore. Part of me feels like my plans are a script from a Julia Roberts movie and another part tells me you only live once.
    Friends think I’m crazy. I think it’s a bold move but not a crazy one. Thoughts?

    1. Annie Mouse*

      I would suggest having a good look at the location for the cottage and the hidden cons of the seaside village (is it prone to severe storms that cause lots of damage, what’s it like during the winter etc) and then if you still like the sound of it, go for it!! A seaside cottage retreat sounds lovely to me!

    2. Overeducated*

      That sounds lovely. I think if you run the numbers (purchase price, time commitment and maintenance when you’re not living there, reduced salary, etc.), and it looks realistic from a financial and time perspective, it’s not crazy. Maybe risky if you would rely on a self employment idea that isn’t real yet, but that’s not about the house.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      You only live once. If you can make it work with the self-employ and you’re not killing yourself working to support where you live, go for it! I’d be worried about storms, etc but that’s what insurance is for, right?

    4. Blue_eyes*

      I think that sounds lovely.

      As others have said, make sure you do your due diligence on the financial and other risks of this idea first. Make sure you’re not just diving into some romantic ideal of what your life could be (it doesn’t sound like you’re doing that). The fact that you have spent time in this town over many years tells me that you probably know you will like being in that area long term.

      90 minutes is not too far to drive most weekends if you need to work in the city until you can figure out your business idea or a work from home job. And you may be able to rent out the house for extra income when you’re not there.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Break it into parts and look at each part by itself.
      As far as the overall, you may want to talk to a financial adviser first before doing anything. Crunch the numbers and see how far you might get with your plans.

    6. RL*

      As someone in their 30’s that lives in a small sea-side town, I say go for it if financially able. However, I wouldn’t plan on living there and commuting to the city full time, but you seem to have thought of that. My nearest city is two hours away and I definitely could’t do that more than twice a week (but if you’re used to such a commute, disregard). But I think it’s a good life if your self-employed.
      You should also look into what it’s like during different times of the year. My town has lots of tourist during the summer, but quiet during the winter. And if the power goes out, is it out for days? My neighborhood gets fixed pretty quick, but you get outside of town limits and things move at a snail’s pace. And shopping isn’t so convenient, but that’s what Amazon is for I guess :)
      If you find you don’t like it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world either. You could rent out or sell.

      1. RL*

        Also, healthcare. There’s basic healthcare here, but if I need something more specialized, I have to go to a town closer to the city.

    7. Windchime*

      Your idea is basically my dream. The last time I was at the ocean, I decided that is where I will live full-time when I’m retired. I will just want a small, well-built home where I can see and hear the ocean.

      I say go for it.

    8. Detached Elemental*

      Sounds nice. I’d want to make sure that the seaside village had all the amenities I needed before I made a decision, eg does it have a reasonably priced grocery shop? Is there a pharmacy? Is there enough stuff to do, particularly if the weather is bad? Could I get a repairman at short notice and reasonable price if I needed to (eg plumbing emergency, power outage,etc).

    9. Jo*

      That sounds like a lovely idea and as long as you are financially able, I’d say go for it. Do what makes you happy :) I’m longing for the day when I can do something similar!

    10. JenM*

      I’d recommend renting and living there for a year. At the very least I’d spend a winter there so you know what it’s like with less people and bad weather.

    11. Fiennes*

      I say go for it – after doing due diligence. Others here have pointed out things to know about the town, but also be totally realistic with yourself. Are okay with the time it will take to build a new social network? Are there City comforts (delivery food at 1 am, going to plays, whatever) that you take for granted but would miss badly? Can you handle a smaller, probably more insular community that is going to know more about your business whether you like it or not? None of these are fatal problems at all, but they’re things that have the power to affect your happiness.

      If you think all this through and still want it, go for it.

  16. TGITheWeekend*

    Do you all put stickers on your cars?

    I’m still driving the car my parents bought me when my high school cut my bus route and they didn’t want to drive me to school anymore. It’s been a great car for over a decade. But very soon now, it will be time to say goodbye to my old friend and get a new car of my very own.

    My parents asked me not to put bumper stickers on the car since they are very difficult to take off the car and lower the value if you want to trade it in or sell it. However, I’ve tried magnets and they’ve all either fallen off, washed off in a car wash, or been stolen. None have stuck around for more than a month.

    When I get my own car, I’d really like to put stickers on it but I worry about ‘making the car unsellable with stupid stickers’, as my father has described it. So do you all have any stickers decorating your vehicles or is there truth behind lowering the value with a sticker?

    1. ToledoShark*

      I have one or two on my window and I remember my Dad going nuts about it with the same reasoning behind loss in value. My take is that unless the car is covered in stickers any loss in value isn’t really worth crying over. They are easier to get off the window than the paint though! Cars that are the same vintage as yours have scratches, dents and sticker marks – it comes with the territory.

      Now if I had a 2017 Porsche I might think differently.

    2. Florida*

      I don’t know if it lowers the value or not. But what about putting stickers on the window. You can always remove those.

      As a side note, I think focusing a car’s resell value is a little silly. To me, that’s like not underlining in a textbook because you think you can resell the textbook for more money. But you didn’t buy the textbook to resell it, you bought it to use as a textbook. Use it how you need to in a way that is best for you, then consider the resell to be an added bonus at the end.

      But to answer your original question, I don’t have any stickers on my car, but it has nothing to do with resell. It’s just a personal preference.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      I’ve never sold a car, keeping them until they are totaled in a wreck or driving them until the cost of repairs is more than buying another. I’ve also never bought a new car and never intend to. To me it’s such a waste of money, the value lost driving a new car off the lot or trying to get anything back with selling it. Carmax has been surprisingly good with buying my jalopies but again, I don’t expect much from the smouldering heaps I bring in.

      Put stickers on your car. Paint it weird. Go nuts. If you’re just going to “buy” it for a little while and then selling it again, why not lease instead? Otherwise it’s just a rental. One of our cars has stickers, the other, not yet.

      1. Christy*

        This! This is how I treat my cars. I’m not going to sell it because I’m going to drive it until I can’t drive it anymore. And if someone wanted to buy it from me, it would thoroughly be a cheap car instead of a must look nice fancy used car.

        Although I will say my coworker leases luxury cars and maintains them very well, then buys them at the end of the lease period, then sells them used, and actually makes a pretty profit because it’s in such good condition. It’s a very different way of having a car.

        1. Wrench Turner*

          That’s a very strange way of having a car, indeed. If you’re actually making money on the car, that makes much more sense. I’ve never heard of this before.

        2. Thlayli*

          Is she actually making a profit overall taking into account payments all through the lease, or just selling them for more than the final payment?

          1. JD*

            Short of some super rare car no one is ever making a profit after payments. She, like myself is simply selling for more than the pay off price.

            1. Christy*

              I’m sure that’s what he means by a profit. Plus he gets to have a really nice fun car and the profit means that his monthly payments weren’t as high as they seemed.

              1. Thlayli*

                I thought so. That’s not actually making a profit.

                I actually did make a (genuine) profit on a car once. Bought it when it was 10 years old and the next year all the tax bands changed and suddenly my car had way cheaper tax than others, so it was actually worth more than I had paid for it the previous year. An unusual situation.

    4. nep*

      I don’t like stickers on cars.
      I and a relative use two cars, taking turns depending on who needs the larger one. Hers has a POW sticker — bugs me; I wouldn’t have that on my car and I feel funny driving around with it. Just not me.
      I’ve not seen data on this, but just given my dislike of stickers I think they would certainly lower the value.

      1. nep*

        (I think I missed the point of the question — it’s more about should one function with a view to one day selling the car and so refrain from putting stickers, or just enjoy ownership and do what you want with it… As others have said, depends on if you plan to just drive that new car till it won’t go anymore, or hope to upgrade a few years down the line.)

    5. Red Reader*

      I put them on the windows, but not on the paint. Easy enough to get off with no problems there. :)

    6. Temperance*

      We don’t do bumper stickers because they damage the car finish. We do have 2 of those window cling things, for a sports team that we like. Why not do a window cling?

      If you’re getting a newer car, I really recommend against putting stickers on it. Is there a reason you want to put stickers on the car?

    7. neverjaunty*

      This is dad advice like “just call up the hiring manager” is dad advice. Back in the day, bumper stickers were gross and hard to get off the metal bumper. Nowadays we have polymer bumpers and stickers are generally made to be removable without shredding or glue (you can certainly check when you buy them).

    8. JD*

      Lowers the value big time. I work in the industry. The paint fades differently in the spot so once it is off you can tell and the bumper would have to be replaced. No no no no. Do not do it if you ever wish to sell your car. Don’t even do magnets, they also cause the paint to fade unevenly. I personally don’t really get why someone wants bumper stickers and find them unattractive but still, don’t ruin your car.

      1. Loz*

        And also, show your beliefs, support, political leanings, religion, education preferences, sexual orientation, whatever through actions and tangible support not bumper stickers. One works, the other is a cop out. You might as well ‘like’ something on Facebook as have a bumper sticker for all the good it will do.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Watch out for statements containing the words never or always.
      They tend to be untrue.

      Someone somewhere will buy your car even if you have stickers on it. Yes, you may take less money for it, but that is not the same as “it’s not saleable”.
      If you plan on keeping your car for a lot of years, this whole concern might be moot. A ten year old car is going to be worth a lot less anyway regardless of stickers.
      What the stickers say might be more of a thing than the actual stickers. “I hate baby seals” probably will make many people pause where they would have continued on if the sticker said, “I am for world peace.”

    10. OldMom*

      I don’t know about lowering the value, but I once read a book by a retired state trooper about how to avoid speeding tickets, and he advised not having them. You could get pulled over more often and get tickets more often if your stickers happen to be on the other side of the officer’s point of view. Examples: political stickers, religious, even sports….I would not drive through Michigan with an Ohio state sticker, or through Oklahoma with anything Texan for instance.
      Currently I have a small I heart Lake Michigan sticker…can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with that, and a little xtian fish…I’m not christian except for secular/cultural aspects but it is a handy disguise I adopted for driving through Texas. And it worked…pulled over doing 84 in a 75 zone and was let off with a warning.
      The guy who wrote the book suggested no stickers other than the ones you get for donating to the police association.
      This seems to me to be a better reason to avoid stickers. If you never leave your area and are not in any way a minority and never even give the appearance of breaking the law, maybe stickers are ok.

    11. Nancie*

      I often have a bumper sticker or two on my car, and only one has ever given me trouble getting it off. None have ever left a less-faded spot behind, maybe because I usually remove stickers after a year or two, and most of my cars have been pale colors (and none have been any shade of red.)

      The only sticker that ever gave me trouble was a sort of metallic foil material, instead of vinyl. Luckily it was on a window, so a razor sticker scraper took it right off.

      If you like stickers and want to avoid problems, just put them on the windows.

    12. zora*

      First of all, the kind of stickers they make now come off a lot easier than the old ones. I have put several election stickers on my car and then was able to peel them off easily.

      Second, I buy sturdy, reliable cars, and then drive them until they die. I had my ’96 Honda until 2010 and sold it for parts. The 2006 Honda I have now, I plan to pretty much drive for it’s entire life. I have no plans for flipping cars or trading them in for tons of value, so putting stickers on it doesn’t seem to have a down side to me.

      Upshot: Do what makes you happy!! It’s your car, you can do what you want with it!! I have a tendency to spend my time worrying about possible future issues that might never come up, and it’s a waste of my time, so I’ve decided to not worry about things that don’t have a huge likelihood of coming up. ;o)

    13. Elizabeth West*

      ONLY on the back window, never on the car. And no political stickers–this last election especially, because I live in Trumplandia and didn’t want to become a target.

      I have an old sticker about skating that has to come off. And my “T-rex hates pushups” decal (google it) is looking rather shabby. I’d like to replace that one, since it’s hilarious, and add a TARDIS sticker I have.

    14. Red*

      I’m going to put plenty of stickers on my car, but here’s the thing about that: It’s an ’09 Honda Civic and I plan on driving it until it’s a smoldering heap on the side of the road. There is no resale value to consider in that case.

      I think the issue with stickers lowering the value of the car is that the presence of the sticker itself makes the paint fade unevenly. If you either put the stickers on the windows or remove them after about a year, I see no reason not to have them.

      1. LAM*

        Lol I have an 09 Civic as well and plan on driving the thing til it’s absolutely dead as well. Which is why I don’t feel bad that my old college parking stickers are like cemented to the rear window (and that it’s missing a hubcap).

      2. zora*

        Ha, I said the same thing above, but mine is a ’06 Civic! Great to know I’m not the only one. ;o)

    15. super anon*

      I don’t put bumper stickers on my car, I think they’re incredibly tacky in addition to lowering the value and making the paint fade differently where the sticker isn’t. A car is generally the second most expensive thing you’ll buy – why would you (general you not you you) want to ruin it by putting a $2 sticker on it?

        1. super anon*

          Cool, I do. The question posed was if we put bumper stickers on our own cars, and I was offering my reason for why I don’t put them on my vehicles.

          1. Observer*

            Questioning the anyone (and by extension the LW) who DOES put stickers on their car, claiming that it’s “ruined” implies that this is a universal standard. It’s not.

            I actually don’t like them myself, which is the main reason I wouldn’t put them on, but the question would be why *I* would do this, since I dislike them, rather than “why would anyone be so tacky”, which is pretty much what you asked.

    16. Epsilon Delta*

      My parents had the same rule for me, I see where they were coming from because they were the ones who paid for the car (and because I was a teenager with questionable-at-times judgement). I now have my own car and I wouldn’t be opposed to putting one or two tasteful bumper stickers on it. If you are leasing or planning to sell the car within a few years I would not put bumper stickers on, but if you’re like me and plan to have the car for 10+ years I don’t think there will be much difference in resale value. Definitely it will not be “unsellable” just because of a few bumper stickers if it’s in good condition.

    17. Someone else*

      If you’re the type of person who drives a car until it dies, then putting stickers on or not will have negligible effect on its resale. If you plan to either sell or trade it in within 5 years or so, I’d recommend not putting stickers on. It will hit the value, not a ton, but enough to notice. The car won’t be unsellable, but if you sell yourself, it may take longer or if it doesn’t you won’t get as much for it. It also do damage the finish. Windows decals, as others have mentioned, are easier since they’re not touching the paint.
      So I guess, if your next car will be new to you but not new, and you plan to drive it another 10 years, if the stickers are that important to you, go ahead. If you’re buying a brand new car you’re not going to drive til it stops working, your parents have a valid point about the stickers. They’re being slightly hyperbolic about it, but they’re not wrong.

  17. Wrench Turner*

    That’s a very interesting table. I like the cross sections of things. I imagine it gets instantly full of crumbs though and is impossible to write on.

    1. Myrin*

      I thought exactly the same thing! Or, well, the first thing I thought was that this is either a big cat toy or one of those insect house thingies but then I hovered and it became clear that I was mistaken!

    2. Beatrice*

      A business I frequent has one like it, except the sticks on the outside are whole and not cross-sectioned. They still have the bark on, even. I’ve wanted it for years, have hunted for one like it online several times, and have finally decided I might have to make it for myself. The one I’ve seen does have open gaps between the cross-sections on top, but I’ve thought it would be best to fill them in with a clear epoxy, to have a clean flat surface.

        1. Caroline*

          Thank you! I was away this weekend, but as soon as I saw that photo, I was hoping the topic had come up in the chat.

      1. Loz*

        If you like that cross section style (with epoxy so it’s usable) this is some quality high end stuff. Lots of native plant bits make them unique and interesting each time you look.


        (not an advert, not intended as spam but I do know the artist and thought it relevant enough)

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We just got! I love it. It’s a coffee table so I don’t think crumbs will be that much of an issue, but if you were eating over it a lot, it definitely could be.

  18. TL -*

    I am spending January and February in Sydney for an internship! I’m so excited :)
    Any tips on the down under life? Does anyone have ideas as to where/when to look for housing? (Cheap but with access to a kitchen and no smoking.)

    1. Detached Elemental*

      You will have fun!! Sydney can be pricey, though – do you know which part of Sydney you’ll be in?

      There will probably be a lot of sharehousrs where you can rent a room and have shared kitchen, bathroom, etc.

      You’ll probably find that many rental properties don’t allow smoking indoors, Australia has some pretty conservative laws around tobacco and smoking.

      1. TL -*

        I’m working basically in UNSW :) housing looks pricey and I’m struggling with finding a lot of 2 month rental options. Maybe I’m looking too early?

        I am so excited!!!

        1. Detached Elemental*

          Housing is pricey in Australia, and a lot of companies will only want to do 6-12 month leases.

          But I’m sure you’ll find something, and have a ball

        2. Cas*

          Ask UNSW or look on online uni noticeboards/Facebook groups! There should be accommodation in the area if it’s Jan/Feb because a lot of international students go home during the break. There are student accommodation units around Central station – cheaper but not great quality

        3. Persephone*

          Short term accommodation is typically pretty difficult to find – I’d say it’d be worse in Sydney. You might be able to find some house-sit options through the uni (or if UNSW has accommodation? They might have options for visiting academics which you could take advantage of), or if that fails, through Gumtree.

  19. D.W.*

    I posted yesterday in the wrong thread (Sorry, Allison!).

    Okay, I am looking for steel round pastry cutters in 5.5″ or 6″. I have searched Amazon, Webstaurant, restaurant supply stores in my area, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table, and a host of other places. Zero luck!

    Someone mentioned making one myself, so that may work. I may have to have my dad do that as I don’t have the proper tools. Is this just a super unique size?!

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Consider going to your local home improvement store and finding a 6″ round piece of air duct collar. It’s just a short round connector strip of metal. Or something like that. It’s not an Official Pastry cutter but it’s all the same metal and will cut pastries just fine.

    2. Overeducated*

      That is pretty large – bordering on small cake pan! I was going to recommend King Arthur Flour because I have a set of varied sizes but the largest one is 4.5″. Good luck!

      1. D.W.*

        Yea, I’ve been making cornish pasties, turnover pies, jamaican patties, and I’m just sick of using a bowl.

    3. CAA*

      I have one, and I see that Amazon does sell it, so maybe the listing doesn’t include one of your search terms or something. Try entering “Ateco 14406 6-Inch Round Stainless Steel Cutter”. That’s the exact title of the listing. It costs $6.00.

      1. D.W.*

        It is there! I’m not sure what I was searching for, but this certainly didn’t come up. Appreciate it.

  20. Ghost Pepper*

    When you guys post comments on this site, do you do it during work hours from your work computer? Or do you do it from your phone?

    I do check askamanager from my work computer in private browser mode during my lunch break at work; but I know my IT team has the ability to monitor my web activity, so I never post anything. Just wondering what other folks do.

    1. Overeducated*

      I post as well as read on Fridays. I know my work computer use is monitored but I really don’t think my scattered posts on the open thread are a high priority for our otherwise occupied IT.

      I am a little more nervous about my modest but daily, semi-professional use of Twitter. I use it to stay informed, since academics in my field use it a lot to get their work out, and I pass on relevant CFPs and resources to my department. But we don’t have a work account so the personal/professional boundaries are blurred, and I occasionally post a non-work question or comment.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      I’ll read on my work phone on break but post only from home. I don’t work at a computer 99% of the time however.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I do it from my phone – not because of IT but because I’m in an open office and you never know when someone might walk behind you. And also I only really use AAM at times when I’m not working.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I read AAM on my lunch and at home on my laptop work computer. I read the Friday thread at home on the weekends because it is a Rabbit hole.

    4. Red Reader*

      I work at home, so my work computer is on one side of an L-shaped desk and my personal is on the other side. Nothing personal ever touches my work computer.

      When I’m on site, I check personal stuff on my iPad or phone, but it is generally connected to the public wifi. “On site” for me is a hospital, so we have a public wifi in addition to the work-related one. Work stuff connects to the work wifi, personal stuff connects to the public wifi.

    5. Temperance*

      I do it from my work computer. IT can monitor us, but I’m fairly sure that they don’t.

      When I was new to my job, and working on a PPT, I googled “child” and “sex” … in the same search. I was looking for stats, but the fact that I didn’t get flagged then showed me that I was safe.

    6. kas*

      I don’t comment often (used to comment more often a couple of years ago) but I only read/comment on my phone during my lunch break. I work in a pretty open office and I wouldn’t want anyone (or IT) seeing I’m not actually doing any work.

    7. Sherm*

      I read AAM regularly at work using my work computer, but I rarely post at work. I don’t know if IT knows or cares whether anyone posts on a non-adult, non-sketchy site — they probably don’t, since everyone here is super-busy — but I don’t want to take any chances.

    8. Jen RO*

      Depending on how busy I am, I post from work or from home. I don’t have any qualms about reading or posting on company time – it’s perfectly normal, no one cares if you’re on Facebook as long as the work is done, etc. And the IT guys have waaaay better things to do than reading my posts.

    9. D.W.*

      I read AAM at work. It’s actually the first thing I do in the morning – first 5 minutes. I do sometimes post at work, but mostly read, and save my posting for when I’m home.

      I catch up on all the comments on my commute home from work daily.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I did it from Exjob from my work computer. So many employees had to monitor stuff or be at their desks waiting on other people to call/email/message them and they would go online while waiting. The company didn’t care much, except we couldn’t post comments on Facebook, and we weren’t allowed to stream music other than Pandora. But everything else was fair game. I figured they would only make a fuss if you weren’t getting your work done.

      I just listened to music on my phone because I have a 32 GB microSD card full of it. I have an app for my online radio and would use my phone for that.

    11. Nervous Accountant*

      My company just blocked AAM & most websites :-(((( so I post from my phone. It’s such a pain!!!

    12. Girasol*

      Phone only at work. Excessive web browsing is a firing offense and every so often someone would be made an example for it.

    13. Jean (just Jean)*

      I’m usually a lurker except on the weekend open thread. I don’t read at home in the morning because that would derail my get-ready-for-work routine. My goal is to have a very low level of personal-use-of-work-Internet because I’m easily distracted. Thanks for the reminder to ratchet myself back down to zero surfing on the job, not even for bus schedules or the weather. It’s too easy for one click to lead to another.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        That wasn’t super clear: I have NEVER read AAM at work. I browse from home in the evenings when it’s too late to reply. I make up for it by being active on the weekends…sometimes when I should be doing chores instead.

    14. Someone else*

      If I do it during work hours, it’s during my lunch break, but it’s never from my work computer. Only work stuff happens there. When I comment it’s either from my personal laptop or my tablet, regardless of the hour.

  21. Marble Bug*

    Why does one’s GI system need to act up while on holiday??? I have some rules about eating when I’m on the road – avoid sugar and caffeine if possible, no restaurant ranch dressing, drink lots of bottled water, etc. – but this time they seem to have failed me. I’m not actively ill, but things are on the yucky side of normal. (I’m trying not to gross everone out here.) Does anyone have any suggestions for keeping one’s system happy while on the road? Probiotics and yogurt and I are not compatible.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      On the road I almost never want a meal but I’ll snack forever. My guts get grumpy with travel anxiety sometimes so I get where you’re coming from. If it’s a tropical destination then forget it, I can hardly eat anything but want to taste everything. Makes it difficult sometimes. Try just eating less at once and more frequently?

    2. Cooker Lady*

      I do take a probiotic daily, and double it when I’m not at home. It messed with my guts for a few days, then they settled down. Gingerade kombucha is so, so good too. Fermented green tea with a gingery bite. That always goes in the cooler.
      In a practical sense, I always have Gas X and Immodium in my purse. I had a really stressful 8 hour road trip with more than 8 stops and a change of underwear once…

    3. JKP*

      Can you go to the grocery store and get a few foods that are the same as what you would normally eat at home? Sometimes having some consistent meals can balance out the restaurant meals.

      1. D.W.*

        Along what JKP said. I always keep (or buy) what I would eat for breakfast here. That is oatmeal, fruits and nuts. Drinking warm/hot water also helps me a lot too.

    4. Anono-me*

      Don’t drink the water when you travel anywhere (across the state – across the world). Sticking to only bottled water when I travel works for me.

  22. Myrin*

    This is more theoretical musing about different values and understandings and experience than anything else, but I’d love to hear others’ thoughts!

    Thing 1: I have a person in my life whom I’d either call a distant friend or a good acquaintance – we aren’t super close (both geographically and relationship-wise), often don’t hear from each other for a long-ish time, but get along really well. We originally met because we’re both in the same field but found that we wanted to stay in contact on a personal level, too, and that went absolutely swimmingly.

    Thing 2: I’m not the kind of person who frets about things like “Oooh, Person read my text but hasn’t answered me yet, what is going on?”. I very rarely feel anxious (in the colloquial sense of the word) about anything and there’s a lot of stuff I really, honestly don’t care about. I don’t spend my energy on thinking through possibilities of “what does xy mean??” when it comes to interpersonal stuff since I’m very straightforward and to the point. I can come across like I’m apathetic and don’t care, which can often be true.

    Now, to tie these two points together: My friend/acquaintance (f/a) and I communicate exclusively via texts and emails (the latter usually for stuff that is a bit more “formal”, i. e. has to do with our shared professional field). With regards to texting, I’m usually the one who writes first. My f/a always responds fast and with messages that sound enthusiastic and genuine and always spawn a longer and oftentimes quite involved conversation.

    This randomly came up when I talked with my sister the other day and she felt like the fact that I’m always the one who initiates conversation means that this is a “one-sided relationship” with me being more invested and my f/a not being particularly interested. I was surprised by that – I see what she means but honestly, my f/a’s messages don’t at all sound like they’d actually prefer to not talk to me; if that were the case, I’d assume they’d not be so quick to write back and start a positive and elaborate conversation.

    Like I said above, though, I’m not one to overthink these things. I figure that if they don’t want to be in contact with me, they can just ignore my message and let the whole thing fade out; we quite literally live on opposite sides of the country so it’s not like we’re highly likely to see each other every other day and can’t escape from one another. My sister, on the other hand, has (clinically diagnosed) anxiety but even apart from that places a great deal of value and analytical prowess on stuff like the time/tone/length of texts and What Things Really Mean; I do have to say, though, that for that exact reason, she’s very finely tuned to a lot of underlying and unspoken things.

    In conclusion, this is not at all something I fret about in any way. I like being in contact with my f/a but wouldn’t be devastated if they decided they’d rather stop talking to me but it honestly doesn’t feel like that’s the case. That being said, I was fascinated by my sister’s completely different take on the whole situation/something as innocuous (to me) as texting.

    Do you guys have something like this, too, where you and your loved ones just draw completely different conclusions from the same experience? Do you have an f/a like me? Do you worry about how certain “parametres” of texting/emailing/calling come across?

    1. Overeducated*

      I am more like you. I have also come to accept that many relationships are asymmetrical in certain ways and that’s ok, they do not have to be perfect to be worth keeping up.

      I think not analyzing too much also makes life more pleasant. My mom gets upset about comments she feels are passive aggressive or just selfish in how my relatives try to organize visits and holidays. She may be right but my life is way easier because I take things at face value – if someone says “I wish you could come!” I say “me too” instead of reading a guilt trip into it, and if they try to organize a holiday in an inconvenient locatio, I just go or don’t go but don’t worry too much about why they didn’t think about how hard it is for me to travel.

    2. Christy*

      I mean, my family and I certainly all draw different conclusions from certain political news!

      And it just sounds like you’re more of an initiator! Bless my friends who initiate so I don’t have to. I invite myself down to stay with my bff in Florida several times a year, and he’s only ever been to DC for my wedding and his brother-in-law’s wedding. The travel is uneven! But it all works out–I’m the one who has to travel but he’s the one who has to host.

    3. matcha123*

      This is one of those things that has troubled people (or at least me) since instant messaging took off. Some of my friends started chatting with strangers online in 5th grade, but by high school most of them (excluding me) were on AIM .

      I get where your sister is coming from, and I’m in that same position with a friend right now. The difference is that he kind of responds, but then drops off…or looks at the messages but doesn’t reply. I would say he isn’t interested in continuing the friendship, but does seem willing to meet up and has met up when our schedules allow it.
      My advice would be to do you. The times when I don’t message my friends are because I don’t feel like I have anything interesting to say, or, I don’t want to bother them. If she were replying with short texts and didn’t seem interested in ever continuing the conversation, I think you would be able to pick up on that.

      Just like your sister I have devoted what probably amounts to years of time on the subject of How People Respond to Me and Others, and recently I’ve decided to assume positive intent from the other party. The amount of stress that I’ve had is going down and I feel more secure in my relationships with my friends.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I have a friend who always initiates conversations, sometimes about a day before I would have done and sometimes when I haven’t thought of it. It doesn’t mean anything on my side – it just means she starts more conversations.

      I just am often not the first person to be in touch. And what that means is that I often don’t get in touch first. That’s it!

    5. PX*

      I’m more like you in that I tend not to overthink things, and dont go looking for hidden meanings…but I’m also fairly attuned to…I call it effort in relationships. I’m much less willing to tolerate always having to be the initiator for anything, so if there’s a trend of people not responding to messages over time, then I just stop bothering.

    6. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Honestly I wouldn’t worry about it. I am always the conversation initiator for my two best friends, and I know they value me as much as I value them, I’m just better at communicating.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh, I’m not worrying about it at all! I think I should’ve made that clearer in the OP, I’m not looking for any advice or something, I’m perfectly content with this, but I found the interaction with my sister fascinating and thought it would be an interesting conversation starter here on AAM.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Your sister sounds like my parents. They would and did say things like this.
      My rebuttal is “so what?” A relationship is whatever two people agree to. I grew more concerned for my parents looking for negatives when I was pretty much happy with how things were.
      I am not surprised that your sis wrestles with anxiety, this level of concern over friendship status will enhance anxiety issues as everything has to be considered from every conceivable angle. Which leads to more worry, “Did I forget any angles on this one?” Ugh.
      This can really pull down health if done habitually.
      Much better to think of every interaction as a gift because no one “has to” do anything. There are no laws saying people have to call us, talk to us and so on.
      If we are happy with a relationship then that is everything we need to know right there.

    8. Anon attorney*

      I think it is really interesting. I agree that life is easier if you don’t get hung up on these kinds of details. In my experience, one is more likely to do that where there is an underlying mismatch in the relationship. I have a friend/ acquaintance who lives in another country and until quite recently, I got quite exercised about who messaged who first and what that meant about the relationship. I eventually decided that I wasn’t going to start any more conversations, and waited to see what she did. As a result of this, we communicate less frequently than before because she seems to be comfortable with there being longer gaps in between messages then I was when I was the initiator. On reflection, I think this pattern has its roots in the relationship being more important to me than to her. I’ve made my peace with that now. I’m not as anxious about it as I used to be. It is what it is. With other friendships, that are fundamentally quite well balanced, I don’t really think it matters who initiates a particular interaction. So I think the takeaway, for me, is that if I’m getting hung up on who initiates first, rather than me being anxious in general, that’s telling me something about the balance of the relationship overall and that voice might be worth listening to.

  23. Yankee*

    I know we’ve discussed this before in the comments in work contexts but I need to figure out how to deal with it in a sort of social context.
    How do I get a Southerner to stop calling me Mrs. Firstname?
    I remember the southerners in the previous discussion being appalled that this is considered rude by northerners, so I would rather not tell this otherwise nice man “hey that’s rude in my culture”. For context we are the same race, within 15 years of eachother in age and I am the younger one, and our aquaintance is through a sort of fitness class where he is the instructor. I have specifically asked him to address me by my first name once before. I do not mind insisting if that will work, I just don’t want to embarass him. Thanks!

    1. Wrench Turner*

      If he is the instructor and you the instructed he may be keeping a bit of social distance with the Mr. Firstname. While the dynamic may not be important to you, it may be impossible for him to separate in his head. You could ask one more time, “I appreciate the Mr. But Betty when you call me, you can call me Al.” Know that just may be who he is.

    2. nep*

      Is it considered rude? I didn’t read or I forgot that thread.
      Agree with Wrench Turner — it might be very important to this person to keep to that norm. Perhaps assuring him one or two more times that it’s fine to use the first name, but he might just stick with what feels right to him.
      I am interested to hear more about why it’s bothersome.

      1. Yankee*

        It is rude in my culture because we feel that it is inappropriate to mix formal and informal. You either onow somebody or you don’t and you shouldn’t be presumptuous is our mindset. If you are being formal, or addressing elders it is Mr/s Surname but if you know somebody well enough that they ask you to call them by their firstname then that’s what you do. Sir and Ma’am is also rude in our culture outside of a military setting, but I put up with that and have no problem addressing others that way.
        The Mrs. Firstname thing causes an automatic, kneejerk rankle in me because I was taught it was rude from a young age. I probably unconsciously give the stinkeye to people who address me this way.

        Anyway more info on the dynamic that may clarify. I’m pretty sure this guy only addresses women this way, so there is another reason I dislike it. Also for the purposes of the class he is addressed as Non-English Word for Instructor Firstname. The etiquette for this kind of class at other places is to address the instructor by the previously mentioned word when in class and they address you by either just your firstname or if they are super formal just your last name. Outside of class it is generally ok to use first names except with the, usually older, super formal instructors. The guy in question is not one of them and promotes a very friendly, low-key atmosphere and is fine with me calling him Firstname outside of class.
        I hope that helps clarify.

        1. Turtlewings*

          Of course if you’ve asked someone not to call you something, then of course the polite thing is not to call you that. But as a Southerner it does blow my mind that that mode of address would be considered rude. And sir/ma’am??? To my mind, that is exactly like saying that please and thank you are rude. I really don’t understand that at all. If he’s a Southerner, he may be like me and just be unable to understand why you would have a problem with it, and that’s why he hasn’t gotten the hint.

          1. Kj*

            Yeah, I agree. Sir and Ma’am are polite forms of address. I’m not sure they CAN be rude. Maybe they can be overly formal or odd, but rude? I’m not sure about that.

        2. OldMom*

          Curious where you are from. I am also a US northerner and have never heard that “sir” and “ma’am” are rude. Have heard of women not wanting to be called “ma’am” because they think it sounds old, but that’s a different matter…I assume vain people who can’t handle the idea they are grownups and not a teenager.
          As for the term of address, are you sure he’s saying mrs? Because I have heard it as a blurred ms or buzzy miss and it is intended as a term of respect. Mrs would bug me because I wouldn’t like an assumption I am married. Does he do it to all women? All clients? Maybe he’s been instructed not to first name the clients?
          Anyway, not addressing a person the way they prefer is rude. Using ms first name or sir or ma’am is not rude in itself, and I know of no English speaking culture where it would be so considered. Could this be some custom unique to your family that you were taught?

          1. Alex*

            When my son was 8 we moved from Kentucky to South Florida. I was called into the elementary school on the first week for a ‘behavioral problem’, only to find the teacher complaining my son was ‘being smart’ with her by calling her ma’am all the time. I had to explain to a grown woman why he was using that and then explain to my son that he should stop because she was very offended.

            1. Yankee*

              This is a good anecdote. Southern children get smacked with wooden spoons for not saying ma’am. Kids were I come from get smacked with wooden spoons for saying it. Anyway I don’t mind that bit, my point was is that this NICE man isn’t trying to offend me and I don’t want to tell him that he is, I just want him to call me Firstname! If calling me that will cause him to die he can call me Ms. Lastname but I cannot stomach Mrs. Firstname.

              1. Grits McGee*

                Yeah, I grew up in Louisiana, and the school district powers that be actually passed a statute requiring students to refer to teachers and staff as “sir” and “ma’am”. And this was 2002, not 1952.

          2. Yankee*

            Rural northern New England. Like close to Canada. It’s not just my family, it’s widely understood. We also don’t wave at strangers. I’m pretty sure the reason that sir/ma’am is not ok in my particular area is because of old associations with nobility v. commoners being part of the reason our forebearers left England and France. It’s a very looonngggg cultural memory I guess.
            Yes, I am positive he is saying Mrs. Firstname. He is the owner so I don’t think it’s a client thing. We are also in the same socioeconomic class from what I can tell. This is a recent aquaintance so I hope that I can quickly get him to drop the Mrs. I’m probably going to take the class with the other instructor anyway but I anticipate interacting with him fairly often. I’ve lived in the Deep South for more than a decade and I have no trouble clarifying what I will be called in professional contexts (NOT Mrs. Firstname) but this is the first time it’s come up in a semi-social context. I suppose if he doesn’t comply with my request I could persist in addressing him formally, which is what I did in our initial interactions. What would the Southerners who chimed in think about that if they were in a similar situation?

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I assume vain people who can’t handle the idea they are grownups and not a teenager.

            For some people, it’s a little jarring to be hit with ma’am before they start thinking of themselves that way. Maybe you didn’t mean it like that, but this came off really snarky to me.

            1. NaoNao*

              Yeah, agreed. Ma’am is short for “madame” which generally refers to an older, very obviously married with children woman. (Like, 40+). It’s also got a connotation of condescension when used “in the wild” like “let me indulge this hysterical housewife” type deal. I *detest* it but since I am almost 40, and most people don’t mean anything by it, I just let it go. Sometimes I say, firmly “I’m not married so it’s Miss, actually”.
              There’s a lot of confusion around Miss, Ma’am, Mrs. First Name, Miss First Name, and so on–what’s polite, what’s a throwback with uncomfortable classism buried in it, what’s just being nice, etc. I can’t stand “Miss First Name” or “Ma’am” because they read as oily Eddie Haskel-y fake-o kissing up, frankly. I once broke a date off before it was set to happen because a man texted me “Good Morning Miss NaoNao”. Ugh. I told him in no uncertain terms how creepy, weird, and inappropriate that was. He’s not my student, or servant. He’s not my child or one I look after. He’s not someone who’s not sure how to address me. Barf. GTFO with that. But I’m off to tell kids to get off my lawn, so… take it with a grain of salt.

      2. Sarah in DC*

        To me, its rude to call someone something they’ve asked you not to call them. There is no way for someone to know that on first meeting, but it sounds like Yankee has said please just call me Yankee, no need for a Mrs. I had never thought about mixing the formal and informal and it doesn’t bother me for that reason, although I do understand the logic. I see it as the same as saying please don’t call me Sammi, my name is Samantha or please don’t call me honey, I don’t like people calling me that.

        1. nep*

          Right — I was thinking that the Mr or Miss/Mrs First Name was considered rude in and of itself. But I see — of course calling someone what they’ve asked not to be called is downright rude.

    3. Sabine the Very Mean*

      I think it is always rude to call someone exactly what they’ve requested you not call them. I once called an older woman Ms. Firstname and she quickly, willfully, but kindly said, don’t call me that. I wasn’t hurt and I never called her that again. I say just try it: Don’t call me that.

      1. nep*

        Yes, this I get — you’re right, it’s simply rude to directly and willfully disregard someone’s stated wishes regarding what s/he wants to be called.

        1. WellRed*

          Yes, if someone asks to not be called a certain name, it’s rude to do otherwise. As a yankee myself, though, I find the Miss WellRed thing charming when I get it. Course, that could be because it was what my Canadian grandfather called me.

    1. Christy*

      I am a new fan (after enjoying many clips on Tumblr!) but I just watched all of the current season episodes last night.

      In short: !!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. Temperance*

      OMG YES

      I love this show. I loved everything about this episode.

      I love Andy Samberg and would pretty much watch anything that he does, but this show is so excellent.

      1. Nicole*

        This is one of the few shows I still look forward to watching every week.

        I also agree with your assessment of Andy Samberg. What did you think of Popstar? I waited until it came out on DVD but since then I’ve seen it about 6-7 times because it’s just hilarious.

        1. Temperance*

          I love Popstar! We listen to the album in the car, and I’ve seen it so many times, too. The song “Mona Lisa” absolutely kills me.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        It’s funny you say that because I almost gave up the show in the first season because Jake annoyed the crap out of me. My BFF promised me that he got better if I stuck with it and I’m glad I listened to her.

    3. CAA*

      Halloween heist is always my favorite episode! I loved this year’s ending, and especially Captain Holt’s reaction to the outcome.

    4. Myrin*


      For real though, I did not see that coming at all. I was wondering what kind of funny business they’d use as the heist’s climax this year and I about fell over in my chair when the time came.

      I also gotta say – I wasn’t really impressed with the newest episodes up to this one. There was some stuff that I found quite distasteful (pun definitely not intended but the Cannibal-thing was the strongest one, along with other, smaller things I can’t specifically remember but which left a bad taste in my mouth and OH MY GOD WHY ARE THESE SAYINGS ALL EATING-RELATED??) and which hindered my enjoyment overall, although I really, really liked Jake’s character development in the second-to-last episode. However, that last episode was top-notch and felt like the older ones.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I was TOTALLY not expecting it either. Well, not until he said “read the inscription”. As soon as he said that I knew what was coming and was really excited.

        The beginning episodes were kind of meh. A little anti-climactic I thought honestly, but I guess this season’s excitement will come from the deal Holt made to get the info that got Jake and Rosa off the hook. The Halloween eps are always my favorite and this one was the best.

    5. all aboard the anon train*

      I had a feeling that surprise was coming. I knew it’d probably happen this season, especially if they’re unsure about getting another season renewal. So even though I knew it’d probably happen, I was still so charmed when it did happen! SO SWEET.

      100% sure Charles’ reaction was every fan’s reaction.

      But also, can we talk about how in that very brief flashback to the first time Amy and Jake meant, Jake’s 8 years ago hair was literally Andy Samberg’s hair 8 years ago??? Amazing touch. I love this stupid show so much.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Well, they got a pretty late renewal last year. I thought they were going to be cancelled because it took Fox so long to renew them for season five. It was on the fence for awhile because the show doesn’t get great ratings, and they’re the second lowest Tuesday night show in terms of viewers.

          I think since this is the fifth season and they’re coming up on the 100th (and 99th, haha) episode, they’re all set for syndication, so that could go either way in terms of being renewed or cancelled for season 6. Most of the TV blogs I follow put them around a 50% chance for renewal.

    6. Mischa*

      I might have squealed out loud, startling the dog. Not only was the heist episode great (that Holt cold open was fantastic), but the ending! Ugh. It was perfect.

  24. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My knee is not really improving. Part of that is my fault, part of it is the nature of the injury; I have a Baker’s cyst, chondromalacia (that was an issue before my fall), a meniscus that is likely torn, some kind of patellar tendon injury, and ancillary IT band issues. I should be getting an MRI this week or next, then the surgeon and I will sit down and evaluate options. I got a brace at my follow-up on Thursday, so that helps, but the neoprene is making me itchy (I’m going to switch to brace-over-leggings today). I can stand for about 15 minutes now, but I still can’t walk long distances.

    The “my fault” is that we went to NYC for a wedding last weekend, and despite the pain and the limitations (we didn’t take public transportation once, which really bothered me), we had an amazing time. Got to see a ton of people including two girlfriends I keep missing on visits. I danced at the wedding with little pain, then of course I stood somewhere in one place for a few minutes and it was agony. But my friends are amazing. We hung out at one guy’s apartment for seven hours, during which I sat the entire time and people brought me stuff. I love, love, love my peeps.

    Now I’m home and trying to plan out regular chores like cleaning the bathroom (I’ll probably do it in spurts, it’s a small bathroom), vacuuming (I can walk while I do that), and making hot sauce out of the peppers I’ve been fermenting for a month. Wish me luck.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Good luck! I’ve had chondromalacia (as a teenager) and I damaged my meniscus after tripping on one of those damn sweet gum tree balls and landing full force on my knee in the driveway. Knee stuff SUUUUUUX.

    2. Visit Minutia Mission*

      Yay for wonderful friends and sorry you’re in pain. I heard someone once say that it was okay to hire someone to cleaning you can afford to, even temporarily (plus, helps give someone else a paycheck) and not to feel guilty not doing it all yourself. Totally just a random internet stranger saying be kind to yourself and if my ideas aren’t applicable, no harm.

  25. Bibliovore*

    Good and bad for the weekend.
    Finally took the Instant Pot out of the box!!!!!
    Made Collards, Italian Sausage and Pinto Beans that I put over rice. Took less than an hour from start to finish and had leftovers for lunch.
    Making steel cut oatmeal right now.
    Planning a Moroccan chickpea stew.
    Anyone have any cilantro hacks- Mr. Bibliovore and I hate it. Can I just leave it out? Substitute basil or parsley?
    Does anyone have a favorite Instant Pot Cookbook or Website?
    Work/Life Balance- taking the weekend off. House is basically in order after two weeks of guests.
    Reading Al Franken’s Giant of the Senate for my book group.

    Bad- chronic pain really sucks. That is all. on the other had…better living through chemistry. This too shall pass.

    1. bassclefchick*

      Most people I know who can’t stand cilantro (either it tastes like soap to them or they’re allergic to it) just leave it out. You can substitute flat leaf parsley or basil if you want.

      1. nep*

        Yes that is interesting about cilantro. I absolutely love it; I put gobs of it in a salad or in veggie/seaweed rolls. And I know people who cannot be around it and say it smells and tastes exactly like soap.

        1. bassclefchick*

          Interestingly, it’s genetic. One of those fascinating things about the human body! If you want Mexican dishes that don’t use cilantro, check out Ina Garten’s cookbooks. She has said she doesn’t like it, either.

    2. Cooker Lady*

      Skinny Taste’s blog has great Instant Pot recipes. Highly recommend the Pork Ragu and the Summer Italian Chicken. Get some preserved lemons and brined olives for your Moroccan stew – sooooo good!

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I leave it out, it tastes like soap. Devil weed!!!

      I like pressure cooking today for a good website. I’m making yogurt in my instant pot right now!!

      1. Bibliovore*

        I just came home from the food coop. Mr. said what is the whole milk for. I said I am going to make yogurt. I am pretty sure that I am going to make yogurt.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          Good luck! Mine finished around dinner time and is in the fridge. I’m straining it tomorrow.

          1. Bibliovore*

            Checking in. I made the Moroccan Chickpea Kale stew.
            Took FOREVER.
            Started at 6. Didn’t read the recipe closely.
            Prep took about twenty minutes.
            Sauteeing the onions and fennel then spices took about 15 minutes.
            Pot took about 10 minutes to get to high pressure.
            Stew took 50 minutes on high.
            Depressuring took more than a half hour.
            Adding the Kale and cooking down took another ten minutes.
            We finally sat down to eat around at 8:45.

            On the other hand it was really, really tasty. Mr. Bibliovore had two servings.

    4. Paquita*

      Facebook has an Instant Pot group.
      I followed it for a while. I never got mine out of the box, gave it to someone from the ‘not discussed on weekends’ who lost everything in a house fire.

  26. bassclefchick*

    Today’s the day!!! I get to see the ladies from MFM tonight! SO excited. Georgia and Karen are kind of an inspiration to me. They are so honest about mental health issues and their own struggles that I feel better about mine. I even splurged on the VIP package and get to meet them after the show! Here’s hoping I don’t turn all babbling fan girl and can present myself as a competent adult!

    Any one else doing anything exciting? Have you been to any live shows of your favorite podcasts?

    1. Lily Evans*

      That’s so exciting, I hope you have a great time! I saw them (but didn’t meet them) when they came to Boston and it was an awesome show!

    1. Fake old Converse shoes*

      Best: My new military green jeans are really comfy. They even have front pockets!
      One of my teachers praised me for being the only one who asks questions at class, while calling out the rest for not doing it.

      Worst : I’ve just realised I gained all the weight I’ve lost in the last couple years. I fear facing my nutritionist once again, now that everything she suggested didn’t work.
      Also, I know I shouldn’t talk about work, but I’m really jelous of my boss, who effortlessly got two women fancying over him. One of them is so obvious even I noticed. (Not that he knows, though)

    2. Temperance*

      Best: I’m going wine trick or treating later.
      Worst: We have mice. Our exterminator has not done anything to get rid of the mice, and he keeps pushing me off and saying that it will work. I have a feeling it’s because I’m female and have a high-ish voice on the phone.

      1. Mal the College Student(Again)*

        WINE TRICK OR TREATING??!!! Dreams do come true!
        I need to know more!!
        Is this a neighborhood thing? Can I move into the neighborhood?

        1. Temperance*

          Not a neighborhood thing, but a winery nearish to me (Chadds Ford Winery) is having a special event! We get to walk around the winery and trick or treat for wines. Last year, they had a wine and Halloween candy pairing, and they had “adult Easter egg” hunting this year!

    3. Seal*

      Best – After a very busy couple of weeks preparing for and attending an out of town conference where I did a couple of presentations, I have nothing to do this weekend except laundry. Because I make a point of thoroughly cleaning my house before I go out of town, both because I don’t like coming back to a dirty house but also so the cat sitter does think I’m a slob, I don’t have to clean this weekend either. I plan to sleep, read and write, with an emphasis on sleep.

      Worst – I’ve been on steroids for the past 6 weeks for a recurring health issue and have gained 10 pounds, despite the fact I’ve been making an effort to get at least 10,000 steps a day per my FitBit. Very frustrating.

    4. Jules the First*

      Best: got myself organised this morning and went to Plié for Pink at the barrecore studio – first class in eight months that I’ve actually made it to.

      Worst: Imma gonna be soooooooo sore tomorrow.

      1. Menacia*

        Best (sort of): Finally finished my fourth to last course in my Bachelor’s degree, this one was tough and I’m not looking forward to the last three. I think I really learned a great deal from this course, but it was an intense 8 weeks, I’m hoping some if it sunk in and sticks with me.

        Worst: I was reamed out for a mistake I made at work, which I think was overreacted to by the person reaming me out because she has to bring drama into every situation. This will only cause me to to retreat even more into myself than usual.

        I really am feeling down about so many things, it’s been a tough week but I know so many others are dealing with worse so I’m trying not to have too much of a pity party.

        That Hallo-wine thing sounds awesome, I am determined to drink at least a glass or two this evening.

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      Best: I have mint green Converse coming in the post today (if they ever show – tracking says they were delayed due to an address query) which I’ve wanted for ages. I finally got my EAP re-referral sorted (the original therapist changed availability after the first week to the extent that it just wasn’t workable). The therapist asked when I’d like to go and it happened that she could accommodate my very first choice of early on Thursday morning. I’m going to take myself out for breakfast, go to my appointment and then work from home with a slightly later start – I’ve always found it helpful to leave myself a little time to decompress after therapy type appointments but then have something else to occupy my brain.

      Worst: my husband was in a scary car accident. Also it took an extra week and four(!) phone calls to sort the referral as they kept making mistakes like re-matching me with the same therapist. On Thursday night I had to take a very deep breath and say: I do not have the emotional energy for this, it is causing a lot of extra stress, please just figure out what is going wrong. I somehow managed not to scream at them in frustration.

    6. JD*

      Best (or high as we call it): Finally had a good nights sleep. I have been having nightmares a lot lately so waking up an hour ago fully rested feels sooooooo good..
      Worst: 2 trips to the ER in the past week and a half due to insane heart rates and nearly passing out. I apparently have way too much stress and the people causing me stress, those I have to see and interact with the most, cannot give me an ounce of reprieve regardless of how much I beg. I have had to pretty much lock myself in my house and cut off all contact with anyone just to have the weekend to relax before I have a dang heart attack. I have been screamed at by these people in my life pretty much for weeks. One thing goes wrong with their life, they don’t like something I do, etc and I just get unloaded on. I cannot take it anymore. That being said it makes me sad because these are the people I spend my time with so I feel very alone right now and very not supported when I simply ask to not be yelled at for 24 hours. Sigh.

      1. Visit Minutia Mission*

        That’s a lot of stress and not okay to be screamed at…

        I had a time in my life about 6-7 years ago, where I drastically limited to pretty much it the communication with specific family members because of how too much stress and tension it was on my body every time I talked with them made it worse physically on my body and I was a already too stressed without talking with them (heart rate / tight chest / sleep disturbed/ upset stomach etc.) I spoke to the one Family Member that it was easiest to tell.. a short explanation before I cut off talking… that was something along the lines of I love you but I cannot talk with you all because it’s too stressful etc. I think I went around 6 months before I talked again with the family and then still limited a lot. And if the phone call was making it worse, I did hang up. I had to learn to pay attention to cues from my body and that I have control in the situation over me and what I will or will not listen to. (My family of origin has a lot of enmeshed relationships and poor boundaries, and they like to share the worry — so the situations making us all stressed out was getting amplified by the worry they wanted me to feel their worry.). Just wanted to say that while I don’t know what is going on in your situation, sometimes you need to take care of yourself and that’s okay. It’s okay to take a break even if it’s family. You do not deserve to be screamed at.

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      Best: I have two student teachers who are super keen and I think they’ll be fabulous. It reminds me why I got into this profession in the first place. I also got myself together this morning, enough to start a batch of yogurt and a batch of bread.

      Worst: the mice are back!! One of the things about living in a 70-year old house in an old neighbourhood near a golf course. So off to Home Depot today to get poison. I have called an exterminator in the past but it didn’t seem that effective. I think I have super-intelligent ninja mice.

      1. Bibliovore*

        50 year old house two blocks from the golf course. mice. Pardon my ignorance. What does the golf course have to do with mice in the house.

        I capture them in tiny have a heart traps and drive them across the highway. I get that the predators can smell the peanut butter sticking to their fur but at least I am not killing them.

        1. Middle School Teacher*

          I basically live in a park. Lots of old growth trees, close to a golf course near a river and surrounded by tons of old trees. I suspect the mice think I’m in their natural habitat. And of course it’s fall here now (I’m in Canada) so it’s getting a bit chilly, lots of fallen leaves everywhere, and critters trying to find a warm place to hide for the winter. Which I’m not against, just not my house!!!

          I guess I should have explained better. Most of the golf courses here are very “natural”: lots of trees and bushes and basically mice paradise. They’re not in big cleared open fields like some other places. And when you live next to mice paradise, sometimes they like to go on a little holiday. I’m sure they consider the houses here like mouse air-bnb’s.

          1. Saturnalia*

            Well now I just want to see mice enjoying adorable miniature amenities in dollhouse sized accommodations. Considering I recently saw a photoshoot of a hedgehog camping with Coleman equipment, I have faith that the Great Googz will provide.

    8. Daisy*

      Best:My cat is sound asleep on my lap. We adopted her about a year and a half ago when she was 10. It took a long time for her to trust us and realize that she is in a safe place. She has been sitting on our laps for months, and will sleep next to us. But actually sleeping on my lap is new! I love it!
      Worst: I have to pee,but I’m not going to move. Maybe she will wake up soon.

        1. Daisy*

          This is true! Honestly everything she does makes me smile. She runs the house-we do her bidding lol

    9. Merci Dee*

      Best: So, I’ve decided to make my dad a home-made fruit cake for Christmas. He’s one of those dear individuals who actually likes the stuff, and he usually makes do with Claxton fruit cakes. I found an awesome recipe from Alton Brown, and it looks amazing. Got the boat-load if dried fruits soaking in rum last night, and we’ll get the cake baked later this afternoon. That gives me 2 months to baste the cake in vanilla flavored brandy. By the time Christmas rolls around, this will be some potent stuff. Because, after all, isn’t that what Christmas is all about – boozy baked goods that keep you from driving for s couple of hours after you snack?

      Second Best: Finally feels like fall’s here!! Temps were down into the 40s at night this week, and it’s been wonderful!

      Worst: As much as I’ve loved the cool weather at night, it’s been making my hands ache so bad. I found out when I was 27 that I had some pretty serious degeneration in the bones in my wrist; it bothered me some during my pregnancy, but resolved after my daughter was born. Now I’m having issues with my hands and elbows, and all I’m thinking about is my mom’s history of degenerative arthritis. I’m going to try to make an appointment with my doc for the week of Thanksgiving, since I’ll already be off work that week. In the meantime, it’s daily ibuprofen for me.

    10. Sylvan*

      Best: Cats being cute. There is no shortage of other good things this week, but they are all work-related.

      Worst: My wrist and my knees hurt. I never even did anything to my wrist! Not sure if it’s because I haven’t worked out much lately or what. :/ I’ll get moving today.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        How’s your water intake doing? Sometimes I can knock back pain like this with increasing my daily water.

    11. Lady Alys*

      Best – spouse offered great new job (created specifically for him!) with lots of recognition and potential for advancement, in area of country we planned to end up in eventually :-)

      Worst – spouse offered great new job, requiring move away from friends and location where generations of family have grown up :-|

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Best: Had a fun morning with my nerd group doing our last Adopt-a-Street cleanup for the year. We’ll get back out there in spring. People are nasty and messy, y’all. Then we went to Jason’s Deli and had lunch and I foolishly went to Barnes and Noble nearby. (But I neeeeeeeeeeeded Chuck Wendig’s new book on storytelling!)

      Oh, and while looking for some clothing suitable for slogging through roadside grass, I discovered that an old pair of jeans that hasn’t fit me in ages now fits.

      Worst: There was a very cute baby at the deli. Sigh.

    13. SophieChotek*

      Worst. My mother called me up this morning to tell me my Grandmother was taken to ER. She was in hospital earlier this week (Mon-Thu) and released, but today (Sat) was re-admitted. I guess she has bacterial pneumonia and is having trouble kicking it due to other issues (i.e. just being old, decreasing heart, liver, kidney, lung functions).

      She went through a bad spell a few years ago when she was in/out of hospital like 7 times in 1 year, then has done really well, and only had 2 hospital admissions since then, and always “bounced back” – so part of me thinks “oh she’ll bounce back” again…but we’ve also called all the family “just in case”…

    14. Ginger ale for all*

      Worst – my boyfriends mom has been ill this past week. She is elderly and in poor health. She fell out of bed a week ago and then later she thought she was having a heart attack. The E.R. checked her out and said that she didn’t have a heart attack but she might have done something to her ribs. Two days later, she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. She is out of the hospital now and has been running a fever and has diarrhea. I’m so worried about her.
      Also, the office bully went around in the middle of the week taking swipes at people. No ones needs that at work.
      Best – I helped someone out and now they can take the next step for themselves. I also tried Jamaican jerk chicken for the first time and enjoyed it. I thought it was going to be more fiery than it turned out to be.

    15. Ermintrude Mulholland*

      Best: Nearly 37 weeks pregnant with #2! Taking #1 to see the new My Little Pony movie today – her first cinema trip!

      Worst: Starting the contract exchange process on Friday then having it all fall apart because the Idiot at the bottom of the chain hadn’t apparently lodged their deposit with their solicitor…It had better happen on Monday or I may have to murder people o_0

    16. Overeducated*

      Best: went to an Oktoberfest event yesterday that I was really looking forward to, I needed to get my fall festivities. on. Also my husband made sausage with cabbage and onions for dinner Friday so it’s been a weekend of vaguely German food.

      Worst: the long term uncertainty of this dual career job search is just really getting me down this weekend. I want out of my job and to be able to think about where my kid will go to school next year and when we can afford to have another.

    17. LCL*

      Best-replacing the flashing around the chimney stopped the roof leak.
      Worst-Definitely have Dupuytrens contracture in my left hand, diagnosed by real MD not Dr Google. It’s very minor now, but it gets worse. At least it’s nothing life threatening.

  27. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    I’m spending the last day in the old place with my computer :D … when I leave for my work week at Dad’s tomorrow, we’ll unplug the whole thing to prepare for the move. We have three months notice to give for the new place so we have lots of time to get everything out, but I figured my computer needed to go, to motivate myself a little bit.

    Everything is going well so far. We’ll be tight money wise for a few months, but who cares, in the end, it’s soooooooo worth it we’re really really happy.

    *____________________* I just cannot wait until we have our new keys xD

    1. Lcsa99*

      It’s really nice having new keys to a new place! Our issue now is remembering to bring the right ones (at least that’s my husband’s problem. A ladies purse is a great place for too many keys)

      Just don’t make the mistake we did and get rid of the wrong ones after changing the locks!

  28. TempUserName*

    I moved from Florida to North Dakota this year – and I need snow/cold weather advice! Do I just wear snow boots outside all winter? How many layers do I need? What clothing do I need for church/work/evenings vs days I work from home, what clothing do I need for outdoor activities? How can I still look nice and not be miserably cold? (And what brands/stores are good for that.)

    I work from home most days, so I am sure that will help, but I have honestly never dealt with truly cold weather, and advice is very welcome!

    1. Temperance*

      Have you lived in cold weather before? My advice will change depending on how used to low temperatures you are. ;)

      I’m in PA, which isn’t as cold as ND, but I’ve always lived here. Do you wear women’s clothing or men’s clothing?

        1. Temperance*

          Okay fair enough!

          So most of us have two pairs of boots – one pair of (ugly, waterproof) snow boots, and a pair of nicer looking warm boots. I don’t bother with Uggs, but I buy cheap knockoffs from Target or Amazon. (Mine are crocheted-looking.)

          I don’t really layer because I find it massively uncomfortable to try and move while wearing tons of stuff, but I have friends who do, and Booth does. Fleece-lined tights and leggings under clothes are massively popular. They aren’t overly bulky.

          1. JD*

            Ugg can we talk about people wearing Uggs in the snow. These boots are made for surfers!! NOT SNOW!! SUEDE would not be made for snow! OMG IT drives me bonkers to see Uggs in the snow.

            The boots are for surfers to regulate their body temp when they get out of the water. Not to wear with boot socks, mini skirts, in the snow….. I could go on. Please tell me I don’t have another winter of dumbies in Uggs running around.

            1. Bibliovore*

              okay, I used to think that way when I lived in NYC but here in Minnesota the Uggs are perfect for the snow on really cold sunny dry days. They are fine for walking on packed snow and are the best for keeping my toes warm. Not for places with slush.

            2. Clever Name*

              Hmm. I find them comfy and convenient and I guess I don’t care if it offends other people’s fashion sensibilities. :)

              1. Bibliovore*

                I don’t think it is a fashion thing. The suede Uggs are not water proof. If you are in a place that is freezing in the morning and slushy in the afternoon, like NYC or Philly, they are not practical but here in Minnesota they are perfect when the weather is 14 below zero.

          2. TempUserName*

            I have a couple of pairs of comfy leather boots – would the snow not ruin the leather?

            Also – should I get snow boots, or are nice rain boots with boot liners and hyper thick socks warm enough?

            1. Temperance*

              Rain boots are horrible in the snow. They aren’t made for it, so it’s super slippery and hard to walk.

              There is a spray that makes boots waterproof, but not knowing what type, I wouldn’t recommend getting them wet.

              1. TempUserName*

                Ah, rats! I was hoping that I could get something I would for sure use again :) since it’s not likely I will spend another winter in ND (this job is going to make me move…a lot.)

                Thanks for the heads up!

            2. Gingerblue*

              You want boots with good traction in addition to being waterproof, because as soon as it snows things will get horribly slippery. I like to use hiking boots in the winter, myself. Rain boots can tide you over initially if you take a while to find a pair you like, but by the time there’s ice those won’t be ideal.

              1. No Green No Haze*

                Virginia–>Nebraska for the last 20 years here, my opinions:

                Yaktrax, for days when it’s not snow but ice.

                A good low-profile down vest will save your life. Layerable and warm without turning you into Randy from ‘A Christmas Story.’

                Another fleece or SmartWool vest for less warmth, but lower-profile. But don’t really fear the puffy — you will be cold. I am pro-layering, but I prefer things you can shed more easily than thermals.

                That said, for surviving outdoors for real amounts of time — say, shoveling snow or loading trucks, both of which I do in quite cold weather– thermals. I like silk for lightweight warmth, or this obscenely warm thermal base layer from Norway that was a gift (Kari Traa Rose, I rarely wear the pants but the shirt is amazing. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XCZXY35/ref=twister_B01KTXPHWI)

                180 behind-the-head ear warmers.

                Leg warmers, I am not kidding, to sneak under long pants so you can peel them out without having to de-pants yourself.

            3. Bibliovore*

              The snow won’t ruin the leather but all the salt will. Wipe them down when you get home and take them to the shoe repair place for refreshing when the season is over.

    2. Becca*

      A lot depends on how far down the thermometer you can manage without extra gear—I’m quite temperature sensitive, so I bust out the fleece-lined tights pretty early! (I live in MA.) Some wintry thoughts:

      – My winter coat goes below my knees— a coat that covers your bum is REALLY helpful. And my warmest winter hat has a folding brim and an ear flap.
      – You don’t need to wear snow boots outside all the time. I’ll often wear fleece-lined ankle boots. For keeping your legs warm, thermal underwear/fleece-lined tights or leggings/etc are hugely helpful. Something similar for the top works too, though you’ve got more leeway there with sweaters and so on!
      – If it’s snowy, people shouldn’t judge you for wearing boots. In some circumstances, you can wear boots and change into nicer shoes once you arrive, as Allison has suggested for bad-weather interviews. I used to do that when I walked to synagogue (even just sneakers to prettier shoes in warmer weather).
      – Looking nice: match your winter wear with the rest of your wardrobe, so you still look put-together even if you have to wear a bulky coat and hat/scarf/gloves. Thin thermal under-layers help you wear your normal nice clothes without messing up the silhouette too much.

      Hope that helps! Good luck :D

      1. Bibliovore*

        Becca just said everything I was going to say.
        Stuff that I love- Smart Wool gater or Merino Buff.
        Smart wool socks- thin and thick ones.
        Smart wool long underwear- I wear black bottoms as leggings under dresses.
        silk long underwear for Business casual.
        Garnet Hill cashmere shawl- worth every penny.
        Men’s flannel pjs from COSTCO- roomy and comfortable
        Flannel comforter cover.
        I leave a pair of Haflinger clogs at work.
        Uggs- because I really hate being cold.
        hat with ear flaps – Duluth trading company.
        Glove liners.
        Wool mittens.
        Hand warmers. We get a big box from COSTCO.

        1. TempUserName*

          OMG thank you for specifying brands and stores! It’s so helpful to have an idea of where to look ;)
          I think I will ask my Mom to grab me some men’s flannel PJs next time she goes in, estra large room pjs sounds wonderful!

        2. Old Biddy*

          The Costco merino wool socks at a decent subsitute for the lighter Smartwool socks.
          Garnet Hill flannel sheets are the bomb – much better than Costco.
          I also have a pair of ugly Merrell snow boots that I wear to and from work, then change into a pair of slides while I’m working.

          1. Bibliovore*

            Should have said
            Garnet Hill or Company Store for Flannel Sheets and Comforter cover.
            I know this is going to sound crazy but…
            COSTCO has a throw size electric blanket. Mr. Bibliovore runs hot and I run cold. I turn on the electric throw under the covers about 20 minutes before I go to bed and that heats up the sheets. (he hates flannel sheets so we don’t have them)
            I bought a wool comforter after my first year here at the farmers market. On my side of the bed, wool comforter in flannel cover. On his side of the bed down comforter, percale cover.

            I also have a heavy Faribaut wool blanket.
            I have two of the Costco electric throws- one for the couch in the living room, one for the bed upstairs.
            COSTCO polar fleece blanket in my study on the couch.

        3. Gingerblue*

          These are all great suggestions. To add a few more:

          I like Merrell hiking boots for winter wear. If you have Amazon prime, they’re my best source for shoes these days. (Prime gets you free return shipping on stuff that doesn’t fit.)

          The website Sock Dreams is fabulous for cozy socks, tights, legwarmers, and similar. The socks listed as “diamond rib knee highs” are hands-down the best, warmest socks I have ever owned.

          Flannel. Flannel everything. Flannel sheets and duvet covers instantly make bed a cozy refuge. Anywhere that sells sheets up north should have them in stock right now. Also, depending on how easy your house is to keep warm, consider an electric blanket or taking a heating pad or hot water bottle to bed with you. Keep some fleecy throw blankets around for snuggling on the sofa.

          Avoid most winter wear in synthetic fibers unless it’s high-tech stuff designed for winter sports. Until you’ve experienced the cold, you won’t appreciate how much of a difference it makes. The wind will go straight through a polyester sweater while a similar-looking wool one keeps you warm.

          A fleece or flannel bathrobe and warm slippers are good to have.

          I’ll frequently wear legwarmers under my jeans and fingerless armwarmers under my shirt, which makes a huge difference in maintaining a comfortable core temperature.

          Scarves are awesome, and it’s generally easier to get a traditional rectangular scarf snug around the neck and face than a cowl or infinity scarf type of thing.

          I have several winter coats, ranging from a lightweight fleece one for early in the season to a thigh-lengh nice-looking wool one for most of the winter to an ankle-length heavy wool coat for when it hits single digits. Somewhere I have a Columbia skiing jacket with a fleece linig that zips into a shell, but 99% of the time I wear the medium wool one. It’s some indie brand that I bought at a tiny clothing store as a grad student for $29, and I’ve had it for a decade. With coats, as long as the cloth is mostly wool and they’re sensibly cut (no giant open necks, or so on), I find that brand doesn’t matter much; they key part is getting good thick cloth. Since you’re in the Great Northern Coat Belt, you could almost certainly find a decent wool coat at a thrift store if you poke around a bit.

          Also, if you find can borrow gear or make do until December, it’s usually around Christmas that I start seeing major sales on coats and boots. If you’re needing to build a whole winter wardrobe it can make a difference!

          1. Bibliovore*

            Slippers! I never wore slippers before. Now I have a pair on each floor. My favorites are Haflinger boiled wool. I got them at Garnet Hill. And there is a place here called Cabbellas – I got a pair of shearling booties with a sole as a gift one year. Great for dog walking at five am.

            Boots- the Merrells come out at the first sign of bad weather. Good soles for not slipping. I wear them with a sock liner and thick wool socks. Change shoes at work. Take off the wool socks and just wear the sock liners with work shoes.
            Second the leg and wrist warmers. I knit my own from merino wool (no itch)

    3. Seal*

      As a Minnesotan who’s lived in the Deep South for the past decade, my advice is to make sure you keep your hands, feet and ears warm and covered when you go outside. When I go back to visit family at Christmas, I’m always surprised by the number of people who are all bundled up but not wearing a hat or earmuffs. Since I don’t like to get my hair messed up and have a big head (giant noggins run in the family) I usually wear a headband that goes under my hair but covers my ears and forehead. Gloves can look a bit more professional and make it easier to use your phone, but mittens keep your hands warmer. A good long scarf will keep your neck warm; you can also pull it up over your face when it’s really cold.

      While I had snow boots, I rarely wore them to work unless it had snowed a lot overnight and the sidewalks weren’t shoveled. But I also tend to wear flats or loafers or other shoes that are practical in bad weather. Wool socks were helpful, though, as regular shoes don’t have much insulation and my feet would get cold if I was out for long. Also, I rarely wore long underwear unless it was below zero, mostly because I had to take it off at work because it was too hot to wear all day.

      One other thing you’ll discover is that it gets very dry indoors in the winter up North, with lots of static electricity. Invest in hand lotion and try not to touch anything metal.

      1. TempUserName*

        I have already noticed the static, it drives me up a wall! I wrap my hands in my sweatshirt and still get shocked.

      2. LizB*

        Omg yes on the dryness in the winter. Lotion lotion lotion. I have a mini bottle in my purse, a bottle at work, a bottle at my second job, and myriad bottles at home, and I still end up feeling super dried out.

        1. No Green No Haze*

          Lotion yes, but also consider a full-on salve.

          Hand-washing is so drying, and it scrubs off your lotion — if you get a serious dryness problem, I recommend O’Keeffe’s Working Hands hand cream. Usually sold in green plastic tubs; recently I found it in a tube and am in heaven. I get those painful fingerprint cracks if I’m not careful to hydrate and moisturize, and this stuff sinks in deep & pretty much glues me back together.

          And hydrate hydrate.

    4. Sibley*

      You will want to find someone in your area who is similar to you in feeling cold if you can. Some people get cold easier than others, and if you’re asking advice from someone who’s never cold while you’re always cold, really not helpful!

      However, in general multiple layers are warmer than 1. If it’s not that cold, I might wear a sweater + coat. For really cold days, I might wear a thermal undershirt, thinner shirt, sweater, and coat. If you can tolerate wool that’s generally the gold standard for cold weather wear unless you get into synthetics, and even then wool can outperform. I can’t wear wool of course!

      Once it’s gets cold, I wear thermals almost every day. Usually just bottoms, but if I’ll be outside or it’s REALLY cold I’ll wear tops as well. The best part about thermals is they’re under your clothes so people can’t tell you’re wearing them. They have different materials, brands, etc. Thermals can be expensive however, and there can be a huge variation in them depending on fit and material. I’ve found one type I like and buy them on sale when I can.

      Mittens are warmer than gloves. A ton of body heat is lost through the head, so a warm hat is important. For inside, a cozy afgan will go a long way towards keeping you comfortable.

      Good winter gear isn’t cheap. I like Lands End and Columbia personally, but there’s plenty of other really good brands. Which brands you end up liking will be a function of what you need. For me, North Face just doesn’t keep me warm (no idea why, everyone else loves them). Unfortunately, there’s an element of trial and error to see what will work for you in that location.

      Winter cold also varies a lot. Wind and humidity make a huge difference. If it’s 10 outside with no wind and no humidity, that feels a lot different than 10 with wind and humidity. I don’t know what you’ll have, that’s where talking to people in your area comes in.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Cuddle duds. My first christmas here most of my presents from the in-laws were some form of cuddle duds

    5. Kj*

      Land’s End has cold ratings on their jackets, which I found helpful when moving from a warm state to a cold one. Their jackets can be very attractive and warm, which I like. Yes, you will likely wear snow boots most of the winter outside if there is snow on the ground. Good luck with the move!

    6. Epsilon Delta*

      I live in Wisconsin, I have my whole life, and I cannot deal with the cold. So I think I have some good tips for someone like you!

      I set my thermostat to 72 degrees during the day, 68 at night. People look at me like I am nuts or rich, but for our house with gas heat, the heating bill is about the same as the cooling bill in the summer. I am very comfortable at that temp. Since you are working from home, warm beverages and fuzzy robes will help you too.

      I wear sweaters and pants basically all the time. When it gets below about 5 degrees, I will usually put leggings or tights under my jeans if I go outside. I had down winter coats for many years, they work well. Now I have a leather jacket and that works EVEN BETTER. Wear a hat or at least something to cover your ears. You will want gloves too, the thin ones are usually good enough, just something to protect your hands a little bit.

      Yes, you will wear winter boots ALL THE TIME and change into activity-appropriate shoes as needed. I keep 2-3 pairs of shoes under my desk at work during the winter so I don’t have to carry them around. In malls, libraries, etc. you just keep your winter boots on.

      Mainly, my advice is to layer and don’t be afraid of being too warm or looking too ridiculous. You can always take your layers off if you’re overdressed. You’ll quickly get a sense of how to dress for different temperatures. Also, there are these strange people who don’t seem to care about the cold (my husband is one of them), they will walk around with a light jacket and say they’re fine when it’s 10 degrees out. Don’t let them make you feel like you need to act that way.

      1. Bibliovore*

        oh and when visiting. Take off your outside shoes and leave by the door. Bring a pair of indoor shoes- I bring my Haflingers.

    7. Cooker Lady*

      Also look at fiber content of what you buy – acrylic cheap-o mittens from Target are fine for 30 degrees, but if it’s Really Damn Cold, you will want wool or Thinsulate or tech materials.

    8. Jules the First*

      For keeping hands warm, I recommend spoiling yourself with a set of silk (or synthetic silk) liner gloves – you wear these, and then put mittens over top giving you warmer hands and the option of whipping off your mittens for brief periods of greater dexterity without freezing your fingers (particularly useful for frozen gas caps, retying shoelaces, and fiddling with smartphones).

      I layer by preference everywhere else too – fleece lined tights or ultra-fine thermals under my jeans or skirts, long-sleeved t-shirt, sweater or fleece, lightweight down zip up, and waterproof layer. If you can get yourself to a Uniqlo, their Heattech thermals are very good, and lots of their lightweight down pieces are great for layering and surprisingly affordable.

    9. OperaArt*

      I grew up in North Dakota, and still have family there.
      On the weather report, listen/look for “wind chill” temperature. That’s the temperature it will feel like because of the wind. The difference can be significant. Adjust outerwear accordingly.
      There are levels of coldness, and so differences in what to wear. Just as 70-degree clothing is different than 100-degree clothing, so is 30-degree different from -30.
      Winter temps often hover in the 20s and 30s, but there is almost always at least one big cold snap down into the -20s and -30s or more.

      Allow more time for getting ready to leave—all those layers take time to put on. Everyone will be bundled up.

      And don’t forget summers—they can get up into the 100s but without much humidity.

      1. TempUserName*

        Is there a good place to look for the windchill rating on like, an app or phone? I’m terrible about listening to the news/radio before getting dressed (which killed me today, ha, I froze…) but pretty good about checking phones.

        1. OperaArt*

          It should just be part of the forecast, just like humidity and the like. They might say “feels like” instead of calling it out as windchill.

            1. Bibliovore*

              Public radio is obsessed with the weather. They can do twenty minutes on the “wintry mix” Here is how I plan.

              50 degrees- a sweater or light jacket. scarf.
              40 degree- sweater, down or polartec vest. If there is rain, the patagonia shell over that.
              35 degrees- time for layers- silk or cuddle duds, wool socks, glove liners, warm up the clothes in front of the gas fire. light weight puffer jacket, down vest, big scarf, hat, mittens.
              25 degrees- Mountain Hardwear Down jacket or LL Bean Long Down coat and all of the above without the down vest and puffer jacket
              15 and below- All of the above but not the LL Bean Long Down Coat AND the down vest
              Below zero- All of the above and light puffer without down vest. Leave the LL Bean in the Closet.

              Also remember when the weather gets bad, Business Casual becomes very casual.

              1. Bibliovore*

                Addendum- at 30 and below I break out the wool long underwear- tops and bottoms. I change out of the bottoms when I get to work because I over heat.

    10. Cruciatus*

      My sister was stationed in North Dakota. We come from the snow belt but there were some differences in ND. There wasn’t as much snow as in our hometown (though definitely more if you’re from Florida!) but the wind, OMG the wind! Jesus. It just whipped right through you. I had never felt anything quite like it. Getting out of the car was hard because the wind was fighting the car door. Definitely get a winter coat with wind barrier capabilities. I don’t know which brands but the stores in ND likely have good coats to choose from! Most of the garages there are heated so that cars can start in winter and people there recommended getting an engine block heater. My sister never did and was fine–but only because of the heated garage I think.

      1. TempUserName*

        Oh my gosh, yes! The wind is insane! It has snatched grocery bags and slammed car doors. It woke me up last night rattling my blinds! I have never seen anything like it before.

    11. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      You can also try silk for a base layer, but definitely give the Uniqlo a go first.

      Ive lived in WI, MN, and AK and now spend some winter time in Sweden and while I am over the snow and cold these days, I have always found that good waterproof layers are essential f you are going outside for fun time. If I was walking in the evenings in MN (and I HAD to get out at that point) it was a big pair of snow pants over thermals and then fleece top over tshirt, with my water and windproof coat over the top, a neck gaiter, and a hat. I had a nice wool dress coat to get to work that just went over normal work clothes, along with scarves and gloves. I havent bought normal winter boots in years – always used some hiking boots I bought years ago with a lot of tread.

      I have been to ND in the winter and the wind up there coming off the prairies is No Joke, so my first thought would be to ensure you had some good windproof outerwear. LL Bean is your new friend, but REI may have some good stuff too if you are looking to be active. You will want to find something to get out and do because that cabin fever is real.

      Also, while we have been talking about clothing, definitely be prepared to learn some new driving skills. Wind blown drifting snow on open rural roads can be very difficult to drive in, especially at night. Light dustings of snow can make roads WAY slicker than you would imagine, especially beginning of the season, so learning what to do in the event of a slide is good knowledge. You will also have to either a) plug in your car battery at night or b) start it up and warm it up during the day or before you go anywhere. Finally, we always kept kitty litter, a flashlight, a small shovel, and washer fluid in the back of the car during winter in case we went off the road OR were out of fluid. Definitely helped the one time we slid off the road and into the ditch in rural WI at 4.30 am headed home for Xmas.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Driving. If you can get a car with seat warmers. I have a shearling steering wheel cover. Yes it looks stupid but the wheel isn’t freezing. Spare pair of gloves in the car. oh, that’s why they call it the glove box.

        1. TempUserName*

          I bought a new car when I moved and INSISTED on seat warmers. Honestly they are the reason I fell in love with the new vehicle. Even when it’s not so cold, they feel amazing on a stiff back.

          @Sprechen Sie Talk? – why washer fluid? Did you regularly run out of fluid in your vehicle? (Also, what is that?)

          And are the hiking boots waterproof enough? I will def be checking Uniqlo though – I have heard good things about them, and I like their prices. ;)

          1. ‘Sconnie*

            Washer fluid is the spray used with the wipers to clean gunk off your windshield. Tires kick up spray from the road salt and melted snow, without the fluid your wipers will smear it into a nice opaque film. Good wipers are important too. Get a longer handled window scraper to scrape snow, ice, and frost from the windows. (Never use it on any painted surface, like my little sister did when she first started driving)

            For boots, I have Sorels with removable liners from Cabela’s for heavy snow boots. Either buy a boot dryer or a second set of liners for the boots. Boots get wet inside from your feet sweating and wet boots do not to keep your feet warm. Plus it’s really nice to put on warm boots in the morning. I also have a lighter pair of warm boots for traveling to and from work.

            When I choose winter outerwear I prioritize warmth over being stylish. I like to be as comfortable as possible. Plus temperatures can change quickly and cold can be dangerous.

        2. LizB*

          To add to this, you can also get a remote car starter system so you can get the car running & warming up without having to sit in a freezing cold car for ten minutes. I don’t have one, but several friends do and they swear by them.

    12. Junior Dev*

      I lived in Michigan for 5 years. Here’s some advice:

      * Get a long, wide wool scarf that’s felted or a tight weave, and learn to tie it so it covers your head, neck and face.

      * Gloves, wool socks, and long underwear. For gloves, if they’re the kind that can’t be washed easily, wear liner gloves like socks and wash those. Get a knit hat also.

      * Have a nice-looking wool overcoat or peacoat for more formal situations, and a water resistant ski parka for times you need to spend a lot of time outside. Both should allow a full range of arm motion and should be long enough to cover your butt.

      * Sporting goods stores like REI are a good place to go for a pair of sturdy waterproof boots. Talk to the salespeople about finding boots that will allow you to walk in snow.

    13. Thursday Next*

      If you’ll need more professional winter outer gear I’d get both a good wool peacoat and a water- and wind proof coat, like the type you’d buy from Lands End or LL Bean. Both Lands End and LL Bean rate their winter coats for temperature so I’d start there. You don’t need to wear Sorels all the time, but if you want warmer boots REI sells some that are more fashionable but still waterproof. (They are also pricey but I’ve had a pair of waterproof but fashionable Merrell boot for over 10 years now so you should be able to get your money’s worth). I first wear a fleece headband when it’s cold because it keeps my ears warm, and that’s what gets cold first. When it’s really cold I would wear the fleece headband plus a winter hat, for extra warmth. A good warm scarf is also definitely worth it.

      When I was in undergrad and had to walk to and around campus in the midwest I’d wear thermal leggings under my jeans (the type you’d buy for winter running) and if it was really cold I’d also wear a long sleeve thermal shirt, again the type you’d wear to run outside in winter. I also do the thin gloves + mittens combo – mittens keep your hands warmer but thin gloves allow you to fumble with keys/phone etc without freezing your fingers.

      For winter driving make sure to have a blanket or sleeping bag in your car in case you have car troubles of some sort and have to wait for a tow. Depending on how rural you’ll be maybe throw in some of those hand and foot warmers and extra gloves and hat. Also have a shovel (for if it snows during the day) and an ice scraper in your car.

    14. Jayhawker*

      I live in Kansas, so while not quite as cold as ND, we get to deal with the same fun thing: wind. Seriously, the wind. It’s cutting. I’ve recently discovered wool (for running outdoors in subfreezing temps) and I don’t know how I’ve survived without it. I don’t mind the cold much — for example, I tend to run in just a thin baselayer until it hits below 20, but it might be a shock to you initially since you are coming from the south. For non-running outdoor activities, I use a wool peacoat from Land’s End that I adore. When it’s really cold I use a double layer North Face coat which is good for blocking wind. My friend who lives in Michigan bought a longer, puffy coat from Columbia and swears by it. I also use a wool gaiter (a wool scarf would also do) and wind-rated gloves (I think from the North Face). I would consider looking into wind-rated mittens, as well. Your fingers stay warmer when they’re together. Wool socks are fantastic. Look into Darn Tough or Smartwool socks.

      In general, look for a high wool content and shy away from cotton. If cotton gets wet (from sweat/snow/rain) it will not keep you warm. If wool or synthetics get wet, you will stay much, much warmer. I learned this lesson the hard way.

      1. RCJH*

        Hello fellow Kansan! I pretty much adore Kansas weather except for the wind and summer humidity ugh.

        1. Jayhawker*

          Another Kansan AND a Jayhawk? Even better! If the summer humidity would just GO AWAY the weather here would be perfect. We are not having fall weather right now and it’s bumming me out. I’m tired of being sweaty.

    15. Montanan*

      I moved to Montana from Florida, though I grew up in Michigan. I think the weather here is pretty similar to ND, maybe a little less windy. Usually we’re anywhere from mid-30s down to -20s with windchill. My thoughts:

      – I have two pairs of winter shoes. One for the average day, good for a few inches of fluff that will get plowed later on, and one for snowstorms. I usually keep a nice pair at work and just swap shoes in the morning/evening. I wouldn’t bother with bringing spare shoes to church though. People will probably just keep their snowboots on. You want to purchase actual snowboots, not whatever looks cute in the stores. Waterproof is key!

      – You’ll need a good, thick coat that goes down below your behind. It makes a huge difference when the snow is blowing! Wool is okay if you want to be fashionable, or just go for the ski-type parkas. Umbrellas are still good when it’s snowing but not windy.

      – Mittens, not gloves, for cold days. I keep two pairs, one of those thin gloves you can use your smartphone with, and a set of heavy mittens for snowstorms/car brushing. A good scarf is essential, and a thick, snug hat for snowstorm days. A hat won’t blow off like a hood can.

      – Try to stay stocked up for a few days with food, medicine, etc. Don’t wait until the last minute during the winter. Everything will probably stay open, but there will be times when you don’t want to be on the road.

      – Did you bring your car up? If so, you need to get your engine oil changed out. The oil they put in down in Florida is NOT meant for winter temperatures. I forget what the right rating is, but see any lube shop and they should know what to do. You will also want to run the tank down to empty a few times or add dry gas; I heard there can be a lot of water just sitting down there that will cause issues in the winter. Also check your tires out. If they’re geared for rain driving or better gas mileage or the same that came with your car (which are typically garbage), please change them out for snow tires, or at least siped higher-end all-seasons. Good tires are essential, especially if you’ve never driven in snow. 4WD/AWD does NOT help you stop! Check your car battery out. Winter will kill it quick if it’s older. And get a good wash in with clearcoat put on to stop rusting before it gets much colder. They don’t salt in MT, but if they salt the roads in ND you’ll need it. Here they use sand and rocks.

      – If you have an older car without a clicker, keep lock deicer on you and never park your driver’s side into the wind! It’ll freeze up. :( My apartment’s door lock actually froze up last year too. Your car doors might also freeze up if you don’t open them often. With my old car, I got in the habit of opening and shutting all of them regularly so I’d have at least one that would open after work.

      1. TempUserName*

        What is dry gas? This is something I am totally unfamiliar with.

        Also, do you know who might do the clearcoat? ND apparently does not salt, but Minnesota does, and I do occasionally have to drive there.

        How long can a car sit outside in the cold without an engine block with no issues? I have a garage here, but obviously I do not when I am traveling.

        1. MN Gal*

          If you have a new battery, you’ll be fine until it dips -10 or so, for a long stretch. Then people do run out and start cars to let them run for 15 minutes to warm up. If you’re in a garage over night, you’ll likely be fine because the sun warms the car up enough that it’ll start.

        2. Montanan*

          Dry gas basically gets rid of any water sitting in your gas tank. Since Florida is so humid it’s possible there’s some water hanging out in there. The water can freeze and break your fuel lines.

          Any decent car wash should do clearcoat. Usually it’ll be listed on the wash descriptions; some places reserve it for the more expensive washes. It’s added on after the soap and rinse, but before you get dried off.

          As long as your battery has the juice to start your car, you should be okay. I’ve started my car down to -40 windchills after work. It may have a hard time though, that’s why you want the right oil to keep the engine lubricated when you’re starting it at those kinds of temps.

    16. From South Dakota ( the better one :-))*

      From a Souh Dakotan….. Some non-clothes advice- put the local tv station and weatherbug or other weather app on your phone. They will show temperature and wind chill temp. Keep a cold weather kit in your car….it may be jacket weather when you leave the house, but need something warmer later in the day. Take your car to a mechanic and get the radiator flushes and filled for -30 temps. And while you are there, if you don’t have North Dakotans in your family who can do so, ask where you can find someone to show you how to drive in the snow! Trust me, it’s diffeeent; the first good snow you may want to go to an empty parking lot and drive around to get used to how stopping, starting, and turning are different (tip- if you start to skid, feet OFF the brake). A crockpot with a roast or soup will make your snowy evenings cozy. Plan on lots of extra time for travel until you are used to driving in winter. Layers are great! You may start with a long sleeve tee, put a cardigan over that, and a coat over that. You may want to have a lighter weight, medium weight, and heavier coat- temps of 20 degree difference may mean you are too cold or too warm. For snow boots- make sure they are comfy to stand and walk in. If you will be shoveling your own snow, bib overalls will keep you toasty. Tractor Supply, Scheels, Cabela’s will provide better quarlity winter wear (in my opinion) than Target.

    17. OperaArt*

      Regarding driving…I tell people to drive like the stereotype of a little old lady driver. Acceleration and deceleration are far slower on icy, snowy streets.

      And if you get stuck by the side of the highway in bad weather, and you see a farm house over there just a mile away…don’t leave the car!! People die every year underestimating how fast they lose body heat outdoors. Generally, the abandoned car gets found first, then the body in the field. The car might be uncomfortable but survivable. My Dad always carried a couple of candles and matches in an old coffee can. The heat from the candles can keep a person in a car warm enough to live.
      Also, have sand or kitty litter, a shovel, blankets, a battery pack for your phone, and extra gloves and a hat, snack food.
      Sorry, not trying to scare you. It’s kind of like wearing seatbelts. Just taking precautions.

    18. From South Dakota ( the better one :-))*

      From a Souh Dakotan….. Some non-clothes advice- put the local tv station and weatherbug or other weather app on your phone. They will show temperature and wind chill temp. Keep a cold weather kit in your car….it may be jacket weather when you leave the house, but need something warmer later in the day. Take your car to a mechanic and get the radiator flushes and filled for -30 temps. And while you are there, if you don’t have North Dakotans who can do so, ask where you can find someone to show you how to drive in the snow! Trust me, it’s different; the first good snow you may want to go to an empty parking lot and drive around to get used to how stopping, starting, and turning are different (tip- if you start to skid, feet OFF the brake). A crockpot with a roast or soup will make your snowy evenings cozy. Plan on lots of extra time for travel until you are used to driving in winter. Layers are great! You may start with a long sleeve tee, put a cardigan over that, and a coat over that. You may want to have a lighter weight, medium weight, and heavier coat- temps of 20 degree difference may mean you are too cold or too warm. For snow boots- make sure they are comfy to stand and walk in. If you will be shoveling your own snow, bib overalls will keep you toasty. Tractor Supply, Scheels, Cabela’s will provide better quarlity winter wear (in my opinion) than Target.

    19. MN Gal*

      Snow boots: get a good pair. I like Columbia or Sorel. I don’t typically see people wearing them going to and from work/to the grocery store, etc. Unless it’s right after a big snow storm. I do, however, carry them in my car, along with my snowsuit and some extra blankets. I live in a very populated area, so I don’t have food supplies in my car, but depending on where in ND you are, you probably should!

      Layers: I don’t wear layers during the day as I would get way too hot, but I do wear layers for ice skating/sledding/driveway shoveling. I like Under Armour Cold Gear layers. I have compression tights and a compression top. Their omni heat shirts are also really nice for running outside. I run in tights and the omni heat shirt until it dips below 20.

      Clothing: What styles do you normally wear? I like fleece lined leggings, but my coworkers and daughter wear just cotton type of leggings all winter long. Typically, indoors isn’t cold (and I like it warmer than most). I also wear jeans and sweaters type of clothing.

      Car: You need warm stuff to keep in your car, especially if you frequent more rural areas. You also should carry a shovel in your car – if you are in a parking lot that has’t been plowed and the plow comes through, you need to shovel. You’ll also need an ice scraper – get a long handled one. And never go without a charged cell phone.

      I love my Columbia Omni Heat coat. It goes to my knees (look for a double zipper, so you can unzip normally but also unzip from the bottom up so you can sit decently wearing it). I also have a Columbia hat. For mittens I have Under Armour. You can pick up stuff at Targets/Walmarts etc, but I suggest Scheels (one in Fargo). You’ll need a snow suit too, even if you don’t plan on outdoor recreation. You’ll need it for in your car, just in case. Mine is from Walmart, and I can’t vouch for it’s warmth as I’ve never worn it. If you do plan on outdoor activities, I suggest Columbia pants. That’s what my kids wear and they aren’t the full bibs.

      Columbia has a lifetime guarantee on their products, so if a zipper breaks they replace it or give you a credit.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Also when temp drops check your tire pressure. Make friends with the local car repair and have them do a cold weather check on your car.

    20. Anono-me*

      You have received lots of good advice. Here are more random bits of advice from someone who lived in MN many years.

      Get a good Carbon Monoxide detector. That stuff really is a silent killer.
      Never run your car to warm it up while it is in the garage. Carbon Monoxide builds up in the garage and can get into the house when you do.
      If you are not in an apartment, get your furnace tuned up and change the filter on schedule.
      Keep a winter survival kit in the car. (Google & DIY one or some hardware stores sell kits.)
      Keep a shaker of gritty style sidewalk salt in the car. (Great if your car gets stuck or if you need to salt your way from the car to the door.
      Get a bag of regular (or petsafe) sidewalk salt, even if you live in an apartment. (Better to salt the icy patch youself than to slip on it waiting for maintenance to do it.) If you live in a house get several big bags.
      Get plastic film kits for each of your windows. The blinds should NOT be rattling. Any hardware store should carry them (and some of the dollar stores). With drafty windows, you will save more on your heat bills than the kits cost and you will be so much more comfortable. These are super simple to install, the directions are on the box amd all you need is a small scissors and a blowdryer.
      Hockey sweat pants (Scheels) and shearling mittens (Menards) are winter favorites of mine. (FYI most of the cute winter clothes are for GA winters, not ND.)
      In addition to the winter travel advisorys, I wod keep an eye on the school closings and delays. If the rural schools are closing and the rural school busses are not running, I would stay in town. If the in town schools are closed, I would stay home.
      Black ice is pretty much invisible and very slippery.
      Bridges and hilltop freeze over quickly.
      Stay away from snowplows.
      I would talk to your mechanic about how winter roadworthy your Florida car is and ask about sandbags in the back (Blocks can become airborne in an accident).
      If you have a pet, they will be very sensitive to the cold and can get frostbite quicker than many people expect. The ears, tails and feet are especially vulnerable. Roadsalt can be very bad for pets, it can damage their feet and if they lick it off their feet, it can make them sick.
      I love hot tea with honey and lemon when I have a chill.
      A good moisturizer and a humidifier help with the dry skin and feeling so chilly.
      Cabin feaver is real. Get outside and do fun winter stuff, like skating and fishing and snowmobiling and cross country skiing.

  29. Mimmy*

    We finally kicked our general contractor to the curb! I work 3 days a week, so I didn’t always see what was happening, but hubby works from home most days. Our contractor would disappear for hours at a time, leaving a helper to do the work. The workmanship was sloppy. We think the contractor was working on another project at the same time as ours, which isn’t good practice, and that he wasn’t as experienced as he claimed; as I mentioned last week, his licensed showed as revoked because it had expired earlier this year. He definitely tried to bite off more than he could chew. He begged us to take him back, but hubby stood his ground.

    We have new contractors lined up. So it’ll be at least a couple more weeks without a fully-functioning kitchen, but we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

    1. Sylvan*

      Urgh. I was wondering whether things were looking up. I’m glad you’re going to be working with someone new.

  30. Anon for highly depressed post*

    I apologize if the following sounds glib – it isn’t meant to be; it’s a sincere question I’ve been asking myself.

    I’ve been going through a really, really bad period of late. Usually people go through periodic crises, but mine has been much longer. I won’t go into the details because they’re too embarrassing – I really fucked up my life and don’t currently see a way out.

    Usually, when people are depressed, they’re urged to get help and told their life has value. My question is, why do we say that? Do all lives really have value? What if your life has effectively lost its value, because it’s lost its meaning (through loss of friends, work, hope, possibility, money, potential, etc)? Is that just something we say? Again, I’m sorry if this sounds like a weird rhetorical trap – but I’m curious whether people really believe the well-worn narrative that “it gets better.” Because I don’t think it does: sometimes, it just gets worse.

    Curious to hear people’s thoughts, if you have them.

    1. Kali*

      I’m going to take a slightly different approach to this, based on some thoughts I’ve been having recently. Firstly, though, I think things mostly do get better. For me, they always have so far.

      The question of ‘value’ is a complicated one. To who? I don’t know if my life has value to anyone else. It has value to me. For context, my mother spent several years drilling into me that no one wanted me around and I should have been aborted, so that’s something I feel quite stubborn about. My life has value to me; it doesn’t need to have value to anyone else to ‘count’.

      The slightly weird thing I was thinking of is that…well, I study genetics. And the more I learn about, the less sure I am of what and why I am. A solid portion of my body is bacteria, for example, and they’re quite happy helping me to digest food. I have a couple of Neanderthal genes, and maybe even some homo Denisovan genes (though that’s less likely, based on my family history). And did you ever think about how weird it is to be a multi-cellular organism? Most life on earth isn’t; most of it is single-celled. Each individual cell has its own interests at heart; it wants to eat, and live, and pass on its own DNA. But my body doesn’t work like that; the vast majority of my (human) cells will die without ever passing on their genes. They do that because they know they’re part of something bigger, and that my germ cells exist for that purpose. I have a cold right now, and I know that yellow or dark green mucus is that colour because it’s full of dead white blood cells; they died because they trust that my millions of other cells have identical DNA, and that some of that DNA will continue, even without them. And that’s kind of amazing. Those cells could just go and do their own thing, but they don’t because, billions of years ago, some cells got together and decided to be friends.

    2. Kj*

      I think all lives have potential value- we all have the ability to affect others in positive ways. If we give up on ourselves, we are not even trying to give of ourselves to the world. And I think we all have something to give. I also believe the human experience is richer and deeper when every person gives of themselves and values themselves.

      This comes in part from my experiences with depression as a teen and young adult and my being a therapist now. I value others even when they can’t see their value, because part of my job is to hold the hope for my clients until they can hold it for themselves. I have thought of myself as valueless and useless and despaired, but I had people who loved me and who cared and they helped me find a path to help others. Every person holds potential value to the the world, but most need direction and encouragement at some point figure out how to help others.

    3. Reba*

      First, I’m sorry for what’s happened/happening to you.

      I agree with Kj on the idea of potential, and I love Kali’s sciencey answer. I don’t believe that our lives have meaning or purpose (outside of what we ascribe to them), but I do think that all lives have value. You’re here. You have some rich experiences that are shared with others, but ultimately the experiences and thoughts are yours alone, uniquely. There won’t be another one like you, like any of us. And potential–we don’t know what will happen in the future, what you will do, what you are capable of. I think all people have the potential to contribute to our world, and even if the contribution is simply “live as well as I can, observe the world, appreciate its good things,” that is a worthy and beautiful effort.

      I hope you feel better and things start looking up soon.

      1. Reba*

        Depression is so difficult because it is both internal and situational. But remember that depression is an illness that can be treated. We are rooting for you here.

        If you are thinking about ending your life, please contact a hotline, like Samaritans in the US or UK or Lifeline in Australia and NZ.

        1. Anon for highly depressed post*

          Thanks for your kind words. I think “potential” and value are more problematic when the person is not, say, 25, but rather 45 — because then the potential for the future value you evoke has gone way down, especially after many years of no meaningful contribution to the world (e.g., being unable to find work / form meaningful human relationships, etc).

          That’s also why I posed the question – some people’s situations won;t realistically be improved over the course of their lives; they’ll continue to struggle; not everyone’s story ends with “and then I found a great job and and an even greater partner.” It seems that many do, and I envy those so much – but it’s never been true for me.

          1. Kali*

            I have no idea how much this will relate to your specific circumstances, but here are some more thoughts.

            I don’t think a great partner or a great job is the answer. Happiness is relative; you get used to what you have. There are studies showing that people who win the lottery and people who get into terrible accidents and become paralysed both pretty much go back to their former level of happiness six months later. They got used to the situation. So a big situational change won’t make you happy.

            That said, there are situations that have made me unhappy in the past. Generally, they were situations in which stress was almost continual, but varied. For a lot of people, their commute is this; they get used to the job they do and the house they live in, but a terrible commute varies just enough to be frustrating and stressful all the time. At one point in my life, I had a housemate who kept throwing tantrums; you didn’t know what would set him off, so you could never relax and you’d be walking on eggshells constantly. Luckily, the landlord liked me, so he got evicted. I’ve also felt that long-term stress while working in a job that wasn’t fulfilling and wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t an area I wanted to work in (customer service), it was a stressful role (call centre), and it was never going to get better because I wasn’t doing a good job because I really didn’t want to be there. After ten years of struggling through jobs like that (I also worked at McDonalds for three years), I went back to uni, where I’m much happier (though the housemates are only slightly better).

            While I was in the midst of the depressing times, I found this post really helpful; http://lesswrong.com/lw/20l/ureshiku_naritai/

            It’s about recognising your emotions on a scale of 1-10, recognising when your mood is below 5, and actively trying to change it so that 5 becomes normal for you. From your posts, I kind of get the impression that 1-2 has become normal for you. :/

          2. Kj*

            I’m going to challenge you on the relative value of 25 vs. 45. Yes, a 25 year old, objectively, has more “chances” to do more things. But history is litter with examples of people who contributed their value to the world when they were older. And not everything has to be flashy- something as simple as volunteering or helping with a protest can give shared meaning and value. Not everyone’s story ends with something super-happy and yes, some people struggle forever. But there are chances in the struggle to help others and be helped in return. Even something as simple as being part of my neighborhood’s Buy Nothing board gives some value and meaning to my life- I have given a neighbor food for her pets this week and it made me realize how little it take to make a difference- I had spare food, her pets had a need, the internet connected us and I felt good for being able to help. It was small and not dramatic, but I felt I did good and that matters to me. And it mattered to her pets.

          3. 30ish*

            There will always be struggle but even most people who struggle a lot, and most of those who do not have a job or partner, usually still experience happiness, too. If there is is no or very little happiness that equals depression and it’s a dangerous disease that lies to you every day and makes you feel this way.
            When I got treated for depression I was amazed that I could simply be happy to be alive. I can be happy to hear the birds sing in the morning, to have a cup of coffee or to hear a funny joke. This is what’s missing when you’re depressed, the ability to experience happiness from little things. It’s like the sound of life is turned off and everything is on mute.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m just not sure this is the right question. I’d prefer to consider questions like: do you have the right to get whatever support you need and to have a better experience of life? If you feel like your life has lost its meaning, what do you need to help you cope in this moment and for the next five minutes and the next five hours and the next five days?

      Because of the work I do, I don’t believe things always get better. Sometimes they keep getting worse. Sometimes things are just really awful. But to me the idea of a person having value is less about the idea of meaning and more that each individual living being matters and that as a living being you deserve support and compassion. I believe that about everyone, even about people who do very bad things, though I can’t necessarily be the person to help them.

      What I do believe, also, is that when it feels like there’s no way out your brain can start to see self-destruction or not mattering or giving up as an escape – but that makes you feel worse too.

      I’m sorry you feel embarrassed. Lots of people fuck up their lives and many things that feel unfixable or unresolvable actually can be somehow changed – is there any way you would consider describing the kind of problems you are having? I know you said it’s embarrassing, but the weekend AAM crowd is the most non-judgemental group of commenters I’ve ever seen and I bet some people will relate or know how to help. And I’m concerned that feeling alone and burdened with it might add pressure.

      I never normally talk about this on here but I’m actually a recovering addict paying off what was 25 grand of debt, so I know a little bit about fuck-ups.

      1. Anon for highly depressed post*

        Yes, everyone is being very kind, and I appreciate that so much. The reason I feel badly about describing what’s happening and has happened is that I don’t want to get overly mired in the details and I’m not sure they’re of interest to anyone, really… (see, no value, above).

        To cut a long story short, my life has been spinning downhill for years now. I had an amazing educational opportunity and received a terminal degree from a very well-known university (I’m not boasting, just trying to describe how far things have fallen). I failed to make good on that opportunity, and floundered and flailed to find work for years afterwards. Finally, I received a wonderful job offer – the only one I received. It was everything I wanted in terms of career path, salary, location, everything. But there was a visa issue that got in the way, and looking back on it, I handled it poorly. I regret it so much – it was my one opportunity to get my life back on track, and it vanished.

        I then had to leave the country, which was heartbreaking. The discussion about visas and work this week really spoke to me – I was there for 17 years, and I can’t really get over leaving. Now I’m somewhere else, floundering and flailing and contemplating the mess I;ve made. My skills aren’t in demand, I’ve been out of the workforce too long, I’m both overqualified but much more hopelessly under-qualified and the list goes on. I know about writing better letters and resumes, but it’s clearly not working. Meanwhile, my friends have moved on in their careers, families, lives, and I’m worse off than 20 years ago, when I had the opportunity to go and study and make good.

        I known many answers might focus on retraining or whatnot, but believe me when I say I’m well beyond a solution professionally. And if one can’t even get a paying job of the most basic kind, much less move on from that to build a life and relationships, then what’s left?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh my. Well, there are a few things here that you show you cannot do. What do you think you can do? Serious question. Finding the first “can-do” is tough, but after that the second one is easier.

          1. Anon for highly depressed post*

            I don;t really believe there’s anything concrete, actually. I feel like my life is a bad dream that I don;t get to wake up from, and even though I spend each day trying to work out solutions, each of those days ends up with me banging my head against the wall, with no progress or way forward.

            I’m sorry to sound so negative – but I’m just being really candid. It’s how I feel every day, and have for years now.

              1. Anon for highly depressed post*

                Ironically, I’ve done both. I do suffer from chronic depression and have been (and am) on anti-depressants for over a decade. I was in therapy for years, but both unemployment (lack of funds) and feeling like despite my wonderful therapist, I was repeating the same patterns, led me to tailor off.

                So that’s why I feel ambivalent about the ‘depression lies” statements – I know they’re true, but I took all the usual steps to treat it, had amazing opportunities I squandered, and haven’t been able to get back on track for YEARS now, which is highly unusual and egregious even for depressed people.

                That leads me to think that… that’s just my life, just who I am. I apologize if that sounds whiny and self-indulgent, which it probably does. But it reflects my feelings (like, who fails to get a job for YEARS despite trying everyday??!! that’s not a bad job market, it’s clearly me).

                1. Anon for highly depressed post*

                  What I mean is: some people are just bad at life, you know? I think we all know those who just can’t seem to get it together, no matter what. Some people who will just struggle forever and never surf the wave, just be dumped by it on the beach. I think, from empirical evidence, that I am one of those people. That’s what I’m trying to express and the reason for my original question.

                  I should also say that I appreciate everyone taking the time to respond thoughtfully and patiently. Thank you all.

                2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

                  I’m a bit late to this, but you aren’t the only one who blew a big opportunity after an amazing educational opportunity, and has subsequently been failing to get a job for years afterward, despite trying over and over and implementing as much advice as I can. I will be 43 in a few weeks and haven’t had a steady job since 2003.

                  I don’t know the answer, but I wanted you to know you aren’t the only one.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          It sounds like there’s been a lot of loss and grief for you. Grief isn’t only something we experience when people die – it can also be over the loss of the life you wanted to have or imagine you could have had. You’ve had some big losses that have left you with a lot of what-ifs and what-could-have-beens and I’m so sorry because it is so painful torturing yourself with the things you cannot change but wish you could.

          Sometimes it takes some grieving and some self-compassion before things can change – before anything can change we must first accept things as they are and that can take time and work and grieving. I’m so sorry for all that you’ve lost.

        3. Purple snowdrop*

          I’m so ashamed of many things in my life. Dropping out of uni without a degree after being there for three years. Effectively stalking someone I was seeing. Getting married to someone who is abusive to me.

          But you know what, while I’m ashamed of them, I also understand why I did them (yay a LOT of therapy and self awareness) and I’ve been able to accept that I made shitty decisions because I was in a shitty situation and couldn’t do any better at the time . I made stupid decisions but I was trying as best I knew how at the time.

          I’m 41 and in the next week or two I’ll be taking the last steps to pull my life to pieces, because I have to do so to protect both myself and my son from further psychological injury. It’s terrifying but it’s something I have to do.

          I think that you could do something of value to yourself, or even to your community or the world. I don’t know what that is yet but I think everyone could do so. But you’ll need to allow yourself to access help to do so – maybe ADs and therapy, maybe just help and support from whatever friends and family you trust enough to ask.

          Good luck. We’re rooting for you. Please come back and talk to us again in the future!

        4. 30ish*

          I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a rough time. Look, I still think that “I wasted my one good opportunity” is classic depressed thinking. And it sounds like the visa issue was not even your fault. I thought for a while that I had made the wrong decision after getting my doctorate, and I absolutely obsessed over it. I was convinced of it. When I started taking meds my perception changed.
          I get that years of unemployment make things a lot harder professionally. But I would not be surprised if getting treatment for your mental health problems improved your situation in this regard as well. I hope you seek treatment.

    5. Turtlewings*

      I approach it from a religious aspect, which obviously not everyone does, but — yes, I do believe that every single person has intrinsic worth. Every person is a child of God, who loves you just as much as He ever loved Gandhi or Mother Theresa or Jesus himself. We are all created equal, and we all have a unique and precious soul. Even a person who never does a single good or useful thing all their days is still a person, deserving the same rights and dignity and happiness as everyone else. Only by hurting others do we give up some of those rights, and even then, basic human rights remain, and amends can be made and people can change for the better. And even the worst, most unrepentant criminal in the world is loved by God. (Doesn’t mean anyone else has to love him. But he is still a child of God.)

      As far as things getting better — statistically speaking, everything passes. There’s always hope for change. And even in the worst situation, there’s still almost certainly something that can bring joy, even if it’s just the view from your cell window, or your memories of better times. Which is not to say that your suffering isn’t real or you’re just not trying hard enough to be happy! I only mean that I do genuinely believe that there is always hope, and that your life does have value regardless.

    6. matcha123*

      I…don’t think my answer will be a happy one. I’ve thought the same thing off and on. There are people who want to hear those encouraging words. They like the idea that their lives have meaning, and when someone tells them that their life has meaning, it helps to encourage them.
      I, on the other hand, have always thought that in the grand scheme of things, our lives have little meaning/value. How old is the universe? The Earth? My life isn’t even a blip. And like you said, many times things just get worse. The type of depression you have is probably tied to something, and in some cases there are ways to end that depression. If you are depressed because you don’t have money, and someone clears your debts and puts a million dollars in your bank account, heck yeah, you’re not going to be depressed anymore!
      With all that said, the things that have kept me going are wanting to see how far I can get in life, the bragging rights to overcoming things myself and…well, there are so many good TV shows and movies to watch.

    7. Inky*

      I think a big part of why people say ‘get help’ is because depression is a liar and when you are depressed, you literally can’t think of ways out or hope for the future, and you generally can’t (unless you’ve had lots of practice already doing it) recognize that those thought are depression, not reality. Like, a lot of what you are saying here is pretty classic depression talk. Getting help doesn’t always make depression go away or make everything better, but it gives you tools to continue existing until things might improve.

      As for the whole value/meaning question – I seem to approach it from an odd angle that people tend to regard as depressing. I don’t think individual life has any value or meaning. I think existence is a meaningless blip in the universe, utterly pointless. There is no permanence – no matter how well known you are, in ten thousand years no one will remember you. Thus, I feel like it’s ridiculous to live life as though it has intrinsic meaning. That’s not why I’m alive and continue to be. For a long time I was alive because my cats needed my care and I didn’t trust anyone else to take care of them, and even now a lot of my motivation to continue is based in my cats and in building to a place where I have the resources to take care of more cats. I did get help for depression and while it never really fixed it or made it better, it did help me learn to recognize depressive episodes and how to cope with them. I’m never going to ‘get better’. I may have spells – even long spells of up to a year – where I am almost average, but I will always have more than the normal share of bad days and I will always have times where I lapse back into severe depression. For me, it’s just a fact of life.

      I guess the question becomes: is it worth giving up all of the nice times for the bad ones? I don’t know. At the moment, no. But it doesn’t really feel about hope. It’s just … enjoying what you can. I’ve shifted a lot over the years in terms of what I want and enjoy. I don’t have friends and don’t much miss them, I don’t have a partner and don’t much miss that, my job is a way of making money to survive and nothing more, I have no real potential and no desire to make anything of myself or contribute to society or whatever. I’ve worked to find the small things that I do enjoy and focus on those – my cats, writing, certain music groups, specific niche events, crafting, cooking. I don’t live for a greater meaning or hope that one day I’ll have a loving partner and money and an amazing life and people who will remember me after I’m gone. I live for next week I’m going to try a new recipe and that i’m in the middle of a great cross stitch and that in three months I’ll be going to an event and that in a couple years I should be able to move and have more cats.

      It gets better isn’t really a lie, but it’s not really the whole story. Sometimes it doesn’t get better, you just get better at coping with it.

    8. Overeducated*

      I do truly believe that all lives have value, and that value is intrinsic and immeasurable. Every human being is a unique occurrence in the entire universe, having experiences and feelings and perspectives that form a world unto themselves and will never be repeated. It’s not that some people have more value than others, it’s that our value lies in our utterly incomparable individuality. That is also why death is so awful: it means one world is just extinguished, it is the end of the world to someone.

      So I don’t think your value depends at all on how old you are or how much you’ve screwed up. But that’s also different than how we would like others to value us socially and economically, and it sounds like you are going through a really hard time on that front. I am sorry. I truly hope it does get better for you, and that there are moments of beauty and peace no matter what, and that you can find the hope and support you need to hang in there for them.

    9. Sherm*

      Your post immediately brought to mind the book Feeling Good by David Burns. He actually has a part where he talks about value, and makes a logical argument that whether you think everyone has value OR you don’t think there is such a thing as intrinsic value, there is reason to reject a negative outlook. A cool thing about the book is that he fully acknowledges that some people have a lot of crap in their lives, but he makes a good case that happiness can be attained by everyone. Even if you have 3 months to live. I highly recommend it.

    10. 30ish*

      I absolutely do believe that things get better because it happened to me. I got out of a fairly deep depressive episode when I went to see a doctor and got on meds, and a few months later, the circumstantial factors that had contributed to my depression actually changed as well. Is it just that I was lucky? I was lucky to be able to get help, but from then on, I fully believe that my increased psychological well being improved my chances to better my circumstances. Depression can be circumstantial, but it is possible to get out of it without first changing the the circumstances. I know this is hard to believe – a year ago I would have said my problems were nearly insurmountable – but it is absolutely doable. I say if you don’t have a psychiatrist, you 100% should give it a shot.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I get it and I understand. What helped me with this kind of feeling is understanding that feeling this way can change. For me it was a chemical fix. It took a good therapist AND a good physician to find that there was an underlying cause for my despair. And yes it took more that 6 months to find the right combination of meds. I didn’t believe it would work but I was willing as someone told me not to give up ten minutes before the miracle happened. I was willing one day at a time, and sometimes ten minutes at a time to pretend that it would get better. The operative word was pretend because I did not believe that any of it would work. And by that I mean find meaning and purpose to what seemed at the time to be a wasted life. My wish for you is mental and physical good health.

    11. Book Lover*

      I had someone say to me that her goal was just to stay in the rat race until her parents died and then she could die too. She didn’t seem to believe that any adult could be happy, everyone is just a cog in life’s machine. That I think is almost the definition of depression. You can be sad about your circumstances and still see beauty in the sunset or in music or take joy in looking at pictures of cute cats. Life can be hard and we can screw things up but life still has value (with or without a good job, with or without a partner) if you take pleasure in what is around you. I hope you have some support or can reach out for help.
      Personally I ’d say that i’ve had tough months and years and it always has gotten better. I hope the same is true for you.

    12. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Depression lies.

      My mental health issues are more anxiety based than depression based, but I have definitely been in those moments where I felt like nothing was ever going to be good again and what was even the point. When you’re deep in the weeds, it’s impossible to imagine things getting better.

      Sometimes things do get worse before they get better, but the potential is always there for better. It might be really hard to get there, but I really believe it’s always possible *to* get there.

      1. tigerStripes*

        Yeah, this is the kind of thing depression says. It’s just part of the depression, no matter how real or logical depressed thoughts might seem, it’s not true. It’s an illusion. Remember that the general “happy life” stuff that people say they want as goals don’t actually make people happy. People can be married and wealthy with kids and still be miserable. Take joy in the small things when you can. When you feel “What’s the point?”, remember that this is what depression does. It’s part of the illness.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I think a startling number of people go through a time of wondering, “what the hell am I on this planet for?!” Not to detract from your concerns but meant as, yeah, this is a big deal. Combine that with depression and it’s a heavy load to bear indeed.

      Do I believe all lives have value? Yes. Let’s start with a reason of it hurts too much to think lives are of no value. Family member lost a little one, 3 years old. I said no life is ever wasted. Just because we don’t really understand what she could have done in 3 short years that would be of value to us, is not the same as saying the value is not there. It is just not immediately obvious that is all. Then we start to think of her cute ways, her willingness to be lovey and we realize. ahhh. She did show us something. It hurts to much to think that little 3 year old’s life had no value. So we look for value.

      Adult lives. It might be worth it to you to take a look at the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Here Jimmy Stewart’s character finds out what life would have been like if he had never been born. Everything is a hot mess. In this case here Jimmy’s character had no clue what impact he was having on other people’s lives. He did not realize how much he got RIGHT. How come we don’t know this stuff? My theory is that we would be in crippling awe of how our actions/words impact others and we would struggle to function on the most basic level. So sometimes we get slivers of insight. “hey thanks for your help yesterday”. We think nothing of it, we were just doing what a good person does. But we have no idea that we help a person with a much larger hidden issue.

      We can have a tendency to use others as our mirrors, “here, let me look into your eyes/mind so I can see what I look like and see why I am of value”. The fallacy here is how many people will it take to convince me that I am of value, when I do not believe I am of value? I came to realize that everyone in the world telling me would not be enough people.

      This is because our value comes from within, not externally. It comes from what we believe and how we conduct our lives. Start by telling yourself your life IS indeed of value. Don’t try to look for reasons/explanations just say it is of value, period. We go toward what we tell ourselves. Telling ourselves that we are not of value just sucks too much. So tell yourself that you are of value. No one can do this for you, which might seem rough at first.

      Next, the past is the past. We have the present and the future. Live your life in alignment with your beliefs about life. A simple example, let’s say you know and believe to be true that stealing is wrong. Make sure your actions and words match that belief. Don’t steal, don’t cut ahead of people in line, don’t plagiarize words, don’t ask for free advice when you know everyone else pays this individual for their advice. In short be true to what you believe. (This one made me take a hard look at the things I said I believed. I found that I actually did not believe some of those things and in some cases, I found that I needed to beef up what I was doing because my walk and talk did not match.)
      It’s kind of amazing what happens next, we live our beliefs to the fullest of our ability and our sense of self-value comes flooding in.
      Getting a little closer to your setting, we have to learn how to respond to our lives falling apart. This is not in us at birth, we have to learn it. This is tough because who wants to teach themselves something in the midst of so much pain/upset.
      My suggestion is to read about people’s lives who were ripped apart by tragedy/war/family issues/etc. who rose above all this adversity and created a path in life in spite of such huge loss and despair. Take a look at the things they did to reclaim their own autonomy over how their lives played out. What you are saying here is that you feel there is nothing left, so read about people who took nothing and whipped it up into something. Keep reading until something connects for you, something resonates with what you see in your own life.

      1. I'll keep my mask on, thank you!*

        I think NSNR is onto something here, with “we don’t always see value though it exists”. I’ve been in dark places myself over the years (including two suicide attempts). At the peak of it, I started blogging about my experience with depression just to vent somewhere and I was startled to see people I didn’t know (most I’ve never met IRL) come to my blog and comment along the lines of “Thank you, now I’m not alone anymore”. Then I started to remember the number of people who came to me over the years to give me the same message that I somehow changed their lives for the better (nothing revolutionary and there weren’t droves, I’m no Tony Robbins, but still).

        See, depression is an accomplished liar and con. It made me forget all those things. It made me see only the bleak and the dark. Good moments got covered with dust and ashes. But they were still there.

        Was I suddenly more “valuable”? Nope. I was the same; I just didn’t see it. (On a side note, my depression made me, if anything, better in my line of work. I knew compassion because I sorely missed it; I knew human connection because I bled from the lack of it; I knew to read deeper into my fellow human beings because I lacked “highlights reel”. So, there’s that.)

        And to answer your direct question: I see “value” on two different levels. The basic one is about being alive. All life is valuable for me only for beating entropy to a pulp. The second level is related to how one contributes to the wellbeing of those around them. Each small act of kindness, compassion, of just being there for someone adds value in my book. Many people are “valuable” and don’t even know it just by being decent people. It’s all related to how I see my “goal in life on Earth” and it’s a very personal view, but… there’s that, also.

    14. Stellaaaaa*

      I can only speak for myself. I don’t know if my life has value. I’m not always a very happy person. I do like a lot of stuff though. Sometimes on Sundays I sleep until 3 pm and then I take a nice long shower. Then I have a big cup of coffee and then I go for a walk in the woods. Then I’ll come home and light a stupid scented candle and watch my shows. I like those days, even though sometimes I get sad that I’m watching shows about people and their human connections, when my human connections aren’t always what I want them to be. It can be hard to watch TV (romance) or listen to the radio (love songs) without being bombarded by other people’s relationships. I even feel like my social life is dictated by other people’s marriages and children in a way that pretty much proves to me that everyone thinks my life is less important than theirs. So I don’t know. All I know is that if I ended things today, I’ll never find out what happens tomorrow, and maybe I want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

    15. LNLN*

      I have struggled with depression and anxiety for almost 50 years. My experiences have been different from yours, but I do understand your question about the value of life. I believe my life has both intrinsic and extrinsic value. Every day I work to add value to this world. How do you help other people? Do you comfort them, connect with them, give them support? When you are doing errands, are you polite to others, give them a smile, offer to return the shopping cart to the collection point? Do you take care of yourself, spend money in your community, put your trash in a bin instead of littering? I hope you can give yourself credit for the things you do to make life better for those around you and that things start looking up for you soon!

    16. Traveling Teacher*

      There have been so many great replies already that I’ll just say, concerning “it gets better”:

      Someday, you’ll have an opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible without this awful time in your life. It won’t be what you expected, and other people might not understand or think it’s silly, but you will have something that makes you feel joyful and complete again. You will.

    17. thoughts*

      It seems to me you are stuck though in a pattern where you are down and accusatory to yourself about missed opportunities and how you squandered it all. I tend to believe we do the best we can at any one time with what we know but being stuck in that thought process is inhibiting in so many ways…I mean, you go to apply for a job but all you can think about how you could have had a better job if you had done x or y 20 years ago; not consciously, but in myriad of unconscious ways and I am sure it affects your job prospects. You say it gets worse, but are you able to see anything good? I don’t believe in pursuing happiness as i think that is fleeting but is there satisfaction in my life? that does not depend on the partner or job. Also comparing how you feel with outside achievements of people, you will always come up short – I know people who have great jobs,marriages, just bought a house but then one party told me they and their spouse have not talked for a week, so not all is great; or, put another way, we all have our “stuff” to deal with. I don’t believe “it gets better” I believe one has to work f-ing hard at it, the hardest work ever, it’s not enough to know what the patterns are, it’s working at changing those patterns.It’s bloody, bloody work, that upends cherished truths, and the whole internal life of a person. I found it worthwhile, in ways I could not imagine when I started.

    18. Anon for depression*

      Imo, depression is what it is, and getting some care there can only help your outlook. Having lived through and with some of what you’re going through, my advice (if you’d like it), is to not tackle the ball of who you could’ve been all at once. Pick away at it by doing something tiny, microscopic even, that will improve your situation as it stands today.

    19. lycchee*

      > Because I don’t think it does: sometimes, it just gets worse.

      Perhaps too late but I just wanted to tell you that I feel exactly like you on this and on life itself. I have effectively effed up my life over the last few years and now am objectively stumped about how to move “forward”. I still dont think or hope that I will magically end up with a great life but I have accepted that I have to go thru these trying times for whatever reason. The only thing I can do is keep trying to do best and give up expectations of fabulous results (absorbed lessons from the Gita). Good luck for your journey.

  31. Anonymous in California*

    I have had little to no social stamina or regular energy this week. I think I went to bed before my husband almost every night which is unusual. We’re having a big halloween party tonight so I’ve been trying to save my socializing energy for that. I’m a bit apprehensive about the party. We used to have frequent parties, then husband deployed for a few months so there were no parties, so this is the first big one we’ve thrown. I know eventually we’ll get into the swing of things where we have people over nearly every week, I just have to get past this party and my anxieties about it.

    Also, I have a drug test coming up for Thing We Do Not Speak Of so I am currently cutting out Green Vegetative Substance That One Smokes, so I think some of the party anxiety might be coming from going at this sober.

    Thanks for listening.

      1. KR*

        It was a success and everyone had fun. I drank on an empty stomach and regretted it but other than that it went great. Thanks for asking !

  32. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Scratched cornea, feeling like grit is in my eye, plus sensitivity to light X(
    Using eyedrops round the clock. Anybody with tips to make this heal faster/less drawn out? Does eating salmon help vitamins-wise?

    Also, the SO has multiple appts to meet jewelers for “shiny circle thing today.” Ermagersh ;P (Saying that here bc if I told people out loud they’d probably give me weird looks and say “you don’t have a ring yet tho”

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Well, the eye thing is awful and annoying, and when that happens to me I have been known to just tape the eye shut, which is possibly not sound medical advice.

      But the other part is so exciting!!!!!!! I hope it’s a shiny circle thing that you like lots!

    2. Seal*

      I’ve scratched my cornea before and recently had cataract surgery. While both are uncomfortable, the good news is that eyes heal fast, so the gritty feeling should go away within a few days. At least that was my experience.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        The eye is the quickest healing part of the body, because we really need our eyes.
        Yes, salmon is always a good thing, I always feel better after having some salmon… which reminds me, it’s coming up on time to have salmon again.

    3. Triplestep*

      I waited for a scratched cornea to heal by watching DVDs in low light with an eye patch on. Reading is too close and will cause your affected eye to move involuntarily and cause pain. If you can stream something you want to watch on a laptop, lower the screen brightness and place it as far as comfortable for your good eye.

    4. Book Lover*

      You don’t have to, but I think patching helps. Especially if you are on computer or phone, you don’t blink enough and then dryness makes things worse. I don’t think fish oil can hurt – it helps with dry eye.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Oh, I feel for you! I had microabraisons on both corneas this summer. I spent 3 days in the dark crying and listening to podcasts. Cool wash clothes helped me a little as did eye drops. Really limiting light helps – I wore sunglasses inside and didn’t use my computer (I was out on medical leave for those 3 days per my doctor). Unfortunately you really just have to wait it out. I hope you feel better soon?

    6. Dara*

      Oh, I am so familiar with that kind of injury. The first time it happened was due to a dry contact lens back in college, but I have scratched my cornea several times in the years since. It’s a strange talent of mine. Once, the scratch was the approximate shape of California in the extreme closeup pic taken at the doctor’s. What I do (this is what the eye doc proscribed):

      Refresh Celluvisc eye drops (these are thicker eye drops than usual and help with dryness) 3x day.
      Eye drops that are 5% sodium chloride solution (I used Muro 128 by Bausch and Lomb – the high salt content helps discourage infection, but is also effing painful, but the ‘THERE IS BASICALLY SALT WATER IN MY EYE NOW WHY AM I DOING THIS’ feeling fades relatively quickly) 6x day.
      And there’s an eye ointment with the same NaCl percentage that I put in before going to bed for the same reason as the eye drops, but that isn’t burny painful like the drops. idk why

      These are all OTC products, though a bit more expensive than your average bottle of Visene.

  33. Epsilon Delta*

    So I’m feeling pretty excited today. I finally got properly measured for a bra and found out that they do indeed make bras that will fit me. I’m 4’11 and slim, so I had been wearing the 32A size for a decade and feeling very inadequate because it’s too big for me. Being not even large enough to fit into the smallest size they sell in stores, as a full grown adult — that really messes with your self esteem.

    A friend posted a link on Facebook to a bra company that sells a wider range of sizes, including smaller than 32A. I took their quiz, measured myself correctly, and found out I’m a 28B. Fun fact: cup size is relative to band size, that’s why my cup size got bigger. It took a few minutes to accept that fact. It was also amazing to see that there are sizes smaller than mine.

    For comparison, me trying to wear a 32A bra is like someone who actually fits into a 32A trying to wear a 36C. So, I immediately felt better picturing how badly that bra would fit a 32A woman.

    I ordered my first 28B bra yesterday, it will arrive next week. I am so excited to try it on!

    I just wish there were stores in my area that sold small bras (other than the children’s department) so I could try on a few sizes at once without having to deal with shipping. I went to the mall and found two(!) stores selling “hard to find bra sizes” — advertised as 32A through, I don’t remember, 40HH or something like that. No small bras. I guess that is part of the reason I felt so bad for so long — 32A is advertised as the universal starting point for being an adult woman. Nobody ever talks about smaller sizes.

    1. Becca*

      Yes!! The discovery of bands under 32/34 was a godsend for me too!!! High-five for the right bra size!! And good luck with the one headed your way!

      (And boy do I feel you re:buying in person… oy!)

    2. Courageous cat*

      Have you tried bralettes? I’m about a 34B but bralettes I feel like tend to come in much smaller sizes (I wear a medium, for reference, and I have a fairly small chest – they typically go down to XS). Urban Outfitters has a good collection of different ones if you’re into trying them on.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Yes but the one I have is basically an uncomfortable sports bra with lace, so I avoid wearing it and assumed they were all like that. If I come across a different brand I will give it a try though!

    3. Jules the First*

      As a 30FF, I feel your pain! Small band sizes are really tough to find, as are large cup sizes (especially pretty ones). I went shopping for new ones just a few weeks ago and finally achieved bra-nirvana: it fits better than any bra I’ve ever had, it’s within my budget, it’s pretty, and it’s comfortable (as in, I forget I’m wearing it comfy!). Now if only I could find it in more colours….

    4. Reba*

      Yay I hope it works for you!

      I’ve had a similar experience, and have found success with brands like Natori and OnGossamer.

      Also if I’m being honest, I’ve been going braless a lot of the time…

    5. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’ve always found it annoying that there’s an idea of “if you are an adult you must be around this specific size.” I was lucky to live in a city during university that had an amazing bra store (and it was called the boobie trap which made me giggle). They carried size 26A-52J which meant that me and my friends (vastly different and “odd” sizes) could go shopping and find something that works. They were on the more expensive side but everything I bought from there have lasted me 6 years, so worth it. I just wish there were more stores like that for all of us that aren’t 32A-42DDD.

    6. Sylvan*

      If you use Reddit, check out r/abrathatfits. You’ll find a lot of recs for a wider range of sizes.

    7. zora*

      I had such a hard time with the cup size thing, too!! My breasts are really shallow and don’t take up a lot of space, so the first few times they tried to convince me I was a Dcup (36D) after gaining weight, I was in total denial, partly because every bra I tried on still had tons of gaping or empty space at the top. I finally found a better shop with a salesperson who had similar issues who pointed me to the right brands and styles to fit me. And then it finally clicked!! It’s funny how we think of big cup sizes as “Big breasts” and how long it took me to understand how they really work.

    8. Mrs. Fenris*

      I have the opposite problem-I’m a 40A! The only place I’ve ever found that size is leadinglady.com.

      1. Aealias*

        Omigosh, omigosh, THEY CARRY MY SIZE! I’m in your ‘big rib cage, small breasts’ boat, and it’s been SO annoying trying to find bras that fit. I’m still wearing nursing bras, and my youngest is 3.

    9. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement*

      Japanese/Asian bras run tight, you might be able to do a 30A there.

      Journelle carries 28-band bras in store!

    10. Thlayli*

      I was a 30D before I got pregnant and a 30F when breastfeeding so I feel your pain! it is ridiculously hard to get bras in a 30 back.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Yeah I did notice that a lot of the brands I looked at only went up to a C cup size and that seemed odd to me. Someone with a 30D/F/larger probably needs a properly fitting bra way more than someone like me. The whole premise that bra sizes can be standardized is kind of counterintuitive when you think about it.

      2. LAM*

        Yessss. I’m 30 band with a large cup size (think F+), who’s cup size fluctuates with my weight and bloatedness. So I have to have multiple bras in multiple sizes.

        Which, in a bra size most places don’t carry, means that it is expensive and a pain in the ass to find bras that fit properly.

        1. Isobel*

          30FF/G here – but I’m in the UK and between Bravissimo and Debenhams I usually manage to find some nice bras in that size. Certainly things have improved over the past ten years or so.

          1. Thlayli*

            Bravissimo is where I used to go when I lived in UK. Thanks for tip about Debenhams! Didn’t know they did 30 with large cup sizes. My local Debenhams certainly doesn’t carry them but I know you can buy online and return instore so I’ll try that!

      3. CheeryO*

        Just as a super late FYI, Aerie carries 30 bands in a bunch of styles (I think online only for the most part). Not sure how high they go in cup sizes off the top of my head, but they definitely have a good selection in 30D. I’m technically 28DD, but 30D is close enough for me, especially if it means cheaper bras and easier returns than ordering from European websites.

  34. Kali*

    I really want to know what working in a New York laundry in the 1920s was like compared to other roles open to working class women at the time, and what was done with asymptomatic carriers *after* “typhoid” Mary Mallon. Does anyone have any search tips? Whenever I look for the latter, it’s another article on poor Mary.:/ I want to contrast her treatment with how others were treated, and I’m struggling to find anything!

    1. fposte*

      Are you Googling or looking in scholarly databases? I’m seeing some stuff about current methods of detecting and handling Salmonella carriers (typhoid being a Salmonella subtype) in NIH, but I suspect you’ll have better luck if you go the scholarly route.

      1. fposte*

        BTW, have you been searching in scholar dot google dot com? That gets a ton of interesting possibilities on the typhoid and disease carrier question.

        1. Kali*

          I am, but I’m having trouble narrowing it down to New York between 1907-1938 without Mary Mallon herself getting in the way.:/

          Full disclosure; I’m on a science course with an optional history of medicine module, which I’m working on an assignment for. I need to write as if I’ve been asked to review the treatment of ‘Typhoid’ Mary Mallon by the NY health department shortly after her death. I’ve been able to find out a fair bit about her life and Soper, but I really want to be able to go; “look, this is what we did for the 400 other carriers we’ve found since Mary, we should have been more like this in the first place”. Those carriers only seem to be mentioned at the very end of articles about Mary, along the lines of “other carriers were found later, but were not picked up off the street and sent to a quarantine island to be imprisoned without trial”.

          I mostly just wanted to know about the laundry for flavour; at one point, Mary was told she could be freed if she gave up her role as a cook – the highest position open for a working class woman, which she’d worked her way up to, she was good at, and which paid fairly well – to become a laundress, one of the lowest positions. She was back to cooking within 5 years. :(

    2. Cooker Lady*

      Hmm. Where would there be primary source materials? Like diaries, newspapers, ledgers, of that time. Did medical journals exist them? Surely there are archives? (Trying to persuade myself NOT to spend the day aimlessly researching this…)

      1. Kali*

        Good ideas! :D I’m also looking into the history of North Brother Island, where Mary Mallon was quarantined; I’m hoping that, as well as the bits on Mary Mallon, it will talk about who was usually sent there, so I can set up a contrast.

      2. Bibliovore*

        I know. The archivist in me is just itching to do the research, cite my sources, and post. I WILL not. I do NOT need to know.

        1. Bibliovore*

          Well, you are right. All sources- newspaper reports, academic papers go straight to Mary even though there were other non-symptomatic carriers at the time. Also skipping to the Aids epidemic and patient zero.

          1. Kali*

            Sorry, I was being silly earlier. I didn’t say “thank you” because I thought that would sound like I’d been expecting you to do my work. I wasn’t, and thank you so much for looking into it anyway!

    3. SophieChotek*

      Cheap Amusements by Peiss
      Out to Work by Kessler-Harris
      are two books on my shelf that might be useful secondary material

    4. Ginger ale for all*

      You can make an appointment with a librarian who specializes in your area of study at the university library that I work at so I am sure you can do that at your local university. We help the general public as well. We will help people via email, snail mail, and telephone too. If you make an appointment, let them know your question beforehand so they can get a head start and you can get more out of your appointment.

  35. Nicole*

    Guys, I’m so excited! Yesterday I picked up my new car – a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek!

    I was a little apprehensive at first for a few reasons:

    1) I’ve been sick this week so I lack energy and motivation.
    2) I’m a creature of habit so sometimes I take awhile to adapt to change.
    3) I tend to form attachments to things I’ve had a long time and I’ve had my 2000 Volkswagen Jetta for 17 years!

    I’ve actually been shopping on and off for a new car for more than a few years now but could never pull the trigger. When I first started looking I was leaning toward a Ford Escape 5-door but once I learned that Subarus were actually affordable, I wanted an Impreza… until earlier this year when I test-drove a Crosstrek and liked how it sits higher off the ground.

    After arriving at the dealership and seeing the car (which I had ordered back in September so I never actually saw my exact desired configuration in person), I fell in love. It’s so beautiful! Plus the technology this thing has is incredible. The sales guy took us for a ride in it to show us how the safety features work. At one point he had neither feet near the brake or gas pedals while the car automatically maintained speed and then braked when the car in front of us stopped. We were impressed to say the least.

    I’ve attached a photo taken from Suburu’s site of the color I chose – https://imgur.com/a/mnUrs

    Ironically enough, of the three cars I’ve owned, each one has been a different shade of blue. I’m so glad I waited for the 2018 model because if I wanted the same color in a 2017 I would have had to get an ivory interior which I’m not particularly fond of; luckily for the new year they switched it to grey instead.

    I’m looking forward to driving around in my new car this weekend!

    1. nep*

      I fell in love with the Crosstrek from the fist time I saw it in a parking lot. Terrific looking car. And a Subaru and all the great that goes along with that. Enjoy.

    2. Windchime*

      Wow, that is beautiful! Congratulations. New cars are so much fun and the technology changes so quickly! I bought a new Acura RDX and fell in love with my backup camera. Then my son bought an entry-level Civic last year and his backup camera is so much nicer than mine.

      The automatic stopping thing is super cool. I wish I had that with all the stop-and-go traffic I drive in.

  36. kas*

    So I think I’m starting to dislike hanging out with a group of girl friends I have. We actually have nothing in common, which isn’t bad, but I find myself getting annoyed with them very easily. I’ve known them for years and hanging out with them used to be fun but now each one of them has a child and I’m tired of hanging out with them + their children. I feel bad but they’re all single mothers and they don’t really have anyone to watch their kids so they end up tagging along. Only thing is, their kids are horribly behaved! I don’t want to hang out with them anymore if any of their kids are coming.

    I feel like we’re all in different places right now and I end up exhausted every time we hang out. Some people love being around kids but I’m not one of them. I’m just venting but if anyone has any advice for how I can make it through hanging out with these friends I’d like to hear it.

    1. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.*

      If you’d really like to continue these friendships, try to find out if there’s a “Mother’s Day Out” program in your area. Sometimes local churches or day cares or even a place like a gymnastics center will host events where you can pay a relatively small amount to drop off your kids for a few hours. The kids get fed, looked after, and do something fun, and the mothers have a few hours free to do whatever they want. Tell your friends that you love hanging out with them but feel like you can’t really talk when the kids are hanging around. Suggest the Mother’s Day Out and see if you can arrange to get together and do something with them during that timeframe.

      If you’re feeling like these friendships have run their course, then just scale back contact with them. It’s okay to realize that hey, I have nothing in common with these people and we’re at completely different life stages so I’d just rather not hang out with them anymore. One of my best friends in high school was super different than me, but it didn’t matter much because we were in school together. Forced proximity. We saw each other all the time. When we graduated and then went to separate (but nearby) colleges, our differences really exacerbated the friendship. When we weren’t “forced” together it really became clear that we had wildly different temperaments and expectations. We stopped being friends. Try looking for Meetups or something where you can meet more people who are child-free and have common interests with you.

      1. kas*

        Thanks for the suggestion! I was thinking I might also plan “non-child friendly” outings with them as well but plan it way in advance so they can find someone to watch their kids.

        I definitely feel like the friendships have run their course but I’m pretty much the Godmother to their children so I would feel terrible scaling back. I wouldn’t even mind if I saw them once in a while but they always want to hang out and I’ve used so many excuses that I really can’t avoid them anymore and end up always having to hang out. They noticed I kept cancelling on them/that I always had an excuse and it was quite awkward for a bit.

        1. Montanan*

          The trouble with planning non child friendly outings is that they may not be able to/want to afford to pay for daycare so no one goes. Or they just bring their kids anyway.

          I hate to be a downer but it may be best to let them have their motherhood time and try to strengthen the friendship again when the kids are a bit older/better behaved. I went through the same thing a few years back, and the friendships basically devolved into attending kiddie birthday parties. Everything else took place while I was at work, since they didn’t have 9-5 jobs like I did and couldn’t do anything late at night. It made more sense to let things fade away since it was hard for them to relate to me (single, full-time employed and career focused) and for me to relate to them (married, family-focused working part-time flexible jobs to reduce daycare expenses).

          1. Hellanon*

            The kids do grow up, and do it darn quickly, in the greater scheme of things. By the time they’re 1 or 12 they are entertaining to talk to, by 16 they have surprising insights, and by 21 they are entirely awesome (in some cases. By the time they hit their early teens, the parents are ready for adult conversations again, I promise… and once they are 21 they can get you another glass of wine. It’s just a matter of waiting a bit, and then being available yourself…

    2. Natalie*

      If you always hang out as a group, maybe doing something one-on-one would be better? A smaller number of kids might be less annoying, and better behaved for that matter.

      1. kas*

        I wish that were the case but they’re just as poorly behaved alone as they are when the other kids are around.

  37. Kat*

    I went for a run this morning and now I’m quite tired, and I might get some writing done. Yeah right… I say this every week.

    So (from last week) I am not going to Berlin next weekend after all. I thought about it and I am just too anxious at the moment to (a) make a decent decision and (b) enjoy it even if I go. I’ve decided to go in spring instead when the weather will be getting a bit better and I’ll have a bit more money, hopefully. And I can plan it better, too. I think once I’ve done that, I’ll be better able to do more spontaneous trips to different places, but for now the planning will work better for me. But I appreciate all the comments and still would love recommendations for things to do there on my own, especially places to eat and go out in the evening alone.

    In other news my friend just left and he’s away travelling for a year, and I won’t see him for a long time if ever again (who knows). I’m a bit sad. We had a bit of history, so it was odd. I’m not sure exactly how I feel but I think this bit of cake might help.

    1. Purple snowdrop*

      I’m glad you’ve got a plan to go to Berlin in the future! I’ve never been, it’s on my list.

      Sounds like you’re really sad about your friend – why do you think you might never see him again?

      1. Kat*

        He already lives quite far away from me and when he’s away he’ll probably meet someone, and if he comes back we won’t be close like we are now… I can kind of tell. I hope I am wrong, but I’m not going to be surprised if I’m not. :(

  38. Free Meerkats*

    Greetings from Vegas! I’ll just repeat here my reply to D.W. in yesterday’s Open Thread.

    [The vow renewal] went well, had some friends who live here show up. She’s a professional photographer, so I handed her my camera and we got great shots. I’ll share after we get home and I can get them off the camera. The pastor who did the original wedding has retired, and the one who did the 10th renewal wasn’t in, so we got the “new” guy who’s only been there 14 years.

    Now just relaxing, eating too much, and hardly gambling at all.

    We’re staying at an off-strip hotel/time share that’s nice and quiet except for the people in the next room who don’t own inside voices. I finally found a sports book that would take action on the USGP, the Superbook at the Westgate. I should have started with them; I got used to seeing action on everything under the sun when it was the LV Hilton and was my usual Vegas homebase.

    We are both suffering from the upper respiratory crud that started before our trip, I’m mostly better, she’s getting there.

    1. D.W.*

      That sounds like a beautiful occasion aside from the respiratory annoyance :) Eat everything you can!

  39. Sparkly Librarian*

    The prospective adoption situation in Michigan, which I mentioned several weeks ago, is moving forward. (Yay!) The next step is to connect with an agency in that state to support the placing parents and do the Michigan legal stuff. My wife and I are represented as adoptive parents by our local, well-established agency that has a 40-year decade of handling open adoptions (which was really in the lead of that movement). So our agency sent us an email with some information about the agency they have worked with previously in that state, and I did a quick search for any red flags before we committed to working with them… and boy, did I find them.

    The recommended agency is not only overtly religious (ours is an arm of a different faith-related social service group, but has never made any faith-based requirements of its applicants) but also bases its policies on biblical standards. Their website has a long list of prospective adoptive family types they won’t accept — including, you guessed it, same-sex couples. Which we are.

    So. That hurt. It changed a hopeful conversation over our anniversary dinner to a real downer. Now I get to call up our agency and point out that this Michigan agency won’t work for us (and even if they were willing to make an exception since they’re offering limited services, of course we would not feel comfortable working with them). Also, I am surprised that our agency — which is in the SF Bay Area and proud of their long history serving LGBTQ families and has been sharing stories on social media within the last month of the ACLU SUING Michigan adoption agencies for denying services to gay couples — would regularly conduct business with an organization that discriminates in this way. Ten minutes of Googling got me the name of an alternate agency that does handle cases for families like ours; perhaps they could DO THEIR JOB AND^H^H^H^H contact this one instead.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so sorry you had this experience. I really hope things can move forward with the other agency.

    2. Hrovitnir*

      Aw, this was so nice until the part about the gross adoption agency. >:(

      I hope your agency can work in with the alternative agency and keep things moving without any more unpleasant surprises. Exciting!

    3. Courtney*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry! If you end up needing recommendations, I have a friend in western Michigan area who works for an adoption agency that certainly doesn’t discriminate like that.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Thanks. We are moving forward with Greater Hopes Family Services in Grand Rapids, which not only has a strong open adoption philosophy more in line with ours, but includes multiple same-sex couples on their family profile page. If that’s where your friend works, you can tell her that’s why they got our business!

      1. Windchime*

        I saw above where you posted a link to it. I would worry about stuff falling in the cracks (because I’m a slob), but I bet I could put a piece of tempered glass on top……..

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I realized yesterday that if we ever spill any liquid on it, it will get into the cracks and ruin it, so I’m ordering a piece of glass for the top today.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yay! I don’t know why it works; I just thank the universe it does!

      Of course, general advice because I’m in mum mode today–if you are having chest pain and that doesn’t work, I’d call 911 just to be safe. NEVER drive yourself or have someone drive you if it could be heart-related.

  40. HannahS*

    Help, I have roaches! The problem has been there since I moved in two months ago, and it’s getting worse. My building management is ineffective, so I’m going to head to Home Depot to buy some roach killer. Tell me about your experience eliminating roaches.

    Also, I hate bugs, and have hurt myself more than once from my startle. It’s the stupidest thing. “Why are you walking funny, Hannah?” “Oh, I lunged away from tiny little bug, slipped on the floor and almost slammed into a wall and somewhere in there I jerked some muscles.” UGH!

    1. The JMP*

      I moved to a place where roaches are just sort of a fact of life, and I hate it. (Infestations can be avoided with good pest management practices, but you’re bound to run into one from time to time, and we have the gigantic outdoor kind.)

      I found a powder at Ace Hardware that you mix with water and spray along all the baseboards, drawer interiors, etc., and that seemed to work very well. Boric acid is also highly recommended, although I haven’t tried it to eliminate an infestation but rather to kill the individual roaches that I found.

      Unfortunately, I think if you live in an apartment complex or other population-dense area, it’s difficult to do much pest control unless it covers the whole building.

      Yuck. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.

    2. Merci Dee*

      My old house had a mass of trees in the back yard, which came with a mass of those big ol’ flying roaches (we always called them pine roaches, because they’re much larger and grosser than the smaller cockroaches). They’d come in during hot weather to look for water, and they’d come in during cold weather to look for warmth. I hated having to squish those monster bugs. Then I got myself a cat for my birthday, and suddenly the bugs weren’t a problem. I’d find a few legs and bits of wing laying about, because those were the only parts he wouldn’t eat. On the rare occasions I’d see a bug skittering around, I wouldn’t have time to get to it before my furry exterminator would jump on it.

      So…. any chance you could get a cat?

    3. Running from roaches*

      On monday my husband and I are finally leaving a place that was badly infested. Packing unfortunately has showed us that the problem was even worse than we ever thought.

      I am sorry to say that nothing we tried ever did much to help. When it gets bad enough that you notice them consistently, the building is too significantly infested to be able to do much good from one apartment.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      There’s this stuff called Bengal roach spray–I think you can get it at some hardware stores and online. It works GREAT. Better than anything else I’ve tried. It’s not cheap but it is effective. I forget how I found it, but when I first moved here, my apartment had a very serious problem since the landlord wouldn’t fumigate the entire building. It kept the little boogers out of my apartment completely.

      1. HannahS*

        Thank you! I got some stuff that doesn’t look promising today, and after I give it a go and it presumably doesn’t work I’ll go for Bengal roach spray.

    5. Anion*

      Dump Borax behind your fridge/cabinets/along the baseboards/etc. It kills the evil little buggers and is generally safe.

    6. Flurpity Flurp*

      Oh man, I’ve been dealing with a roach problem for the past 3 months or so, I feel your pain. I wish I had some useful advice about building management, it sucks that they haven’t been helpful. It may be worth consulting an exterminator, even if you can’t do it through them. Not sure about laws/regs for who’s supposed to cover what, that may be location-dependent.

      I could write a freaking book about all the stuff I’ve been through with the roaches themselves (although a lot of it would just be about how much I hate roaches and want them to go away forever, please, seriously, get out of my apartment).

      We live on the ground floor in a fairly warm climate, so we’d find the occasional one wandering around. But suddenly in mid-August this year, they started appearing more frequently. A LOT more frequently. I put down a combination of Raid traps and roach motels, sprayed Raid Barrier around the apartment, and was also using raid spray to kill any roaches I saw. Our building is sprayed regularly outside, so our building manager had the exterminator come to check our unit. He said traps were fine, but to stop using Raid spray immediately as it interferes with baiting programs. He put down gel bait (sorry I don’t remember the brand but I’ve read on several forums of people having great success with gel bait – it’s definitely been effective for us) and we started finding a lot more dead roaches than live ones.

      I also found this stuff on Amazon called Gentrol IGR – it’s an aerosol spray that stimulates the roaches’ appetite so they eat more bait and renders them sterile so they don’t make new roaches. I put some along the very narrow space between baseboards and flooring, and in any dark corners that might make a nice hidey-hole for roaches. I also put it along the threshold of the front door – if they’re gonna come into my apartment then they’re damn well gonna have to walk through the Gentrol. The exterminator said it was fine to use.

      After all that we had no roach sightings for about two weeks. Then they started showing up again. This triggered a building inspection and it turns out that the unit next to ours and above ours were both “clearly contributing to the problem”. Don’t know precisely what that means, but I know those units have now been sprayed thank goodness. The night before the inspection I heard a racket outside my door and went to look – neighbor in one of the identified “problem units” was leaving the apartment with armfuls of stuff (multiple trips) which looked an awful lot like they may have never thought to take out the trash before. Meanwhile I’m scrubbing my walls with PineSol because I read that roaches don’t like it. Oy.

      We’re still finding the occasional roach every couple of days, but it’s better than finding several every day. I’ve been using PineSol for as much cleaning as possible (the exterminator did confirm it can be a deterrent) and also dabbed lemongrass oil around the apartment because I read that roaches don’t like it. As you can probably tell, I’m at a point where I’ll try anything that sounds even remotely plausible, lol.

      Also tried borax powder, I had actually put that down before all this happened, hoping to deter the occasional troublemaker, but obviously it didn’t do much. Then again, maybe this would have been worse if I hadn’t used it at all.

      So, I’d absolutely recommend gel bait and Gentrol IGR Aerosol. Borax won’t interfere with baiting so it’s worth a try. The PineSol and lemongrass oil certainly haven’t hurt, but I’m not sure how much of a deterrent they really are. As a plus, if you like lemons, the latter will make your place smell like lemon cake. Make sure all food is covered/sealed/inaccessible to non-humans and if you’re up for it, I’d recommend keeping an eye out for egg cases. If they haven’t hatched yet, they need to be smashed up good and proper or burned (no really, apparently roach larvae are practically indestructible).

      That’s all I can think of, sorry for the novel. I guess I needed to rant about roaches a bit ;-)

  41. Anonymous Educator*

    I recently discovered a free life drawing class nearby, and I’ve been going regularly. It’s very therapeutic, and I hadn’t drawn live models in many years. Especially in the age of smartphones, it feels refreshing to be in such a relatively low-tech environment for a sustained period of time. Of course the model usually has a smartphone to use a timer for poses…

  42. Jules the First*

    Anyone have any recommendations for a decent, affordable hotel in Santiago, Chile?
    My sister is off to points south in January and is looking for options, and since we’re such a well-travelled bunch….

    1. Gingerbread*

      No recommendations on a hotel (I stay with friends), but Chile is one of my favorite places to visit. Your sister is visiting at a great time too. Summers there are beautiful.

  43. HannahS*

    Scripts needed on how to tell someone Christian to not “witness” to strangers. This is tangentially school-related, so if it’s not appropriate, Alison, please let me know!

    I’m being a bit deliberately vague, but essentially I and many others in my program were sent “letters of encouragement” from random people who are many years ahead of us professionally, who we are not intended to build a relationship with (i.e. they’re asked to write a letter that will be handed to a random student and that’s it). Mine was written by a well meaning person who gave me lots of advice, but it ended with her telling me to know that I am SO LOVED and how she rests her trust in the Lord God Jesus Christ. As a Jew, I am not happy about being proselytized at. She gave me her email address and I really, really want to drop her a line to tell her that it was not the right choice to include that. I don’t want it to be a huge big deal, but I don’t know how to explain why it was wrong without opening a dam of fury and going in to a lot of depth about the history of Christian anti-Semitism. I don’t think that would be helpful, and anyway the letter could have just as easily been handed to someone who was condemned for being gay. The point is that this letter should not have been taken as an opportunity to “share” her faith (and she was careful to write it as “I do this” not “you should give Christianity a try”) and I really didn’t appreciate it. How do you guys think I can explain it? I do want to try to explain.

    1. Temperance*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. Is this something you could mention to the program leader/ person who arranged this activity?

      Unfortunately, I don’t think you can approach this with logic, because, in her mind, she’s just doing what God commands her to do. (I’m not sure if you were here last week or the week before, but someone posted about her interest in potentially seeking out some sort of faith community, and a few people jumped out of the woodwork to throw Jesus at her, even though she expressed reservations about Christianity.)

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I think mentioning it to the organisers is a really good idea. Clearly they need to set some parameters for the future.

        1. HannahS*

          Yeah, you two are right! I actually just sent a letter to the person who I think organized it, asking her if she could remind the people next year that it’s a diverse program and advice of a religious nature shouldn’t be given.

          1. Temperance*

            As much as it sucks not to directly tell the person how inappropriate her action is, she’d just double down. They always do. :-/

          2. Observer*

            I think Temperance is right – this was probably the most effective thing to do. Although, I might have shot of an email to the person before I cooled of. EW!

    2. CatCat*

      I’d take it to whoever coordinates this letter program. They’re in a better position to coach the writers, establish guidelines for the scope, and exclude writers that insist on including unprofessional advice.

    3. Reba*

      I agree with Temperance that you might get more accomplished by going to your program than to the writer. Just tell them simply what was in the letter and that it’s not a good idea to solicit letters from this person in future. This is presuming they didn’t see it and think it was appropriate to share with students! If the administration did approve the letter being passed on, that’s another kettle of fish.

      Sorry that happened in the setting where you’re supposed to learn :(

    4. katamia*

      Eeeeesh. Fellow Jew who hates being proselytized to here. I was going to suggest you write to the organizer but you said you did, so that’s good. I doubt bringing it up with the writer probably would help her “get it,” but hopefully the organizer will take steps to keep it from happening again.

    5. Courtney*

      Ugh, I’m sorry that happened! I agree with the advice about going to the people organizing the program. It can take a lot to get a person like that to reconsider, and I’d be surprised if an email had any effect. Also vaguely schho-related, but my campus has a large amount of Muslim and Jewish students, so sometimes we literally get buses of people coming from Christian schools or organizations to proselytize. Everyone is very annoyed by it and fellow Christians at my school have told them to knock it off, yet they persist.

  44. Amy*

    Does anyone have one of those sunrise light alarm clocks? Do they actually make waking up easier? My trusty old alarm clock died this week and its years and now they all have bells and whistles.

    1. fposte*

      I do. I like it a lot. You can control just how bright it gets, whether you want sound with it, etc. Mine is actually several feet away from my bed and is still too bright at the brightest level.

      I can’t swear that it makes waking up easier on its own, but the automated and gradual shift to light in the morning beats the heck out of having to turn a light on in mid-darkness.

        1. fposte*

          I got a Philips Wake-Up light. The exact model I have isn’t sold any more, but there are still several different flavors of those; see if they sound like something you’d like.

          1. Aam Admi*

            I have had a Philips model too for a couple of years. We have really cold and dark winters. Since I got the clock, it has been easier to get to work in time.

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yes. It’s amazing. The Phillips wake up alarm also has some very pleasant wake up sounds (outdoors, birds) and like the light the sound level can be controlled. I set it at a very quiet sound which easily wakes me up after the light has been increasing for 20 minutes.

        For me it doesn’t do as much during the summer because my room is pretty bright before the alarm clock starts but in winter it’s really, really great.

      2. Amy*

        Hey thanks for replying! I hadn’t thought about the whole not needing a lamp in the morning thing. That would free up space on my nightable, only use that light in the morning anyway.

    2. HannahS*

      YES omg it’s the best and I tell everyone to buy one. For me, it has pretty much eliminated that feeling (especially in the winter) of being dragged up from the bottom of the ocean. I’m still tired in the morning because I’m generally sleep-deprived, but I’m not groggy and heavy-headed.

      1. Amy*

        Dragged up from the ocean is exactly how it feels!!! I have to wake up extra early to allow the groggy to clear enough to figure out how to make my lunch and coffee haha

    3. Loopy*

      I do and adored it. I felt like I was waking up naturally and it was so so much more pleasant. Can’t say enough for it. But I also don’t have the habit of hitting snooze or falling back asleep, which it may allow you to do easier.

      1. Amy*

        I do snooze 1-2 times a morning. But then again, usually once I turn my lamp I am up for the day. So maybe this will bypass my snoozing?

    4. Montanan*

      Yes! I still hit snooze, but I am way less angry and grumpy in the morning with it. I combined it with blackout curtains so even summer (when the sun rises at ~5 a.m.) can’t bring me down!

    5. Legalchef*

      I don’t know if you live with someone, but my husband has one and I haaaaate it. It does help him, but I wake up as soon as the light starts. These days it’s not a big deal because we have a 4-month-old alarm clock anyway, but I find I really annoying.

      Just an opinion from the other side (of the bed).

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        And that is why I don’t have one: because my husband would hate it.

        I should put one on my Christmas list (he’s abusive and I’m leaving him soon……!)

  45. Cruciatus*

    I’m going to a new hairstylist who also owns the salon (and is the only one there as far as I can tell). I’m getting conflicting information about tipping when a person owns the shop. Some websites say you don’t tip the owner, others say tip anyway. What is the proper thing to do?

    1. fposte*

      Technically you don’t tip an owner. The problem is that owners who know this rule can find it a little demeaning to be tipped, whereas others are annoyed if they don’t get tipped. I think the second group is becoming predominant, so I would probably tip but do it with a line on the credit card rather than leaving bills.

    2. kas*

      I struggle with this one. I used to go to a salon owned by someone my mom had been going to from when I was young and I never tipped her. However, I go to a new salon now and I tip the hairstylist that does my hair and she owns the salon. I always tip any stylists that may help but I never know if I should tip the owner and a part of me feels like I shouldn’t have to tip them, not sure if that’s right.

    3. Bye Academia*

      I have been getting my hair cut by the owner of a salon for a few years, and when I started going I did not know that tipping rule. I only found out about it when googling what to tip various vendors for my wedding. I always try to pay attention about tipping conventions because I live in fear of undertipping, so I wonder if the rule is not that common/well known?

      Anyway, I didn’t want to stop tipping him after I have been the last few years. And frankly, I think he deserves it because he has always gone above and beyond for my finicky hair. It took me years and many failed haircuts to find someone to do it right after I moved here. So I’ll keep tipping him because I think the quality of his work is excellent. And, frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is making less than some of his workers just because it’s so expensive to start and run a business here.

    4. JD*

      Ya this is always difficult. I go to the owner and I tip her. I feel like maybe I shouldn’t but she is so amazing and has assistants who help. That being said the services I receive are insane expensive so I always kind of deep sigh at that extra money. She doesn’t overcharge or anything just that what I chose to do is expensive.

    5. Cruciatus*

      In the end I didn’t tip. I did nearly ask about it but then was like…is it a breach of etiquette to ask if it’s a breach of etiquette to tip/not tip. I have already set up my appointment for next time and maybe I will just ask then and have it be awkward for 5 seconds and then at least I’ll know. I don’t mind tipping and am used to doing so–but I normally go to a spa type place with many stylists.

  46. Allypopx*

    I’m listening to No Such Thing as a Fish (great podcast) and they’re talking about how in more modern “marshmallow test” experiments, kids are actually more apt to wait for a greater reward, sort of counterintuitive to the assumption of instant gratification culture overwhelming society. Thoughts?

    1. Thlayli*

      That’s really interesting. I read somewhere that the marshmallow test at age 5 is the strongest indicator of whether a child will end up working class or middle class as an adult. It’s good that more kids are developing the emotional intelligence to wait for better results. Can only be a good thing for society.

    2. AnonAndOn*

      There’s a show called “Brain Games” and it had two instances of this: one with the marshmallow and another with a slice of cake. Some kids succumbed easily, but others would come up with creative ideas like wheeling around in their chairs or singing the alphabet to fight the temptation.

  47. CatCat*

    I have to go with a familiar member to have a kitty put down today. She used to be my kitty, but has been with the family member 10 years. She’s 18 and has had a good life with lots of strong opinions (she’s a tortie with lots of tortietude), rolling around in the sunshine, and being pampered. She’s been declining quickly the last couple weeks and isn’t really enjoying life anymore. She’s a tortie and looks like Alison’s kitty in the photo except with black rather than gray. So I’m feeling sad about that :-(

    Meanwhile, spouse decided it was a good morning to bitch to me about his ex on an easily resolvable issue about kid travel. I just kind of shut down, told him why I was upset to have his emotional baggage dumped onto me this morning, and that he needs to think about how he can resolve these issues before unloading them on me. For now, I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and am taking a relaxing bath.

  48. Lily Evans*

    Is anyone else trying to come up with a last minute Halloween costume? I’ve never been the most creative with ideas and I definitely waited until the last minute. I could always do the same costume as last year, but I’m hoping to pull something new together.

    1. CatCat*

      Last year, I did something super easy. I have was a bag of coffee. I went to a local coffee roaster and asked if I could have an empty burlap sack that they get the beans in. I cut off the top bit and bottom bit of the sack (one side was just cleaning it up a bit since they had cut it to dump out the beans). I made suspenders out of rope and wore the bag with a brown shirt and brown tights.

    2. HannahS*

      Not this year, but my standard last minute costume is Little Red Riding hood. A simple hooded cape is a cheap and easy thing to make (you can even just use fabric glue) and it can be worn over whatever you’re wearing. Oh, another thing I did that was easier was a plant. I wore brown bottoms and a green top and glued dollar-store plants on me.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      You have a few days left yet! Last time I needed something last minute I went as a zombie. All you need is some old clothes you’re happy to rip a bit, and some face paints.

    4. Loopy*

      I saw a great easy group costume where they were all sushi. Black leggings, white shirt, and a colored pillow with whatever painted pattern tied to their back. I’m sure you could Google it. It looked way cuter than my description!!!

    5. Love Halloween*

      I love Halloween. My husband and I always try to dress up. It’s not always easy coming up with something creative, but even if were the only ones who would ever guess, it’s still good enough for us.

      One that would probably be easy for you last minute is actually what we did last year. I was the Devil In A Blue Dress and he was Devil Went Down to Georgia. I made the horns myself but you could get any plastic ones they have in a cosutume shop and just wear a blue dress. (My husband wore a Georia University T shit and we found a toy violin we painted gold. It was tons of fun)

      Tv characters can also be easy cause they wear normal clothing. A trip to goodwill is suficiebt more often than not. We’re actually gonna dress as characters from Orphan Black this year.

      1. Lily Evans*

        I could definitely add Sarah Manning to my list of characters with similar hair as mine who mostly wear black (since that’s 90% of the wardrobe I already own). That’s the list I’m working from at the moment.

        1. Love Halloween*

          I still can’t believe I convinced my husband to dress as Tony. Gonna need to wear a wig and a goatee for that, but he likes the warbrobe!

    6. Sarah in DC*

      Constellation is my go to easy costume. Wear all black and tape some cut out stars to your self. Add glitter if you feel like it.

    7. seevee*

      I refuse to dress up most Halloweens but when I need to, I am always a Freudian slip. So I wear a cheap slip from a thrift store (over my normal clothes) and tape a piece of paper to it that says “Freud.” It usually gets a few laughs.

    8. Ginger ale for all*

      If you can find a red graduation robe, it would be a good foundation for a Handmaids Tale costume. You could make a cap from poster board and string.

    9. Al Lo*

      I’m dressing up tomorrow for a huge work event (kid-friendly) that I’m also emceeing, so I always have to find the line of something work-appropriate, family-friendly, and (for me) pop-culture-y and punny.

      Last year, I was the wall from Stranger Things. Yellow thrift store t-shirt with the alphabet painted on with black nail polish, and a string of battery-operated mini Christmas lights pinned to the shirt with the battery pack in my pocket. (And then, on the bottom, jeans.) It was a hit.

      This year, I’m going as Platform 9 3/4. It’s a bit less last-minute, but it’s still not too difficult. Plain t-shirt and iron-on transfer paper from Michael’s to make a Platform 9 3/4 sign on a t-shirt. I have an old blazer that was going to donate or toss soon, so I printed some bricks onto iron-on transfer paper and covered the jacket in bricks. I’ll wear it open over the t-shirt, with a headband with little cards on either side of my head that say “9” and “10”. I have an owl necklace, so I’ll wear that, too.

      I’d thought about adding a silhouette of a train to the hem of the t-shirt, but decided not to. Also tried to figure out if I could add luggage to my look, but I didn’t come up with anything super clever.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I love your Platform 9 3/4 idea so much!

        I’m having trouble seeing this as last minute as I never start planning this early…

        1. Al Lo*

          Well, to be fair, I had to dress today, and I was up last night at midnight ironing bricks onto the jacket… :)

    10. Chaordic One*

      Last night I wore a sheet and went to a party dressed as a ghost. It was a good sheet, though and so I didn’t cut any holes in it. I posed for photos with bunch of people dressed as “Ghostbusters.”

  49. Senua*

    Y’all. How do I deep clean a house when I have no energy and a partner who has mild hoarding tendencies?

    He keeps things around like product boxes (ones for TVs, etc) because he thinks we may need it 3-4 years down the road if we move. Since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia a year ago I’ve really let the home go and it’s really stressful (and depressing) to live in. He’s very happy to help but it can be a chore to get him focused and we’ve had issues in the past where I didn’t react kindly to him not feeling like cleaning. I grew up in a home where my mom obsessively cleaned and things never were clean enough and we never did enough to “help” her. I really pushed that same ideal on him when we first moved in together and never realized how abusive it was until we both broke down and talked about it.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m hesitant to offer practical advice because it sounds like this stuff has a lot of emotional meaning for you both. Would talking to a couples counsellor be an option?

      Otherwise, with boxes my rule is to only keep them for things I might want to sell – and to keep them in one place together.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same with me on the boxes–I keep them until I know whether I will have to return the item or not. Once I know I don’t, I pitch them. I have kept a few for storage of items I don’t use all year, and my printer, home theater, and tv box for potential moves, but the rest go out pretty quickly.

        I would also suggest looking into counseling. Dealing with these issues sounds a little tricky.

    2. HannahS*

      Is it possible to hire someone? If it’s possible financially, it might be worth it just to not have to deal with the trouble of it.

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Whoa – this is something i never thought about but could easily be part of our dynamic. I had a similar mother, and he saves boxes like that (which drives me mad to no end – he didnt move even half as much or as far as I did as a child and mom threw everything out because we moved so much AND dad stuck her with three kids and went to grad school for a year 6000 miles away).

      I was starting to get worked up last night and this morning about house cleanliness – one of the kitties has had icky tummy and has had a few Box Issues so between cleaning that up seemingly every day, working from home yesterday and feeling like there was cat hair all over the house, that the house needed to be vacuumed and all the boxes from our move still about since we still dont have a bookshelf (we moved 6 months ago!) AND he had the temerity to be out Wednesday night AND last night and I lost it on him this morning. Honestly the house isnt that bad but all of a sudden it can feel like its horrible and it must be deep cleaned now, and we need to throw everything away, but Im the only one that can do it and see all that is wrong.

      For us its been a bit of me letting go of feeling like the house needs to be perfect (its too small, we have cats, I dont have time) and accepting that he can only clean things as much as he can when hes helping. I point out what I would like him to do (that I know he does decently well) and accept what comes out. I also have him help me – I can’t vacuum the whole house in one go right now due to a bad back, so I have him move things when I point, lug vacuum up stairs, shake out rugs, etc. Team effort. He dries when I wash. I pile all his random crap into a box and make him go through it and put things away. That way it takes less mental and physical time off me and he can contribute.

      For the boxes – we tossed ours into the shed (because we do tend to move every 2 years or so), but is there any way they can be flattened and bound up with a string? Would he notice if you just tossed them?

    4. Kj*

      Can you confine his mess to one space? Hopefully one you can close the door on? That has saved my sanity with my husband. I’d also start talking about how the space makes you feel- I kept quiet about the mess for the first year I lived with my husband and he was SHOCKED when I broke down, because to him it was normal. We fixed it and I got my own space and he got his.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I was just about to suggest the same thing. And, as someone who also likes to keep original boxes for things, I don’t think those need to be all over the place—break the boxes down, and then store them in a closet or storage space out of sight.

      2. KR*

        I did this. Husband has a lot of equipment and gear he needs for work and a lot of doodads and random jars of crap he doesn’t want to get rid of. So he has a large closet upstairs and the garage shelves. My only rule is that type of stuff must be confined to those areas and the stuff on the garage must be on the shelves and not all over the floor.

    5. Montanan*

      Okay, I do keep boxes for things like TVs, game consoles, etc… but it does make it much easier when you move. At least you know the item is protected and what’s in that box! But if you’re not a renter floating from place to place it probably doesn’t make much sense….

      Can you two get together and discuss what things specifically are bothering you and make a list that he can focus on? Maybe if he has a set of key items he can hit each week he’ll have more focus. Or perhaps hiring a cleaning service once or twice a month? Heck, get a robot vacuum?

      I downloaded an app a few months ago (Regularly for Android) that just reminds me when a certain chore needs to be done. And helps me prioritize because I can see how overdue some things are, like the shower (blegh). But I only have energy for a few items today so I know I’ll feel better if I get the shower and just let the robovac get the floors instead of doing a full vacuum.

      1. Red Reader*

        Yep, I kept boxes when I was renting and ceremonially (not literally, but you know) tossed them all when I moved into the house that I bought, as kind of a “I don’t need these anymore because I’m not moving in six months!” celebration.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I only saved boxes that had inner dividers, such as for a set of dishes.
      Perhaps you can get him to flatten the boxes and consolidate them into one or two boxes?
      Maybe you can spot some boxes of things that you have gotten rid of, so you can get rid of the box also.

      You might be able to talk him into just saving boxes for the more expensive items, such as the tv.
      OTH, you could say, “Let’s use this space over here to store boxes, what ever does not fit has to be tossed because we cannot live with piles of empty boxes as we will not be able to enjoy the things we have.”

    7. Temperance*

      So what your mom did was really shitty, but you have a disability and your partner needs to step up and take care of the home where he lives. He can’t keep going back to your earlier dynamic as a reason to not keep the place clean.

    8. Pat Benetardis*

      I used to be no annoyed that my husband kept the tv boxes but I was so glad he did when we moved houses. He had the boxes and the inner styrofoam and nothing got messed up. But they are in the attic now so are not bothering me. I can’t imagine justifying keeping other boxes.

  50. Foreign Octopus*

    My brother’s ex-girlfriend is ramping up the pressure to meet the weekend she’s in town.

    I didn’t particularly like her when she was dating my brother (very dramatic, everything had to be about her or she completely lost interest) but I made the effort because she was dating my brother. Now that they’ve broken up, I want a nice clean break but she’s determined to see me. I’ve already told her I’m working on Saturday (true) but now she’s pushing for lunch on Sunday but, frankly, I resent leaving the house for people I love deeply let alone someone I would be happy not to speak to again.

    I’m currently treading the line between polite lies to spare her feelings and a firm no that will hurt her feelings but mean I don’t have to speak to her again. I’d like to avoid hurting her feelings but I’m tired and grumpy and I had an ill-advised gin and tonic an hour ago that has exacerbated my annoyance with the situation.

    Trying to relax with my cat and Doctor Who to stop thinking about it.

    1. fposte*

      I’d either go with “Sorry, I can’t. Hope you enjoy your weekend!” or say “I’m not comfortable talking with you in light of the breakup with Bob.” The second will get you a followup email, which you are free to avoid responding to entirely.

    2. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.*

      It’s probably better to just rip off the Band-Aid and tell her you’re no longer interested in hanging out with her now that she’s not dating your brother. She can have whatever feelings she wants about that – the good news is, her feelings are not yours to manage! If it helps mitigate your anxiety, go ahead and block her on any and all social media. Then send her the text: “Sorry but I’m really not interested in hanging out now that you’re not dating my brother. Best of luck to you.” Then block her number from your phone. That way no matter what reaction she has, you don’t have to know about it.

    3. Jessi*

      If she lives out of town you will almost never have this problem. I’m advocating for a ‘just say no’ option but you can do so politely. Message her and say that you are sorry you won’t be able to meet on Sunday either and you wish her a nice trip. Short and sweet and done, then you can enjoy your weekend

    4. Sam Foster*

      Why are you so concerned with hurting her feelings? Why won’t a simple: “I am not interested in meeting you.” not be sufficient?

    5. Anono-me*

      “Since you and Bob broke up, it feels disloyal to hang out with you. ” (Unless she knows you are besties with a different ex girlfriend.)