weekend free-for-all – October 28-29, 2017

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

Book recommendation of the week: The Impossible Fortress, by Jason Rekulak. A 1980s coming of age story involving computer games, petty theft, and an obsession with Vanna White.

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

{ 1,297 comments… read them below }

  1. ToledoShark*

    Plans for Halloween? It’s a public holiday here anyway and my boss gives us an extra day off to be nice so it’s a 4 day weekend and I plan to do nothing. Feels great!

    1. nacho*

      It’s not a public holiday here, so I’ll be working until 11:00. Probably get some free candy from work though.

    2. Tau*

      Same here re: public holiday and making a long weekend out of it. I mainly plan to get some of the things I can never manage to get done during the week sorted on Monday and then loaf around on Tuesday. Also, carve a jack-o’-lantern since for the first time I have somewhere I can put it. :)

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Off to see the The Exorcist (directors cut even) after work at a special showing. They have a double header going with Hellraiser (with producer Q&A before), but I really didn’t want to spend 5 hours at the movies, especially when I have seen both many times. Unfortunately my friend who had never seen the Exorcist and was going to go with me got an emergency appt for a back injection so I shall Self Date (other half is going to something else on the night!) and go for dinner beforehand. Actually looking forward to it!

      1. Red Reader*

        Every time I try to watch The Exorcist, I get just a little bit farther before I freak myself out and have to turn it off. Last time I made it all the way to when Regan pulls out the Ouija board. (So, like, 15 minutes in? Hah.)

        1. Middle Name Jane*

          I’ve only ever seen the edited-for-TV version, and that was disturbing enough for me.

          In college, I read the book in one sitting. Stayed up all night to finish it.

          1. Red Reader*

            I read the book several times, but never in my own home. Hah. The first time I read it, I picked it up off a “take one or leave one” book shelf at work and read half of it on the commute on my way home. When I got home, I wrapped it in a plastic bag and stuck it under a bush next to the next apartment building over from mine. The next morning, I picked it up again and finished it on the next day’s commute back and forth and left it at the bus stop before heading home.

    4. PB*

      I’d been planning to have a quiet evening at home with my husband, eating a nice dinner and handing out candy. He just got his work schedule for next week, though, and he’s scheduled to work a closing shift that day, so I won’t be seeing him. Boo.

    5. Overeducated*

      It’s not a holiday here, and I will be at a conference in a nearby city, so I may leave an hour early in order to get home for trick or treating with my kiddo. Last year was his first year and it was awesome, our neighborhood goes ALL OUT for Halloween.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      There’s a joint party tonight between my Women’s Wisdom Circle and the pagan group at my Unitarian fellowship, but I’ve been sick with a sore throat, body aches, and stuffy, runny nose for several days. If I don’t feel better by this afternoon, I’m not going. I’ve been sleeping it off by going to bed super early every night, but it’s still hanging on. Bleh!!

    7. The Crusher*

      As a chubby bearded white guy, I’ll be teaching my normal classes, but in a Kevin Owens t shirt.

    8. Clever Name*

      Let’s see, I have a day of meetings, including one with a client. My company is also having a costume contest. I can’t bear the thought of even just wearing all black for a witch costume, sans hat, for the client meeting, so I think I’ll wear werewolf hands with normal clothing for the costume contest. Then ex husband will pick up the kiddo for trick or treating and I’ll hand out candy at home. Wine, candy, and pumpkin seeds will likely comprise the bulk of my dinner. I’ll probably make some fall soup too.

    9. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Stay home and hopefully meet some of our new neighbours! There are tons of kids in our complex, so we’re expecting a lot more trick or treaters than we ever got in our old house

    10. SophieChotek*

      I think I work that night to do inventory at the coffee shop, so no plans except work. If I get done with work early enough maybe I will go to Chipotle’s for dinner -I think it is $3 burrito if you go in costume

    11. Adele*

      Halloween is a holiday? An actual offices-are-closed holiday? On a Tuesday? What sort of magical place is this?

      1. Fafaflunkie*

        I would like to know this magical place myself! To get a 4 day weekend to trick-or-treat sounds awesome!

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Nothing, really. I have a brow wax scheduled that day. And preparing for NaNoWriMo. I sort of hate living where nobody does anything except for their kids. So I’ll probably watch a (not) scary movie and just eat some candy.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        We have 1st November off as a public holiday, so lots of the bars/pubs/nightclubs have a late night opening for Halloween, and the streets are filled with zombies and people in witches’ hats.
        31st October seems to be a public holiday in Germany this year as it marks 500 years since Martin Luther started the Reformation. At least some shops will be closed then.

  2. Ramona Flowers*

    Is that a cat snuggling on a towel or being dried with one?

    My cat likes to sit on wet towels. I don’t know why. Cat reasons.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        One of my kittens likes to tunnel under one of those fleece throw blankets. He’s so darn cute, as are Alison’s kitties. I look forward to seeing what picture will pop up on the Saturday thread.

    1. Ermintrude Mulholland*

      Mine does that with a specific orange towel! And now our 4 year old has started defending his right to do so – resulting in a giggling child and smug cat Both sitting on a wet towel!

        1. Clever Name*

          The kittens and the kid are definitely on the same side. Kiddo likes to lay with them in a patch of sunshine. One of the kittens licked his head, and he said, “Look! I’m one of them!”

  3. OrphanBrown*

    American in Montréal for work this weekend with one non-rainy afternoon to do something. Is there anything touristy or not so touristy that I shouldn’t leave this city without exploring/trying out?

    I love all kinds of food, I like old buildings, I don’t mind walking around… any ideas from folks who live there? I like to drink too but am not trying to drink too heavily this weekend. But love a nice cocktail or beer.

    1. OrphanBrown*

      Basically wanting to know from those of you in the know, if there is just one thing you wouldn’t leave without seeing/doing, what would it be?

    2. Cristina in England*

      Where are you staying? (What neighborhood/street) Do you have a preference for walkability, or would you be happy to jump on a bus/subway?

      1. OrphanBrown*

        Looks like I’m right in between downtown and Shaughnessy village. That’s what google is telling me anyway. I got a subway card for the weekend and I also like to get steps for my fitness tracker, so I’m open to both!

        1. Cristina in England*

          You’re well place to wander up the Western side of Mont Royale through Westmount, you can cross The Boulevard in a number of places and eventually end up at St Joseph’s Oratory, which you can either visit, if you like religious artifacts, or just enjoy the spectacular scenery and then walk down to Snowdon metro stop and get back that way.

          My restaurant recs are all out of date but please do try a Montreal bagel if you have any interest. St Viateur’s is one of the two main bagel places. Montreal bagels are small and dense and sweet and they are strange at first compared to New York bagels but now I vastly prefer them and miss them.

          Major streets for bars and restaurants close to where you’re staying include but are not limited to St. Laurent, Ste. Catherine, St. Denis.

          If you like markets you could take the metro to Jean Talon market or you’re pretty close to Atwater market already. Check opening times though.

          I will add more later if I think of more.

          1. OrphanBrown*

            Great ideas, thank you! Checking out Mont Royale while the weather is clear :) gotta work that bagel in.

      1. Dee-Nice*

        Oooh, can I jump in on this and also add: are there family-friendly (with toddlers) places in Montreal you’d recommend?

    3. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I live in Montreal as a student (I went to McGill), so all my restaurant recs are out of date and revolve around cheap beer, but I second Christina’s recommendation to check out the Parc du Mont Royal. The Musee des beaux-arts is nice and free (except for the travelling exhibitions, which are usually pretty awesome). If you have any interest in cool vintage stuff, Eva B is awesome! It a thrift store/ cafe/ bar/ other things.

      I personally think Montreal bagels are an affront to bagelry, but I am a bagel snob. But as cliche as it may seem, definitely eat some poutine, its so good!

    4. Chillin' with the dogs*

      Don’t miss Schwartz’s for a smoked meat sandwich – they’ve been around since 1928! There will probably be a line-up but they move you through quickly. Service is perfunctory so don’t except to be coddled – it’s all part of the experience! http://www.schwartzsdeli.com/

    5. Scattol*

      The big tourist things would be old montreal, the mountain, the botanical garden/science museums. Fine arts an modern arts museum are also nice. To party, St Laurent, St Denis, Crescent.

  4. Drew*

    A close friend of mine died this week. I’d prefer not to discuss details, but Internet hugs and other shows of sympathy would be very welcome right now. Thanks.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sympathy and Internet hugs. Take care of yourself. Grief is discombobulating and sometimes sneaky.

    2. Alison Read*

      I’ve found the wave story very comforting when dealing with grief, I’ve found it for you and hope that you too can find comfort in it.

      Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

      I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
      As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

      In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

      Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

      Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

      1. RebeccaNoraBunch*

        That was an incredible description of grief. Thank you so much; I needed to read that today. It was so helpful.

    3. FormerEmployee*

      My condolences on the loss of your friend. Losing a close friend can be like losing a family member.

      May happy memories bring you comfort.

    4. SophieChotek*

      Please accept my sympathies! I hope there will be support here and elsewhere for you in this time.

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      Internet hugs, Drew. I lost my spouse last Saturday. I don’t want to talk about it either, and please no real-life hugs! It’s incredibly painful, but it is helpful to me to know that there are people who care – even relative strangers on the internet. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy.

      1. Drew*

        As hard as what I’m going through is, I can’t even imagine what your grief must be like. I am so very sorry.

    6. Drew*

      Thanks, everyone. I love the AAM community and I knew y’all would understand. E-hugs back to everyone who wants them.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        I agree, this is a very kind online space. Thank you Alison, and thoughtful commenters as well.

    1. CatCat*

      We binged half the season tonight and will finish the rest in the morning (it’s still Friday night here).

      Current debate with spouse: whether little Dart was cute. (Correct answer is no!)

      It’s been fascinating to see how the events of last year have impacted the characters. I’m especially engrossed by Nancy.

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Is this out? I thought it wasnt released until Halloween. If it is out then I know what Im doing with my weekend!

    3. Overeducated*

      I only watched 2 so not sure I should read other comments…but oh it’s so addictive! The soundtrack is really on point this season, too.

    4. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I’m at the start of ep five but…..Hopper this season…..is KILLING ME.

      Also THAT ONE PARENT/TEENAGER FIGHT…I DIED. That was like, all of my fights with my dad as a young teenager haha. And it was such a perfect representation of raising…that. Specific. Teenager. It was all I ever wanted from TV, haha.

    5. CatCat*

      We finished it. Loved it. Will probably watch it again.

      Spouse speculates that Dr. Brenner is, indeed, alive and is an agent of the Upside Down.

    6. Marguerite*

      Oooh! I’ve been wanting to discuss this! I liked it- binged watched it last night and finished up this afternoon. Hopper is my favorite. I loved the scenes with Eleven in Chicago! She gives me Natalie Portman vibes at times. Overall I think the first season is the best, but this one still had me at the edge of my seat.

    7. Melody Pond*

      We finished it today, too! It was great! I freaking loved Steve this season – he just cracks me up.

      I sort of missed Eleven running around with the rest of the kids. That was such great chemistry, and it pretty much felt like we spent the whole season just waiting for Eleven to meet up with everyone else.

    8. Seal*

      Just finished binge watching early this morning and loved it. Great follow-up to Season 1. The entire cast is wonderful, but the kid who plays Will was amazing this season, which was a very pleasant surprise since he really wasn’t given much to do in the first season. And as someone who graduated from HS in the early 80s, I very much appreciate how well they’ve captured the era, right down to the big hair on the older boys and Eleven’s MTV makeover. Can’t wait to see where they go with Season 3.

    9. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.*

      We finished it last night. It was pretty good, but I was a bit frustrated by some of the narrative choices. I really liked Steve this season and I really liked Bob.

      That argument between Hopper and Eleven. I really thought that Hopper went too far there and was actually really scary. I felt very lukewarm toward him the rest of the season as a result. I know he explained and apologized by the end, but I don’t know, it didn’t make me forgive and forget.

      How cute was the Winter Ball at the end though? I loved every second of that.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I started last night and was up until 2:30! I got as far as the Jane/punk sister episode.

      Also, Twitter is weird in the middle of the night, y’all. Did you know that Sam Neill, the actor, owns a winery and he has these little plastic (?) pig figures he puts in situations and he tweets pictures of them? Hahahahahaa, of course I had to follow this.

      Trivia: Sam Neill as Damien Thorn in Omen: The Final Conflict was my first screen crush ever. Yes, it’s true. I had a crush on the Antichrist.

  5. Cristina in England*

    School holidays this coming week. My relationship with my 4yo is so bad lately. We are getting into so many power struggles and have so many days when we end up shouting before breakfast. I am trying so hard not to instill bad emotional habits and I desperately want to take a calm empathetic positive approach but we do push each other’s buttons so it is a struggle.

    I am trying to do a lot of self care because this has been so draining, so I have hidden my news apps (causing anxiety) and I have started using Headspace app for 3 minute meditations and writing in my favorite journal with my favorite pen about it.

    The last two days with her have been better. Yesterday she started screaming and trying to hit me but I stayed calm and didn’t add fuel to the fire. Fingers crossed I can keep that up over the school holidays. I will need every trick, bit of luck, and shred of patience I can find!!

    1. Thlayli*

      Poor you hugs. And hugs to your baby girl too. I dunno if you want advice but here’s a list of things that have helped my kids be less angry:
      – hands are not for hitting technique
      – quality one-on-one time. Even something as simple as bringing them grocery shopping with me works. So long as it’s just one of them on their own and I talk to them and get them involved
      – lots of snuggles
      – Sticker chart with sticker for no hitting/playing nicely
      I also am currently trying out some of the techniques in “how to talk so little kids will listen and listen so little kids will talk”. I’ve not tried everything in the book too but I’ve tried some of the tools in it and they seem to be working well
      For stressing less in mornings some stuff that might help (some I’ve done some I’ve read about):
      – get stuff ready night before including pick her clothes with her. There’s a technique where you make an outline of her in a big piece of paper and lay out the clothes on it. Not triedthat but I can see it might he fun
      – shift your morning start time to make sure you include “dither time”
      – can you arrange some food for her with childcare provider? Then you might not have to have a big breakfast.
      Or maybe give her a cereal bar she can bring with her instead of a bowl of cereal.
      Hope some of these help. Good luck

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thank you, that is such good advice.

        I also have that HtTsLKWL book and I love it. When I am calm enough to use those techniques they work pretty well. I struggle with keeping my lizard brain in check, especially if she is hurting her little brother, or if it is before breakfast, or at the end of a long day. I am not a particularly laid back person and this is a serious area of hard work for me, to pick my battles and let most things go. I feel like it would be easier if I could just be a different person!

        I think I could do more in terms of slowing down and building in more time to engage her in problem solving, etc, as in the book. Also, I should remember that if I am planning a fun activity, it should be fun, not an enormous chore where we are rushing to get there to “have fun”.

        I have heard of the hands are not for hitting technique, should I get that book? (It’s a book, right?)

        1. Thlayli*

          It’s a book but also a technique. You can look it up on the internet how to do it. We didn’t actually get the book but it still worked for our 2yo

    2. MommyMD*

      The more you tell the worse it will be. She won’t be four forever. Let her make some choices and only insist on the truly impossible things. Years from now you will you didn’t spend this time in negativity. Good luck. Be patient. Her little brain is developing and independence is a milestone.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Yeah I really really don’t want to waste these years fuming. You’re absolutely right!

      2. Nic*

        Seconding choices. And you can make it easy by leaving it closed. Would you like X or Y? Or X, Y, Z, or however many is reasonable in a given situation, but not enough to overwhelm.

        Giving choices like that is not only good for helping with a child’s feelings of agency, but it also limits them while still allowing that agency.

    3. TL -*

      I’m not a parent so take this with a grain of salt – but would it help if you thought about her behavior like she was Tinkerbell? That is, (like Tinkerbell) she’s so very small that she can’t really contain her (very large) emotions. So they just explode out of her.

      I was a tantrum-thrower and I remember quite vividly the feeling of having so *much* feeling that I just couldn’t contain it and the only way to let the feeling out was to cry/kick/scream/cry. So whenever I’m with a little kid that’s having a meltdown, I say to myself sympathetically, “Oh, that poor small kid has so many feelings that they can’t contain them – they’re just like Tinkerbell!” Which usually takes me from annoyance to a bit of detachment and amusement and then I’m able to deal with them more calmly.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I was the same way. Mom would just sit and quietly hold me until I burned myself out. Usually took about 5 minutes. A few years later I was made to go run around the block, but just the physicality of everything helped. Even today I know I have to have x amount of exercise in order to manage frustrations.

        1. TL -*

          :) I think mine averaged 45 minutes and I know I had a couple that were close to two hours – though the ignore response was what worked best for my parents all the same.

          I had a *lot* of feelings as a child.

        2. Cristina in England*

          Yes she does have Very Big Feelings! She gets frustrated and then she just starts screaming in rage, sometimes in my face and I have to put in my earplugs to help stay calm but that incenses her even more. I am trying to teach her ways to express and manage her feelings and calm down but I am a bit stunted in that area myself, when I am in full Lizard Brain mode!

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            One thing that helped my daughter when she was that age was a nice warm bath. She used to come home from school over-stimulated and cranky, and I learned to have the bath waiting for her to go straight into it. I didn’t monitor whether she washed or not; this was a separate activity for calming purposes only. She played with toys until she was ready to come out, and it helped a lot.

      2. Lauren R*

        I was the same way. I remember just being so frustrated at every thing I was feeling and not knowing how to express that, and the inability to express it just caused more frustration and led to tantrums. I’m also not a parent but I will say that my parents’ tactic to either get upset in response or ignore me altogether really didn’t help (though I definitely understand the reaction in hindsight). What I really wanted was for someone to read my mind and tell me what I was feeling and make it better, and as a kid it’s hard to understand/accept that’s not actually possible – it seems like your parents should always have all the answers and when they don’t it doesn’t compute. I think what would have been most helpful for me would just have been to have someone calmly help me work through whatever I was feeling so I could articulate what I was experiencing or what I needed in that moment instead of having it all stuck inside. Sometimes just a hug would have helped or an “I’m sorry you’re feeling upset and want to help you, but I need you to settle down first before we can work this out”. I’m sure there are plenty of kids that wouldn’t work well for but in hindsight it’s what I personally needed but couldn’t ask for at the time.

        Also something I remember reading a while back (from someone who does have kids) is that it’s really helpful to demonstrate the language of feelings to them by sort of “narrating” your own emotions and the way you resolve them. So like if you burn something on the stove, you’d say out loud “Oh that makes me feel so mad and disappointed – but it’s okay because we all make mistakes and this can be fixed by doing X”. The idea is that as adults we go through that process internally and on autopilot but kids haven’t learned to do that yet so showing them the process in little ways like that can help them learn the appropriate way to name and react to emotions.

        Good luck!! Your daughter is very lucky to have you as a mom! Right now it may seem like this will never end but just know someday she’ll look back and really appreciate you working so hard to be patient and kind to her even when she’s driving you up the wall.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Thank you, that’s very kind. And reassuring. I do try to reflect her feelings back to her and help her name them but I am not great at remembering it in the moment if I am wound up as well. But since you’ve said that, I will redouble my efforts and try harder to do show empathy and not always try to fix it, just try to show understanding. I come from a family of fixers and I know how dismissive that feels, so I don’t want to do that to her.

          1. Nic*

            I’m not a parent, but I am a teacher (not currently certified for my state, but I don’t think you ever stop being one). I second what Lauren R said, especially about narrating.

            You mentioned it being hard to remember to do that when tension is high. One thing I do for myself, and that I’ve taught others to do is exactly that…during the calm times. In my case it’s “even if you know what you’re doing, read the steps aloud as though you’re explaining them to someone else.” In your case it may be narrating good feelings, and confused feelings, and all sorts of other feelings when there isn’t tension. This both teaches her about all sorts of feelings and how to process them, but also trains you so that it is more natural to react with explanation when the tension is higher.

            Also….if you ever start thinking that this makes you a bad parent, stop that thought. You are trying your best, and deciding that your best isn’t good enough you are reaching out for help, listening, and I’m pretty sure going to take at least some of the advice. No bad parent does that. Not even all good ones do.

            1. Cristina in England*

              Oh! What a great idea, thanks. Yes I don’t want her to equate chatting about feelings with anger and sadness only. I shall try to narrate the good or mixed times as well.

              Thank you for your kind words, I needed to hear that.

            2. the gold digger*

              stop that thought

              Yes! I am not a parent, but it is clear to me that you are trying your best and that you recognize the patterns you want to break. This in itself is huge.

              I didn’t realize until just a few weeks ago when I compared notes with my cousin, whose parents are still in the town where my family is from, what a big deal it was that my parents took parenting classes when I was a kid.

              I saw how my cousin’s parents continued the patterns they had learned but my parents, who got into a different environment (my dad was in the military), realized that maybe what they had grown up with wasn’t the best practice. My siblings and I would tease my dad over his clumsy active listening techniques, but now I know he was doing a really good thing, trying to learn to be a better parent.

              My husband is only now understanding that his parents had no (and never had any) awareness of what bad parents they were and how much it messed him up. His dad didn’t think hitting his own children was wrong, whereas my dad stopped spanking us when I was five, saying later, “I realized that hitting my own children was a really bad idea.”

              You are aware that there are things you can do better and you are trying to do them! That is wonderful. Just the fact that you are trying matters. Your kids will know.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My oldest child was a tantrum-thrower, too. We have a wall in our kitchen that was dubbed the “wailing wall” because that’s where she’d run to pound her fists and kick with one foot while crying and screaming, “This is the worst day of my life!!!” to the slightest provocation.

        Our second child is placid and calm, but we have to watch him for pent-up feelings that are really bothering him, but that he’ll only discuss if we notice and gently pressure him into conversation. So different from his sister, who always screamed and pounded about the least little thing.

        1. Cristina in England*

          The wailing wall! I love it. Yes my two are incredibly different emotionally and in how they communicate their feelings. My son, who is nearly two, will say plainly that he is sad or that he wants something and she will scream and cry and it is like pulling teeth to get her to tell me what is the problem.

      4. JanetM*

        I had a period in my life as an adult, after my mother died, where I couldn’t contain my emotions or express them except by screaming and sobbing. My husband, bless him, both believed me when I said, “Please just hold me tightly, don’t say anything, and let me struggle and wail,” and is enough stronger than I am that I couldn’t hurt him while doing so. Once I wound down, he would stroke my hair and say, “There, there,” and, “I’m here with you, it’s okay,” in soothing tones until I stopped hiccuping and shaking.

        (For the record, I was also getting therapy. I don’t mean that a four-year-old with Very Big Uncontrollable and Inexpressible Emotions needs therapy, but an adult might.)

    4. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

      I can really really recommend looking into “low arousal” approach/parenting. It is getting very popular in my country (and honestly works just as well with adults as with children). This is a summary from one of the experts in the Nordics (ignore the kinda stupid translation of the book title): http://www.jkp.com/jkpblog/2017/01/low-arousal-approach-to-parenting/

      Hang in there!!

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        A clarification so that it doesn’t scare you off: it’s not just for children with autism or adhd etc and I’m not implying there’s any underlying reason for your daughter’s behavior (I have no way of knowing that) – nowadays it’s just accepted here to be a good way to raise and deal with kids.

        (I have adhd myself, if it matters to anyone.)

      2. Cristina in England*

        Sorry I missed your reply earlier! Thank you very much for the book rec. I will have a look at that. I think a calmer approach would benefit everyone.

    5. ‘Sconnie*

      It sounds like you are already doing a lot of positive things!

      I found the book “Parenting with Love and Logic” really helpful for learning how to avoid power struggles with my button pusher. Lots of good advice for other behavior as well. I highly recommend it.

      Keep up with the self-care, it is so important. Perhaps finding someone who can watch the kids so you can get a break for an hour or two?

      Also, young children: don’t ever expect anything to go as planned. I relaxed a lot more when I allowed extra time for surprises whether it was behavior or stumbling upon something fun to do.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks I will look at that book! I am glad to hear I am not the only one with a button pusher.

      2. Yetanotherjennifer*

        I second this. What I really liked was the idea to spell out your expectations and consequences before the event so everyone is on the same page. Then counting to 3 is more meaningful. Of course the first time you implement it will be tough for everyone, but worth it in the long run.

    6. Cristina in England*

      Thanks everyone. We are having a good day so far. I am reluctantly realizing that getting them out of the house even when I just want one day at home is better for everyone’s mood. If we are out I have no expectations of doing anything in the house myself.

      (the fact that I pretty much do 100% childcare even though they have a father and we are married and living in the same house is another conversation for another day)

      Right now they are in the sand pit at the big playground which is a 40 minute uphill walk from us (there is a closer one but it doesn’t have sand). I packed a bag and the stroller for a full day out and we’ve had a lovely time. My daughter even fed a goat, which is a big deal for her. Getting them mucky and tired, that’s my strategy for today! ;-)

      I am going to take it one day at a time. Think of me at the end of the week when I have run out of ideas… :-S

      1. Book Lover*

        Oh, for sure. I can guarantee misery if we are at home. The kids make each other and me crazy. We get out even if just going from one store to another. I hope you have a calm day.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Do you have a friend who you can switch off with? Even if it’s like a couple hours or less? I was probably a whiny/stubborn child, I did well with distraction such as someone to play with or a toy that was out of my reach for whatever reason.
        I remember being four pretty well. I was ready for some new experiences. One thing that strikes me, as a little kid I would have loved the complexity of coloring books for adults. What about puzzles, does that interest her?

        I remember my tantrums and they were more like bursts of energy. My parents were 40 years old then me, I am sure they were not having fun. Is there some way she can burn up some of that energy?

        1. Cristina in England*

          Luckily for me her brother is just getting big enough to play with her and he can tell her to stop doing something he doesn’t like. He is a bundle of energy too, though mostly of the running and climbing variety, so for now letting them loose on the playground is the best trick I have. Don’t know what I will do for the wet winter… invest in warm waterproof clothes, I think!

      3. Observer*

        Your kids are both high energy, so you don’t need too many ideas – keep taking them to the park. They won’t find it boring.

      4. Iain*

        I think the father being rubbish should be a big part of the conversation (with yourself, if not here).

        Our children can definitely get us wound up. What helps a LOT is to be able to give them to the other parent so you can calm down.

    7. Rookie Manager*

      It sounds like you have a daughter with such passion and big feelings it’s hard to manage them, learning that is something that will come in time but you can definitely help with.

      I’d suggest having a look at ‘Lulastic and the hippy shake’ and ‘Parentally’ as the author, Lucy, has researched and written lots about how to help kids with their emotions but also about the self care you need to do because if you are frazzled and not at your best the whole family will suffer. Good luck.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks for the book rec, I will check that out as ‘frazzled and not at my best’ definitely strokes a chord.

    8. Yetanotherjennifer*

      My kid was not a tantrum thrower so I can’t relate but you have my sympathy. Parenting is hard. Being a preschooler is hard.

      My kid had sensory integration issues and I wonder if some of the tricks I used could help you. The easiest to try is a sensory diet: pretzel rods, eating apple sauce or a thick smoothie through a straw, etc. basically, food that requires mouth work to eat. Our OT used to say it’s all about the mouth. Heavy work is another thing you can google for ideas but the idea I have is to make a game where she pushes around a laundry basket full of stuff. Also get a mini trampoline. We have ours in the TV room so she can watch and jump. Seriously, the best piece of “furniture” I ever bought. Swings are also awesome and if you own your home, look and see where you might put one. We have a couple in the basement attached to the floor joists. They’re easy to install and as a bonus our house is pretty popular still with the teenagers. We also had a tree swing in the yard and my daughter would put her stomach on the swing and fly. If you can’t have your own play equipment, make a list of local playgrounds and visit them often.

      Sometimes transitions are hard for kids. I found a couple of warnings before a change helped. And the Magic phrase: “Say goodbye to ‘the thing’.” There’s something about saying goodby to the thing you’re having fun with that makes it easier to actually leave. If it works for you it really is magical. Music can also be powerful. Both in transitions and in mood regulation. And get a copy of the clean-up song her daycare/preschool uses and use it at home for cleaning sessions.

      Give her limited choices so she has a sense of control over her life. “Would you like the red hat or the blue hat” skips over the whole no hat option but still gives her something to decide.

      I’d also try talking to her about it. Tell her you don’t like whats happening. Talk about how it makes you feel and encourage her to do the same. See what ideas she has. Talk about things you can try. That places you on the same side working together to make life easier for both of you.

      1. Mimosa momma*

        I would add: tell your children you love them, speak it, show it (hugs and snuggles), demonstrate it (I made this reading space/special snack/book mark/etc. just for you) every day, many times a day!
        Pack away half the toys (or more) and rotate out every week. Too many things to do = frustration!
        I always kept crackers in my car for difficult transition times (going home from day care/park/play times).
        Sensory overload is what we attributed the difficult behavior to.
        This was 30 years ago, he turned into an amazing human being, eventually!

      2. Cristina in England*

        Thanks for the tips about heavy work, that sounds really interesting and I bet it would be helpful for my little one too, who is very fidgety.

    9. Book Lover*

      We have some issues around mornings, but more around bedtime, when she is exhausted. For morning we usually do more of the reward approach – once you are dressed/teeth brushed/hair done, you can play with play doh or other thing she wants to do.

      For the terrible bedtime mess, I have tried looking at the triggers for both of us and trying to head them off. Starting the routine much earlier, agreeing to books before teeth brushing, making sure no one else is upstairs, saying yes as much as possible when there isn’t a reason for no. It is hard and my temper isn’t good :(

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thank you. Yeah my temper is not good either! Saying yes as much as possible when there isn’t a reason to say no is good advice, thanks.

    10. Kj*

      If you are looking for books to help, 1-2-3 Magic is a great book for strategies to handle power-struggles. And it is SIMPLE. I recommend to people all the time. Take care of yourself. You are clearly a parent who cares and wants to do the right thing.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I was probably not an easy kid to raise for a number of reasons. But I remember I could not get enough of my parents reading to me. I would do ANYTHING to make that happen. It may not be reading, but there is probably something that your little girl loves doing with you so very much that she would stand on her head to make it happen. Maybe you could ask her what her favorite thing is that you and she do together. You probably can hide the question by asking her what else she likes in addition to that thing.

      My father used to read the Sunday comics to me. Each character had a different voice. I loved that.

      1. Cristina in England*

        What a kind suggestion, thanks. She loves imaginative games, and plays them all day long. Sometimes I get impatient with it (like when she won’t get dressed or go to bed until she has settled on a character that she can pretend to be while doing the thing) but this IS her favourite thing and it is how she likes to play and chat and relate, and I am trying to go with it and encourage it. I was so used to these games I didn’t realise that she did this more than other kids until her teacher pointed it out (they start school at 4 here). I have signed her up for a drama group starting next month, I hope she loves it!

    12. Clever Name*

      My son is like this. He’s so dang smart he could out argue us at that same age. Reading “Kids, Parents, Power Struggles” helped. But yeah, I’ve definitely yelled at my kid and then felt horrible. My son has ADHD, and while he’s greatly improved with proper treatment and over the years, but he’s still really exasperating at times. I think he needs to up his meds, so he’s more exhausting to manage. Last weekend, he spilled his cup 3 times. He’s 10, and he normally doesn’t spill with this frequency.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Ugh, yes, the post-yelling shame spiral is something I am familiar with. Thanks for the book rec, I will check it out!

        1. tigerStripes*

          I’m not a parent, but I worked in a daycare for several years. One of the things I liked about it was that we didn’t have to be emotional when enforcing the rules. Usually it was a warning, then a time out. Of course it’s different when they’re your own kids, and they’re around all the time, but I think the fact that there were rules that were enforced with time outs (just a few minutes) was comfortable to the kids. They knew what the rules were, they even told new kids if the new kids broke the rules. They seemed to really like the structure. Also, there weren’t a lot of rules, which I think helped.

          I also agree about small choices – when I was around that age, I liked being able to have some control about my options.

          I’m sorry your husband isn’t being part of this. Kids are a lot easier to deal with when another adult can take a turn with them and let you rest.

    13. King Friday XIII*

      You’ve got a lot of good book recs already but if you want ongoing non-judgey parental support (since I know how hard that is) you might want to check out the One Bad Mother podcasts and the Facebook groups associated with it.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks very much for this. I think it is really important to balance all of the idealised “do this” book stuff with the “but I actually do this most of the time” support from real people doing it in real time

    14. Cristina in England*

      Well on the way home from the big playground (after 5 hours of being out) she started to push my buttons. Specifically, she pushed the “telling her little brother to do something that is potentially somewhat unsafe” button (he always does what she says) and the “let’s derail what Mummy is trying to get done” button.

      A little background on that second button. I am a productive person. At least I was before I had kids. I am good at time management and I get things done, and quickly. I don’t mess around when I have something I want to get done. And then, kids. And I haven’t been able to get anything done since. And I find it really incredibly irritating when I want to get something done, when I NEED to get something done, and she derails me. So I find ways around it, saving tasks up for certain times of day or days of the week when I am freer, but logistics aren’t the problem. My mindset when I am trying to get something done is the thing, because in this case we were only trying to get home, and we had plenty of time before dinner with no other obligations. I was just 5+ hours into a park day with no nap for the little one and I was ready to go. So, wandering off the path and encouraging her brother to do the same? Totally fun when we are on our way into the park. Totally irritating on the way out.

      And I didn’t shout, though I did get irritated. And this week, not shouting when I am irritated to a 2 button level is an achievement. I don’t know how many buttons there are but that sounds like a worthwhile counting exercise for my journal.

      1. Book Lover*

        It sounds like you did amazing. I think identifying buttons on both sides, figuring out why they are triggers, and hopefully defusing them is so important.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Thank you very much. I process externally so I don’t actually figure any of this stuff out until I am talking about it with someone. So all of these conversations on here today have been incredibly helpful! Now that’s a topic for another Saturday, “fun with external processing”. My husband had no idea until two months ago that someone can actually not know what they think about something until they are saying it out loud. He is a bit hard to surprise but this blew his mind. Suddenly people who like meetings actually made sense to him

      2. Observer*

        It might also help if you reframed you definition of “productivity”. In your head, productivity is essentially checking tasks of a check list, and those tasks are all concrete items that have a done / not done switch. If you can get to see more amorphous items – contented child, aha moments with said child, smiles etc. as equally “productive”, you will find yourself far less frustrated. And it will be easier mentally to make whatever changes you need, because you won’t be trading “productivity” for “good parenting” or “happy children”.

    15. Troutwaxer*

      Remember that it is OK to make a list of priorities for your child, and only work on one or two things at a time. You have at least 14 more years to raise her, and you can let some issues wait while you sort out important stuff like “Should not have temper tantrums.”

    16. Zen Cohen*

      No advice really but I also have a four year old and up until he turned four I thought I was an extremely competent parent who had it pretty well dialed in. Now after he goes to bed sometimes I just sit on the floor and cry because I feel so inadequate and completely out of my depth.

      I’m a perfectionist and I try so fucking hard—I analyze our interactions and how I could’ve handled things better, I read books and articles, I research child development, and every day I feel like drain my own emotional tank trying to be constantly empathetic and emotionally available to him while he’s making me feel so tense and irritated.

      No advice, but some recognition. Four has been the hardest age.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh I relate to this so much! Yeah I was an awesome parent to one child, but to two? Someone is always left crying, and sometimes it is me.

        You are a really good parent, even though it doesn’t feel that way sometimes. Perfectionism is insidious that way. You’re trying hard and as your kid gets older they’ll know that you’re trying. I try to be open about this with my kids and let them know that I don’t always get it right but I try. I want my kids to be ok with getting things wrong sometimes because I did not grow up that way. Hugs to you!

        1. Zen Cohen*

          I just had a second kid! And two of them—I had no idea it would be this hard. My four year old is starting to come around in terms of adjusting to being a sibling but I don’t think I’ve adjusted as well as I thought I would. I believed I could seamlessly translate my parenting practices from one to multiple kids but it turns out they do not scale up.

    17. Cristina in England*

      Watched Inside Out this morning for the first time. What a great movie! I love that one of the main messages is that if you always try to avoid feeling sadness, therein lies the path to ruin.

    18. Observer*

      You’ve gotten some excellent advice. I’d like to highlight a few things.

      1. Self care. It’s easy to say, but you have a specific issue here. You tend to get “Hangry” (being more on edge and impatient when you are hungry and tired.) It’s easy to say “well just keep those reactions in check”, and when you are up against it you need to do your best not to let being tired and hungry affect your kids. But, that’s just not all that realistic. Better to try to make sure that you get some rest and adequate food (even if it means nibbling .)

      2. Recognize that kids get hangry too. If it’s hard for adults to deal with it, it’s an order of magnitude harder for young children. So, try to avoid it when you can (again, rigid rules are not your friend here) and react accordingly when that’s what is going on.

      3. Build more time into your schedule. Again, that’s easier said than done. But that’s where your view of productivity could probably stand some adjustment. It’s ok for housekeeping standards to slip, fewer things to get done, your kids have fewer elaborate “experiences” etc.

      4. Figure out their triggers and the things that calm them down. With one of my kids, I’d send him out to run around the back yard when he started getting antsy and difficult. It wasn’t a punishment and he knew it. So much so that when he got a little older he would come to me and say “I’m going out to run” and I NEVER said no, no matter what the weather. (People thought I was nuts for letting him go out in a downpour, etc. but I knew he needed, and he was going to come in and get changed into dry clothes… Thank goodness for a washer and drying in the house!) If physical activity helps, and you don’t have a safe place for your daughter to run, then a totally second the idea of a trampoline. It’s HUGELY helpful.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        My brother did jumping jacks. Hundreds and hundreds of jumping jacks. Not a punishment, just getting the energy out. Four is probably too uncoordinated for that, but maybe there is something similar.

        Or maybe it would help you instead? Spend your frustration in exercise rather than anger? Dunno.

  6. nacho*

    Buying my first used car soon, probably from Craigslist. How much should I expect to spend on it? What’s a decent mileage/age to look for?

    1. JD*

      I think that questions is way too vague. You can spend 5 hundred -5 million on a used car. You need to have a budget in mind first and that dictates the rest. I guess the best I can say is that I wouldn’t drive anything used with over 40-50k miles on it. Average car should get 10k a year (we tend to do around 12k in So Cal).

    2. Thlayli*

      So much depends on where you live. Where I live we have a mild climate and mandatory car tests so you have s good chance of getting an 8,9 or 10 yo car that will still be pretty reliable. Generally anything over 10y will cost a lot in maintenance to keep it on the road and in reliable condition.
      For a decent small (1.0L) car 10years old in reasonable condition I would expect to pay about 1-1.5 thousand euro.
      Don’t forget to factor in car tax, insurance, cost of any mandatory testing and a budget for repairs/maintenance. If it’s your first car insurance could be extremely high.
      There are probably some calculators online to allow you to estimate maintenance costs but consider the source – some are aimed at selling new cars so they exaggerate maintenance costs of old cars. Insurance online calculators nowadays tend to want the car registration before they will give you a quote which is really annoying and makes it very difficult to budget. Maybe take note of reg number of cars in ads and try those reg numbers in insurance quote engines. Also set up s spam email address if u haven’t already got one coz insurance companies will send you oh so much spam.
      Finally google tips for buying used cars privately there’s lots of things you can do and look out for to make a better outcome. A big one is get someone who knows about cars to check it over for you.

    3. D.W.*

      I went through this a few years ago before I moved to a city where I didn’t need one. I bought a 1997 Toyota Camry. It had a little over 100k, but it was in great condition, and I bought it for $1,200. I gave it to my uncle (who also has 1993 Toyota Camry station wagon), and it’s in great running condition.

      The average mileage depends on how old of a car you’re planning on buying. If you’re buying a car that’s 20 years old, it will probably have more than 40k-50k miles on it. Same with price.

      What’s your budget? What kind of car are you looking to buy?

    4. Someone else*

      There are two ways you can approach this:
      What can you afford? -and then research models and years and mileage that fits that budget, and decide out of that pool of vehicles which would meet your needs most and seek out that vehicle.
      What do you need from the vehicle?-and then research models that have the features/reliability/gas mileage/age you want, and then figure out what those, on average are going for. Then that’s what you should expect to spend.
      There’s a series on jalopnik called “What car should I buy?” that might be helpful for you to read. A lot of the suggestions are done for comedy, and it’s a car enthusiast site so skewed a little, but reading a few of those and seeing what questions the writer asks people and how they answer might give you some good perspective on factors you should consider. It might clarify your search, even if none of the LW’s cases mirror yours.

    5. Clever Name*

      Yeah, pick an amount you can afford and then research what’s available in that price range. If at all possible, get a mechanic to look at it. I had a great experience with my used Camry I bought from a private party years and years ago.

    6. Mike C.*

      Consumer Reports has a special car only issue that can help you do research quickly, especially if you’re just looking for something that’s going to get you from point A to point B.

    7. ChemMoose*

      Check Kelly Blue Book on cars you are interested in – it should give you a good idea if the price is right or not.

    8. SusanIvanova*

      Have the car seen by a mechanic that you trust before you buy it. If they won’t let you do that, walk away. 100% of Judge Judy/People’s Court used car cases boil down to not having an inspection done and not realizing that used car sales are as-is.

    9. Perse's Mom*

      1. Know your budget before you even start looking. That could be a range, but you want a red line on your limit. Factor in car insurance costs!
      2. Be willing to walk away! If you go look at a car and the seller is really pushy or won’t let you look at it or test drive it or is otherwise putting up red flags, WALK AWAY.
      3. Know the laws in your area. I don’t know if lemon laws apply to private sellers and used vehicles where you are, but it’s better to know your rights if the transmission falls out of it a week after you buy it.
      4. Arrange with a local mechanic of YOUR choosing ahead of time to have it inspected. Not a mechanic the seller recommends! Nothing like dropping $2k on a car just to find out you need to spend another $1k replacing all the tires and the exhaust system or something.
      5. If you can, get the VIN and run a carfax or whatever on it – you want to know if a car’s previously had significant damage or repairs (if the owner doesn’t disclose this stuff, that’s also a red flag – they’re hiding it from you).

    10. Lindsay J*

      Really depends.

      I think you need to figure out your budget first, and then research what you can get that you like in your budget.

      I just brought a new (to me) used car on Friday after about 3 weeks of research.

      I got a 2010 Honda Fit Sport. We brought it from a dealership for $8000 out the door. It’s got a decent amount of miles on it – like 85000 – but Hondas seem to run forever. And after research, I decided I would rather have this particular car than my other options in the price range (like a newer SmartCar or Mitsubishi Mirage). Edmunds, Car and Driver, US News and World Report, and a bunch of other places have lots of info on used cars to research – reviews from when they were new, long term test drives, true cost to own, etc. A lot of them will also tell you what people are paying for cars like that in your area so you know if you’re getting a good deal or not.

      Always pull the CarFax report, just so you know what you’re getting into.

      I wouldn’t necessarily discount things like former rental and fleet cars. Yes they’ve probably been driven harder than if they were owned by someone and have higher mileage, but they also were generally kept pretty clean, got serviced on time all the time, are newer model years etc.

      If you can get a car just off-lease then it’s going to be even better in terms of condition, etc.

      For Craigslist, I would say my best tips would be to be able to get to the cars as soon as possible with cash in hand. Otherwise the good deals will be gone quickly. If you have a mechanic friend to take with you, all the better. If you don’t, I always bring someone anyway for safety, and also because it’s easier for someone not emotionally invested in getting the car to say, “Hey, this is a really bad deal,” and get you to leave.

      I also wouldn’t discount dealerships – a lot of the sites have dealership ratings, etc. I feel more comfortable with the used car selections of regular dealerships (my car came from a Subaru dealership’s used selection) than I do with the lots that sell only used cars (with the exception of a few big ones, I was looking at buying cars from Texas Direct, Carvana, Drivetime, and a few others).

  7. Cristina in England*

    Can we talk about planners, notebooks, pens, and general writing supplies?

    I’ll start. Ghosting/show-through is annoying to me, but I find a lot of planners use thin pages. Even the vaunted Tomoe River paper. I have a Hobobichi A6 planner and I was so disappointed it was practically like tracing paper. If only I could get a planner with the 90gsm Clairefontaine paper I would be delighted! I use my planner as a journal too, so sometimes the page is filled front and back.

    Also, I have just started using a fountain pen again. I got a $3 Platinum Preppy in blue black and I love it. It has such a nice thick line.

    I think I got both of the above from jetpens.com which is in the US, but since UK readers will be waking up I will also mention my love for the Atoma notebooks via cultpens.com (like Levenger Circa but Belgian and predates Levenger, it has removable pages). The paper is really fountain pen friendly and has no show through.

    1. Persephone*

      Yesss. One of my fave topics.

      I’ve noticed Kikki K has upped their paper game recently; I bought new inserts for my planner and my previously ghosting pen doesn’t ghost at all now!

      Also, any Aussies here have experience with Staples/Winc? I’m seriously coveting some paper from a studygram I follow but haven’t ordered through Staples before…

      1. Cristina in England*

        Ooh, I shall have to check that out, I don’t know that brand but I like the sound of no-ghosting!

    2. TL -*

      Oh, I have a planner from erin condren – they’re an online shop and they’ll ship internationally. They’re customizable to a really nice extent, the paper is super thick (I’ve used thin markers on it before without bleedthrough) and they’re super cute.
      Mine has a custom collage for a cover and I would’ve like the pictures to have printed at a touch higher quality (but I’m a photographer so super high standards) but honestly, it’s one of my favorite things, to look down and see pictures of my friends and family every day. :)

      1. Julianne*

        I really like Erin Condren’s stuff. It’s pricey, but IMO the quality and aesthetic appeal make it worthwhile.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’ve been using Erin Condren for two years now and love it. I started off with a vertical layout then went with horizontal for this year. I think I kind of miss the vertical layout now, but I can’t tell. I still have November and December left in my old vertical planner; I think I’ll switch back to it for a couple of months for comparison’s sake.

    3. Thirty*

      I’ve been a Moleskine devotee for a long time, and have never had issues with bleed through, but then again I don’t use fountain pens so I can’t say how they’d withstand that.

      A while back I considered switching to the Traveller’s Notebook (I loved the idea of having one cover and being able to basically customise your own interior), but then I realised the actually notebooks (the paper inserts) used staples instead of stitching, and I have this weird aversion to staples so that was disappointing.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I love Moleskine sizes and covers. I currently use a Moleskine planner (daily pocket size) and I love it but I have been using only pencil in it because I don’t like to see my writing through the other side of the page. I still can see my writing with the pencil but less so than my Uni Jetstream 1mm. If only the paper were a little less see-through I would never have thought to switch.

    4. mrath214*

      Check out the iPen store at iPen.com they have great notebooks with fantastic paper and great deals on pens. I got my wife the monthly subscription box for Christmas and she loves it.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Is it possible the web address is not that? When I typed that in there was nothing there.

    5. Allypopx*

      I use some bullet journal techniques in a standard hardcover moleskin but I don’t get too artsy with it, though I do fill it with lists and charts and calendars. I love my blue pilot g2 pens. Writing with them makes me so happy. I have them in a bunch of different colors but the blue are my favorite. *happy sigh*

      For work I use a moleskin professional notebook which is laid out a little differently but has the same dynamic.

      1. Clumsy Ninja*

        Pilot G2 are my faves! I get them in several different colors and buy the refills from Amazon. (Can’t always find the color/thickness I want locally.)

        And my standard planner is PlanAhead Home/Office 18 month planner – 5.875 x 8.125 inches. For some reason, this one just works really well for me.

      2. Red*

        I LOVE the Pilot G2 pens – they are so wonderful to write with, and much more reliable than anything I’ve found. You can actually write until the ink runs dry with no problems! I did spring for the G2 Limited, and I do think it’s worth it. I feel like I’m keeping so much stuff out of landfills now.

    6. Ellen Ripley*

      I have totally fallen in love with discbound notebooks in the last year or two. My current planner is a half-letter size, Frankensteined with bits from Staples, Office Depot, Levenger, and miscellaneous small businesses on the internet. I recently discovered the cottage industry that is planner stuff on Etsy – printed or printable PDF page layouts, stickers, custom-made covers, etc. I’ve been printing my printable inserts on 32 lb paper – a bit thicker and less show-through than average printer paper but not so thick it feels bulky.

      I am not a huge pen person – no fountain pens or anything – but I’ve really been enjoying the Pilot Frixion line of erasable options for my planner. It’s not the swankiest ink to use but being able to erase it cleanly makes life so much easier. I’ve got a multi-color one that lives with my planner so I can color-code that I got from JetPens. The Kuru Toga is the best mechanical pencil in the world, the end. :)

      1. Cristina in England*

        I wish I could give you my Kuru Togas! They’re too stabby for me, and I have had to switch to retractable mechanical pencils. Currently loving the Pentel energize .7 mm. Have you tried Pilot Eno mechanical coloured pencils? I love them for making annotations.

    7. Galinda*

      I have been a planner aficionado my entire life. In the last year I have fallen in love with the Ink & Volt Planner – just enough freedom, structure, and pretty good paper!

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh wow, I looked at their preview of the 2018 planner. It is like a planner and journal in one, if that isn’t stating the obvious? My best pal would love this, as she enjoys nothing more than making and then checking off lists of goals. Thanks for the excellent Christmas gift!

      2. Jillociraptor*

        I also have an Ink & Volt planner that I love. I use Staedtler ball point pens in mine, and haven’t had any issues with bleeding through the pages. The felt-tip pens they make did bleed through a bit, especially on the “journaling” pages where I paused for a second with the pen on the paper.

    8. Clever Name*

      I’ve been getting back into journaling lately. The journal I bought has absolutely terrible paper. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m struggling with my Midwestern and ancestral depression-era values regarding thrift and waste, so I feel terrible about abandoning it a quarter of the way through. :/

      1. King Friday XIII*

        Remember, if it doesn’t work for you, it has already abandoned you, you’re not abandoning it! Tell yourself you’re saving it for some other use if you have to, but if you’re not journaling in it, it’s not really a journal. It’s like if you accidentally bought a frying pan instead of a soup pot but you feel like you’ve got to keep soldiering on making flat soup and a mess on the stove.

      2. Cristina in England*

        Yep this is how I feel about my 2018 planner! I want to love it, I really do. I may be determined to make flat soup all year. (Thanks, @King Friday, for that line!)

    9. King Friday XIII*

      I’ve been doing something that’s a little like GTD and a little like bullet journalling since college. I used moleskines religiously for years but switched to Leuchtturm about six notebooks ago and I love the things. My current notebook though is actually one of the little Fantastic Beasts tie-in journals from Insight Editions.

      I find I don’t have to worry about ghosting too much because I obsessively use the finest point pens I can find. Fortunately there’s a Kinokuniya shop-in-shop in my area so I can buy Zebra Sarasa 0.30 pens in a dozen colors and I often find 0.25 pens there too.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh that must be part of my problem! I can’t stand to read what I have written in fine points. I love a 1mm pen, the thicker the better. Thanks for the insight. :-)

    10. KAG*

      Leuchtturm 1917 hardcover notebooks (I prefer the graph paper medium-sized). They’re really hard to find but: come with numbered pages, have a table of contents in the front for said pages, and archival stickers to put on the front and the spine. Best. Notebook. Ever.

      As far as pens go, I used to dig the Pilot Varsity (traditional fountain pens hurt my fingers, so I go disposable), but now I’m a fan of the Uniball Vision Elite – great ink flow that doesn’t stain your fingers or explode on airplanes.

      You didn’t ask about highlighters, but the Sharpie liquid highlighters (the ones you can see the ink level remaining in the barrel above the black section with the logo) are the smoothest I’ve ever used.

      (Finally someone I’m qualified to comment on!)

      1. Cristina in England*

        I have been wondering about the Leuchtturm paper. What do you think of it? Does pen show through? I would love to get one of their planners or notebooks in that lovely blue-green color.

      2. Ellen Ripley*

        That reminds me, the see-through-tip highlighters from Muji are awesome – you wouldn’t think it would make that much of a difference but it really does. Plus they have a regular felt-tip on the other end which is handy for circling things etc. I think an American brand has come out with something similar but I haven’t tried it.

    11. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I use the Ban.do planners in the smallest size. I like the nice thick pages, fun designs, and stickers! I also like they do not have spiral binding, which I hate because it ALWAYS gets dinged up. It’s also small enough to chuck in my bag and carry everywhere. They have a bunch of blank lined pages in the back, and a pocket to store things in.

      They are a bit silly and girly though, and if that’s not your thing then you probably will not be into them.

    12. Lurking Admin Who Loves Office Supplies*

      I want to third the Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks. I have been bulletjournaling for about a year and a half now and I love them. In fact, I have multiple bullet journals at any given time (current set: daily, work, weight loss, and blog-related topics). They are A5 (which I find to be great for half-size printables which I love to use) and fairly easy to carry around.

      For pens, I adore the Staedtler triplus fineliners (which are beautiful), but I also use the Staedtler markers, Tombow dual-sided brush markers, and just good old fashioned mechanical pencils. I have a variety of other pens, but these are the ones I keep returning to.

      My day-to-day supplies are washi tape, Tombow tape runners/refills, titanium scissors, and stickers. Basically, I spend too much money on Etsy and in Michaels on a weekly basis.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I also asked KAG above, but I would love to hear what you think of the Leuchtturm paper. They’re easy for me to get here and I love the color choices.

        1. JenC*

          I love my leuchtturm so much. I have the emerald green, with dot grid. At times there is some ghosting and I don’t write with fountain pens so I’m hesitant to absolutely recommend it to you but many of my pens don’t ghost. If you write both sides the effect is minimal, it’s not as though you can’t read what written after writing on the ghosted side. The paper has a really nice texture in my opinion and is super pleasing to write on. The other features mentioned before (numbered pages,colours, index) are great to have! If they are easy to find near you (and probably cheaper than for US and Canada as a result), why don’t you give it a whirl? If I hadn’t liked mine, I would have just given it to my older son, but as I said, I lurve it!

          1. JenC*

            PS what about Rhodia? They use Clairefontaine paper. I just heard about the Rhodia Goalbook – possibly a competitor to the LT?

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        What do you do with the tombow tape runner? I have a tape runner that I got for sticking down gift wrap on presents, but I haven’t found anything to use it for in my planner, and now I kind of want to. I use washi tape for color coding, marking special days and events, and general planner decorating such as putting a festive banner above the weekends. Now I’m dying to stick something in there with a tape runner, but I need some ideas.

    13. Mike C.*

      If you’re looking at more fountain pens in the inexpensive price range, the Pilot Metropolitan is an amazing value for around $15. The body is brass, comes in a ton of professional or fun colors and the medium nib is smooth as butter.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks, I will check that one out. I love a medium nib. I don’t like to read what I have written in fine nibs. The Platinum Preppy medium nib is thicker than I expected, which was a pleasant surprise.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        All the conversations on here about fountain pens have slowly but surely gotten to me, so now I’m in the market. I think I want to start with the Pilot Metropolitan. Should I get the converter and a refill pot of ink, or start out with cartridges? For cartridges, I like the blue black ink. For a bottle of ink, I saw one that was deep blue that looked pretty to me.

        1. Mike C.*

          So with a metro, you get both. I’m a huge fan of buying bottles of ink (really economical and so much more variety) but I can understand the desire to have them if you’re traveling or something.

          If you really want to splurge, Iroshiuki is AMAZING. But there are tons of great brands out there.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Thanks! Bookmarking for future splurging reference. :-)

            I’ve filled my Amazon wish list with pens, converters, cartridges, and beautiful colors of ink.

    14. Sylvan*

      I’ve looked at a lot of planners and I have used one of the ~trendy ones for the last year or so, but I’m having a little bit of an issue. I’m looking for a planner with weekly pages that have as much space for Saturday and Sunday as the other days of the week, or maybe larger spaces for them. I have work and other stuff to do on weekends, so the half-sized Saturday and Sunday aren’t working. Any tips?

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        Levenger has a Circa version that’s a weekend planner specifically, that you can use alone or interspersed with their regular planners.

    15. Red*

      Oh, pens… I could go on for hours. I have a fancy-looking metal Pilot G2 that I use all day every day with a black 0.38mm ballpoint and I love it. It’s the only pen I’ve found that’s fine enough for writing my calculus assignments without splitting up the fractions and integrals across multiple lines and/or turning it all into an unreadable blob because the ink lines are just too wide. (Though, if anyone has other suggestions for such a pen, I would love to hear about i!)

      I also just discovered the joy of Papermate Flair felt-tip pens. I honestly can’t stand highlighted writing, but I do understand its value in a textbook, so I used to just underline with a highlighter and it was the most awkward mess because highlighters come with a chisel tip, and that just isn’t what that’s for. Well, I started underlining with colorful felt tip pens, and it works so much better, and there are so many more colors!

      1. ChemMoose*

        I’m with you Red. I love all the pens. The finer the better. The G2s in the 0.38 mm is my favorite and I hoard them as much as possible.

      2. Sue No-Name*

        There are a lot of 0.38 and 0.28 pens on the site mentioned in the first-level comment on this thread (jetpens) from brands like Uniball and Pilot. The Pilot ones likely will fit into the fancy body you have for the G2, but come in many more colors!

    16. AdAgencyChick*

      Have any US AAM readers ordered from Nikki Strange on Etsy? The notebooks have beautiful covers and are well priced, but I can’t get a definite answer on how much customs tax I’d owe. I want to buy some for Christmas gifts and for myself, but not if the taxes would significantly increase the price.

    17. Shannon*

      I keep my planner simple. I use Glory Days Weekly Memo Mouse Desk Pad (from Amazon). The pages are blank so you can start any time. It’s enough space for me to meal plan, write appts/bill dates, and make any lists on the side (shopping, to do, etc). Keep it on the side of my desk. The pages are thick enough that there hasn’t been any bleed through.

      For pens it’s Pilot G2 or Acroball.

    18. Annie Mouse*

      My plan for today was to spend the morning and late afternoon revising…. I spent this morning looking for planner decoration supplies and a 2018 diary for my filofax, and this afternoon having a bash at decorating my current one with some paper tape I picked up from a local store and some little stamps. Oops!
      Think it will look better when I have my new insert as I’m getting 2 days to a page rather than week to view. I’ve been wanting to use my filofax more but need enough space to note down overtime details as well as everything else. The bigger spaces for the days should help with that. And the new one is plain so plenty of scope for colour!!
      I can see this being something I become mildly addicted to very quickly.

    19. Lindsay J*

      The thing that I’ve found that I’ve been surprised with is the Office Max Tul brand.

      I’ve been using a relatively bold fountain pen on it and the bleed-through is almost non-existent, it doesn’t feather, and it brings out the shading and sheen in my inks. I do a pseudo-bullet journal type thing and being able to switch paper-styles on a whim, etc, is really cool, too.

      My current fountain pen I’m using most of the time is the Bexley Gaston’s Bulls with an architect grind. And P.W. Akkerman ink in shocking blue, which is blue with a bit of red sheen. I switch it out with a Lamy Safari Petrol with blue-black ink when I need something a little less broad or that puts down less ink.

  8. MommaCat*

    I’m losing my voice due to a cold, and I have to herd a bunch of cats…er, students, both days this weekend. Anyone have any good tips to help me not completely lose my voice? Drinking hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon now.

    1. JD*

      Lozenges help a bit obviously but really just any candy like item to suck on to sort of keep the throat wet.

      1. Nic*

        Seconding this.

        My routine is to dissolve about two teaspoons in about 8oz of water, heat it as hot as I can stand, and gargle a few minutes about once an hour. The cup usually lasts me several treatments.

    2. Persephone*

      Don’t know if it’s available where you are, but Betadine does a sore throat gargle and I swear by it.

    3. Rookie Manager*

      Vocalzones – they don’t taste nice but they are magic for singers/teachers/public speakers.

    4. Ms. Annie*

      I do hot peppermint tea with a lot of honey in it. Lozenges help, but so do altoids mints. For me, the key is stopping the nasal drainage. For that, I use Afrin nasal spray, sudafed and claritin when I can’t get into my doc.

      When I can, she prescribed flonaise and 2 other nasal sprays. I only need the sudafed when the nasal sprays aren’t enough.

      Watch the Afrin, though. If you use it for more than 3 or 4 days, you get a rebound effect and the spray doesn’t work anymore. But, you should bre able to get through cat herding duties.

  9. Persephone*

    I am utterly terrified of needles. Brother and his wife are having a baby soon, and we live in an area where people are very anti-vax, so they requested we please get vaccinations. I’m not anti, I’m just “please can we have a different way of getting this into me? Any other way?” Apparently I had a bad reaction to needles as a kid, so the fear is there – so much so that even the diabetes prick test makes me pass out.

    Anyway, proud moment, I went to the doctor and got that jab, by myself, with only a small amount of panic and zero fainting. Probably a very silly thing to be proud of, but I did it!

    1. Thlayli*

      You can be proud of that! Well done!
      There’s currently an outbreak of measles where I live. A couple of my friends have babies too young for the mmr. Thankfully both mine are old enough and have had all theirs.

      1. Persephone*

        Ugh. That sucks – I hope your friends’ bubbas are okay.

        We usually get whooping cough around here; it’s so regular you can set your watch by it. The local news releases an impassioned plea for parents to pleeeeeeease vaccinate their kids, and the community reacts in outrage at the government/media sticking their noses into our business and don’t you know vaccines cause MANY HORRIBLE PROBLEMS that they don’t actually cause.

        1. JessMindy*

          I had whooping cough last year, and with my asthma it was very much no fun. Coughed for over a month, and it took almost two months before I really felt good. So you can be very sure I got a whooping cough vaccination this year.

      1. Persephone*

        Thank you! Was over and done with before I could shriek – I went home going “hang on, why was I so nervous?”

        I will 100% panic the next time, regardless.

      1. Persephone*

        Honestly, I don’t blame you! The doctor told me that while whooping cough lasts 10 years, you can get a booster at 5 years. I politely declined and told him I’d take my chances :P

        If you need a shot, know this random internet lady is cheering you on in spirit.

    2. A leaf*

      If it’s okay to ask (and of course don’t answer if it’s going to be upsetting), what is it about needles that make them a phobia for so many people? Is it the fear of pain, or blood, or that it’s associated with sinister implications?

      1. Persephone*

        Honestly, for me, I fully don’t know. I think part of it’s the pain (I’m a wimp!), and part of it’s the blood. But my mum reckons it’s because, as a kid, I got tested for diabetes and bled, and somehow my 3-year-old mind thought the nurse somehow lopped part of my finger off or shrunk it. She didn’t, of course; I don’t know how long I thought my finger was before that. I remember that moment vividly, how terrified I was. I was already in hospital for other reasons, and that seemed to push me over the edge.

        Whatever it is, I absolutely hate them. I was so behind on my vaccines because over here, they don’t force the high school ones on you. If you ask them not to, or cry too much, they’ll let you go – so I really only had HPV because my grandma put the fear of God in me about it.

      2. Caledonia*

        So for me, it was because of a condition I had as a teenager. I remember them taking vials of blood and then the nurse dropping them on the floor. I was 12. I then had bloods taken until I was 16, first on a monthly basis and then every 3 or 4 months.

      3. Temperance*

        I have small/weak veins. I’ve had a lot of blood draws in my life, and they have not all gone well.

        I donated blood at work, and the phlebotomist dug the needle around and kept commenting on how no blood was coming out, I was too slow, etc. It was both stressful and extremely painful.

        1. Cristina in England*

          That is terrible. I have had people draw my blood who missed on the first try and the absolute worst ones tried to make like it was my fault! The best ones realized that if my veins were shy the first time around, they should try the other arm or ask someone else because you bet my veins would be shy the second time!

          And the ones who “dig” for a vein with a needle should have their licenses revoked.

          1. the gold digger*

            I can’t even read this without getting queasy.

            They give us a discount on our health insurance premium at work if we have a physical that includes a blood draw. Every year, I debate whether having blood taken from my body and possibly passing out is worth $180. It is a very hard decision.

        2. tigerStripes*

          I have small veins too. I usually mention this upfront and mention that sometimes butterfly needles help, but some people are just better than others at dealing with it.

      4. Red Reader*

        I can deal with intramuscular injections like vaccinations usually are, especially if they’re in the backside so I don’t have to see them coming. (And I tell the person administering, don’t count me down or I’ll tense up, just stick me and go.)

        My personal bugaboo is blood draws. I have terrible veins, historically referenced as “tiny,” “deep,” “rolly,” and “Jesus Christ.” :-P and that’s AFTER drinking a gallon of water. It also doesn’t help that when I tell vampires that I have terrible veins, your best bet is to send in someone who can draw off kids and arm them with a pediatric butterfly needle, the response is invariably “oh yeah, we hear that all the time, we’ll be fine,” and then someone spends six attempts at gouging around my arms with a rusty grapefruit spoon before they go “huh, she wasn’t kidding,” and send in the pediatric vampire appropriately armed.

        1. Grad student*

          I love that you call phlebotomists vampires :) I’m sorry they don’t listen to you about your own veins though!

          1. Red Reader*

            To an extent, I don’t blame them — they really do hear from just about everyone, “Oh, I have terrible veins,” and usually they’re good enough that it’s nowhere near as bad as people make it out to be. I’m the rare exception who, no, really is just that bad :)

            The last time I went in for a blood draw, they listened to me, sent in the pediatric vamp first thing, and I was singing her praises for the next week. She got me on the first try, and I didn’t have bruises up and down my arms from where everyone else tried first and failed. (And yes, I submitted a comment card to officially sing her praises too :) )

            1. Julia*

              Why would people tell vampires they have terrible veins when they don’t? I hate blood draws (though I’m used to them now), but I always tell them that my veins are really good, because they are. I am as pale as a real vampire with thin skin, so I’ve never had to anyone stick me more than once, although once after I hadn’t drunk enough before, it took a while to start flowing.

              1. Perse's Mom*

                If you’ve had less skilled people doing the draw a few times in a row, you might either assume your veins (being the common denominator) are bad or the people holding the needle might imply it.

                Might also be a vague hope that if they say their veins are bad, an uncertain tech might go find someone who’s better at it.

        2. nonegiven*

          After the first try, “You get one more stick, then you go get someone who knows what they’re doing.”

        3. Cristina in England*

          Oh I so relate to this. I had weekly draws during my first pregnancy and I started asking for back of the hand draws with the butterfly needles. Some of the more arrogant doctors were the worst at drawing from there even though the veins were practically popping up and hitting them in the face!

        4. Paquita*

          Vein twins! I have those also. When I had major surgery last year I was terrified of getting an IV. No liquid after midnight either. The pre-op nurse was WONDERFUL! Wrapped my arm in a nice warm towel for twenty minutes, looked at all the veins very carefully, and used a butterfly. Got it first time no problem.

          1. nonegiven*

            At larger city outpatient center, they use a numbing spray and it only takes one stick to start the IV.

            At local hospital, before we lost it, there was three nurses trying and I ended up with multiple knots on both arms and had to go home with an IV in my right (dominant) hand, (3 days of IV antibiotics.) Another time I had a procedure, they started with the third nurse and I freaked out later when I found a puddle of blood next to the bed because the IV came loose or something.

      5. Oryx*

        For me, I think it’s the whole foreign object going into my body. But I’m also one of those weirdos who has tattoos so I have no idea.

        That said, I had a health issue last year that required constant blood draws over the period of a week so that helped me get over it and now it doesn’t bother me as much.

        1. Red Reader*

          Tattoos aren’t needles, they’re buzzy pens! (I have 23 and get eyerolly as heck when people are like “You have tattoos, how can you say you don’t like needles.” Usually these are people who don’t know what tattoo instruments actually look like :P )

      6. Grad student*

        I may not be your target demographic because I don’t have a fear of needles per se (I’m fine with upper arm vaccinations and tattoos), nor do I have issues with blood if I accidentally cut or scrape myself, but I do get anxious around the idea of a needle entering a vein in my arm that I can see. I think it’s something about veins being part of the cardiovascular system that keeps me alive and when something visibly enters that from the outside world it is Too Weird.

        That said, I’m luckily quite comfortable showing up for blood draws and will simply almost always look away so I never see the needle at all (I’m also afraid that if I watch, I’ll flinch and make it worse). For a while I was getting blood draws somewhat often and got comfortable enough that I actually watched the needle prick a couple times and I was so proud of myself! But now I’m back to not watching.

        1. Floundering Mander*

          I can never watch them stick the needle in but I’m weirdly fascinated by watching the vial fill up with blood. I’m know I’m a weirdo!

          1. nonegiven*

            I can’t see the blood going into the vial, I go toes up.

            When I was 5, I was standing in a line of kids getting vaccines before school started. A taller kid was right in front of me. I saw them stick a needle in his arm right at my eye level. The next thing I knew I was laying on the floor with about 6 adults standing around, looking down at me. I didn’t even remember feeling woozy first.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I don’t look because it seems to hurt more when I do, I guess because I’m seeing something poke me. If they’re good, I can barely feel it.

            That reminds me; I need to go give blood. I haven’t done it since last autumn because I always did at work and well, no job. I’m a universal donor so I try to keep doing it as much as possible.

      7. Dinosaur*

        I’m a full-blown needle-phobe. Like, 2 years of exposure therapy and I still need an Ativan before blood draws or shots level needle phobia. For me, it’s a control, bodily autonomy, and trust thing. I’m not okay with things entering/violating my body and that’s literally what a needle does. There’s a level of being out of control and it being done against my will (I don’t want to get my blood drawn or a shot but I “have to”) and a power imbalance between me and the doctor or nurse violating my body. I’ve had a needle phobia as long as I can remember, even at age 3, but my family reacted to it by having my parents and a nurse hold me down while another gave the shot. That probably made it a million times worse. But yeah, for me it’s a control and bodily autonomy thing.

        1. Clever Name*

          I wonder if you could get trained to do it yourself? I remember watching fascinated and somewhat horrified when a girl I babysat gave herself insulin injections.

          1. Dinosaur*

            I don’t think my doctor would let me give myself shots, unfortunately. I just avoid them as much as possible. I got a flu shot this year because I’m working with immunocompromised people but Jesus, it was awful. I almost threw up. It was my first shot in 10 years and I’m definitely not looking forward to the next one.

      8. Thlayli*

        I suspect it’s possibly because of the pain of vaccinations as a child. Vaccines hurt when you get them – all injections into muscles hurt even if you are just injecting a tiny amount of pure water.

      9. Sylvan*

        It’s creepiness, not a phobia for me. I feel like I don’t know how deep they will go. I imagine them hitting a bone or something. It’s silly.

      10. Julia*

        For me, it’s a bad experience combined with the weirdness of something breaking my skin and entering my body. I never got my ears pierced either.
        I don’t think it’s the pain, because sometimes plucking stray hairs round my face is much more painful than a little prick with a needle (although I have had one or two painful blood drawings where th nurse wasn’t very good), I really think it’s having someone use a needle on you.

    3. Keziah*

      Its not silly at all. Be proud. And as someone who can’t be vaccinated to many things due to reactions…thank you for facing down that fear.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That’s not silly at all! You should be proud of yourself for facing your fears and doing something positive for your family.

    5. Overeducated*

      Good for you! Not everyone would do something that scares them to help their family, and the goodwill that fosters will serve you well after the baby is born!

    6. MissDissplaced*

      I’m like that too, even the thought of a needle makes me cringe and get jumpy.
      It really helps to just not look at it. I always tell the medical person this and they situate me accordingly so I can put my arm out without having to “see” anything coming.

    7. Intel Analyst Shell*

      I’m 38 weeks pregnant and giving out the “go get the whooping cough vaccine or you won’t see the kid till she graduates” ultimatum and I can promise you that you going out and doing that means more to your brother and wife than you’ll ever know. It’s one more thing and you’re one more person they don’t have to worry about snuggling baby.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Congratulations on facing your fear and congrats to anyone who faced a fear this week.
      The odd thing about fear is that if we don’t face it then it only gets BIGGER. What’s up with that. We should be able to hide and the fear should go away. Nope that is not what happens.
      A friend had a bad wreck. She did not want to drive and did not drive for two weeks. She learned to drive later on in life, so she felt super challenged by this whole thing. Then one day, she went out, got in their new car and drove. She can go to work, pick up her kids, etc. Facing a fear has hidden rewards that we do not think about. Help your brain connect to the reward you will have because you got this shot. This is one way to make fears less big.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is true. In your head, fear can grow to massive proportions, but when you drag that sucker out into the light, it shrivels up like Dracula at the beach, LOL.

      2. Persephone*

        Yes! I honestly worked it up so much in my head that my doctor was concerned I was coming down with something. “Sorry. No. Just absolutely terrified.”

        Then, the needle came – as follows:
        Nurse: “so, who’s having the baby?”
        Me: “My brother and his wiIIIIIFE OW.”
        Nurse: “All done.”

        Over and done with. I’m not too stressed (right now) about the next one, but I’m over the arm ache and massive lump it’s given me.

    9. Clever Name*

      Go you! I’m similarly terrified of needles. Going through pregnancy and having various blood tests and then getting the flu vaccine alongside my kid has really helped me keep calm when getting shots.

    10. kittymommy*

      Good for you!! Fear isn’t a little thing and you should be very proud of yourself for overcoming it (at least once)! FWIW, I’m proud of you!

    11. Parenthetically*

      That is awesome, and as a mother of a new baby, thank you. Seriously.

      My husband’s old housemate is petrified of needles and did the same thing with a TDAP recently and I was so grateful.

    12. Observer*

      Thank you!

      It would be lovely if vaccinations could be done in a way other than needles. But till then, thank you for facing down the fear.

  10. Caledonia*

    Today is my graduation and I’m super nervous and excited! Eek, 7 years of study officially over.

    And then we eat possibly the best burgers in town.

    1. Persephone*

      WELL DONE! That’s awesome! (And I screamed that ‘well done’ in utter excitement because it is the best feeling ever.)

    2. NeverNicky*

      Congratulations – I still remember how proud I was at graduation after 6 years of study. I think a seventh would have broken me …

  11. Journal Site*

    I sometimes think that other people may find a site I’ve been using for several years now.

    It is called prosebox and is an online diary/journal site. You write entries, can read other people’s, leave comments. Strong UK/US/AUS communities as well as others.

    1. Elkay*

      I use Prosebox. I jumped there when Open Diary went down. I don’t post publicly though so can’t say much about the community but I like the site interface.

    2. Cristina in England*

      I was using a Tumblr for this sort of thing because I didn’t know stuff like prosebox existed. I like this better, thanks!

  12. AcademiaNut*

    It’s finally fall!

    It was over 30 C well into October, then it rained for a week non stop, and now it’s quite pleasantly in the low 20s.

    In honour of the weather, I’ve got some improvisational cooking that is smelling delicious. I’m trying a riff on classic Taiwanese meat sauce – ground pork sauteed with crispy fried onions, dried shitakes, dried apples (finely chopped), garlic, sage and thyme, then adding the mushroom soaking water, a bit of honey and cider vinegar, brandy, and some wochestershire sauce. Now it’s simmering for a few hours until the sauce reduces. I think I’ll serve it with mashed potatoes, orange and radish salad (with local oranges), and some sauteed leafy greens with garlic.

    (The Taiwanese version has the pork, onions and garlic, but with soy sauce, rice wine, black sugar and five spice powder for the sauce).

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      If you get this right and its amazing, can you post next week the recipe? Doesn’t have to be exact, just need a clue as to how much of what to use and time. It sounds INCREDIBLE. Also the orange and radish salad!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        It was pretty amazing!

        1 large onion, finely diced. Gently deep fry in a cup of neutral oil (not olive) until it starts to brown, remove and drain (you want it to take about 10-15 minutes, so that a lot of the moisture boils out. Alternately, 2/3 cup crispy fried shallots from a Chinese grocery.

        Sautee 600 grams (~1.5 pounds) ground pork and ~4 cloves diced garlic, until just cooked. The pork shouldn’t be lean.

        Rinse and then soak about 6-8 medium dried shitakes until soft. Squeeze out the water (save the soaking water), cut off the stems, and use scissors to cut into tiny pieces.

        Take about 1/2 cup dried apples, broken into small pieces (I used unsweetened baked apple chips from Costco.)

        Put all the above, plus 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 dried teaspoon sage, some ground black pepper, ~2 T honey, 1 T cider vinegar, 1 T worchestershire sauce, a pinch of salt, the mushroom soaking liquid, and about 1 cup water into a pot. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for about 3 hours, adding water if it gets dry. When done, the sauce should be mostly reduced and thickening a bit. I skimmed of about 1/3 cup rendered fat mid-way through.

        Seasoning amounts are approximate – I want by taste. You can adjust the honey/vinegar/salt to taste near the end, and add a bit more worchestershire sauce if you want.

        For the salad – thinly slice a peeled orange, some daikon (Chinese radish), and onion. Layer in a dish. Drizzle with olive oil, and top with fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt. I like to let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two for the flavours to blend.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          OMG – THANK YOU! I dont have quite all the ingredients, but I will save for next week I think. Excellent!

    2. Janelle*

      I am so jealous. If we have one more 100 degree day I may cry. It was 102 at the beach two days ago. I hate this weather. I cannot wait to move.

    3. Kristen*

      Yup, we’re nearly to winter here. We had our first snowfall yesterday. I think it will be in the 30s F all weekend. I’ve got plans to make my first batch of chili tomorrow. Yum!

  13. AnnaleighUK*

    It’s too cold today to be standing in a swimming onesie on the side of a lake waiting to jump into what is probably going to be Very Cold Water. Fiancé is currently wrapped in a warm jacket and blanket in the back of the car cuz he’s already done his session.

    Remind me why I enjoy triathlons again?

    1. Alice*

      I’m guessing it’s less for the enjoyment of the process itself and more for the feeling you get afterwards knowing what you’ve accomplished?

  14. Hannah*

    I’m trying to relearn my native language. It’s kind of astonishing how much of it I’ve let slip. I know that language is one of those things that if you don’t use it you lose it but… for some reason I never expected it to happen to my /first/ language – this is the one I learnt to speak in first! Somehow I just assumed this one would be ingrained permanently somehow.

    (Part of the reason it’s slipping is because I now live in an area that’s predominately English-speaking, whereas before there were a lot more people around who I could converse with in that native language.)

    1. nep*

      This is fascinating. I’ve wondered about whether this happens.
      I’m working on not losing a second language. It truly is use it or lose it. It’s sort of scary having to look for words when it was perfectly fluent before. I don’t have much occasion to speak it; sometimes I’ll ‘think out loud’ about plans or things I’ve got to do, using that second language.
      I’ve wondered whether that can happen with one’s mother tongue. Like you, I always thought one couldn’t ‘forget’ the native language.

      1. Persephone*

        My dad’s native language is Spanish, but he never speaks it unless he’s talking to his mum – he won’t even speak it to me when I’m asking to practice. Anyway, he’s forgotten the most random words. Strawberry, for one. He couldn’t remember how to say strawberry and it freaked him out.

        Me, meanwhile, I’ve forgotten all the French I once knew, and all my Spanish tenses. English lingers on.

        1. Kate*

          This comment makes me feel so much better!

          I had an Arabic test a few weeks back (my tried language) and while I could talk about NAFTA and Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, I forgot the word ‘happy’.

          1. fposte*

            This reminds me of a great throwaway line in 84, Charing Cross Road–Helene Hanff had a friend who was supposed to write her English thesis entirely in Anglo-Saxon, and she bitterly said that the only thing you could write a thesis in Anglo-Saxon on is “How to Slaughter 10,000 Men in a Mead Hall.”

            1. Grits McGee*

              I took Latin in middle and high school, and we’d always laugh about how the other kids were learning how directions and how to order food, while we were being tested on knowing how to say, “The virgin was devoured by the Minotaur.”

          2. Jillociraptor*

            I took a semester of Arabic in college and remember how to say exactly three things:

            “My name is Jill”
            “I don’t love the United Nations”

            I spent several minutes thinking about it and did eventually recall “hello” and “thank you,” but I don’t think I’d be able to pull those forward in the moment. Learning languages can be real weird!

            1. fposte*

              I took French for years and was quite good, and when I tried to remember the French for “umbrella” my first mental hit was “pamplemousse.” Which means “grapefruit.”

            2. Bryce*

              I picked up French all right in middle/high school, and 15 years of non-use later I still remember enough to apologize for how badly I speak it, but I tried to learn Hebrew all through my childhood in Sunday School and it never stuck. I can say “Shiri eats Danny’s kippah” (the books we learned from were Shiri the Llama) and I know an occasional random vocabulary word, but the rest is the Septaguint to me.

        2. nep*

          “I’ve forgotten all the French I once knew” — that frightens me. All this is a good reminder to continue seeking occasions to speak the foreign language.

          1. Anonymouse for this*

            I’m taking conversational arabic classes – and for some reason I find myself automatically translating phrases into my high school french and german rather than the arabic I’m trying to learn. It’s been decades since I last spoke french or german – amazing what the brain retains.

              1. Paquita*

                I did too. Took four years of French in high school. Took one semester of Spanish at cc 30 years later. Teacher had his doctorate in Romance languages. I answered a question in French by mistake one day in class. He switched to French and the rest of the class had that ‘deer in headlights’ look. It was so funny. Sometimes we would see each other around campus and have the strangest three language conversations! English French Spanish all jumbled together.

                1. nep*

                  That is funny. I can envision that happening.
                  I recall one of the moments that convinced me I wanted to learn foreign languages. At a job during grad school, I was at a meeting where the two women leading it were going in and out of French, Spanish, and Arabic without a hitch. It was lovely.

          2. Persephone*

            My Spanish teacher spoke French as her first language, so that made for fun times when I’d automatically switch to French. “Stop speaking French.” “I’m not.” “You are. You don’t know how to say any of this in Spanish.”

            I was pretty close to fluent in French (studied it for 4 years), and Spanish pushed it out. I speak Spanish pretty much daily, but not well, and I always thought I’d remember French if pushed. Had a woman come into work who only spoke French, I couldn’t understand a thing. Makes me sad. (Though I can read French fairly well! Just the speaking and listening eludes me.)

      2. Tris Prior*

        I took German in school, and my grandmother (who passed a long time ago) spoke some. I’ve forgotten most of it (funny how the dirty words stick around ;) ) but what’s weird is that some grammar and sentence structure clearly stuck in my head. I discovered this when I was trying to learn some basic French in prep for a trip to Paris and my brain persisted in wanting to put verbs at the end of the sentence like you do in German in certain instances. So strange.

        I recently ran across, and “liked,” a Facebook page that is pretty much all German memes, for language learners, and that is helping me remember some of my vocab, surprisingly enough. I wouldn’t say I can speak it with any level of competence, but I’ve started being able to sort of parse some sentences again in writing. Yay?

        1. Typhon Worker Bee*

          My family lived in Germany for a couple of years when I was a kid. I was only four when we went back to England, but I was apparently speaking German almost as well as native speakers of the same age. I quickly forgot almost all of the actual words, but when I started re-learning German in high school I had the same experience of the grammar and word order having stuck with me.

          The dative case can %$&# right off, though. No language needs eight different versions of its definite and indefinite articles.

    2. OperaArt*

      Are there any general interest podcasts or audiobooks you could listen to that just happen to be in this language? Novels, movie reviews, how to fix sink, whatever topic interests you…

      1. nep*

        It’s a good idea. Just to note, I regularly listen to French radio, but I’ve got to speak it also — If I were to listen only and not use it, I can see it easily slipping away.

        1. katamia*

          Yeah, this is my situation with my second (non-native speaker but started learning it relatively young). I can read, write, and listen in it pretty well, but my speaking is terrible because I have no one to talk to–I have to pause every few words to search for the next vocab word, and vocab words from my third language (which I have a lot more exposure to right now through movies, music, etc. than my second) try to sneak in constantly, which increases the pauses. I’m taking a class in my second language now and I think it’ll be helpful, but it’s still very frustrating to have my different skills be so out of whack.

      2. Typhon Worker Bee*

        I listen to the News in Slow French and News in Slow German podcasts – native speakers talking about current events but in relatively clear, simple, and slow(ish) language that’s designed for non-native speakers. The French one has a regular and an advanced version. I also use the Duolingo app and listen to the Coffee Break French/German podcasts, and I do feel like I’m making progress. Although when I arrived in Berlin for a conference a couple of weeks ago, I was so jet lagged that I promptly forgot every word of German I’d ever known! Luckily the hotel staff spoke English, and my German came back to me the next day!

        1. Natalie*

          Sweet, there is a News in Slow Spanish, too! I used Spanish on vacation this summer for the first time in almost 10 years and I’ve been really motivated to keep it up.

    3. Haru*

      When I go visit my parents and have to speak Mandarin every moment, by the end of the week, most of it comes back naturally. I think its more like its temporarily buried then entirely forgotten.

    4. Traveling Teacher*

      This may or may not be your case, Hannah, but I just thought I’d throw it out there in case it’s useful to anyone reading this thread:

      This is something I warned all of the parents about when I started teaching their children English (in these cases, usually their child spoke the family’s language, the country’s native language at school, then English from me and also school). For one, if you don’t learn and keep up with reading and writing in your native language, it is much, much harder to develop your own manner of speaking rather than imitating your parents’ or grandparents’ ways of speaking. Also, picture it like a chair. Speaking is one leg, but reading, writing, and listening are the other three legs. It’s vital that children practice all four and that we adults keep up with all of our languages in the same way! This is why so many second-gen kids can understand the family’s native language but cannot speak it, particularly if it’s only the grandparents who are keeping the native language alive… I have this situation in my own extended family, and it makes me so sad, especially as I warned them for years before they believed me, :(

    5. KK*

      You can most certainly forget your native language or lose it to some extent. For some reason, people think someone’s native language is this magic secret thing that will always be their strongest in any context, but that is not how language works at all. If you live and work in different languages all day every day for years, of course you are going to be more proficient in them in the contexts you use them the most. Also if your native language is X and you study a particular subject only in Y, good luck explaining to anyone in fluent X.

      I think we have this idea that you have one strongest language that you think and are more comfortable in because that is why monolingual people are used to and thus impose.

  15. Janelle*

    I hate my upstairs neighbors so much. I know they say that violence isn’t the answer, but surely once in a while it is. Every damn night stomping non stop until 2 or 3 am. It doesn’t even make sense. It’s like they are standing in one place stomping non stop for hours. I don’t think these people ever sit still. They have had two lease violations against them due to this.

    Tonight it is stomping (it is 2:30am here currently and they are still going strong) and screaming bloody murdwr and dragging furniture around.

    I pretty much never heard my prior neighbors in 3 years. After a long day I now have been woken up every time I have begun to fall asleep since 10pm.

    It is difficult to comprehend how people can be so rude.

    1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      What is it with people like that and furniture? Like, where are you going with that couch at 2 am? Again?

      We had a bunch of idiot early 20s dudes above us before and they were door slammers and going-up-the-stairs stompers. No screaming at least (unless a game was on) but a 4 am door slam when they came back from the club was a guarantee. Stuck it out for two years then moved.

      Now we HAD a relatively quiet place but the girls next door moved out and two dudes in their late 20s moved in. And someone mounted a tv on the party wall. At least its the dopey roommate who doesn’t have a gf and seems to go to bed at 11.30 every night, but COME ON – lets THINK about this at least. They are also a bit louder than the girls were, but they also seem to never be at home. I AM a little concerned that they were showing the place around to another set of potential roommates and were talking about stringing lights up in the garden, so if its every night talking in the backyard next summer, we are going to have a problem.

    2. nep*

      Noooooooooooo. You poor thing. This is way beyond rude. You absolutely should not have to put up with this. I can’t fathom why they are allowed to get away with it. How long have they lived above you, and has this been an issue the whole time? Wow — I hope you’ll find resolution soon. What is your recourse?

      1. Janelle*

        They have been here maybe three months and it has been an issue since day 1. They aren’t really getting away with it since management has hit them with 2 lease violations in 90 days. 3 and they are evicted. It’s funny to because if I walk down my hallways and someone has music blasting you can hear it but once in your apartment you cannot hear a peep. So that stands to reason that the walls here are surprisingly insulated for an apartment. My neighbors I share a wall with serious bump ramp music often and I have never once heard it other than if I was walking by and standing in front of their front door. So these people have special talents.

        I did have the neighbor under me complain about my noise once….because I was vacuuming….at 4pm…on a Saturday….the one bedroom in my whole place with carpet. She actually had management come “listen” to all the noise I make and management told me it was next to nothing, you could just hear a faint sound that there was a vacuum on. So if that is the case then the people above me are evil butt heads.

    3. D.W.*

      Not my upstairs neighbor, but my next door neighbor (2 bachelors). When I first moved in it was insane! And my first night in the apartment I knocked on their door and said, “hey, I just moved in and you’ve woken me up. Can you lower the noise?” They did, but it was a recurring problem for at least 8months. I cook a lot, so I began giving them some to foster good neighborly vibes, so when I asked them to cut it off, they would. *Note, I would bring food over when there *wasn’t a problem.

      It worked! They have helped me with a ton of projects around my apartment. Putting together my island, building a custom closet, drilling 500 wine corks, putting in my AC units. We get along great and now I have no issues with noise, and they are my official taste testers for all of my new recipes. It has worked out nicely.

      All this to say, come with food?

      1. Clever Name*

        This is amazing advice. It’s really a life lesson, I think. I was listening to a podcast where the people were talking about likability, and their guest had done a study where they found that the people who were more likable liked more people themselves. So, in other words, you showed your neighbors you liked them (by giving them food) and they liked you back.

      2. the gold digger*

        That works with rational people. :)

        In Primo’s apartment, the upstairs neighbors – who were two retired people – did laundry every single day at 7:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. We have no idea what they were washing. Primo complained about the 7 a.m. laundry noise – he worked from home and worked West Coast/Asia hours, so was up late and slept late. They would wait until 8 a.m. to do the morning laundry.

        We wanted them to wait past 8 on the weekends, so he went upstairs with a plate of freshly-baked cookies and asked if they would delay laundry. They took the cookies, said, “This is Wisconsin, not New York City! People here get up early!”, and slammed the door.

        And continued to do laundry at 8 .m. every single day.

        (No, we have never been able to understand why they think everyone in NYC sleeps late.)

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Yuck. It sounds dreadful. I hope they change their ways (after having a hell, fire, and damnation lecture from the landlord) or MOVE OUT.
      Does it give you even a tiny bit of comfort to look for the humor in this situation? It can’t be pleasant for your neighbors to spend every evening stomping, screaming, and schlepping the furniture instead of, say, watching television or reading a good book. Maybe they are under the spell of a fitness or religious fanatic, or perhaps their relationship is in the process of self-extinguishing…meaning that one or both of them will be moving OUT (and whomever stays behind will be quiet because their partner-in-conflict is no longer around).

      1. Janelle*

        The humor is lost around 3 a.m. frankly. Also, I am not 100% sure but I think it is just a small 30ish woman who lives there. How she can make that much noise baffles.

        1. nep*

          For me the humor would be lost first loud noise. Seriously that is outrageous. Hope you’ll have some relief soon.

        2. Erin*

          Maybe she exercises in the middle of the night? Moves furniture, stomps for 90 minutes, moves it back?

          Totally rude of course but could explain all the noise from a small single person.

    5. Lily Evans*

      You have my sympathy! I have the worst luck with upstairs neighbors. My last ones were two parents and two pre-teens who ran around/argued/played ball in the house well past midnight all summer. Then I moved to an apartment with supposedly quiet upstairs neighbors, but they also moved and were replaced by people who stomp around with shoes on/watch tv super loudly until 4 am sometimes. One of them also plays piano (badly), but only ever two songs: Stars from Les Mis and a Phantom of the Opera medley. Fortunately they’ve quieted down in the past month (knock on wood) but I keep earplugs in my bedside table now!

      At my last place there were also neighbors with super yappy dogs who would put them outside between 5-7 am and leave them for an hour just constantly barking (including on New Year’s Day, I was hungover and spitting mad when they started at 5:15). I actually called the police station several times, but nothing ever happened. I’m so glad I moved, even with Phantom guy upstairs now.

      1. RestlessRenegade*

        At least Phantom guy has good taste in music? :/
        Our neighbors in back have one small yippy dog and one large dog that doesn’t bark as much, but they are SO. ANNOYING. Especially since I feel bad for them, because they’re outside at least 12+ hours a day and bark at the slightest provocation. The little one likes to dig under the fence too.
        Our next door neighbors throw trash on our yard, block the mailbox and then lie about it, and also have a small yippy dog that barks at anything that moves and poops in our front yard.
        I love being in this house, but the neighbors are irritating.

          1. Julia*

            My bulding doesn’t allow animals and someone still keeps a dog. I am so glad I insisted on living on the top floor this time.

    6. Emmie*

      I relate completely to this. My current upstairs neighbor has a toddler running around pretty frequently. Plus, Simone has a yippy little dog that’s been barking non stop for at least 3 hours. (Whyyyyyy?). My former neighbors had two large Siberian huskies. They’d run around the apartment early morning, the afternoon, and between 7-11 pm. The owners let them out on their balcony every morning for an hour while they barked to be let in. I realized they were letting their dogs use the bathroom on their patio, which would deep downstairs onto my patio and furniture. I LOVE dogs. If they bark for hours on end, or you don’t want to walk them, don’t bring them to a condo complex or an apartment! I’m mighty grouchy about this. I’m sorry!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        They let their dogs pee on the patio??? That’s so gross, especially with seepage. There are pet relief stations you can buy, so it’s not necessary to get pee on the concrete.

        Poor pooches. We adopted our dog when we lived in an apartment, and several daily walks was part of the deal. Now we have a backyard, and the dog STILL gets walked.

        1. Emmie*

          Yes, they did… and other stuff too. I had a wonderful dog for many years. I cannot imagine doing what they did. You sound like an amazing dog parent!

    7. Jules the First*

      I had one set of upstairs neighbours where we used to joke that they were bowling every evening (turns out they had a rolling chair in the bedroom and, um, well….)

      I also once had to call the cops on a set of neighbours because it was too obvious that the noise was cop-worthy physical. That wasn’t much fun either.

    8. Nicole*

      Ugh, I don’t miss those days! When we were in an apartment we lived below a guy who seemingly paced back and forth for hours and it would start very early in the morning. I actually changed my work schedule since I was getting up earlier than I wanted to anyway.

      We are in a town home now so only have to deal with next door neighbors. We had some a few years ago who would turn up the bass on their entertainment system and our shared wall would be thumping. Needless to say I wasn’t sad to see them go. Now the couple next door have three kids (two toddlers and a young girl), a cat, and a dog and other than the dog getting a little barky once in awhile we never hear them. They are renting the place and another neighbor told me they are looking for a larger home and I’m sad because I worry their replacement won’t be as quiet. Once we buy a house I want to have a big property away from people and their rudeness.

      I hope your neighbors get evicted and replaced by quiet, considerate people!

    9. Taylor Swift*

      OMG can I commiserate. I think my upstairs neighbors recently got FitBits or something, because they are ALWAYS walking (stomping, really) around. Why don’t they ever sit down?!?!? Thankfully, they seem to go to bed pretty early.

    10. Stellaaaaa*

      I was in a similar situation a few years ago. There was a whole family living in the studio apartment above me, and they would get out the beds every night and then shove/slam/put them away very early in the morning. I think they were undocumented because they didn’t send the kids to school (despite being old enough) and rarely took them outdoors. They stayed inside literally all day moving around the pieces of furniture that could not be set in “permanent” places.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Report it. You have my sympathies. I once lived in a building with the thinnest ceilings I have ever experienced, and my upstairs neighbors made it worse by being ridiculously loud at all hours. Plus they had a cat who zoomied around the apartment. I heard every fight and every time they made up. They say that part of living in close quarters is dealing with noise, and I say yes, that’s true, but part of living in close quarters is being conscientious about the amount of noise you make.

    12. strange noises in the night*

      Ha! In the last few weeks I’ve been woken up by some neighbors having sex! No, it’s not the bed hitting my wall, it’s the noises; they seem to be a straight couple. The first time it was unseasonably warm so I just thought ok, they left the windows open and my windows were also open. But the other times, my windows were closed. It’s not my next door neighbors who area gay couple (and I’ve never heard them). It’s kind of funny and not funny at the same time.

      1. Janelle*

        Ha one time when the ex and I were in Hawaii the couple in the room next to us woke me up three times in one night with their loud sex. The hotel had those windows with slats that you can tilt. The third time I was so fed up and exhausted that I went to the window of their room and said “shut up, if she hasn’t come yet she’s never gonna!” Never heard them again. My ex was cracking up when I got back into our room.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’m not looking forward to this if I move and end up in apartments again. I sleep with a fan on, but it doesn’t drown out every single thing.

        When I was in college, I had a neighbor who snored like a chainsaw every night. Once I had a guy over, and the next day, he left a note on my door that asked me to OMG not make so much noise when I had a guest. I cheerfully wrote back, “Sorry, I’ll try to keep it down. In the meantime, why don’t you move your bed away from the wall? That’s what I did to get away from your snoring.” It got much quieter after that, and I did make an effort to suppress my enthusiasm, LOL.

        And another time in Santa Cruz, when I was living downtown, somebody in the building left their window open while having extremely loud funtimes. The whole street could hear it–I stuck my head out my window and saw all these people on the sidewalk just cracking up. I waved at them and pointed toward the offending window on the next floor, and they waved back and we all laughed like crazy. As soon as they were done, the window slammed shut. It was funny as hell.

  16. So very shallow*

    I realise this is extremely shallow, but do you ever feel a measure of disappointment when you watch a movie (or TV show etc.) from not /that/ long ago (say 10~20 years), find one of the actors really attractive, and then look them up to find they…are no longer so attractive?

    Ugh, even typing that out feels so frivolous, I don’t want to sound like one of those trashy gossip mags (or clickbait articles) screaming ‘you won’t BELIEVE what so-and-so looks like now!’ when reporting on actors from the 50s or something. Obviously people age and will look different, why would I expect otherwise?

    The actor I’m thinking of (who set off this line of thought) has actually aged quite well, it’s just that at 55 he doesn’t look the way he did at 35…in a perfectly normal, natural way. Maybe it’s partly due to being reminded of the reality ageing in general…

    1. Janelle*

      I like older men so it usually is the opposite for me. I saw a pic of the guy I’m dating pre gray hair and I was completely turned off.

        1. Janelle*

          Ha way back I dated a guy who was balding. Saw a pic of him with a full head of hair and thought the same thing, that he looked way better balding. Go figure. I tend to think men get (a lot of the time) better looking with age. Lucky bastards!

          1. nep*

            Agree. A lot of men look much better with age. I’ve got a crush on Larry David. I see photos of younger Larry David — I don’t think I’d have had a crush on him.

          2. the gold digger*

            Yep. I didn’t know Primo when we were in college (we met at our 20 year reunion), but he looks way better now than he did then!

            On the other hand, a guy I had a short thing with a few years before I met Primo (also from our school) looked really awful at our last reunion. Hahahahaha. That’s what you get for being a jerk to me!

      1. katamia*

        LOL, same for the most part.

        But there’s one actor who was so ridiculously attractive to me in his 20s (and is now in his 40s) that even though I know that, objectively, he’s not as attractive as he used to be, I still “see” him the way he was in his 20s when I see pictures of him or watch him in more recent movies.

          1. Thirty*

            Haha he’s the first one that came to mind for me too!
            Although TBH his looks changed drastically right after Titanic (his face changed shape completely) so I remember even in ’99 he didn’t look as pretty as he did in ’97.

            1. Brendioux*

              Haha I really wanted to know because it breaks my heart to hear people say that about Leo, I know his looks have changed but I still find him incredibly attractive. In his younger years he looked TOO young to me. In his early 20s he still looked 16 and it freaked me out.

    2. Persephone*

      Totally get it. Though, actually, some actors age so beautifully that they could reach Methuselah’s age and I’ll still be here fanning myself.

    3. Julianne*

      Oh yes. Actually, I feel like mine is way worse: I used to find Kal Penn quite attractive before he quit acting to go work for the Obama administration, and when he started getting back into TV after that I was like…yikes, that guy got doughy, no thanks. (Which is especially ridiculous coming from me, as I am hardly a shining example of fitness! Good job being a hypocrite, Julianne.)

      1. Janelle*

        Oh I think he is so cute but haven’t seen him lately. I am going to avoid seeing him to keep my fantasy alive.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      As someone who spends far too much money and time chasing around bands and encounter this a LOT – totally get it. And it does remind you of the passing of time and somehow that time mentality doesn’t apply to you too? If that makes any sense :)

      The flip is when you see a celebrity x number of years later and they look practically the same – THAT is a bit of a thrower. Good genes or healthy living or whatever, although there are still definitely signs of the passage of time to remind you that no, time has not stood still completely for this person either!

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I like to watch the aging process of actresses who are about the same age as me since I feel like it’s easier to see aging in other people than in yourself, so I use them as a kind of indicator of how old I must look (which is probably not accurate because they are probably spending huge amounts of money to look younger than a normal person of their age, but so be it). Winona Ryder is two years older than me and I was quite disturbed by how much older she appeared to have become in the first season of Stranger Things, but I watched three episodes of Season 2 last night and was pleased to see that’s no longer the case.

      I am obviously ridiculous. But now that it’s happening to me, I find aging so fascinating.

      1. Tomato Frog*

        When I see people my age, I don’t always feel like they’re wearing the age the same way that I am. But one time I saw Melissa Joan Hart in a made-for-TV movie, and I got this strong feeling that she looked the age I was. And then when I looked her up, she had been exactly my age when she made that movie. So now I figure (/hope) I age like Melissa Joan Hart.

      2. Janelle*

        Oh I love to do this. I see someone who I think is my age and look them up. Once in a while you realize they are your age but look way older and get that, heck ya I’m not doing so bad!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        One advantage, Alison, a lot of people are not good at guessing age. They are usually off by a lot. At 48, someone said they were certain I was 35.
        I bought their coffee for that one. Unfortunately, I would have pegged this person to be about 46. Nope. He was 38. Just can’t get it right…

        1. Janelle*

          This guy was hitting on me in a bar one time and however it came that he was guessing my age and said 40 when I was like 24. The bartender told him he was paying for my drinks from that point on due to how bad that was.

      4. Clever Name*

        I’m in my late 30s, and will be back in the dating market again, and I’m really struggling with how old people are based on their looks. I want to date someone within a reasonable span of my age, but Jesus, all the guys in there late 30s and early 40s look so goddamn old. Ergo, I must look old. I need a drink.

        1. Overeducated*

          Haha! I have the same weird sensation at playgrounds and day care when I realize I am “mom aged” and must therefore “look like a mom” and not the hot young thing I could pretend I still was otherwise. (Some of the other moms are younger than me and much prettier, of course, I guess I just haven’t shed my childhood and younger adult associations.)

    6. Gina Linetti*

      I saw Val Kilmer in The Snowman the other night, and barely recognized him. He looked like a Ken doll who’d been half-melted with a blow dryer.

      1. the gold digger*

        I saw Loverboy at the state fair a few years ago.

        Time had not not stopped for the lead singer, who squeezed himself into those red leather pants. Those pants do not look the same on a middle-aged man with a beer belly.

        1. AnonAndOn*

          I just looked him up. There are some people who adapt their style to the changing times, and others who desperately cling to their pasts.

    7. someone101*

      Completely get this! Currently organising an 80s themed surprise party for mums birthday so have been watching music videos on YouTube to get a playlist together; and seriously crushing on limahl from kajagoogoo (dont judge me!!!) But oh my goodness the man has not aged well at all!

    8. SophieChotek*

      Yes I totally get this. Either gender – I’m surprised when I look them up now and I am like “wow…they aged”…I guess you get so used to how they looked then – frozen in time and all that

    9. Elizabeth West*

      A little bit. But a lot of it comes from wishing they’d take care of themselves so they’ll be around a while, if I like them. As for crushes, I prefer younger.

    10. The IT Manager*

      I haven’t quite experienced that, but I am very disappointed that Colin Firth seems to have aged so suddenly. I’ve though he was attractive for like 20 years and suddenly he looks too old.

  17. Legalchef*

    Sleep training. It’s time. He’s going through a sleep regression and I can barely function at work. So – is it going to be as bad as I fear it will be?

    1. Dee-Nice*

      Depends on your kid and how old. Mine shocked me by crying pretty hard for over an hour the first night, then barely at all the second night, and just going straight down on the third. I also did check and console, not straight up extinction burst. But I also have to lightly re-train periodically. (1.5 years old.) It helped me to have something light and pleasant to binge watch on tv to sort-of distract myself. What’s your plan?

    2. Call me St. Vincent*

      How old? My two year old is having a lot of sleep regressions lately and I feel like it’s too late to do CIO at this point because she literally will wake up from nightmares etc. and I had them as a kid too so I feel like CIO would be cruel at this point. Maybe I’m overthinking? I am pregnant with #2 and am finding it impossible to get back to sleep when I wake up in the night and I’m going kind of crazy. I’m interested in the responses from others to your question!

    3. Legalchef*

      He’s 20 weeks. He had been sleeping reliably well, either through the night (albeit waking earlier than I’d like) or with one wake up, butnfor the past couple weeks he’s been waking up every few hours. We’ve tried to comfort him without picking him up but it no longer works. Our ped said we should put him in the crib, shut the door, and come back when we want him to be awake.

      1. Dee-Nice*

        I mean, that’ll definitely work and probably only in a few days, but you have to decide if you can do it. I’m lucky because my kid actually does like to sleep and gets really tired, so I have that on my side— I know eventually he’s gonna pass out. Don’t know if your kid is the same way. I might have been driven to do no-check CIO if he hadn’t been so responsive to other methods. Sleep loss is no joke. I thought I was losing my mind. Update us when you decide what to do? I’m pretty much obsessed with sleep training and hearing what works for other people. Good luck, and I hope you get some sleep!

        1. Legalchef*

          Well, he went through a phase where he’d scream when we put him to sleep, and eventually he’d fall asleep (anywhere from 3 min to 20 of screaming).

          I think our only option at this point is just to let him CIO. Soothing him wo picking him up worked for a few days and then stopped. Maybe we will try it tonight and see how it goes. Think good (quiet) thoughts for me…

      2. Ermintrude Mulholland*

        The other less brutal option is tojust cuddle the kid. He’s only tiny. If you want to do it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with cuddling your child, reassuring your child and having your child in bed next to you if you want. What your dr seems to be recommending is also referred to as extinction crying, and is essentially teaching your child that no one will come when he calls. It also leaves you in a position where if he vomits due to being so upset, you will not know.
        The age you’re talking about is a known sleep regression time and you can definitely get through it without abandoning your kid! Try reading the gentle sleep book, it has lots of lovely ideas (and they also have a fb page full of ideas too).

        1. Cor*

          No Cry Sleep Solution (by Elizabeth Pantley) also has gentler suggestions that might help. I can’t picture myself ever doing CIO (my baby is 10 months and we co-sleep because he won’t sleep alone; it works for us), so I like that there are alternatives being studied.

      3. Observer*

        Are you nursing? If so, have you changed anything in your diet? In any case, have you changed anything in his diet – started some solids, perhaps?

        If you have started solids, make sure you are feeding him in the morning.

        1. Legalchef*

          Mostly bottles of pumped milk these days. Nothing new in my diet. we are actually about to start solids, but havent yet.

          1. Observer*

            Wait with the solids till this calms down, and then make sure to feed him early in the day. The transition can sometimes mess with their stomachs just enough to make it hard to sleep.

      4. Yetanother Jennifer*

        I didn’t see his age when I first read this comment, and I know you’re asking for support, but I think he’s too young to sleep train. I seem to recall even Ferber recommended waiting until at least 6 months. Probably in part because most babies are eating solid foods at 6 months and they can go longer between meals. But also developmentally they’re not ready. It could end up like potty training a 1-year-old: you may get it done eventually but the journey won’t be pretty. I’d say feed him at that first wake-up no mater what the clock says (unless there’s a medical reason not to) and see if those subsequent wakings go away. Do whatever you can to make this period easier and get everyone the most sleep possible and see where you’re at in a few weeks. At that age, “sleeping through the night” is something like 5 hours straight but that doesn’t mean they won’t go back down after a little top-up.

        1. Legalchef*

          The problem is that he isn’t usually hungry at his first wake up. Just annoyed that he’s awake.

    4. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I found that putting words to my daughter’s crying helped my approach. I decided that if there was no other reason for the crying then she must be crying because she really wants to fall asleep or because she woke up. That put us on the same side and allowed me to be sympathetic instead of frustrated. I also felt it important to respond to her cries. Shutting the door until morning would not work for either of us so I would go in every few minutes and pat he back and speak soothing and encouraging words. It takes longer but it still works.

      I read something ages ago that really helps you determine if cio will work for you. Some kids release frustration and stres by crying. Those kids often respond to cio techniques. Some kids build stress and frustration with crying and those are the kids for whom this likely won’t work. Also if you’re going to do this, actually read the books by Ferber and Weisbluth. I’ve found that the books offer more details and support than the short version offered by doctors and people. I felt weisbluth’s methods weretoo harsh but he was the first to study sleep in infants and he has some interesting things to say.

      1. Janelle*

        Why I remember this, who knows, but my mother would just know I was over tired sometimes. She would basically acknowledge that I was so tired I was upset, rub my back and it seems like realizing that is why I was upset would calm me and make me want to fall asleep.

    5. Ann O.*

      IME, when CIO works, it works noticeably right away. It did work for my kid (although we did the check and console version, which you say isn’t working for yours) so it wasn’t that bad. We had to get through the first time, and then everything after that was easier because we understood what was going on. There was still crying, but it rarely lasted long and we understood the crying-as-frustration.

      So I think if you define your boundaries about how long you’re willing to try it, it doesn’t have to be that bad.

      We also put a camera in the room, so we could see the crib and that also helped a lot.

    6. Jules the First*

      Unfortunately the answer is “it depends”. My younger sister was impossible – it seemed like she could go without sleep for days. My first nanny gig, the twins were flawless – they went down on day one, cried for ten minutes on day two, and then never again. More common though seems to be good sleepers who go through periods where they won’t…which usually turns out to coincide with growth spurts.

      Is your little one having trouble getting to sleep, or trouble staying asleep? If the former, see if you can shift the afternoon nap a little earlier or keep him up a little later – he may not be tired yet (or, frustratingly, he might be overtired and need bedtime to happen earlier). If the latter, try moving his last feed of the evening later – he may be waking up hungry, especially if he’s growing.

      The other possibility is that he’s experiencing a little anxiety because you’re not around during the day (a lot is changing in his little life and quickly!), in which case you might find more success by simply hanging around while he wails, without engaging (so rather than soothing without picking him up, just be in the room with him); this way you are teaching him that you will always come when he asks you to (earplugs help!) and he will usually feel more chill about soothing himself. Other things you can try include familiar scents in the room, a soothing playlist or nature soundtrack that you play for him every night after you put him down, and a pre-bed ritual that helps him understand what’s happening next.

      1. Legalchef*

        THese days it’s usually trouble staying asleep. He might cry for a few mins when we first put him in but then falls aseep. But then wakes up a few hours later, and a few after that…

        Shifting his nap won’t work for the most part. He takes 2 great naps at day care, their second nap time is around 2:30-4:30. Sometimes he’ll take a short nap after I pick him up, too. Weekends he doesn’t really nap much, bc we have a hard time getting him to nap at home.

        He reliably gets sleepy and hungry between 8 and 8:30, and so we feed him and put him to bed after that.

        1. JessicaC*

          We’re actually paying a sleep consultant right now, so I’ll pass along her advice. More than how you respond to nighttime waking, look at your bedtime routine. You should be putting your baby in bed WIDE awake. Anything that he uses to fall asleep at bedtime should be available to him through the rest of the night, and anything you don’t want to be available to him throughout the night (e.g., you), shouldn’t be there as he’s falling asleep. If you change up your nighttime routine to make sure she’s going into bed awake, you might eliminate the nighttime waking at the same time. This should help with naps too…if he’s not napping well on weekends he’s probably overtired and he’s not going to be able to learn how to fall asleep on his own (just like how it’s hard for adults to fall asleep after doing nighttime driving where you are trying really hard to stay awake).
          And to be honest, if you are absolutely sure you’re putting him to sleep wide awake and that he knows how to fall back asleep on his own, and he’s still waking up in the middle of the night…he might just be hungry. Babies do go through growth spurts and need extra feedings.

        2. Call me St. Vincent*

          It’s probably time for one nap midday. The two naps might be contributing to the night wake up? We switched to one nap at a little over a year.

    7. waffles*

      it was bad, but worth it for us. it really helped us to have a supportive friend the first night. we took shifts sitting with him until he fell asleep. he definitely tests the limits frequently, so for his personality it is important to be very consistent. i think it helped us to know sleep is also good for him. even if his body is forcing him awake, he needs to sleep and it is good for him. we were are at the end of our ropes, so it also helped give us some fortitude. we however have never successfully nap trained.

    8. Half-Caf Latte*

      We did it, probably around that age, for the same reason. Going to bed was fine, staying asleep all night was not. I was getting no sleep, marathon nursing sessions that the babe would jolt awake from as soon as I attempted the crib transfer, and maybe got 2-3 2 hour stretches. I was at a point where I hadn’t had restorative sleep in so long that I felt like I was losing my mind.

      The 4 month sleep regression is real, and gnarly.

      We went with straight CIO, because check and console seemed like more torture for me. Put the babe to bed with a full belly and dry diaper, so you know those bases are well covered.

      In our case, babe was still sleeping in our room at that point, and we actually ended up on the couches for the first few nights while we got it to stick. It was too hard to be in the room with the crying for the middle of the night wake ups, and our presence made babe cry more insistently.

      Agree with the “light retraining” occasionally needed.

      Also, if you don’t already, super consistent bedtime routine, and feeding not the very last thing. Nailing a routine was easy for us, but changing the feeding up was not. Nursing to sleep is just so effective, so we used it heavily in the early days. Had to stop to get sleep training to work. Still nursed at bedtime, but made a point of stopping before babe was asleep and reading a book after.

    9. Legalchef*

      Whelp, we did it. He woke up at around 1:30 and cried on and off for nearly 2 hours and then again at 4:30 for a bit. But then settled down and slept until around 8:30 (probably because he was so tired from being up overnight).

      I turned the sound off on the video monitor and spent most of the night with a pillow over my ears. I gave him a huge snuggle and he already gave me a smile and is cooing at me so at least he isn’t too mad.

  18. Laika*

    I usually have a book on the go, but a few weeks ago I finished The Poisonwood Bible and it really affected me – I can’t get the characters out of my head! They just seemed so real. I haven’t started reading anything new; I think on some level I’m afraid nothing will be able to compare/ever be as good/stir up such a strong emotional reaction. Anyone else ever have this happen to them? (Alternatively: if I liked The Poisonwood Bible, what other books would you recommend?)

    1. Caledonia*

      Oh yes I have had this happen to me before. I remember reading The Bronze Horseman trilogy and just not being able to start another book.

      I have read the Poisonwood Bible but it was a long time ago now.

    2. Knapplepi*

      The last time I had that experience was when I finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It is so lovely to have spent time with such incredibly crafted characters that it is wdifficult to leave them and their world!

    3. Julianne*

      I loved that book. I haven’t read much by Barbara Kingsolver, but The Lacuna was very good and might scratch a historical fiction itch, if that’s what you have. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is also historical fiction about a group of sisters. For more on the Congo, I recommend King Leopold’s Ghost, which for me then led to Mario Vargas Llosa’s The Dream of the Celt (+ Stuff You Missed in History’s episodes on Roger Casement and the 1916 Easter Rising). If you’d like fiction about Africa/Africans by African authors, I recommend anything by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Nadine Gordimer, Tayie Selasi, and Aminatta Forna come up on a lot of must-read lists as well, but I haven’t read any of their work yet myself.

    4. Overeducated*

      I was not expecting that book to hit me as hard as it did either.

      A book that strikes some similar notes (colonialism, loss, epic narrative) is State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Other books that sat with me recently, set in different times and places, were The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

      1. Dee-Nice*

        I read Laika’s post and IMMEDIATELY thought of Anne Patchett, and I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one. State of Wonder is my favorite of hers, but I also love Bel Canto. Poisonwood Bible is such a great book. Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior is not quite as transporting but also excellent.

        Totally different setting, subject, and characters, but another book that gave me that OMG-This-is-The-Last-Amazing-Book-Left-On-Earth feeling was Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters. It’s set in Victorian England and Waters MASTERS the voice. If you like anything 19th Century-ish you’ll love it.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m reading State of Wonder right now. I’ve been going through all of Ann Patchett, but not in any particular order. I’ve tried to go in order of publication date, but I’m borrowing from the library, so I just take what’s available.

        Also, reading Ann Patchett’s essays has led me to add Eudora Welty, and other authors and books that influenced her, to my reading list.

    5. Clare*

      That’s my favorite ever book! I first read it years ago, and every once in a while need to go back and reread it. There are other good books I’ve read since then of course, but none that really compares.

    6. Uncivil Engineer*

      The first time I read The Poisonwood Bible, I had a hard time getting through it. I would have to put it down every once in a while and take a break because I was just so angry that I wanted to throw the book across the room.

    7. Kj*

      God, I love Kingsolver. I read The Poisonwood Bible at least 3 times as a teen. Ursula Le Guin has some great and haunting stories- her collection of short stories and novellas is excellent, title is “The Lost and the Found.” I like Nail Gaimen’s short stories, although not his novels. The Problem of Susan is my favorite Gaimen short story. A Handmaid’s Tale always gets to me to0- it is really traumatic and awful, but at the same time very beautiful and human and ‘true’ in an emotional sense. I love it so and re-read it yearly.

      Some books aren’t enough to read once. I re-read books often because I want to absorb the story again. I also listen to the audiobooks again and again sometimes, because I love the language and rhythm of the words.

      1. Laura*

        In State of Wonder she gives the kid back to the cannibals so she can have a baby of her own, as I remember. But it’s not a white kid, so…

    8. the gold digger*

      Read “King Leopold’s Ghost.” It is a nonfiction account of the colonization of the Congo, which, I think is where “The Poisonwood Bible” takes place. It’s a really interesting companion piece.

      Also an excellent book about Africa – “Cutting for Stone,” by Abraham Verghese.

    9. Julia*

      This is one of the reasons why I re-read a lot of favorites, or stick to the same authors. I’m afraid I’m depriving myself of new favorites, but it’s just so comforting to go back to Hogwarts/Tortall (Keladry of Mindelan, are you around somewhere?)/etc.

  19. nep*

    Is my phone dead?
    Battery is dead and when I plug it in to charge (either wall socket or computer), it comes on but then goes off. It keeps turning on and off. Is it never going to charge properly again?
    It was fine up until yesterday.

    1. nep*

      (And ugh that sound of this Motorola Droid powering on — maddening. Who thought that awful sound was a good idea?. I’ve got to put it in the farthest place in the house so as not to hear it.)

    2. Lauren R*

      Try removing the battery completely for a minute and see if that helps. You should also try a different charging cable (assuming you used the same one in the wall and computer) and to confirm it’s not an issue with the cord. If it still doesn’t work, you may want to visit a forum for Android/Motorola users to see if someone there can give you advice. You could also look into doing a factory reset as a last resort. Good luck!

      1. nep*

        Thanks. Yes — one other time I could tell there was an issue with the cord and trying another one helped. Going to remove the battery and see. Appreciate the tips.

    3. nep*

      A while ago I changed out the wall adapter, and the phone seems to be charging now. Fingers crossed.

      1. Allypopx*

        If you have more issues leave it off and let it charge overnight. Sometimes if the battery dies it just needs a long rest.

      2. Girasol*

        Same here with Motorola about 3 years old: it was the cable or the wall adapter (mine were molded into one) not the phone. If you don’t know your problem, that’s at least a cheap thing to try.

    4. Nicole*

      How old is your phone? My three year old iPhone was having battery issues (draining really quickly and unpredictably) and I went to Batteries Plus to have them replace it with a new battery. I scheduled the replacement online to get a $10 discount and they did it in-store in 10 minutes. It’s like having a new phone!

  20. NYC Marathon Advice*

    Is anyone here running the NYC Marathon this time? Any tips or advice for out-of-towners or first timers?
    How cold is it? What should I wear to the start corrals?
    Thank you in advance for any and all info.

    1. Anon to me*

      I am! But I’m also from out of town. Did you check your registration? As it tells you when your start time is and which corral you have to be in.

      I bought a $6 sweatshirt from Walmart for the start line. So I can dump it early on. Right now it’s suppose to be in the 60s. We will see.

    2. Runner*

      I ran it a few years ago, from NYC. Make sure you have something warm to wear that you can discard because it is many hours before you start running. It’s a great race, there is a crowd almost everywhere along the route – I don’t think you will ever run a race that has so many spectators – and there is great support in terms of water and Gatorade. If someone is coming along to cheer you, pick exactly what corner/side of the street they will be at because it’s so crowded, you will miss each other otherwise. There is an app so they can track you, but have estimated times. If you’re meeting someone after it’s over, also pick a specific place to meet a bit away from Central Park West. It will take you a while to get out of the park after you are done, like at least 30 min, probably longer. Pace yourself once you start: there is the excitement and running on the Verrazano Bridge is fantastic but that is only mile 1. Oh don’t walk too much on Fri/Sat it’s easy to walk a lot in NYC, but save your legs! Trust your training! Good luck!

    3. 5 Time Marathoner*

      Good luck! I was lucky enough to run the NYC Marathon three times, most recently in 2010. It’s an amazing race.

      My thoughts:
      –Bring a ratty old sweatshirt to the start line, as well as an old hat and gloves. As other commenters have said, even if race morning is not freezing cold (the way the weather is going in NYC this fall, you’ll be more likely to get 60s than the low 40s I ran in three times), you’ll be standing at Fort Wadsworth awhile before the race starts and it’s right off the water. Be careful when the race starts for other people discarding their clothing. My first year, I tripped over someone’s discarded jacket and crossed the start line by taking a nasty spill.
      –Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn is long and flat and you’ll be really pumped after crossing the Verrazano Bridge. Watch your pace. Make sure you don’t overspeed, as you’ll need every ounce of energy to make it through the Bronx and Central Park in the last six miles of the race. Stick to your game plan. Then again, there are now 50,000+ runners in the marathon vs. 35,000 the first year I did it, so it may be too crowded to run fast anyway.
      –Be prepared for the Queensboro Bridge. It’s an absolute beast and it’s at mile 15, when your energy level will likely just be starting to flag. Resist the urge to go too fast on the way down the bridge– a mistake I made all three times I ran the race. It will come back to haunt you almost immediately on the hard surface and slight incline of First Avenue if you do.
      –If at all possible, don’t pack any baggage and have someone meet you at the end of the race with your change of clothes, etc. This way you could possibly sneak out of Central Park after the finish and before having to deal with the crush load that is baggage pickup. (Note: Due to heightened security and the increasingly strict nature of the New York Road Runners, this may not be possible.) The almost indescribably bad choke point after the finish was hands down the worst part of the race. Otherwise NYC is an absolutely amazing marathon — enjoy every minute and again, good luck!

    4. CheeryO*

      I ran it last year! I’m jealous that you get to experience it for the first time! :) I assume you have your transportation to the start and baggage vs. poncho all figured out already? Those are the biggest logistical things, imo. Otherwise, you kind of just show up and go with the flow. It’s a lot of people, but everything is pretty well-organized and easy to navigate.

      Wear way more clothing to the start than you think you need. Granted it was colder last year than it’s forecasted to be this year, but I had throwaway sweatpants, a sweatshirt, a parka, and gloves, and I was still a bit chilly sitting around on the grass for hours. (Definitely bring an old towel or mylar blanket or something to sit on, too.) They have all kinds of food and Gatorade products in the Village – don’t eat anything your stomach isn’t used to, and don’t eat more than you’re used to either. It’s hard to resist when you’re just sitting around! Port-o-potty lines are long, so get in line early and often up until your start.

      As for the actual race, I will echo the advice to be smart with your pace through the first half. There was a lot of carnage on the Queensboro Bridge when I ran. I actually found the last 10 miles pretty do-able compared to other races, since you get such a huge boost going through Manhattan and Central Park. The section in the Bronx is a little tough because there’s less support, and it doesn’t feel good to be going away from the finish line so late in the race, but it’s pretty short, so just muscle through it. Same goes for the hills in Central Park – they’re not bad, but they’ll feel bigger than they are. Just keep soaking up the crowd support and moving toward the finish.

      Definitely have a very specific game plan if you’re trying to meet up with people after the race. Consider taking your phone in an armband or belt, even if you normally don’t. I did last year and was glad to have it since I was disoriented after the race and couldn’t figure out how to get to the right intersection, even though it was only a couple blocks from the poncho pickup. I also used it to take a few pictures during the race, which I don’t normally do.

      Please enjoy the hell out of it! It was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. Think about wearing something fun, or putting your name on your shirt for personalized cheers, again, even if it’s something you don’t normally do. I wore a Lisa Frank shirt last year, and it was so fun having tons of people cheer for “Lisa Frank girl”!

  21. Elkay*

    I know this is a complaint as old as time but I encountered this twice this week from different people. Me saying something I enjoy doing that could be viewed as indulgent e.g. binge watching a show and hearing “Oh you can’t do that if you have kids”. I know. That’s part of the reason I don’t have them. It’s not even like they’re criticising me but it rankles with me.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Step aside, Netflix and chill, here comes Nextflix and Breastfeed. Watched the entire NCIS series, among others, during the early months.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I know what you mean. If you’re childless by choice it feels like a criticism. If it’s not by choice it’s just a slap in the face.

      1. Fiennes*

        I told relatively few friends about my unsuccessful fertility battle. But the ones who know aren’t tons more sensitive than the others about saying things like this. I’d rather have kids, but since I can’t, could people just allow me to take a trip/read long books/marathon shows in peace?

        1. Julia*

          What is up with people who KNOW you have fertility issues and still make those comments? My sister-in-law knows I have endometriosis (“It can’t be god for you to take those pills forever!” -.-), and still she makes comments like “enjoy your life before you have kids”, “you don’t know how easy you have it” etc. all the time. I want to shoot back “don’t have kids if you hate it so much”, but I’d just be accused of destroying the family peace again.
          My friend knows I have endometriosis and am on medication, and yet when I saw I can’t have alcohol, her first question is “are you pregnant???”

          And my other doesn’t want me to adopt, because “it’s different when you give birth to them.” So my father doesn’t love me bas much??

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Not sure if you’ll see this but the only answer I’ve got is that people can be really stunningly self-involved. Which is so hurtful.

    2. fposte*

      That’s just such a weird and unpleasant thing to say. It’s really “I feel like I can’t do stuff like that right now” turned into an outward lecture. I mean, we’ve all been in places where for time or monetary reasons we’re not doing something somebody else is doing–it’s not a statement about a group of people.

      1. neverjaun*

        The only time I can see that comment being reasonable is a friend or relative who Does Not Get It and is pushing to do something you’ve gently explained you can’t do now. (Seriously, I once had a friend whine at me about how come I couldn’t just leave the newborn with a sitter and go clubbing till 3 am.)

        But outside of that? Wow, somebody needs to unpack their resentment somewhere else.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Agreed. These are folks who just can’t fathom that I’m not having free time (or whatever) AT them.

    3. Oryx*

      I had a conversation with a friend (who has four kids) along these lines. How when someone who is childfree by choice will comment about how not having kids means I can travel or binge watch or whatever, she gets a little defensive and says “I have kids and I still do all of those things!” She had to kind of take a step back and remember that it’s not really about whether we are able to do X or Y, it’s about wanting and not wanting children and both of those choices are 100% okay and don’t need justification.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Talking about choice–I was with some friends at lunch and there was this super adorable baby girl behind one of them. We all squee’d over the baby and then I said “My turn, sigh.” One friend said, “You could adopt.” I told her well, I don’t really want to do it by myself, and then added “And that’s a valid choice.” She agreed. I don’t know what I would have said if she hadn’t agreed!

      1. Allypopx*

        I have so many catty comebacks. “Add that to the pro spinster column” while taking a big chug of wine is a personal favorite.

    4. Janelle*

      This bugs me so much. No I couldn’t do that if I had kids but I don’t. It, to me, goes to that, “oh mom life is so hard” concept. I don’t deny parenting being difficult but that doesn’t mean people who don’t have kids don’t have their own stuff. Know what is hard, knowing I will never have those babies you have lady! I’d trade a spa day or Netflix binge any day.

    5. Clever Name*

      I binge watched How It’s Made when my son was an infant. He nursed round the clock, so I basically sat on the couch and watched tv for 3 months. Now I binge watch the great British baking show with my 10 year old.

    6. Mrs. Fenris*

      I spent way too many years in a very fundamentalist Christian church. Most of the women there had several kids and were SAHMs. I was helping serve a meal once and had opened a large bag of shredded cheese into a bowl, and one of the ladies saw the bowl and said in this mocking tone, “Oh wow, how did you have time to shred all that cheese? Oh, that’s right, you don’t have kids!” OK, really, in the first place if you looked you would be able to tell that it was storebought shredded cheese-and also, I’m pretty busy with this little thing I call a 50-hour-a-week job.

      1. Floundering Mander*

        I would have had to try so hard not to throw that bowl of cheese right in her face. What a nasty comment!

      2. paul*

        and you can shred a metric ton of cheese really quick if you have a decent grater too…that one makes no *sense* in addition to being rude. Weird.

        1. Kewlmom*

          Lol at this! My youngest son was the best cheese grater ever, from a young age! So I managed to have kids and grated cheese, simultaneously, FTW!

    7. Lily Evans*

      I always find it ironic how the venn diagram of people who say these things and the people who tout child-rearing as the most magical and important thing in the world is basically a circle.

      1. Natalie*

        In my experience it also encompasses a third circle – people who center their entire lives around their child-rearing. It’s actually totally possible to have kids and still have other hobbies and interests! But frequently these kinds of people were boring before they had kids and are boring and judgmental after after.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      Say, “Okay, would you like to hang out this weekend? Next?” When they say they have to be with their kids, say, “See, I attempt to watch less tv, but you’re the one who won’t socialize with ME.”

      Turn it back around on them. When people judge me that way, I get a bit bitter that my social life seems to revolve around the fact that other people got married and had kids.

    9. Maya Elena*

      Sounds like they’re just sharing their experience, as you were. For all you know, every time you share an indulgent activity you do, they think you are rubbing your childlessness in their faces.
      Easier all around to treat it like normal conversation.

      1. Natalie*

        Except they’re not sharing their experience, they’re universalizing to comment (incorrectly) on the experience of all parents.

    10. oranges & lemons*

      Once, when I was reading a book during a break in choir, one of the women there told me that I wouldn’t be able to read any more once I was married. So many questions. (For the record, I did not have any plans to get married at that time.)

  22. Your Weird Uncle*

    Husband and I leave on our honeymoon on Monday! We both killed ourselves at work getting everything done on time (and I think he’s still finishing things up at home) and we’ve got the stepkids this weekend, so we’re feeling very completely not prepared. But I’m so very looking forward to not having to think for the next two weeks: once we get there (we’re taking a river cruise) I’m going to shut my brain and just enjoy seeing new countries and having new experiences. Yay!

    1. bluesboy*

      Congratulations, and have a great time! I also got married this year and did a cruise honeymoon…let me recommend watching the sun set over the water with a glass of something bubbly I’m your hand.

      Pleased for you guys!

    2. Parenthetically*

      River cruise!! Oh man. I am so not one for those giant Caribbean cruises but shoot, I would LOVE to do a cruise down the Danube or whatever. Mmmm-mm!

  23. PS*

    I am shit scared that my soon to be estranged husband is going to kill our child after I leave.

    There’s nothing anyone can say to make this better. I’m doing all I can to protect us both but I can’t deny him access without increasing the risk that he’ll feel he has nothing to lose and therefore increasing the risk to us both (and I have no grounds anyway).

    So. I’m still leaving this week, but fuck, I’m scared.

    1. Christy*

      If you haven’t already, please call (1-800-799-7233) or online chat with The Hotline (link in my username). It’s the national domestic violence hotline (in the US) and I am sure they have advice or reassurance for your situation.

      I’m afraid it’s hard for me to see how leaving your son with your STBX is a safer choice than taking your son with you. But I’m not in your situation, so I very clearly don’t have all the information.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        I’m taking my son. But I can’t deny his father access to him. Doesn’t help that you made that assumption. I am so fucking scared.

        1. Ann O.*

          *Internet hugs* I am so sorry that you are in this position. I hate that our current laws put families at risk this way.

        2. Call me St. Vincent*

          You should consult a family lawyer ASAP if you haven’t already. I don’t know the laws in your specific state, but I used to work in this area in NY And in NY, You can immediately file for custody and contest visitation and make the case for supervised visitation at the very least in these situations. You can also try to get an attorney for the child appointed and/or a guardian ad litem to protect your child’s safety.

        3. PS*

          I have spoken to many Officials Who Know and I have absolutely no legal grounds for any of this. It’s my own instinct and knowledge of who he is, which legally counts for FA. And if I did this it would increase the risk to us both. If he feels like I’m taking away the only thing he has left what reason does he have not to kill him, or me, or both of us?

        4. Observer*

          If this not just un-managed anxiety talking, then you most definitely can do something. But you need to talk to your lawyer this minute, more or less. You may actually be able to deny him visitation – but even if not, there is a good chance that you can arrange for supervised visitation, which should keep the kiddo safe.

          What will make a huge difference here is to document everything, even “small” things that make you believe in your stbx’s capacity for violence against the child. The small things are important here, because they help build the pattern.

      2. Purple snowdrop*

        I’m getting amazing support from my local people who deal with this every day and they have been very clear that in my current situation I can’t deny him access to my son. Believe me if I could I would.

        1. Christy*

          I’m so happy you’re getting local support. (Sorry, hadn’t realized it was you—didn’t put the initials together.)

        2. Kj*

          Can you get your child a phone and enable tracking on it? Other families in DV situations have been able to better monitor the situation by knowing where their child is. It also enables your kid to call if s/he feels threatened. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.

          1. PS*

            He’s very young to have a phone but the being able to call thing…. maybe. I’ll have a think and talk to my case worker.

            1. copy run start*

              Verizon has small wrist-mounted cell phones (looks more like a smartwatch) that you can program with a couple numbers and track from your smartphone. If you don’t have Verizon the other carriers might have something similar. Might be a good way to ensure he can reach you without the perils of a full cell phone if he’s really young.

              1. Observer*

                AT&T also does. Most of the ones I’ve seen are designed to be trackers as well. This is a use case for one of these gadgets, if I’ve ever seen one.

    2. Jenn*

      Good for you for carrying on, you’ll be in my thoughts. Hoping you have safe people and methods of support around you as well

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Strength. It’s going to be okay. If you have this fear I would suggest maybe looking into a refuge. But don’t post anything from home about where you’re going.

      1. Purple snowdrop*

        Can’t afford the refuge it costs a fortune if you’re working :( I have to allow him access anyway so tbh it would make no difference

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Are you in touch with anyone who could tell you how this can be restricted to supervised access eg at a contact centre? For example I don’t know if you need to be referred to Cafcass by a court, but perhaps a solicitor or IDVA would know? Has anyone mentioned supervised contact and the grounds required?

          I wish you strength.

          1. PS*

            There’s no reason to do that unfortunately, and I’m fairly sure that if I did manage to do that he’d think he had nothing to lose and violence would be more likely. I think our best chance of staying safe is to emphasise how much my son needs him and how important he is.

            My hope is that as child gets older he’ll lose interest as child gets more independent and sets their own firm boundaries. But that’s a long term hope.

            I love my child so very much and they are a lovely, lovely kid, and I wouldn’t be without them. But I heartily wish I had realised how awful this relationship was before I had a child :(

            Interestingly I usually have pretty bad seasonal depression by this time of year. This year I’m stressed and terrified and anxious but you know what, I’m not depressed. Strange how things go.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Also have you checked whether you could get any housing benefit to cover the refuge? Working may not mean you don’t.

          1. PS*

            I haven’t actually, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll investigate. The support i would get there would be invaluable. But a month there would cost approx 8x my monthly mortgage so I doubt it :-|

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              I’m sorry, I had no idea it was so expensive. But it’s worth looking into. The Turn2Us website also has a good benefits checker.

              1. PS*

                I thought at first they were saying twice my mortgage. Then I realised it was per week, not per month. Bloody austerity I bet.

    4. Yetanother Jennifer*

      You’re right. This is awful and scary and we can’t help. But know that we’re all standing in your corner with our eyes squeezed shut and our fingers crossed hoping hard that you all will stay safe.

    5. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve been thinking about you this week and hoping you were doing ok. I’ve got all my fingers and toes crossed for you and I really hope it goes as well as it can. If internet hugs will help at all, have as many as you want and need.

    6. Ruth Zardo is F.I.N.E.*

      PS, I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine how stressful and frightening it must feel to believe your ex would be capable of that (I believe you.) Document, document, document everything he does. If he’s late picking up or dropping off, if he sends threatening messages, anything at all. Do everything in your power to follow your custody agreement to the letter and document any time he steps out of line and when you can, use it to change the agreement or show that he shouldn’t have contact. IDK how old your child is but once kids are about 11/12 I think judges will start to consider their wishes about custody and contact with parents.

      1. PS*

        I have so many people who believe me and yet you saying you believe me still helped a great deal.

        I still have days when I don’t believe myself. I have pages and pages of evidence and I still find it hard to believe. I’m intelligent, I’m employed, I’m independent. And yet I’m here.

        One day I want to help young people understand the red flags. They were there 20+ years ago. I just only spotted them far, far too late.

    7. Floundering Mander*

      I’m scared on your behalf. I hope it is all fine and that you have somewhere to go. Are you in the UK? I’ve got a house you could hide out in.

    8. Anon today*

      Please reach out to your local domestic violence shelter or YWCA, if there is one in your area. They can help you develop a safety plan and help you locate resources. Please be safe and I’m thinking of you and your child.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      This may/may not resonate with you.
      When I was first on my own here, I would wake up in the middle of the night scared crapless. It was not one thing, it was a thousand.
      I made myself picture a beam of white light shining down on my little house. It was warm and bright and it was comforting. Harm, Upset and Fear did not like the bright light, so they tended to back away. I will picture you and your child surrounded by the warm light where ever you go and what ever you do.

      Meanwhile, on more the earthly and practical side. Is there any thing that you can think of that would be of additional support?
      Can you implement some type of buddy system, where there are check-ins at pre-set times?
      Can you ask for supervised visitation only? Or visitation in a public place only?
      Can you set up a code word that only you and your child know about?
      Does he have a phone with your number on speed dial and labeled ICE?
      Do you have some recent pics of him?
      I dunno, but here police were fingerprinting/footprinting children, is this something that makes sense to do?
      If it were me I would consider giving my lawyer my concerns here in writing for my file.

      Back to the not so earthly stuff. I believe we send out a vibe “don’t f with me” when we pull out all the stops and cover some of the more extreme protective measures. So my suggestion is to pull out all the stops and send out that “don’t mess with me or him” vibe.

      1. PS*

        Thank you.
        That beam of light sounds very comforting.
        The practical stuff is useful! I’ll talk to my support worker about what I can do.
        I will be sending out that vibe on the day :)

        1. Belle di Vedremo*

          If you let us know which day, I’d like to be one of the people holding you & your little one in the light.

          You are brave, thoughtful, practical, and caring.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Love this. There are forces out there we do not understand and we cannot measure. A whole community raining well wishes down on a person with a struggle WILL have impact on how things play out. I have seen it too many times, I can no longer avoid believing it.

            1. Belle di Vedremo*

              Great, thanks for the timing.
              I’ll hold you and your little guy, and hold that everything will work out just fine.

              And, just because sometimes it helps to hear what you already know: your expectations that you aren’t willing to be messed with are your inherent right as a person.

              Please check in next weekend if you have the time and the energy for it.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Start the vibe now.

          See, when we tend to sense a problem on the horizon we do so because we are being given time to prepare.

          You can leverage a build up of this vibe by starting earlier and having a bigger pile of vibe (not sure how else to say that) coming at him.
          It looks like this:
          “Don’t mess with Purple and Little Snowdrop. Just don’t.”

          This is said like you are telling a dog to sit or stay. There is no “please” and it’s not a question but rather it’s an expectation.

    10. No Name Yet*

      I believe you. I’m so sorry you and your child are having to go through this. I’m glad you’re getting local support. I hope with all of my heart that your estranged husband doesn’t feel helpless, and he gets bored and out of your lives quickly and without fuss. You’re in my thoughts.

    11. Effie, who is fine*

      Dear PS

      You and your child are in my thoughts.

      Lots of love from this internet stranger.

      Also, I’m so thankful that you aren’t struggling with seasonal depression on top of this!

    12. Marie*

      *Internet hugs* I’m so sorry for your situation. :( Just keep in mind that many bombs never go off, this is the worst case scenario but not the most likely one, and you’re probably both going to be ok. Keeping you in my thoughts. <3

    13. PS*

      Thank you all. I am still scared but much calmer today. I also remembered the Gavin de Becker books “gift of fear” and “protecting the gift” which are terrifying – but help me focus my fear instead of it being free range fear.

  24. Lauren R*

    A couple weeks ago I posted about my 13 year old dog Thumper who has liver disease and wasn’t doing so great. I was very worried about her and appreciate all the feedback and kind thoughts! Thankfully, she is doing REALLY well now and it was definitely side effects of the medication causing her to be so down rather than the liver disease itself. They’ve adjusted her dosage and added another medication that seems to be working much better for her. Her bloodwork was very good. They didn’t see huge improvements but they did see some. Considering that prior to starting medication her liver values were coming back steadily worse, it’s really just great news that it’s started showing signs of improvement of any kind and NO signs of it worsening. They did a physical exam also and she was looking good and didn’t seem to be in any pain.

    Thumper really does seem like her old self again personality wise as well. I think she must have been feeling so sick from the side effects of the medication that she just shut down and wasn’t up to doing anything, and I’m glad it wasn’t anything more severe causing her to feel like that. It makes me really happy to have her back and to know she’s feeling comfortable again. She’s back to loving her walks and doesn’t get up and down all through the night like she was. She’s also excited about her food again; I worked late last night and thought she was going to burst when I came home and got her dinner haha She definitely scared me but thankfully it seems she’s got more time left to look forward to and hopefully she’ll keep showing improvement when we go back in another month or so to recheck the bloodwork again. Thanks again for the well wishes everyone!!

  25. I am still Furious!!*

    I don’t have any updates on my divorce, other than my soon (hopefully!!) to be ex husband was able to get an appointment with the attorney who is writing letters on his behalf on Wednesday, Nov 1. He’s supposed to make a comprehensive settlement proposal, so hopefully by the following week I’ll have some sort of idea what he wants to go away.

    In the meantime, one of our cats had to be put down this past week. She was only 4 1/2, but was discovered earlier this year that she had kidney issues when the vet did tests prior to giving her anesthesia to remove a bad tooth. He made repeated calls to my cell and work phone, so I called back, and when he described what she was doing and how she was acting, I insisted he make an appointment to have her put down. Initially he said he couldn’t do it, and I told him to be an adult and take care of that poor cat, as she was depending on him. Then he cried and said that everyone he loves was leaving him! OMG. So of course, I paid for the vet visit (he has no money past the small amount I have to send him each month). Then he wanted me to come back to the house to help bury her. I said no. I miss my cats so very much, as I couldn’t take them with me (my friend is allergic) and this was really stressful. My poor dear Lily, I loved her so much, kissed her on top of the head when I left 6 weeks ago and that was the last time I saw her. Now she’s gone.

    I’m just not doing that great this week. I had mentioned before about being lonely. I have friends, I do things, visit with people, go shopping, but I don’t have companionship. My marriage was bad for so long, but I never stepped outside my vows. When I see couples in the grocery store, I hope they don’t take each other for granted. I look around and think, at my age, how am I going to navigate any of this? It was so easy when I was a young adult and now, I feel like I’m sort of lost and adrift. And to be totally honest, I dread the thought of spending the rest of my life alone, and at the same time, I don’t trust my judgement that I won’t get involved with another man who will take advantage of me.

    Last weekend my daughter texted me to find out if I was going to watch a football game, and I said yes, and she said “cool, we’ll be watching it together but apart”. She didn’t mean anything by it, but that really hit me like an arrow. And yes, I watched the game alone, texting a few friends here and there in other states, when I would have loved to have been able to share the time with someone who cares for me. And I cried.

    So basically I feel like a mess this week. I’m trying to get my Saturday going. Need to do something, not sure what, college football on TV later, need to visit my Mom, that type of thing. Tomorrow is supposed to be a washout, weather wise, so I might go through my clothes in my room and put away warm weather things.

    Everyone tells me this will get better, and I’m sure it will, but from where I am now, it sure doesn’t seem like it.

    Sorry this is so long and I’m being a Debbie Downer…it feels good to type all of this out.

    1. Ellen Ripley*

      Ugh, sorry about the cat. My situation was not nearly as bad as yours but I know some of what you’re describing. The socialization thing is so hard – I think most people default to their spouse, or whoever they live with, honestly, and when that changes it’s really tricky to reach out and make new connections or deepen existing ones.

      I’m really impressed by your sticktoitiveness, and I hope that things continue to get better.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’m so sorry you’re having a rough time. It makes sense that you’re essentially mourning the loss of your relationship, but that doesn’t make it easier to get through it.

    3. Dan*

      The socialization thing gets easier. I remember the first several times I went out after my ex and I split, it was so strange… particularly asking people for their phone numbers. There’s a huge difference between “casual social conversation” and “hey maybe I wanna date you” conversation.

      It took me about a year after I separated before I *wanted* to date, FWIW.

      One of the things I’ve never figured out is why we’re so afraid of being by ourselves. I’m a bit of an introvert, and really do like living by myself — it’s not as bad as most people seem to fear it to be. I will say that being by myself is better than being in a crappy marriage.

      1. I am still Furious!!*

        Dan, you hit the nail on the head. Wishing you were alone is worse than being alone, at least for me. I just hope it’s not a permanent thing, and I’m saying that realizing there’s nothing I can do about it until the divorce is even final, and then even after that, as bad as things were, I think I still will need some time.

    4. King Friday XIII*

      It was hard for a long time after I left my ex, because she’d made it really hard for me to have friendships. But it’s like a muscle, even if you’re never to social gymnast you once were, stretching it will help. <3

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I wish someone had told me this when I was younger. It’s through our friendships that we learn about what we want in a spouse and we learn how to navigate marriage. I hope you can find a way to see your friendships as healing and easing you toward a day where things will be very different than they are now. Perhaps you will find the man that should have been number 1 or perhaps you will find a full and satisfying life on your own. No way to know. But we can let our friendships teach us to trust, and teach us about relationships. I thought that concept was just a beautiful thing.

    6. SophieChotek*

      I’m sorry — this sounds like a hard week for you. I hope and believe things will improve – but to say so is cold comfort in the moment. I hope you can hang in there and connect with friends(even if only via text) and have some resolutions soon!

    7. Effie, who is fine*

      It’s good that you’re allowing yourself to feel your feelings. If you’ve been suppressing stuff for a long time, when you finally let them go, sometimes it can hit you all like a freight train.

      If you’re going to be alone this weekend, while you’re sorting clothes/doing housework/anything where you can let your mind kind of wander, I recommend playing music that you love as loud as you can and ugly-crying as you sort. It’s very cathartic.

    8. Cor*

      Have you ever watched a tv show at the same time as a friend while you’re skyping or g-chatting? Even if you’re not together, it helped me feel connected to my far off friend to be able to share my reactions to the show/game in the moment. (Or both watch the same Netflix movie while talking on the phone or something)

      1. Perse's Mom*

        There’s a semi-new website called Rabbit (rabb.it) that does this! It’s basically a chat room with streaming – one user queues up and streams a video and you can either text or audio chat.

    9. Belle di Vedremo*

      I’m so sorry about Lily the kitty.

      I’m sorry you’re feeling down and alone. It sounds to me as if you are moving forward fast. It takes most people more than a few weeks to stop feeling moored to a past partner, and you’re already there and looking for way forward. Most people I know need time to figure out what they are like as single people after a breakup. It is an unpleasant part of the process – but look at you! You’ve made the decisions, taken the actions, you’re facing your feelings, the hard stuff and taking care of yourself. Now you get to choose, and figure out, what you will be like without being moored to your stbx. That starts with recognizing the ways in which that mooring shaped you, and looking at the future you choose.

      It doesn’t mean you don’t feel down in the dumps; it does mean I’m pretty impressed with you.

  26. nep*

    I finally took my website out of maintenance mode. (I’d been concerned, never sure whether I had enough protection in place. But I suppose even in maintenance mode, hacking can happen? I don’t know.)
    Anyway the world didn’t come to an end. So far, so good. Making sure plug-ins always updated and unused ones deleted. And other precautions I’ve read about. I’m in over my head but I have learned a lot in this process. (I find myself wanting to play with new themes — that’s sort of addicting.)
    A prospective employer specifically asked for a website or online portfolio so I had to take the leap. I know for millions of people this is not a big deal and everyone’s making websites — but as a newbie I’m freaked out by the probability of hacking.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’re using WordPress, just be sure to keep it updated (actually, I believe now WordPress by default will auto-update itself). Also, use strong passwords.

  27. D.W.*

    Thinking about overhauling my oral care for a more natural regimen, starting with an ionic solar toothbrush. Anyone currently use one? Thoughts?

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      Tom’s of Maine toothpaste is TERRIBLE. I ended a “nothing” relationship a few months ago and one of the reasons was that he used Tom’s of Maine. He flossed and used mouthwash too. The toothpaste just didn’t work and you could smell his mouth a yard away.

      1. Sylvan*

        I used it myself and thought something was wrong with me until I switched to Arm & Hammer. Don’t try Tom’s of Maine deodorant, either.

      2. anon24*

        I actually use salt toothpaste by Welenda. It’s rather odd at first because of the salty taste but it works well.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        Wow – I’ve never heard this complaint before. I have used Tom’s of Maine toothpaste my entire life – of course it works, why wouldn’t it? And recommended it to other people. Same with their deodorant actually, it works better than other deodorants because it lacks chemical irritants that your skin reacts to. I’ve recommended it to so many people who have literally said it was “life changing.” what ever was wrong with your acquaintance’s dental hygiene was not Tom’s of Maine toothpaste!

  28. Ramona Flowers*

    Thank you all so much for your support last week after my cat was injured and my husband had a car crash.

    My husband is doing okay, I think. My cat is almost all healed and we just had the vet complete some stuff for a study he’s in – it’s a longitudinal study following lots of cats, inspired by a similar one done with humans. I’ll post a link in a follow-up comment. It’s really cool.

    1. buttercup*

      Glad to hear that both your husband and cat made it through their accidents! Here’s to a speedy recovery

  29. Allypopx*

    I mentioned sort of in passing last week that in the process of grieving my brain has decided that I want to draw. It doesn’t seem to be a flight of fancy, it’s something that my brain is really latching onto in terms of relaxing and processing (I refer to my brain independently of myself because I really don’t feel like I was consulted in this process. It’s just something I do now).

    I grew up around artist friends so I always found drawing intimidating. Usually I write or take pictures. I’m finding for someone who has never drawn before I’m not terrible at it, but I’d like to hone the skill. Shading is intimidating. I have some goals for what I’d like to work on long term, but I’m working on the basics right now. Any tips for learning how to draw as an adult? I’m working with sketching/colored pencil right now, though I’m gonna ask for a tablet for Christmas to try my hand at digital painting (and to help work on my photoshop skills).

    1. Nic*

      I refer to my brain or my body that way sometimes when it seems to make its own decisions without consulting first.

      I don’t have any suggestions for learning to draw, but I’m interested in what other folks have to say. It’s something I think would be neat to learn as well.

    2. Shrunken Hippo*

      There are quite a few youtube videos and channels that do art tutorials. I find which ones are helpful really depend on your personality and learning style. The only danger is getting sidetracked watching all the beautiful speed paint videos (or that might just be a me problem!).

    3. Emily*

      I’m not sure if this is helpful, but when I’ve taken drawing/art classes in the past (anywhere from middle school to undergraduate), there have been certain exercises and assignments that have cropped up a lot. Things like:

      – Copying a drawing (usually a line drawing) upside down (this helps you focus on the lines and shapes rather than your preconceived notions about the object(s) in the picture)
      – Dividing a large image into smaller square or rectangular segments and working on each portion individually
      – Drawing the negative space around a complex object
      – High-contrast drawings (where maybe you can only use black and white, or limit yourself to a small number of colors)
      – Contour drawings (where you only capture the important lines)
      – Experimenting with techniques like cross-hatching and stipling
      – Starting on grey paper and drawing something that has both white/light highlights and dark shadows

      For shading in particular, I remember one exercise where we were given a line drawing (I think it was a football player) that was divided into different segments – the teacher asked us to do pencil gradients in each of the segments. No need for all of the segments to be consistent with one another – I think the teacher just wanted us to practice smooth gradients and variable darkness.

      Honestly, even if you don’t do many structured exercises, you should be able learn and improve just by continuing to draw!

      1. CoffeeLover*

        This is really great! I’ve also started drawing and have been a little all over the place with my subjects. I’ll try some of these. Thanks!

    4. Marguerite*

      When my Dad passed, I really got into oil pastels. I loved the drawing part, but also blending the color out and sometimes even taking my fingers and smudging it. I looked at pictures and tried to replicate them (lots of flower pictures)- some of them turned out to be pretty nice, I even framed them! This coming from someone who draws stick figures! (I’m not being modest- I think I got a C in art!) Just dive in and focus more on how you’re feeling- it’s not about “being good” at it.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      I’d like to recommend the book “The new drawing on the right side of the brain” by Betty Edwards. I was introduced to the previous edition of this book in 2007 by a young Army soldier, who had separated from the service and was working as a contractor at my agency. He’d witnessed a lot of seriously awful events while serving on-and-off in Iraq, and was using the book as a form of art therapy for himself. He admitted having no prior experience with art, but was improving with the type of approach the author suggests. I’ve seen a copy, and the before-and-after pictures are pretty impressive. You might see if your local public library has the earlier version so you can “try before you buy.”

  30. Some Sort of Management Consultant*


    Picking up the knitting thread from yesterday:
    – what are you knitting right now?

    I’m knitting a new pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks and a pair of “Maja’s Mamelucker” – bloomers. The designer is a Swedish woman who got her pattern stolen by a big yarn firm (Drops) so a whole bunch of people (several hundred!) are doing a “bloomer revolt” in support of her!

    The lovely pattern was just translated into English and can be found on Ravelry!

    1. Red Reader*

      I have a handful of projects under way – an infinity sweater and a Burridge Lake afghan are the big knitting ones, but they’re both sidelined a bit for now in favor of Christmas yarnwork. I’m crocheting a zillion and twelve granny hexagons for a Christmas afghan for my mom (halfway done!) and also infinity scarves for my housemates’ moms, and knitting small neck scarves (of the more decorative than actually warm variety) for a couple other folks.

      1. I prefer tea*

        The granny hexagon afghan sounds fun! I always think that until I get 1/3 of the way through the little pieces…

        I’m actually not doing any Christmas knitting gifts this year, which I’m a little giddy about. I’ll probably get back into it next year though.

        1. Red Reader*

          Haha, I’m barreling through them in the hopes that I can get them all done before I run out of steam and get bored :) It helps that each one only takes ten minutes, so I can whip one or two out on a work break or in a waiting room, and if I put on some interesting TV, they go like gangbusters. I need 45 each of 3 colors, and right now I have all of one color and 28 of another and just started last weekend. So hopefully I can get the rest of them whipped out over the next week, and then it’s just the borders/seaming, and I can stretch that over the next couple months.

          And in a worst case scenario, my family crafters have a time honored tradition that says I can give mom two hexagons in a Christmas box, then take them back and tell her it’s still in progress — I got my 16th birthday quilt from her when I was 24 :)

          1. I prefer tea*

            We have that same tradition! I once gave my mom a skein of yarn, with a picture of the soon-to-be-finished item and a note saying, “When I grow up I’ll be a…”

    2. I prefer tea*

      Love knitting! I get anxious if I get to the end of a project and don’t have another lined up. Probably why I currently have about 7 going…

      I’m making a sweater for work (I seem to be the only one who freezes), and a bunch of other stuff, but the one that excites me the most is a set of double-pointed-needle holders in the shape of little gnomes. They’re felted and have little hats that pop off (held on by elastic) so you can put the DPNs in.

      They’re called gnome homes. :)

    3. NoodleMara*

      I’m getting into blanket season. I usually crochet a blanket or two while I watch hockey because it’s so simple. Basic stitch, just across, turn, across, over and over. I like to do the simple things so I can pay attention to what I’m watching. Plus it’s a really good way to use up all the yarn people have given me.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I lost one of my lift- off -the- top mittens so that will be my next project. Big plan is to complete an article revision and then catch up on this week’s tv shows. (I don’t watch on school nights) and knit myself a new pair of dog walking mittens.

    4. Sputnik*

      I’ve only recently got back into knitting after a decade – I forgot everything so I’m relearning from scratch :P Last night I finished my first full project – an infinity scarf in this really gorgeous purple-blue yarn, which is going to be a Christmas present for my mother – and now I’m starting another scarf with the same pattern, in black-and-silver yarn, for my dad. I’m having so much fun with this :P

      I also want to knit something for my brother for Christmas, so he won’t feel left out when my parents both get hand-knitted stuff, but I have no idea what to make. He lives in a very warm area so has no use for hats/gloves/sweaters etc, and I don’t think he’d wear a scarf either. Maybe socks, but I’m not sure my knitting skills are up to the task yet…and I can’t think of a way of asking my parents without giving too much away. So suggestions would be most welcome!

      1. HannahS*

        Hmm. Slippers or slipper-socks might be nice. Regular socks in sock yarn take about a million years (for me) to make, but worsted-weight or bulky-weight slippers are much more achievable, I think. Mug or coffee/tea pot cozy? A pillow cover?

    5. HannahS*

      I recently finished a simple pair of toe-up socks, from Wendy Something-or-other, who does a lot toe-up patterns. They’re gorgeous, because the yarn is from Opal’s Van Gogh series, and has the colours of “Vase of Sunflowers.” I finished Jane Richmond’s Autumn hat pattern last weekend. Nice, but I shouldn’t have bought the pattern! It’s just ribbing, seed stitch (I did a few extra rows to accommodate the fact that I wear my hair up all the time), then one row of decreases. I’m waffling on whether or not I should frog my Wayside Lace Cardigan–it’s taking for.e.ver. and I’m finding that knitting lace isn’t becoming automatic, even though it’s already a third done.
      Vase of Sunflowers yarn: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/185773553349215095/?lp=true
      Wayside Lace Cardigan: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/wayside-lace-cardigan
      Autumn Hat: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/autumn-7

    6. Dr. KMnO4*

      Started a sock recently. I knit a lot of socks, pretty much exclusively for myself. Toe up, two circular needles, same base number of stitches, different patterns, different colors. I love mitered heels because I hate picking up stitches for a gusset heel.

      I also crocheted a two color spiral baby blanket for a coworker recently. I had a lot of extra yarn, so I am working on a crocheted blanket shaped like a star.

    7. NeverNicky*

      Currently the Santa, Elf, Rudolph and Snowman which was a kit from a UK magazine (Knit Now I think).
      After that it’s an ornament for my niece – I make her one every year, all different. She is – like most 11 year old girls – into unicorns so it will be a white one with red, green and gold mane and tail.
      Then I am crocheting some more Star Wars characters for my partner.
      Then some socks for my mum…

    8. Tau*

      Eeh knitting thread!

      I’ve just finished (as in, it’s being blocked right now) a hat – Snapdragon Tam by Ysolda Teague. I actually made it once before years ago, but managed to lose it (:(!!!) so obviously had to knit a replacement. I love that hat. This time I tried adding some beads – let’s see how they turned out.

      Next on my knitting list are these amazing fingerless gloves I found… OK, that doesn’t say much, there are *so many* amazing fingerless gloves I want to make. These are Pieces of Eight and they look really gorgeous, although I admit I’m intimidated by the pattern a little. (How does that spiral work? How??)

      I also have a plan for a cardigan. This is super ambitious because I’ve never knitted anything that big before *and* it would be a lot of making it up as I go along because I want to make changes to the pattern. I’ve honestly been a bit scared to start because I’m worried I won’t be able to finish or it’ll turn out horribly… but I can see the finished product in my head and I want it. :(

        1. Red Reader*

          I have knitted the base Rogue pattern about a zillion times, pullover and cardigan, with and without pockets, once with raglan shoulders instead of set-in. It’s a very alterable pattern!

        2. Red Reader*

          Side note – you did see that the tree is a totally separate chart from the rest of the cardi, right? You could put it on whatever you wanted :)

    9. Jules the First*

      I’m trying to commit to the scarf that I started six years ago when my gran died and I needed something soothing and mindless to keep my hands busy while I grieved…but I don’t love the yarn (I was stashless when it happened and had to travel at short notice) and I’m finding it hard to commit to finishing and equally hard to just give up. But the project is on my favourite needles and I want a new pair of leg warmers this winter, so I’m trying hard to get this done so I can do something more fun…I’m off to visit a knit-crazy friend at the beginning of December, so I’ll need to have something new started by then or it will be embarrassing!

    10. Dot*

      I saw your link to the bloomers yesterday and I’m *so* tempted. I have no idea when I’d wear them but they’re gorgeous, I want them so badly. (And what is with large companies stealing patterns?? Though I guess all the cases I’ve heard of are actually Drops… Ugh.)

      I’m knitting a striped cardigan at the moment, it’s my fourth cardigan using the contiguous sleeve construction. I actually just ripped back 40 rounds of sleeves because I stupidly started knitting both sleeves at once using Magic Loop, and with three different colours using both ends of one ball of each colour … which quickly turned into a twisty, snarled mess. So now I’m knitting the sleeves flat and will sew them up once they’re done (that’s how much I hate the combination of sleeves + magic loop hehe). It’s much faster, plus I don’t have to force myself to work on them, so I’ve almost caught up to where I ripped back from.

      I have several exciting projects planned after this one but it seems to move very slowly. I tend to only have one active project at a time so by the time I finish it, usually the handful of projects I’ve been planning in the meantime have lost their charm… I think my current plan is going to pan out, though: a chunky capelet thingy in stranded colourwork, with a high collar, to make a statement about how cold the office is (and obviously to be pretty and warm). After that I’m hoping to do a sweater with a colourwork yoke using yarn that mum and I dyed using plants last year. I’ve bought a pattern for it but not swatched or planned what colours should go where or anything so that’s going to be interesting. (I haven’t knit a project with that many colours before. They all go nicely together (in my opinion) but I suspect there’s more to it than that!)

    11. Applesauced*

      I’m making a Hudson Bay inspired baby blanket for my niece or nephew who’s coming this spring!
      I finished the first set of stripes last night and it looks GREAT but now I have an ocean of solid white before it get exciting again.

  31. Rony Tobbins*

    (The nick is a jab at myself). Next month I’ll be 50. It’s not something I’m thrilled about, as birthdays – particularly mine – carry little weight. I’ve been through a lot in life, from academic success to two suicide attempt, from therapy to stopping a suicide or two around me, from deep down to way up. I still have – statistically speaking – 20+ years ahead of me. So, as a birthday present for this round-figure age, I decided to embark on a years-long personal transformation.

    I have been passionate about how brain works and how people think and act for some time now. With everything I have in the books I read, a decided youngster could easily take over the world – and have the world be grateful that they did. For me, it’ not about “world dominance” (ha!), but about getting as close to my max potential as a human being as I can, while remaining as compassionate, empathetic and caring as I can be. It’s gonna be a long, tough road (and a lonely one, at that), but I thought one day “what do I want for me on my death bed?” and the answer was “as little regrets as possible”. I’m an experiences hoarder, not an objects hoarder, so this goal suits me.

    I’m sharing this with you because I have no one to share it with IRL (I have friends, even an almost-brother one, none of whom understands that). Thanks for listening.

    1. Nic*

      That’s really really cool. That’s a great goal to have, too!

      You should have many years left to learn and grow and try to level up your potential. I love the fact that being compassionate and empathetic are part of it. Congrats on setting that goal!

    2. KAG*

      Congrats on making it to half a century; I remember as a kid being psyched when I turned a decade old (like, my age has a whole word for itself!)

      It’s awesome that you’re wise enough to make it about personal transformation – focus on what you have control over, and have a happy birthday!

      I’ll be the big 4-0 next month myself; I hope the promised mid-life crisis is driven by such strong principles as those you’ve expressed.

    3. Courageous cat*

      This sounds very interesting – can you elaborate more on what exactly you mean to do for this transformation?

      I don’t plan on having kids and have been thinking a lot lately about what my middle aged years are going to look like without them.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      That sounds amazing! I hope you keep us informed on the transformation. It takes guts, I think, to not go with status quo because it’s the easy thing to do. Thank you for doing something inspiring and sharing it with us.

    1. Nic*

      I’m a big fan of curling up in front of a fire place with a good book and either hot chicken soup or drinking chocolate.

    2. Allypopx*

      I like to make something like a stew or a chili that cooks for awhile and makes the whole house smells yummy. Then curl up with some wine and a cuddle buddy and read or watch something together and lots of blankets. I love blankets.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I’m doing it. Staying in my PJs with a throw wrapped around me. A non-work related book like a fat mystery. (not doing that but maybe tomorrow) tiny dog curled up beside me. A stack of cookbooks to find the the perfect stew like recipe. Oh, and a large mug of chai.

    3. Mischa*

      It dropped to 24F/-4C today so I am definitely going to embrace fall foods! I love soups and stews. Split pea, French onion, and potato & leek are some of my favorite things. For drinks, I love Harney & Son’s Hot Cinnamon Spice tea and regular old coffee. Though I’m craving some hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps.

    4. CanadianUniversityReader*

      Ice cream! I absolutely love eating ice-cream when it’s cold. It’s nice because the ice cream doesn’t melt.

    5. Overeducated*

      Hot cocoa! It wasn’t ever really cocoa weather here last year…making a roast chicken tonight even though it’s supposed to be up to 70.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Just put the Instant Pot on high for 25 minutes. Supposedly that means split pea soup in an hour and 15. Sitting with a cup of chai on break from revising. I will let you all know how it turns out.

    6. Parenthetically*

      I LOVE actually going out into the cold, properly bundled, getting all rosy-cheeked and frosty-extremitied, and then coming back inside to a mug of spiced apple cider and a pot of soup simmering away. Would love to come home to a lovely crackling fire, but alas, we live in a condo! *haha sob*

    7. Floundering Mander*

      I used to love sitting in the hot tub at my parents’ house when it was super cold or snowing. It was fun to be hot and freezing at the same time.

      1. Parenthetically*

        My husband does not get this! He grew up in a cool temperate climate (think coastal Oregon) and I’ve often said I’d love to have a hot tub for winter use when we move back to his hometown. He thinks I’m nuts!

      2. Courageous cat*

        Yes. This is the beeeest. Especially with the smell of the winter air around you. I wish I could do it far more often!

    8. Jillociraptor*

      It’s snowing where I grew up but unseasonably hot where I live now, so I’m kind of longing for the cold weather!

      My absolute favorite cold weather thing is drinking apple cider and reading a book inside. Close second is a great chili and a Harry Potter film marathon.

    9. On Fire*

      It’s getting cold where I live (28F this morning), and I like to cook in cold weather. Last night I made chicken pot pie. Today I baked a ham, made sweet potato casserole and cooked a small pot of beans. Tomorrow I’ll probably do something with the leftover ham.
      If I’m not cooking, I like to wrap in a blanket with a book and hot cocoa. Or make flower arrangements, but I like to do that year-round.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I opened a new tin of my favourite hot chocolate power yesterday. One of the stands at my local Christmas market sells hot chocolate and for a supplement, they will add a shot of something. (Brandy, Baileys, Vodka, Schnapps, that thing which tastes of caramel…)

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Eat: Drinking cocoa. I drink it in summer too, but only when it’s raining.

      Do: Snuggle under a blanket with someone and watch a show while the snow falls outside. I have not done this in far too long. :\

  32. I am still Furious!!*

    My post is in moderation, sorry Alison, I’m not sure what the offending word might be :(

    1. Purple snowdrop*

      I hope you’re OK.
      Mine is too. It’s not a proper update just me being terrified of what is going to happen.

    2. Floundering Mander*

      I’ve had a bunch of mine get stuck in moderation over the past few months. I can never figure out why.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        There’s not always a reason to it. For example, if the spam filter malfunctions for a minute, it sends everything during that period to moderation out of an excess of caution.

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

          Makes sense. Never bothered me, I was just trying to figure out what words I used that might have been misconstrued!

  33. Bibliovore*

    Working this weekend on the thing that shall not be named. Seems that every deadline is Nov. 1st.
    On the other hand. Warm house, healthy old dog sleeping beside me. I’m cozy in flannel pj bottoms and cuddle dud top. Gas fire lit and snow flocked trees outside the window.
    Seeing a play about Wanda Gág tonight.
    Contemplating Instant Pot recipes.
    Last week’s Moroccan Chickpea Kale Stew was a huge success. Turns out the secret ingredient was preserved lemons. I had never had them before. So tasty. Wasn’t too spicy. Mr. Bibliovore added extra jalapeño to his.

      1. Bibliovore*

        There is a food coop near by. Seward. They come in a jar. They are very pretty with a few skinny red peppers. A little goes a long way. I have been adding about a 1/2 tablespoon to my bowl when I reheat as I like the flavor so much.

        1. Bibliovore*

          Still working on the Thing that must not be named but… Sent in an article to my editor and the End is in Site for this grant application.

  34. Bibliovore*

    yea!!! I really love rocking something and the high ups stand back in amazement. Rare and satisfying.

  35. Gerenuk*

    Looking for ideas for a small treat to take for a small group (10 or less people). Last time I took a treat I took donut holes, but hoping for something a little healthier this time. But that sort of sized treat is what I’m looking for. Preferably store-bought. Any ideas?

    1. fposte*

      My local supermarket does fruit trays and veggie trays. Now that I’m no longer baking, they’re my go-to, and they’re always well received. My alternative is some hunks of decent supermarket cheese and crackers.

      1. Bibliovore*

        I bring in apples and a cheddar when there a group things. Also a cutting board and a paring knife. Something sweet to go with it like honey or fig jam.

    2. HannahS*

      Seconding fruit or veggie trays. Once someone on a snack rotation brought a big bag of tangerines. It was really nice, and likely cheaper than a buying a tray of cut fruit.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, another thing was a set of yogurt cups (you know, the kind that’s individual size with foil tops). She brought plastic spoons; it worked great.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        Seckel pears are in season, and small tangerines. If it’s a group/gathering where they can comfortably eat whole fruit, this is a great option. Arrange in a pretty bowl/basket, done.

        If you need finger food, the tray suggestions are great.

        As a native Philadelphian, my go-to is a soft pretzel tray, but only if you promise to get real soft pretzels and not those dreadful superpretzels.

        1. Bibliovore*

          oh, oh, oh. I was just thinking how good a real Philly soft pretzel would go with my split pea soup. sigh

  36. Intrepid*

    Do I have to talk to my apartment’s neighbors about it before I report them to our building for smoking weed?

    While I’d try to let it go, they smoke enough that it seeps into my apartment (and the hallway) 3-5 times a week. It’s enough that it’s super unpleasant to be in my apartment at all, and I cough/get headaches. I’ve tried opening my windows to deal, but now that it’s getting darker earlier, dozens of gnats invade. The building bans weed, even though it’s legal where we live– so I don’t think I’d be getting them in legal trouble, just (hopefully) a talking-to.

    I’m reluctant to go talk to them first, because I’ve never met them– but also because they’re at best inconsiderate in other ways (thin walls vs. loud music, sx, and parties) and I guess I’m concerned that they’ll make my life more uncomfortable than it is.

    1. Allypopx*

      Talk to them. We smoke directly out our windows so it doesn’t bother our neighbors. They might be willing to do something like that. Let them know it’s getting into your apartment and bothering you and see if they’ll take steps to keep it contained.

    2. Temperance*

      I probably wouldn’t approach them directly if you don’t know them, and if they’re a nuisance in general. They could make your life hell.

      1. Cubicle*

        Stupid question…

        Do they have a medical card for it? (If legal in your state.)

        If so, you are SOL.

        You’d be amazed who gets okayed for a card where live. Anxiety diagnosis is enough to score one here. Yes, the two 20 somethings who were loud and had late parties also had cards.

        So the weed was okay.
        The landlord did nothing about the behavior.
        I moved.

        The weed was the major reason. I have asthma, and was nebulizing albuterol 24/7.

        I live in a smoke free complex. It’s hell when the building has a full length basement and people smoke. The furnace in the basement blows the smoke into all the units.

        I don’t care if people smoke weed or cigs. I just want to breathe.

        1. neverjaun*

          Legal doesn’t mean “SOL”. It’s legal to play punk music, but you have a right to complain if your neighbor does it at 3 am. Your former landlord was an idiot.

        2. Intrepid*

          That’s awful! So their card trumped your health?? Weed is legal where I live, but the building doesn’t allow it– which I found out because the building actually send around a reminder about the no-weed policy a week or two ago, which made me hopeful…

          I just moved in about 2 months ago, so I really, really don’t want to put up with hell-weekends for the next 10. =/

        3. Intrepid*

          I thought I replied, but it’s gone, so apologies if this ends up being a double-post.

          I’m sorry to hear that! How awful that their card just won out over your medical issues, and the building couldn’t find anything to do about it. I just moved in 2 months ago, and so I’m facing another 10 months of hell-weekends if they don’t stop…

          It’s legal where I live, but the building has a policy against it– they actually sent out a reminder of the policy a week or two ago, which made me hopeful.

          1. the gold digger*

            I would report them in a second. I work for a manufacturing company that does random drug tests. If they find illegal (federally illegal in US) drugs in your system, you are fired – even if you live in a state where pot is legal. I would not want my neighbors putting my livelihood at risk.

        4. Observer*

          No. Just because they are allowed to smoke it, doesn’t mean that they can stink up the whole building. It’s like cigarette smoke – there is no question that it’s legal, but that still doesn’t take a way the obligation to keep it to yourself.

      2. Intrepid*

        That’s definitely my main worry (well, that and general social awkwardness). I keep trying to believe that they’re also well-meaning but awkward, but… my smoke detector went off when 4 shreds of cheese fell off the pizza I was baking. If they are disabling theirs– which they might not be!– then I’m finding it really hard to believe they’re still in “whoops didn’t notice we were smoking much” territory.

    3. Natalie*

      I would ask them first. I understand you think they won’t do anything but really, you can’t know that until you make at least one direct request and are ignored.

      For a long time I was super self critical and I thought everyone did that, so if someone annoyed me I kind of assumed they must be doing it on purpose. But that’s just not how people are. Not everyone is going to realize how thin the walls are, or maybe they aren’t bothered by neighbor noise and so they universalize the same way I did and assume no one else is bothered by the noise.

      1. KAG*

        And I have the (stupid) assumption on occasion that “Nobody’s complained, that must mean it’s not bothering anyone!” If brought to my attention, I’d definitely tone it all down – but I’d probably be too ashamed to look you in the eyes for awhile… (for me it was loud music)

    4. Epsilon Delta*

      As I’m seeing it, there are two main ways this could play out: they are oblivious to how their behavior affects others, or they see it as their right to behave however they want. If they are in the oblivious category, they would probably respond well to being asked to modify their smoking habits so they don’t bother you. If they are in the second category, they will at best ignore you and at worse escalate the behavior to make things worse for you, especially if you or someone else reports them for it afterwards (they will assume it’s you).

      I would not want to gamble on them belonging to the second category, especially since they are inconsiderate in other ways. Just tell the landlord.

  37. Anon Accountant*

    I’ve been thinking about a self defense course for a long time. I’ve found one that starts Friday and runs 6 weeks. The instructor is a trained state police academy instructor and it’s only $200.

    I’m nervous because I’m really out of shape at 5’2 and 201 lbs.

    1. fposte*

      The buff weightlifters are not going to be signing up for a six-week self-defense course. I suspect you’ll be in good company.

    2. Lillie Lane*

      I’ve taken a couple of self defense courses and there were women with all body shapes/sizes/fitness levels. There was never any judgment or anything. Go for it! It will increase your confidence and awareness.

        1. the gold digger*

          I attended a self defense course once where the instructor said that we could gouge out an attacker’s eye – but then cautioned that we might not want to do that because we would have to live with the knowledge that we had blinded someone.

          Maybe I am just cold blooded, but I thought, “Nope. He started it. I will stop it.” I could totally live with putting out someone’s eye if it meant I stopped him from harming me or someone else.

    3. Yetanother Jennifer*

      I took a course through our local police department. We were taught punches, hits and kicks that we could use at whatever shape we’re in and when to use them. Sure, it’s easier to punch if you have the muscle strength to put power behind it but the techniques we were taught use physics and size differences to give the most power behind the strength you have right now.

    4. Girasol*

      Self defense courses are generally “come as you are” for everyday folks. You’re not expected to be Bruce Lee at the start or to turn into Jackie Chan by the end, just to take what you have and learn to use it.

  38. MsChanandlerBong*

    I know many AAM readers work in the medical industry in some capacity. I could use some advice, if anyone has it to offer. I had my bone-marrow biopsy over two months ago. Two months and five days, to be exact. I have a copy of the initial report. However, there were some abnormalities (I have plasma cells in my marrow, which you’re not supposed to have). The pathology lab made additional slides and sent them to a cancer reference lab in California. Meanwhile, my hematologist said the bone-marrow biopsy was okay, but some of my other results were abnormal, so he thinks I could have myeloma in my kidneys. He wants me to have a kidney biopsy in three months if my lab values continue to increase. I am seeking a second opinion, as I have chronic renal failure, and I do not want to risk any more damage to my kidneys if it is not necessary. However, I cannot get that second opinion until the doctor gets the final pathology report on my biopsy. The initial report says additional stains are pending–he needs the final report that includes the results from those stains.

    The problem? No one seems to have/know where this report is. The hospital that did the biopsy uses an outside medical-records management company, and that company has completely ignored my request for records. I sent them a signed release on 10/10 and asked them to fax the report to the doctor giving me the second opinion. No response. When I called to follow up, I told them it wasn’t in their system yet. I don’t know what that means–they didn’t get the faxed release, it’s not in their work queue yet, who knows? I called my hematologist’s office and asked them to fax the report to the guy giving me the second opinion. After faxing the wrong things (results of blood and urine tests) four times, they finally sent the bone-marrow report the fifth time. Unfortunately, it’s the initial report without the final results of the additional stains. I thought I wasn’t communicating clearly, so I went down there in person and asked for the final report. They don’t have it in their system. The reference lab in California will not talk with patients, only ordering physicians or other labs, so I can’t call them. What do I do? I can’t make any medical decisions without this report, and no one seems interested in helping me. I called the hospital’s patient advocate yesterday. I had to leave a message, so I am hoping to receive a call back Monday. Is there anything I didn’t think of that I could do to get someone to unearth this godforsaken report? The guy giving me the second opinion said my doctor should not have told me the biopsy was okay if he didn’t have those stains back, as you do not get a true picture of what is going on if you do not have the final report.

    1. Mimmy*

      No advice, but I will be watching this thread closely for updates (and next weekend’s thread). That just sounds all sorts of messed up :(

    2. Temperance*

      I’ve had some nightmare experiences working with medical records staff for SSI clients. My advice is that you need to keep calling the medical records company. They will ignore you unless you make yourself a problem and/or actually get a competent person on the line. I’m not entirely sure why, but you have to be a PITA to get anywhere. It sux.

      If you have to keep leaving voicemails, ask for the receptionist. When you get the receptionist, ask for the records manager. Explain your issue to the manager.

    3. Book Lover*

      My recommendation is tha you dump the problem on the second opinion’s lap. I generally have the patient sign a release of information and then have my secretary bug the pathology department until they release what we need. They usually respond to us. That said, we don’t accept outside reports anyhow, we read them but we request the slides and do a second pathology review ourselves.

      In terms of the biopsy, a biopsy should not cause any significant damage to your kidneys and is a really appropriate step if kidney function is worsening and it is necessary to clarify the situation. I don’t know if you have had a renal biopsy before, but it is very routine and transplant patients, for example, can have many in order to monitor rejection.

      I hope you get some positive news soon.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Thanks for the info on the biopsy! My situation is complicated because I have pre-existing renal disease. I was born with spina bifida, but I had a closed defect, so it was not diagnosed until I was 3. In the meantime, my neurogenic bladder was causing vesicoureteral reflux, which damaged my kidneys permanently. My kidney function has been stable for the last several years, except for an episode of acute kidney failure brought on by the use of contrast dye during a cardiac catheterization. The reason I want the second opinion is because I have an autoimmune disease, and the doc giving me the second opinion believes all of my abnormalities could be caused by the autoimmune issue, not cancer. I do not have any other signs or symptoms of multiple myeloma, with the exception of the M-protein in my blood/urine and the plasma cells in my marrow. However, the plasma cells were at 0.02%, and I don’t think it’s anything to worry about unless they’re > 10%, but I can’t remember the exact numbers. My calcium level is normal (not high, like it would be if I had full-blown MM), and the skeletal survey I had showed no lytic lesions.

    4. fposte*

      Ugh, how horrible. The black hole of medical bureaucracy makes me foam at the mouth.

      Patient advocate is what I’d advise too; I just think that unwinding these things can be frustratingly, unfairly slow. Look also to your state, region, and city for possible health care consumers’ assistance. I have a county independent nonprofit one and there’s a division with my state’s attorney general.

      Information that might be useful: name of the outside lab, date according to hematologist’s office the biopsies were sent, confirmed date of receipt if available. (You probably know this, but what the heck.)

      Sorry. Not like you can just do this one over like it was a blood test. Has the charge hit your insurance yet? If so, it wouldn’t hurt to give them a call and let them know about this–worst case scenario is it helps with the billing, best case is they do a little leaning themselves.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yep. I got the explanation of benefits for it about two weeks ago. $9,895 for the biopsy itself, and a little over $200 for using the CT machine to guide the needle placement. I didn’t get an EOB or bill for the pathology services yet.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Hmmm. So your insurance company paid for a final report that your doc has not received.

          Well. This sounds like insurance fraud to me. I would have to write my state attorney general and let him know that people are billing the insurance company and not doing the work. And I would let the insurance company and the lab know I was doing this.

          I do understand that this one sounds like a bit of a reach. I also know that I can’t afford an actual lawyer. So I would start to look around and see who would be in charge of caring that my insurance paid for a service I (or my doc) did not receive.

          (I don’t tolerate BS well. And this is BS.)

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I’m lucky. My best friend is an attorney, and all she charges me is a promise of my undying love and devotion. We’ve been friends for 24 years, so it’s an easy promise. :)

        2. Girasol*

          Have you talked to your insurance company? Sometimes they have a patient advisor specifically to coordinate confusion between multiple providers, not just for the patient’s benefit but to reduce the cost of administrative waste and duplication.

    5. Anon Accountant*

      Sorry you are going through this. I’d contact patient advocate, medical records company and if you have a nonprofit organization relating to patients’ rights I’d contact them too.

      Please keep us posted and good thoughts sent your way.

    6. neverjaun*

      I have trouble talking about medical records handling without running out of swear words.

      My guess is that either they lost the report, or it got mixed up with another patient’s. Nobody is going to tell you this unless they have to, because after “Do no harm” the second tenet of medicine is “cover your butt”.

      Talk to the patient advocate, keep leaning on your doctor’s office, and make it clear you are not going away and you are willing to escalate.

    7. BRR*

      When I’ve been stuck in medical hell I insist on a three way call. “Let’s call the reference lab together now.”

    8. Anono-me*

      This may be helpful, if you did not authorize the hematology office to send over the blood and urine tests.

      I requested ‘blue’ medical test results be sent to my new clinic. Old clinic sent ‘green’ test results. I tried to get the correct records, but got the run around big time.

      Finally per a friend’s advice, I called the old clinic HIPA Compliance Officer. She told me my missing ‘blue’ records weren’t a HIPA issue. I agreed, then pointed out that old clinic had released ‘green’ records without authorization; which was a HIPA issue and asked what was going on in old clinic records and how many other records were being incorrectly released. The next morning my new clinic had the ‘blue’ records and I had a very apologetic phone call explaining that everything was shipshape in the records department now.

      Good luck with your records and your doctoring.

  39. Mimmy*

    Kitchen update:

    Things are finally taking shape!!! Counter tops and sink have been installed – it looks awesome! In theory, we could hook up the appliances (oven, dishwasher, microwave), but he needs help with that–might get our neighbor to come over at some point. Hubby has also been working on the hallway, which our fired contractor had left unfinished.

    We have a contractor coming the week of 11/6 to put in some back splash and finish some things the former contractor left undone. New window, door and refrigerator also coming in the next couple of weeks.

    This has been going on since late September – once is all said and done, we are seriously going to celebrate! And I’m off that week (except for a half-day training) due to having two federal holidays.

    *cue happy dance*

    1. Bibliovore*

      I’m having a happy dance for you. My kitchen is inches from being finished. Everything is usable and it is a joy to cook on a stove that works. Wipe a counter top clean. Unload clean dishes from the washer.

  40. Uncivil Engineer*

    After waiting all year for The Limited to come back online, it is finally back… and so, so disappointing. Only a couple blazers in basic colors and no pants sold in long sizes. It’s like they don’t even know what their niche was. Sigh. I guess I will be paying a lot more for pants now.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Ugh. I noticed that too. And I’m a at the point where I need to start shopping for slacks again.

  41. The RO-Cat*

    I’m glad that my non-profit jumped through all the hoops and is finally ready and active! Now, onto my first mindfulness program. Only… I have no idea how to start a meditation group. Facebook? E-mail list? Mouth – to – mouth? Those of you who are in a group outside the-thing-we-do-not-speak-of-on-weekends (no matter the subject: knitting, sharpening eggs, smoke sculpture, whatever), how did you find out about it?

    On a different note, I don’t intend to ask for money to run stress management programs based on mindfulness, that’s why I chose an NGO. But I’d like to ask for a “fee” from participants: either a 4-hour volunteering gig or a small donation to an NGO of their choice (civic involvement is sorely lacking in my country and I’d use the programs to get people familiar with the idea). What do y’all think? Thank, AAM-ers!

    1. fposte*

      Hey, congrats, RO-Cat! You are moving and shaking these days. Are you looking to create a physical group or virtual group? The social media scaffolding in Romania is likely to be different from the U.S., but what I’d do here is Nextdoor.com (don’t think you have that), Meetup (looks like Romania does), Facebook page with posts to relevant other pages and with Twitter boosts, post physical flyers in local libraries and other public poster locations if you’re looking at a physical group. Instagram could be cool too; I only use it to look at friends’ dogs so I don’t know about its other potential :-).

      1. The RO-Cat*

        Thanks a lot for the ideas! I want a physical group, because the program involves a 1-day class module (or two 4-hours modules in different days) covering self-discovery (neuroscience, how brain works, habits, emotions’ HQ etc) and lots of group sharing when starting meditations. Also, I want to make sure everything stays within a framework of kindness, compassion and strict ethics, so… The program features remote meditation practice also, but at least the beginning must be IRL.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I found out about mine by googling “free meditation instruction” since I don’t have any money for classes, and they had a website. But I like the idea of a referral.

    3. lovetoujours*

      Not sure if this would appeal to you but in the city where I work, we have a lot of mindfulness groups working with students and teachers in places where the students have experienced a high amount of trauma- so one of the alternative high schools has about 2 or 3 mindfulness programs and some of the elementary schools have it as well. It could be a way to expand your outreach and gain more people attending through word of mouth?

    4. Pathfinder Ryder*

      Website? I found my dance classes by Googling “adult dance classes [my city]” and found a bunch of class schedules online.

  42. Horizons*

    In an effort to broaden my horizons, I’m creating a list of 50 things I want do in the next 5 years. It’s like a bucket list, but with a definitive deadline. It’s an interesting challenge because it keeps me from getting too ambitious (“learn Russian!” “climb Mt. Everest!”). The other challenge for me is not to list 50 travel items; I love to travel but I have to be realistic about budget constraints!

    So I ask you: what are things you’ve done or experience you’ve had that you would recommend others put on such a wish list? What would be on yours?

    1. Kj*

      Run a marathon would be on mine. Maybe a hiking goal to- I want to hike the Wonderland Trail and I live nearby, so I should be able to do it. I’m getting into target shooting and archery, so I might set a goal to be able to hit the bullseye with my weapon at so many yards (still figuring this one out).

      I would recommend taking an art class in something you aren’t familiar with or ‘good’ at. It is a nice way to stretch yourself. I would also recommend a social goal, like hanging out with friends once a month- it is modest, but nice. If you own your own home, a goal around home improvement might be fun to if it is a DIY project. ApartmentTherapy has some good DIY ideas.

    2. Floundering Mander*

      I’d actually get my but in gear and complete the couch to 5k running program. I have thought about it for years but I’ve never been a runner and I’m afraid of injuring myself because I am a clutz.

    3. Victoria, Please*

      Great question. I’ll have to think about it so as not to have an entirely boring next 5 years, but here are two things I really want to accomplish in less than a year:

      Renovate the bathrooms and kitchen, paint the house, and ABOVE ALL, move my husband’s office space to our 95% unused living room and take his small bedroom office for my office because he doesn’t use the bedroom office, and I get 1/4 of the kitchen table (because he uses 3/4 of the kitchen table. He’s a spreader).

      Create the Red Notebook: The list of instructions, passwords, accounts, life business, etc., Should We Die Suddenly.

      But you asked for nice ideas for yourself, too. Hmmmm. God, I *am* boring… I really loved snorkeling, the few times I have done it. That might involve travel.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Done and would recommend: go to therapy. Run a 5k. Develop a specific plan for self-awareness and self-knowledge. Be intentional about building a better relationship with my brother. Read 5 “classic” novels I missed in school. (Basically ALL the rest of mine are travel-related! Because travel is the best. What about: learn how to be one of those people who get paid to travel and blog? Two of my friends do that now and they actually learned how to do it from a conference!)

      Would like to do: Do a historical re-enactment at a festival/fair. Not a RenFaire, but an actual, legitimate, historical-society type affair. Part of that would likely include developing some skills adjacent to my current ones (e.g., I’m an excellent cook, but learning to cook with the crane-and-hook systems over an open hearth would be vital to what I’d like to do). Something like that is a good five-year goal because it can incorporate lots of smaller goals — find and join appropriate society, research and create costume, learn more about X time period, etc. Also gut and redo both our bathrooms and strategically redo our kitchen and floors (we live in a condo so over-improving is a real concern).

    5. Jillociraptor*

      I love this! I’ve been working on a much shorter runway, but the three things I’m working on right now are: learning to eat with chopsticks, committing to a brief weekly Jewish text study, and learning to cook multiple cuts of steak.

      I think my list would mostly be of foods I wanted to learn how to cook! But this also has me thinking about some of the habits I’d like to build: committing to a more regular sleep schedule, being more proactive about making plans with friends, things like that.

    6. Natalie*

      I’m a gardener, so I have various personal goals around successfully growing this or that vegetable. This year it was watermelon. If you’ve never grown any kind of food plant I think that is a worthwhile goal.

      For some reason I’ve been really attracted to hang-gliding and stunt driving, so I would put down any daredevil activities that seem fun to you.

      Either playing an instrument or learning to sing. You could commit to taking a certain number of lessons or getting to a certain competency level.

      Getting along somewhere without whatever your native language is. Probably a travel requirement. :)

    7. Fiennes*

      1. Either resume Spanish classes or switch to Italian, which my partner is conversant in. I’d like to no longer be monolingual.

      2. Visit 5 countries I’ve never been to before.

      3. Read some of the classic novels that have slipped under my radar.

      4. Get back to regularly lifting weights.

      5. Find a volunteer organization I could take part in on a regular basis.

    8. Bus Stuff*

      Take Salsa(or any sort of social dance) lessons! I am currently taking salsa as someone who is a VERY not good dancer, and I love it! I’m looking forward to taking other classes after this one ends.

      As far as travel goes, I’d have to suggest two items 1) Fall in New England 2) River rafting down the Colorado River. I can’t suggest river rafting enough! My family did a 5 day, 4 night trip and it was absolutely amazing. Beautiful scenery, fun physical activity, great(and super easy) camping.

    9. Lindsay J*

      There’s a thing called 101 in 1001 which is a similar thing – 101 things to do in 1001 days.

      One thing I found for mine is to make sure to put things that were entirely in my control. No “get married” or things like that because that’s not something I can just go out and do.

      I enjoy cooking, so I make a goal to make a new recipe once a month. Classes for things I like to do – like I enjoy photography on my own, but taking a class allowed me to meet people also interested in it, etc.

      Any local events that you’ve never been to? I lived in the area for a few years before I actually went to the Houston Rodeo, and I had to put it on my list to make that happen.

      I enjoy theater and symphonies, and that’s something that can be found in most major cities, but might not be something you generally consider doing when you’re bored or looking for general date nights, etc.

      Find a volunteer group I enjoy and can participate in on a regular basis – I joined a community garden and it’s been really great.

      Lots of fitness and savings goals that I never accomplish. :/

  43. Red*

    Ugh. So I signed of for a free trial of a thing and thought I had cancelled it, but I just got a charge on my credit card from them. I absolutely do not want to pay for this service, as it kind of sucked. What do I do? Should I call up the company? Dispute it with the credit card company? Scream endlessly into the air to vent my frustrations with capitalism?

    1. fposte*

      Have a quick Google for “cancellation [product]” to see if this is widespread and how people fare on disputing it and gird your loins accordingly.

      See if you can outline the date and process through which you attempted cancellation.

      Contact the company with that information. If they say they’ll reverse the charge, ask them by what date you should expect to see the reversal. Note that date.

      Contact your credit card issuer to ask how long you have to dispute the charge. Note that date. If the charge isn’t credited by the first of those two dates, contact the credit card company to say you’re filing a dispute.

    2. Anonymous Coward*

      Just explain that you wanted to cancel and missed the deadline, or thought you had cancelled earlier, and ask for a refund from the company. Having been on the merchant side of this situation, it’s a very common request. We almost always processed the refunds, to avoid chargeback disputes. However, it was much more pleasant when the customer (former customer) simply asked us to do so without accusing us of billing maliciously or being deceptive with our subscription practices, and without getting defensive. (In my case, this was for an online service, so we could see when the customer had last accessed the account and if they’d used the service during the billing period they were asking to be refunded. If you think yours would be similar, you can point out that you did not use the thing after the free trial.)

    3. Rilara*

      Try and call customer service and explain that you haven’t used the service yet and would like a refund. I did the same thing when I got charged after a free Amazon prime trial and the refunded the money in a couple of days since I hadn’t purchased anything.

      However I don’t think you can dispute the charge with your credit card company honestly. Free trials for subscriptions services almost always mention that you’ll be automatically charged on x date, so it wouldn’t count as fraud or as a charge you didn’t agree to. (Unless they didn’t actually mention the charge of course).

      And in my own experience disputing a charge for something similar, it just made things harder since my bank automatically closed my debit card which was a frustrating hassle at the time

    4. CoffeeLover*

      Good luck with this… I’ve fallen into this trap a couple of times recently and the places flat refused to do a refund. The Financial Times being one of them…. And their $70 monthly fee is not insignificant. Ya your online magazine is not worth $70. Still salty about that one.

    5. csrep*

      If you’re only a couple days too late, call customer service to see if you can get a refund. Say if you don’t get a refund, you’ll dispute it with your credit card company. But nicely!

      Source: am customer service person …. filing disputes ARE THE WORST

  44. Lore*

    I am taking my beloved cat to the vet to be put to sleep this afternoon. She’s nearly 18 and has a carcinoma in her sinuses. She’s been remarkably loving and tough despite pain but she’s having trouble swallowing and I know it’s time. My question: how do I tell people? I am having a knee jerk negative reaction to posting on social media but also the thought of having to call/text/email friends and family who will care just to give this sad news makes me want to throw up. But there are people who will want to know. I only told the SO and a handful of work friends and friend friends I happened to speak to since making the appointment.

    1. fposte*

      Would SO or a friend friend be willing to notify people for you? Just identify the crucial recipients and ask them to do that; include info about what you want (“Lore’s not looking for condolences right now” vs. “Would love to hear memories of Fuzzbutt”). It’s a thing people are likely to be happy to do for you.

      And I will link to a great poem for you in followup.

    2. Argh!*

      Most of my social media friends post about their pets and so when they die, we kind of “know” their pets. My work friends who have pets also talk about them. I think posting to social media afterward is going to be more comforting than you realize. One of my former work friends posted about her cat a few days ago. I’ve only seen her a couple of times since she left, and we had talked about our pets at work, so I was glad she’d posted. It was a very brief post and there were many sympathetic replies. The next time I run into her I’ll know to say something sympathetic about her cat instead of saying “So what’s kitty been up to lately?”

      1. Bibliovore*

        I did appreciate the kind and empathetic responses when my Katie dog had to be put to sleep. I don’t usually post personal stuff on Facebook but this was helpful in my grief.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Almost a decade ago, I lost my favorite dog of my life. I sent an email to people who knew the dog and who had told me the dog was special to them in some way.
        Everyone answered and it was comforting, as I could read their responses several times. I think in some way it helped me to move on.

      3. tigerStripes*

        I’m sorry for your loss.

        When my kitty passed, after a few days I was able to post about it on facebook, and the sympathetic comments helped. It didn’t erase any sadness, but just hearing from so many people that they cared was a comforting thing.

        Can you e-mail the people you think really need to know or call one person and ask them to tell the others? Or maybe it would be better to just give yourself a few days to grieve first.

    3. Lauren R*

      I am so so sorry about your cat. I think you should do whatever is easiest for you right now. If that’s posting on social media, then please know there’s nothing wrong with that! This is such a difficult thing and I’m sure no one who cares for you will be worrying over the source of the news – they’ll just want to offer condolences and do what they can to help you through this awful time. No one would want you to make yourself sick and upset trying to notify them of your loss. I definitely understand the aversion to using social media for something like this but it can really be an effective tool in these circumstances and there’s no shame in using it.

      Other than that, I also second fposte’s suggestion of having a friend or relative break the news if you know someone who is willing. That’s a good alternative to social media that still keeps you from having to struggle through breaking the news multiple times and discussing the loss one-on-one.

      Again I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so awful to lose a beloved pet. They are a wonderful part our families and our most loyal companions. I know your cat was so lucky to have you and must have felt so very loved each day she lived. I’ll be sending many warm thoughts your way.

  45. Floundering Mander*

    Does anyone else have sudden attacks of being a complete and utter ditz?

    This happens to me a lot and I hate it. I’ll be cruising along feeling confident in doing something and suddenly will get totally confused about a minor point or ask a really dumb question because I have completely forgotten a basic, fundamental thing that I definitely knew already. Some examples are being in the middle of drawing a map, with compass in hand, and suddenly getting confused as to where north is. Or asking about joining a secret Facebook group that I’m already a member of. Forgetting how to read a map. Being unable to give directions in the city where I’ve lived for ten plus years.

    It’s completely embarrassing and leaves me feeling flustered and stupid for hours.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I currently have three unopened five-pound bags of all-purpose flour, because apparently the answer to “Now, what am I forgetting?” is always “”AHA! Flour!”

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          So anyway, I got some vital wheat gluten, and now I can use the excess flour in the bread machine.

        2. Myrin*

          I cleared up our bathroom a few days ago and amongst a lot of stuff no one had ever used before or that just lay forgotten in the drawers I also found four and a half packets of the cheap razors I use. Almost five packets! They’re thin and plastic-elastic-y, so predestined to slip into every nook and cranny which apparently they did without my realising and so I seem to have kept on buying new ones! Now I’ve lined them up in a very orderly fashion but it will be an eternity until I’ve gone through them.

        3. Sylvan*

          I do this with lemons and onions. I do, actually, go through both fairly quickly, but I’m also incapable of remembering that I have lemons or onions at home.

        4. Mallory Janis Ian*

          So this weekend we made our teenage son clean his room, and he unearthed six sticks of deodorant in there. So that’s apparently his thing that he’s always “out of”.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Mine is more work-related, but true at home sometimes, too. I don’t seem to retain details, or even bigger things, as well as I used to, and it sometimes makes me look less than stellar; it’s embarrassing.

    2. Turtlewings*

      I definitely have my share of moments where my brain just did not engage — things like forgetting the existence of Thursdays or somehow thinking Captain America was from England. There’s just too many things firing inside the human skull for them to all land correctly, I guess. All the same — and I don’t mean to be alarmist, honest — if this is happening to you *constantly,* maybe you should get it checked out? Especially if it’s something that’s worsened over time. Who knows, it could be a vitamin deficiency or something.

    3. cornflower blue*

      When I was losing vocabulary, to the point that I was seriously considering if people in their twenties got dementia, that was the beginning of my road towards a hypothyroid diagnosis.

    4. Floundering Mander*

      And case in point: I failed to notice that the user name field on this device has my old name in it!

      Interesting about the thyroid thing. I get tested periodically for it in part because Mom has it and I have some characteristics that could be a sign of hypothyroidism. I had blood drawn last week but the results aren’t in yet so we shall see.

      But this has been going on all my life. Fits into the dizzy blonde stereotype I guess.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I am a very good cook. I really enjoy writing a menu and grocery list, and also grocery shopping. I will occasionally vague out suddenly and forget that I need pasta for carbonara, or lettuce for salad, or potatoes if we are indeed going to have baked potatoes on Thursday. Cooking is kind of my wheelhouse, so it makes me feel particularly ridiculous and stupid and embarrassed. I’ve always done it but since I had a kid who keeps me up all hours and occupies a sizeable percentage of my processing capacity, it’s a genuinely triumphant week if I only have to send my husband to the grocery ONCE to pick up some vital ingredient. Worst.

    6. Sylvan*

      I do the same thing. I think it happens to everyone, but maybe my ADHD probably doesn’t help. :)

      Being unable to give directions in the city where I’ve lived for ten plus years.


    7. nep*

      It reminded me when I went out to put air in the tires a little while ago that this sometimes happens to me when I’m doing things for the car, such as putting air in the tires. It’s doing something I’m not altogether comfortable with — where I don’t master the process…I start to feel as if I’m completely clueless across the board.

  46. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Life is so much more peaceful.

    That said, I’ve been letting loose to SO re: 3 decades’ rage/anger re: nmom for the way she treated me all these years. 99% all her conflicts could have been avoided if she a) thought before speaking, b) didn’t use me as a punching bag, c) didn’t take $ without my consent, and d) didn’t spew verbal garbage of how low my standards sunk by dating my SO (nearly 4 years).

    This was during me deciding whether to extend one last olive branch by inviting her to a ceremony. Ugh, no.

    SO wants me to be happy, and we’ve scheduled a wedding planner appt :) He said I’ll have something quite cheerful to occupy myself around Nov/December-ish on. He’s really caring and amazing, and perceptive. (He once joked that he might know if I’m expecting earlier than I might. I don’t disagree lol).

    1. Allypopx*

      It’s good that you’re letting it out! And that you have someone to vent to. I hope that’s cathartic and you’re not just ruminating in negativity. That’s a hard line to walk sometimes, but as long as you’re also focusing on how happy things are now, it sounds like you’re just getting everything off your chest. I’m so happy for you!

  47. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My 91-year-old grandfather may (probably does) have colon cancer. If he does, this is a blow of course, but he and I talked a little this morning about his files and effects and end-of-life wishes. I’m committed to asking him questions and making sure I’m clear about what he wants. I tend to be extremely pragmatic, and while he is less so, it gives us both a sense of control if we make plans for the inevitable. His mother died of colon cancer about 25 years ago, at the same age.

    The problem is my mother. And my grandmother. My mother refuses to take my grandfather seriously (she called him “the alarmist”, she thinks he’s “worrying about nothing”), and my grandmother refuses to discuss what will happen to her when he passes. She is a very intelligent woman with a ton of untreated anxiety issues that have prevented her from learning how to do things that will help her be independent; I inherited those from her, so I get it, but I go to therapy for mine. Grandmom cannot live alone, but she won’t live with anyone else, and woe betide anyone who suggests assisted living. Even if Grandpop’s not ill, he’s 91 freaking years old. I am hoping for the best but also realizing that I’m about to start going down a very frustrating road. We’re driving up for Thanksgiving this year, and a few days ago I was on the fence about going. Now I definitely want to do it, but there will be some tough conversations over those days.

    1. fposte*

      Oy. Sorry, aging family and end of life affairs are just hard. Honestly, even if grandmom had worked her ass off on independence, it quite likely wouldn’t change the limited options here, and in my experience “willingness to discuss” has only a random correlation with independence or dependence anyway. This was always going to suck.

      I might be projecting, because tough conversations and sorting out the difficult tend to be my job as well, but you may also be feeling that it’s your job to fix the entire situation and that this is your one chance for the fixing and not just the visit, and I’m not sure either of these is true. The fate of your grandmother doesn’t need to be decided in the next 30 days, and lots of people who can’t live alone by younger people’s judgments nonetheless do. There’s always APS if she’s really incapable.

      I think focusing on figuring out your grandfather’s affairs is a good plan, and it sounds like he’ll be up for that. But one of the challenges for somebody like me–and maybe you–is realizing in situation like this that even though my goal is reasonable or even optimal, I’m also dealing with my anxiety about the situation by trying to control it, and I may have to accept that that’s not going to happen and find a way to live with the consequences of other people’s free will :-/. I’ve got family right now making medical decisions that are going pretty inarguably to lead to significantly earlier death and lower quality of life, and not out of any philosophy, just wrong-headedness; it’s really hard for me to accept the train going off on the wrong track while there’s still time to get it on the right one, but it’s outside of my control.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s a lot of this, definitely. It is also the blinding frustration of dealing with two elderly women (my mother would kill me if she knew I called her that, heh) who simply refuse to talk about anything “bad” at all, to the point where they’re both ignoring my grandfather’s concerns. I had to tell my mother this morning that I was glad my grandfather told me what was going on, because they all seem to think it would “stress me out” to hear bad news, when the truth is, I deal very well with bad news. My whole life– their whole lives– my family has dealt with difficult situations by simply not dealing with them, and that does not work for me. At a certain point, I do have to recognize that it’s Not My Problem.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I totally understand that. I think the worst kind of Not My Problem is I Could Fix This if They’d Let Me but They Won’t.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          And right here are the reasons why I say we are responsible for how our lives play out right up to our very last day here on earth. If we believe we are powerless and therefore do not take any action then the very thing we dread seems to happen.

          I tend to agree that we can prevent or ease many of our own problems. I frustrate people who believe “life happens to us and we have to hold on as best we can.”

          My father called me a confrontational b!tch because I had the audacity to say I thought there was something wrong with my mother. In his world you just did not say things like that. Like you show here, I became that mouthy person because I could not deal with all the head in the sand stuff. “No, if the house is on fire, do not pull the covers over your head and hope the fire goes away. This will not work.” Cue: gasps of shock and disbelief.

          It is indeed Not Your Problem. We can’t inhale/exhale for our family members. And we can’t interfere with other people’s learning experiences. If we try we can end up injured ourselves. We can only help people to the point they allow us to help them.
          I ended up with a notebook thick list of what NOT TO DO when I get old. I called it my parents’ final lesson for me. My mother made horrible choices but my father actually made some good choices and a few of his ideas were brilliant. So I found some gems in the ruble.

          1. fposte*

            Have you heard about that Swedish death cleaning book that’s coming out in January? Apparently a Swedish thing is to plan to get your physical affairs in order before you die so other people don’t have to do your work for you. It sounds like Marie Kondo meets Wallender, and I’m really looking forward to it.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              A co-worker of mine got super excited about that book and the concept. Her mother is dealing with lung cancer right now, and a lot of the burden has fallen on my co-worker, who has become her mother’s sole caretaker on top of parenting her two very young children. It’s a nightmare. My co-worker and I talk about this stuff all the time; turns out we both deal with these situations by being practical and we thrive on finding order in chaos. She started throwing things away as soon as her mother (a borderline hoarder) was diagnosed.

              All of a sudden, it strikes me as very strange that I talk frankly about death with a woman I’ve known for less than a year, but…

            2. the gold digger*

              The Washington Post ran a story about the book recently. The comments consisted of two types

              1. No way will I leave a mess for my kids so I am cleaning up my act
              2. I had to clean up someone else’s crap so I am leaving all of mine for my kids to deal with.

              (Primo’s parents fell into category 2, btw.)

            3. Not So NewReader*

              No, I had not heard about that book. I will be checking it out, thanks. I have a pretty decent leg up on things, my legal paper work is in fairly decent order, I have a plot and a stone. My friend would take my Strange Dog and they will be fine together. But you can see there are still a few gaps to cover.

              My husband and I emptied four houses in about 13 years. I no longer take people’s estate work. I have turned a couple people down. It’s life consuming. But I do think about the experience in terms of what I can do here to make it less miserable for someone else. This book you mention should be a good read.

            4. Elizabeth West*

              I saw that, and I’ve been wanting to do this not only to reduce clutter, but I live alone, and who knows? Easier than making anyone go through the random mess that is my house right now.

  48. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I’m really proud that since went to bed before midnight last night. I have been struggling all week with not sleeping until 1 or 2 in the morning and waking up at 10 or later. I went to the gym last night then came home and had a hot bath and it was so relaxing I decided to get ready for bed around 9:30.

    I’ve been working on open source projects and volunteering which is pretty satisfying. My goal for the next few days is to do more stuff outside while the weather is nice.

    How are you?

    1. Natalie*

      Super good, actually. I turned a corner with my therapy last week, which feels extra exciting because I’m normally not great going into winter. I do need to start working on some strategies when I am having intrusive depressive thoughts, which are coming up a bit more now with some situational life stuff.

      One disappointment is that I can’t seem to find a support group for caregiver spouses. It’s really odd, I don’t know what’s up with my city that these don’t seem to exist.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      My late brother’s birthday was 10/25, mine is 11/06 and my late father’s is 11/10. We always celebrated together and this year I don’t have either one of them; dad passed in March and brother passed end of July from cancer. It’s feeling a little down, but trying not to dwell on it.

    3. Lily Evans*

      Mine is tangentially work related, but I was excited to realize that once I start receiving health insurance through my employer I’ll be able to afford to see a therapist again! I’ve been on my mother’s insurance until now and it didn’t cover mental health services until the full deductible was met, and it was a very high deductible. My new insurance offers mental health appointments with only a $15 copay in network. Honestly I should have done this research when I got the job last year and moved away from my previous therapist who was awesome and had a sliding fee scale that allowed me to pay $25 per session. I also won’t have my mother questioning me every time I use the health insurance (I know, I really should have gotten off hers sooner).

    4. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’m feeling really down this week. No job, living in my parents house, having my parents help me with my cell phone bill, and just over all feeling of being a complete waste of life. I know that this is something that will probably pass in the next few days, but it still hurts and I’m having problems not thinking of suicide as an option. I’m hanging in there so far and that’s all I can manage at the moment.

      1. Alice*

        Hanging in there can be an achievement, too. It’s great that you know (intellectually if not in your heart, right now) that this current crisis is going to ebb soon – you just need to hold on until then. Then, when your brain isn’t fighting you as actively, you’ll be able to make progress.
        You are in our thoughts.

      2. Junior Dev*

        Hugs. I’m also unemployed and getting help from my parents and sometimes have feelings like that too. Taking care of my physical health–eating enough, sleeping enough, exercise–and doing things that make me feel accomplished–volunteering and cleaning the house and learning new skills and doing crafts projects–help. But sometimes it’s hard to even make myself get out of bed, so it’s not a cure-all.

    5. Red*

      I am SO PROUD of you for the sleeping thing. Sleeping right is such a challenge and it really is a big deal!

      My problem right now is with self-harm. It’s like an f’ing addiction or something, and I need to stop it. I actually got blood on my khakis at work because I didn’t realize the bandage wasn’t doing its thing. Good thing is, hospitals have plenty of peroxide and I start seeing a therapist very soon. I’m really proud of myself for setting that up.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Thanks! I’m glad you are seeing a therapist soon.

        Dealing with self-harm is tough–hopefully the therapist will help you find other coping skills that you can use when you’re upset.

        1. Red*

          I’m sure she will be a huge help :) This is not the best situation to be in, but I have a few positives working in my favor: I’ve been through this before and I know I managed to cope better for a solid 7 years without this, I have the resources available to get myself mental health care, ad I have a pretty decent support system so I’m not alone. I’ll get my crud together eventually lol

    6. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve felt quite good this week. Set off earlier for work each day which got me there in much better time and therefore in a much better mood.
      Had a fairly cool week at work as well, although really high stress in some places. My coursemates are mostly being really supportive of each other which is great and so I’m feeling more settled in the group. And I’ve had some good chats with my tutor about various topics, glad he’s someone who is approachable.
      Friday wasn’t quite so great, one of the discussions was essentially about protecting our mental health and just felt a bit close for comfort for me. But I’ve got my next EAP next week so that should help a bit.

    7. Turtlewings*

      I posted several weeks ago about trying therapy for my anxiety-driven eating disorder. Sadly, that didn’t work out — the therapist was very pleasant and personable but I just didn’t feel like she was helping in any particular way — so I stopped that. However, one thing it kinda made me realize is that I’m actually handling it pretty well on my own. I know exactly what the problem is and the strategies that work best for me in dealing with it, I’m actively working to improve and making progress. So, what’s a therapist gonna do, even?

      And on that note, I recently tried scrambled eggs for the first time since I was 3 years old, and it turns out that instead of being eldritch abominations, they are actually quite tasty. Who knew?

      1. Tris Prior*

        Do you feel comfortable sharing the strategies that are working for you? I’ve been struggling with something similar. If you don’t, I completely understand.

        1. Turtlewings*

          Absolutely! So, the problem with me is trying new foods; anything outside of a very narrow band of trusted things (mostly bread, cheese, and chicken) tends to trigger a panic response. Here are the things I find helpful when trying a new food.

          –time to get used to the idea (like possibly weeks, but definitely at least a few minutes)
          –information on what to expect (other people telling me what it tastes like, comparison to other things)
          –spend time imagining/visualizing myself liking it. It really can be a reality!!
          –what is really the worst case scenario? if I try it, and don’t like it, I can spit it out.
          –on a similar note, have drink and trusted food at hand to get rid of bad taste
          –served essentially unadorned (so I’m not “deceived” by only liking the cheese on top or something), but at its best (seasoned, warm, etc.)
          –smell it first, maybe touch it, let it sit on my skin to prove it’s not a nuclear bomb
          –important: no time pressure or social pressure to Just Eat It Already
          –ideally, reward offered! (even something very small, like a piece of candy or a hug. A new acquaintance, fascinated by my weirdness, once offered me ten dollars to try olive oil on my bread. I did and it was okay. We are actually best friends now.)

          1. Dot*

            What a good list! I have/had some specific food phobias that I’ve gotten to a more manageable level and I wish I’d had this list to refer to when I did it. I especially think touching the foods would have been useful — I might try to do that now as I still have an ‘ick’ reaction when I spill some things.

            One thing I did was to not go for the worst-seeming things but to start with very small things that included the thing I had a phobia of. For me it was yoghurt and cheese mostly. So with the yoghurt I got myself tiny containers of that fruit-flavoured not-quite-yoghurt kids stuff – basically just two spoonfuls per container and very sweet. From there I went to larger containers, to more grown-up versions, etc. At this point I still wouldn’t even try un-flavoured yoghurt but I eat fruit-flavoured yoghurt daily.

            With cheese I’m still not okay with cold cheese but I even sometimes buy cheese to put on pizza/grilled sandwiches/other things where I like melted cheese. I can also buy paninis, pizza etc. when I’m out which I couldn’t before. I don’t remember if I had a specific strategy for this or if I just had to get more chill when I lived in France for a semester (you simply cannot not eat cheese there, I once tried to get a grilled baguette with ONLY chicken, no cheese, and the vendor looked at me like I’d grown two heads. I thought it was a reasonable request as he had bread, chicken, and cheese separately and had to put them all together anyway, but nope).

          2. Ramona Flowers*

            What an amazing list.

            My husband struggles a bit with trying new foods. It helped him to keep actively remembering that if he didn’t like something he could stop and never ever eat it again.

    8. Ramona Flowers*

      Hey. Well done on getting to bed – it can be really hard when your sleep is all messed up.

      I posted above that I was going to a Halloween party. I’m not. I’m emotionally and physically tired and I just wanted to curl up in bed and watch TV so that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying not to berate myself for being pathetic and instead trying to let myself see it as good self-care.

      What’s going well is my EAP therapy. The first therapist’s availability changed so much after the first week that she probably shouldn’t have taken the referral. It took a lot of hassle to sort a re-referral but they finally sorted it out and now I’m working from home one day a week and seeing someone based in a local community centre and she is just lovely. I was so relieved when I met her – she’s just a really good fit for me.

      What I’m most proud of is doing some good self-talk and being kind to myself and not listening when jerk brain tries to say bad things at me.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Thanks for sharing. I bailed on a play last night. As soon as I said I couldn’t go, I was so relieved. Mr. Bibliovore and I marathoner 4 episodes of West Wing.

    9. Parenthetically*

      The time change is next weekend and I’m dreading it. It’s my first winter as a parent and I’m pretty stressed about it.

    10. K.*

      Not great. My sleep is all messed up; I had to take a day off this week because I hadn’t slept at all and was completely fried the next morning. I relied on sleep aids to get me through the rest of the week and didn’t sleep well last night. I had a crappy day at work yesterday, which I think stressed me out (although I had a great workout after work, which helped), and I’ve realized that it was a mistake to take my current job so I’m trying to get out right around the year mark (actively looking; the year mark is in two months).

      I’ve also been feeling kind of isolated and left out of social stuff lately. So I’m not in a great place. (I’m in therapy, been going for almost two years.)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I met yet another person who said they acquired their drug habit because of bad teeth. The doc ordered pills and Person became addicted. This is yet another person whose life was shattered by addiction. Talking to this person and hearing Person say, “life has passed me by”, just tugged on my heart so much.

    12. Tris Prior*

      Who here has a light box for seasonal depression? Do they help? The short days are hitting me hard already. I just…. don’t feel like doing anything other than cocooning, reading books on the couch cuddled up with a cat, and eating comfort food. (Unfortunately, my schedule doesn’t permit any of that, which is a shame because other than the comfort food these sound like great coping mechanisms.) Doesn’t help that we essentially went from summer to winter in the past week, very quickly. I HATE being cold. :(

      One of my coping mechanisms is gardening. I had to tear out most of the vegetable garden today due to threat of frost. (On the plus side I found peppers that I didn’t know about, hidden among the vines!) That was hard. Sometimes I feel like my seasonal depression is entirely because I can’t put my hands in the dirt and get things to grow (though of course I know it’s got a biological component and is not entirely because of that.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My doc said to get one of those artificial sunlight lamps and have it shine on my head for 20 minutes a day. It’s either that or go outside for 20 minutes. I have not tried this yet but I really want to try it.

      2. Bryce*

        I’ve got one around here somewhere that I used to use. The main thing these days is I have white-light bulbs in my computer room. Portland tends to have a lot of dull gray days and it really helps me differentiate day from night more than a typical indoor light does. The main issue I have with it is actually losing track of when the day is done, I’ve got a normal indoor light on a stand lamp in the corner that I turn on to switch to Evening Mode. Even if I don’t turn the main light off, it colors the tone of the room enough that my brain can shift.

        Actually, I should put that on a timer. I have one around here.

        1. Bibliovore*

          I’ve got one. It was recommended when I moved to MN. I have it on the kitchen counter and it turns on automatically in the morning while I am making breakfast and reading the newspaper. If I get to work early, I have one by my computer and put it on for twenty minutes there.

      3. Raine*

        I have a light box that I ordered off of amazon and it has really done wonderful things for me on the days that I can’t go outside and take a walk (winters where I live are far too cold for me). I usually have it on my desk while I’m doing school work and it has an internal timer so I don’t leave it on for too long. It definitley makes me feel less blah on cloudy days when I’m shut in.
        On the gardening side, I’m the same way, so I have a terrarium that is fairly self contained and needs minimal upkeep but I can still feel like I’m gardening while I don’t have the space to have a garden like I used to.

    13. Sylvan*

      Great in every aspect, for the first time in about a year, except for insomnia. My immediate goal is to sleep like a normal person; then to try to socialize a bit more.

    14. Lauren R*

      I started a new medication and feel so good it actually makes me want to cry a little. It’s for my ADHD and it’s so wild how many of the negative traits/thoughts/feelings I’ve always thought were a combination of depression, anxiety, and just being really awkward/inherently wrong/growing up in an abusive home and arriving late to the self-care party just totally disappear when a dose kicks in. I feel like a real person for the first time in possibly ever. I feel like myself and it’s so bizarre that I could go my whole life not feeling like myself? But now I do and I LIKE feeling like myself and honestly just getting to FEEL in general – I forgotten how it was to feel happy/excited/confident/fun/etc and didn’t even really notice how those had been pushed away in favor of some numbed-down variation of tired/stressed/anxious/checked out because to me that had become normal.

      I’ve always felt like everything around me was a really difficult, confusing jigsaw puzzle that I never saw the box for, and I’m always exhausted trying to put together this puzzle when no one can explain to me what the end result is even meant to look like. Someone can say the most mundane/friendly thing to me and it’s like my head just flips it all around and spits it out at me in pieces like “Ha! Just you try to figure this one out, loser!” and it’s like being asked to take a test on the first day of class. Now I just feel so in control. It’s like suddenly the puzzle has shrunk to a manageable number of pieces and I have the box for reference! There are objectively easy tasks that used to drain me so badly that now seem like one of those 4 piece kid’s puzzles haha There’s much less “noise” and I can process what people want from me so much better. A long, quiet, or super busy shift at work doesn’t feel like torture now AND I get home actually able to function and get things done!

      The only drawbacks are that it makes me VERY thirsty (the thirst does go away once I down a bottle of water but it’s pretty unbearable if I’m not able to stop and get one for a little bit; and it seems you can’t preempt the thirst with water, you have to wait till it hits you to make it go away). And it also has messed with my appetite which worries me since last time I had a super low appetite like this I actually forgot to eat and passed out one day, so I’ll have to keep a close eye on that. The other thing is that it’s a controlled substance (since I’m relatively anonymous here I’ll just go ahead and say: it’s Adderall) which isn’t bad in itself obviously but I worry that I may come to rely on it and then struggle to get a prescription if I change doctors or insurance plans, and I also kind of worry what people would think if they knew I was taking it since I feel like there are misconceptions about it. I really had no idea what to expect when I got the prescription as what I’d always heard and what my doctor told me were totally different. I was worried it’d be hyper-stimulating and make me feel all jittery and wired and wasn’t even clear on whether it had high risks of dependency/addiction; it doesn’t and it definitely hasn’t made me feel all weird and strung out but I still worry about it raising eyebrows with some people.

      The drawbacks definitely aren’t enough to take away from the absolute relief I feel at the sense of peace and normalcy it’s brought into my life. I feel capable, calm, and content. It’s like my mind and I are actually on the same side rather than constantly battling it out and exhausting each other in the process.

      In other news: I have an appointment with a sleep specialist in November which has been about 5-7 years overdue. My head LOVES to flip the whole sleep concept around and make me tired in the morning and wide awake at night. I can stay up for 24 hours straight and then STILL end up lying awake at night but the second the sun starts to come up I’m out with no problem. It’s messed up my life in so many ways and I’ve tried to manage it myself unsuccessfully for way too long. Hopefully relief is in the future.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Hey, I just wanted to say I know exactly how you feel.

        Adderall has been amazing for me. I’ve been off of it for the last few weeks because of issues with the prescription – I didn’t bring it to the pharmacy on time and by the time I brought it there they couldn’t legally fill it. Then I just got it renewed and the pharmacy was backordered so I don’t get it back until tomorrow. And it kind of sucks.

        With struggling with getting new prescription, I’ve switched doctors a few times and have had no issues yet.

        The controlled substance thing is kind of a bummer. It caused issues with getting hired at my current job because it’s an industry where drug tests are common and generally legally required. At first it was no problem because they just called, got the prescription number from me, and were able to verify it that way. But then it turned out that the lab had run my test as a DOT required drug-test rather than a regular drug-test, which meant the lab thought they needed more information/documentation than they really did, and my doctor’s office was not being responsive.

        My coworkers don’t know that I’m on it, though HR does. Honestly I tend to indicate (though not outright lie and say) that my prescriptions are for my migraines, since that seems to be more understandable for everyone than ADHD. (Though it just may be me from being sensitive from childhood, etc, where I kind of internalized the message that if I tried harder I wouldn’t need drugs and was just using a crutch. Which obviously isn’t true, but is hard to shake.)

    15. Anon Anon*

      Not very well. I think my coworkers are gaslighting me and Friday was pretty bad. After work, I just drove around in a depressed fog and that lasted for a long time. Unexpectedly, I saw some relatives this weekend and that actually made me feel better. But it’s Sunday evening so I’m feeling down again.

      I’m seeing my therapist next week so that’s a plus. But I still have to make it til then.

  49. Natalie*


    It came up in the knitting thread and it sparked a memory of my mom or somebody giving me a little basic embroidery kit when I was a kid. I remember rather enjoying it so I was thinking of picking it up again. Any recommendations for a super beginner?

    1. ValaMalDoran*

      Get the kits that have the picture printed on the fabric, that you then stitch over. Not counted cross stitch.

    2. Book Lover*

      I actually prefer counted cross stitch :). It is easier and looks better and honestly I find the printed fabric very confusing. You can go to Michaels or JoAnn and they will have a variety of easy to harder kits. Or you can fall down the rabbit hold online looking at different patterns :). No matter what you choose, in the end it is just one stitch at a time, so choose something you like.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I LOVE counted cross stitch. But I haven’t picked up my half-finished kit in years. I have a whole bunch of new kits just waiting to be started, but I can’t seem to ever get myself in the mood to do it.

        1. Book Lover*

          I have done cross stitch for over thirty years, but I can go years without doing it. Being in the mood generally means there is either a podcast or a tv series I want to listen to. If I am reading or on my iPad, it doesn’t happen. Sometimes the best thing is to start a new project. Or to look at where you are in the old one and commit to finishing one thread before putting it away.

      2. Natalie*

        So, is the difference just the way the patterns are printed? Or is it different kinds of stitching.

        The embroidery kit my mom got me had a couple of different kinds of stitches – I remember the x-shape, a loop thing that turned into a round ball, a running stitch that ends up looking like a twisted cord, and a different thing with a loop that made an oval shape (for flower petals).

        1. Dot*

          I’ve never used a kit with printed fabric so I don’t know exactly how they work, except that you stitch onto fabric with a print on it — well duh ;)

          With counted cross-stich you have a piece of plain fabric and a chart with all the stitches on. You mark out the middle of the fabric and start there (the middle stitch tends to be indicated on the chart). The plain fabric can be a bit intimidating but I imagine it’s also less distracting.

          In cross-stitch kits you usually use cross-stitches, backstitching and sometimes French knots (which I think is the second stitch you listed). There are other kinds of kits out there as well that use other kinds of stitches. I haven’t used any but I would expect them to come with instructions (usually both pictures and word descriptions). Kits also tend to come with a needle so you can really just buy a small/easy kit and be off.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I love counted cross stitch too. But my hands start stiffening up after a while of doing it–it’s part of my fine motor control issues. So it takes me forever to do anything. I have a Titanic one I’ve been poking at for YEARS.

    3. Tau*

      It’s funny that you’ve posted this because literally this week I’ve started thinking about trying embroidery myself. I keep seeing embroidered jeans etc. in shop that are out of my price range, not my style, or not my size and have been going “…couldn’t I do this myself with a needle and thread?” According to the internet, it looks like I probably can.

      So, no helpful advice but totally lurking in this thread.

    4. Red Reader*

      Find something little. On Etsy, the seller “aliciawatkins” has a lot of little kits that come with everything, including a hoop that can be used as a frame, and they take me (as a fairly experienced stitcher) maybe 2-3 hours, so there should be enough to keep you busy for a while, but not like a 3 month commitment. I’m terrible at doing big projects, so I do a zillion little ones. (I work in a hospital and my degree is in public health, so I’m slowly working on a wall hanging made from 2 dozen or so of her little germ patterns :) )

      1. Natalie*

        Yeah, that sounds like a good call. I also don’t want to sink a ton of money and time into it before I actually get a feel for whether it’s something I’ll keep doing! (This is also why I promised my husband I wouldn’t buy a piano unless I consistently play on a keyboard for a couple of years.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You should be able to find small kits labeled “easy” or similar wording. If you go to a craft/sewing store, the employees there should also be able to help you pick out something appropriate for a beginner.

      I found a plastic hoop that I like much better than the wooden round hoops. You might like to experiment with which type of hoop works best for you.

      I prefer embroidery over cross-stitch because of the variety of stitches is greater. One kit I did, you had to cut the stitches and comb them out to make it look furry. That was fun, the instructions were in the kit and it was very clear what to do. I have always thought I would enjoy ribbon embroidery. But probably I would spend a lot of time keeping the skinny ribbon from twisting.

    6. Isobel*

      Maybe see if your local library has some books on embroidery techniques for beginners? Then you can get an idea of what type of kit you want to try first.

      1. akgb*

        I learned on pillowcases. You can still get them online or at Joann’s and Michael’s. They are printed.

        But I second the cross-stitch suggestion. It is also very easy to pick up and get started.

    7. Traveling Teacher*

      Look up WildOlive by Mollie Johanson! She has tons and tons of super cute free patterns, stitch guides, and tons of help on how to begin. All are super simple, and she also has an Etsy shop where she sells pattern sets. Her work is also all over the web, and she’s the resident embroidery expert for about.com as well! (I’ve been following her for close to a decade; big fan here!) Embroidery is a great craft hobby because it requires so few tools to get started, and they are absolutely dirt cheap! Embroidery thread is about 20 cents/skein, a hoop will run you two to five bucks, and you probably have loads of cotton dishtowels just waiting to be practiced on.

      One summer, I told my mom that I was bored–pro-tip: never tell your mom you are bored! But, in this case, she was nice. She sat me down with a pile of dishtowels, traced a bird out of one of our coloring books onto a corner, showed my how to do a stem stitch and said, “Alright, when you finish that one, there are more waiting!” And that is basically how I spent the rest of the summer, and most summers after that! You can embroider anything you can trace or even just embellish things that you already have–if you’re doing jeans, you might want to invest in some heavy-duty tapestry needles. Nice to do your own in that case, though, because most of the store-bought stuff looks so teeny-bopper to me…

      Sublime Stitching has some interesting patterns, and there are a ton of interesting etsy shops out there. K. Aoki has some beautiful advanced embroidery books out there. Embroidery is one of those things you can be really really fussy about or just do it to enjoy–I’ve done both, but what I love the most is just watching the lines come to life. I don’t enjoy counted cross-stitch because you have to count the whole time instead of going with the flow, but different strokes… :)

    8. Catherine from Canada*

      There are lots of independent embroidery pattern designers out there now! creating modern, fun and easy embroidery patterns.
      Kits are good to start with because they come with everything you need.

      iheart stitch art has some good tutorials on her website, I’ve used them in a workshop I gave. https://www.iheartstitchart.com/
      Torontonian Diana Watters has some fun cute kits too.
      (If this isn’t too crass, check out the Embroidery Kits section in my online store for lots more: https://www.fabricationsottawa.com/shop/creative-things/Embroidery-Patterns–Kits.htm)

  50. The Other Dawn*

    Just some venting…

    I’m so happy that my parents’ house is sold and the closing is next week, assuming nothing goes wrong with the follow-up inspection.

    One sister lives (D) in the house and has to move, and she’s the biggest procrastinator I’ve ever encountered. She was diagnosed with ADD last year (which makes total sense now…) and has battled drug and alcohol addiction her entire life (she’s 50+), has trouble keeping jobs, etc. She’s also the middle child, and the classic middle child traits fit her to a T. We can tell she’s drinking and possibly doing something else, which adds to the whole disorganization and procrastination thing.

    Anyway, another sister (B) and I, as well as our husbands, went up there last weekend to get all the stuff we want from the house. We got there and…not much has been done in preparation for her having to move out NEXT WEEK. And OMG it was like pulling teeth to get D to buckle down and make decisions on the stuff my B and I pulled out of (packed full) closets and sorted. D was all over the place. And she kept following my husband and BIL around the garage to make sure they weren’t throwing stuff away or taking anything she wanted (she was supposed to make her decision BEFORE we got there so they could go through and choose items and then put stuff out at the curb or in the dumpster). We left Sunday with our Uhaul packed.

    B and her husband went back up yesterday to get a few more things and to help pack and…nothing has been done since we left last Sunday. D took off for several hours and because she hadn’t sorted anything or made decisions, B couldn’t pack or throw anything away. B is NOT happy, to say the least. Total waste of her trip, which is three hours one way.

    Closing is supposed to be next Friday and B and I are supposed to go up Wednesday night to help get everything out and get D into her new place (that’s another story…it’s not even set in stone and there’s less than a week to go…), but I don’t see how D is going to get the house packed up in less than a week. It should be nearly empty by now, or at least everything but bare essentials in boxes, and it’s not.

    So, yeah, I’ll be happy when this is all over.

    1. Turtlewings*

      I would prepare for the near-certainty that you are going to have to pull an all-nighter and get D’s stuff out by force the day before the new owners take possession. Hopefully at that point D will be on board with it for lack of any other option.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Forgot to mention, the buyers told D she could “take her time” getting her stuff out, as they plan to move stuff in slowly. That was the worst possible thing they could have told her. As it is, she kept saying last weekend that she didn’t have to rush because she “didn’t have to move for another two weeks.”

  51. Laura*

    You never realize how much clothes you have until you sort through the dirty clothes hamper and come up with a mountain of “not washing today”, a small hill of “washing today” and the accompanying small amount of undies also bound for the “wash me” Hill.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          Hurray! I just put everything away, and yet there is still a ton of laundry to be done. I’ll do more tomorrow, since I don’t want to take up the laundry room all afternoon. I miss having my own washer and dryer.

          1. Persephone*

            I was both of you except I’m still stuck on “put said mountains away now they’re clean” – and have mostly convinced myself I can live out of washing baskets. Mostly.

            1. Effie, who is fine*

              Not only do I have clean laundry to put away, I took 3 full bags of clothes to a clothing swap today and came home with 1 full bag. Where am I going to put everything? o.o

  52. Amadeo*

    Y’all, I am at my first little show with my stuff and it is barely 50 degrees as the high today, I am freezing my behind off and am by myself with no one to send on a hot coffee run. What a pain.

    1. Tris Prior*

      Oh god, you’re vending outdoors? That sucks! This is why I don’t do outdoor shows after September (and sometimes not even then). I hope you at least sold some stuff?

      1. Amadeo*

        It wasn’t really outdoors, it was inside a bit metal pole-barn type building with an attempt at heat from one of those kerosene jet-engine type heaters. Sitting in a metal chair. I didn’t feel properly warm again yesterday until I’d had a good hot shower before bed, LOL.

      2. Amadeo*

        (Oh, and yes, I did sell a few things. Didn’t get my time paid for, but made the table fee back and better than I expected, so it counted as a win as far as I’m concerned)

  53. Grits McGee*

    Anyone have recommendations for thick-denim jeans in the US? (Like the kind they made back in ye olde 1990s. ;) ) Stretch denim is all well and good, but sometimes you just want something that just squishes and holds everything in place, you know?

    1. Uncivil Engineer*

      I hate all the denim with stretch in them. It’s as if all jeans manufacturers decided that women only want fashionable jeans and have absolutely no use for a pair of jeans that are actually rugged and can take some wear and tear. If I could fit in men’s jeans, I would buy those because they are still made to be tough. And why are they all skinny jeans? I can’t comfortably work in the yard or on construction/home improvement projects with skinny jeans limiting my range of motion.

      I recently bought a pair of Levi’s 515 bootcut jeans because they were cheap and they were the best I could find. But they still stretch out a little the first wear after being washed. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them but sometimes you just have to buy what is available.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Urgh I know, I desperately wish I could fit in men’s pants too! I fell down once in a pair of Old Navy jeans and put a giant hole in the knee.

      2. Kimonos*

        I would look at agriculture supply stores if you are in the US. Also, carhartt and perhaps north face may have them?

        1. Girasol*

          I fell in love with Wranglers after finding them at the farm supply store. They’re built sturdy for actual farm work. Men’s come in regular, slim, and relaxed fit. There are Wranglers for women at the ag store too, generally aimed at working women not fashion models, but since I fit a men’s pattern better I don’t know those as well.

      3. Rookie Manager*

        This may be a bit late but I hate, with a passion, lycra in jeans and skinny jeans. I gave been literally looking for about 2 years for jeans with no lycra in them.

        After a desperate plea in a Levi shop the assistant reassured me I was not the only one with this issue and suggested 501s, men’s 501s. They are awesome. You need to go up a size to account for your hips but they actually fit pretty well and they are proper old fashioned denim. I am now a very happy, jeans clad woman.

        (My other half didn’t really get what I was talking about until in a shop I showed him that mens jeans you could pull fabric taught and it makes a noice, whereas all womans jeans just keep on stretching. He walked around for the next 2 days ‘testing’ the stretch of jeans in amazement)

    2. SpiderLadyCEO*

      UGH I feel you.
      I have a pair of 100% cotton stretch free skinnies I got from Asos a few years ago, I would try them.

      I’ve been shopping for jeans by checking the cotton percentage, if it’s all cotton it’s going to be thicker and less stretchy

    3. fposte*

      If you Google for “jeans without stretch” or “jeans without Spandex” you can get some useful results. It looks like classic brands like Lee and Wrangler sell them and that there are some other possibilities (Levi’s get a shout-out but I didn’t get a quick direct hit on a sale page). And these are all women’s, though I don’t know what specific shape or cuts you’re looking for.

    4. Jules the First*

      My absolute favourite jeans are by Paige denim. They are heart stoppingly expensive, but they hold up well (three years at the office, 4-5 days a week), never ride up or slide down, and they make me look fantastic (including all my wibbly bits), despite the presence of Lycra. Not sure I’d wear them for yard work or construction though…in that case I’d try Carhartt which do have stretch but are intended to be worn and worn and worn (all my female friends in construction swear by them).

    5. Natalie*

      How wedded are you to the look of jeans? Or is more about wanting practical pants to do stuff in?

      If it’s the latter, you might check out women’s tactical pants. I have a pair of 5.11’s Cirrus Pants that are comfortable, durable, and look pretty dang good on me. I’ll put a link in reply.