weekend free-for-all – October 7-8, 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: Oh the Glory of It All, by Sean Wilsey, a memoir about money, excess, family, and an evil stepmother.

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

{ 1,169 comments… read them below }

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yes. Disgusted but not shocked.

      I am surprised and disappointed that Lisa Bloom is defending him.

      1. Audiophile*

        I’m not surprised either. Weinstein’s a well known bully throughout the industry.

        She’s not doing a great job if she’s trying to defend him. She agreed with almost everything George Stephanopoulos said. How can you call any of these allegations “workplace misconduct”?

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I don’t think her resigning undoes this:

          As the board convened an emergency phone meeting on Thursday evening to address the allegations, published in an investigation by The Times, Ms. Bloom sent an email to board members attacking the article. She outlined a plan that involved “more and different reporting,” including “photos of several of the accusers in very friendly poses with Harvey after his alleged misconduct.”

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      Yes, and I’m unfortunately not surprised. Even less surprised after I’ve been catching up on episodes of You Must Remember This and all the episodes about men abusing their power in similar manners during early Hollywood.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Such a good podcast, but, yes, it’s definitely a disgusting trend that’s been going on for a long time.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          One of my favorite podcasts!

          Honestly, I’m more shocked when other people are shocked. At this point, I’m more surprised when a white straight man in Hollywood is a decent person. I can think of maybe a dozen off the top of my head who fit the bill, and that’s it. Even then, I’m sure some of them have done things I’m unaware of.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              Like many bells down said, he’s a 9/11 truther and he’s also been pretty adamant in the past that the Zika virus is a government conspiracy. I know some trans activists aren’t too happy with him, too.

              Most of the white dudes Marvel has cast in their movies have done or said some pretty sketch things – some obviously worse than others.

            1. Panda Bandit*

              They said a straight white man in Hollywood. Power and money are very well known to corrupt people.

          1. Nye*

            Michael Schur should be on the list of good dudes in Hollywood. I listen to his podcast with Joe Posnanski and he comes off as such a genuine, charming guy (and talks a lot about his kid). Plus Parks & Rec!

            If it turns out he’s secretly awful, there’s no hope left.

    3. Free Range Creative*

      I’m in entertainment. This stuff is common. I spoke out against it a year ago after leaving an area where it was especially bad. Only one or two people were supportive. After I spoke out, most people stopped talking to me. Some spread false rumors about me. I was openly mocked and attacked, called stupid, naïve, and mentally ill. This is after being in the industry for decades. I’m sick of it. It’s not right and there should be more public outrage. For me, the worst part isn’t even the behavior itself. It’s what follows – slander, stalking, threats, bribes. There is a lot I could say, but I’ll try to keep things light because I don’t want to upset anyone.

      I’m having a rough weekend. Broke and having a hard time making ends after going through all of this. It took a huge toll. By that I mean logistically. Not being able to get a job, etc. It’s a long story.

      Anyway, I’m glad this has come to light and that people are expressing concern over it.

      1. nep*

        Sorry you’re having a rough weekend.
        On NPR a couple commentators were just talking about that — how these things are ‘open secrets’, and all the barriers in the way of bringing it out. Perhaps there’s something positive in the fact that in a few recent cases there’s been some accountability? I don’t know. Seems like a horrible situation.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I hope things get better for you very soon. I am sure there are advocacy groups that would love to have you on staff.

        1. Free Range Creative*

          Thank you all. I’m doing ok. I just wish that more people were against this kind of thing. It isn’t an easy battle to fight alone. The message is simple: treat other people like fellow human beings, the way you would want to be treated.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Man, I’m so sorry. I wish people would get that talent in one area doesn’t cancel out being a disgusting predator. :(

            1. Free Range Creative*

              Well, the predators are generally not especially “talented”. Or they might be good at one thing but lack other components of what it takes. They tend to be social butterfly types who are good at playing that kind of game. Often, they copy other people’s ideas. That can make them come across as talented until you scratch the surface and realize they don’t know what they’re talking about. But more often, they’re in peripheral roles – not contributing much creatively, just facilitating things or hanging around trying to be the center of attention.

              1. Free Range Creative*

                Basically, you compare how high profile someone is to what they’re actually doing. If the former is bigger than the latter, avoid them or at least proceed with caution.

  1. EA*


    So my partner is away on business this week. Does anyone have any suggestions for recipes that work well for 1 person? Generally I have little motivation to cook when he is away, because the portions are not right, and it’s just me. I want to try and break this habit this time. I don’t have a high tolerance for leftovers, and I usually have a hard time finding things that make 1-2 servings. Any ideas?

    1. Beatrice*

      A grilled cheese sandwich
      Pasta dishes with spaghetti or small pasta (you control the amount of pasta) and a simple sauce – I do butter, garlic powder and parmesan
      Maybe something where you transform any leftovers into another dish next time? Like a couple of simply- sauteed chicken breasts, and the second breast gets chopped up cold for a salad the next day?

      Do you have any food limitations or allergies?

      1. PB*

        I was going to suggest pasta, too. It’s easy to scale back, so I often make it when I’m alone. I like tossing it with butter and garlic powder, too. Sometimes, I’ll do a quick aglio e olio sauce. When you put the water on to boil. dd 1-2 cloves garlic and a couple tablespoons olive oil to a cold pan and put over medium low. Optionally, add a teaspoon of anchovy paste. Stir it slowly so it doesn’t burn. The garlic should turn soft and get medium brown. When the pasta is cooked, toss with the sauce and add parmesan cheese.

        I also like doing scrambled eggs or fried egg sandwiches. Fry an egg, slide it on a slice of buttered toast, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yeah, omelettes and frittatas are easy to scale and customize, and can be fairly quick and easy to clean up, depending on what you throw in. Personally, my favorite is an entree salad, you can throw on any protein you like or happen to have available, and use a bagged salad mix or build your own without too much prep. Hamburgers are similar, you can add cheese or sauce to the meat, then build it however you like once it’s cooked.

          Me, I’d probably be doing mostly takeout, but that’s only half laziness; we have some really great choices around here.

        2. PhyllisB*

          One of my favorites when I’m dining solo is an omelette and a salad. Or nuke a potato in the microwave and put all kinds of goodies in it. I like shredded cheese, butter, sour cream, broccoli, and sometimes crumbled bacon.

      2. LAM*

        My go-to home alone dish is pasta. I’ll cook pasta, drain (saving just a tad of cooking liquid). Then while the pasta is draining, add a tablespoon or two of butter (ok… in reality 2-3 tablespoons) to the pot on low/med low heat. Melt. Add dried Italian herbs, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook til the butter by itself is tasty. Dump pasta back in with a touch of the liquid. Toss and remove from heat. Once the pasta cools a tad, add very generous amounts of grated Parmesan and toss again. If I have some left over chicken, I’ll add that too.

        I could eat this all day, everyday.

    2. Rafflesia Reaper*

      Can you get around the avoidance of leftovers if you repurpose your food the next day? Today’s rotisserie chicken becomes tomorrow’s chicken fajitas?

      It’s less Cooking and more Assembling, but I’m a big fan of the 1 serving Minute Rice cups – Nuke that rice + a bag of steamfresh veggies, and add a protein that comes in a serving. I usually do a fish fillet or eggs.

      What’s really helped me in cooking as a singleton full time is losing the notion of “dinner foods” and “lunch foods.” There’s no reason you can’t eat pasta salad for breakfast or waffles for dinner. As long as you eat enough of the right things in a day (and not just, say, three meals of waffles in a row) it doesn’t matter so much what order they go in.

      1. Janelle*

        I do this. I roast a chicken one day and have that with some veggies. The left overs then into wraps, chicken salad sandwiches, topping for a salad, mixed in with other new dishes. I get a whole chicken on sale sometimes for a little as $1.50 for a 4’or 5lb chicken. Cheap, easy and many meals to follow

      2. Natalie*

        In this vein, we make a batch of simple shredded chicken (with no particular flavoring so it’s versatile). One time it’s chicken tacos, the next day it’s on a salad, the next day it’s in a quick stir fry, etc etc.

        It’s dead simple, just cook some breasts or thighs (boneless and skinless) with chicken broth on low heat until it falls apart. Oven or stovetop.

    3. Red Reader*

      I am also terrible at leftovers. Solidarity.

      Freezer section of the grocery store, breaded chicken patties – eat them on a sandwich, or use them to make a quick-n-dirty chicken parmesan. I go to frozen breaded fish fillets a lot too when it’s just me. Target has (sometimes) single-serving packets of frozen veg. I also go to the deli and get a pasta salad that I like (my favorite is a bacon ranch pasta, but YMMV) and mix in pre-grilled chicken strips; you can get those either frozen or in the deli section. I find that if you’re eating them as a meal rather than as a side dish, the $1 Knorr rice packets are about a serving and a half.

      If you’re looking for more recipes and less prepared/processed foods – whack up a zucchini/squash and sauté it in a little bit of olive oil or butter with some mushrooms, garlic, whatever sturdy veg floats your boat, top it with spaghetti sauce. Microwave-bake a potato (wash it, stab it a lot, wrap it while still damp in a paper towel, microwave for 7-8 minutes unless it’s crazy huge, then go 10) and top it with cheese, veg, bacon, sour cream, whatever does the trick for you. Bacon and egg sandwich. Cook one (steak, chicken breast, pork chop, burger) and put veg and/or a potato on the side. Cut up a potato and a brat/sausage and oven-roast them together. Ploughman’s feast – smoked sausage and cheese plate with grapes/apples and a crusty roll.

      1. Parenthetically*

        That last one — when I was single one of my FAVORITE dinners was whatever soft cheese looked nice at the cheese counter, some nice seeded crackers or a crusty demi-baguette, some olives or apricots or a pear, and a large bottle of belgian beer all to myself. Heaven.

        1. StubbornWombat*

          That’s my splurge dinner – sheep’s milk gouda, some crackers, some fruit, and some nice cured meat, and a chilled white wine ^^

        2. Natalie*

          Whenever it’s bananas hot here we do that for dinner, because any amount of cooking or food assembling is too much.

    4. Anoa*

      Avocado smashed on toast with a sprinkling of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.

      And popcorn & wine :D

      1. Anoa*

        Ooh! A big salad with sliced chicken breast or steak. You can easily do the chicken breast in the oven w/ olive oil & spices at 350.

      2. Becca*

        yessss to avocado & butter/oil & salt on toast!!! I love it! And any leftover avocado can be used in a salad.

        Seconding the salads, sandwiches, and pasta recommendations. My mom lives alone and often will buy a bag of frozen chicken breasts, which she can then bake or fry and use in a variety of recipes—on a salad, in a sandwich, sliced with veg and rice… I find rice does pretty well as leftovers if you have something to freshen it up.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I’m a fan of cottage cheese. There are lots of things you can mix into it and have a filling meal. I usually add a little Equal or Splenda, some unsweetened coconut and dry roasted peanuts.

      1. TychaBrahe*

        I do cottage cheese either “sweet” or “savory.”

        Sweet: fresh or frozen fruit, or with preserves mixed in, sometimes raisins, or a nut mix.

        Savory: try diced tomatoes and green onion, or celery and chopped ham. My favorite, though, is raisins, bacon bits, and sunflower seeds.

    6. Jen RO*

      I also dislike cooking (my boyfriend usually does it), so when I am alone I cook super easy stuff.
      * Salmon with potatoes – salmon fillet, potatoes cut in 1 inch pieces, whatever spices you have lying around the house, lemon – put in oven and poke the potatoes from time to time until they are the right consistency (I like them super-mushy)

      * Chinese rice – boil rice, put in a pan with peas, corn (from a can), mushrooms and a beaten egg. Mix everything together and eat.

      * Chinese corn soup – you need some chicken stock for this (I think in the US you can buy it in canned? I just freeze leftover soup). Put a large can of sweet corn in the blender and blend it a bit (it doesn’t have to become a paste), then chuck it in the soup with some starch and boil it. Add pepper and eat.

    7. HannahS*

      Oh, I’ll be watching this thread. I’m living alone for the first time and cooking for 1 is tricky if you don’t want to eat the same thing all week. Here’s what I have to contribute:
      Baked potato (can be done in the microwave) with baked beans and cheese.
      Eggs are also a boon for one person. Scrambled eggs with toast, an omelette, hard-boiled eggs in a sandwich or salad, etc.
      Mini-pizza on a pita or naan or tortilla: use jarred pasta sauce for the sauce, toppings, bake briefly.
      I haven’t tried it yet, but I really want to try some small sheet-pan meals. Like, one or two frozen sausages with some cut up vegetables, tossed together will oil and roasted. Seems really easy.

        1. SouthernLadybug*

          This looks delicious. And that website looks like it has some interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.

          1. Anoa*

            You’re welcome! I’m pretty sure I learned about budget bytes from another open thread, so it’s only right to pass on :)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        You can also do baked potatoes in a crockpot. I’ll do that sometimes on the weekend and then have baked potatoes for the week that just need to be reheated.

      2. Parenthetically*

        We do sheet pan meals all the time. Cheap, delicious, quick, almost infinitely scalable. Spicy sausages, onion, sweet potato, and kale is a favorite. Bratwurst, red cabbage, onion, and potatoes is another one — dress with some mustard and apple cider vinegar at the end. (Cover the sheet pan with foil or parchment and bonus: no cleanup!)

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, yes, baked sweet potatoes in the microwave! I’ve been eating the crap out of them and they’re so good for you. When the ones left in the bag start to get tired, I cut them up and cook them and reheat them at lunch.

        1. HannahS*

          It’s amazing! I’m used to things cooked in the microwave being disgusting, but potatoes and corn seem to come out great.

      4. Ktelzbeth*

        This is better advice for someone living alone than just temporarily alone, but what I do is cook my big recipe of stuff and then freeze it in single serving sizes. After a couple weeks of this, there are 3-4 things in the freezer, so I can cook one night to replenish the freezer and then take out different things for the next few nights. Its the same leftovers, but not all in a row.

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          I do this too – and most things keep for six months, so I try to stock it up for when I know I will be hella busy. Soups freeze wonderfully, but I find the freeze best without noodles. Curries are good, too, and quiches.

          I also do microwave baked potatoes with broccoli, egg drop soup (soooo easy and like, five ingredients), stir-fries (easy to scale down), baked chicken breast plus potato and broccoli, and pre-made things like frozen meals and canned soups.

    8. DanaScully*

      I’m a fan of cooking large meals (say for 4 people) and splitting them into portions for reheating later. You can steam fresh veggies to go alongside your meal but it takes a lot of the effort out.

            1. Fiennes*

              Yeah, but most people’s issue with leftovers is not wanting to eat the same thing 2 or more days in a row. Freezing stuff for later means you can have the meal whenever you next crave whatever that dish is.

              Now, if you’re so anti-leftover that the mere fact of food having been prepared on a previous day is a deal breaker–yeah, freezing doesn’t work. But I think that’s not a very common mindset.

              (Though some folks just don’t like freezing food, but that’s yet another story!)

        1. DanaScully*

          Yeah, I realised later on that I’d totally missed the part of the OP’s post where they said no leftovers! Sorry – brain fart moment.

          Let’s try again:
          *A whole chicken in the slow cooker – ideal for adding to meals or using for sandwiches. I just leave it in the fridge and pick at it when I’m peckish. Plain chicken with salt is heaven for me!
          *Seconding jacket potatoes, either white or sweet.
          *A big pan of chicken, lentil and vegetable soup (using broth from your slow cooked chicken).
          *Spaghetti carbonara is pretty easy and quick.
          *Slow cooker BBQ pulled pork – again, great to leave in the fridge to pick at or add to meals. One of my favourites is pulled pork, sweet potato jackets and veg.
          *Salmon or another fish of your choice. I grill (broil) mine and either have it with rice or baby potatoes and vegetables.
          *Tuna pasta – I just use a tin of tuna, some mayonnaise or salad cream, a little dash of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and add some other bits in (cherry tomatoes, spring onions, sweetcorn).

          Websites I like are cookingonabootstrap.com, bbcgoodfood.com and budgetbytes.com for recipes.

    9. Iza*

      Cacio e pepe! It’s my favorite pasta dish and there’s recipes online for one if you want someone to tell you precisely how much pecorino Romano to use. I always make it for myself when my partner is out of town.

    10. CopperPenny*

      One of my current go to meals is to cut chicken and veggies of choice into bite sized pieces. Toss with Balsamic vinegar and olive oil and bake at 450 for 15 minutes. I often use frozen veggies and it works great.

    11. Gingerblue*

      Is there any food category where you don’t mind leftovers? How about soup? Very few soups taste different reheated than when fresh, and we’re getting into fall soup weather in a lot of places. (Or is it not a taste thing and you just don’t want to eat he same thing repeatedly?)

      I’m single and cook for myself all the time, and while most of my more involved cooking is geared towards producing leftovers, the simplest recipes are the ones which work best for making a single meal. Lately I’ve been trying to cook dinners which are a protein plus one or two vegetables. Proteins for me tend to be simple sauteed chicken, fried tofu slices, scrambled eggs, a sausage, or sauteed fish. Vegetables: a steamed artichoke with butter, a red bell pepper cut into strips and sauteed, broiler-grilled or pan-fried blackened asparagus, sauteed snow peas, a freezer bag of pepper and onion mix sauteed, steamed spinach or arugula, mustard greens cooked with bacon, a green salad, etc. None of this is stuff I use a recipe for, exactly: it’s all just a straightforwardly heating a single ingredient and maybe adding some seasoning in the process. Just Bento is my favorite.

      If you think this might come up again, I’ve found bento cookbooks to be surprisingly great for resetting my expectations of what you can do with a meal for one.

      1. Nico m*

        Some leftovers are better than the originals:

        Indian Curry always tastes better reheated

        I like a nice roast pork shoulder but even better is to hack the cold joint into thick slices then fry them up in its own fat

    12. Amber Rose*

      A single chicken breast with a handful of veggies and potato chunks can be lightly coated in oil, spiced with pretty much anything, put on a baking sheet and cooked in the oven for about 30 minutes. Makes a solid single serving meal.

      Stir fry is good too. Some chopped up meat of choice, veggies, sauce, a handful of pasta or rice. The sauce can be bought or you can Google some simple ones.

      Or salad. Salad is good. Leftover lettuce can be used for sandwiches or whatever.

    13. Kat*

      I’m useless at leftovers. I live alone, and have done for years, and I’m still hopeless. I’ve recently started to make meat sauce for spaghetti and freeze some, so it’s not really a leftover but it’s just extra in the freezer… haha. It works with rice too so you can pretend it’s chilli or something maybe. Or soup is really good because recipes always lead to you having way too much and then you just stick the rest in the fridge and have it over the next day or two. If you had cheese on toast etc with it that would be a nice simple meal.

      I feel you, though. Hate one-person cooking.

    14. Blue_eyes*

      Grilled cheese. Quesadilla. Cheese toast (nice bread toasted then sprinkled with a little blue cheese, or your favorite fancy cheese, plus a drizzle of olive oil and salt is heavenly). And yes, I realize all of these things are basically just some variation of cheese plus break-like-thing, but that’s how I roll.

      As others have said, make a small amount of pasta and add jarred sauce or just garlic oil and little cheese.

      I do all the cooking in my house, and I still don’t usually make a real “recipe” when my husband is away. I just do one of the things above and slice up some carrots or cucumbers on the side to get in some veggies.

      Also, do you have friends or family that you would like to invite over or go out for a meal with? That probably won’t take care of every night that your partner is away, but it would introduce a little variety.

      1. Amy*

        Dude you might be me! Cheese toast is one of my favorite things! Likewise grilled cheese and quesadillas!

    15. Parenthetically*

      Use the meat counter, bakery, deli, and salad bar at your local grocery. One nice sausage link + a small microwave baked potato + some greens/salad. One seasoned/stuffed chicken breast + frozen veg. One burger + a nice roll from the bakery + salad. Spaghetti carbonara with a little pancetta from the deli. Frittata or omelette with spinach and cheese from the salad bar + a crusty roll from the bakery.

    16. AA*

      Strapatsada. Fry a couple of chopped tomatos (or canned tomatos) with some onion, until the mixture thickens and loses most of its moisture. Add some oregano or herb of your choice (thyme also works well) and a little salt. Add a couple of eggs and stir them in (without beating them – the idea is that they should be scrambled). Add some cheese – feta or xyrotyro are ideal, but any sharp cheese like cheddar will do.

      Delicious, easy, and cheap. There’s a version here:


    17. Monique*

      Epicorious has a great recipe for risotto for bacon and peas for one person. I make it at least once a month. It’s great with a nice white wine :)

    18. Bruce H.*

      Ramen noodles. Dice a clove of garlic and add it to the water before the noodles. After the noodles are cooked, add the flavor packet, then break a raw egg into the soup and stir vigorously. Serve with hot buttered toast.

      I also endorse the suggestion above for fried egg sandwich. I make mine with bacon, mayo, salt, pepper, and occasionally chopped raw onion.

      Someone above suggested grilled cheese sandwich. If that seems like too much effort, cheese on buttered toast, microwaved just until the cheese melts, is almost as good and a lot easier.

      1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

        This is totally how I make my grilled cheese because I’m lazy and want food immediately.
        I toasted the bread first because I like some crisp, put the cheese on, and then microwave until just melty.

    19. We have cookies*

      Omelettes work well. You can throw in some sandwich meats or mushrooms for protein, chop up an onion or a tomato, and add whatever other veg and herbs and spices you like. I generally use a small pan, and use one or two eggs per person.

      If you look for ‘student recipes’ they tend to be designed for one or two, and low on complicated nonsense.

      When I’m downsizing a recipe to one portion, I tend to put the ingredients I want to use on the plate I intend to eat off. If I can’t fit the raw ingredients on the plate, I know I need to reduce my quantities.

      Also, if you’re doing any shopping, try to buy smaller things? Like, if I buy a pack of chicken fillets instead of a chicken, I can use one fillet and feeeze the rest. If I buy spring onions or shallots, I can use just one, instead of being left with half of a big onion (which always gets thrown out).

      Pasta all’arrabiatta is my storecupboard stand-by. This recipe produces two servings, because I use 400g tins of tomatoes. (I could use a 200g tin, with 100g of pasta, and 1 garlic clove.)

      2 tbsp olive oil ( I use any mild-flavoured oil I have)
      1 tsp chilli flakes (or a small fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped)
      2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
      400g tin of tomatoes
      200g penne (or any other pasta)
      Handful of basil leaves ( I grow basil on my windowsill, but it’s optional)

      Put a small pan of water on to boil for the pasta.
      Heat the oil, chilli flakes & garlic in a small frying pan and cook until the garlic goes a bit brown, then add the tomatoes (and a pinch of salt if you want), breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon.
      Simmer the sauce while you cook the pasta (12-15 mins).
      Drain the pasta, then stir it all into the sauce.
      Keep coooking the sauce and pasta mix until sauce coats each piece (another 2-5 mins) then serve with the basil leaves.

      …now I’m hungry ;)

    20. Kathenus*

      Homemade nachos, which I’m making tonight. Chop up some raw veggies (tomato, carrots, sugar snap peas, zucchini/summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower – depending on what you have handy), slice some olives (green, black, kalamata – again what’s on hand or your favorite) and mix together in a container or bowl. If you have and want meat (shredded chicken, ground beef) then include that as well. Then I put a layer tortilla chips on an oven-safe plate, top with half of the veggie/olive/meat and then shredded cheese. Add a second layer of tortilla chips and the rest of the toppings and more shredded cheese. Bake at 300 for 5-7 minutes. Then take bowls of salsa, sour cream, and/or guacamole (or I sometimes prefer diced avocado) depending on your taste and enjoy! Makes me want to make dinner right now, but my boss probably wouldn’t like that since I’m at work.

    21. D.W.*

      I love to make lentils! You can easily make 1/2-1c and add veggies and meat of your choosing. Very filling!

    22. Elizabeth West*

      I make fish tacos a lot. They’re fast and don’t require a huge amount of prep. Cooking the fish is the most labor-intensive part. Depending on the size of the filet, you can have one big taco or two small ones.

      –Saute one fish filet in some taco spices with a little olive oil. I use tilapia because it’s cheap–yeah, I know, I know!–but any whitefish will do. I keep it in the freezer and defrost in the microwave as needed. Sometimes, I get lazy and bake a frozen battered fish filet in the toaster oven.

      –Spread some of that Taco Bell Chipotle sauce, which you can get at the grocery or Wal-farts, on a flour tortilla (I like the wheat ones) or a soft corn tortilla if you want. It’s the same stuff they put on the quesadillas.

      –Put spinach leaves or whatever greens you want on the tortilla. Most folks like cabbage on a fish taco, but it’s hard to buy cabbage in small amounts and I eat a lot of spinach.

      –Put the cooked fish on the spinach/greens. I like to add diced tomatoes and/or some slices of avocado too, or salsa, whatever veggies you like.


      Easy, fairly healthy, doesn’t take forever, and it only uses one pan. :D

    23. Julia*

      I love to either just cut up vegetables (zucchini is easy) and roast them in the oven with canned chickpeas, or have a sandwich with one side avocado, one side cheese and put a sunny-side-up egg in between. It’s delicious! You could put bacon in as well, but I’m a vegetarian.

    24. StubbornWombat*

      Cheater chilaquiles! Scramble an egg with cheese and serve it atop a layer of chips and salsa. Add beans if desired. Eat like nachos!

    25. Junior Dev*

      Roast some veggies in a big batch on the weekend, then add to various things:

      Quesadillas (chop them finely)
      With a (microwave) baked potato and some meat of some kind
      In pasta, with a premade sauce
      As a topping for salad

      Use a rotisserie chicken or some sausage for protein.

      What you make depends on your preference and what’s in season/on sale. I would do any mix of the following:

      Cherry tomatoes
      Summer squash
      Butternut squash (in cubes)
      Sweet potatoes

      Wash the veggies and peel if needed, cut into roughly bite-size pieces. Toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, garlic powder, and a little chili powder. Roast in a pan for about 30 min. at 350 degrees.

    26. Bagpuss*

      Risotto is easy to scale down to a single portion, and you only need one pan – ideally a fairly heavy bottomed one.
      -finely chop half a small onion and a clove or two of garlic, and sautee in a little oil or butter until soft
      -add approx 2oz aborio rice and stir , then gradually add stock, adding more as it is absorbed by the rice, stirring all the time.

      You’ll need about 1/4 to 1/3 pint of stock, depending on the size of the and what else you add.

      You can then customise your risotto with whatever you enjoy
      – a little pre-cooked chicken.
      – Spinach (you can use fresh or frozen)
      – zucchini (grated or finely chopped)
      – mushrooms
      – fish or shellfish

      Add the extras a few minutes beofore the end of the cooking time, and then add grated parmesan

      Cooking time is around 15-20 minutes

      It can also be a good way of using leftovers – if you’ve had cooked chicken, or if you have cooked veg.

      I like chicken and asparagus, or chicken and spinach, or mushroom and zucchini, but you can use whatever you like.

    27. Horrified*

      I hate leftovers too!!

      Get a copy of “The Pleasures of Cooking for One” by Judith Jones. She was Julia Child’s and James Beard’s editor.

      Lovely little recipes, and if the dish makes more than one serving, she has suggestions for how to turn it into a different meal day 2. The book is a charmer and I really like how she makes very nice meals for herself. I’ve made many of the recipes and have enjoyed them all. My favorite is the apple/fennel salad and the souffle-for-one on the cover is delicious as well.

  2. Helpful*

    Best ways to hid veggies in recipes?
    Veggies puréed into muffins
    ” ” tomato sauce

    … what else?

    1. Rafflesia Reaper*

      Veggies pureed into ground beef. My mom’s secret weapon in meatloaf: Pureed carrots. Nobody ever knew what was in it, and nobody ever new why her meatloaf was so moist.

      1. Triplestep*

        Mushrooms work well in meatloaf, too. Not raw, though – they’ll end up too watery while cooking. I grind them up and sautee them with onions first.

      1. Julia*

        I’ve made her black bean brownies several times. They don’t look like the brownies in the photos when I make them (maybe I make them wrong?), but they’re really, really good and moist. I used to have them for breakfast when I had to eat on the train, and they were really filling.

        1. Anoa*

          Thanks for the recommendation! I just made these today & they are delicious. Never would have guessed that this could be a thing.

    2. Mme Marie*

      The trick is to steam & purée/mash the veggies or grate them fine enough that they are more difficult to identify.
      Mash up peas in hamburgers*
      Pasta with “Pesto” using spinch or broccoli instead of basil
      Mashed potatoes / half replaces with roasted mashed cauliflower or turnips or seeet potato
      Squash purée in pancakes
      Zucchini in chocolate cake or brownies

      * I caught my mom doing this when I was quite young, and then insisted on watching her make dinner for the next year to ensure it didn’t happen again.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Mme Marie, that reminds me of my dad. He HATED carrots. When my mother would make veg. soup, she would mince them very fine hoping he wouldn’t see them. He wouldn’t take a bite until he had dipped every tiny carrot fragment out. Of course, we were not allowed to do the same!! :-)

    3. HannahS*

      Something like sloppy joes could work. Anything that’s like meat in a sauce, you can grind vegetables into the sauce.
      Vegetable cakes. What I’m thinking of are actually frozen vegetable latkes that my family used to buy, but they weren’t all that fatty. I think they’re made by just finely grating a bunch of vegetables, like carrots and broccoli, along with potato, adding in egg and some flour, and then either pan-frying or baking patties. The vegetables aren’t hidden (because of the colour) but the texture and flavour are homogenous. I liked them as a kid because they didn’t have any distressingly unpredictable texture or taste.

    4. Yetanother Jennifer*

      If you chop it finely enough, you can hide spinach in just about anything. Worst case it looks like herbs. Shredded zucchini can also be easily added to many things. Cooked pumpkin can be added to breads and pancakes. I’ve also made pumpkin pie into a main dish custard by eliminating the crust, swapping regular milk for condensed, reducing the sugar, adding an egg and upping the spices. It’s an easy dinner served over toast. Back when my daughter was small, about 10+ years ago, there were two cookbooks about hiding veggies. One was written by Seinfeld’s wife. I preferred the other one and there were some decent ideas.

      Peanut Butter Soup
      cut a small onion and 2-3 carrots into pieces and cook until soft in 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock. Puree. Add 1/4 cup rice, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper and simmer until the rice is cooked. Add 1/2 cup peanut butter and stir until fully incorporated.

      Magic Sauce
      1 tbsp peanut butter to 1 cup salsa. Heat in microwave and stir until well combined. The peanut butter takes the edge off the spiciness of the salsa and gives it a more Asian flair. Not exactly hidden but this works well for the veggie-adverse. I use this as a topping for chicken, salad dressing, veggie dip, etc. It’s awesome.

    5. Lily Evans*

      I’m a fan of adding pureed butternut squash to macaroni and cheese. I don’t have an exact recipe I use, but if you google it there are lots of options out there!

      1. Overeducated*

        Yes! There’s a good recipe from The Kitchn for pumpkin ricotta pasta too. The texture is different from mac & cheese because ricotta isn’t a melting cheese, so the TRULY picky may refuse it, but the flavor’s tops.

    6. Monique*

      I just made mini turkey loaves with lots of Veggies (zucchini, carrot and mushroom). They’re amazing. I’m not a veggie fan and I would definitely make them again. They’re called turkey garden loaves and I found them on the budget bytes website.

      1. Bantha Pudu*

        Oh man, that recipe is the absolute BEST meatloaf I’ve ever had. Like, slap my hand away from the tin because I couldn’t stop eating them good. That website is a godsend.

    7. Overeducated*

      To add to the list:

      Smitten Kitchen has a good recipe for cauliflower pesto pasta – looks like a beige sauce/paste and most of the flavor is from the nuts and parmesan

      Shredded peeled zucchini and onion in a quesadilla or grilled cheese – I have gotten this past a picky toddler, key is to make sure there aren’t visible dark green bits of peel

      Chili – go heavy on the onion, celery, and carrot base

    8. ArtK*

      I have a pizza/pasta sauce recipe (from James McNair) that is very veg-heavy. Besides tomatoes, you also finely chop carrots and (IIRC) celery and cook it all down with the tomatoes and garlic and onions and spices.

    9. Anono-me*

      Spinach can be minced fine and combined with anything with ground beef. I found 1/4 package to a pound is undetectable.

      Spinach dip does not hide spinach but usually reads as junk food and gets eaten.
      I thaw a frozen package of spinach, then drain it very thoroughly, and mince it. I mix it with about 1 1/2 as much plain yogurt and add ranch dressing mix powder to taste.

  3. The Other Dawn*

    I’m happy to say I have answers about my back pain! The MRI showed an annular tear and two bulging discs. I’m very happy the doctor found something, as opposed to there being no explanation for the pain I’ve been in for more than two months. He started me on a steroid pack (I can’t have NSAIDs because of the weight loss surgery), followed by physical therapy when I get back from my business trip. I asked him for some narcotic pain meds for the trip, since I’ll be on a plane for more than six hours each way and in a seminar for three days; sitting aggravates the pain. I feel like the steroids are helping, as I didn’t wake up in horrible pain the last two mornings. Progress!

    If you want to read the long version, just click on my name. I posted a pic of my MRI , too. :)

    1. rubyrose*

      I am so happy you have an answer and a path to move forward!
      I have some chronic lower back/hip pain. Someone recommended sitting on lacrosse balls. If you don’t know, they are about the same size as tennis balls, but harder. They are really helping! I think the next time I fly they are going on the plane with me.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Seriously! It seems so weird to say I’m happy they found something, but I am. But I’m also glad it’s not something really serious that would require surgery (not yet, anyway). I was really starting to think that it’s just me being too sedentary, even though I workout five days a week and try to keep somewhat moving/busy.

        1. JanetM*

          It doesn’t sound weird at all — having a diagnosis generally means you can develop a useful treatment plan. I am glad the steroids are helping, and hope the PT works out well!

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      That’s great they were able to find the cause of the problem! Hope you’re able to make a full recovery.

    3. Windchime*

      I’ve been struggling with chronic back pain for about 18 months now. I did an MRI (drugged up because of claustrophobia), two different SI joint injections, and failed physical therapy. Like you, I can’t take NSAIDs. After months of slowly, slowly getting better, I decided to give PT another try. This time, I think the therapist really understands and it seems to be helping.

      Here’s hoping that we both are feeling much better soon!

  4. DanaScully*

    Hello! I’m never early enough for these things. I just wanted to say hi from a wet and chilly Liverpool, England. I’m spending the day in my pyjamas, drinking tea and watching Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Wishing you all a peaceful weekend.

    1. rubyrose*

      Hi from Colorado! Today is supposed to be 73 degrees, but snow is coming on Monday/Tuesday.
      Heading out to a farmer’s market in a bit and then coming home and settling in for an afternoon of classic movies.

      1. Audiophile*

        Uh snow?? I hope they mean a dusting.

        I’m spending the day doing laundry, catching up on Netflix and some network TV shows.

        1. Myrin*

          We had, as is customary, our first snow yesterday – only on the mountain tops, though, which are a good 700 metres above my village. It’s something I can feel in my bones after having lived here all my life and it was so chilly the last two days that I wasn’t surprised by my mum’s pointing out the white tops.

        2. Clever Name*

          I’m seeing forecasts of 4-6 in, so a bit more than a dusting. It’s a little surreal. The weather is amazing outside right now, and I’m going camping with my boy tonight, but the weather should roll in tomorrow evening.

      2. NaoNao*

        Hello from Colorado as well! (to rubyrose) I’m in the Denver area and it’s 50% Goodwill today! The Goodwills I visited were jammed, people were just emptying the store!

      3. DanaScully*

        That sounds like a perfect Saturday! I hope the snow doesn’t cause too much inconvenience for you. Here in England the entire country seems to shut down and go into mass panic when snow comes!

    2. PhyllisB*

      Hi from Mississippi. We had planned to take the grands to New Orleans to the zoo because they’re having their fall break, but Nate put an end to that plan. I couldn’t believe the hotel we were booked at sent an email telling us about the upcoming storm and suggesting we might want to cancel and visit another time. That’s what I call awesome customer service!!

    3. LAM*

      So jealous. Here (in Michigan), we had an 83°F day. Followed by rain and storms. As it’s the last day of my vacation, I’d of rather had wet and chilly. That way I’d of had an excuse not to do anything lol.

  5. Anonymous Educator*

    I love Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, but The Mountain Between Us was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I’m assuming the script was appealing in some way, and then the director and editors flubbed it up somehow? I dragged my spouse to see it, and now I have to go see Blade Runner, which I’m not psyched about at all. Unfortunately, it probably can’t be worse… ugh.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I love them both, but the trailer looked horrendous.

      I’m conflicted about Blade Runner because I love the original, and I think Ryan Gosling is overrated. And learning this week that Denis Villeneuve originally wanted David Bowie as the villain made me even more annoyed that Jared Leto is the villain instead since Jared Leto is awful and I refuse to give money to any movie he’s in.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I have absolutely zero enthusiasm for this Blade Runner remake. But sometimes when you drag someone to see a movie you want to see, it’s only fair to go to the movie she wants to see.

      2. Marzipan*

        I have never given two hoots about Ryan Gosling but he’s really fantastic in this. Jared Leto I agree with you is awful, but he’s not in it anywhere near as much so it’s bearable on that front.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I’m hearing good things about the movie from people whose opinions I trust, so I might have to see it. I don’t dislike Ryan Gosling, but I’ve never really understood what all the fuss is about (I think he’s pretty generic looking and a decent actor, but not the most talented).

          Good to know about Jared Leto not being in it much. I’m hoping the Murder on the Orient Express remake follows that path with Johnny Depp.

      3. NaoNao*

        I went to Blade Runner last night. Note: I’m a super fan of the OG.
        It was strong. It’s long, and it has little dialogue. It’s a moody expansion of the original story and a love letter to Blade Runner fans. It’s got amazing visuals but it’s about an hour too long :)

        1. Alinea*

          Yes! This! I was squirming in my seat at the 2 hour point. The movie went on for what seemed like forever. That being said, I still enjoyed the movie :)

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      I read the Mountain book, but I wasn’t sure how it would translate to the screen. I’ll probably check it out when it comes on cable.

    3. We have cookies*

      I saw them on interview promoting that just last night, and thought it was weird that they came in separately. When Kate Winslet came in and sat next to Idris Elba, he was leaning so far away from her he looked like he wanted to emigrate to another sofa.

      After that, I was already wary. I think I might wait for the various tell-all memoirs and enjoy those instead.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Aw shoot, I thought that looked good. Well, I will put it on my rent list then. I’ll probably go see Blade Runner, but I’m short on cash and I really want to go to our Alamo Drafthouse this month for their October scary movies. They’ll be showing the 1982 remake of The Thing. It’s one of my favorite horror films EVER and I never got to see it on the big screen.

    5. Optimistic Prime*

      I kind of guessed that from the trailer, which didn’t have a single redeeming moment in it despite starring two really awesome actors.

  6. Anoa*

    We’re hosting one of my husband’s friends this weekend. He’s ok, but he alwayssss tries to stay longer than originally invited. He doesn’t take a hint (maybe intentionally?), so we’ve taken to always having immovable “plans” to get him to leave. My husband is currently trying to pry him loose. Here’s to hoping he’s gone by lunchtime!

    1. Triplestep*

      So, weekend guests at your place only get to stay until 10:45ish on Saturday? Or has be been there since *last* weekend? Maybe one of the problems is you guys have different definitions for a weekend stay. For me a weekend goes until Sunday night!

      1. Merci Dee*

        Triplestep, I don’t think the definition of weekend is what’s really at issue here. The point is, they’d planned a visit for a set period, and the guest wants to go past the agreed-upon terminus for the visit. Doesn’t matter if it’s one night or two.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I think Triplestep’s point was that if Wakeen was told he could come “for the weekend”, then there may not have been a mutual understanding of when the visit is supposed to end; IMO, expecting to stay until some time on Sunday would be perfectly fine if the words “for the weekend” were used, although I personally tend to specify more precisely for exactly this reason.

          So, if the agreed-upon timeframe was “for the weekend”, the point is that it would help to specify something more like “until around lunchtime on Saturday” next time instead.

          1. Lissa*

            I didn’t see anything in the post that indicated he was invited to stay “for the weekend”, though? I mean, the OP said “this weekend” but I thought that was more a turn of phrase to indicate (to us) a thing that is happening in this weekend free-for-all period. I might say “my birthday is this weekend!” but wouldn’t mean that I’d be celebrating it from Friday night to Sunday night.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Oh, you’re totally right. I read Triplestep’s assumption and didn’t check it. Just like with letter writers, we should take Anoa at her word that the friend is overstaying an agreed-upon time.

              1. Triplestep*

                Oh, I realize he is overstaying his invitation; my point is that he may not realize it! Especially if the word “weekend” was used when the plans were made. Sure, her husband may think he was clear about the end time of the visit during the planning stages, but someone who “hints” to his friend that it’s time to leave might not have been that direct to begin with.

      2. Shayland*

        I often say to my guests, “I love you / I really like your company, but I’m done being social and I need you to leave now.” It’s always worked out well for me. :)

    2. Merci Dee*

      Having the “plans” is a good idea. I’ve done much the same with similar visitors before. What worked for me was saying several times over the visit, “I have to leave the house by x:00 to get there on time.” Then, as x:00 approached, make sure guest had things gathered up, grab my purse so we could walk out the door together. Help them get things in the car, hugs goodbye, everyone pulls out of the drive. Visitor is on the way home, and I pick up a loaf of bread at the store, stop in for a cup of tea somewhere, or pop out for lunch depending on my mood. Then I come home to an empty house.

      I put this practice in motion after I mentioned “plans” to one certain house guest and the response was, “No problem! I can wait here til you get back!” Ummm, no.

      1. nep*

        I had that issue once, too. A visitor who tends to pop in and overstay had been here a few hours. I wanted to get on with some things in the house. I said a couple of times, “OK, well, I’m going to get in the shower so I can get on to some errands” — something like that. She just sat there — no response. At one point she said with a chuckle: “OK — it’s not like I’m going to steal anything.” Uh, no — that’s not the point.
        I admit I’ve got a tough time being direct with her in such cases; she’s lonely and has few friends. I know it’s some relief and a bit of contentment to her just to be here and chat with us. We just suck it up.

        1. nep*

          (I don’t mean for that to sound like we just *suffer* through her visits, oh poor us. I just wanted to put this out there because my last line there could sound pretty cold. It’s not about the visitor in this case; I just meant that for her we sometimes might put off some things and suck up the slight inconvenience.)

      2. Anonymous Childcare Person*

        I had a few friends that stopped over for a few hours before I had to get ready for an appointment… I kept telling them I had to get ready for the appointment, but they still stayed and kept talking and I ended up being late and had to skip taking a shower. It was incredibly annoying.

    3. MommyMD*

      Be polite but direct. “We’ve enjoyed your stay and now we have to get on with our day”. He knows what he’s doing and seems ok being rude.

      1. Mephyle*

        And yet that’s still not direct enough. Like the case of nep’s visitor, that doesn’t tell them that you want them to leave.

  7. Notthemomma*

    Off to a relatives house to deep clean (they are elderly) and do some hornet eradication. Hopefully I don’t get stung as we dispatch the little buggers and destroy nests; have lots of treatments that are safe to use in a house, but NOT what I want to be doing on a fall morning!

    1. Mike C.*

      I don’t know if it’s an option, but I’ve always had better luck at night when they’re not out and about.

      1. Nothemomma*

        Yeah, we will have to do that; there were just.so.many. This will have to be a multi week endeavor as I can’t get up there during the week. Spayed and got rid of a couple colonies, put out sticky traps, apple juice traps, and sprayed peppermint oil to trap/repel them. My fear is that there are several queens who have taken up residence in the attic which will mean exterminators.

  8. all aboard the anon train*

    Does anyone have any recs for historical TV, movies, or books that has queer couples who have a (mostly) happy ending? I’ve recently reread Maurice, and then read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and finished watching Black Sails, so I’d really like to keep the trend going since I’m on a historical era kick.

    I know there’s a lot of self-published queer historical romance novels out there, but most of them are so poorly written and I’m looking for something with more plot than pure smut. There are a lot of historical queer stories that end unhappily, and I just really want to read or watch happy endings right now. I’m tired of seeing the Bury Your Gays or Queerbaiting tropes since they happen at an alarming rate in most portrayals of queer characters in media/fiction.

    Non-fiction recs are fine, too. Fantasy, as well. To be honest, I’m just looking for nothing that’s set in the modern day because I want some escapism.

    1. Chickwriter*

      Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox is a wonderful read. Set immediately post-WWII in rural Sussex.

      I also recommend KJ Charles and Jordan L. Hawk.

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        Seconding all of these! I’m currently mid-reread of KJ’s latest, which came out on Tuesday.

      2. Can't Sit Still*

        As much as I love KJ Charles and Jordan L. Hawk, I’d stay away from their recent stuff if you’re looking for escapism. It’s very obviously written Right Now, with all that entails. I’m looking at you, Spectred Isle and Hexslayer.

      3. all aboard the anon train*

        I just bought the first book on Amazon ebooks because it sounds great, and I think I’ll probably start it later tonight!

      4. Bibliovore*

        Not sure about historical, but not present day:

        Patience and Sarah, Isabel Miller
        Either series by Jane Fletcher (Celaeno or Lyremouth)
        Time travel books by Catherine Friend (The Spanish Pearl, A Pirate’s Heart)

        Look at websites for Bella and/or Bold Strokes Books – most titles contemporary but any historical ones will have the requisite happy ending.

    2. Clever Name*

      Netflix had an awesome miniseries called “Juana Inez”. It’s about a woman who is a nun and a poet in Spanish colonial Mexico who is lesbian. She’s also basically a genius. I’m not sure the ending would be considered “happy” in that the characters don’t exactly live happily ever after, but I didn’t find it upsetting or depressing.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I kept seeing that pop up on my Netflix suggestions! I’ll definitely add it to my queue now.

    3. Talia*

      Um… well, if fantasy’s all right, anything published Circlet Press is going to be of a certain level of quality, and a certain level of plot. I mean, they’re definitely still erotica, but they’re pretty serious about standards, and one of those standards (it’s in their submission guidelines) is a certain level of plot.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        I’ll check them out! I’m not against erotica per se, but it’s more that I get pretty bored when it’s a lot of sex. I enjoy a good sex scene, but I think I like the build up to the sex more than the actual sex scenes sometimes.

        1. Talia*

          That’s more or less the same problem I have with erotica. And I say that as someone who *writes* erotica. (I mean, I’ve thus far sold one short story to a Circlet anthology, but theoretically that makes me a writer.) I’ve mostly ended up reading Cecelia Tan, who is awesome, but most of her stuff is set in the modern day. I’ll have to look at the rest of these recommendations myself; maybe I’ll find something fun.

    4. HannahS*

      Hmm, I JUST saw a review for a well-received historical/fantasy one, but I can’t remember it. Why don’t you check the archives of the website “Smart B_tches, Trashy Books”? Their reviews a lot of historical fiction, fantasy, and adventure books, too–pretty much anything that contains a love story of some importance along with the rest of the book. And they’ll say straight up if something is more sex than plot.

      1. Look What You Made Me Do*

        I was going to say that I feel like I’ve seen recs for this on Smart B*tches but I can’t recall the specific post. It’s a great resource though!

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Like the 1990s? Cause I still consider that “modern” even though I know it’s technically not (it’s my childhood decade)

    5. Turtlewings*

      Haven’t seen it, but have heard good things: Mystere a la Tour Eiffel, a French lesbian murder-mystery romance, looks like probably Victorian era? Happy ending!

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      Charlie Cochrane’s Cambridge Fellows mysteries are lovely: True love through the decades. You really need to read them in order, they’re not stand alones. The mysteries aren’t particularly taxing, but they’re plausible.

      Some people find the sex scenes too twee (lots of guns saluting and trains going into tunnels) but I find them hilarious, and they’re infrequent and plot appropriate. YMMV.

      Jonty and Orlando are relatively enlightened for their time, without being time travelers from the 21st century.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        You know, someone had actually recommended these to me before and I forgot all about them. I’ll put them on my list to peruse!

    7. lisalee*

      I would heartily recommend Heather Rose Jones’s Alpennia series, which is a historical fantasy set in an invented Regency European country. There’s three so far and each features a different f/f couple. If you like comedies of manners, courtly intrigue, and independent women, they are definitely for you. What I really appreciated about them was that the plot was multilayered–they are romances, but there’s also a lot of other plot threads. The worldbuilding and magic system is fascinating too.

      I would recommend ordering directly from Bella Books (the publisher) if you want hard copies because their shipping is really fast and they do a deep sale once or twice a year.

    8. Gingerblue*

      T. Kingfisher’s The Raven and the Reindeer is a retelling of The Snow Queen as a lesbian romance. I haven’t actually read this one yet, but Kingfisher is on my auto-buy list. (That’s a pen name; the author’s actual name is Ursula Vernon. She also writes children’s books under her own name, and she has a generally entertaining blog and twitter and does some podcasts too.) I can’t swear to the happy ending, but a non-happy ending would be fairly out of character for her and I’ve seen a bunch of LGBTQ+ people say they liked this.

    9. VintageLydia*

      I will, as always, recommend Gail Carriager. She writes paranormal Victorian-era steampunk, so not exactly historical fiction if that’s a turn off. She has a novella called Romancing the Inventor (lesbian romance with a happy ending) and she has another releasing next month called Romancing the Werewolf (gay romance that appears to also have a happy ending… she hates giving her characters non-happy endings unless they truly deserve it.) She also recently released Summage Solution set in the modern Bay Area, with werewolves. It’s the first in a series of gay romances.

      She also has a lot of gay characters in her regular novels as well, but their romances aren’t really front and center, even if the characters themselves are very important.

  9. CatCat*

    I signed up for a Diet Bet a couple months ago and I (to my astonishment) hit my round 1 goal last month and have hit my round 2 goal this month. For some reason, having monetary stakes has been a strong motivator for me. When faced with a decision where I’d normally cave, I ask myself, for example, “Is this donut worth $25?” (I’ve yet to encounter one that is!) My fitbit has also been a good motivator, especially as I see my cardio score improve.

    1. Triplestep*

      Good work! I bet you feel a lot better, too.

      What kind of FitBit do you have? I have contemplated getting a fitness tracker, but I’m afraid I’ll be too distracted by another gadget – has that been a problem? I have a chest strap heart rate monitor that I wear at the gym, and I’ve been pretty successful with that. But I do kind of like the idea of having more info from the day plus the ability to get phone notifications on my wrist.

      1. Ms. Annie*

        I have the surge. It has GPS tracking as well as sept counting. (GPS kills the battery, though.) I also looked at the Blaze (no GPS). Both have a clock that is big enough for me to see without my reading glasses.

        The surge just has the rubber bands while the blaze has a much wider assortment of bands. SOme rubber, some metallic.

      2. CatCat*

        I have the Alta HR and I really like it. I actually limited the amount of data I view on the actual device to what is meaningful to me at a glance for a moment. I only have it display my steps, the time, and my current heart rate. I didn’t really care for the phone notifications and disabled them. I really like the “reminder to move” feature where the device vibrates 10 minutes before the hour (within a set time period during the day, mine is 9:00-6:00 on weekdays) if I haven’t gone at least 250 steps during that hour. It prompts me to get up and walk around the floor at my office or go down the stairs and walk around the building.

        I use the app for more detailed data and just sync it at the end of the day. I like seeing the trends and especially my improving cardio score.

        1. CatCat*

          I also like that it can automatically detect my activity. It knows if I have gone for a bike ride, a long walk, or done cardio intensive exercise and it logs that activity into the app without me having to fuss with setting start and stop times.

  10. Cat*

    I’m supposed to go to New Orleans tomorrow for that thing we don’t talk about on weekends. But also, a hurricane is supposed to hit tonight? No idea if my plane will leave or if I should still try to go or what.

    1. Clever Name*

      I wouldn’t go. I’m going to guess your flight will be cancelled. I imagine you’re going to a meeting or something. Can you contact the organizer and ask if they’re changing their plans?

      1. Cat*

        It’s a conference – they sent out something yesterday saying the hotel has generators and they’re going ahead. It feels a little like they’re playing chicken with the hurricane though. (Hopefully this isn’t too work related).

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          “The hotel has generators” inspires no confidence. I would also bet your flight will be cancelled. I personally wouldn’t travel to an evacuation zone; I think that statement from the organizers is kind of silly.

          1. The IT Manager*

            This is an uninformed and inflammatory statement. There wasn’t an evacuation ordered for New Orleans. Some low lying areas in Louisiana did have an evacuation order, but New Orleans wasn’t an “evacuation zone.”

            I, mean, I totally support safety and getting out when you need to get out but people’s decisions need to be informed by facts and not scare tactics.

        2. Gaia*

          Oh okay. Does it also have a hurricane proof building and enough food and water supplies to sustain everyone for a week or more? No? Didn’t think so. I hate how cavalier people can be with hurricanes.

        3. Clever Name*

          That’s nuts! I’d refuse to go. Losing power isn’t the only threat from a hurricane, obviously. NO is basically below sea level, and the only thing that keeps certain areas from flooding are sea walls, levees, and pumps (that may or may not have backup power). Not to mention being stranded in a place with no food or clean drinking water. No thanks.

        4. paul*

          Don’t they remember Katrina? I’ve got friends and colleagues who still can’t talk about it sober.

    2. ArtK*

      Odds are pretty good that flights will be cancelled. I follow several NOLA restaurants on FB and they’re all announcing closures starting this afternoon.

    3. The IT Manager*

      I’m in New Orleans. I expect things to be fine. They’ll be fine by Monday without a really weird plot twist. Lots of places of business have closed for this afternoon and there is a curfew in the city tonight.

    4. Beatrice*

      I grew up in an area frequently hit by hurricanes/tropical storms. There’s a huge difference between a Category 1 or 2 storm and Katrina. You should be fine. I wouldn’t hesitate.

    1. Courtney*

      Worst: A student brought a loaded gun to school yesterday.

      Best: Student with a gun told one of his friends who alerted a teacher. So we went into lockdown and the police were very quick to get there and apprehend the student. Everyone is okay!

      I realize this is kind of a cheat because they’re about the same event, but for the most part my week was just a ridiculous amount of exhausting work. Here’s hoping for some actual best moments next week!

      1. Courtney*

        (And I just realized I broke the places to not mention rule. Sorry, guys. I needed to vent somewhere and yesterday was too crazy for being on the open thread at all.)

        1. fposte*

          I could be wrong, but I don’t think the rule actually is “don’t mention it on pain of death”; it’s just that it’s not the thread for its discussion.

        2. SouthernLadybug*

          I’m gonna go with you have a pass on this given the circumstances. I hope the student gets the help they need. And you have a weekend to decompress – that’s a lot to deal with. Especially given the events of the week nationally.

        3. Ruffingit*

          I feel like this is a situation where you’re allowed to mention work. That was a pretty big thing to have happen. I’m glad the staff and students are OK!!

        4. Not So NewReader*

          I am glad you spoke up here. It’s important not to lock ourselves into isolation in times of distress. Maybe someone is reading without commenting and thinking “I am not alone, either.” We all share the fact that we are human beings first and foremost. It’s a common ground we have.

      2. Gaia*

        That must have been very shocking and frightening, even though everyone is okay and it went as well as it could. I hope the student gets the help that is needed (as well as the other students and staff).

      3. Anonish*

        Yikes! Glad all are okay. Just so you expect it, people may react hard to the next lockdown drill or mass shooting.
        Had a credible threat/lockdown/police search a year ago, and Vegas and the most recent drill sent a few teachers into a tailspin.

    2. nep*

      Worst: So broke that I couldn’t afford the drop-in fee for the weightlifting training today.
      Best: I’ve got my health, my back pain has subsided, I’ve got a home gym where I was able to get in a good workout. Can’t complain. Things will get better.

        1. Ruffingit*

          There will always be someone better off or worse off than you. Your concerns are valid and worthy of feeling badly over. Just saying :)

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            Yeah, I just don’t think you can rate it compare things that way, which is why I was super uncomfortable with the discussion on Friday’s open thread about this in the context of cancer and Mika and Nina’s hair. (There were some sensible and wise responses but I stopped reading as it wasn’t helpful for me.) Sometimes a small thing can make or break your wellbeing or be the last straw or just make your week worse!

        2. Julia*

          Not having enough money for hobbies – especially ones that are important to your physical and mental wellbeing – is not a minor complaint. Being broke is super stressful. I hope it gets better soon.

      1. Gaia*

        Just because it is your “worst” this week doesn’t mean you think it is the worst thing ever – don’t beat yourself up :)

        Great job on using the home gym when the training didn’t happen! Keep it up. You got this!

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      BEST: Went to midweek garage sale with my boyfriend and found a complete working vintage Oster food processor for $20! Food processor, mixer, blender, everything, just needs to be washed. We also got a vacuum for $2 and a stock pot ($2) and soup ladle ($0.50), a cat feeder($1), and I got a vintage cookie press in the box for $5. It was so fun!

      WORST: Boyfriend is working a double shift today (7:00 AM to 11:00 PM) so I don’t get to see much of him. But next week he’ll have a whole Saturday off! (Joys of shift work . . . he might have enough seniority for a shift with weekends off in 20 years or so.)

      1. nep*

        The best two dollars and fifty cents I ever spent was an Oster food processor (a smaller model) at a garage sale. (It was a Sunday afternoon and everything was half off.) That was years ago. I’ve made countless batches of peanut butter, banana ‘nice cream’, and bars. It’s so great finding useful things for next-to-nothing at moving and garage sales.

    4. QualityControlFreak*

      Worst: (ongoing worst) spouse’s battle with cancer.

      Best: very odd encounter at the medical facility during this week’s chemo and immunotherapy. Spouse was dozing as they were running his infusions. I was in the chair beside him. We were close to the exit. A man, who I assumed was a former patient, was speaking to the nurses. He moved toward the exit and stood there in the hall for a moment. Then he said to me, “Have faith.” This was a total stranger. In reality, my faith is one of the main things keeping me going right now. I looked up and said, “I do.” He told me they had just told him he is good. And that he wasn’t supposed to be here. That in January they had given him a 1 in 4 chance of surviving. That he had had chemo, radiation – all the same therapies spouse has had/is having plus a few I haven’t heard of. He said, “I was grey, I was bald, the chemo really hammered me.” (As my poor, grey, bald spouse lies next to me.). This man has a weathered face, a full head of hair and a beard. He says, “Pray. Keep praying.” I say, “I am. All the time. Not just me, but many.” Again he says, “Have faith.” I took his hand and said thank you and he left. I dunno you guys. To me this is a sign, and that guy was a messenger. Or I’m taking it that way at any rate. So to me that was this week’s best.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Sending you supportive vibes. I hope things turn around for you and your spouse. It’s good that you have so many caring people contributing their prayers. (My spouse is also living with cancer.)

        Best: Another family member has recovered sufficiently from an orthopedic injury to return home.

        Worst: Tied between stress at [the unmentionable place] and sadness from well-intended questions about spouse’s healthy diet. (Spouse is not a charter member of the healthy food club.) Positive-self talk and getting a good night’s sleep relieved a lot of my distress. Then a chat with one particular friend gave me hope–and ideas!–for creating nourishing dishes that spouse might actually enjoy.

        It stinks, being strong for a family member who is facing a serious illness, but sometimes that’s just what ya gotta do.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Solidarity, fellow caretaker. It’s not easy or fun but I am doing what I want to do, and what I have to do for my own spirit. I am grateful for our life together regardless of what happens now. Strength and peace to you.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh I am sorry you are going through this and glad this guy was there to give you this boost. If it feels like a sign then that’s awesome.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        It is curious that you should mention this. When my spouse was sick I had messages like this a couple times. Someone lights a candle in the darkness for us.
        It’s striking how people are willing to just reach out and do this. But what really gets me is how they seem to know what to say. Compounding the curiousness of it all, I have asked a couple people later on about what they said and they had NO idea that it resonated so well with me/us.

        Expect people to light candles for you and have the boldness to actually look for them. Yes, look for them.

        Prayers for you guys and for yours around you.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Thanks, folks. This is such a good place to share stuff like this. This meant a lot to me. It felt significant. I do want to make clear that I don’t interpret it as a sign that spouse will be miraculously cured and we will live happily ever after. That is very unlikely. I took it as a message that, no matter what happens, I’m not alone. God will speak to me through others as well as in that quiet voice inside myself. And it will be okay. Have faith.

        2. QualityControlFreak*

          Oh, and NSNR, about knowing what to say! One of the things he said to me was, “People talk about being control freaks. Maybe you’re a freak, but we don’t have any control. Pray.” I have never seen this guy before. It just seemed like he had a message for me, he gave me the message, and that was it.

    5. WriterLady*

      Best: daylight saving started, so despite losing an hour when I came back from an interstate trip, I’m now getting home and it’s bright out. I love this time of year.
      Worst: my poor mother has been as sick as it gets, and she doesn’t take to her sickbed well. She’s getting on the mend now, thank goodness. Also, was trimming puppy’s clumpy fur along her ears and accidentally pinched her with the scissors. Didn’t cut her, but her yap of concern made me feel horrible and I very much wish I could explain it was an accident. She forgave me when she got a Kong full of peanut butter (xylitol free) to play with.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      Worst: rough week mental health wise.

      Best: I like my new counsellor, I went to yoga after missing a few weeks and it’s really boosted my mood, and The Good Place on Netflix has brightened my mood no end. It sounded like something I would hate but I love Kristen Bell so I gave it a go and I’m glad I did.

      Also, cat things. My husband is away overnight for work and I swear my cat is kind of… guarding me.

      1. Megan*

        I love the Good Place! We just started watching it a week or so ago, and we’re already all caught up (watched this week’s episode live).

        Sorry about the rough mental health week – been there, done that. :/ Hope next week is better.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thanks, I appreciate the good wishes.

          I’m watching The Good Place on Netflix – I also watched it all in the last week. Can’t wait for the next episode next Friday!

      2. Merci Dee*

        Oh, yeah. Cats know things, and they’re more on guard than usual when schedules change.

        I’m pretty sure the cat I had 14 years ago knew I was pregnant before I did. She followed me even more than usual, and she’d make sure she landed on my legs instead of my tummy when she jumped up for snuggles. She was my sweet Baby Girl, and I miss her like crazy.

    7. Caledonia*

      Best: ….its been a slow week so nothing outstanding
      Worst: I feel ill but am not sick (yet). I just don’t feel 100%, a bit wooly headed and a bit sniffly.

    8. Lily Evans*

      Best: Getting to see Halsey in concert last night! She put in an amazing show and I missed the last time she was touring so I was really excited to go. I was also proud of myself for going alone, despite my crowd anxiety, it was still a great time.

      Worst: The cold I had a couple weeks ago has firmly settled into a sinus infection that doesn’t want to go away. Ick.

    9. Cruciatus*

      Best: Not a super week, but just as I was thinking about how I’m getting bored at work (and it’s only been 5 months!), my supervisor gave me a few more tasks that my predecessor used to do. They won’t fill as much time as I’d like, but it’ll help and it’s nice to know she trusts that I’m ready to do them.
      Worst: I’m currently in a war about a mandate that just was revoked regarding healthcare for women on my local news’ FB page and I’m sad to see how many people are for taking this right away from women and I just. can’t. even.

      1. bibliovore*

        Best: in Philadelphia with my brother and his family. Eating great food. Fabulous weather.

        Best: husband hit a horrendous cold and I did not catch it

        Worst: chronic pain sucks

    10. SouthernLadybug*

      Worst: the food poisoning that knocked my spouse and I out for the count.
      Best: the kids didn’t get it, and we have a fun weekend with visiting family we don’t get to see very often.

    11. Lissa*

      Worst: One of my friends is doing something I think is unethical/not cool, and I am debating whether to talk to them about it – it is making my anxiety flare up really badly and I’m having bad dreams about it.

      Best: I tried making White Bean and Chicken chili, something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile, because I love white beans, and it turned out amazingly. I had waaaay too much last night.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That’s hard when a friend goes down a road we would never chose. Sometimes it means the end of a friendship. Sometimes it means we wait for the sky to fall and then go back in and help them pick up the pieces. Sometimes we try talking to them and they chose to dial back their choices. It’s tough the whole way.

        It might be helpful to think about what is reasonable here. Will the friend listen? Sometimes people feel cornered with no choices. Do you have ideas for other options (if appropriate)? Sometimes it boils down to this is who the person is and we just never saw it before.

        Hang on to the idea that it is NOT your poor choice, it’s hers. Don’t wear her anxiety for her. While you may be saddened by her poor choice, your life will continue on. There is only so much we can do for people, they have to do some things on their own.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, I think you’re right. I don’t think this is a friendship ender for me, though it might if said thing goes further, which she’s said it won’t, but… I think my problem I’m having is when she first told me, I didn’t immediately express disapproval because I was surprised/taking it all in/listening, but the more I think about it the more I feel like I just can’t say nothing. I think she’ll listen – it’s not a matter of being cornered here, just of making a selfish choice and thinking it won’t come back to bite her on the butt. My feelings are that things like this often end up coming out somehow and she’s likely to end up blamed, and even if not it still isn’t cool.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            It sounds like you have a good handle on it. I have had it said to me and I have said it to others, “You know, if you felt I was going to step into some crap, I would want you to tell me to look out. So I need to say something here and I hope you would do the same for me…”

    12. Ruffingit*

      BEST: I’m doing a staycation this weekend and it’s been lovely to have some quiet time away from everything. No one bothering me, just chilling out.

      WORST: A lot going on in general and I’ve just been feeling really stressed.

      1. JaneB*

        WORST: spent the week at home, missing the field trip I’ve been organising for the last few months, due to what the GP says is a new anxiety symptom :-( so mad with myself!

        BEST: indulged in several evenings of reading a novel in bed with a snugly cat and a cup of hot spiced apple juice – one evening it was raining and that added the perfect relaxing/cosy touch

        1. Ruffingit*

          Thank you! The stress will subside as I’m planning on doing some things to help it go away such as better diet, more exercise, and meditation. But right now, the staycation is really helping!

    13. Bryce*

      BEST: saw some amazing juggling last weekend at my old college with one of my former classmates, and walking through the rain and dark afterwards it felt like we were back there 15 years ago, like the place belonged to us again instead of the “kids” running around the place during daylight. And then this evening another of my former classmates will be in town hosting a fundraising concert so I get to catch up with her (or at least say hello while she runs around putting out fires, which is what we count as catching up). So it’s been a very nostalgic week.

      WORST: I’m having shampoo quibbles. My mom and I are both very sensitive to smells, and unfortunately not the same smells, so I switched dandruff shampoo to something she can stand when I visit (and the only “unscented” dandruff shampoo (they add herbs, but fortunately they seem to be mild herbs) we could find. “Free” and “clear” should not be scents!). It’s a different chemical (salicylic acid instead of prythione zinc) so it works on the dandruff in a different way. The main issue I’ve found is that if I skip a day everything gets very flaky right away, but also my hair feels thinner when I use it and I’m not sure if that’s bad or just different. So I’m deciding whether to stick with it, or just keep a bottle for visiting parents, or what.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Do you eat any healthy oils? How is your water intake doing?
        Both my husband and I had a medium sized problem with dandruff and we started watching what we were doing with oils and hydration. Things got better. But, as they say, YMMV.

        1. Bryce*

          I grew up in the desert, so drinking water is pretty much what I do any time I’m not doing something else. What are healthy oils in this context?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Keeping it real simple, I threw some olive oil on my salad. Later I branched out from there trying various oils and learning which oils not to heat up.
            OTH, you can get supplements such as fish oil, if you prefer.

            The results are not instant, it takes some time. Once I started keeping oil in my diet, I never had to go back to the dandruff shampoos.

            1. Bryce*

              I don’t see how those are related, the stuff I’ve found online about olive oil is as a topical application. I mean since I stopped drinking soda my ingrown toenail got better but I doubt one caused the other.

    14. Jules the First*

      Best: had a great day today with a friend. Much art was critiqued, much tea was drunk, and many politicians were mocked.

      Worst: worked an eleven hour day yesterday with no beaks and a migraine. Still feeling fragile…

    15. Elkay*

      Worst: Total washout of a Saturday going to a wedding reception, it’s a friend from long ago and I think I’m trying to hang onto something that isn’t there.
      Best: Found that Spotify lets you listen to albums without adverts even if you’re not a subscriber so smashed through my work with some shouty music as my soundtrack.

    16. Mimmy*

      WORST: The Las Vegas shooting put a damper on our wedding anniversary.

      BEST: Nothing exceptional, though we did have a nice dinner with some friends on Tuesday night. Tomorrow will probably be next weekend’s “best” – we are having dinner with my parents, sister and soon-to-be sweet 16 niece. I don’t get to see my siblings, particularly my sisters, often outside of holidays and the annual family shore gathering, so seeing my sister and niece will be really nice.

    17. Merci Dee*

      Best: lazy Saturday has been great so far. I really needed some time to rest and relax.

      Worst: I work in the auto industry, and things have been slowing down pretty substantially lately. This week, management decided that production is stopping every other Friday, and that hours will be cut on the Fridays that are still on the schedule. I work in accounting, so this schedule doesn’t apply to us or most of the other admin departments. But the line workers will get hit hard with this for the rest of the year. And as much as this sucks… trimming and massaging the production schedule is better than laying off swaths of workers. Hopefully, we can all hang on until the start of the new year.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      WORST: I can’t seem to make myself understood lately; every time I try to talk about something, people don’t get what I’m trying to say. It happened at least three times this week, including today after my group, when somehow people thought I was trying to tell them how to practice when I was talking about how I myself was doing something, and they got mad at me and I ended up crying. :'( Plus two job rejections, a mild panic attack, and all the angst over the e-book sales setup. It’s been a damn hard week.

      BEST: Today was color touch-up day, where I am pampered. I really needed that, especially after this morning. My stylist and I talked about Stephen King and movies. I made her watch the Thor: Ragnarok teaser trailer on my phone and she was like, “Oh it looks awesome!” And she did some really gorgeous golden copper lowlights for autumn. See! instagram.com/p/BZ9fE6bHVT4/

      Also, I visited Charlie, the neighbor’s kitty next door (the one I took care of when his owner was in hospital) and got some major kitty pets in. Plus he gave me a kitty kiss on my hand (licks). <3

    19. Soupspoon McGee*

      Worst: I had my first big hairy pathophysiology test and thought I’d done poorly. Less than 80% on any test means required retest, and less than 80% on that is a ticket home from PA school.
      Best: I did just fine. I am still in PA school.

    20. Julia*

      Best: I have really stood up for myself this week, to people at those unmentionable places, and I feel proud. I’ve also seen a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and reconnected a bit with my husband after we were both really busy. My social life could also pretty good right now.

      Worst: Some abdominal pain (I hope the pills I ordered off the internet really work against my endometriosis as well as the same ones I had on prescription before -I can’t get them here in Japan), a lot of stress due to other people delaying things, and not enough time to actually see all the friends I want to see.
      Plus, I still struggle with anxiety over the future every time I stop and think, like when I cuddle up to my husband in bed and wonder if he’ll die before me, or when I enjoy seeing a friend and wonder if I’ll be isolated and lonely again in the future.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I totally understand that fear of the future thing. One of my favorite aunts gave me this pearl of wisdom: Sometimes we get granted some insight as to what the future could hold for us so that we can have the opportunity to fix it.

        Now, is our time to fix it so we are not lonely in the future. Keep adding casual acquaintances to your life. Put the effort in to remain connected to friends and family you hold dear now. Join a group, this could be a church, a hobby, a book club or anything.

        We can take the energy that comes with being anxious and use it to change our circumstances.

        1. Julia*

          Thank you! I’m really touched that a longtime reader took the time to reply to casual newbie me.
          I am trying my best to keep up friendships, but I move a lot internationally and I have also lost some friends who just disappeared after they found a man. :( I am making new friends, though, and I am learning to enjoy time by myself again, too. That’s the other part of this problem: If I always try to make plans with people so I expand my friend circle, I feel like ever ending up alone would feel even worse because I won’t be used to it anymore.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You keep going at things the way you are and being alone will never be a huge problem for you.
            One thing my aunt told me, in times of trouble when people offer help say yes, put your pride to one side and let them help. Hang on to this thought. I was glad I did.

    21. paul*

      Best: Impromptu trip to Cloudcroft NM with my boys. Been around Lincoln national forest and the White Sands. It’s going to be exhausting but my wife wanted a weekend to just stay home and study and relax.

      Worst: Getting overstimulated toddlers to calm down in a hotel. Wish my wife was here. She loves the mountains.

      1. Mimmy*

        I love White Sands! My husband grew up in New Mexico, so when we go back to see his family, we’ve gone to White Sands a couple of times. One time, we went right around sunset – that was an indescribable sight.

    22. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Best – We had just the greatest last week of vacation in Santa Barbara/LA – awesome food, I swam three times in an outdoor 50m pool, the DM concert was epic, got to see Mom etc. Even the flight home was so comfortable in premium economy and we had an awesome pizza in a total jetlagged state here in Stockholm yesterday and a lovely dinner with partner’s parents. Can’t wait to see our kitties tonight and watch them chow down on their favorite wet food and other treats we brought home for them

      Worst – Luckily I bought a new rain coat at REI because it was cold, windy, and rainy when we got off the plane. Heading back to work on Monday :( and the incessant negative Brexit/politics news in the UK.

    23. Fake old Converse shoes*

      * I invited Mom to watch ballet. I wasn’t sure whether the seats I chose were good enough, and to my surprise we had a great view of the stage. I can’t appreciate ballet, but my Mom said it was awesome. She went to congratulate the main cast at the artist’s door afterwards.
      * my work computer is getting slower and slower. It’s supposed to be a i7 laptop, but it feels like a modern Celeron. I’ve requested cleaning twice, and the answer is always the same – ‘we’ll get back to you shortly’.
      * Parents who take toddlers to the theatre. Why? They kept running, crying, kicking seats, throwing sweet wrappers and switching on lights. I was afraid that one would cause an accident. And if tried to stop them their parents would start yelling at you, because how could dare you accuse their little blessing was doing something inappropriate? Some of them even left poor reviews at the theatre FB page complaining that the production (a high profile ballet production!) “wasn’t Disney enough”.

      1. Fake old Converse shoes*

        I forgot one! Last Tuesday I finally went to a niche classical music store. MY GOD. I felt I needed to take my shoes off not stain the carpeting, it was more like a private library rather than a store. I had enough self control to only buy two DVDs (Cav+Pag with Jonas Kaufmann and The Pianists Street, a lovely documentary). I always find funny when someone assumes that I’m buying classical DVDs for someone else, because I don’t look like the average customer!

    24. Beatrice*

      Best: I have an opportunity to be a founding member of a new local chapter of a statewide women-in-business organization. A group of women at a place I spend 40 hours a week (*cough*) has been trying to come up with an organized way to help women succeed, and another member came to this week’s meeting with this opportunity, and I’m really excited about it!

      Worst: I’ve been distancing myself from an online friend, because I don’t have the energy to be his untrained full-time therapist while he does nothing meaningful to improve his rampant mental health issues. He tracked me down Friday night, in a chat room where I’d been engaging in pleasant conversation with other friends, in a gathering I’d been planning for and looking forward to all week, and turned it into a stressful drama-fest. I’m trying to set firm, appropriate boundaries with him, without actually cutting off all contact (because he has a shitty support system), but I’m starting to think I might have to just block him everywhere and stop hanging out in places he frequents online. *sigh*

    25. Jukeboxx32*

      BEST: I quit my soul-sucking office job! I didn’t realize how depressed I was until a couple of months ago, but was really trying to hold on. In retrospect, I should have done this a lot sooner. I feel like one of those cows seeing grass for the first time this week.
      WORST: I quit my job and we don’t move home (NC to NY) for another 6 months. So my budget just got really tight. I was hoping to save up until the move, and now I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to pay my bills until I can land a temp job.

  11. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Anyone ever emigrated from the US to Canada as a spouse? I’m seriously considering it at this point and I did some research online, but I’d love to hear stories from people who have done it.

    1. Otter box*

      I recently moved to Vancouver for my partner’s job from the US, and on my end it wasn’t very difficult since his employer basically did all the legwork. We did have to get a common law partnership declaration notarized beforehand since we aren’t married. When we arrived at the airport, he presented all the documentation his company gave him, and after review they issued us both work permits. His permit is limited to his job/company, but mine is “open” for anything in this metro area with a few narrow exceptions (education, health care, maybe something else). It cost each of us a couple hundred dollars. It’s worth noting that Canada doesn’t consider us “immigrants” yet – that only becomes true when you apply for and receive permanent residency, or if you immigrate as the spouse of a permanent resident/citizen.

    2. NimmieAmee*

      My husband and I are Americans living in Canada, similar to what Otter box described. Feel free to email me at shiningtapestry at gmail if you’d like to chat about it.

    3. FDCA In Canada*

      I did it, but a little differently. I went to university and graduate school in Canada, so I was legally resident beforehand, but getting my permanent residency was on a spousal visa. It took a long time–I think 17 months from starting the paperwork to receiving my PR–and it was expensive. I think we spent a few thousand dollars on it all in all. I won’t be able to apply for citizenship for another two years as well.

      It’s worth it to me because I love Canada very very very much, and I wanted to be here with my husband, but there was a definite cultural change–Canada isn’t just cold America. It was not an easy process, but it was definitely worth it for me.

    4. Finny*

      I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I did exactly that back in 2007-2008 (started the process in 2007, became a landed immigrant/permanent resident in 2008). Feel free to email me at finvic @ gmail.com (minus the spaces, of course) with any questions. Always happy to help others along the path.

  12. Kat*

    Hello! I bought a bike last weekend. I haven’t ridden a bike in about 20 years. I went on it while my friend was visiting and he helped me get it set up and I rode around for a bit. He’s not here now, and I tried to go out on my own and kept falling off. It’s so embarrassing! A grown woman falling off a bike… Anyway, I need to try again, but I have no confidence. I want to though. Cycling looks so fun! Any tips for a 30-something beginner?

    1. fposte*

      I got back on a bike after about 20 years away. What are you doing when you fall? I was very, very careful with turns for a while; I would practice them on my quiet street or in a local parking lot and stay really wide.

      Another possibility is that the bike you bought isn’t particularly forgiving; mine is a low to the ground mountain bike (its biggest mountain now is the slight incline at the bottom of my driveway), so it’s really stable.

      1. Kat*

        I guess I just freak out a bit, wobble and topple over a bit. I need to get better at staying upright when I wobble and not flailing and panicking (and ironically probably making it worse by doing so).

    2. Anoa*

      They have classes for adults new to biking. I have a 50 year old friend who’s planning to try one soon- she’s never learned to ride a bike! Maybe something like that is in your area?

    3. Ruth (UK)*

      I ride a bike as my main form of transport/commute and have done all my adult life (a little over a decade. I’m not that old). Anyway, I have helped a friend learn to ride for the first time, and also went through some lack of confidence on turning a couple years back, after the bike slipped from under me on ice (I was not going very fast when this happened either). On a semi-related note, I also happen to ride a unicycle. Well, not much these days. But I have one and I can ride it… I learned that as an older teen.

      If you are truly beginner or cycling a short distance than 10-15metres or so before losing balance, a good thing to do is lower the saddle so that your feet easily touch the ground – like really easy, feet flat on ground – not toes touching. This is too low for cycling comfortable once you’ve got the hang of it, but is good for doing this: scooting! Sit on the saddle and power yourself along not by pedalling, but by just pushing off the ground with both feet. They actually sell little kids bikes like that these days – with no pedals. It’ll help you get the feel of balancing, and you almost certainly won’t fall off cause you’ll just put your feet down (and hopefully brake).

      Anyway, if you’re beyond that stage, there’s not much to suggest other than keep doing it and your body will honestly just get a feel for it without you having to consciously think about it too much – as long as you just keep practising. Obviously find somewhere safe that you can cycle about. In this case I’d suggest keeping the saddle still a little lower than what you might have for optimum and comfortable cycling once you’re confident.

      Also, if you have heavier tyres etc, it’s going to be easier. Those thin road tyres etc are trickier for balance.

      1. GermanGirl*

        Yes to all this. Also once you’re beyond the scooting stage, don’t go too slow. The gyroscope effect will keep your bike upright and the effect is stronger the faster you go.

        A couple of weeks back we had another post about adult beginner cyclists in a weekend open thread, with lots of tips on getting confident with turns and signaling and so on, so you might want to go looking for that when you get to the next level (I can’t right now because I’m on my smartphone and the internet is flaky here).

      2. Kat*

        Yes, I think I do have to lower the seat! It was quite low and my friend thought it was too low so we raised it. I then tried to go back on it today and it was way too high. Like my toes weren’t even touching the ground. For me, it’s just too soon to try to get going from standing, as was suggested by my friend. So I’ve lowered the seat again as I did think that maybe I needed to get the hang of it more. The bike is a mountain bike so it should be OK. I’ll try again tomorrow. Determined to get better!

        1. ..Kat..*

          Google proper seat height for bicycle. It isn’t whether your feet reach the ground. It’s how your feet reach the pedals.

          If you make falling less painful, will that help? Think elbow and knee pads while you get used to the bike.

          Protect your brain. Get a helmet and wear it properly. If you start wobbling, you are probably going too slow! Don’t concentrate on not wobbling- concentrate on pedaling to go faster!

          Enjoy. I recently bought a bike after over 30 years of not biking. I bike for fun and exercise. Love it!

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            Eventually its about your feet and how they reach the pedals. At the beginning, it can be comforting to know you can get a foot flat on the ground to catch yourself easily if needed. I still have trouble sometimes on my racing bike because the proper configuration otherwise barely lets me reach the ground on tiptoe. I can’t imagine having tried to learn to ride that high up. *shudder*

    4. Saturnalia*

      If you’re getting wobbly, I’m betting you’re looking too much down and not enough ahead. It’s weird but it works for biking and horseback riding – wherever you look is where you’ll end up. One of the best ways to get that “feel” for the bike and balance etc is making sure to look well ahead. Especially on turns, look to your end destination to make sure you end up there.

      If you have multiple gears, make sure you are not starting on the hardest one (high? low? whatever one is hardest to pedal) because it will make you wobble more to get going. Somewhere in the middle of the gear range is going to be best to start.

      Once your seat is adjusted this should be cake! Also, I’m talking here like it was easy for me but holy crap I had a hard time relearning as an adult. I’ve also taken some spectacular spills, always landing on my face. I’m too afraid of breaking my wrists to ever try to catch myself falling lol. Have fun, be safe!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Seconding this idea of looking up.
        If you are watching the tires going around and around, you can get caught up in that and lose control.
        Start this by making yourself look up ten feet ahead of you, then try looking 20 feet ahead of you.

        You may like the idea of practicing in a vacant lot. If you can find a church lot or school lot maybe you can practice there.

    5. kturtle*

      I had a tough time teaching my son to ride a bike. But in our area, they have classes where they teach kids to ride bikes in a completely different way (removing the pedals, learning to glide and balance) and they teach them in 60 minute classes. I found the technique online and we used the technique and it took him less than an hour to learn! There is a youtube video “Learn to ride a bike in 5 easy steps”. It’s seriously amazing.

  13. Gala apple*

    Have you ever considered local/ state law when considering a relocation? How did you research it? For example, I wouldn’t consider living in Texas because the laws they have about the information they don’t need to provide pregnant women about their health is beyond me.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        I would never move to North Carolina because they care waaay too much about who uses which toilet.

        This is making me feel much more generous about doing the California mandated-for-state-work-supervisors two hour annoying online sexual harassment training. Invade away if it’s for the public good.

          1. Victoria, Please*

            Fair enough. I think it’s good to have environmental protections, worker protections, human rights protections, and not have open carry. YMMV.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Same. My list of states in which I don’t want to live includes most of them. I’m dying to move to California and away from here before it gets any worse.

        1. queer North Carolinian*

          FWIW our new governor, Roy Cooper, was the attorney general who refused to defend HB2. Things are not going so well for the politicians who supported HB2. It looks like most of us want to replace them with level-headed people who don’t get quite so worked up about public restrooms.

    1. Jessica*

      If you’re concerned about the proposed “wrongful birth” law, it never got past the Texas senate. I know that doesn’t answer your question but I thought you might want to know.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I’ve researched homeschooling state laws use resources on the HSLDA website. Probably any adovacy group for the issues you’re interested in would have info about state laws on their website.

    3. Gaia*

      Oh yea, there are a TON of states I will never move to because I believe my fundamental rights and the fundamental dignity of others are not properly protected in those states. When I am moving states (which I do occasionally) I think about what is most important to me and I start looking up the laws (Nolo has some great plain english explanations).

    4. Triceratops*

      Beyond how local laws could affect you personally, it’s interesting to consider the choice to move or not move based purely on principle. On one hand, you could think of it as an extension of “vote with your wallet” and hopefully show that discriminatory laws drive residents (and taxpayers) away…but on the other hand, as a resident of that state, you actually have the power to vote new people into office and ideally, slowly change the culture. I don’t think there’s a right answer!

    5. Mazzy*

      Interesting question. There is a town near where I’m from that had coding laws that make subdividing lots hard and many of the existing properties are huge, and you need to leave more than 50% of any lot forested if you build, which keeps the area semi-rural. I’m now trying to find those actual laws online….

    6. Temperance*

      Yes. I refuse to live anywhere that deems ferrets “illegal”! I don’t even want to visit those places and waste my tourist dollars.

    7. WellRed*

      Things have changed, but not so long ago (less than 15 years) there were 4 states that had no mandates whatsoever requiring insurance to pay for diabetes supplies so those were off my lisy
      ( i may be slightly fuzzy on the deets but this is the gist).

    8. MoinMoin*

      Yes, my husband and I had the opportunity to move to Denver, CO (CO being on our “list” of places to which we’d like to relocate) and ended up turning it down for several factors, but including their breed laws regarding pitbulls. Ours is a mutt but we didn’t want the stress of working around the laws, what suburbs were okay, what parks she’d be allowed, etc. Luckily he ended up getting another offer for Northern CO a bit later. They’re still a bit weird about dogs up here, but there’s no worry of her being “illegal.”

  14. fposte*

    Ugh, Apple. Love 80%, loathe 20%. I bought a new iPad and cannot, for love nor money, transfer my photos; I don’t keep them in iCloud, I’ve turned off iCloud on the device and on my laptop, but it won’t give me the option to transfer them over iTunes. (There are too many to store free in iCloud so there’s not much point in turning it on just for the transfer, either.) And now I’m having to restore my old iPad from backup because one of the attempts to get photos over somehow deleted some from the old iPad. Then of course all the steps along the way somehow have the slightly wrong directions because every single system update moves stuff around. Feckers. I have a friend who will surely know, so I’ll ask her when she gets back in town, but something like this happens every time I upgrade to a new device or computer, and it makes me dread new devices rather than look forward to a new toy.

    1. Mike C.*

      I’m not buying a new iPhone until I get a headphone jack back. I should have to buy a new seat of cheaply made Beats headphones when I have a perfectly fine set of Sony MDR-5706s.

      1. NoMoreMrFixit*

        Hate to tell you but even Android phones are starting to lose the headphone jack. Don’t remember exactly who, but read earlier this week one of the manufacturers announced their newest model phone won’t come with a headphone jack anymore. Give it another year or so and everyone is likely going to jump on the bandwagon.

        1. Mike C.*

          Yeah, I saw that. The other big problem is that everyone is coming out with their own custom flavor of Bluetooth that is incompatible with everyone else’s so now you’re locking out different manufacturers AND who knows how long your peripherals are going to work on future versions of the same platform.

          It’s wasteful and anti-consumer.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, just this week Google announced its new Pixel 2 phones won’t have headphone jacks.

      2. Jules the First*

        I hear you on the headphone jack (and I’m still coaxing my iPhone 4s through life, praying it won’t go completely before I decide what to do about my even older iPod). But at least they now come with the adapter dongle, which is annoying but better than buying new headphones.

        The insurmountable problem for me is the size of all the new phones…why would I want a phone that is so enormous that I need two hands to hold it!!! Even the SE is a little large for my crippled hands to type while holding it and I refuse to be compelled to dictate my texts and emails or always use a headset because some moron with gorilla hands decided that what we all want and need is a phone the size of an elephant.

        1. Arjay*

          I have an SE, and that’s as big as I ever want to go. I want to be able to carry my phone in my pocket, or when lacking pockets, in my bra, lol.

      3. Nicole*

        I feel your pain but I think it’s not coming back. That’s why I’ve decided to squeeze another year out of my iPhone 6 by replacing the battery since that’s my main problem with it right now.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Transferring to and from iOS has always been a pain. You have my sympathies.

      Can you transfer the photos using AirDrop, perhaps?

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, that’s the next exploration. But it looks like that section of the photos from the old iPad is gone for good, which ticks me off. I shouldn’t have had to do something special in saving them to get them backed up along with the rest of my stuff.

        1. fposte*

          Update: AirDrop worked, once I turned all the devices to Everyone rather than just Contact List (I think I *am* on my own contact list, but arguing was fruitless).

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, when I AirDrop, I always temporarily turn it to Everyone and then switch back afterwards to No one.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      What about the Google Drive or Dropbox apps? A free account there should come with enough space to at least temporarily transfer the photos in a few batches, depending on how many you have. I pay for extra space on both (just $5 per year for Google, $99/yr. for Dropbox) for different reasons, but they both can automatically upload new photos (or not) from any device.

      1. fposte*

        Google Drive is dead now, I think; all that’s left is the nag screens telling me I should sign in.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, the web service will still exist, but the app has merely been updated and renamed Google Backup and Sync. They’re trying to elbow into the cloud backup market…and I couldn’t be happier, since Carbonite’s OSX app sucks rocks, and I could never get Time Machine working reliably with my NAS.

        2. Gaia*

          Oh good god you just scared the hell out of me. I have ~ 90gigs of photos and data in Google Drive that I never look at but like to know it is there.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          OneDrive gives you 5 GB for free.

          Google Drive gives you 15 GB for free. Dropbox gives 2 GB.

    4. WriterLady*

      Currently feeling the Apple loathing: love my laptop, not loving that it’s less than a year old and is in for its second repair in a month.

      1. Amadeo*

        That’s kind of surprising! Is it one of the new models with the touch bar? I bought a new one back in January(is) and opted for the older 2015 type model with all of the regular USB ports, the SD card slot and HDMI port instead of the USB-C only requiring-all-the-dongles monstrosity they released last fall.

        1. WriterLady*

          I’m equally surprised. I went the Apple route because I’ve still got an old iMac that’s over 10 years old and it works great, never needed a repair. I bought this one refurbished from the Apple Store. It got the mainboard replaced (~$1000, thankfully covered under warranty) and it’s about a month later and the mainboard has died again. I’m still one of those weird folk who uses CDs, so I got the 2012 model. I’m a bit curious to see what they say about it; I’m dragging my dad with me because he’s an IT technician (and the one who informed me the mainboard was the problem both times), and he knows far more about these issues than I do.

          Also, why is my nearest actual Apple Store 1.5 hours away? There’s an authorised provider nearby, but they are TERRIBLE.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          It’s not really surprising. I deploy and support Apple laptops, and the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros aren’t great on quality control or battery life. The MacBook Airs (which Apple is giving no love) are still the absolute best.

          1. WriterLady*

            Battery life on this one is great, thank goodness. If they can sort out the main board, that is. Up until recently, it was a little gem – couldn’t tell it was 5 years old at that point. I’d had brand new HP laptops with more issues.

            But, alas, it had to go wrong at week 12 of uni when everything was due. *rolls eyes*

    5. OperaArt*

      If you have Amazon Prime, you can save unlimited photos to Prime Photos. I gave up on Apple iCloud for my photos several months ago. So far, so good. Got a new iPhone and a new iPad in the past few months. No list photos. That said, I haven’t tried to download any from Prime.

      1. amanda_cake*

        I have Prime but can’t stand to use Prime photos because it takes FOREVER to upload. :-( Makes me sad because I would move all my photos to the cloud if I could.

    6. Essie*

      Apple is a pain. I have videos of my deceased cat on my iPod (taken with its video camera) and I need to figure out how to get them off since it’s so old. If it dies, I’ll lose them.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        If you have your ipod set to auto-sync, turn that off. Then the next time you plug your ipod into your computer, you should be able to open it as a storage device, basically like a flash drive, and drag what you want from the ipod to your desktop (or folder wherever) to save copies. This works for me on PC, anyway.

    7. Alinea*

      Would Google Photos work for you? If only as a backup just in case! I do the unlimited hi res photos auto save for all my devices.

      I hate iCloud. No, Apple, I don’t want to buy more storage!

        1. Windchime*

          This is a timely thread since I finally bit the bullet and bought a new iPhone today. My old one was dying and it was time; however, my photos are all stuck on the old phone and I can’t transfer them via iTunes or iCloud. So I will give Google Photos a try tomorrow.

          I have a Macbook that is probably 4 years old and it has been great. Never had a problem with it and I use it every day.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Oh! Flickr gives you 1TB of space, and there’s an iPad app! (I’ve only used it on desktop so far, that’s why I didn’t think of it before.)

      I know you solved your Airdrop issue, but the serious photographers I know mostly use Flickr. I like it because not only is it easy to upload full-res images from my good camera, it also has great organizational tools like albums, tagging, captioning, and geotagging.

    9. Nerddork*

      Yeah, iOS/iTunes can be a pain, much as I like my iPhone/iPad. Google Photos has worked for me. For a local copy, you can use iFunBox to copy your photos (in the Camera section) onto your computer. I try to avoid iTunes unless I HAVE to use it (I do use it to make backups of my devices).

  15. Merci Dee*

    Finally, a weekend of rest. Thank goodness for it. I got to sleep in, and now I get to take a long shower with all the pampering I can’t do during the week. Then some time getting my nails in shape.

    Thankful for lazy fall weekends.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Saturday was wonderful and lazy …. and then I had to jump out of bed at 6:49 on Sunday morning to take down all my suncatchers and wind chimes from the carport, because Nate is throwing wind and rain about as he makes landfall for the second time. Wish I would’ve thought to do that last night =before= bed.

  16. Talia*

    I have not yet incinerated my roommates in a blast of incandescent intersectional feminism! I mean, it may yet happen, but… I cannot *fathom* the level of checked-out-from-the-world involved in not knowing that the Black Lives Matter movement happened, or about any of the various police shootings over the last year. I mean, even most people who don’t care that much about social justice know that these things exist.

    Also, I’ve mentioned wanting to go to glitter nightclubs and he keeps suggesting we go to gay clubs. (At no point did I say I wanted to do this with him!) At which point I point out that I’m the only person in the house with an appropriate sexuality for that and he says he’s done it before and it’s fine. Though the truly exasperating moment in this story was later, when he somehow managed to ignore my one direct mention of my bi-ness, the indirect mentions through the club conversations, and assume that I am straight and the brightly rainbow Pride purse is a sign of my ally-ness.

    In general he seems to have this attitude that my quirkiness and politics are all right so long as they’re something he can turn to for a moment of diversion, but the moment it starts to come through that this isn’t a show I’m putting on for him, but I’m an actual person who is actually like this, it’s suddenly not okay anymore. Manic Pixie Dream Girl boxes, everyone!

    I’m never again living with anyone who self-identifies by the fact that they don’t read the news.

    (This is all one of the roommates, by the way. The other roommate isn’t on quite the same wavelength as me, but he exists in the world, and he reads books.)

      1. Talia*

        I don’t think “I have an appropriate sexuality for a gay club” really qualifies as a hint. Also as mentioned, I directly came out to him when I first moved in because living with someone I’m not out to was never going to end well.

        1. Music*

          Well, I kinda think it is. If he’s been going to gay clubs as a straight man, he’s not going to understand you saying that you ‘have an appropriate sexuality’ to go is the same as you saying he shouldn’t, and you are, in fact, hinting. You can absolutely find more direct ways to say this to him: ‘as a straight man, you shouldn’t be going to these clubs.’ ‘I am bi/gay/whatever, and there are people at these clubs who don’t want you there.’

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            I agree with this. It’s a passive aggressive statement, and the kind of comment a lot of allies will ignore because some allies assume ally status means they’re part of the community. You need to be more direct.

            I’ve found it’s best to straight out tell straight people – especially allies – that they shouldn’t assume they can waltz into every gay space simply because they’re an ally. Some of those places are there for LGBTQA+ people because they’re safe spaces. They’re not all there for allies.

            Straight people in spaces meant for LGBTQA+ individuals can and has caused a lot of problems. Just look at what’s happened with straight women in gay bars and drag clubs and how that’s negatively impacted queer women within the community.

            1. Talia*

              Except that’s not the thing I was trying to complain about. I mean, yes, it’s bad– and he’s not an ally, by the way (both in terms of my assessment and that I don’t think he’d consider himself one; he is studiously neutral in all political everything)– but the thing I was trying to complain about is that I came out to him, we had a few more conversations about the gay bars, and I’m carrying around a purse with “PRIDE” and a rainbow on it in big letters, and he *still* thought I was clearly straight.

              And he did know exactly what I was getting at, because his response to my comment about sexualities for gay bars was to insist vehemently that it’s perfectly fine for straight people to go into gay bars and no one has ever hassled him over it. So yeah, he knew what I meant and that it applied to him.

              1. Mazzy*

                I would recommend simplifying your language and just saying in brief sentences what you want him to do, and let him react. He obviously doesn’t do hints, or sees them, and is ignoring them for some reason.

                Also, don’t take this the wrong way, but if you’re speaking to him the way you write here, he’s not going to understand you. You say he is checked out from the world. Your comment has tons of “internet speak***.” People don’t talk about “intersectional feminism” and “he’s an ally” and “safe spaces” in real life. That is language that takes place for the most part on the internet ***. So if you want him to invite you to a gay bar, you’re going to have to be upfront about it or do the inviting yourself.

                I’m not 100% sure though why you’re so angry that he doesn’t follow the news. Not everyone does. I would say most people know of stories but not much about them in depth. I’m sure he knows things you don’t. Or maybe be follows financial news more, who knows.

                ***I’ve mentioned this before on another site and gotten reamed by a few commenters there who always speak about social justice issues who insist that that everyone knows whatever new “SJW” words they were using. But I’m telling you guys, people who don’t go to websites that talk about social justice stuff use other words for these ideas!

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  I must live in an internet / Unitarian bubble, then, because most people I know *do* talk exactly like this. :-)

                2. Talia*

                  I *don’t* talk to him like I write here. I talk to here like I write here because I expect that there are going to be people here who understand it. I was already using simple language. I don’t want him to invite me to a gay bar; he shouldn’t be going to gay bars because he’s a straight guy.

                  I’m angry that he doesn’t follow the news because people are getting killed and he doesn’t care about that, and people who don’t care about that are how we got this situation in the first place.

                3. Optimistic Prime*

                  What? People actually do talk about intersectional feminism, safe spaces and allies outside of the Internet. All of those terms and concepts existed well before the Internet age – intersectionality as a term was coined in 1989 (but the concept existed well before that); safe spaces originated with the women’s movement in the 1960s and was applied to gay bars in the 1970s and 1980s; the concept and term for gay allies also began in the 1970s.

                  They’re not new terms, and they weren’t coined by academic eggheads on the Internet. They were created by the people running these movements decades ago. And they don’t take place, for the most part, “on the Internet” – I hear people using these terms (especially safe space and allies) in offline life all the damn time and did long before Internet culture loomed large in people’s lives.

                  Besides, what is the Internet if not a collection of real people? The Internet is a tool. I’m sure that you’re a real person sitting behind the screen; I am too; and so are all the other people talking about intersectional feminism.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              Um, saying “I am the only one in the house with an appropriate sexuality to go to a gay club” isn’t being passive-aggressive. It’s probably an 8 on the directness scale instead of a 10, but I’m fairly certain that’s exactly what Talia is complaining about – that dude is so obtuse that this fairly straightforward statement wasn’t enough to clue him into his wrongness.

    1. Sam Foster*

      Just because you live together doesn’t mean you have to be aligned and especially doesn’t mean you have to be social and/or friends. Roommate irritates you so stop sharing and transition to a more business-like relationship.

  17. Shadow*

    Anyone else mildly annoyed by the mobile website? It always seems to stop whatever music I’m playing and those framed ads are a little much

      1. GermanGirl*

        I read almost exclusively on my phone (Android 7 + Chrome browser) and since the redirect thing got fixed I haven’t had any issues with it. I find the adds easy enough to ignore.
        Most newspaper sites are worse about that.

        I had temporarily installed the free AdBlock Browser that someone else recommended but it didn’t play well with some of the other sites I read so I went back to Chrome.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Alison has said a number of times that she doesn’t mind if you need to use an ad blocker.

        1. SouthernLadybug*

          And appreciated! It’s one of the reasons I turn off the Adblock on my laptop for your site. I do, however, have them on my phone most of the time. They are hard to read around. But I fully support you having them and try to give it a go occasionally to help pay for my reading habits!

      1. Christy*

        Does anyone know of an ad blocker that works with mobile? I use chrome on an iPhone and I can’t for the life of me figure out ad blocking on mobile.

        (Obviously the ads don’t stop me from coming here, and the “cost” of the site is definitely still worth it.)

        1. another Liz*

          Mine’s called “adblock browser”, free off Google play store and it seems to work fine. I’m on Android.

        2. Nancie*

          I have Purify installed on my iPhone and iPad– it works to block ads on the default Safari browser.

    2. waterfalls*

      Yeah, the mobile site is basically unusable for me. It’s the worst I’ve ever encountered online, which is saying a lot!

      1. fish*

        Yeah. Freezes my phone, causes me to click ads when it feels like my finger is nowhere near them… I don’t mind scrolling past ads, but not when they make the site I’m trying to read unusable. I basically avoid reading on my phone now, and sticking purely to my ad-blocked desktop. And I warn my friends I link that they might want to do the same.

    3. Junior D*

      I’ve stopped recommending the site to people because of them. I got a couple of really uncomfortable comments from colleagues I trust, after I recommended posts here to them, saying they found the site “incredibly tacky” with all the ads and basically questioning my judgement in suggesting it. :/

  18. WriterLady*

    One assignment left – and an essay at that – and I’m officially finished the semester. Into my final year after this and I am STOKED. Graduation, hurry up. Last degree, I was starting to get nervous about What Lay Ahead, and wanted uni to last forever… this time, I think I just want it done. Give me the qualification, let me at the industry please!

  19. Nervous Accountant*

    My dermatologist tends to recommend super expensive products (eye creams vitamins etc). Is this normal? Do their products work better than OTC (drugstore, Sephora etc) brands? I don’t mind paying for quality skin care, but I just want to make sure I’m not being ripped off

    1. Helpful*

      Prescription stuff has more oomph to it — higher concentrations of active ingredients, usually. You can always ask, or check the label and compare.

      1. Helpful*

        Oh, if you mean otc stuff– it’s similar to a spa. They make money if you buy their stuff. Ask for a sample to see if you like it, or ask about their return policy.

    2. AA*

      Depends (isn’t that usually the case?)

      Two great resources that work very well for me are Caroline Hirons’s and Sali Hughes’s respective websites. Hirons is a trained and qualified beautician and Hughes is a beauty journalist who also writes for the Guardian: they are not commercially biased, hugely knowledgeable, and cut through bullshit as if through butter.

      In particular, Hirons has a series of “cheat sheets” (for acne, spots, cleansing routines, etc.) which I find hugely useful.

      1. Julia*

        Caroline Hirons tends to recommend expensive stuff and doesn’t care too much about ingredients, e.g. harsh alcohol etc. I would recommend reddit’s SkincareAddiction sub over her website. It has budget options and you can ask questions.

        Expensive doesn’t mean good in skincare. Sure, some things like high-percentage retinol may be prescription only, but expensive skincare tends to have a lot of filler ingredients, fragrance that can irritate the skin etc.

        1. AA*

          I disagree. She sometimes recommends expensive products, but also gives cheapear alternatives. And why she doesn’t mind about certain ingredients (parabens, etc.), she does mention them when describing a product.

          1. Julia*

            I don’t know; I have never bought any of the products she recommends because they’re either too expensive or the ingredients aren’t good.

    3. HannahS*

      Well, a prescription is going to be stronger and much more stringently tested than OTC. But if the expensive product is just “boutique” vs. cheaper drugstore, I tend to get suspicious. If the derm says something like, “Try biotin supplements” or “I think adding an AHA-containing cream to your night routine would be good” that’s one thing. “Buy this specific expensive cream” is another. You can always ask if there’s a cheaper equivalent, or check the labels yourself.

      Example. I have sensitive skin and rosacea. My derm has me using one prescription cream (works like a dream) that’s expensive. But her other recommendations were a gentle, fragrance free moisturizer and non-comedogenic sunscreen. She gave me samples of fancy ones, but since I knew that it was the category that mattered, not the brand, I went with the kinds that come from the bottom shelf of the drugstore, in ugly plastic containers.

      1. Dead Quote Olympics*

        Yeah, my medispa dermatologist sells pricy lines of skin care, but when I said cerave and cetaphil works fine on my rosacea, she said just stick with that. HannahS is right — advocating for certain ingredients or care regimes vs “buy only the line I’m selling” is an important distinction.

    4. Ginger ale for all*

      Have you tried the beautypedia website by Paula Begoun? I got a lot out of her books before she went all online. The website isn’t as good as her books were but it is still pretty good.

    5. CheeryO*

      Hm, my dermatologist has always recommended drugstore products, and I’ve had all sorts of skin issues over the years. I’d be a little suspicious of any doctor who pushes expensive stuff without also giving some suggestions for cheaper options.

    6. stej*

      Check out skincareaddiction and asianbeauty on reddit for science-based skincare talk. The *right* drugstore stuff can work, as long as your skin isn’t sensitive. And in certain cases, the prescription/pricey stuff is necessary. It’s a long road to really figuring out what works for you, though.

  20. Ramona Flowers*

    If you had £25 (about 32 $USD) to spend on yourself on Amazon, what would you get? I’m both nosy and looking for ideas. I have a gift card balance I’ve been saving and could do with a pick me up, but I don’t know what.

    1. many bells down*

      I go through my wishlist and see if there’s anything I want that’s dropped in price. Then I’d go through some of my favorite brands to see what they’ve got on sale. Quirky purses and jewelry are my pick-me-ups. I’m a big fan of Betsey Johnson.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        On Prime day, I got five or six dash buttons for $0.99 each (normally they are around $5 each). I love having household staples sent to my doorstep with the push of a button.

      2. dawbs*

        camelcamelcamel is the bomb for this.
        You can have things alert you wehn they get cheap, and you can also see if a price drop is *really* a price drop, or only a pretend one.

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      Books! :)

      The last gift card I had I put towards the Firefly board game. Didn’t cover all of it, but boyfriend and I have already enjoyed it several times!

      Next time we’re getting the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game.

    3. Monique*

      I had a gift card too and I got one of those essential oil diffusers and an 8-pack or oils and I’m surprised by how much I like it. I’m especially looking forward to it in winter because it gets really dry here (like, wake up with nosebleeds dry).

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Hi, my name is Cosmic, and I’m an Amazon-aholic.

      I just deleted three wishlists, and now I’m down to *nine*. :D

      Let’s see, the things on my list I could get for $32 (or close to it):

      – a yard sign that says in three languages “No matter where you ‘re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor”
      – The Mel Brooks Blu-ray collection
      – folding camp chair
      – 2 or 3 of the dozen or so books on my list

    5. Nancie*

      If I wasn’t in the nook/ePub ecosystem, I’d say books.

      Since books aren’t a good option, probably one or two movies from my “to be watched, and why the heck are they never available for streaming or reasonably priced rent” list.

    6. Overeducated*

      I have a $50 gift card and am going to buy a cookbook and a novel or two. Or maybe two cookbooks !

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Washi tape and planner stickers. I love stuff for my planner. I started off trying to emulate the lavish planner decorating styles I saw on Pinterest, but my real style is more pragmatically centered around visually highlighting actual events and to-dos in my planner versus creating a beautiful layout.

    8. Tris Prior*

      I usually end up using Amazon cards to buy some really expensive and indulgent food that I wouldn’t otherwise buy. Like actual vanilla beans, or pine nuts (which are SO expensive but I love homemade pesto so much and it’s just not the same with other kinds of nuts). Or really good (and expensive) coffee.

    9. Chaordic One*

      Maybe a couple of books or CDs. (I’m old-fashioned and still like physical books and CDs.) Or maybe some fancy gourmet coffee.

    10. Ramona Flowers*

      Thanks all. I do like to buy actual books, but only once I’ve tried a Kindle sample and am reasonably sure I’ll enjoy them – especially if I’m buying them as a pick-me-up, or I just beat myself up for choosing something that sucked.

      I also use the library a lot more these days. I am paying off some debts and used to have a lot of issues with money, especially emotional shopping, so it’s pretty cool to have reached a point where I can spend months deciding how to spend a £25 voucher.

      I think I might buy one of the Pusheen surprise plushes, an assortment of cute sticky notes and a CD or two – maybe the latest Garbage or London Grammar, or there’s a Rasputina b-sides and rarities album I’ve had my eye on. (I like CDs. You get a physical thing and they’re often cheaper than MP3 albums these days.)

      Or there’s a warming neck pillow shaped like a fox that’s very tempting.

    11. Call me St. Vincent*

      YogaToes! Life changing if you have foot pain or bunions or just in general want your feet to feel amazing at the end of the day. They were a tiny bit more, maybe $36, but well worth it!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        thank you for introducing me to these! they are going on the list of things to buy for bff for Christmas.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          You’re so welcome. I swear by them! They have made a huge difference in my life. For years I wore 5 inch heels on a daily basis, then I had my daughter and my feet got totally messed up during pregnancy. These have been the only thing that has helped (and buying wider shoes, which makes me sad because the styles are a lot more limited).

    12. Ramona Flowers*

      Well, I spent all but £0.80 and I actually mostly bought books in the end! Partly because there’s a deal on (3 paperbacks for £10) and the ones I picked were all cheaper than on Kindle.

      I got Big Little Lies, Good Me Bad Me and One of Us is Lying, plus a book of recipes you can make with a mug and a microwave, and a Pusheen Christmas ornament.

  21. Aurora Leigh*

    I wish there was something I could do to have a better relationship with my sister.

    Our relationship is strained because of her total dependence on our mother for everything. She does nothing that mom doesn’t explicitly encourage her to do, which is why sis still lives at home, doesn’t work, go to college, or drive, or have friends outside of our family. She’s 23.

    (And I know driving can be a big thing here and the only reason I mention it is because they live in a rural area where not driving means not leaving the house/land independently.)

    I worry about her and I try to encourage her to get out of mom’s shadow, but she doesn’t want to hear it from me. I can’t even get her to come visit me. I think she has struggled with anxiety and possibly depression since her teens, but she won’t seek help because that’s not something mom would encourage (also I know money is tight for them).

    I have another younger sibling (still in jr high) at home. And we have have a great close relationship. Even though I’m 12 years older than him, we have shared interests and a sense of humor (and an understanding that trying to keep mom happy all the time is an impossible task and you still have to live your life). He’s expressed interest in living with me when he goes to college.

    I think my sister is somewhat jealous of the relationship bro and I have. I want to be closer to her, but I have finally managed to get boundaries in place with mom and I’m honestly afraid to trust my sister with anything I wouldn’t tell my mom as she has proven many times over the years that she tells mom literally EVERYTHING.

    Thanks for listening guys!

    1. Myrin*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I honestly don’t think there’s much you can do here but maybe your sister will be “inspired” by your close relationship with your brother, especially in case he goes to live with you later on? Meaning, maybe it’ll spur her on to try to have a relationship with her siblings independent of your mother?

    2. fposte*

      Aw, that’s frustrating. I think it may get easier down the line, as Myrin suggests. Another possibility, if you can manage it, is to bring the relationship to where she can reach it, both physically and emotionally. Accept she won’t drive to you, don’t make detaching from your mother a goal for her, and find something light–the occasional lunch or movie or whatever–that you can enjoy without sharing things that would be a problem for you if your mother found out. A better superficial relationship is still a better relationship.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Thanks fposte! You always have such good advice!

        It’s helpful to remember there’s nothing wrong with starting on the superficial level.

    3. Kathenus*

      If your goal is to have a better relationship with her, how about a conversation about that, openly and specifically. Then listen to what would make her feel more comfortable with you and want to take the relationship to the next level, and for the moment keep your preconceived ideas of how to do it to yourself to hear what she wants and feels.

      If your goal is to improve the relationship, but only by getting her to change or to move out or to set boundaries with your mom, you’re likely destined to fail. You can provide support, an sister’s ear, the model of your friendship with your brother; but you can’t make her act the way you hope she will and trying to push her in this direction might drive more of a wedge because you might seem to have ulterior motives versus just a sincere effort to have a better relationship. Plus if your goal is to improve communication and better your friendship with your sister, there’s no worry that she shares everything with your mom because nothing that you’re trying to do is directed towards or is in any way about your mother.

      And while your relationship with your brother might be one model of a sibling friendship, she’s obviously a very different person so your friendship will likely look very different, so be open to that.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Thank you!

        I know I need to let go of my tendency to “mother” her, which is hard for me. Growing up our relationship was one where I was distinctly in charge by virtue of being older and therefore responsible . . . if she did something wrong it was my fault for letting it happen.

        I need to let go of that, especially since we’re both adults.

        1. Jules the First*

          It took a long time (and a lot of conscious effort) to get over mothering my younger sibling. We started slow – I’d take her out for dinner when I was in town and we’d talk about light stuff like movies and books and music. After a couple of years of this, we did a weekend road trip together, which went okay (if you discount the fact that we had a screaming match in Macy’s, and I spent the drive home in the passenger seat with food poisoning). It turns out that did the trick and she started seeing me as a person not just as her big sister. Since then (about 12 years ago now), we’ve been on holiday a few times together and we talk regularly about everything from her job to her love life to our parents to her ambitions for her life. We have a really rewarding relationship now, but only because we were able to let go of the big sister-little sister dynamic and move on to just “sisters”.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It sounds like they have something of a co-dependent relationship — your sister gets to have things decided and controlled for her, which probably helps her avoid situations that make her anxious or insecure, and your mom feels needed.

      Can you invite your sister to outings where you pick her up, but then you both go do something that is at least slightly active/adventurous? Or something you know she adores but doesn’t do often, like shopping at a book, video game, or computer store; taking an intermediate to advanced cooking class, etc. If you can build her confidence, she might find it more appealing to be more independent and adventurous.

      The other alternative is to get her into therapy to build her confidence, and that’s a much bigger step.

    5. Ruffingit*

      Sometimes we just have to accept that we won’t have the relationship we’d like to have with our siblings. It’s a process. It’s wonderful that you have a good relationship with your brother. Concentrate on that. If your sister wants to have a better and closer relationship with you, it’s really on her. She would have to make some changes to make that happen. If she isn’t willing to do so, then so be it. Sad, but life goes on.

    6. Temperance*

      I have a similar situation with my youngest sister. It’s really hard. She’s much younger than the rest of us, and had a very different upbringing. She’s 19, I’m 34, and my other sister is 30.

      I’m very close with one sister, and the youngest is really jealous of our relationship. We grew up together, her kids and I are close, etc. I’m closer with my brother, who is in the middle, than her, too.

  22. Moi*

    I had two hours to myself last night (a rarity as a mom), and instead of doing anything productive (practice guitar, read, work on personal projects, exercise, or even sleep) I just bummed around on Facebook. What are your tips for getting OFF of your electronic devices and getting motivated to do things that you know would make you happy if you just did them?

    1. Gingerblue*

      I find it works best if I explicitly line up queues of stuff I want to do. To-read lists on Kindle, patterns I want to knit queued up in my Ravelry (knitting website) notebook ( and sometimes printed out and stuck in a bag with the yarn and needles), lists of places I want to kayak or hike explictly written out, and so forth. If I have to make a decision when I get free time I get overwhelmed by choice and wind up on the internet all day instead.

      1. Phlox*

        I’ve been feeling the free time overwhelmed by choice so internet, and have been doing similar lists. I’ve got a big white board in my room I write craft ideas, a weekly exercise tracker and to do lists on. I was worried that it would be bad for my mental health having to dos staring at me in my cave room. But so far it’s been great to have concrete options to latch on to.

    2. Be the Change*

      Put dancey music on Pandora and start chugging through what I want to do. Getting started is the hard part. Once I’m up, I’m likely to stay up and keep moving.

    3. LCL*

      Getting up and going to the kitchen to look for something good. Of course this has its own drawbacks…

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      I actually deactivated Facebook after the election and I’ve never felt better! I used to spend an hour a day or more, especially on my phone app. I don’t miss it at all and I was convinced that I would be right back in a week or so after. I haven’t had the urge once. It’s pretty liberating.

    5. Natalie*

      A few things that helped for me:

      – Deleted the Facebook app from my phone. I had been opening it mindlessly, so without the app I go there maybe a couple of times a week?
      – Leaving my phone elsewhere so it’s just not immediately physically accessible. That might mean going for a walk without it, or just plugging it in to charge in another room
      – If you’re willing to throw a small amount of money at the problem, the premium version of the Moment app is very good for limiting your screen time. I think it’s $4 USD.

  23. Monique*

    Happy Canadian thanksgiving! It’s chilly and windy and rainy here, which sort of scuttled my plans to clean up my yard and walk my dog, but now I have an excuse to wear yoga pants and watch Netflix :)

  24. Free Meerkats*

    Trip to Vegas all planned. We leave on the 16th and come home on the 24th. If anyone here will be there on the 18th and wants to come to our 20th Anniversary vow renewal, leave a note here. Very low key, the ceremony at 1, then maybe somewhere (The Peppermill?) for lunch.

    1. Belle di Vedremo*

      Sounds wonderful! If I were in that neck of the woods would love to join you. Have a great time.

    2. Denise (in las vegas for 6 months now)*

      I live in Vegas! Where are you having the ceremony? I can just show up?

  25. Anon for this*

    I posted on the open thread in the summer of 2015 about trying to get pregnant for 7 months and starting to get frustrated. All of you were so helpful and kind! Just wanted to report back that I conceived that same month that I posted! I had a baby girl in April 2016 (now 18 months old) AND then we got pregnant again on accident and I have a 3 month old girl too! :)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I love it when people post stuff like this. Thanks so much for sharing the good news here.

  26. Not sure about ettiquitte*

    After 5 months of delays and ridiculous red tape my husband and I are finally closing on the purchase of our new home next week (!!!)  Though I know gifts usually go the other way, we want to give both our attorney and broker a small something to thank them. Not much, just some homebaked goodies for both, but we want to add a bottle of wine from our collection for our broker because she really has gone above and beyond. 

    The issue is that we kinda want to give them both the gifts at the closing but my husband is concerned that we will offend our attorney if she sees we are giving our broker a significantly nicer gift in front of her. 

    Is there a way we can discreetly do this? Or are we worrying for nothing. 

    1. Nerdgal*

      There is no way to do this without offending the person getting the nicer gift. Either give them the same type of gift or find separate gift giving occasions.

    2. LAI*

      Yeah, I’d advise giving the same gift at the group meeting. Maybe you can send the bottle of wine separately later?

      1. Bagpuss*

        or give the attorney a different (maybe less expensive) bottle of wine? ‘form our collection’ sounds like you’d be giving the broker something pretty good, but you could get a nice but not amazing bottle for the attorney so they are both getting the same type of thing.

      2. C*

        Can you give the real estate agent her gift at the final walk through before closing? Then, she will know she already got a gift when you give the gift to the attorney at closing but attorney won’t know real estate agent got a “nicer” gift.

        1. Not sure about ettiquitte*

          Yeah, we decided this was the best bet after seeing the responses. Thanks everyone.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t be offended if your broker turns it down. Or the real estate person for that matter. Regs have gotten off the charts crazy to the point that any type of gift can be a problem. If this happens then promise to refer people to these professionals. Or perhaps ask if it is okay to donate to their favorite charity.

  27. Lola*

    HELP! I am looking for advice – not judgement or unkindness.

    Here are the facts:
    I have $100k+ in student loan debt for 3 degrees. a Bachelors & 2 masters.
    I just recently moved here and took the first offer I got because I needed a job.
    I have been interviewing and I am on track to make at least $85-$100k in the next job which will reflect my experience and education till now.
    I moved here from a LCOL and recently completed the second masters.
    I work in tech.
    Currently, I make $65k in San Francisco. After tax it is more like $3k a month.
    I am not in a position where I need to pay rent – (partners income)
    I do not have kids.
    My car is paid off (and very old but runs fine).
    I do not copiously shop and cook all my meals.


    I want to get rid of the loans as soon as possible. Especially since I do not have kids/mortgage/car note etc right now.
    What is the best strategy?
    Should I just throw my whole paycheck at it starting with the smallest loan?
    The loans are private loans which are broken into 3: about $70k, $16k & $7k.
    They are not from sallie mae – so I do not qualify for any sort of cancellation of the loans nor forgiveness.
    I do not regret the loans. I finally got to a place where I do not feel shame and disgusted at myself for it.I went into college at 16 yrs old and was not informed when I started out at the private university about the true cost or implications. Single parent was not and is not financially literate to this day. Please do not disparge me and make me feel stupid about all this. I did the best I could with what I knew and through the rough life that I had.

    Any advice would be so appreciate and thankful. You are all so so smart, I would love to hear from you.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        People discuss personal finance here all the time! I think you’re fine! :)

        If probably look at which loan had the highest interest and start paying that first. My boyfriend just refinanced a couple of his private loans to get lower interest rates. Might be worth looking into.

    1. CatCat*

      I’d make sure I had a little emergency fund of $1k-$2k and then throw minimum payments to the two with the lowest interest rates and everything else at the one with the highest interest rate. After paying that, I’d move to the one with the next highest interest rate to thrones everything at.

    2. PB*

      In addition to the balance, consider the interest rates on your debts. If they’re all about the same, focus on the smallest loan first and make minimum payments on the others. When the smallest one is paid off, put all of the money from that one against the next lowest debt, and so on until they’re all paid off. Do continue to make payments on all three, but put most of the energy into paying off one, and just make minimum payments on the others.

      However, if one has a much higher interest rate than the others, focus on paying that one off, first, since it will end up costing you a lot more in the long run. To take my own example, my husband had a credit card that was charging 35% interest. It was adding up to over $100 in interest. Paying that off was our top priority. Bringing the balance down meant lower interest charges, and after about a year, it was paid off completely.

      You will probably want to put as much money as possible against your debts. I advise looking through the last 3-6 months of credit card and bank statements, and figure out where your money is going. Budget for everything you routinely buy, including food, clothes, utilities, personal care, and entertainment (shopping, Netflix, etc.). Consider if there’s anything you can trim. Total up your spending, and subtract that amount from your take-home pay. Whatever you have left is what you have available to pay down your loans. I’d advise paying as much as you can against the loans. It will be slow going, but it feels so great when you see the numbers starting to go down!

      Good luck!

    3. fposte*

      I think we’ve done some loan stuff on the weekend thread, so I’ll answer with some thoughts and Alison can delete the whole shebang if it’s a problem.

      You have student loan debt. There is nothing shameful about that at all! It’s the mortgage of the new millennium–the price of access to an established desirable asset–except it’s one you take out when you’re too inexperienced to really figure out financial consequences.

      The key factor here that *isn’t* in your post is the interest rate on each of the loans. While there can be psychological value to the snowball method of throwing everything extra at the smallest loan, it makes more financial sense to pay off the highest interest loan first, because that will save you more money over your payoff period. So what are the interest rates on each of them?

    4. Gaia*

      The first thing I would do is create an emergency fund that could support you for 3 months if partner’s income went away (things happen in life, after all). Then, throw every penny you can at that debt. It also might help (maybe) to consolidate them into one loan. But no matter what you do, if you have the chance to throw significant money towards paying down the loans (after ensuring you are protected in case of emergency) I strongly recommend you do so.

    5. Melody Pond*

      I second those who suggested a $1,000-$2,000 emergency fund, and doing that first.

      I like Elizabeth Warren’s strategy for the 50/30/20 rule. Can you get all of your “must-have” expense items down to 50% or less of your take-home pay? Must-haves would be things like housing, basic food, very very basic clothing, utilities, health insurance premiums, and the required monthly minimum payment on your loans.

      Assuming you can do that – I like to flip around Elizabeth Warren’s 20% and 30% percentages. She suggests spending at least 20% on savings (which includes extra payments to pay your debt down faster), and no more than 30% on wants. I like to flip that around, and devote at least 30% of my take-home pay to savings (i.e., extra debt payments), and around 20% of my take-home pay to wants. For me, the wants budget includes things like fitness classes, hobbies, going out to eat or drink, and fancier food indulges.

      And then, I fall into the camp of prioritizing the psychological impact over the financial impact. I put my “savings” budget towards the smallest principal balance loan until it’s gone, and then I move up to the next-biggest loan. I think the psychological impact of making progress and staying motivated is worth more than the interest you’d save by prioritizing the lowest-interest-rate loans first.

      Good luck!

      1. Future Analyst*

        Agreed on all the above. Hammering away at the smallest one is so helpful, because it feels like such a HUGE win when you pay it off. Hang in there, Lola!

    6. Zathras*

      Others have replied with some great advice, but I would also suggest making sure you are saving for retirement while paying back the student loans. Retirement savings is all about compounding over time, and it’s really hard to catch up later.

      Don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of your loans. It sounds like you have done really well for yourself! I think there are a lot of people out there on the internet patting themselves on the back for making the smart choice of going to cheaper schools, etc. when really it was just dumb luck – they were no more informed at 16 or 18 than any of us were. And if they were, it was often due to having financially literate parents. Some of us had to figure it out by trial and error.

      You got this! I’ve been hammering away at my own loans for the last 2 years and it is sometimes hard to stay frugal but it’s super satisfying to see that balance decrease every month.

      I second the emergency fund in particular – it makes living lean a lot less stressful when you have a cushion you could fall back on in an emergency.

      1. Mazzy*

        Yes to this, I feel like this is going to be the crisis of the coming decades as those who didn’t come of age financially in previous decades and haven’t been able and won’t be able to save enough are going to be forced into retirement. It’s definitely not going to be like my grandparents’ generation who all saved modest amounts on regular incomes, but homes cost 2X or 3X your one income and the stock market just grew so much that they were all effectively millionaires.

  28. Free Meerkats*

    Update from the vet visit I wrote about last weekend.

    The old boy cat (16) has a slightly elevated kidney enzyme, but the metabolites are still good. So he’s in very early kidney failure (not surprising.) So it’s time for prescription foods and Aminavast; with those and the blood pressure pills, this cat is now a $100/month. Luckily, we can manage that without pain, I know many can’t.

    He’s a Good Boy and I want him around as long as he has a good quality of life.

    1. Gina Cioffi*

      Consider asking your vet to show you how to administer sub-cutaneous fluids. As the renal failure advances, this can really help.

      I’ve done this with a couple of older cats with chronic renal failure, and it can add a year or more to their life and make them much more comfortable. It’s something I thought I could never do, but I learned how and am so glad I did. That’s in addition to medication, regular testing, and prescription cat food, of course. Also, to cut costs, check out online vet supply places. You can save a bundle on meds and prescription cat food this way.

      Good luck. It’s hard to lose an animal you love. My goal is to give them the best possible quality of life until it’s clear that the time has come to let them go. It’s always about the animal and not about me and my desire to avoid euthanasia and losing their companionship. When the time comes, it’s about what’s best for the animal you love.

      1. Amadeo*

        CRF cats can live for *years* after their BUN and creatinine start to go up. My elder also began to show these symptoms around 16. She’s 19 now, not on a Rx diet (but I add a phosphorus blocker to her food in addition to a kidney support supplement) and her teeth may end up being her actual undoing before her kidneys. She doesn’t need sub-q fluids just yet, and as Free Meerkats said, if kitty’s levels aren’t too bad yet, it’s not time for them either.

        As long as the old man is drinking plenty of water and the numbers aren’t alarming, there’s no need. His vet will let him know when it’s time for that.

      2. Melody Pond*

        Yeah, sub-cutaneous fluids are a good idea. I’ve had three elderly cats in the past 5 years (I always adopt the elderly ones from the county shelter) so I’ve dealt with CKD a lot.

        That being said – I’m a big old chicken with needles, and I haven’t yet worked up the courage to do the sub-Q fluids myself. I’ve just shelled out excessive amounts of money to start bringing my elderly ladies to the vet tech, so they can do it for me. >.<

        1. nonegiven*

          I did the sub-Q fluids myself. It was not hard and the cat didn’t seem to mind except maybe he just didn’t have the energy to object. I assumed the cat would get better.

          I think my vet knew it wouldn’t help but she never said anything. It was my husband’s favorite cat so I don’t know if it would have made a difference for him but I would have had him put to sleep if I had known he would never feel better than he did. At least it was relatively quick.

          1. Ktelzbeth*

            My cat didn’t mind and he would have had the energy to object, so I think it can’t have been too bad. I always gave him a few treats with his sub-Q fluids and it got to be that whenever he saw me starting to warm the fluids he would come running right over for his treats.

      3. Essie*

        I have also done sub-q, and I recommend it too. They obviously feel much better after a treatment.

        We had a lot of luck ordering supplies online. I still have most of a 100-pack of baby needles in the cat drawer.

    2. Trixie*

      Very good news. I’m taking my senior Orange Boy next week and hoping for similar/optimistic checkup. Fingers crossed!

    3. Schmitt*

      I hear you. We’ve been on the emotional roller coaster with Our Boy this week – run the gamut from *Don’t Know But Not Healthy, Elevated White Blood Cells* to *Possible Bowel Tumor On Ultrasound* to *Other Vet Is Skeptical About That, No Other Symptoms* to *Well He Needs Meds For His Heart Whatever Else May Be Wrong Let’s Give Them A Week To Kick In* to *Oh Crap He Has A Giant Gum Abscess How Did Two Vets Not See That*.

      Still the possibility of a tumor, but an abscess would explain the blood results that show infection but not the other usual signs of cancer.

      1. nonegiven*

        Cat had some kind of abscess on his leg and the vet drained it twice before I noticed something long and hard in there. “Hey, what it is this?” After surgery it turned out to be a thin piece of wood about 3 inches long and an inch wide. How did he miss that?

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My very elderly cat has been in the early stages of kidney failure since she was 15 – she’s a pretty healthy 21 now! Changing her diet and blood pressure meds helped; I hope it helps your fella!

  29. Can't Sit Still*

    Statement sleeves! Love them, hate them, indifferent? I’ve seen some really bizarre trends lately: cold shoulder bomber jackets(?!), sweaters with open sleeves from shoulder to wrist, ruffles everywhere, sleeves tied together with enormous bows, and now jackets with sleeves to accommodate dramatic blouse sleeves. I do love the trend, but it’s gotten to be unwearable, even for me.

    I have a Gwynnie Bee subscription and just got a tuxedo cape as a rental. I love it. It goes with several of my more absurd tops. (They may be absurd, but I love them.) I would buy it, but it’s probably a single season statement piece.

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        Rachel Roy Tuxedo Cape! It comes in both plus and straight sizes. What you can’t see in the way modeled pictures is that it has armholes, so it’s more like a vest and cape combo, so it stays in place, instead of sliding around.

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        Links! Because if you haven’t seen these, you really must.

        Cold shoulder bomber jacket: https://www.fashiontofigure.com/plus-size-cold-shoulder-chiffon-jacket-krissy?
        Tuxedo cape: https://www.rachelroy.com/products/tuxedo-cape
        Bell sleeve blazer: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/vince-camuto-split-bell-sleeve-blazer-plus-size/4749851?origin=category-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=DEEP%20CLARET
        Ruffled sleeve sweater: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/wayf-sophie-ruffle-sleeve-sweater/4700794?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=HEATHER%20GREY
        Tied sleeve sweatshirt: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/pleione-tie-sleeve-sweatshirt/4751159?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=BLACK
        This sweater was my bridge too far. I tried it on, it was incredibly soft and warm. Except for the holes in the sleeves! http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/sejour-button-sleeve-sweater-plus-size/4704250?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&fashioncolor=GREY%20CHARCOAL%20HEATHER

        1. Crafty*

          The cold shoulder isn’t for me, but I’m loving the capes and bell sleeves….I feel like the only one? I’ve seen so much social media hate about the current trends, but like usual there’s some I ignore and some I buy up while I can. I’m also loving all the bows and grommets. I would also wear your bridge too far sweater hahaha I’ve always loved cutouts! I live in a warm climate though so I feel like I need ventilation, ha!

          1. Clever Name*

            Yeah, a sweater with a cutout won’t cut it (get it?) in a cold climate, but it’s a great way to get to wear sweaters in climate where it’s really too warm for them.

    1. nep*

      Did anyone else think of Seinfeld’s puffy shirt reading this post about sleeves? (Love Elaine in that scene — ‘Why are you wearing this now?’)

    2. Alston*

      Oh that cape is awesome, buy it! (Says the person who bought a cape 4 years ago and can’t wait till it’s cold enough to wear this year/has at least two cape dresses)

    3. Reba*

      I haven’t participated in the sleeve/shoulder refashioning this year and last. I am not into the cold shoulder thing–although it can be lovely on some people–and especially not in the stripes that look like old mattress ticking that seemed to be everywhere this summer! Flounces and bell sleeves are also a no go for me. But I do enjoy seeing absurd clothes out there, and I had my eye on this thing with like big leg of mutton sleeves recently… I also have a couple blazers with prominent shoulders + nipped waists that I really like.

      In general I am trying to think about my wardrobe strategically these days. I haven’t made any really big changes yet, besides swearing to no longer settle on fit just because I like something and *want* it to fit, and committing to more secondhand. I’m interested in making my clothes more unusual/artistic (?). The minimalist-architectural look appeals to me (my spouse calls this “elegant sack” look). So the cape-blazer is speaking to me, though I’d like one in wool, more like outerwear.

      I’m not going to go into capsule wardrobe mode, but the worksheet linked here was really interesting for me to do: http://www.un-fancy.com/capsule-wardrobe-101/free-wardrobe-planner/

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, none of that. The cape is the only thing that even looks decent but I don’t wear capes. The cold shoulder bomber jacket……………….um no. The purpose of a jacket, as I have always understood it, is to keep you warm, right?

      Just gimme my regular sleeves, thanks.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        For me it seemed like the last five years NOTHING had a sleeve – lots of cap sleeves etc. And now we get SLEEVES and everything about them is out of control. I’m with you, just give me a normal 3/4 or full sleeve option!

        FWIW I just bought a statement sleeve blouse and thats the only one because honestly, if this trend goes south I’m not sure what you can do with all these clothes and it seems like something that won’t last very long.

    5. Optimistic Prime*

      I dislike them, but more because of popular execution than the concept. Sometimes they can be cute but I’ve seen such impractical uses – like the ones you said, sweaters with a completely open sleeve, studs that pull sleeves too tight on the arm, ruffles that make regular movement difficult, etc. Probably the most annoying thing is all summer I had a difficult time finding nice but work appropriate shirts that weren’t missing half the sleeves.

  30. Jstar*

    How do y’all handle an in-law family member who is, well, annoying? He lives nearby so we see him frequently, like 2-3 times per week. Usually short visits are fine but spending a whole day or weekend is tough. He just complains passive aggressively about everything, and always has to have his own way. He also engages in non stop pda with his wife. What to do?

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Just because he lives nearby doesn’t mean you have to spend that much time with him. Maybe start by figuring out what amount of time works for you? Twice a week for a few hours is ok, but more than that and he gets on your nerves? Then start working toward that.

      As to how…can you start seeking/exploring other friendships in your area? Take up a new hobby? Take a class? Start a new project around home? Basically, you’re allowed to decide how much time you want to spend with this person. Setting boundaries is tough, but if the other option is to continue to be annoyed, it might be worth it.

    2. fposte*

      Encourage the PDA, because presumably he’s not complaining then.

      Keep him to the short visits most of the time or let Partner be point person on his/her own for many of them.

      When he bitches about more than one thing in a row or for more than five minutes on something, say, “Gosh, Bob, you sound really unhappy. What do you want to do about that?”

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Also, if they’re dropping by your home, there’s nothing wrong with going about some household chores while they visit with spouse.

      Seeing them that often it’s perfectly reasonable that you might have ironing or something you were just in the middle of and need to get back to when the complaining gets to be too much.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Boy, I’d have to make the work week a no fly zone. “Sorry, Bob, time is tight, work night and all. You know. Hey, will talk with you sometime over the weekend.”

      If someone is going to be at my house 2-3 times a week it’s because they add to my life not subtract from it. To be at someone’s house that much seems to me to be something that is earned.

  31. AnonEMoose*

    I ordered an Instant Pot from Amazon yesterday (I’m getting one of the 10 function ones); I’m very much looking forward to experimenting with it. Anyone else have one?

    Got any tips, tricks or particularly good recipes? (DH and I don’t do “hot” spicy, and I can’t eat shellfish – other than that, we’re decidedly omnivorous).

    1. CatCat*

      Check out hippressurecooking.com for recipes, cook times, and tips.

      When cooking grains, I put the grain in a metal bowl on the rack with about a cup of water in the bottom. The grains cook in the bowl and this makes for a faster cleanup and easy storage of any leftover quantity since it’s already in a container.

      I looooove this recipe for basic beans:

      It’s for a stovetop pressure cooker, but it’s easy to convert by looking at the time charts at hippressurecooking.com.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        It is a pressure cooker, but apparently can also be used as a slow cooker, and depending on the model, can do other stuff like be a rice cooker, be used to make yogurt, and I’m told it does fantastic hard boiled eggs.

        1. Melody Pond*

          It DOES do fantastic hard cooked eggs! As long as you don’t actually put the eggs in the water, but rather put them on top of the metal rack, with a cup of water underneath the rack (it shouldn’t touch the eggs). And then, I still toss the cooked eggs into an ice bath immediately after they’re done. The shells come right off, almost whole!

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Basically a crockpot/pressure cooker hybrid (it can serve as either), and highly programmable, with delays and all that kind of stuff.

    2. Monique*

      I love mine! I actually use it most for yogurt and for rice, but it’s also great for spaghetti squash, anything with cheap cuts of meat (think beef chuck and stewing beef, or pork for pulled pork), and the best is IT COOKS MEAT FROM FROZEN!!! I also made my first corned beef ever this past St Patrick’s day and it was great. If you’re on Facebook, there’s an instant pot group where people post recipes and ideas all the time!

    3. Overeducated*

      I have found that the genre of “pressure cooker recipes” doesn’t do much for me (too meat-heavy, and I have tried a couple that were just not well tested), so if I don’t find what I want with a quick search I try to adapt stovetop recipes i like for it. This usually just means cross referencing with the booklet that came with it to get cook times for the longest cooking ingredient and giving it a few extra minutes because I like to make big batches that seem to take longer.

    4. Melody Pond*

      I love our instant pot! We throw a whole chicken into it every week, and cook it on high pressure for about 45 minutes. The chicken falls off the bone at that point, and then we have shredded chicken to put with quinoa and veggies throughout the week for easy lunches.

      Then, we take the skin, bones, cartilage, and small bits of meat that are harder to separate from the bones, and we add some water back in, and we pressure cook that on high for 2 hours. Then we have amazing chicken stock!

      It’s also really good for mashed potatoes of any kind. It makes really short work of that dish.

  32. Candy*

    Anyone else read this Oprah piece: THE NEW MIDLIFE CRISIS Why (and How) It’s Hitting Gen X Women (http://www.oprah.com/sp/new-midlife-crisis.html#ixzz4ukN6RTKg)

    This bit really hit home for me: “In midlife, women often look at their husbands and see an obstacle, or a co-worker at Parenting HQ, or a distant, shadowy figure, rather than as someone they’d like to have sex with. Many women I spoke with said things like, ‘I do it all. What is he even here for?'”

    1. Clever Name*

      That kind of sums up why I’m divorcing my husband. He’s been going through his own midlife crisis and has turned into an asshole version of himself that seems to be his new personality. We were having an argument when he admitted he doesn’t have any romantic feelings for me anymore. It was like a switch flipped. I thought to myself, “then why the hell am I here?” So we’re divorcing. My stress levels are so much lower now that I don’t have to attend to his emotional needs while he gives nothing in return and tells me I need to handle stress better. And I’m also crazy. I’m sure I sound bitter, but I’m really more just mad at myself for sticking around for so long.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      One single 49-year-old woman I know explained that she’d comforted a married friend through a miscarriage. For months after, her friend felt stalked by pregnant women—wherever she looked, there they were, plump and radiant. The pain was overwhelming, but then her friend got pregnant again and had a healthy baby. “I was happy for her, truly,” the single woman said, “but sometimes I want her to imagine what it’s like to live in that world, surrounded by glowy pregnant women—but to do it forever. And to be utterly alone while doing it.”

      I had to stop reading when I got to this. I just can’t. I cannot. I just lived through this exact thing with a friend who had several miscarriages and now my feed is FULL of pictures of her little girl. I can’t.

    3. CubicleShroom1004*

      I pulled the plug when my husband hit 57, retired, and stopped doing anything.

      He’s clinically depressed, refuses treatment and blames everyone for his issues. He refused couples therapy every time I’ve suggested it.

      The decision was easy for me. “Is this the person I want handling my affairs if I’m stroked out in a nursing home?” Hell and no.

      It was worth the divorce and the restraining order. Lost 60 lbs and feel like a human again.

      I didn’t sign up to be a perpetual mother to a 60 something acting like 12 year old.

    4. Evie K*

      That was really good/awful. Thank you for sharing it.

      There’s two pieces that resonate for me- so much to do & be that you might as well stay in bed since each action you take is a failure to complete the other 97 competing actions & that if you have bad feelings about any of it, it’s your own damn fault.

      It’s nice to know I’m not alone! And that my job insecurity only rests on Congressional funding action, not having to cover a hurricane. Although maybe better to go out in a wind-driven blaze of glory than starve because I can’t compete for a new job because I didn’t get my first face lift yet. Stupid turkey neck.

      It’s Sunday. I may crawl back into bed & let today’s list roll into tomorrow’s. Bwahaha!

  33. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I’m struggling with my schedule. I’m trying to go to bed before midnight and wake up by 8 or so but it’s been hard since 1) I’m unemployed 2) a lot of my social contact now consists of networking events and hanging out with friends in the evening, and I always take a while to wind down after that.

    I’m also kind of upset that my social anxiety has gotten worse over the last couple years (I have some theories as to why but they mostly involve The Forbidden Topic).

    I’m proud of myself for having some sort of human contact every day this past week and for continuing to go to the gym consistently, and doing other exercise on non-gym days (swimming, long walks, biking).

    How are you?

    1. Anon for This*

      Congrats on getting out and getting to the gym – I know those can both be a struggle.

      I could use some advice on a mental health topic. I’m wondering if my fear of doctors is at a point where I should address it in therapy or something like that. After getting on anxiety meds, I was able to go for a physical for the first time in, oh, 15 years, last year. It was hugely difficult and kind of threw me into a tailspin, but I managed it. But now I’ve learned that my doctor will no longer be taking my insurance, which has kind of thrown me for a loop and I’m wondering if it would be beneficial to talk to my therapist about it (and I realize “talk to therapist you already have” seems like a no brainer, so maybe I’m just looking for reassurance). On the one hand, I can get through daily life okay. On the other hand, this really shouldn’t be as much of a struggle as it is.

      For what it’s worth, this fear really centers around weight – I have a history of eating disorders, albeit not drastic ones, and hate even being in the same room as a scale (which I realize sounds crazy), and am always sure I’m going to end up diabetic and blamed for it or something like that.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        If something causes you anxiety and you’d like to experience less of that, then yes, it does sound worth bringing up with your therapist – this is what they are there for, to give you the help you need.

        You don’t sound crazy, by the way. Anxiety can make its way into all sorts of aspects of a person’s life. Being worried about being blamed or having to be around a scale sounds like it’s really distressing for you and I hope you can try to be kind to yourself around all this and try to get the help and support you need. It can be really hard to start again with a new doctor if you find the whole thing nerve wracking and then have to start again after building up trust.

      2. ..Kat..*

        Yes, talk with your therapist.

        Also, when you make an appointment with your new doctor, ask to speak to a nurse. Tell her that you have problems with eating disorders and therefore scales. Verify that there is a consultation room where you can be seen that does not have a scale in it. If you are willing to give them a weight estimate verbally, tell them that. If you do not want to even discuss your weight tell them that. Ask for this information to be put in your chart. Computer charting is great – they can set your chart up so that this information always displays first when your chart is opened. Tell them that this is a deal breaker for you. If they can’t agree to this you will cancel your appointment.

        You can do on-line research for doctors who take your insurance and specialize in eating disorders.

        Before your appointment, practice with your therapist. You may have to walk by a scale. How will you deal with it? If the nurse accidentally tries to weight you, practice calmly refusing and saying that being weighed is not up for discussion.

        As a nurse myself, I would respect this. I would rather you have access to health care than worrying about what you weigh. Unfortunately, not all healthcare workers would agree with me. But I am confident that you can find ones who do.

        Good luck. I am rooting for you. Please keep us updated if you are comfortable with that.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Hey. I think it’s great that you’re managing to stay active. I’m sorry you’re struggling with your schedule right now – I know mine goes to pot way too easily given half the chance (and when I was job hunting I kind of turned into a zombie for a bit).

      Personally I found it helped to get new pillows and not to use my phone before bed, but I appreciate you may not want tips and just to commiserate about things being hard.

      I’ve been up and down a lot. I just started the brief therapy I’m getting through the EAP and the place was a dump but I really liked the counsellor. Other than that I’m just trying to be kind to myself. The run up to Christmas is a bad time for me and I’m trying to think of ways to make it better.

      Mostly I’m just really tired and my biggest achievement today is leaving the house briefly to buy milk.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I’m sorry you’re tired. It was a huge problem when I was working, I’d be exhausted all the time and the mess really built up in my house. I still haven’t addressed the huge backlog of mail.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Mess building up: oh yes. Actually I’m proud that hasn’t happened right now as it usually does when my mental health deteriorates. Can anyone help you go through the mail? Even just to sort it into piles?

          And thanks. I really appreciate you posting this thread each week as I used to want to post more about this stuff but then second guess myself and not do it.

    3. Allypopx*

      I’m glad you’re getting out! It can be hard to motivate yourself when there aren’t really time-specific obligations.

      I’m struggling with anticipation-anxiety. I’m quitting my (decently paying) full time job in December and going to school full time. I haven’t gotten my financial aid award letter yet. I have no idea what I’m facing for debt. We’re gonna talk to boyfriend’s parents for rent help, which is looming on the horizon. I have pretty bad anxiety already and all the unknowns are really killing me.

      My health insurance plan also changed this month and I’m being priced out of seeing my therapist.

      But boyfriend and I are doing much better at cooking instead of eating out, and keeping the house clean despite both being busy, and I am proud of that. It’s an ongoing struggle.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m sorry to hear about your therapist – have you asked them if they can help with other options, like a sliding scale?

    4. Lissa*

      I’m having a pretty bad time with anxiety this week. Part of it is that I am having a very very hard time calibrating what is just my brain freaking out and latching onto the first thing, and what is an actual thing to worry about.

    5. Anon for mental health stuff*

      I think I might be losing my job soon, which yeah, I don’t actually want to talk about today, so we’re good. Mostly, it’s just giving me money anxiety- after thinking I was headed to a more stable position, and now seeing that might not be the case… Basically, I just put the spending on lockdown & I think I might return a recent purchase, just in case. It’s stressful. I’m stressed. Trying to enjoy my weekend, but it’s tough.

    6. JaneB*

      Not good- had a week of working from home after a new problem came up – at first when I was speaking to multiple people, then just at random times, my larynx/ diaphragm seemed to seize up so that I couldn’t make air move – only for a fraction of a second at a time, but enough to be really scary and interrupt what I was saying – and of course the fear of it happening was also quickly problematic. I’m a lecturer, my voice is essential for my work… my doctor said it was anxiety, and prescribed diazepam, which didn’t help (not that I gave it a good try as his warnings about it meant I was on the verge of a panic attach before taking it…). Anyway, had to get cover for classes at the end of last week, then pull out of the big field trip I’ve been organising for the last few months, so feeling lots of self loathing, guilt for putting more work on already stressed coworkers etc.

      Had a very chill week of doing minimum work from home, and of course my sleep schedule is now messed up and today the random crying started up again. I don’t like this and self care is really hard when you can’t believe you deserve it and just want the sweet oblivion of sleep/carb overdosing to make it all GO AWAY for a few hours :-(

      In other words, am pathetic, must pull socks up

      Thanks for listening!

    7. Kay*

      Not great. I’m in keep on keeping on mode, which for me involves a lot of long quiet stretches and nose to the grindstone. Which is not the worst way to be, I realize, but I’d like to also be happy sometimes?

      Background is also that my husband is also a highly depressive alcoholic, who has had long stretches of suicidal ideation, and he has been in another one of those low points.

      On balance, I am doing ok: staying on top of eating well, sleeping fine, getting necessary things done, finally paid off the credit card this month and the car next month. But I am also the only one doing ANYTHING while my husband plays video games and watches movies or reads imgur every single second he’s home.

      So I can be proud of myself for managing basics and even ticking items off the house renovation list, but also feel so very hollow and lonely and wholly unsupported. Every conversation I have with him about anything deeper than “should we see this movie this weekend?” ends up with him getting really angry because he feels like I’m pushing him.

      Anyway. Good times.

      (I’m also the person who posted a while ago about my husband refusing to clean the cat box more than once a month; that continues. I mostly use the front door so I don’t have to walk by it. When I first started doing that he cleaned it once a week for two weeks straight! Then stopped.)

    8. Dr. KMnO4*

      Sometimes when I’m on Lamictal for a while I forget that mood swings still happen. Friday was just not a great day, for no apparent reason. I was extremely irritated at nothing in particular, and had to keep it under wraps because lashing out at students is not something I do. Even today I’m not feeling great, though that’s been exacerbated by an email from someone I do NOT want to interact with. I can’t block this person though, because of our professional relationship.

      On a positive note, the medication to treat my ADHD has been working so well. My word, I didn’t realize how much the ADHD affected me until I started on the medication. I’m more organized, so much more on top of things at work, more productive in general…the changes are amazing. Now I’m doubly irritated that the first psychiatrist I saw here refused to even consider treating me for ADHD.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          That is ridiculous. I’m sorry that you can’t get the treatment you need. The original psychiatrist I saw said that adult ADHD had to be diagnosed by age 12…and I’m like, but, 12 isn’t exactly adult is it? Also, why should people who grew up in a time when ADHD was barely understood, and not often diagnosed, get punished for that? Just because I’ve developed coping mechanisms doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t benefit from treatment.

    9. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’m not doing too badly this week. The medication I’ve been put on is at least helping with my sleep schedule, though I’ll have to wait another month to see if it actually improves my mood. I’m still unemployed which is making things tougher. On a really good note I haven’t had any suicidal feelings this week which is a nice change.

      Now that I’m getting help from someone who believes me I’m feeling a bit more hopeful. I haven’t had much human interaction this week but I have been able to take a few dogs out for walks and I have plans for this coming week. I’ve also found the motivation today to make apple crisp, shepherd’s pie, and spaghetti sauce from scratch so I’ll be eating well if nothing else.

    10. Red*

      I’ve been so up and down lately. My psychiatrist thinks it’s all because of my f’ed up sleep, so she’s decided to give me Ambien to get that sorted before messing around with other mood stabilizers and subjecting me to the side effects of those. I’ve only taken it once, but it worked, so will see how this goes!

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Having this problem too, also unemployed! It’s so hard not to stay up late but I know when I get a job, I’ll be screwed if I don’t get my schedule back on track, haha. But honestly, even with exercise, I’m just—not sleepy until later.

    12. Update on he wants a baby*

      I was tremendously excited to get the house on the market at the end of last week and also when we got an offer yesterday. No way he can become my ex soon enough said we had to counter. They replied with a number in between their first number and our counter. Now he doesn’t want to accept it because we’ve given up more than they did and he says “I have fewer resources than you and have to think about my financial future.” $1500 is going to make or ruin a financial future? Doesn’t seem likely to me. I keep putting money and time into mortgage, upkeep, and repairs, so I want to sell and be done. He contributes nothing, so wants to hold out for the best profit. The divorce is stalled because he’s not returning paperwork and my lawyer keeps saying to wait rather than set a court date. I’ve taken his advice so far, because his firm is one of the feared ones in town for divorce and I’m paying him to know the subject better than I do, but I’m beginning to wonder if I should overrule him. I’m beginning to give serious thoughts to moving across the border to the neighboring state where divorces are easier to obtain (after 6 months residency) but there’s not much for towns there, at least reasonably close. My mental health is challenging. I see my therapist Tuesday.

      1. Update on he wants a baby*

        Two additions:
        –Offers and counteroffers kept flying and we just came to an agreement with the sellers. It’s contingent on a couple things, so prayers/thoughts/vibes or whatever you use for good luck would be great
        –Since the value of money varies throughout the world, $1500 isn’t quite a fortnight’s wages for him

        1. Effie, who is herself, and is moving forward without self judgement*

          Sending good thoughts your way! Hold on. You can do it!

    13. Julia*

      I’ve been too busy to feel much anxiety, but constant stress isn’t good either. At the moment, I am procrastinating on AaM before I need to do something for school, which is making me anxious. I also don’t have much time for physical exercise, which means I’ll probably get more anxious soon. And my therapist hasn’t replied to me in two months…

      May I ask how you manage to get social contact every day? I really struggle with this.

    14. Mischa*

      Doctors want to do meds. I wasn’t really crazy about the idea, but the depression has gotten so much worse in the last few days. I just can’t even function. Can’t wash a dish. My house is a disaster. I’ve been snapping at the dog. Can’t motivate myself to do homework. So I’ve definitely have changed my tune about medications. The psychiatrist just got my blood panels from a physical so we’ll go from there this week.

      My blood sugar was high so now the doctors want to do a fasting test. For someone who has intense anxiety about needles, this is the worst possible scenario.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Hugs. When I have to get shots I’ll often do my best to concentrate on something else in the room–count bricks in the wall or read all the bones and muscles in those anatomical charts. Can you have a friend or family member come with you for the blood test?

        I’m so glad you’re dealing with this–even though it’s scary you are being brave by looking for solutions.

      2. ..Kat..*

        High stress raises your blood cortisol, which is a steroid your body releases to help you deal with stress. Cortisol raises your blood sugar (which is instant energy to allow you to fight or flight the stress). This is great if you need the energy to run away from a tiger or fight a tiger to save your life. Not so great when your stressor is your idiot boss – your stress, your high cortisol, and your high blood sugar have no where to go and nothing to do because we can’t run from idiot bosses, nor can we engage them in hand to hand combat. Chronic high stress leads to chronic high blood cortisol levels, which leads to chronic high blood sugar. Which could be what is happening to you. Also, chronic high cortisol makes it difficult to sleep – which results in more stress, more cortisol, more high blood sugar- which leads to more poor sleep- which leads to more… (well, I think you can see where I am going with this). I can’t tell you that you are not on your way to being diabetic, but it is quite possible your elevated blood sugar levels are related to stress. So if you can manage your stress, you can break this cycle. Eat healthily, get exercise (even just a 30 minute walk a day), do what you can to get better sleep, dump that toxic frenemy.

        Unfortunately, the toxic cycle I describe above can definitely lead to pre-diabetes (or metabolic syndrome as it is now called), which can lead to diabetes. But the good news is if you have metabolic syndrome, you can reverse this! You can start with oral medications (if you need them) and the life style changes I describe above. Then, your health care practitioner can transition you off the medications. If you have health insurance and are in the United States, insurance is often happy to pay for consulting a registered dietitian (RD). An RD is a highly trained professional who can help you improve your diet. Even if your insurance won’t pay for a few visits, an RD can be well worth paying for it yourself.

        So, my point is (and I do have one) that you can turn this around. Don’t panic or stress about this.

        Did I mention I’m a nurse? Hope you see this. This was my weekend to work 7am to 7:30pm Saturday and Sunday, and I’m on the west coast so I am posting rather late.

    15. Tiny Crankypants*

      It’s good that you’re getting out and exercising! I should, too!

      My therapist and I dealed with some horrible memories this week. It’s the most I’ve cried since therapy but I feel like there’s progress.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Working on horrible memories can be so hard but ultimately beneficial – I’m glad you have a therapist you can do that with but sorry that you need to.

    16. Windchime*

      Thanks for regularly posting this thread on the weekends, JD.

      I had a weird thing happen this week. Some readers may remember that I left my old job a year ago, after bullying and destructive, cruel management led me and others to have total nervous breakdowns. I was in pretty bad shape when I left but moved to a new job where the people are supportive and kind. I am fitting in and I love it there, with the exception of a commute which can be long and frustrating at times.

      I had a medical appointment in Seattle on Thursday, just 3 miles from my work but it might as well have been 50 for the time it took me to get there and back to a stop where I could catch my bus home. The stop was the last one before the freeway, so the bus was full and I had to stand for an hour with an aching back and feet. By the time I got home, I was pissy and then I got mad. Super mad at the people who had forced me out of my old job and into this job with the terrible commute. I was just so angry and then I got upset and kind of riled up. It was scary because I felt like I was falling back into the abyss of depression and anxiety. I ultimately realized that I needed a glass of wine and a long sleep, and I really did feel much better the next morning.

      It was kind of a bummer, though. It makes me realize that I am still just one thin thread away from unraveling and it’s kind of scary.

  34. Alexa S.*

    Hi everyone! I know a lot of you (including Alison) live in the DC area, so I’m hoping you can give me some info on what it’s like to live there. I just accepted a job in Silver Spring and I’ll be moving to the area in two weeks – and I’m totally freaked out about it. I think I’ll be able to find a place to live before I move, but the cost of living is way higher than I’m used to (I currently live in rural Illinois) and I won’t have a car. Basically, moving from small town America to a big international city on the coast seems like it’ll be a culture shock, especially with not being able to drive, and I have to make this transition very quickly. So I guess I have a couple of concrete questions about this.

    – Most people who live in the District don’t drive, right? I’ve read great things about the Metro system but it still makes me nervous that I’ll be getting groceries, etc, without a car.

    – Second, I know a couple people in the area, but I’ll basically be moving there without any friends or social support. What are good ways to meet people in DC? I know about Meetup groups and that kind of thing, but I guess I’m asking more about how open people are to making friends with newcomers and what places I might go to do that. FWIW, I’m pretty young (24), female, crafty/artsy, love live music, etc.

    Thank you!

    1. Shark Whisperer*

      I live in Silver Spring! (Not downtown Silver Spring, I live on the border of Takoma Park). Most people I know do drive, they only get to work on the metro, but most of my friends live near me and around us the metro is really only good for getting into and out of the district and nothing else (like getting to a grocery store). If you wanted to live on the district and commute out to Silver Spring that might be different.

      I am a 27 year old female. I have social anxiety, so I haven’t been great at making friends around DC, most of my friends are from work or people I knew from before I moved down here. If you want to email me to ask more questions, go for it!

      1. Alexa S.*

        I am planning on living in the district and commuting out – I’ve found places to rent in the Takoma/Petworth area that are maybe a 20 minute metro commute to Silver Spring (if I remember correctly from google maps). The Silver Spring metro situation was pretty much what I was worried about and why I started looking only for places that were in DC :/ Maybe eventually I’ll have a car and I can move further out.

        1. Overeducated*

          I have a friend living in Petworth who literally keeps her car in storage most of the year. She can walk to work, so that part doesn’t help you, but it’s not an issue for groceries and neighborhood errands either. I also have a friend in Takoma Park who commutes to Silver Spring by bus and lives near lots of stores.

    2. Music*

      I lived in DC for seven years without a car, about 3/4 of a mile from a couple of Metro stops. If you’re cool with walking for 20 minutes, you’ll be fine. The metro is buggy and prone to construction delays, so always have a book and give yourself plenty of time. People rail against it, but those people are kinda snobby.

      As a transient city, DC has TONS of groups and meet ups designed around meeting people. It’s basically an official pastime there. Do you like sports at all? There are organized fun leagues for things like kickball, which are 100% about getting a bunch of people in one place and then heading to a bar afterward.

      Take advantage of the free museums, often. Just go for 20 minutes if you want. The Degas room at the national gallery was always a fav.

      Also learn the bus system. The same snobs who tell you the metro sucks will tell you the bus sucks too, but it’s great and often faster and more convenient.

      1. Music*

        (Also the 9:30 Club is the best music venue in the country. There are SO many good places to see shows in that city, you’re going to love it.)

        1. SL #2*

          I love the 9:30 Club. One of the best parts of my semester in DC was that several of my favorite bands toured through the venue that fall and I was able to see all of them!

      2. Alexa S.*

        That’s really helpful, thank you! I’m not into sports, really, but I could be convinced to join a kickball league or something… I’ll look into that. And I am definitely looking forward to the free museums :)

      3. periwinkle*

        I’ve got to put a plug in for the underrated Freer & Sackler Gallery, part of the Smithsonian. It’s a wonderful collection of East Asian art and paintings by James McNeil Whistler. The museum is currently closed for renovation but is scheduled to re-open in a couple weeks.

    3. periwinkle*

      I don’t live there anymore but I spent most of my life living in Silver Spring. There really is a silver spring in Silver Spring – you’ll find it downtown in Acorn Park (it’s a spring with shiny bits of mica at the bottom). The SS name covers a really broad area of eastern Montgomery County; I lived six miles from downtown SS. Downtown SS has been undergoing a lot of redevelopment.

      As a non-driver you’ll want to stay closer to DC because it’s much more difficult to get around in the suburbs. There are exceptions as some of the suburbs have urbanized cores (such as Bethesda MD) clustered around their Metro station. Apartments close to Metro are pricey, even by DC standards. Choose your home location carefully, though; commutes here are wretched, even using Metro which, well, is not as reliable as one might prefer. Check out what your commute would be by bus or Uber/Lyft as well as by Metrorail.

      Get your groceries delivered! There are multiple grocery delivery services available in the area, some specific to a chain (Safeway, Peapod/Giant) plus there’s Instacart for everything else.

      DC has a very transient population with a lot of younger people moving there for grad school or work. You’ll be far from the only person experiencing culture shock, never fear.

      TBH, my husband and I are both much happier where we live now (Seattle area) but we dearly miss the AFI Silver Theater in downtown SS. Check it out!

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I lived about 2 miles from downtown Silver Spring for about 5 years and I loved the area. I used buses/Metro/cabs to get to and from work and lived with a roommate who had a car, but there was a grocery store in easy walking distance. I’d also imagine that now with Uber and Lyft, you could stop at the store on your way home and get a ride with your actual groceries so you don’t have to worry about carrying them.

      Downtown Silver Spring used to have a bunch of different events – farmers markets, festivals, etc. I assume they still do. The Thai restaurant was my favorite. I miss it so much.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I lived in the DC area, I was actually in NoVa, so I am no help there. However, as a former NYC-er who didn’t own a car for over 10 years, things like grocery shopping are manageable but different. You’ll learn to do things in shorter time spans, like shopping twice a week on your way home from work instead of one big weekend shop. You’ll do less stocking up and more buying as needed. I would suggest adding “near a grocery store and a convenience store” to your list of apartment criteria.

      How far is your office from the Metro in Silver Spring? That, to me, would be a bigger concern that can really mess with your commute. If you work right at the Metro stop (and downtown SS is soooo much nicer than it was when I lived there in the early aughts) then you’re good. If not, you have to figure out your method of getting between office and Metro, and that’s not always very straightforward.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        You might honestly do better to look for a place to rent that is on a bus line that goes to your office. The bus is a lot cheaper than the Metro and, while you have to deal with traffic, you don’t have to deal with the construction/breakdowns/etc that plague the Metro.

    6. Otter box*

      I used to live just outside downtown Silver Spring and more recently downtown DC. You definitely won’t need a car there, even for groceries. I ended up selling mine, and I regret not selling it sooner because it was just a drain on my finances. Silver Spring and (especially) DC are incredibly walkable and transit-focused. There’s also an extensive Capital Bikeshare network, and I’ve read that several dockless bikeshare companies have opened up in the past month or two. For those situations where you *do* need a car, Lyft, Uber, and cabs are always nearby.

      Transit is very good there – Metro seems to be in a cycle of horrible where stations are routinely closed for maintenance, especially on weekends, but it’s still usually fine as long as you plan ahead. The buses are great, and there are several lines that terminate/start in Silver Spring. I used to live near East-West Hwy and 16th St, and I took the S-line buses downtown every day for work. The J buses run between Silver Spring and Bethesda and the 70 runs down Georgia Ave. I’m sure there are other lines too, but I am not familiar with them. A lifesaver when you’re just learning how to navigate DC is the CityMapper app – it maps out all sorts of possible combinations of ways to get around using real-time data from a ton of different sources.

      Good luck! I just moved away from DC and I miss it already!

    7. Christy*

      You definitely don’t need to live in the District to be car-free. I’m assuming your work is in downtown Silver Spring? You could very easily live in downtown Silver Spring and walk to the grocery store (Giant, Whole Foods, Safeway) and entertainment and the metro when you need. It might also be cheaper than parts of the District. I’ve lived both just west and just east of downtown Silver Spring and both would also be good options. Takoma Park in particular has a co-op for groceries that’s a great option and a lovely walkable downtown. Only one train stop or one bus to downtown Silver Spring! And Takoma Park is artsy and incredibly liberal (even by DC standards!) and wonderful.

      My wife lived alone in Langley Park for five years without a car and managed just fine for groceries and other aspects of life. Honestly, you can make car-free work just about anywhere around here that’s on more than one bus line.

      Are you looking to live alone or with roommates? Roommates can be built-in socialization, which is nice.

      It’s very easy to meet new people and hang out with them here. It’s a transient town and people make friends easily. I actually bet it might be easier in DC than MD because a lot of that transient population chooses to live in the District instead of a suburb.

      Oh, and the Fillmore in downtown Silver Spring has great live music too.

  35. Trixie*

    Looking at any successful alternatives to bunion surgery. As extreme as they are, I’m not experiencing pain or limited range of motion which is why I’m not pursuing surgery. I’m looking at some things online from stretchers, spacers & custom inserts to exercises to help strengthen/improve alignment. But ultimately, I think surgery is the only thing to knock that big toe back in place.

    1. Shark Whisperer*

      I never found a successful alternative to bunion surgery, but I had my surgery 4 weeks ago and it went great! I have my surgery before I was experiencing a lot of pain (unlike my mom who waited a long time) and my recovery has been super quick. Bed rest for 3 days, back to work after a week, only on crutches for two weeks. I currently have a lovely surgical boot on, but I may be able to take it off Monday and just wear supportive shoes.

    2. Funion*

      Just wearing wide enough shoes so that it doesn’t get worse. Do exercises to help with strength and flexibility, but yeah, it’s a skeletal problem. You don’t HAVE to do surgery; I see it as a last resort.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have a bunion sock which is supposed to gently pull the bunion straight. I bought it from the chemist in the section for fabric wrist/knee supports and corn plasters. I wear it every day and it is not noticeable with socks or tights.

  36. Sparkly Librarian*

    Dogs on a seesaw news:

    My dad, who trains search dogs now that he’s retired, got a new puppy! She is 8 weeks old now and very smart (in my totally unbiased opinion, plus the opinion of a whole bunch of dog handlers who saw her demonstrate training behaviors at a conference this week).

    The day my dad got home with the new puppy (after driving across state lines to pick her up and then spending some time at puppy training), his older dog was diagnosed with lymphoma. She’d been out of sorts at the boarder’s and they took her to the vet. Before that there really wasn’t any sign of bad health. But when the test results came back, they indicated that (IF she would eat) she might live for a month and would be in pain for most of that.

    He had to put the older dog down this week. She was only 5 and we thought she had a few working years and a happy retirement ahead of her. I got to say goodbye, and so did my sister, but our mom is traveling and won’t be back for a few weeks.

    The puppy is very cute! I met her and also get to see photos/videos. She is experiencing water and mechanical noises and so many things for the first time, and she is brave and smart and adorable. Also, I am informed, she has puppy breath. (Personally, I do not breathe right in front of a dog’s mouth, but that’s just me.)

    1. Turtlewings*

      That’s such a shame about the older dog! I’m glad your family has the new puppy to help comfort and distract you. I’m sure she’ll be a great search dog!

  37. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This has been a miserable week. My knee is still causing me a lot of pain. I started PT yesterday and while the therapist said I’ll be ok eventually and likely won’t need surgery, I need to be less active than I’ve been. I also ended up with the pseudo-flu (a bad reaction to the vaccine), which wasn’t terrible, just annoying. I found out we were indeed not invited to a party that most of our friends attended, and while I’m not insulted, I’m a little hurt. And my boyfriend and I are going through a very rough patch which is exacerbated by my limited ability to do much of anything; we had a huge two-night-long fight this week. Oh, and my mother and stepfather are stopping in town on their way back to Florida, and… blech. Not my week.

    1. nep*

      Oh, man. When it rains it pours, huh? Sorry all this is hitting you.
      Two-night-long fight — That sounds awful. There’s nothing like that awful tension hanging over things for a long stretch of time like that.
      Hope you’ll be able to get rid of that flu, and that some more positive things will come along to counter some of this.

    2. Anon For This*

      Wow. That’s awful. I hope things get better. Is there anything fun you can do as a distraction from all of that? Projects or just entertainment?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Unfortunately, I can’t stand long enough to do some of the things I enjoy, like cooking and pickling. So I started binge-watching Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23 again, and that’s been fun. Today is better; last night I sent the boyfriend to an event that he loved, so we’re less tense. My parents’ visit was ok (that’s a separate post), but unfortunately now I am in a ton of pain and icing. I will be here all day.

  38. Gaia*

    Weight loss update: I’m down 21.3 lbs in 5 weeks. But now I’m worried. I was told Tuesday this week that I needed to travel for work for 3 weeks straight – and I had to leave Friday. I did good at the airport and on the plane (bought a sandwich in the food court and threw out the bread to make lettuce wraps and ordered a fruit and cheese platter for the flight + brought some almonds and no-sugar-added dried strawberries). I even turned down a chocolate croissant on the plane. That was tough. They smelled amazing.

    But, meals are going to be tough. I’m in another country, in a hotel. I managed to get a fridge in the room but there is no ability to cook which means most meals will be eaten out. And this country is not known for healthy, clean-eating. It is definitely going to test my habits. But good news: the hotel has a really awesome gym! So I’ll be working it extra hard to make up for any slips.

    In really exciting news: I bought a shirt months ago that I loved but it was too tight across my chest and arms. IT FITS NOW!!!! And my other beloved shirt that liked to cling awkwardly to my back rolls now hangs loosely. I’m holding onto those successes for the next few weeks. I’ve revised my goals and if I make it out of this trip without gaining any weight back I’ll be happy – weight loss during this point will be a bonus!

    Wish me luck. The next 2 updates won’t have weight details (I think) because I don’t think I’ll have access to a scale.

    1. nep*

      You are doing so well. Bravo, you. So great about that shirt.
      (Even though you don’t have a scale, you will likely continue to see / feel a difference.)
      Keep up the great work. As I said before, it’s an inspiration.
      Have fun in the gym. Keep drinking plenty of water — it will help energy levels and just overall sense of well-being.

      1. Gaia*

        I am ALWAYS thirsty. Like cotton mouth thirsty. It is a really common side effect of phentermine. Most of the worse side effects (heart palpitations, anxiety, increased pulse, etc) tend to go away after a few days/weeks but for some reason the dry-as-the-Sahara mouth doesn’t go away. I downed an entire bottle of water today and it did nothing for me.

        On the plus side, my skin looks great with all this water!

    2. Gaia*

      Kind of on this same note – has anyone ever had a doctor who seemed like, weirdly obsessed with saying you had anxiety?

      I love my doctor. She is the first one who really took my weight issues seriously and did something beyond telling me to lose weight and exercise and eat less. She is supportive, she celebrates with me, she makes me feel like I can do this and that she will help me. But…she keeps saying I seem to have anxiety. She asked if I was having symptoms from the phentermine. I told her about the dry mouth and offhand said “oh and when I first wake up my heart is like pounding for a few seconds…but maybe that is just because I’m sleeping in a different position now?” to which she responded “oh that sounds like anxiety which makes sense with your history.” This is the second time she’s mentioned that I have a “history” of anxiety.

      Here’s the thing: I don’t. I know anxiety. I have great friends and family who suffer from anxiety. I do not have that. I don’t fixate on things. I don’t let concerns or worries impact my life or dictate my choices. I don’t make decisions based on worst possible scenario and…I’m not actually anxious. In fact, I feel really freaking good in life right now. I think she gets this from my old doctor at the same practice. He is an asshat who told me bronchitis was just my lungs having a hard time working because of my weight. When I told him I have been this weight a long time so that doesn’t make sense he told me it must just be anxiety or a panic attack. The ER confirmed it was a severe case of bronchitis, but I think he may have put that “diagnosis” in my chart.

      Should I say something? Ask about it? I don’t want to be weird but I really don’t want symptoms just brushed off as “anxiety” due to a history that doesn’t exist.

      1. bunniferous*

        I would say something. I would bet money there is something in your chart that needs to be corrected. Seeing that she seems to listen to you in other areas and that THIS area bugs you, speak up!

        1. Turtlewings*

          Agreed. And fwiw, I also have a fast heartbeat when I first wake up sometimes, for no reason I’ve ever been able to figure out. I don’t have anxiety either. I’ve come to think of it as just my body trying to gear up to face the day.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Probably something is in your chart that shouldn’t be.

        I’ve been having this problem with my OBGYN practice. I was on a drug called Metformin when I got pregnant – my endocrinologist had put me on it for PCOS. But it’s primarily used a diabetes drug. Somehow something about diabetes got in my chart because EVERY SINGLE appointment I get some comment about me being diabetic. I’m not. It’s driving me nuts.

    3. Triplestep*

      Wow, great work on the loss so far! I lost a bunch of weight last year, and when I had to travel, I just focused on trying to make the best choices possible and not gaining weight. Tell yourself it’s OK if you don’t keep losing during these three weeks as long as you try to maintain your new healthy habits. And make sure you are eating enough – don’t unwittingly over-compensate for having less control over your menus by consuming too few calories. Good luck!

    4. Essie*

      Your dedication is amazing, I’m so proud for you. Keep going, we are all cheering you on! *hugs*

    1. nep*

      One of the lines that really got me was: ‘We may be the last generation that can remember life before.’
      I later watched this TED talk that’s on the Time Well Spent website (It’s from a few years ago) about how technology could be designed to be more about enhancing lives and encouraging us to spend time well. I kept thinking, well that’s rather contrived…we don’t need technology to do that for us. But I’ve not thought it through; I suppose there could be some valid points there.

  39. Gaia*

    My plane ride was hell on earth.

    First, my puddle jumper was delayed an hour because the previous flight crew wrote something down wrong in the maintenance records. So we all just sat on the tarmac. Then, on the 9 hour flight, there was this poor family whose very young infant screamed the entire way. And I mean screamed. And I mean the entire 9 hours. But even worse than that is that I was surronded by three people coughing. And now my throat is sore and I swear to all that is holy if I get sick while on work travel for 3 weeks I will lose it.

    1. bunniferous*

      Grab some saline nose spray and use it liberally. And hydrate a lot. Also if you can get ahold of something called Throat Coat Tea (I find it at my local grocery but health food stores may have it as well) brew and drink that. It tastes nice and needs no sweetener as well.

    2. Julia*

      Oh no. :( I’ve read that zinc can help with oncoming colds. Take some supplements if you can – but be careful, they can cause nausea in some people or if you take too much.

  40. Gaia*

    Me, again!

    You guys might remember that I had to put my beloved dog down back in May. He was just 9 1/2 years old and I’d had him since he was 10 weeks old. This is the first time I’ve been gone more than a few days since he died and…I can’t shake the feeling I’m forgetting something. And I know that ‘something’ is “make plans for the pup” and I know I obviously don’t need to do that.

    I didn’t expect it to be so hard. He’s been gone nearly 5 months now. I literally bawled on the way to the airport (and again in the toilet on the plane) because I just suddenly missed him so much. I think maybe part of it is that I could have never done this trip when I had him, and it is a huge opportunity for me. So, maybe there is some guilt there? Like I feel a little (relieved is the wrong word here, but I can’t think of a better one)?

    1. nep*

      That is so sweet and sad at the same time. I reckon there is part of you that oddly feels ‘guilty’ you’re able to do this trip. I actually think it’s good you had a good cry about it. If it comes, it comes. You were with him a LONG time — understandable that it would still sting, and especially in this new context.

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      Sometimes our habits are stronger than our factual knowledge. Call it muscle memory. You spent almost a decade being responsible for your dog’s needs and making him part of your plans, so the recent knowledge from the few months he’s been gone has to work against the ingrained behavior. It’s very natural to feel two ways about that.

      I’m sorry for your loss (my family is grieving as well, as I mentioned upthread). Pockets of emotion will come up –sometimes unexpectedly — for a while after the day-to-day is going smoothly, I think. I hope you’re able to enjoy and appreciate the new travel opportunity, while knowing that it doesn’t diminish the love you have for your pet.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I know how that is–I felt that way after Pig died. I mean, nothing has happened since, but if it should, I can just up and go now, and I couldn’t when I had her. I definitely have guilt because I started wanting to leave before I lost her and it makes me feel bad sometimes.

      Of course, I miss her. You miss your doggo. But we’re not bad people for feeling glad that we can do the things without having to make plans for the pets.

    4. Julia*

      Our cat dies over five years ago, and every time I visit my parents (I live abroad), I have one strange moment of “where is Molli?” because apparently, my brain associates the house with our cat. I also haven’t been able to eat meat since she died.
      I can think of her now, and see other cats, without crying, but looking at old photos, especially from her last days, sometimes still cause tears.

      I hope you’ll feel better soon. I know this isn’t a big comfort, but the fact that you’re so sad means that you are capable of loving someone very much.

  41. Overeducated*

    I was really excited about going camping in the closest big national park Sunday and Monday…but now it’s supposed to rain, hard, all day both days. So disappointing! Should I just cancel? I am not sure how much fun camping in a tent in pouring rain with a small child sounds, especially since one of the big attractions is the vistas. But if we don’t do it now, we probably won’t camp at all while the leaves are pretty. We’d lose about $30 for the site reservation, so not a lot.

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      For me it would depend on how long of a drive it is and how small the child is.

      If you decide to give up would you have to get a hotel or could you drive back that night?

      One of our camping trips when I was a kid turned out rainy the whole time. I think my sister and I were about 10 and 7. We had a great time anyway — we got to wear rain ponchos and splash in puddles, but we were also old enough to entertain ourselves with books and card games.

      We had a propane stove, so we didn’t need to find dry wood for cooking. And we had a makeshift tarp shelter over the picnic table.

      If you sleep against the wall of the tent you’ll wake up cold and damp though!

      1. Overeducated*

        It’s only 1.5 hours, which we drive round trip to see family all the time, so we could easily head home. We have a pretty tiny tent and no tarp, so it would get wet overnight, and no fun for us to hang out after kid bedtime if it’s pouring and we can’t make a campfire. Not even sure it’s worth driving out or if we should just do a day trip in the next 2-4 weeks.

        I went on a LOT of rainy camping trips as a kid since it was my family’s main vacation strategy and honestly, I don’t remember them fondly! Camping in general, yes, in the rain…i hated it!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If you hated it as a kid, it isn’t going to be any better now!
          I would skip it this time and maybe do an indoor campout–that could be fun for the child. You can always go another time when the weather is better.

          1. LAM*

            I agree. I remember waking up cold and slightly damp due to rain while camping as a kid. And we had a tarp under the tent, plus a rain fly over it. And slept on elevated cots (they folded up like lawn chairs. and. were. amazing.). We also had a portable gas stove. But it didn’t make mornings any better.

            Maybe a day trip to the park to see all the fall colors (which we seem to be missing where I’m at), after an indoor camp out? You can still do the hotdog and s’more thing at home, and sleep in a fort made in the living room (or backyard if it’s dry where you’re at).

            In highschool my friends and I used to camp out in my backyard all the time. Small backyard in a suburban subdivision, but we could see stars (we didn’t have a tent, so literally slept in sleeping bags/blankets underneath the stars). Some of my best memories there.

            1. Overeducated*

              Maybe we’ll make a living room “tent,” that sounds fun. It’s raining here, and radar of the park looks like a huge storm is moving through, so trip is off. Sigh.

              Fall colors aren’t strong yet, but we’re free 2 Sundays from now so maybe we’ll do a day trip then. Veteran’s day weekend could also be convenient but might be too late for foliage. October is a busy month!

  42. Aurion*

    Last year in Las Vegas, I tried a kale salad with a magical creamy dressing. I wandered into the mall closest to my hotel at like 9-10 pm, wandered into a random Italian place, and I remembered nothing about the restaurant other than it had a green canopy.

    Half an hour of quality time with Google Maps later, I figured out the mall, the restaurant, the menu, and that it was a creamy gorgonzola dressing. Colour me shocked. I don’t like blue cheese in the least (or kale, for that matter).

    So now I’m curious about creamy salad dressings as a whole. Buttermilk vs sour cream vs mayo vs Greek yogurt? Tell me pluses and minuses of each, and hit me up with your favourite creamy salad dressing recipes! (I only eat salad when I like the dressings, heh.)

    1. Overeducated*

      Eating a kale salad with a vinaigrette and creamy goat cheese now, and gorgonzola dressing sounds amazing! I find mild blue cheeses lose their bite in sauces. Now I want to Google it too!

      I don’t usually do creamy dressings but I do like a Middle Eastern sauce for vegetables and meat that consists of Greek yogurt, sour cream, garlic, a tiny bit of olive oil, red pepper, and sumac. Sometimes I serve it all over salad.

      1. Aurion*

        Sure, it’s the Trattoria Reggiano in the Venetian/Grand Canal Shoppes.

        Italian Kale Salad – Fresh kale, chicken breast, chopped hard-boiled egg, pancetta, tomatoes, cannellini beans, creamy gorgonzola dressing & avocado

        My boss had the salad, actually; I just stole her leftovers (with her permission, haha). I had the chicken marsala, which was delicious too. But bear in mind this is not super fine dining, just very satisfying for a late weeknight dinner.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      I love making homemade blue cheese dressing! I don’t usually have buttermilk in the house, but I will often use a combo of sour cream, mayo, greek yogurt, and milk (if it needs to be thinned out) when making creamy dressings. The mixture gives it more depth and keeps it from tasting like you just covered your salad in sour cream (or mayo, or yogurt). In addition to the creamy base elements and of course some blue cheese crumbles, I like to add a little Worcestershire sauce plus salt and pepper.

  43. Myrin*

    I swear, whenever I read one of these “Top XY of [year]”, I feel like I must either be living on a different planet from the people writing that stuff or like they’re just pulling stuff out of their behinds and call them “facts”.
    (I just randomly came across such a list with names for newborns in my country and I’ve literally never heard of some of the names which are apparently top 10 right now. Same thing with “most popular youth slang” – I’m not a youth anymore but even when I was, everyone agreed that they didn’t even know half the stuff on that list. And I encounter many more of these things kinda semi-regularly.)
    Is this sensationalist writing? False drawing of conclusion? Drawing from a very small and specific pool of “test subjects”? Am I secretly living in a parallel universe and everyone is just too polite to tell me?

    1. Aurora Leigh*

      In the US, I just assume it’s coming out of California and they are a parallel universe! Lol

      Basically amy trendy stuff takes a long time to make it out to my rural area of the Midwest.

      I wonder if people from major cities feel the same disconnect with these lists?

    2. Jen Erik*

      On the one hand, I think with baby names that can be a thing: you go to name your child, you don’t want to name it the same as every other baby and you hear a new-to-you name, or a name that isn’t used any more, and you think “Cornelius! That’s original!” and you think that until the baby is three months old, and you find you’re waiting to see the doctor with three other mums and their respective Corneliuses. (Cornelii?)

      (Noah seemed to go from no-one ever is called Noah, to all the babies are called Noah in about a year. Same with Nathan, back in the day.)

      On the other hand, my sister – as a young intern – had to write a ‘twenty housekeeping tips’ list for a magazine – which – being aware of her skills in that area – left me with the impression that published lists are often tosh.

  44. nep*

    Just sharing.
    I don’t assign any special meaning to it, or need to.
    A month or two back, suddenly I could not shake from my mind thoughts of a high school friend who died (in her late 30s) 14 years ago. She just came to mind and I couldn’t stop thinking about her and looking up photos and other things. I thought of her almost constantly. Finally I looked up where she’d been buried and one Friday afternoon I had the strongest urge to go to her grave site. It was as if some force moved me along as I walked in my closet, changed clothes, got my bag, told someone else in the house I had to go out for a while…Off I went, not sure why, or what I was going to encounter.
    I visited her site, placed a stone there, talked to her, cried, laughed.
    (When I got to the section of the cemetery, I parked and had to walk around it to find her plot. At one point a groundskeeper stopped in his truck and said he’d look her up to see exactly where she was; turned out I had parked right next to her stone.) Anyway I really felt as if I’d been cleansed — it’s hard to explain, really — and ever since, while I might think of her from time to time, the sort of obsessive, unsettling feeling is completely gone.
    We were not particularly close but for a period in high school she was like an angel to me; she had sensed I was going through a rough time. She reached out to me and was a dear, dear friend when I needed it. So generous and kind. Then we just went on with our lives and were not in touch after.
    Not sure, of course, what that was all about. All in all it was a good experience.

    1. Bryce*

      Those things happen. Old memories get churned up and given new context or fill needs. I’ve found myself thinking a lot about another pair of twins I knew in high school. We weren’t outside-of-school friends but the classes we shared had a lot of downtime so we tended to chat and in some ways I think of them as closer than my other friends. It was so useful to be able to talk about twin problems with people who got it other than first needing to explain what those problems were, I think I’ve been missing that kind of “just gets it” conversation in my life lately.

      The main thing we discussed, for the curious, was finding individuality when you’ve got someone who looks and acts very similarly right there. There were other twins in our year but they weren’t as nearly identical; one pair who were got lucky and only one of them needed classes which changed the face shape enough that people didn’t seem to have the same issue. Our issue was having the same interests as the twin so you either go to the same extracurricular stuff and get lumped together or you hold yourself back for the sibling’s sake.

      1. nonegiven*

        I went to school 1st into 4th grade with a set of twins. Very small school. We had two grades per classroom. I think there were 5 girls total in my 4th grade. None of the teachers could tell them apart. None of the kids had any trouble at all and their mom always dressed them alike. One was in the clique (there was only one in each grade) and the other was not.

        1. Bryce*

          Some people could tell us apart right away, some could learn, and some knew us for years without getting it.

          It led me into some neat learning of how people recognize faces. Basically we all have reference points that are unique to our own filing system, we learn the ways to recognize faces we’re exposed to. So for example I tend to focus on the eyes nose and cheeks, which are where my brother most clearly took after Mom’s side of the family while I took after Dad’s. And that’s still the places I reference on people these days. It comes down to the person on how elastic that filing system is, whether they can learn new reference points if the need arises.

          This is one of the bases behind things like “all X look alike” — different ethnicities differ in different ways, so if you grow up looking at a bunch of white folks you may not have the tools you need. Of course another basis is racism, it’s not like this is a carte blanche on dismissing people.

  45. Jen RO*

    Two nights ago I had a weird dream that some guy had sequestered me. Pretty creepy in itself… but at some point in the dream my cats were suddenly there and were obviously not feeling well (barely walking etc). I got so upset at the guy in my dream, suspecting he’s poisoned them, that I actually *woke up*, heart beating faster and all that. This never happens to me when I am in danger in a dream… but apparently the cats are my limit.

    1. nep*

      Interesting. Yes — perhaps when it comes to the cats the drama and fight mode are real.
      A handful of times I’ve gotten up from a dream crying. Strange.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I trained myself to wake up out of a dream if it’s really emotionally upsetting. It’s something I did after the Big Breakup of 2000. I kept having dreams about my ex with other women, or being mean to me, etc., and it was horrible. Sleep was my escape, but then it wasn’t, you know? The habit stuck with me, and now when I have a dream like that, I just nope right on out of it.

      Funny–I still dream about that ex occasionally, but it’s more like “Oh hey, how’s your wife, there she is, I like your dress, let’s hang out.” There’s no emotion attached to it at all, but I spent nearly five years with him so he’s bound to show up now and then in the maelstrom of clutter that is my subconscious.

  46. Katie the Fed*

    We had a MAJOR landscaping overhaul done on the front yard this year. I want to plant bulbs, but sometimes I’m not good at estimate the amount of time it takes to do things. How long would it take to plant a few hundred bulbs? Will probably be about 100 daffodils, 75 hyacinths, and a few hundred crocuses. Or is that a crazy big project for a 7-month pregnant lady to take on?

    1. Be the Change*

      If your tummy is in the way, you will have a really hard time. Count on 30 seconds or so per bulb *once you are set up*, so at least five hours (probably way more) and it’s all on your hands and knees, or bent over if you are using a gardening stool. And that’s if your soil is good and friable.

    2. fposte*

      It’s really big, but you can also say “To hell with it, this is too much to do” and scrap the project. Bulbs aren’t that pricey, and with daffodils and crocuses you can just keep adding year by year (though this year’s purchases might not survive to be planted next year). I don’t know what your soil is like; mine is really clayey, so it’s no casual enterprise. But I love bulbs so I think it’s worth it, and I bulb like crazy. Here is my hard-won experience.

      Tools: common bulb digger, which cores out a hole like an apple corer and then you drop the bulb in, after which you release the soil over it. In clayey soil, though, the dirt doesn’t release back over it, so you have to pick the dirt out. If you have sandier soil it might work for you if you can keep your bulb supply at waist level, since it would minimize your need to bend over. Water auger that attaches to your hose–you shove it in the dirt, the water digs out a hole. Good fun on a warm day, but miserable if you’re planting in a cold snap, and you will get absolutely filthy. The power option: attach an auger to a power drill. Haven’t done it, and I don’t think it would help you get out of bending much, but it sure sounds fun.

      What I do is none of them. I water the hell out of the area the day before, and then I use a narrow shovel to lift a chunk of ground. And under that chunk goes three to five bulbs, depending on the size; tulips are three, commercial daffodils would be three to four, crocuses would be five. If I’m layering, I’ll do a couple of daffodils and three or so crocus. Am I planting tulips to the recommended depth? Almost certainly not, especially toward the end of the process, and it has never significantly mattered.

      I plant 300 tulips every other year (plus various other stuff); I can do about 75 in a half an hour this way, but generally I do it over 3-4 days. It does involve bending over, so I don’t know if it’s workable for you; I’m just reporting.

      I love hyacinths, but they don’t have the longevity you’ll get from daffodils and crocuses; you might want to factor that in when deciding what ROI you’re looking for. A glorious spring next year may well be worth it to you (that’s my tulip theory), or you may want to do the work for stuff you’ll enjoy for years.

      Oh, and favorite vendors are Scheepers, Old House Gardens, and Colorblends. People stop their cars in front of my house to look at the Colorblends.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        This is helpful – thanks! The good news is our beds are all new so the soil should be pretty workable. I was just going to go to costco and get a ton of bulbs because I’m lazy, but maybe I should do more research. I have a bag of crocuses I bought last fall and never planted but they seem all dried up and ruined now :(

        You’re lucky you can do tulips! I have a herd of 6 deer that live behind my house and they eat every goddamned thing.

        1. fposte*

          Costco bulbs should do you just fine! It’s really hard to go wrong with daffodils especially, and the ones that are popular are generally the most pretty and foolproof ones. I’m just fussy and ambitious. And yeah, year-old crocus bulbs are probably gone–they’re so tiny that they dry out fast.

          I am weirdly lucky with tulips. No deer, but plenty of squirrels, and yet they rarely bug them. Too busy wrecking my roof, I guess.

    3. LCL*

      This is at least 4 days work, if you work 2-3 hours a day. I do most of mine the way Fposte suggests; using a pointed shovel to lift big chunks of sod and planting multiples underneath.

    4. LCL*

      …and there are a multitude of microorganisms in dirt, so for your delicate condition (always wanted to use that expression!) make sure you are wearing gloves and don’t breathe in any dirt.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, my neighbors’ cats like to crap in our nice new flower beds and that’s a toxoplasmosis risk :(

  47. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    My cousins weeks ago said I’d miss not having contact with (emotionally usiveabay) nmom.

    It’s SO nice to post pictures on facebook of SO and I without having to endure her harsh “you should never post anything online ever even if it’s secure/protected from public.”
    It’s SO nice to take charge in different parts of my life without her saying I’m too unassertive or too shy–she used to shout at me as a kid to be more outgoing–which had the reverse effect.
    It’s SO nice to post pictures of SO and I smiling with our teeth (nmom always sniped that SO never smiled with teeth near her, so something must be wrong with him). Nope, nmom, it’s you.

    Speaking of taking charge, I’m leading a literary discussion in a couple weeks and I’m a bit nervous but excited! Since dessert’s usually served, I might bake some cookies too ;) Halloween cookie recipes anyone?

    It feels so nice to not deal with an emotionally wrecked dumpster fire of an usiveabay mom. The clouds have parted, life is free-er, and I have a supportive network of people at orkway and in my personal life. It feels nice to choose my family now. Because I deserve to be treated well. Even if my cousins never understood how bad she was, and even though I endured this for 29+ years. I deserved better, and my SO realized that too and advocated for me in a way non of my family ever could.

    1. Myrin*

      That is wonderful news, Carmen! I remember how you talked about your struggles here and it’s so great to see how far you’ve come, to a better, safer, happier life. I’m so excited for you!

    2. Jen RO*

      I also remember your stories and, even though you are a virtual stranger, I am so happy for you.

    3. Reba*

      Congratulations! It sounds like some very ugly clouds that were hanging over you are just, gone! and you’re enjoying the sunshine.

      Here is a recipe for pumpkin cookies. Note: they are very cake-like, puffy cookies, which not everyone likes. And of course pumpkin can be controversial. But they are amazing and freeze like a dream.

      1. Cream together .5 cup shortening or butter (or a combination) and 1.5 cups sugar.
      2. Mix in: -1 egg -1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned is great) -1 tsp vanilla -1 cup raisins -1 cup chocolate chips -optional .5 cup walnut pieces.
      3. Sift and add: -2.5 cups flour -1 tsp baking powder -1 tsp baking soda -.5 tsp salt -1 tsp cinnamon -1 tsp nutmeg (or mace or allspice). Mix just until flour is incorporated.
      4. Drop onto greased cookie sheets or parchment paper. Bake 10-11 minutes in 375 oven.
      Makes a lot.

    4. Purple snowdrop*

      I’m so glad for you! You have come SUCH a long way <3

      I have massively reduced contact with my mum, who may or may not be an nmum. I keep second guessing myself about whether it's the right thing to do, but…. I don't actually miss her. I just feel like I should. Helps to hear that having cut contact you feel so free.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        No should. You didn’t choose to feel this way. It’s the consequence of the behaviour of others. You should have had a mother who lived up to the title. If you don’t miss her, it’s because she didn’t. There is no right way to feel.

        When I have struggled with some of my own decisions about contact and not having it I’ve remembered my husband’s advice. He said: don’t look at them and whether you imagine you were wrong or right. Look at you. Do you feel better for it, has it been beneficial to you? If so, there’s a reason for that!

        1. Purple snowdrop*

          It’s hard to believe though… ostentatiously she was an amazing mum, and my siblings are still drinking the kool aid. It was massively validating when my counsellor was visibly shocked by some of the things I told her about…. not massively so, and she didn’t make a big thing of it but it made me feel so much better.

          But she was seriously ill earlier this year!! And it’s been a shite year for my family. I feel so bad for not feeling bad, and part of my head is all “but what if you lose her and regret distancing yourself?!”.

          …. I have some work still to do.

          Sorry for derailing Carmen!!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            You do have options.
            One option is to say, “Well if I have any regrets, then I will remind myself that I made the best decision I could at that time.”
            Another way to deal with regret is to decide what you might do in a similar situation in years to come.

            Honestly. I hate that regret stuff. My family is heavily into what if you regret it? The deep dark secret is that we can regret some choices and still have a full life with joy sprinkled in randomly. Don’t let the threat of regret guide your decisions. Think about what is healthy and what would allow you to be the best person you can be. We all make mistakes and the best we can do there is to allow those mistakes to teach us. I think we spend our whole lives learning this stuff.

            1. Purple snowdrop*

              This… wow. Yeah. The fear of regret comes from my mother in the first place. That helps. Thank you.

            2. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

              “The deep dark secret is that we can regret some choices and still have a full life with joy sprinkled in randomly.”

              Thank you. I really needed to hear that. I have a hard time with what-iffing myself over decisions I regret from years ago, and questioning whether I would have been happier if I’d chosen differently, and whether that means I’m not *really* happy now.

              It’s good to be reminded, sometimes, that regret and genuine happiness are not mutually exclusive. I am large, I contain multitudes. :)

        2. Purple snowdrop*

          And thank you. I know I sound like I don’t believe you but it really helps to hear you say all that <3

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            It’s not about you believing me or not. We all have our own paths to walk and our own internal battles. I’m not going to take it personally that you’re sharing some stuffabout yours.

        3. Carmen Sandiego JD*

          Thanks—beneficial? Yes, far less stress. Better? Well, I stopped getting nightmares. My recent dream was me on a new adventure feeling I’d missed the boat, but everyone there was cheering me on telling me it wasn’t too late to finally start living…

          That plus, nuptial plans are coming together in a way I never could’ve imagined, and I don’t walk on eggshells anymore—I feel like I’m on a permanent vacation, and life is far less stressful than it ever had to be.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am sooo, sooo, very happy for you. You have hiked a very hard road and you have gotten out of the tunnel.
            I wish you the best, always.

  48. Sunflower*

    Question about taxi queue etiquette

    I live in Philly(USA) and take Amtrak out of 30th st station quite often. I usually get home later on my return rides- around 10pm when the dispatcher has left for the night. Every night, we walk out of the station and people begin walking down the sidewalk and getting into the taxis instead of waiting in the queue where the line is supposed to start.

    I’m under the impression that the queue is a queue regardless of whether the dispatcher is there or not and under no circumstances should people come out and walk down the way to get the cabs. Which way is the right way? Furthermore, if I am in the right, is there anyway to get people to obey the queue besides yell at then?

    Very curious to hear thoughts on this as I thought I was 100% right but this happens every single time so maybe I am in the wrong?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My opinion is that, as long as there are enough taxis for everyone and they’re not starting with the taxis at the back of the line, it’s fine. Otherwise the riders are doing a disservice to the drivers at the front by skipping them, but even that isn’t required, as I’ve skipped a taxi service that I’ve had problems with when they’re at the front of the queue (there’s no dispatcher at the taxi stand I frequent). And I see no reason to waste the gas and add wear and tear on the vehicles, and make people wait longer, just so….well, that’s just it, I don’t see anyone suffering even trivial harm or inconvenience when people just get into a taxi late at night, given the caveats I mentioned.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Actually, as a follow-up, I’m assuming you mean that everyone should line up at the spot where the sign or stand is, and wait for each taxi to pull up and get in, one by one. That seems wasteful IF there are enough taxis for everyone and the drivers are given work in pretty much the same order. The reason for the line is so work is distributed fairly to the drivers and that taxis are distributed fairly to the riders. Is this not happening when you arrive late at night? Of course, with the lack of organization some jerk could go get in a taxi at the back of the line, and if that happened often enough the drivers might start self-enforcing the queue after the dispatcher is gone.

    2. Caledonia*

      I can’t speak for all of the UK but my experience is that our taxi etiquette is you go to the front of the queue – and the drivers tell you that if you pick the last one/middle one in the line. Even if there is no current taxi.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      If there’s an official queue, I’ll wait in line. If there’s no queue or an unofficial one, I figure it’s fair game. When I take the Amtrak to Penn Station, there’s no official taxi queue line and I just grab the first taxi I can because if I tried to wait in the mess of a line people created, I’d be there all day. When I take a taxi from South Station in Boston, there’s no official queue, so I just go to the first taxi that’s free. But if I’m taking one from Logan airport, I wait in the taxi queue for someone to direct me to the next available taxi.

  49. Ramona Flowers*

    Has anyone else watched Person of Interest? Can you tell me if it’s worth sticking with? I’ve just finished season 2, episode 17, where they get six numbers – no spoilers from after that please! – and I just can’t decide whether to keep watching or not.

    I like Harold and the flashbacks about his life, and the episodes with really compelling human stories.

    I can ignore all the made-up computing and the ridiculous behaviour of all the cops in this show.

    I don’t like the increasing number of stupid, implausible, ridiculous stories. I spend over half the episodes not caring who they’re helping, how or why. And why is it only suggesting people in America and not, like, everywhere?

    I can’t decide whether to keep watching or not. I began watching this show after giving up on Dexter, Suits and Orphan Black (all of which I once loved – I do want to watch the last series of Orphan Black but my eyes glaze over whenever I try) and I feel like I should stick with this but I’m just not sure it’s going to be worth it.

    I did at least enjoy Harold telling someone “you’ll never get off this island”, which surely has to be a Lost reference.

    1. Database Geek*

      I’ve seen it and enjoyed most of it – some things happened that I didn’t enjoy but overall I thought it was good.

      It’s hard to explain without spoiling later seasons but let’s just say the focus of the show changes soon so you might find you like it more because of the new developments. Your question about why it’s only suggestions people in America is sort of answered too if I’m recalling correctly but it’s part of the later developments. That said it becomes less episodic and more serial format too so it may or may not work for you.

          1. Database Geek*

            Ohhhh that came out snarkier than I meant it. I didn’t think my comment was meant to suggest what the numbers were hadn’t been explained before? I just meant that the “why” of it becomes clearer as time goes on.

            1. nonegiven*

              >And why is it only suggesting people in America and not, like, everywhere?

              Not you, also trying not to spoil it for Ramona Flowers but who else has that particular type of number?

    2. Cruciatus*

      I liked Person of Interest a lot! It’s been a while now since it’s gone off the air and there were surely some “wait, what?” episodes here and there, but overall I remember liking the show. Something pretty big happens after a couple of seasons that caused a lot of people to claim they were going to stop watching–and you may know about this already as it has to do with someone leaving the show (and they are now on another show so it’s not really a secret). Like I said, it’s been a while, but I think they started working more towards a focus (trying to be vague) in later seasons and become a bit more science fiction-y (not in a bad way). Since you’re already done with 2 of 5 seasons, I would start 3. If you’re not feeling it after a while then maybe you just don’t care for the show. And that’s OK!

    3. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … it gets good and very serialized by the end. But it’s also definitely near future sci fi by then. There was a shocking character death (unexpected in the middle of a season and sad) and some character additions which worked well. The final seasons are different than the first ones and in my opinion they get better. I didn’t watch the first season but I caught up later because of what I saw in season 2, maybe. I think, though, season 2 ends with the addition of an interesting adversary.

      I’d recommend sticking with it but I was fan through the end.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m going to continue for a bit – but if they kill off the dog then I’m noping right out.

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      I discovered this show one late evening, and was hooked immediately. I DVR’d all the episodes from that point forward, so of course I’m suggesting you stick with it. I thought the scripts (occasionally) posed great “food for thought” questions, and I couldn’t always predict what characters would say or do, which is one of my litmus tests for enjoyment. (If I can write the script before the character opens his/her mouth, why am I watching?)

    5. nonegiven*

      I liked it. I streamed the whole thing online except for watching the last few episodes on TV.

  50. Kali*

    I’m a mature student (30 this year!) at a UK university. I have a friend – 19 – who is having trouble with her finances. :/ It’s not really unexpected costs; it’s going over budget on trips or society events, and then struggling until her student loan/german national payment comes in. I lent her £20, because I remember being young and struggling, and I can swallow the cost if she doesn’t pay it back (it was earmarked for her birthday/Christmas gift). I don’t want her to struggle and get into debt in her early twenties like I did…but the solution for that isn’t for me to pay for everything for her either, is it? I feel really mean, but letting her sink a bit and learn to swim by herself is probably the best choice, isn’t it?

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      The best thing you can do is point her to some resources so she can learn to help herself – like the student advice centre. And no, don’t keep lending her money!

      1. Lily Evans*

        I agree! Obviously you can’t fix it for her, but you can point her in the direction of help. And don’t keep lending her money, but if you want to do something you could pick up the tab when you hang out together once in a while (definitely not all the time, though!). It meant a lot to me when I was a younger student with older friends when we’d go out for coffee and they’d pay for mine. Small things like that can mean a lot!

        1. Kali*

          We have the same funds and expenses; we both get a student loan, and she gets a stipend for being a German national while I have a part-time job. I can stretch to taking her mystery shopping with me when I need a guest though!

      1. Elkay*

        This is a brilliant article. I remember at uni the people who’s parents bailed them out were the deepest into their overdrafts.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      It might also help you remember that managing money isn’t about always having some to spend. It’s about spending less!

    3. Bagpuss*

      It is not your responsibility to keep bailing her out, and sooner or later she’s going to have to sink or swim on her own.
      BUT, If she’s open to advice, you could suggest that she sits down and works out a budget, and offer to help her to do it.
      When I was a student I found having 2 current accounts worked well – one was for essentials such as bills, rent etc., the other for discretionary spending, which made is easier to keep track of what I had available.

      I had a standing order sending money to the ‘discretionary’ account every week, and didn’t carry the card for the ‘bills’ account, so I couldn’t easily dip into that.

      I found it worked well for me, as the discretionary account was what I had available and could easily keep track of it!

      You could suggest something similar to your friend.

      You could also suggest she join the forums at the Martin Lewis money saver site, which has looks of advice and support.

  51. TL -*

    As promised, the open thread question about Thanksgiving.
    So..I agree that it’s a holiday originally (and still heavily but not solely) shaped by a white Christian culture. And that it can be hugely problematic for many Native Americans.
    I don’t agree that it’s a Christian holiday in the religious sense – every American family I know celebrates it and none of them attribute any religious meaning. Some do say prayers before the meal but they say prayers before all meals. To me, it is a cultural, secular holiday. It’s also one of the most flexible – most people I know change the menu to reflect their cultural background.

    Open for discussion.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Well, I suppose that depends what you mean by secular. Does that mean ‘hold no religious meaning for us now at the present time’ as you say? Because for, say, an Orthodox Jew, that’s not secular – that’s assimilation.

      I am not in a country that has thanksgiving but I don’t think you can just separate it from its origins in such a simplistic way.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s underselling the complexity of Orthodox Judaism, though; there are definitely Orthodox Jews in the U.S. who celebrate Thanksgiving as a secular American holiday, and one site says explicitly “Unlike other celebrations, such as Halloween, halacha does not prohibit Jewish participation in Thanksgiving because the holiday has secular, not religious origins and undertones.” (It looks like it’s not common in Hasidic communities, though.)

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          That’s interesting. I know some people who would definitely have an issue (but they are Hasidic/Chabad).

        2. Observer*

          It’s actually a lot more complex than that. Most Orthodox Jews do understand Thanksgiving to be a secular religious, or better put, a state religious holiday. Many focus on the state part, because the US officially doesn’t do religion, so you can do what you want with it. Others can’t really look away from the explicit religious underpinnings of the holiday, with mixed results. Some are still ok with it, because it’s not truly tied to a specific religion or religious tradition – giving of thanks is part of most (if not all religious traditions) so one can celebrate it without necessarily taking on a different religion.

      2. HannahS*

        Right, the definition of what “secular” is (and how people use the word) is really unclear. Does secular mean “not belonging to one specific religion”? Or does it mean “totally devoid of any religion and spirituality”? Because those are very different.

      3. LCL*

        It’s easy to separate it, if you choose to. I grew up in a family that was contemptuous of all religions, what some call aggressive atheism, and we did Thanksgiving every year. Christmas and Easter too. If you don’t choose to see it as a secular holiday, you do you. Me, I’m not willing to forego a delicious dinner because of past atrocities. Dining on tinned soup on Thanksgiving does nothing to make amends.

        1. HannahS*

          Right, but I think the point that Ramona is making is that celebrating Christian holidays in a secular manner is not a religiously neutral act. After all, plenty of Jews celebrate Passover as a delicious meal with family, but that’s not widely considered secular, it’s considered Jewish.

          1. fposte*

            Which makes sense to me; it’s just that for a lot of people, not all of them Christian, Thanksgiving doesn’t fall into the “Christian holiday” category. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to consider it Christian either, so I’m not going to demean anybody for doing so, but to me it’s more like Memorial Day: a state-created occasion for an experience that transcends religion, even though it was initiated by Christians.

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              But that’s only because Christians are the majority religion and dominant force in American culture. I think HannahS’s point is that in a different world, Passover could be considered that way too – but it’s not. It’s still considered Jewish because Jewish people are in the minority religion.

              1. fposte*

                Sure, I understand that point, but nobody seems to be making that claim for Memorial Day. And I feel that if there are rabbis on my side I can’t be that wrong :-).

          2. Ramona Flowers*

            Yep, exactly. (And I’m Christian, nowadays, but anyway.)

            I actually don’t think there’s one madder to this.

        2. TL -*

          I think there’s a big difference between “we’re going to celebrate this religious holiday as secular because it’s part of our culture” – because Christmas and Easter are founded in religious traditions and for the explicit purpose of celebrating the birth and death of Jesus – and “this is a secular holiday.” A secular holiday means it’s not practiced primarily or developed as a method of affirming faith (which Thanksgiving isn’t, at least from my understanding.)

          1. Gaia*

            It really depends on why we’re talking about when we talk about Thanksgiving. Are we talking about The First Thanksgiving story we’re told year after year (which is fundamentally and factually false)? Yea it isn’t secular. It was about celebrating (the Christian) god sending white European settlers help from Native Americans to survive their first years in the colonies. Or, are we talking about the State created holiday 300 years later? That isn’t about any particular religious activity but is about being grateful for coming through trying times.

            1. fposte*

              How we’re defining “about” is tricky, too. Do we mean why it was lobbied for, what was stated in the official announcement, why people adopted it, etc.? Sarah Josepha Hale mostly just wanted the thing to be on the same day across the country, an organizing impulse I applaud. Lincoln most definitely mentioned it as being about thanks to God in his proclamation, so I’m not sure you can so easily let the state creation off the religious hook either if we’re looking to the motive for the original celebration as the defining template.

              1. Gaia*

                Well, given that in that time and that society and thanks was meant to go to god I would still argue the state set holiday isn’t a religious one. Thanksgiving was not to affirm, explain or celebrate faith – it was to gather and be thankful.

                1. fposte*

                  But that’s the same as the Massachusetts one, so I’m not sure where you’re seeing a difference; they’re both thanks to the god of their time. And Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation is pretty explicit: “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” (It was also a day for us to “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation.”)

                  I think it’s a secular holiday too, but not because the proclamation is secular in nature.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              I think that’s a distinction without a difference. Thanksgiving isn’t a state-created holiday; it’s been recognized by the state, but that was direct recognition of the first Thanksgiving celebration(s). And not 300 years later – Washington first proclaimed a nationwide Thanksgiving Day in 1789, and it was explicitly religious:

              Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
              Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks

              Most presidents declared it annually up until 1941. Franklin Roosevelt’s proclamation in 1941, the last one before the federal resolution was passed in 1942, was also explicitly religious:

              I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate and set aside Thursday, the twentieth day of November, 1941, as a day to be observed in giving thanks to the Heavenly Source of our earthly blessings…We are grateful to the Father of us all for the innumerable daily manifestations of His beneficent mercy…Let us ask the Divine Blessing…On the day appointed for this purpose, let us reflect at our homes or places of worship on the goodness of God.”

              The law was passed in 1941 not so much because Congress wanted to secularize a religious holiday it was made because Roosevelt had changed the date and people were so outraged that they wanted to tie it permanently to the last Thursday in November (which they eventually changed to the fourth Thursday anyway). But this was a direct descendant of the recognition of the first Thanksgiving and Washington’s proclamation, which was in turn explicitly religious.

              1. fposte*

                There’s definitely Christianity in the origin story; no argument there. For me that’s not enough to make it a Christian holiday, because there’s Christianity in *every* U.S. institution origin story.

                Interesting discussion, TL, and thanks for bringing it up–people are bringing some thoughtful stuff here, and it’s making me reflect.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I see it as an American secular holiday. There’s no Christianity inherent to the meal or the celebration, I know lots of Jewish Americans and Muslim Americans and atheist Americans who celebrate it. The Pilgrims were Puritans, but it’s not specifically a Puritan holiday.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s how I grew up with it. There never was any religious significance attached to the history we were taught, just that it was a harvest feast, and the Pilgrims were thankful things had gone okay for them, their religion not withstanding. Many different cultures have harvest feasts.

        I’ve been with my family and other people’s families for the holiday, and nobody ever made it religious. It was just a day to give thanks for the good things in your life and eat with your family or friends.

    3. fposte*

      Yeah, I don’t really see it as Christian; so many countries, Christian and non, have harvest holidays, and thanksgiving and gratitude aren’t the sole property of Christians. “Initially created by Christians” isn’t the same thing as “requisitely Christian” (I say as somebody who went to a once-Methodist school that was plurality Jewish in my day); since that’s a point I feel pretty firmly about when it comes to the country itself, it’s a no-brainer to me to extend it to a holiday.

      1. nonegiven*

        I don’t think it was initially created by Christians, just like other holiday traditions it was usurped from pagan origins.

        1. fposte*

          Harvest festivals are universal, though, not specific to paganism. And of course it’s not like the pagans sat around and designed their traditions from scratch, either :-).

      2. TL -*

        Yeah, that’s how I feel about it. Shaped in a majority Christian culture doesn’t mean there’s automatically religious meaning ascribed to it.

    4. all aboard the anon train*

      I definitely know enough people who say a prayer or grace before Thanksgiving, but don’t do it outside of holidays, which makes it have a religious tint for me. I went to a friend’s family Thanksgiving in college, they said a prayer, and when we were talking about it afterwards, my friend said they only say it on holidays. My maternal grandparents say a prayer on Thanksgiving, but not before any other non-holiday meal.

      If I remember my history classes correctly, there was a debate during Washington’s presidency about creating it as a national holiday because giving thanks was seen as a religious matter. I definitely remember being taught that there were some religious aspect around it, though I can’t remember what it was exactly – and I didn’t go to a religious school, it was a public school in a liberal state.

      I don’t think it holds any Christian connotations in contemporary society, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t start out with religious intentions.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        In my last sentence I meant to write that “I don’t think it holds any Christian connotations for many people in contemporary society”, because I definitely know people who do view it as a Christian holiday.

      2. nonegiven*

        They prayed because they were Christian, not because the holiday is uniquely Christian. I can’t go to a meal anywhere, at any time, with relatives, without them praying over it.

      3. TL -*

        I don’t think C&E Christians praying before Thanksgiving makes it a religious holiday – it might have religious connotations within your family culture but that’s different than it being a religious holiday. That’s more a case of integrating your faith into Thanksgiving, rather than Thanksgiving being a religious occasion.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          My family isn’t religious. My grandparents are not Christian. They prayed because when they immigrated to the States, they were told by several people in the area that one prays before Thanksgiving and other major holiday meals. My grandmother has said they only did it because they wanted to be seen as good immigrants (there were a lot of communal meals in the area when they came over) and now it’s stuck as a habit because they’re still worried that even after all these years someone will call them out for not being True Americans.

          1. TL -*

            My apologies! My association with people who only pray during Thanksgiving are C&E Christians. The immigration aspect had not occurred to me.

            I don’t think you are likely that kind of pressure today (none of my first-generation friends have said things like that, though all of them actively observe or practice a different religion than Christianity) but I can completely see it being different only a generation or two ago, especially if you’re assumed to be Christian (don’t know if that’s the case in your family.)

    5. HannahS*

      So, in Canada, Thanksgiving is not a big deal. It has different origins (not Pilgrim-related, less mythology), and while we get Monday off to celebrate it, it’s not as widely celebrated. I’m Jewish, and have met exactly one (very assimilated, not religious) Jewish family that celebrated Thanksgiving. As far as I know, I don’t know Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists who celebrate it either. Some people plan a family meal that weekend, but it’s because we all have time off–same as any other long weekend.

      Here’s my view, with some background (and since this is a Jewish opinion, get comfortable–this’ll take a while).

      1) What is secular?
      To me–and to many other minority-religious people–anything that is part of a religion’s beliefs AND practices is part of that religion. So having Christmas trees, being a practice done in the celebration of Christmas, is Christian regardless of the personal beliefs of the people owning them. And I think the fact that cultural Christians often don’t feel that way is because of their cultural dominance–seeing one’s own practices as more neutral than they are. I don’t think most Americans would see the celebrations of Eid, Chanukah, and Holi as being as secular as a family lunch on Easter Sunday, even though they are equally celebrated by people who have no faith-based relationship with those holidays.

      2) What about Thanksgiving?
      So, like I said, I’m Canadian, so it’s all a bit more low-key up here. I don’t celebrate it, because to me it’s a culturally Christian holiday, and I’m not comfortable participating. I am perplexed as to how you can acknowledge that Thanksgiving was *and continues to be* heavily shaped by white Christianity and simultaneously say that it’s not a religious Christian holiday. It’s not a part of organized Christianity, sure, but if something was and continues to be driven primarily by Christianity, I don’t see how it can be truly secular, even if your own, personal relationship to it is.

      1. TL -*

        I’m definitely not in the christmas trees are secular camp! Christmas is a religious holiday that is often celebrated secularly but so are a lot of Jewish holidays and so far nobody has asked me why I don’t celebrate the High Holy days.

        I can say that because the entire USA was shaped and continues to be shaped by white Christians (though less so as we go on) and that there’s a difference between “this is cultural that something was developed in (Thanksgiving)” and “this practice is to affirm and celebrate our faith, even though it can be celebrated otherwise (Christmas, Easter).” Thanksgiving isn’t driven primarily by Christianity; it was developed in a culture that was Christian. Cambridge, MA, for instance, which has some of the lowest rates of Christianity in the nation, still practices Thanksgiving pretty much the same as they did 20 or 30 years ago. Their attitude towards the winter holidays, primarily Christmas, though, has changed a lot

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Actually, I’d beg to differ about Cambridge. I have Muslim and Jewish friends/acquaintances in the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because they feel like it’s a white Christian holiday. I don’t think it’s fair to assume an entire population celebrates the same way.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I wasn’t clear if TL was talking about a municipal change or a resident change, and I wasn’t sure how you’d measure the latter.

          2. TL -*

            I meant more like… Cambridge is really good about having “winter holidays” and not assuming every celebrates Christmas and more likely to say “happy holidays” or “enjoy your break” than “Merry Christmas.”
            whereas I haven’t seen a shift like that around Thanksgiving; it’s still just considered Thanksgiving. I did know people in the area who didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving (unless asked to a dinner) but they were mostly people who were here on visas and were planning or considering heading back to their home country in a few years. Most citizens/residents I knew celebrated.

          3. Kali*

            Question; does Cambridge US have a river Cam?

            I love how British names show up in odd parts of America!

            1. Gaia*

              It is named Cambridge because the first settlers came from Cambridge, UK. That is the case with many of these places along the East. They named their new area after their old area :)

      2. fposte*

        I also think that sharing a name doesn’t make Canadian, US, Liberian, etc. Thanksgivings the same holiday (which I guess bolsters my theory that it’s more state than faith dependent).

        However, as to 2): in the US, Thanksgiving really doesn’t continue to be “heavily shaped” by white Christianity. That’s like saying George Washington is heavily shaped by mattress sales :-). (For non-USAns: for heaven knows what reason, the Presidents Day holiday is traditionally big for mattress stores.) What it’s heavily shaped by now are school calendars and media blitzes. Those obviously aren’t uninflected by the hegemony, but then neither are Halloween and Memorial Day and the Fourth of July; you’re going to have to go a long way in the US to find something national that isn’t, in fact.

        I’m finding some really fascinating pages discussing the Jewish observance of Thanksgiving; I’ll append a link to particularly detailed one in followup. While I don’t think anybody’s wrong to consider it too Christian for them to celebrate, it also seems like there’s some pretty thoughtful rabbinical analysis that’s come to a different conclusion as well, so, again, I’m not sure its Christianity is an inarguable point.

        1. fposte*

          I didn’t get the usual moderation message so I’m posting the link again but broken up, just in case. It’s ohr dot edu slash 6105.

        2. TL -*

          that’s fair for number 2! It doesn’t seem that way to me (every immigrant family I know celebrates Thanksgiving because they see it as joining into their new culture) but I wanted to make allowances for other people outside the culture seeing that way.

          I’m also uncomfortable scripting it to mostly white contemporary because African Americans and Latinos also have a long history of being in this country and celebrating Thanksgiving and, especially in the terms of the African American population, have driven a *lot* of the food culture, including some parts of Thanksgiving meals that are traditional.

          1. Gaia*

            Right. I’m uncomfortable calling it a majorly white holiday because in many African American communities Thanksgiving has significant cultural history and importance.

        3. Ann O.*

          FWIW, I’m observant and have always lived in heavily Jewish areas, and I’ve literally never heard the idea that American Jews wouldn’t celebrate Thanskgiving until this thread.

          1. fposte*

            Interesting idea, but I don’t think so; I would suspect only a few lucky early filers would have gotten refunds by then. Quick research doesn’t reveal a definitive answer, but experts seem to think that since it’s for a long time been the first three-day weekend after Christmas that means both spouses have time to go to the store together and people have recovered from the Christmas spending. It’s a little hand-wavy, but it also seems plausible.

          2. Gaia*

            Interesting! I always wondered why thy was. They seem to be trying to do the same thing with couches and Labor Day but that is failing.

    6. Felicia*

      It’s Thanksgiving here this weekend (Canada) so I’ve been thinking about it. My Canadian Jewish family has never really done Thanksgiving and a lot of Jewish families don’t but that’s because it’s too close to out big eating holidays. It’s also less of a big holiday in Canada , and typically is more celebrated by white families who’ve been in Canada over 100 years. But not because it’s particularly religious just because it’s not really much of a big holiday here. Plus here it’s before Halloween and I prefer Halloween

      1. Bluebell*

        Camberville Jew here who definitely celebrates thanksgiving. But if I was in Canada I could see how I’d be tired from all the Rosh Hashana and Sukkot dinners and just say “never mind.”

        1. Felicia*

          I think that’s why most Canadian Jews I know just don’t bother with Thanksgiving. It’s not that it’s considered religious it’s just not as much of a big deal here, and we just had a big family dinner like a week or two ago so we’re tired.

    7. Otter box*

      I’ve always felt like it’s the primary holiday for the American civil religion, but not that it’s sectarian in any way.

      1. Reba*

        This is a great way to put it — especially considering how enmeshed it is with settler culture’s founding mythology.

    8. Stellaaaaa*

      I understand the reasons behind it (privilege, colonialism, etc), but I’m uncomfortable with forceful attempts to erase America’s cultural identity. America isn’t the only country that was founded by religious zealots who defeated a different group that lived there first.

      I’m not even Christian, but I see a fair bit of hypocrisy in thought processes that promote respecting religion-based non-western cultures but are super quick to criticize anything that would be valued by working-class Americans or whatever.

    9. Ann O.*

      I am not an expert on Thanksgiving, but what I know of it is that it has no religious connection at all. It doesn’t even really have the Pilgrims/Native American connection, although that story is so strongly linked to it at this point, that saying it doesn’t really have the Pilgrims/Native American connection may be one of those historical facts with no real meaning. But Thanksgiving’s actual origins as a national holiday are pre-Civil War/Civil War tensions. Sara Josepha Hale, a successful writer and editor, advocated to Abraham Lincoln that he create a national holiday out of Thanksgiving based on the local New England celebrations that Josepha Hale had grown up with. She saw it as a means to help bring the country together. Lincoln made the proclamation several months after the battle of Gettysburg.

    10. Kali*

      I’m British and an atheist. I quite like the idea of a holiday where you hang out with friends and family and feel grateful for what you have (that’s also what I like about Christmas). I think it’s okay to do that version – and even to do it on the same day as other people do the more religious version.

      It definitely sounds problematic re the native American peoples, and I think it’s important to remember what being kind and giving (and being hit by smallpox and other illnesses) cost them, and turn it around to what can we do for people with less privilege? Even just trying to understand one another’s experiences and being more open minded makes a difference.

      In short, I think a holiday about being grateful while thinking about how you can share what you have with others is an important one.

      1. TL -*

        I’m not sure the Native American actions are best defined as kind and giving; often they bargained with us, but for mutual benefit, especially in the early days of colonization. We mostly responded by breaking those treaties. Many tribes responded to that by also breaking treaties or attacking settlers – I’m not quite sure about this, but my understanding is that many war parties didn’t differentiate between unknowing settler and the government men who actually violated the treaty. Which led to additional violence between settlers and Native Americans, perpetrated on both sides, but with the white man having more advanced armies and supplies, and often forcing tribes to sign new treaties after having broken the old ones.

        All of this was complicated because we felt we owned the land because, well, we were white and we wanted it, and they, strangely, did not actually share that belief. Plenty of tribes were always at war with the white men; plenty more did not ever find a compelling reason to be kind and giving. (On a systematic level, there really weren’t any.)

        Not to lecture; it’s just the kind, giving and naive Native American story treads a little close to the noble savage myth and does not at all reflect what actually happened.

        1. Gaia*

          Because when settlers first arrived it would have been kind to not immediately attack the invaders and that is the path most tribes took. Yes, they did attack settlers when treaties were broke but it’s also unfair to say “the government” broke those treaties because settlers ran their own show most times.

          1. TL -*

            The settlers definitely ran their own show but it was the government’s job to enforce the terms of the treaty – just like today, if you trespass, it’s on the police and judicial system to enforce the laws forbidding trespassing. (Yes, there are states that allow self-defence against trespassers, but a homeowner can’t give you jail time.)

            Not to say that the settlers weren’t doing awful and racist things as well, because they were, but ultimately the government should have enforced the treaties by punishing those citizens who broke it.

    11. Temperance*

      I actually agree with you completely on this. It’s secular and absolutely not Christian. I’m not really swayed by the argument that because the holiday was founded by Christians, it is Christian.I mean, that’s a dangerous argument, IMO, because there are people out there who are insisting that our country is Christian because of the history of the pilgrims.

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        It’s not because it was founded by Christians; it’s because it was founded by Christians for an expressly religious purpose (to give thanks to the Christian God for the bountiful harvest).

        And it’s not really the same kind of argument – because of course people can take Thanksgiving and celebrate it any way they want, without religious overtures or meanings or rituals (much like anyone can live in our country now and practice any religion they want to). The fact that it’s not secular and was not begun as a secular holiday doesn’t make that incompatible with celebrating however you want.

    12. Optimistic Prime*

      I’m of two minds on this one. On the one hand, harvest festivals that involved giving thanks to various deities or natural forces for the harvest predate Europeans in North America and even Christianity…I mean, there are gods and goddesses of the earth and harvest from antiquity whose feast days were in the late autumn and celebrated by gathering the community for a feast. The concept of a harvest/autumn meal of giving thanks to higher powers wasn’t invented by 17th century Christians in the U.S.

      On the other hand, though, the holiday Thanksgiving as celebrated by Americans is explicitly religious. The original celebrations were expressly designed as a celebration of giving thanks to a Christian god for a good harvest (yes, much of the original story is mythology, but this part isn’t). The original proclamations of the American statesmen who recognized and codified Thanksgiving into our public holidays were ALSO religious – from Washington’s original one in 1789 to Roosevelt’s final one in 1941. And the simple recognition of the holidays as a public one by the State doesn’t take away its religious origins and underpinnings anymore than recognizing Christmas as a federal holiday takes away theirs.

      1. TL -*

        I don’t think the holiday as celebrated is explicitly religious. I have never celebrated Thanksgiving in a religious way.
        It might have been codified with explicit religious references but that’s different than how it is celebrated.

    13. ThursdaysGeek*

      The problem with calling it a Christian holiday is that Christianity is not just in the US (or US and Canada). Christian holidays would be ones celebrated by peoples in all countries who generally fall under the same broad group (Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants or perhaps some subset thereof). If a holiday is celebrated by most Christians in the world, such as Christmas or Easter, even if a LOT of the details differ, it should probably be considered a Christian holiday. If it’s limited to a group in one country, like Thanksgiving, then it can be seen as a holiday created by Christians, but not a Christian holiday. Because people from the US don’t get to define a religion that exists in the rest of the world too.

  52. AnotherAlison*

    So my 13 year old seems to have adopted a dumped cat. We aren’t cat people, but we thought he could keep it in our barn in the winter. Right now, it just sits on our porch chair all day. We haven’t taken it to the vet yet, but I guess I will because he picks it up and plays with it, and I have dogs. (I did check to see if it was reported lost. Unfortunately not.)

    My only question is that it seems the internet cat people seem against outdoor cats. My grandparents had barn cats, so I didn’t think much of it. I assume most cats that are taken to a shelter are put down, and no one else we know wants it. To me staying here seems better than that, as long as it has shots, shelter, and food. Am I missing something?

    1. Turtlewings*

      The whole “outdoor cat” thing is pretty controversial. It’s an unfortunate fact that outdoor cats don’t have as good a life expectancy, as they’re exposed to more hazards — predators, weather, cars, accidents, etc. Outdoor cats also tend to kill a crap ton of wildlife, which isn’t great either. In my case, I used to let my two cats go in and out as they pleased, until one of them was run over at the end of the driveway. After that, I decided I was an indoor-only cat owner.

      My parents and grandparents have had outdoor cats all their lives, and it didn’t mean they didn’t love or take care of their cats. It does, however, mean that they went through a lot of cats. For instance, my grandparents once adopted a litter of four kittens that turned up in their yard. One of them lived to be a very old lady. The other three lasted less than two years. If you’re in an area without heavy traffic, that will probably do more than anything else to keep an outdoor cat safe. As long as the cat has, like you said, shots and shelter and food, I do think it’s better off with you than being taken to a shelter. Cats love BEING outdoor cats, it’s not like it’ll be unhappy that way. But do be aware that it will very, very likely have a shorter life.

      I predict some people are going to disagree with me and say that because cats are safer indoors they should always be kept indoors, and again, I personally kept my own (when I had them) indoors after losing the one. But cats need a lot of stimulation, and I’ve seen how often they get neurotic and destructive kept inside. Some humans can commit to spending enough time and energy to keep the cat from going stir-crazy, and some can’t. They’re animals designed to roam and sometimes you’re better off just letting them be what they are.

      1. tigerStripes*

        When I was a kid, the family kitties were outdoor kitties, and yes, even out in the country, they had shorter lives as a general rule. Sometimes they disappeared, and we never knew if a coyote had gotten one. Now I have indoor kitties, and they do tend to be safer. I like keeping 2 cats at once so they can entertain each other, and I keep a lot of cat toys in the house.

        1. Saturnalia*

          Same! I have a decent collection of cat furniture and always try to rescue siblings or bonded pairs.

          I grew up with outdoor cats, and my parents still have a handful of barn cats (aging now, and they line up to go inside their insulated barn room every evening for food and safe sleeping). I’ve only had two rentals with suitable outdoor spaces for cats in my 14 years of caring for cats, with tall enclosed vinyl fenced yards. It is so enriching for them, but without that protection I can’t let them roam. Both my childhood cats died within a year of my parents moving from the suburbs to the country. I am not okay with losing those in my care.

      2. Ann O.*

        It’s not just about the cat’s life; it’s also about neighborhood wild life. Cats are very efficient hunters, so outdoor cats are not good for local bird populations (or rodent populations, but I don’t know that anyone actually minds outdoor cats reducing those!).

        1. fposte*

          Right; to me the debate is incomplete if you’re only talking about the cat, and that’s my issue with a lot of the discussion–the world is not obliged to adapt itself to whatever Mr. Purr likes best any more than it would have to adapt itself to Mr. Ruff running at large because the dog found it stimulating. It’s about the cat’s impact on the locale as well, and even cats who suck at catching birds have an impact on the populations.

          I think in a lot of Europe it’s a sailed ship, if you will, for the ecosystem; domestic cats are pretty much part of it in built up areas, and the bird populations have probably either adapted or moved along or died out. I don’t think that’s true globally, though.

          (That being said, the main reason I wouldn’t let a cat outside in my neighborhood is foxes and coyotes.)

        2. Windchime*

          My neighbors have an indoor/outdoor cat. Just last night I was talking on the phone and I glanced into my back yard and saw the cat pounce on a small, wild bunny and grab it in her mouth. I threw down the phone and ran outside and managed to scare the cat into dropping the poor little rabbit. Outdoor cats can also become dinner for a larger animal; my family has lost cats to raccoons, coyotes and owls (in the past when we would let them go out).

          My cat is strictly indoors, but I have also had enough cats to know that some of them just don’t like to be indoors and are very unhappy if you keep them inside. I like OP’s idea of taking her in to make sure she is healthy and up-to-date on her shots; you might even discover that she has a microchip and be able to find her owner if she is simply lost.

    2. Pieforbreakfast*

      I had a cat that sprayed indoors everywhere all the time so he became an outdoor only cat (per the vet, he was probably spraying “because some cats are assholes”) because I just wanted to kick him everyday (I didn’t). I have a dry garage, I set up a warm box for him and fed him there. He honestly seemed happier at this point. He’d hang out with me when I was outside working or sitting on the porch. I still brought him to the vet for check-ups and vaccines, and I remember the vet thanking me for finding a way to keep him despite what his behavior. He died younger than his littermate that was indoor only, but it wasn’t due to an accident or injury- he appeared to have had a stroke.
      I guess I’m saying that providing shelter, food and health for the cat who showed up at your door is pretty awesome. Don’t feel pressured to do more than you’re set for.

      1. Saturnalia*

        Yeah well said, despite me not keeping outdoor cats myself, it is a better life than a shelter, it is a better life than death, and it’s a good thing you and your 13-year-old are doing :)

    3. fposte*

      I personally am strongly against outdoor cats; even when they don’t catch wildlife they’re hugely deleterious to it.

      And yet I’m also a total relativist, and I live amid farm country, and I have farm friends with barn cats. If you have a barn, you’re likely to live in an area where barn cats are a thing too. So if you were my friend out where I live I’d shrug and not hold it against you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’d agree with this. I live in an area where the houses are very close. Keeping your pet at home is being a good neighbor. Nobody wants stray cats around their property for many reasons. So a person who lets cats wander will eventually get reported. OTH, farms do seem to be good for some cats. A lot of dumping goes on. Folks with large farms suddenly find themselves with new kitties all the time. People who dump dogs usually get caught, but cats are a different story.
        I enjoyed the cats I had but I am not interested in more. The destruction never seems to stop with cats. And I just can’t keep paying for repairs. Meanwhile, there isn’t really any place to bring a cat as most of our shelters are full and probably will remain full for quite a while. I used to think that cats should be indoors, but when I started noticing all these things I concluded that we (society) probably cannot house all the cats we have.

    4. copy run start*

      There’s nothing wrong with barn cats. Some cats are meant to be barn cats, some are meant to be indoors (like my poor chicken) and some prefer to go in and out as they please. Does the cat seem to want to come inside? If not, maybe he’s happy just having a home base. If he wants to be outdoors, that’s cool too. It sounds like you might have a good spot for a barn cat or outdoor cat.

      I live in an apartment in the city, so I deliberately looked for an indoor-only cat. But really it’s a personal choice that depends on what you want, what the cat wants and what your environment is. When I was a kid, my family adopted a stray cat, but he really wanted to be an outdoors or barn cat and we lived in an apartment complex, so we found him a family with a barn. My local Humane Society also specifically highlights their barn cats. We have a lot of farmers and ranchers out here, so I think they’re in high demand. If you do decide to take him to a shelter, one in a rural area might be a good option.

      1. Windchime*

        The Humane Society from my hometown does this, too. They have a feral cat program where the cats are trapped and neutered, then adopted out to people who would like a barn cat. There are strict requirements about making sure they have a safe, warm place to sleep and food and water. These are not cats who will probably ever become someone’s pet, but they are given a life that is better than hiding and fighting and hunting for food while having dozens of (homeless) kittens.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Pig was an outdoor cat her entire life. I tried, but I could not get her to be inside.

      I took the best care of her I could; she had a good insulated shelter, a shelter in which to eat during cold weather (she would not eat in the house or garage), regular vet care and inoculations (wormed, flea/tick control, and teeth cleanings too), and fresh water and food twice a day. And love and pets, as much as she could stand. She lived to be thirteen; that’s pretty good for an outdoor cat, and it’s definitely in senior territory. She might have lived longer if I could have caught her when she first got sick, but maybe not. :(

      The cats I grew up with were always outside too, but we had outbuildings and a built-in doghouse under the back steps that was warm in winter and cool in summer. They were allowed in but didn’t like to stay in. Our dog was outside too and lived to be nearly eighteen. My parents moved to a house in town later, and my old cat became strictly indoors in her dotage.

      I’ve never had indoor pets, actually. And that may be rather odd, but that’s just how we did it. Next time I have a dog or cat, it will most likely be indoors.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I guess just make sure you also get the kitty fixed to prevent further unwanted breeding.

      We have always kept our kitties inside or they have supervised outdoor time in enclosed areas. The few years they lived with partner’s parents in a cat-heavy, suburban neighborhood and had full access to run in and out as they pleased they more or less just hung about home a lot (partner’s parents both had farm cats growing up so they thought indoor only was horrible and cats should be outside). Boy kitty (and he was taken to the shelter from a farm kitty family that got too big) got in some territorial fights, but when we got them back they went back to their mostly indoor with some outdoor lives and they seem pretty happy. Maybe they are mellow but given the amount of cats, cars, lack of a cat door, sick cat killing weirdos about, and dense neighborhood, there is no way I would let them be free range right now.

      Cats are pretty good about letting you know, one way or another, what they want and need. However, are you prepared to let the kitty in the house if it it (or your son) decides that’s where it wants to be?

    7. Myrin*

      From what I gather, this whole “internet debate” is mostly cultural – in my country, no one thinks twice about letting a cat live outside, of course you do, that’s what cats do (unless you live in a big city or the cat is elderly/sick); like, it’s not even something you have to actively wonder about because it’s so normal that it doesn’t cross people’s mind (and I really only know about these differences in the first place because I frequent American-/Australian-dominated sites online – I never would’ve heard of the “indoor cat” concept IRL otherwise). So of course I’d say there’s nothing wrong with keeping it outside, but you know your environment best.

    8. Bagpuss*

      It depends a lot on where you are – for instance, I have a friend who lives in rural Wisconsin.
      Her cats are indoor cats (but with an outdoor, fully enclosed run) because there are wild animals which could kill or harm the cats, and the weather during the winter is such that that could also be life threatening (she fostered one cat which was found trapped where it’s breath had frozen it’s head to the ground)
      I live in the UK where it’s relatively rare to have indoor only cats, unless they are pedigrees kept for breeding, or have health reasons.
      There are more risks for outdoor cats – traffic being the biggest one here, but arguably they have a richer quality of life.
      I think it also depends a lot on the individual cat – I don’t think my current cat would not adapt to an indoor-only lifestyle, even with lots of stimulation and games. My last cat probably would have done, had it become necessary – he never went far, even when he could.

      In your case, I’d suggest taking the cat to the vet to get it neutered, and make sure that she is treated for worms and fleas, and then see how things go. As an adult cat she my not adapt to an indoor lifestyle.

  53. Melody Pond*

    Has anyone had any experiences with prenuptial agreements that they’d be willing to share?

    I’ve referred to “Mr. Pond” a few times, but we’re not actually married. We’ve been together for over 5 years, though, and I generally haven’t felt in a rush to get married, and he’s skittish about marriage, having had a previous marriage where he was pretty hurt, financially speaking.

    Anyway, after a medical scare with him last weekend, and then him volunteering to run off to Puerto Rico for some hurricane relief efforts, I’m getting to the point where I’d feel a little more secure about life if we were married. So, given Mr. Pond’s financial worries about marriage, I picked up a book on prenuptial agreements from the library (by Katherine E. Stoner), and I’ve just started it — so far, it seems like it’s going to be pretty useful.

    Thankfully, Mr. Pond is seeming open to the idea, particularly as I’ve shared little bits of the book that I’ve been reading, with him. I’m totally okay with the idea of a prenup, to designate exactly what would happen financially in the event of a divorce. Also, based on our conversations so far, we’re pretty much on the same page about what to keep separate and how we’d divide things up in a split.

    But, as is often the case for me when I’m considering a new idea, I think I’d find it useful and illuminating to hear about other people’s experiences with it. Have any of you been involved in a prenup before? Or were you closely connected to someone who was? Any thoughts or perspective on the experience that you’d be willing to share?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have a prenup. The way I once heard it put, you still have a prenup even if you don’t write one up yourselves — but in that case, it’s the laws governing marriage/divorce in the state you live in. Writing your own prenup just means that you’re choosing the terms yourself, rather than defaulting to the ones the state would otherwise choose for you.

      I obviously hope we never have to use our prenup, but I like knowing that if things did end between us, we wouldn’t have to deal with big questions about how things get divided up; we already know how it would be handled, and we didn’t make those decisions during an emotionally fraught time.

      1. nep*

        That is a really good and sensible way to look at it. I’d never heard it put like that before.

      2. Melody Pond*

        Yeah, that perspective totally makes sense. I’d gotten pretty much that exact idea from the early pages of the book I picked up from the library – and it does suit me (really, both of us) to write our own rules ahead of time. There are several other areas of our life where I feel like we do things a little differently than the standard or norm, and I think this would be no exception.

        I should have asked this in my original post, so this is widely directed at everyone – what is the process of seeing attorneys like? Do you go see a family law attorney, specifically? What’s a “normal” number of times to meet with said attorney or their staff?

        Also, I know that billing rates will vary widely, but does anyone have a conservative ballpark figure that I should expect to save up, ahead of time?

        1. Red Reader*

          All the quotes I got were far higher than I was willing to pay for a document that basically said “my debts and assets will remain mine and yours will remain yours, except for anything we deliberately put both our names on.” I got a boilerplate fill-in-the-blank version that said basically that and we signed it in front of a notary. I think the total was $35.

      3. Christy*

        This is exactly how and why my wife and I have a prenup. We DIYed it using a NOLO book so it was free. We had it notarized.

        Remember, a good prenup protects both of you.

      4. LibbyG*

        Yeah, that was my perspective too. I don’t think our agreement differs at all from what would happen under state law, but it was useful to catalog assets and debts. We also did all the estate planning and health-care proxy stuff at the same time.

    2. fposte*

      I’ve been adjacent to fairly weighty discussions about prenuptial agreements. I think they can be fine things to do when both partners are on board and honest. Good, solid ones also tend not to be cheap–you each need your own lawyer, for a start–so it’s worth factoring that expense into what value it might bring.

      1. Melody Pond*

        Yeah, before I picked up this book, I hadn’t considered that we should each see a separate lawyer. I’d assumed that we could just see one, together. That will be a slightly higher burden for me, than for him, and it might mean I need to save up for a couple months or so, but it still seems like it’s worth doing.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      I wish we had done this. I’m still married but paradise is an illusion swift shattered by the petty tyrannies of the quotidian. I hope to never need it, but, I hope to never need my motorcycle helmet, either.

      1. Anon post-nup*

        You can! It’s called a post-nup. I only know because my spouse and I are in the process of drafting one now. For a post-nup you must have a different lawyer representing each spouse. But you can put in pretty much any of the same terms you might have put in a pre-nup.

        1. Anon post-nup*

          Alison – could you delete my above comment? I meant to delete my email address so it wouldn’t have my gravatar so it could be anonymous.

        2. Wrench Turner*

          I’m now looking in to this. Thank you so much – it’s so simple, of course! Why didn’t I think of this before?
          Oh right, clouded by emotions, which is not the best place to do official things from.

    4. Helpful*

      I’m interested in your motives. In what way do you feel more secure if you were married? Is he only skittish about the implications of divorce, or of marriage (as you state)? Perhaps meeting with a counselor first– to talk about some of the concerns and issues you each bring to the table– would be a smart idea. It’s not just about the money: it’s also about how you feel about marriage and divorce. Teasing things out a bit with a neutral third party who is not a lawyer may help you decide on what the emotional side of your agreement can look like.

      1. Melody Pond*

        With respect, my motives for marriage are not relevant here. The relevant facts are that he and I are both considering marriage and that we’re trying to figure out how to tackle a prenup. That’s the matter on which I requested input.

    5. Bagpuss*

      As a lawyer, I am a huge fan of pre-nups – I think they reduce the risks of the marriage breaking down, because having a pre-nup means that you are forced think about, and discuss, your expectations and assumptions about your financial relationship, so you can identify and address any major issues where you have different approaches or expectations, and work out what arrangements or adjustments will work for each of you.

      It also means that you have the conversations when you are both interested in being reasonable, rather than trying to do it in the kind of stressed and emotional state you’re likely to be in if you were to split!

      I would suggest getting some advice, and consider building in regular reviews of the agreement – maybe every three to five years, or if your circumstances change (such as if you have a child or children)

      In my jurisdiction, pre-nups are not strictly legally binding, but courts will normally follow them provided that certain conditions are met.

      The way I approach it with clients is to see it as a form of insurance – it’s like insuring your house – you hope you will never need it, but if your house does burn down, having the insurance makes that disaster much easier to deal with!

      1. Melody Pond*

        Thank you for chiming in! I’m especially grateful to get input from an attorney.

        The regular review of the agreement sounds like a really good idea. I’ll make a note of that.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      I was all about a prenup, but then we realized that we had almost identical assets coming into the marriage (about a $5k difference) so it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. I think they’re very practical though.